Dawning – Departure (Review)

Dawning’s Departure is a dive into the farther reaches of shoegaze. Released in June, the project boasts a loud and heartfelt presence that is impossible to ignore. This is the Charleston slowcore band’s second release via DIY label Patience Tapes, doubling their discography with five more gut wrenching tracks.

Every song on this EP finds a way to nestle itself into a storm of noise that rings out at critical moments. All throughout the project, drummer Evan Tilson flashes between steady beats and intense bursts. All of these components come together to form one of the most exciting local releases of the year.

The EP kicks off with a screech of gain on “Lorimer St.” As the sound begins to fade, an undulating melody takes root and the track gains its sense of motion. The rippling guitar line that guides us through grows into swinging monstrous riffs. It’s a tsunami of a song and then… “that’s it.”

“Pony Boy” offers a brief rest in the form of slow paced reflection from Jackson Wise as he recounts the ideas of distance and the impact it has on the heart. Halfway through, the song takes a new turn, exploring an instrumental of flickering fuzz. 

“Pony Boy” is a nod to one of frontman Jackson Wise’s buddies, from the band World’s Worst. The lyric “I left my heart in South Carolina” was a repeated phrase for the band and it made its way into the track.

On track 3, we’re given another slow paced entrance, neatly fitting the name “Wading Heron.” The lyrics here are some of my favorites from the whole project: “I’ll be running around, aimlessly / wading in a king tide, everything’s fine / till it all sinks down.” Wise’s delivery comes through as desperate and desolate at times, searching for something more as he goes deeper into the unknown waters.

“Wading Heron” splices together moments of tranquility with surging guitar strums that strike like lightning. What makes this track sound so cool to me is the balance between the two sides of Dawning that it manages to maintain. If I had to describe Dawning to someone with one song, it would be track 3 of Departure: “Wading Heron”.

“A Whole Lifetime of This” lulls the listener into a sense of security before releasing monstrous shoegaze riffs that build up like lightning in a cloud. As it violently releases, it’s accompanied by whirring effects and loaded gain. Upon first listen, this was my favorite track based on the intensity of this song at its climax. 

“The Easy Way Out” ends the album on the question of the joker’s plight, harkening back to something akin to the ending of Dark Side of the Moon. The track is layered with static coated samples that give it a unique identity to the rest of Dawning’s discography. The sample comes from an interview in 1959 with psychiatric patients. 

“I can still tell a joke… even then… even then, I can tell a joke. I make other people laugh. Yes, because… I think the reason for that is that I always wanted to be a joker and enjoyed the fact that people enjoyed me.”

With no real vocal direction to uphold, this track is given the green light to leap fully into the hurricane of instrumental that makes the genre of shoegaze so awesome.

While the lyrics on this project can be crushing, there are moments of redemption spread throughout. Their farewell message seems to be their way of saying, “we hope we’ve made something you enjoyed.”

The production from Carter Long helped smooth out any rough patches that may have been present in their first release. Long described Departure as being a “more hardcore project… where the first album may have been more accessible, this album is geared for die hard shoegazers.” 

This collection of songs is among my favorite releases of the year. I’m looking forward to seeing the band perform these songs at live shows, as shoegaze sounds even better in person with the amps cranked all the way up! Just… don’t forget to bring some earplugs!

The band is about to hit the road for a run through the southeast, with a hometown show this Friday, September 9th at The Royal American with World’s Worst and Aubrey Key.

Listen to Departure by Dawning below, and see their full tour dates below that.

Dawning Fall 2022 Tour Dates

9/8 – Atlanta, GA – Inner Space
9/9 – Charleston, SC – The Royal American
9/10 – Columbia, SC – Bounce House
9/12 – Greenville, SC – Radio Room
9/13 – Asheville, NC – Fleetwood’s
10/1 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Pour House (Extra Chill Fest)

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