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Dream POP

CVLT Nation’s Top 10 DREAMPOP & TRIP HOP Records of 2023

#10 SAGITTAIRE Lucian & Caroline

What time is it? It’s time to turn y’all on to Sagittaire (a.k.a. Ivan Mairesse) and his new album Lucian & Caroline which I’m totally addicted to. Here is a good place to start to imagine if Mazzy Star, Portishead, Suicide, and the Fall decided to form a band, the outcome just might sound like this offering. Actually, what’s really endearing about this album is that all of the songs actually sound different from one another! Personally, when I heard the opening track “Confidence Man (feat. Nd0)” for the first time, I was instantly hooked. As a creative, Sagittaire has curated a sonic world where Serg Ginsburg would not mind hanging out! The next tune, “Hi, It’s Caroline,” sounds like a Beta Band or The Beach Boys (Pet Shop Era) song through a digital lens of audio alchemy. The title track is a romantic sonic stroll in the park and makes the sun shine on your inner thoughts! Yo, thank you Sagittaire for having the vision to manifest Lucian & Caroline, I’m digging it for sure.

#9 BLINDSIGHT Channel Normal

I read somewhere that the vast majority of people stop discovering new music at age 33, which blows my mind as someone who’s 10 years on from that. Why the fuck would I leave my exploration behind in 2013 when it means I would be missing out on the captivating experimental dream pop trippy hop sounds of London’s blindsight?? This talented duo draws from some of my favorite genres of the past but shapes them into a window into our future. They seamlessly weave electronica with hip hop, pop with grunge, dreams with nightmares, melodies with noise. I’m so glad blindsight reached out to us, because their debut record Channel Normal is going to influence my days for years to come.

#8 BEDROOM EYES Turned Away

Straight up, listening to Bedroom Eyes’ album Turned Away will put a smile on your face! This band’s sunkissed Shoegaze / Dream pop (but their sound is bigger than any genre) is highly addictive. I’m loving how they are able to look to the past for inspiration while pointing us to the future! Songs like “Through Nights” have layers of sonic emotions on top of each other and are drenched with fuzz. The title track will have y’all day-tripping because it’s that awesome! I want to salute Bedroom Eyes for manifesting an album that will be on our end-of-the-year list for sure. 

#7 CROSSLEGGED Another Blue

Sometimes music hits you like a good smoothie! Sometimes music hits you like sunbeams shimmering off of the ocean. Sometimes music hits you in your soul and you can’t help but smile! CROSSLEGGED‘s new album Another Blue hits me in a way that I can’t help but feel happy as I listen to songs like “Only in The.” Her songwriting skills are uplifting and heartfelt which only makes me love this record even more! Imagine if Altered Images, Bjork, Mazzy Star, and Horace Andy became one voice the outcome just might come close to CROSSLEGGED. The production of Another Blue suits her voice and lyrics perfectly. The song “Fire” gives me chills and joy and the whole energy of this tune empowers me to exhale all of my stress while focusing on positive vibes! The first song on the record, “Heaven is Real,” is a slow-burning anthem that has this hypnotic dub vibe that has me totally transfixed. One thing that makes CROSSLEGGED so rad is how she is so much more than her influences and has created a sonic world of her own. Another BIG Tune is “Automatic” — the instrumentation on this song is sublime — every time I hear it, I can’t help to be stoked that the universe turned me on to CROSSLEGGED.

#6 CHASMS Glimpse of Heaven

I can still remember when I first heard the pulsating, ethereal heartbeat of CHASMS — it was like I had discovered some hidden pathway to eternal bliss. Their new record, Glimpse of Heaven, has only opened up more gilded sonic roads into my soul. They pay homage to trip hop while they take it to new electronica heights. Glimpse of Heaven is seductive and comforting at the same time as it’s challenging and confrontational, but all in the dreamiest way possible.

