Northern Lights & Southern Skies is the latest effort from synth-rock band, The Capsules. This is a great album to wake up to, like a musical sunrise. There is a certain aura surrounding this band. It is ethereal, haunting, and comforting all at once, sucking you in and never letting go.
The Capsules are a band that just took me by surprise. When I pressed play I wasn’t expecting to hear so many elements that drew me to music I gravitate towards. Their latest release “Northern Lights and Southern Skies” is full of loops, synths, various electronic elements and angelic, pristine vocals provided by Julie Shields. For those of you who maybe unfamiliar with The Capsules they are seasoned pros who have shared the stage with The Flaming Lips, Garbage, Low, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Pinback, Juliana Hatfield, and The Mountain Goats but I would have to say that I can’t make comparisons to any of them. If anything the band reminded me of one of my favorites bands “The Chromatics”. That being said I feel The Capsules aren’t as afraid to use distortion and complex rhythms to further their palette.
For example the song “Our Apocalypse” has distorted electronic beats and synths covered in white noise while Julie Shields belts outs “no slowing down” in the chorus. “Across the Sky” which contains a simple yet effective electronic drum pattern and arpeggiated synths moves forward with optimism as the lyric “I know that you’ll always find me” is repeated. The Capsules have a created a remarkably good, cohesive album that may very well end up on a lot of people’s top ten lists. I know I for one am going to have a hard time putting this one down.
For as much of my life is steeped in musical ventures, journeys and, yes, hassles and busy work, too, The Capsules are one of those bands that, upon discovery, made my heart flutter for music all over again. In that regard, I’m happy to share with you the premiere of The Capsules’ single, “Time Will Only Tell,” from their brand new LP, Northern Lights & Southern Skies.
My peers say Northern Lights & Southern Skies lends itself to more of an electronic base than The Capsules’ previous material. Having discovered them less than a year ago, I cannot comment on that aspect. What I can tell you is that it is the perfect blend of guitar ambiance, functional bass and digital rigidity. The textures and tones that sit in the middle of each track make these songs candidates for a playlist that might be called ‘Robin Guthrie and the like,’ especially “Time Will Only Tell,” with its melodramatic symmetry and consistency. This necessary robotic underbelly, ironically, lends a warm flow that bookends the textures, opposite the soothing one that Julie Shields’ vocals do, the regiment and cadence of which nod directly toward Scarling, Cure inspiration lineage included.
The Capsules work the dreampop label, but the songs on Northern Lights & Southern Skies push into a heavier zone that is one part dirty electropop and one part shoegaze, though the latter sounds grittier at its guitar origins than anything we’ve heard over the past ten years or so. Hints of Lush, in fact, twisted up with some mechanical beating heart, might be the reason this record inspires me so.
We all need a little more whimsy in our lives. Luckily, The Capsules can provide a little of that and much more. The trio released its wonderful new album, Northern Lights and Southern Skies, last month. Jason and Julie Shields have been writing music together since high school. In the process, they feel in love, got married and started a band. As the initial band slowed down, they got together with drummer Kevin Trevino and formed The Capsules.
The music has hints of shoegaze, but the synthpop elements create an atmosphere that will lift your head and move your feet. If My Bloody Valentine and Metric went on a date, this is the love child. Speaking of children, the video for “Across The Sky” will bring back memories of your early years. We’ve all played with our toys on the floor and imagined they were at a concert…or maybe that was just me. Regardless, you’ll love this video and you’ll dig the song. You can check out The Capsules on March 7th at The Common Table. Watch “Across The Sky” and purchase Northern Lights and Southern Skies below.
Rising from the remnants of atmospheric rock band Shallow–a group which found husband and wife duo Julie and Jason Shields touring the world straight out of high school and sharing the stage with bands like Low, The Flaming Lips, and Mercury Rev–the newly christened The Capsules draw on curiously fragmented pop roots and make music which is darker and more introspective than their unassuming name might lead you to believe. And don’t let the fact that Spongebob Squarepants creator Steven Hillenburg tapped The Capsules to write an original song for his show cause you to believe that they’re just another doe-eyed pop band. For their upcoming album Northern Lights & Southern Skies, out January 15th via Vespera Records, the Shields’, along with drummer Kevin Trevino, have dropped most of the guitars that populated their previous records and adopted a dark wash of synths and bass-driven beats that spin around Julie Shields’ vocals and proceed to dive deep down into your brain and make themselves at home. And while their newest song, the darkly theatric “Our Apocalypse,” doesn’t fully speak for the rest of the album, it makes for a striking introduction to the varied production on the record.
