Nicole Theo’s voice on “Would You Save Me” seems to come from a distance and through the filter of a fog enshrouded room within which you can make out shapes illuminated by fingers of light from a mysterious source, a breeze dopplering her voice, pitching it as a kind of somehow naturally occurring autotune effect. The latter alters Theo’s voice expertly as an enhancement of the sound rather than the trendy affectation you hear in entirely too many pop and trap songs. Sax and strings come into the song to give this song that aches with the yearning of an unrequited love a grounding and resolution that suggests soon emerging into action rather than wrapping oneself up continuously in unfulfilled fantasy. Listen to “Would You Save Me” on Spotify, watch the music video for the song on YouTube and follow Theo at the links provided. Look for Theo’s debut EP due out in 2020.
Foreign Television sets the stage for us at the beginning of its single “Minus 27” with the gentle falling snow of sparkling guitar tone. It sounds like the aspect of the Christmas season we’d rather focus on rather than the possibilities of going back to the place that spawned you and the reminders of what drove you to seek greener pastures to begin with. The swirling riff is like a free-flowing haze of memories that burn off the anxiety of anticipating the time on holiday back “home” and the lifeline back out of the place you’re going to out of a sense of familial or otherwise social obligation. Perhaps to enjoy some of that time but knowing you’ll run into the people and the situations that may remind you of how much better you have it now. It’s not a melancholy song. Its melody is nostalgic but with a sense of being present in a way that makes it impossible to get full stuck in the past as many people seem to be at some point later in life, romanticizing a time that never really was when they felt more alive, more valid and more accomplished in a realm of life when your options really were more limited even if you felt otherwise. In the end “Minus 27” is a celebration and embrace of the life you have knowing you don’t have to feel trapped by a former life and milieu that didn’t suit you. Listen to “Minus 27” on Soundcloud and follow dream-pop/shoegaze band Foreign Television at the links below.
The breaks on Daddy Who’s “Clock Clock Clacka” are so intentional and precise yet organic that it sounds like the work of an expert turntablist setting the tempo either before something big hits or between epic tracks. The synth swells, the sleigh bells placed so tastefully, the vocals speaking the title of the song and echoing off, the myriad other sonic details are reminiscent of another era of hip-hop before trap became one of the dominant styles of beatmaking. That era when producers like The Alchemist, DJ Premier, collectives like Hieroglyphics and artists on the Stones Throw label assembled sounds from disparate sources to set a mood channeled into a rhythm whether lyrics flowed with the soundscape or not. Listen to “Clock Clock Clacka” on Bandcamp.
“In Love” by dopeman begins with a piano line and the crackle of of a record like the memory of a good time in your life being triggered by running across an artifact of a relationship as mnemonic key to unlock a flood of positive feelings. The shuffling beat gently buoys the mood and the vocal samples, like voices from an old movie leaking in from another room, anchor and contextualize the memory in the part of your mind that stores sensory perception on an almost subconscious level. Though the tone is moody and hushed it is not melancholic, rather, wistful and nostalgic. Musically it’s in the realm of IDM or a more experimental hip-hop beat but ultimately doesn’t fit neatly into a genre category as its appeal transcends that of a specific style. Listen to “In Love” on Bandcamp and follow dopeman at the links provided.
When “Lampshade” by Kapeesh starts off it sounds like something heard through a wall on AM radio. But when it attains full fidelity the onslaught of ideas and cultural references hits like something out of late 90s Big Beat collided with irreverent alternative hip-hop and the Butthole Surfers. It really is a fascinating genre-bending song that draws on a broad spectrum of sounds and ideas in a way that establishes a unique aesthetic. The song is aimed at the people that stand near the stage at the show that are above dancing and the confusion at the proclivity of some people to not be swept away by the music or at least participate. Many of them are just trying to take in the experience but those that stand there unimpressed at all, who show no appreciation can throw performers off their game and frustrate people who want to be there and show their own enthusiasm without hitting that emotional brick wall. But the song is more than that and it’s a kind of goading of these people to join in on the fun. Listen to “Lampshade” on YouTube and follow Kapeesh on the Instagram account (linked below).
Listening to Agency666’s “Deep Sleep” you are drawn into the realm of soundscapes that feel like you’ve entered into the weird end of a supernatural horror ARG in which you must navigate out of your own subconscious mind. “Every time I close my eyes” is the refrain that floats about, processed to echo parts of the vocal like repeated images that throw you off the trail of the path out of this spiraling maze of sound. The sound of what seems to be chirping insects in the distance surrounds you, a warping, melodic arpeggio intertwines with the voice in a staccato pattern that serves almost as a luminous walkway in a dark realm until the end when the whole beautifully nightmarish, minimalistic world fades from your hearing. It’s reminiscent of HTRK or a demented, stark side of Everything But The Girl in being so alien, minimal and enveloping but more in the realm of minimal techno yet unlike much of anything that fits neatly in any genre. The song comes from the project’s Fear of the Unknown EP and you can listen to the single on Spotify and follow Agency666 on the Soundcloud account.
Moon Beach quickly establishes an elegant and subtly evocative dynamic on its single “Don’t Drive Away” between the introspective vocals, a simple yet elegant keyboard figure and spare, ethereal guitar work. The singer seems to implore her love to not leave the scene despite some setbacks and difficulties and her inability to fully articulate her feelings in a way that will make everything alright. It’s almost a resigned yearning but toward the last third of the song one that is imbued with some hope and being able to reach the the feeling that made her remember what made the emotional connection so strong and real and finally able to say the simple phrase that is the title of the song as an opening to more. Between the vocals and the rhythm the song is reminiscent of late 80s Suzanne Vega and early offerings by The Sundays and that compellingly wistful style of dream pop. Listen to “Don’t Drive Away” on Soundcloud.