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coldharbourstores / July Skies | More Than The Other / Dreaming of Spires (Rocket Girl)
More quintessentially English treats from East London's hippest label. Very much nurtured under the Rocket Girl wing, the delicate strains of London-based coldharbourstores took their time to convince, the second single A Day Gone By a huge leap forward from the underdeveloped debut All That Matters Now. To their credit messrs Bowling, Read, McCabe and Laws have chosen to present ten all-new songs on their debut full-length and they're certainly playing to their strengths; piano and guitar led laments, unhurried, bordering on the languorous, with a nod to the dreamy balladry of early Mojave 3. Whether such nervous introspection is a deliberate aesthetic or a lack of assurance and belief in the material will become clear over time. Mid album we get the sprightlier Unclear, a watered-down Beachwood Sparks and a clue to braver steps yet to be taken.
Notably Mojave 3's Neil Halstead is credited as inspiration on July Skies' debut, 'Dreaming of Spires', another subdued and atmospheric entry in the Rocket Girl catalogue. The work of sole proprietor Antony Harding (also of Avrocar), this is a series of autumnal, reflective and pastoral sketches, largely instrumental and tranquil, perfect Sunday morning music. Built around layers of treated guitars and keyboard tones, 'Dreaming of Spires' is heavy on the reverb and delay pedals, light of touch and as unobtrusive as a ray of reluctant sunlight breaking through a partly drawn curtain.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002