“Our Apocalypse” melds distorted beats, swirls of charging synths, and Shields’ eerie vocals into something grandiose but also oddly intimate. The distortion rises into the rafters while her voice beckons the listener ever nearer. She has worlds to describe and not much time to do so. So I’d listen close if I were you.
Beats Per Minute is pleased to premiere the track “Our Apocalypse” from The Capsules’ upcoming release, Northern Lights & Southern Skies.
It’s your typical love story really. Jason Shields and his friend Julie started making music together while in high school, fell in love, got married, formed a band (Shallow), the band broke up, formed another band, and ended up writing songs for television shows such as Sponge Bob Square Pants and video games such as Borderlands 2. Okay, so maybe it’s not so typical after all, but along with drummer Kevin Trevino, the trio known as THE CAPSULES have carved a nice little niche for themselves having shared the stage with the likes of the Flaming Lips, Luna, Mercury Rev, Low, and more.
Their new LP is called Northern Light & Southern Skies, and is their first since 2009 and 4th overall. Here we find the group starting to shy away from the expansive guitar sounds of the past in favor of more keyboard and electronic looping. “Across the Sky” really represents the full realization of this transformation as the group lays down a foundation of pulsating, almost turbulent synthesizers that offset Julie Shields wispy, pensive, almost ghostly vocals that seem to float in and out of the frame. All of this is well and good, but the band really makes it count when the clouds part (analogically speaking) leaving the listener basking in waves of church-like organs and synth horn announcements. It’s the kind of moment that has the ability to pick your day up at the drop of a hat, and it’s moments like that transition that we as music appreciators look for. Luckily for us, Northern Light & Southern Skies provides no shortage of them over the course of it’s ten songs, making it all the more a requirement for future listening queues.
Northern Light & Southern Skies is being released on January 15th, 2013 through Vespera Records.
Title: The Capsules – Reverser (Urinine) From: The Big Takeoverby Marcel Feldmar
This trio, fronted by Shallow members Julie and Jason Shields, with Kevin Trevino on drums, play thick and mesmerizing dreampop that crashes like ocean waves across the air. Some of Julie's vocals touch upon a Kim Deal elegance, while in the background the music moves from a Low
slowness to a bright but deep shoegazing drive. Hints of bands like My Bloody Valentine creep in, making one wonder about the last name of Shields, but there's also a clean sparkle to the songs that lifts everything up. It's all airy wonderment, like a straightforward Cocteau Twins song, or a Cranes song with much nicer vocals. Even when the tracks seem to drift towards nowhere, the melodies and rhythm keep the music feeling sweet, and it's all OK.
Title: The Capsules From: www.pitch.com by Chris Wagner
Revived as The Capsules, Julie and Jason Shields have updated the hypnotic sound their former group Shallow perfected on 1999's Jumping Away From Something Exploding. With Julie Shields' voice still a sweet recasting of Saint Etienne's Sarah Cracknell and the Sundays' Harriet Wheeler, the Capsules retain a sound unique to the area and seemingly ready for a nation of dorm rooms. Shallow's popularity has allowed the Capsules to swing into action with an instant fanbase.
Title: The Capsules
Shallow fans, take note: Jason and Julie Shields have taken a step sideways to form the Capsules, stripping down to a trio format to provide a mellower, simpler, more focused version of Shallow's lush brand of space-pop. Perhaps "stripped down" is the wrong term, though. Live, there are enough loops and samples incorporated into the set that it sounds like they have invisible members. With their debut CD due out later this year, as well as a song featured in a recent episode of Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants, the Capsules' profile is too high to be written off as a side project.
