Gold Dust is the brainchild of Easthampton, Massachusetts songwriter, Stephen Pierce.
Brought up on a heavy diet of post-hardcore, shoegaze and ’90s alt-rock, Pierce’s sun-drenched numbers are the kind that would have the folks over at Aquarium Drunkard in mild hysteria. At least that’s how it felt with Gold Dust’s impressive self-titled debut long-player which dropped last October, and a bit over 12 months later, Pierce releases the second chapter in the Gold Dust story, The Late Great Gold Dust.
In the same way Matt Valentine’s Wet Tuna project captured our hearts earlier this year with Warping All By Yourself, Pierce opens the door to a Technicolor world where we can leave all our troubles behind, or, at least, the songwriter himself takes the burden off our shoulders. And he drafts in a few guests for the show, too; namely Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis who pokes his head round the corner for a cameo during the fantastic Larks Swarm a Hawk – one of the many shining lights throughout this journey.
First off, though, we are met with a surprise in the way of opening track, Go Gently. All the aforementioned talk of Technicolour worlds and pop is swallowed up by an Eastern doom vibe with big arena rock drums and dream pop fuzz. It’s an odd concoction, but not only does it go down well; it showcases an artist that boasts quite the expansive record collection.
Proof of Life follows and sounds like something The Charlatans could have written during the Some Friendly era if they had enough money to leave the grim, sodden streets of Manchester in favour for the clear blue skies of Istanbul.
There’s plenty of Byrdsian chime as well, with Mountain Laurel, A Storm Doesn’t Hurt the Sky and And Yet. All echoing the summer time in open fields, while we’re in November it might be time to hit the chemical refreshments and escape the cold climes with this!
The Byrds worship continues on album highlight, Larks Swarm A Hawk. Not least for Mascis’ shredding cameo, but with a song like this, it really does encapsulate what it’s all about: music that simply makes you smile. And it continues on Unreliable Narrator, which runs Larks‘ a very close second, possessing the kind of heart melting riffs that Primal Scream were rummaging around the studios for during the Sonic Flower Groove sessions.
Then there’s the airy fairy grace of Catalpa Bloom. Here Pierce juxtaposes sunny splendour with themes that are a enveloped in the darker side of songwriter. (“I’ve got a date with disaster she haunts me at every turn/ She’ll fuck and un-fuck me up.”)
Like Go Gently, the other bookend to The Late Great Gold Dust, For Luna is another surprise. A sunrise swoon that shines with the kind of drones you’d expect from, say, Ben Chasny. It’s an interesting end to an album with its opening and closing tracks proving as sheer outliers.
November is an odd time for a release like The Late Great Gold Dust. An album tailor-made for summer time, while there might not be much of that during this bone-cold November, The Late Great Gold Dust might just provide enough warmth to combat this ongoing energy crisis.
The Late Great Gold Dust is out now via Centripetal Force. Purchase from Bandcamp.