On the fiftieth anniversary of the first landing on the moon we present Justin Robinson’s song “Satellite (First Orbit).” Inspired in part by Brian Eno, and possibly in particular by the latter’s 1983 classic Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, the song evolves slowly with sounds that capture the elegance and deep mystery of outer space and the sense of being suspended in the great beyond as your craft reaches a comfortable orbit. The subtle layers of drones and lightly struck strings and bell tones mark cosmic time as high frequency resonances sound like starshine and plasma trails, the white-blue haze of earth nearby, a constant presence that dominates your field of view. Robinson takes us to that moment that has changed the consciousness of everyone who has experienced it forever, the feeling of existing beyond mother earth, the only world that, as far as we know, all of humanity going back to its primordial ancestors have ever known. The enigmatic enormity of that moment looking back on the planet and to the nearby moon and floating weightlessly between. Robinson articulates that sense of calm and wonder perfectly. Listen below below and take in the meditative passages of “Satellite (First Orbit).”
Siv Disa released her Waltzes EP in the fall of 2018 but is now re-releasing it as a visual album. The single “Rooms” is a downtempo, melancholic number that conjures images of the mythical late night jazz lounge. Except that its drones and tonal details like candlelight and twinkling crystal make it sound like a New Wave torch song. One gets the impression that you’re sitting with Siv Disa in an antiquated simulation of that jazz lounge like the Elvis simulation from Bladerunner 2049 that K experiences in post-industrial-collapse-abandoned Vegas—so compelling and yet surreal, haunting yet comforting. That is until the end of the song when the pounding drums and accelerated pace hit and you wake from the reverie in panic at the possibility of missing the last shuttle home from the platform with access to the all but abandoned nostalgia theme park that fell out of vogue in a future when most of humanity has entered into a period of galactic diaspora looking outward with little time for recycling or revisiting past popular culture. “Rooms” has the romance of a classic piano ballad and synthesizes a sense of the past with an ineffably futuristic sensibility and a nod to the fact that good songwriting has a timelessness that transcends trends. It is a perfect blending of sounds and aesthetics that provoke reflection as well as relaxation. Listen to “Rooms” and the rest of Waltzes on Spotify and follow Siv Disa at the links below.
Thursday | July 18
What: Michael McDonald w/Strange Americans
When: Thursday, 07.18, 5:45 p.m.
Where: Denver Botanic Gardens – York Street
Why: Michael McDonald’s smooth and soulful vocals have been a part of American rock and pop music for over four decades now. Whether as a singer in Steely Dan (both live and in studio), The Doobie Brothers, as a solo artist and in his numerous collaborations including with the likes of modern hip-hop/jazz genius Thundercat, McDonald brings a deep musicality and keen ear for melody that transcends genre. This concludes his run of shows in Colorado over this past week.
What: Usnea, CHRCH, Zygrot and Limbwrecker
When: Thursday, 07.18, 7 p.m.
Why: Kind of a funeral doom show at Rhino tonight w/Portland, Oregon’s funeral doom juggernauts Usnea and the transcendental occult feral drone of CHRCH from Sacramento.
Friday | July 19
What: We Are A Glum Lot and Spirettes dual album release w/Turvy Organ
When: Friday, 07.19, 8 p.m.
Where: Lulu’s Downstairs – Manitou Springs
Why: Dream pop band Spirettes and neo-math-emo-indie rock band We Are Not a Glum Lot are releasing their new albums simultaneously this evening at Lulu’s Downstairs in Manitou Springs. Spirettes’ album being Esoteria and We Are Not a Glum Lot’s titled The Price of Simply Existing.
What: Hammer’s House Party: MC Hammer, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Sisqo, Biz Markie, 2 Live Crew, The Funky Bunch
When: Friday, 07.19, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Fiddler’s Green
Why: At this show you can party like it’s 1992 or 1999 depending on who you’re going to see. MC Hammer was ubiquitous in the early 90s with multiple hit songs that helped to put hip-hop into the mainstream. Sir Mix-a-Lot is perhaps best known for his hit song “Baby Got Back” but he was a big deal in Seattle before that and his records worth listening to generally for their swagger and sly and pointed humor. Biz Markie is a character in hip-hop who burst the boundaries of what was acceptable by owning being a little rough around the edges in his rapping and his outlandish performance persona. His 1989 song “Just a Friend” is a classic of the genre. 2 Live Crew traded in x-rated rap for years and garnered attention for its high profile lawsuit regarding its 1989 album As Nasty As They Wanna Be over the record’s alleged obscenity. Seems quaint and inconsequential now considering how the President of the United States has and continued to talk about women but back in the day it made the news and catapulted the underground group into the national consciousness. Sisqó is the lead singer of Dru Hill but in 1999 he had hit songs like “Thong Song” and “Incomplete.” So you’ll get to take in a good swath of 90s mainstream hip-hop in one concert if you go.