Title: The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS - Low, The Winter Blanket, The Capsules From: toomuchrock.com
More bands than you'd imagine make their stage debut before a large crowd. Due to some inside connection a band has a chance to get on a big show and decides ready or not, this is just too big of an opportunity to let pass. I'm sure it a similar story brought The Capsules to the stage, opening for Low. Although vocalist/guitarist Julie Shields admitted she was nervous, the band was definitely ready to play. Each and every dynamic was perfect and the band moved together flawlessly. Even treacherous devices like samplers went off without a hitch, due in part to the band's top notch equipment.
For Kansas City old-timers, seeing The Capsules was a sort of comfortable homecoming as band members Julie and Jason Shields not only comprised the majority of local space rock luminaries Shallow, but continue that musical vision. Julie Shields’ signature high, airy voice is accented along delicate guitar work, a bass that holds the melody and various effects and samples that complete the sound. Drumming for the duo is Kevin Trevino who was minimal, flowing and always appropriate.
Title: The Capsules - "Reverser" (Album Review) From: thezone.org by Mark Cuthbertson
Long ago, from a galaxy far, far, away, a group of mysterious aliens landed in the American Midwest and formed a band known as Shallow. Their sounds were as vast as nebulae and as bright as stars. After a few years of playing their three-dimensional high-flying kid stuff to an international audience, the band jumped away as it exploded in the year 2000.
With Reverser, Julie and Jason Shields and Kevin Trevino have landed a new space vehicle from a more peaceful, more distant realm of outer space. The sweetness of Julie’s voice is captured in the most crystal-clear form to date on these dreamy space lullabies. Jason’s bass lines still follow the most melodic path to anchoring a groove with a more organic tone than in the past. In fact, the entire band has taken a positive step with more tasteful and restrained approach to its use of effects (the most effects-laden song is the instrumental “I Don’t Know Much About Zero”). None of these songs surpass a moderate ballad pace; rather, they float and drift in zero gravity while reflecting cosmic radiance. “They All Went Quietly” is the most up-tempo of the bunch with “I’ll Be the One” and “Bee Keeping” further exemplifying the relaxed atmosphere of the album.
Title: The Capsules – Reverser From: Delusions of Adequacy by Kris
The Capsules are led by Julie and Jason Shields, who were formerly in the under-recognized band Shallow. They specialize in soaring melodies, with the beautiful vocals of Julie soaring over top. They create sparse, flowing, dreamy melodies with some very good pop hooks to keep the listener interested. The sparse nature of the music keeps the listener interested and hooked on what is happening in the song, creating a little bit of an ambient feel to some of the tracks.
"A Place To Stay" starts the disc off with a flowing dreamy melody mixed in with sound effects of crashing waves. Julie's vocals soar over the repeating guitar lines, sound effects, and rolling cymbal crashes. "I'll Be The One" makes perfect effects from mixing two vocal tracks with each other for a very interesting vocal melody. Julie's voice is very strong on both vocal tracks, and the soaring music eventually gives way to a more minimalistic guitar part. The Capsules prove that they are adapt at building up their momentum in their quieter moments and then bursting out with dream pop beauty.
"Bee Keeping" shows off how beautiful Julie's voice can be, and she puts the listener into a dream like state. Their are some swirling sound effects and keyboard work that lay down a cloudy track that accentuates the haziness of the song. "Lift Off" does exactly what its titles says, with soaring melodies building and dropping with some interesting effects adding to the song. "When You Were Young" uses the sparse music as a formation for some achingly beautiful vocals that can almost put the listener to sleep. The melodies just float in and out while the vocals combine perfectly, rarely interrupting the music.
The Capsules first release shows just how beautiful a good band can be, when they know what they are doing. The music flows on a dream-like level throughout the whole CD with Julie's voice being a powerful enough tool to break through. The songs occasionally blend into each other, at points making it hard to discern which song is which, but with such beautiful music it doesn't make that much of a difference. Reverser is a soaring dreamy release with some ambient moments that lets the listener know what the Capsules are all about.
