Various artists, Neon Dream (out now, Neon Sigh Records, neonsigh.bandcamp.com/album/neon-dream)
When earlier this year My Bloody Valentine dropped its first release in 22 years, some viewed the move as a milestone in the current shoegaze and dream-pop revival. Others quietly wondered if those sounds ever really went away. One group in particular, local label Neon Sigh, has taken to giving like-minded fuzzed- and far-out bands an outlet for two years now. Its latest compilation, Neon Dream, boasts talents from the Northwest, the East Coast, and places in between; while rooted in psychedelic shoegaze, the range of sounds here is just as diverse. Black Nite Crash’s “Baby It’s You” opens the collection with a sublime psych-pop tone setter, and Dead Leaf Echo carries the poptimism even further with its sweet and bright “Kingmaker.” The atmospheric swoons of Astrobrite’s “Unknown Color” are as obscure as the song’s title. Local group Golden Gardens envelops ethereal tones with electro-beats on “All Night I Lay Hidden in the Garden,” while Portland’s Soft Shadows delivers swirling guitar visions on “A Soft Night.” All the tracks, despite their varying instrumentation, keep the same hushed beauty behind all the noise, pushing the genre to new heights. For those who left their fuzzed-out dreams in the early ’90s, this compilation provides a great reminder why the genre endures, and a formal introduction to an ally in this championing new local label. Kevin Shields’ legacy is not stagnant at all.