With a sound that is both singular and deeply rooted in the classic shimmery aura of Shoegaze, the Portland, OR musical duo of Keith and Hollie Kenniff (aka Mint Julep) offer a beautifully produced collection of music on their latest album, Stray Fantasies.  Though their music is new and their style brings a fresh perspective to the various electronic genres long enjoyed on the Big Sonic Heaven scene, there is still a nostalgic sort of vibe to the sound that is as rich and satisfying as listening to one of your favorite throwback playlists.

Keith and Hollie Kenniff, the husband/wife musical partnership known as Mint Julep.

Stray Fantasies offers a slow evolution of mood that begins with the bright, poppy synths of “Blinded,” a sparkly bit of tone-setting that kicks the album off in an upbeat direction with a rhythm that practically commands your foot to tap.  This sound flows seamlessly into the title track, “Stray Fantasies,” as if it was written as a sequel.  However, “Stray Fantasies” quickly proves a bit more complex with an almost ominous transition to a synth pattern that could provide perfect background for a Stranger Things promo.  The spectacular layering of beats and the rapid, repetitive electronic notes foreshadow where the latter half of the album is headed and hint at Mint Julep’s electronic influences.  These songs taken together form a perfect summary of what the album has in store for listeners who carry on through the end, weaving their way down from a happy, head-bopping intro to a more brooding blend of atmospheric layers and heavy bass by the conclusion of the track list.

Midway through the album, particularly on “Escape,” you feel the shift to the deeper style of dream pop familiar to all of us who love to binge some late-night BSH grooves.  Perhaps the song is aptly named, as it floats you out into a beautiful space in which to disconnect.  Later you will find “Translations,” which brings a punchy rhythm that slowly builds to a chorus that will move your feet and bob your head unconsciously.  All of Mint Julep’s influences, from pop to techno to the classic dance-style beat of “No Regret,” are expressed throughout this album with a cumulative result that is impressive in its complexity while still remaining accessible and appealing to fans of many genres.

Stray Fantasies has such a familiar feel to it, full of moments that had my brain firing in search of connections to my highlight reel of favorite bands.  That is not to say by any means that their sound as too derivative, as I struggled to pinpoint a band to which I could precisely compare their work, but there is surely a pleasant flashback sensibility to their music that undoubtedly speaks to the typical Big Sonic Heaven listener.  If you are in the mood for some music with just enough trip to make you feel spacey, and just enough hop to make your body move, Mint Julep’s Stray Fantasies is exactly what you need.

Anthony Abbate
Big Sonic Heaven Radio Contributing Writer

Big Sonic Heaven is a 24/7 Internet radio station dedicated to the ethereal sounds of shoegaze, dream pop, post-punk, trip-hop, etc. Listen to the artists featured on the blog and discover more by downloading the app for iPhone and Android or listen at bigsonicheaven.com.