The Blue Hour | Unexpected Pleasures | Guest Playlist

the blue hour

New album Always is out 27th October.

The story of The Blue Hour is quite a romantic one. After meeting each other in the 80s when they were both teenage streetkids, squatting and partying in local night clubs, Brian and Marselle Hodges happened to reunite. Now they’re married and create music together. Living in the Pacific Northwest, they draw inspiration from the nature which surrounds them.

They’ve a new album out on 27th October. Titled Always it is a lush and beautiful affair, drawing together folk, dreampop, and more synthetic elements. Dark and seductive, their music washes over the listener with a wistfulness that is both endearing and beautiful.

Curious as to what inspired their musical tryst, we asked The Blue Hour to explore some tracks that have been an inspiration to them.

The Blue Hour

Often, the greatest pleasures are those that are unexpected—like hearing a heavenly voice rise out of clang and clamor, or a distorted chord resolve into layers of sound so soft that you could fall into it. Each of the following tracks offers a surprise for the listener, teases with visions of another world. These troubling days, we could all do with some beauty and inspiration.

1. Comedienne – Hideout

I have been a long-time fan of the torch-song stylings of Portland’s now-defunct the Parenthetical Girls. But this new track is very promising. Singer Zach Pennington takes his over-the-top vocal dramatics to a psychedelic dreamlike realm composed by Jherek Bischoff.

2. Milkfish – Cold Season

Chicago-based Wade Alin is an electronics wizard and the mastermind behind bands like Christ Analogue and the Atomica Project. What inspires me about his music is that he teases such warmth and organic feel from his circuit boards. This layers in this track seem to seethe with life.

3. Seiben – Jack in the Pulpit

Violinist Matt Howden is a force of nature. He creates such amazing soundscapes with his angular bowing and odd timings. It’s really in a class by itself.

4. Garmarna – Euchari

I fell in love with the Swedish band, Garmarna, years ago when trip-hop was first breaking. Garmarna, which began as a traditional folk-rock act, surprised their fans by blending folk melodies with dance and trip-hop. This song still stands up.

5. Betty X – The Nightingale

Austin-based Betty X recorded this classic Julie Cruise track in celebration of Twin Peaks’ return. I love this version because of how her dreamy voice crests and falls into washes of reverb, making it feel gauzy and fragile. Betty X has such great range of emotion.

6. A Heart in the Stillness – Old Skin

Seattle’s A Heart in the Stillness is one of several projects from multi-instrumentalist Isaac Aubrey. Isaac, whose projects range from hardcore punk to new wave to folk, has such a gift for well-crafted songs with strong rolling melodies.

7. Dead on Cue – Face of the Crowd

This is probably the most unexpected track on our list … but there’s a method to our madness. Earlier this year we played at an art gallery with Seattle’s Dead on Cue. Blending elements of dub, swamp core, and no trend, Dead on Cue creates such a lively environment. The whole room was dancing. There’s just something irresistible and insistent about them.

8. Black Needle Noise (with Jarboe) – Human

John Fryer with Jarboe?! This Mortal Coil and Swans?! Count me in. Two of my favorite artists. Jarboe’s sweeping and emotive vocals drift over a sea Fryer’s manipulated sound. It’s both new and familiar.

9. Zanias – Follow the Body

I found Zanias while surfing though YouTube. Her music and image celebrates the same 1980s ideals we love so much, blending dark synth pop with ethereal vocals. The video is gorgeous.

10. Current 93 – Alone (live)

This is one of my all-time favorite songs from the inimitable Current 93. There’s so much tension and release in the song.

Follow Overblown on Facebook and Twitter.