David Roback & Hope Sandoval
Mazzy Star is a band that have been with me for quite some time and I was originally intending to do this post in the early days of the blog just on Mazzy Star however David Roback (guitar) and Hope Sandoval (vocals) have done such great work before and after Mazzy Star that I figured i would just take a look at everything...
So in the early 80's David Roback was originally a member of well respected indie band Rain Parade however all i know of that band is the name and the fact they get a lot of respect from people beyond that I can't tell you anything however in 1984 David left Rain Paraide and formed Opal the band that would eventually become Mazzy Star and the sound of Opal is not a million miles away from Mazzy Star they did an EP "Northern Line" in 1985 part of which is collected on "Early Recordings" a compilation released by Rough Trade in 1989 and then in 1987 signed to SST for debut album "Happy Nightmare Baby" what is strange is the earlier work of Opal shows more evidence of where the sound of Mazzy Star would later come from the album "Happy Nightmare Baby" is a bit louder and more electric and downright bluesy in places both of these are essential pieces of the history of these artists and well worth a listen.
So from what I can gather around the late 80's Kendra Smith (Guitar & Vocals) had a falling out with the rest of Opal and stormed off stage during a show, David and the band had Opal's next album "Ghost Highway" ready to go, the how and where escapes me I have heard Hope was in a folk band called Going Home but can't confirm anything or find any material by them, but at some point David Roback must've come across the talents of one Hope Sandoval enlisting her as a vocalist Opal became Mazzy Star (from what the internet tells me Opal members Suki Ewers, William Cooper and Kieth Mitchell along with David all played in Mazzy Star at one time or another) and Opal's "Ghost Highway" became Mazzy Star's 1990 debut "She Hangs Brightly" Whilst the seeds for Mazzy Star's beautiful, dreamy indie music may have been sown in the early years of Opal and Kendra Smith is a very capable vocalist it has to be said the key to Mazzy Star's brilliant sound are the utterly devastating and gorgeous vocals of Hope Sandoval If you have not heard her voice before it is near impossible to describe Hope's style it is all at once seductive,sad and ocasionally quite sassy and just pours like honey she has one of the best voices of any female singer i have heard and is talented beyond describing when David Roback found her he must've been beyond happy when she enlisted in his band. "She Hangs Brightly" was a stunningly original album for it's time taking the great work done by Opal and progressing it to a completely new level there's tinges of country, fragmented blues, stunning acoustic numbers and the title track is straight out of The Doors songbook although done with their own take on their style! 2nd album "So Tonight That I Might See" whilst continuing where the debut left off is a far darker and denser listen yielding Mazzy Star's most well known song "Fade Into You" which aside from being on this album has seen no less than 33 compilation appearances! It is a stunning song no doubt but the rest of the album has quite a deep and mournful sound one of my personal favorites "Five String serenade" is just so sad and beautiful it just melts you completely! Mazzy Star achieved a modest success with their 1st 2 albums and there was a lot of buzz round the next one "Among My Swan" and it was the first one to be released after i became a fan so i had high hopes for it and whilst it is a pretty good album i have to say i don't feel it's the equal of it's predecessors however as it was the last album from them for a LONG time i don't know if the band were fragmenting or having problems but I feel that although the last two albums had moments of sadness and maybe a little moodiness here and there I felt "Among My Swan" to be a fairly depressing listen aside from the single "Flowers In December" the downtempo of this album just made it hard to get into, as i said it's not a bad album but my least favorite of the original 3. and in 1996 that was it Mazzy Star were gone.
I don't know what David Roback did in the interim but in 2000 Hope Sandoval teamed up with none other than Colm O'Ciosig of My Bloody Valentine and formed Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions, now if you like me couldn't get enough of Hope's voice and were a fan of My Bloody Valentine then you were probably as excited as me about this project! Whilst i don't want to take anything away from them the best way i can describe this band is if you take the most sedate moments of Mazzy Star and strip away the more dreamy layers of music down to the bare guitar and voice and some sparse instrumentation that is basically what you get here, it's impossible to put Hope Sandoval in front of any band and not be reminded of Mazzy Star. Both 2001's "Bavarian Fruit Bread" and 2009's "Through the Devil Softly" are both stunning albums and nearly to my mind as essential to fans of Mazzy Star as that bands albums.
So finally in 2013 Mazzy Star released a new single "Common Burn/Lay Myself Down" now at the time i was unsure if these were undiscovered treasures from the vault or what, but it turned out it was a taster for forthcoming album "Seasons Of Your Day" now i was skeptical about this because I felt that Mazzy Star were very much a band of their time that being the 90's and some 17 years since their last album why would they bother? However I am glad they did because again this album is a case of like the next day after "Among My Swan" not nearly 2 decades later and in my opinion no momentum has been lost this album is the equal of any other in their catalog Hope is still in fine voice and sounds as sweet and youthful as she did on "She Hangs Brightly".All the familiar Mazzy Star touches are there and David Robacks guitar work is just stunning! This is a fine return from a great band and i truly hope this is not the last we hear from them.
Mazzy Star 2013
Never one to stand still Hope and Mazzy Star were embraced by the more downtempo bands of the electronic/dance music community several times Mazzy Star songs have been used on various mix cd's etc and subsequently Hope has had quite a few guest appearances for bands from the very popular end of that spectrum so below you will find a link titled "Collaborations" This is a 10 track compilation researched, hunted down and put together by me featuring her immense talents being put to the music of 2 songs by Death In Vegas, 1 by Chemical Brothers 1 with Massive Attack an unreleased version of "Cherry Blossom Girl" By Air with Hope singing and a 1 track with Trip Hop artist 76, aside from the more dance orientated collaborations you will also find 2 songs she did with The Jesus And Mary Chain, 1 with amazing indie band Vetiver and lastly 1 with Bert Jansch!! How's That Hope Fans?
So there you go a retrospective of the work of David Roback and Hope Sandoval spanning 3 decades which alone should be an indication of how great these guys are! If you have never heard any of this stuff before and you happen to be one of those rare people who just browse for new music and actually read these blurbs then go download Mazzy Star : "She Hangs Brightly" as that's where it all began for me with these artists and to this day it never fails to make my brain and spine melt! Listening to Mazzy Star or indeed pretty much anything with the vocals of Hope Sandoval is like being wrapped in a blanket and given a cup of hot chocolate! Gorgeous stuff!
Happy Nightmare Baby - Mediafire
Early Recordings - Mediafire
So Tonight That I Might See - Mediafire
She Hangs Brightly - Mediafire
Among My Swan - Mediafire
Seasons Of Your Day - Mediafire
B-Sides - Mediafire
HOPE SANDOVAL & THE WARM INVENTIONS
Bavarian Fruit Bread - Mediafire
Through The Devil Softly - Mediafire
B-Sides - Mediafire
Collaborations - Mediafire