Title: The Capsules – Reverser CD From: Collective Zine UK by Ian Cavell
I wonder sometimes if I have any quality control left anymore - whatever the record if its nice, soft indie music and has a girl singing then I'm hooked - its that simple. Which means The Capsules were never going to fail because not only do they fulfill that criteria conclusively but they get me in a way no band has achieved before. The promo sheet went missing a long time ago so I know next to nothing about who or where the band are from - only that the warm, soothing music that is currently ebbing forth still astounds me with each and every listen. Vocals that are both strong and tender and perfectly set against the soft, ponderous music that it accompanies. One of those albums where each song causes some sort of emotional disturbance and you wonder how the next song could EVER hope to top the previous, but you're never really surprised that it does because by then its evident that this album is pretty fucking special. The best album I've heard all year, you will not find a better collection of lullabies for those quiet evenings alone.
Title: Reverser (Album Review) From: lawrencerock.com by Fadil El Mansour (Editor)
If my memory is exact, on January 6th of last year, I made my way down to the Bottleneck along with a friend to watch the Appleseed Cast play with Everest and the Capsules. It was the time of year when Lawrence is basically dead for a couple weeks, so we jumped at every opportunity to watch a good show and share a pitcher of beer in the warmth of the Bottleneck. That evening, however, was suddenly interrupted by an invitation to leave the building due to the X’s on my hands; we were soon back out in the cold! But in the midst of all of this, I wasn’t terribly bothered, for I had just witnessed the brilliant musical performance of new local band the Capsules. Instead of upset at my plight, I felt relaxed and satisfied, which was a rather odd attitude to adopt after being kicked out of the Bottleneck. It wasn’t until a year later that I understood the serenity of that evening. The understanding came when I played Reverser, the recently released debut album of the Capsules.
The Capsules (Julie and Jason Shields from Shallow and Texas native Kevin Trevino who has played with the Kansas City Symphony) are not your average Lawrence musicians, and Reverser will prove it. “A Place to Stay”, the first track of the album, sets off the mood before the music even starts with the soothing sound of waves crashing on the beach, and an atmosphere reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s High Hopes, inviting you to sit back and close your eyes throughout the entire recording. This feature makes Reverser one of those albums that you just cannot interrupt without the feeling you haven’t finished something.
The Capsules give the classic guitar, bass and drums combination a whole new definition. It is a constant dialogue between Jason’s directing bass work - coupled with various effects here and there – and Julie’s soothing vocals which she complements with ornamental and delicate guitar play. Kevin Trevino’s simple, but carefully controlled drum/percussion work keeps a very precious rhythm going without disturbing in the least the serenity, and sometimes the “mystery” of the songs. In that respect I think “Goodbye Now”, the sixth track on Reverser, is a perfect example of the brilliant combination the Capsules have put together for the pleasure of our ears and also our visual minds.
There is a special ingredient in The Capsules' debut album. It makes the images that our brain visualizes in association with the music even more vivid and shapes them more precisely. It may be the clever combination of the lyrics and various sound effects as in “A Place to Stay” (crashing waves) or “Bee Keeping”. It could also be due to the somewhat mysterious, dark atmosphere generated by the songs (Goodbye Now, Reverser). Whatever it might be, The Capsules manage, hands down, to stimulate our senses and immerse us in their carefully written music, which makes Reverser one of those records that you just cannot play if you don’t have time for all of it.
Julie, Jason and Kevin knew it all along. You get a hint of it as soon as you go through the track list: the last track is “Reverser”, basically meaning that you're starting all over again, back to track 1. The progression of the theme through the song titles and the lyrics follows a cycle of feelings; a story in which the songs are the chapters. The opening tracks, “A Place to Stay” and “I'll be the One”, seem to communicate a positive desire for emotional stability ("Carry me … My heart will find a place to stay"). By tracks 5 and 6, “Lift Off” and “Goodbye Now”, there is a clear mind change and feelings move on gradually as we make our way through the album. The concluding tracks, “When You Were Young” and “Reverser”, denote regret, a look back at the past, a wish to start all over again and, once again, the desire for stability. This brings us to track 10 and draws our finger towards the Play button again (or the Repeat button if you're a maniac).
The Capsules' debut album, as a result, becomes a precious one, which could be a problem for those, like me, who love Reverser but have very little time to enjoy it the way it should be enjoyed: sitting back comfortably and riding it straight through. I can praise myself for recognizing good music when I hear it, and The Capsules' Reverser holds a very special place in my CD collection, and might soon do so in yours.