#5 PUBLIC MEMORY Elegiac Beat

Hey, Public Memory I want to say thank you for releasing Elegiac Beat this year! I need your music in my life in a major way. This band means to me today what Massive Attack meant to me in the 90s. I can’t get enough of this project, which is why I’m so excited about Elegiac Beat! This has been living on our turntable for the past couple of months, taking us into their dreamy trip hop universe every time we’ve needed to fly away on their sonic angel wings. Public Memory brings the future into my mind, and Elegiac Beat is a record I won’t forget.

#4 UNTITLED (HALO) towncryer

What I love about towncryer from UNTITLED (HALO) is that its dream pop through a punk lens. All of these songs could be tunes for me to dance to, cry to, scream to, and laugh to. They create a layered, epic sound that’s somehow still lo fi, and it takes me on a whirlwind tour of indie rock, garage, trip hop, and then back to dream pop all on one album (and sometimes all in one song), but it never sounds like too much. towncryer came from outta nowhere for me this year and I’m so glad it did.

#3 DAIISTAR Good Time

There’s no way I can listen to DAIISTAR and not let myself get lifted out of my physical reality by their psychedelic shoegaze like I’m riding Falkor into a crystal clear sky (I’m an 80s baby)! They make me rethink all my cynical beliefs about humanity and remember that sometimes we can be beautiful, if we let ourselves be. Sometimes it takes a hero dose of psychedelics to see it, sometimes it just takes DAIISTAR. Right now, hit play on Good Time and let your mind free from its 3D cage…

#2 CRUSHED Extra Life

I write this from a place of BLISS. I write this from a place of AMAZEMENT. I write this from the sonic wonderland that is the new CRUSHED EP entitled Extra Life that is out now via Funeral Party Records. To say that I’m addicted to this record would be an understatement, because I can listen to it at least 7 times in a row and not get tired of it! Every song is an anthem that will embed itself into my brainwaves only to exist forever! What I think is so important about CRUSHED is their attention to production, and how each layer of sound has a place. The music is delicate but still has this low end to it that adds a foundation of power that makes Extra Life even more special. I have been a fan of Bre Morell’s vocals and lyrics for years, but on this release, her vocals make me feel like I’m floating in space and being guided into another universe. When I heard “waterlily” (the drums are magical) for the first time it reminded me of how I felt when I first heard Stone Roses’ “Fools Gold.” The tune “bedside” has tones in it that make me feel good to be alive and Bre’s soaring vocals make me cry tears of joy.

I feel so blessed that I get to turn people on to wonderful bands like CRUSHED. For 26 minutes, y’all can lose yourself in the sound of Extra Life, and no matter how crazy the world is y’all can find inner bliss in this record! It’s super rad how these two humans looked to the past for inspiration but have pointed all of us toward the future. All of the love and respect that CRUSHED receives is well deserved because they are that good! I have this crazy feeling that CRUSHED is going to blow up in the UK first and then come back to the States — the rest is Dream Pop Legend. In the words of Positive K, Bre Morell & Shaun Durkan are a “GOOD COMBINATION”!

#1 TEMPLE OF ANGELS Endless Pursuit

You know when a song starts and just those first few notes send eargasmic shockwaves down your neck and spine? That’s what happened to me as soon as I hit play on Temple of Angels’ new record, Endless Pursuit. I already talked about how healing from grief is an endless pursuit in the last feature I wrote about this band, but that was just based on their single. Now I’ve been through the whole journey with them, start to finish, and it’s one that I’m going to return to over and over again (because the vinyl is heading my way soon).

Listening to Endless Pursuit is like strapping into a sonic rollercoaster in the clouds, rolling and floating above everyone else on Earth, diving into despair and then shooting back up into bliss. It’s the kind of record I can listen to when I need to articulate my emotions with just feeling and no words because my old programming won’t let me speak them. There’s something nostalgic about Temple of Angels’ sound on this record, but at the same time it’s unlike anything I’ve heard. 

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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