To Be Continued…
“Astroboy” finds Birmingham, UK band The Lizards taking us on a trip down a worm hole of winding passages of color and hypnotic imagery. The bright synths glitter and seethe in and out of hearing as our guides carry us across a kaleidoscopic starscape of pleasantly disorienting melody in which its easy to get lost and hope back on for the ride to who knows where. To simply call this psychedelic rock does an injustice to how it has musical roots in stuff like Ozric Tentacles and its own beautifully bizarre mixture of folk, psychedelia, electronic music and prog. But The Lizards reign things in a bit on the sprawl out into musical outer space and ultimately don’t sound like much of anyone else while bringing together sonic elements that resonate with the mind-altering aesthetic of early Black Moth Super Rainbow and a more space rock “Madchester” band. However one might pick apart the song it will take you places if you let it and there isn’t nearly enough music that does so. Listen below and follow The Lizards at the links provided.
Theo Bard used ice and snow to make the textural sounds heard on “Forget” instead of the usual percussion. At first it sounds like white noise but it has a little too much physicality and it’s a nice, subtle contrast with the staccato melody struck by the synth and the wash of droning sounds in the background. Bard sounds like he’s getting lost in the soundscape to soothe the pain of the realization that a relationship he wasn’t over has no chance of rekindling because the other party has obviously moved on to other people. The vocals express a wish to forget but the repetition as almost a mantra doesn’t necessarily manifest in the psyche. There isn’t anguish in the vocals, but a kind of disaffected, almost numb quality that people take on when they don’t want to believe something is true even though it’s before them and that the time to accept the truth was extended enough and the compartmentalizing of the pain to take in doses one can handle may be another process yet. Listen to “Forget” on Soundcloud and follow Theo Bard at the links provided.
“Coast to Coast” is an loving homage to cross country late night driving and listening to the arcane lore broadcast on AM radio and hosted now by George Noory and George Knapp from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Eastern but famously headed by its creator Art Bell. It’s a fitting song for a band of friends collaborated remotely from Austin, Texas, Louisville, Kentucky and Water Valley, Mississippi, calling themselves Coral Moon. Because Coast to Coast is syndicated its unusual stories of the paranormal and the unexplained serve as a kind of bond between fans of the program. Musically, the soft and playful pop song is reminiscent of a Jamboree-period Beat Happening song or something by Magnetic Fields circa Get Lost. Jangle-y guitar, violin cutting a figure over the proceedings and bleeps and bloops to represent switching stations to catch the aforementioned broadcast has the sound of like-minded friends getting together to talk about wild imaginative ideas late into the night. Coral Moon recently released its self-titled album and you can listen to “Coast to Coast” on YouTube as well as exploring the band’s catalog further at the links below.
Anyone that’s ever felt like they get stuck emotionally and embarrassed by their own emotional stubbornness, perhaps born of some bit of arrested personal development, and acted out will relate deeply to Ava Heatley’s “Shitty Tattoo.” The song starts out simply enough with piano and voice outlining several times in life where everything feels raw and too real and you want to travel back to a time to fix the mistakes you made when you didn’t have adult responsibilities and maybe throwing a tantrum over much of anything wouldn’t be so consequential. The quiet part of contemplation escalates from the introspective yet dramatic self-loathing to an examination of repeating patterns of not wanting to deal with frustrating situations and poor life decisions. Even decisions as minor but so symbolic as an awful tattoo that one got thinking in the moment it would be something you wanted to commit to for the rest of your life because everything seems so significant to you in your tumultuous teen years and twenties when, really, as you get older you realize they didn’t matter that much—the relationships, the impulsive behavior in a moment of peak feeling, the angst over relatively minor matters. Guitar and drums come in to give voice to that cacophony in your head as every thing you think you fucked up and ruined come crashing in. If you live past thirty-five it’s safe to say you’ve been there and if not you probably are either in denial or have lead a boring life both outwardly and inwardly. Listen to “Shitty Tattoo” on Soundcloud and follow Heatley at the link below. Her new EP Beautiful/Terrifying is due for release on November 2 and she recently debuted “Shitty Tattoo” at The Bitter End in New York City on July 6.