New To Us – Winter

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Photos by Jeff Leeds Cohn – http://www.jeffleedscohn.com/

Who?
Winter is the solo project of half-American, half-Brazilian songwriter, Samira Winter.

What?
Winter’s sound is pitched somewhere between the contrasting sounds of DIY bedroom-pop and lush, heavily produced shoegaze. Samira’s honest, unadorned vocal and driving lead guitar lines are topped with drifting, waves of synth and reverberating, clattering drum beats.

Where?
Although now based out of Los Angeles, Samira is originally from Curitiba in Brazil. Curitiba is the capital and largest city in the state of Paraná, its population of 1.9 million makes it Brazil’s eighth largest settlement, and the largest in the South of the country. Curitiba originally came to prominence in the 1700’s due to the cattle trade and mass migration from Europe occurred in the 1850’s, but the city’s biggest expansion came in the 1960’s where urban planning led to a thriving service industry. One of the richest cities in Brazil, Curitiba has regularly been cited as one of the best places to live within the country. The city has a thriving cultural scene, and is the birthplace of prominent Brazilian rapper Karol Conka.

When?
The earliest Winter release, to our knowledge, was an EP, Daydreaming, which was released back in 2012. A series of stand-alone singles have followed, with the debut Winter album, Ethereality, out next month.

Why?
At the heart of Winter’s charms is an intriguing clash of styles between songwriting and production. Samira’s songs, written across her two bedrooms in LA and Brazil, are essentially guitar-driven pop songs; Samira cites the influence of Colleen Green on recent single High School, “I really like her pop songwriting sensibility mixed with distorted guitars.” Yet this, almost lo-fi, fuzzy songwriting is re-imagined by the production: the lush, soaring sounds of the early 1990’s shoegaze scene and post-rock acts like Explosions In The Sky or Lanters on The Lake seem obvious touchstones.

Throughout the album, Samira plays with what you’d expect her to do. One second it’s showcasing the emotive, honesty of Waxahatchee or Soccer Mommy, the next it’s shimmering, distant, and as the album title suggests, ethereal. The aforementioned High School, is a fuzzy rocker, all driving guitars and loose clattering drums and it is complete contrast to the gentle and gorgeous seven-minute-plus closing track, Nothing.

What makes the record hang together throughout is the presence of Samira herself. Her vocals might drift from wistful to sneering, her lyrics might be one minute brash and confident the next downbeat and melancholy, but her character and stunning way with a melody remains the album’s constant, thrilling core.

Why Not?
Sometimes we’d like the vocals a little higher in the mix, sometimes the production gets a little too dense for the songs, but it’s hard to criticise what are clearly stylistic decisions. Ultimately these are well crafted songs, beautifully produced into an intriguing amalgam of sounds, hard to dislike anything about that.

Ethereality is out April 6th. Click HERE for more information on Winter.

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