MAGUIRE’s “Strangers” Examines Our Relationship Between Fantasy and Reality


The shifting moods of the piano work on “Strangers” by MAGUIRE paired with vocals that one imagines singing out a window into a dark, rainy night by candlelight perfectly suits the contemplative lyrics and story of the song. The narrator projects hopes and dreams of personal fulfillment on a stranger she has seen in public, imagining the possibilities she’s pinning on a stranger who she doesn’t know and doesn’t have to know in order for the fantasy to serve as a beacon of hope in the loneliest of moments. It’s a safe if somewhat unhealthy fixation but one most people can relate to, feeling unfulfilled and needing something or someone to pull them out of their funk and the romance of it even if it’s completely in one’s imagination. When the vocals echo and the music effervesces toward the end and the fantasy ends it is a bit like coming out of that moment of reverie yet taking pleasure in those moments of whimsy never acted upon. The song cautions against the act of romanticizing a person or a situation by embodying the ways in which we seduce ourselves into imposing what we desire onto people and things they may not be. “Strangers” is from the new EP Préludes and you can listen below and follow MAGUIRE at the links provided.


Kelan Galligan Evokes a Sense of Our Place in a Loving Universe on “Satellites”

Kelan Galligan, photo courtesy the artist

Kelan Galligan feels like he’s singing directly to your sense of wonder on his new single “Satellites.” With the delicacy of the guitar work and minimal piano setting the emotional space, Galligan prepares you to join him in contemplating the intersecting contexts in which we exist and how a change of orientation can shift consciousness. His use of various metaphors and observations anyone can make is both insightfully poetic and moving. Especially interesting Galligan’s mention of the “kiss of snow” and “gentle brush strokes” because it concretizes those simple things we can all know and observe and experience as unconventional paths to greater understanding of the world through tactile sensations difficult to describe with such economy and the creative act suggestive of an interactive model of the quantum universe. That the songwriter can convey so much within an intimate-sounding pop song speaks well to what we can come to expect from Kelan Galligan. Listen to “Satellites” and follow Galligan at the links below.

“Heaven” by Enigmatic Band Paperface Processes Existential Crisis In a Soaringly Radiant Pop Song

The collage and animation video for “Heaven” by Paperface (done by the artist as well) really conveys the sense of wonder and confusion about one’s own identity after discovering the world isn’t quite what you assumed for years and that your dreams and aspirations are called into question because your very foundation as a human is now so tentative. The metaphor of getting some distance on your whole world via airplane and hot air balloon is obvious but it never seems heavy handed with the vocals intoning into a vast open space as percussion and piano keep up a simple rhythm and melody. Guitars fill in some of those musical spaces a bit, ringing out, backing vocals trickle in just before the song dynamic shifts and keyboards and distorted come in to accent climax of the song and the moment of realization as the narrator descends back into his body in a hospital and accepting life as it is rather than the alternative of escaping this mortal coil into infinity. It is a cycle of emotion, thought and personal transcendence cast into song. Other than that Paperface lives in a lighthouse and claims to add an orchestra in Prague and Budapest before finished and mixing the music in a borderline ruins of a chateaux outside Paris, the artist likes to keep things under wraps. That said, you can follow him and his work at the links below.

Travel Through a Quantum Door to Yesteryear With Whettman Chelmets’ “recall (outro) / The Swimming Hole”

Whettman Chelmets, photo courtesy the artist

Whettman Chelmets wrote a layered, textured ambient track “recall (outro) / The Swimming Hole” around some twenty year old four-track tape “experiments.” This act of creative excavation initially gives the impression of traveling through a quantum wormhole into memory bounded by echoing white noise of the energy fields involved in effecting that trip. It’s been said that when creatures are traveling from parallel dimensions that the sound of rushing wind, like a dozen jet engines from far away, can be heard at low volume before shutting off when that “door” between worlds closes. The sound on this composition isn’t so melodramatic and the place it takes you is the languid and peaceful memory from childhood of an oasis where you felt free and your imagination could roam where it will without the demands of everyday life weighing you down. How did Chelmets make these sounds, how did he mix it together? It matters much less than the emotional and experiential quality of the piece. Close your eyes and give the song a listen, perchance to later explore Chelmets’ fascinating work including the excellent Doesn’t Matter album from which the song is drawn further at the links below.

IVATU’s “Haunt” is a Chilling Trip Into Personal Nightmare

IVATU, photo courtesy the artists

Eava Tuevskaya’s vocals on the IVATU single “Haunt” (from its recent Enormous and Mild EP) recall those of Karin Dreijer of The Knife in sounding distinct but mysterious. But the music is an entrancing blend of downtempo, Goblin-esque synth screams and dark neofolk. The title suits a song that is about the existential fears and insecurities that come to erode one’s confidence and hope like the ghost of a vampire come to drain your emotional and spiritual energy. The fog-enshrouded melody and the way the percussion beats in the distance like the clack of the last train out of a land about to be overtaken by the worst blizzard in three hundred years is downright chilling. It is perhaps the sound of the personal nightmare you can’t escape but must. Fans of the star and gorgeous soundscapes and vocal heft of artists like Jenny Hval, Chelsea Wolfe and Marissa Nadler would do well to seek out Moscow’s IVATU. Sample the track and follow the band at the links below.

“Molly” by Velcro Mary is a Tender Ballad to a Relationship Gone Awry

Velcro Mary, photo courtesy the artist

Velcroy Mary may be “the only band in North Carolina that did not record their last album with Mitch Easter at The Fidelitorium” but maybe it’s single “Molly” was recorded with Chris Schultz at Wavelab Studios in Arizona because it’s melancholic anthem is reminiscent of DeVotchKa circa How It Ends. The doleful accordion melody and the words of resignation and yearning bracketed by gently strummed guitar spells out a message meant to offer comfort and reassurance to someone who might be going through a period in life fraught with insecurity and emotional fragility. Tender and touching it’s simple structure and graceful performance makes what is hinted at by “this time apart’s supposed to help us grow” and “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and a troubled relationship that has all but drifted apart for good. Listen below and follow Velcro Mary’s excellent string of singles at the links following.

cityGirl’s Poignant “Curled” Embodies the Concept of Saudade

cityGirl, artwork, cropped

Although the main melodic line is a bright toned keyboard figure on cityGirl’s “Curled,” one gets the distinct impression of this song coming from a place of pain. Maybe not anguish or the sharp kind that comes from losing someone forever. But the kind where someone who made a strong impression on you who helped define an important period in your life in a way only someone with whom you’re spending a great deal of time can. And when that person exits from your circle of relationships, for whatever reason, instead of being angry you can only feel sad and a little confused as your affection for that person would be dishonored with unworthy and aggressive emotions. In Portugese there’s a word “saudade” that means, according to Wikipedia, “a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.” The mood of the song conveys well a bittersweet sensibility that expresses the good times not forgotten but overshadowed in the moment by the feelings of loss. It is kind of a simple pop song but given all the elements it expresses a complex state of mind and being that is often challenging to articulate. Give the song a listen and follow cityGirl at the links following.