The throbbing distortion of daisy’s new single “BLEACH” is reminiscent of the era of music represented on the Amphetamine Reptile imprint at its peak from the 80s through the 90s. Its pounding beat and atonal noise hooks with just shy of tortured vocals create a disorienting haze well complemented by the music video. The plot of the latter seems to be of young women, disillusioned with the hypocrisy, abuse and warped cult-like nature of their evangelical upbringing turn to what seems the opposite in occult practices inspired by what they’ve seen in movies depicting Satanism. The video is even more low budget than Ti West’s chilling 2009 early 80s inspired horror film The House of the Devil. But that’s what gives it an unsettling authenticity. Once the women walk up a sinister looking set of poorly lit stairs to a secluded apartment the visuals are blown out in smoky orange that settles into a candlelit circle and they are welcomed to the other side as in video footage of faith healers and phone numbers to call to donate run on screen like memories being expunged from consciousness as the repeating, pins and needles guitar figure, like an amp picking up cel signal, takes us out of the song. Though perhaps not explicit the song with the video suggests that personal darkness can come from anywhere inside us as we’ve internalized what’s outside of us and that to rebuild the kind of authentic self we need maybe a little psychic bleach will help. Watch the video on YouTube and follow daisy, which includes members of Bleached and Warpaint, at the links provided.
The finger picking on Shore Drive’s “Chaser (featuring Stella in the Clouds” creates a hypnotic loop of texture that serves as a kind of canvas for the emotional impressions and storytelling ahead, cast in impressionistic couplets. The tight vocal harmonies are just above hushed and conjure cherished sense memories tied to poignant details of the kinds of experiences that define an especially significant era of one’s life. The vivid snapshots paired with their emotional context in the song is an effective technique that makes the song stick with you long after it’s done as though you’ve been given some of your own memories back after years of neglecting them in some dusty corner of your brain maybe discarded as a painful time but Shore Drive has shone a light on what was beautiful about those chapters of your life’s story. As the song is on its way to ending, the music seems to swim through the cycling glimmer of synth drone and ethereal vocals like a pleasant dream fading out while you wake up refreshed. Listen for yourself on Soundcloud and follow Shore Drive at the links provided.
Joanna McGowan sounds like she’s walking through a fog-enshrouded setting on her new single “Wasteland.” Ethereal melodies, hazy synths and minimalistic rhythms swirl around her incandescent voice until the tempo picks up giving the impression that McGowan is running through the fog to get free of the memories of a place that has changed beyond recognition but whose influence has left an indelible impression on her mind. One hears a tone of bittersweet affection for the “wasteland” of the song and she sings of feel of comfort in being there because it reminds her of how far she has come even if she’s experiencing a setback in life. Like going back to your hometown, which many of us think of as a cultural wasteland, or the environment in which you were raised after you’ve had a taste of something that nourishes your spirit a little more than the rustic familiarity of a place you’ve outgrown but which know all too well. The line “Nothing changes in the wasteland, time moves but the stillness remains” is telling because who hasn’t felt stuck somewhere in life only to go out into the bigger world in search of the stimulation you’re not getting where you came from? McGowan, though, in the song deftly explores the conflicted feelings while choosing liberation and giving those parts of the song the dramatic up-sweep in tempo and emotional richness. Listen to “Wasteland” on Spotify. The single is the first of four songs on McGowan’s forthcoming EP.
The bell tones that carry the melody on Calcou’s “Colors on Screen (featuring GRIP TIGHT)” bring a seemingly random and organic element to a steady, mathematical beat and paradoxically emotional robotic vocals. Like an A.I. contemplating the very fact of pixels on a screen and what went into making that happen and the concept of what informed the choice of those colors or, if not so chosen, the design behind making those patterns of color manifest as they do. Rather than take for granted that we can merely program a somewhat randomizing set of color sequences as in an old dynamic screensaver or use a computer to design visual art or even merely a flyer, the newly aware artificial intelligence expresses wonder at what is behind what humans might think of as calculated and mathematical on one level because to us it is but as humans sometimes wonder at what the primary forces behind existence and how it manifests and why, an intelligent being we designed by accident might wonder at similar things coming from an angle that can’t be our own. This song may not be about that but it would make a good soundtrack to a story about this happening and how artificial intelligences might not be homicidal robots destroying us for our inefficiency but beings of great empathy who share a wonder at existence and creativity in a way we could never have predicted. Listen to “Colors on Screen” on Soundcloud and follow Calcou at the links provided.
The texture of cello creating dynamic low end drones on “Girls,” the latest single from Iceland’s Manon, are like deep wells into which the milkily luminescent melodies on piano and vocals swirl and disappear into infinity. The song is about two girls trying to put out of their minds an experience that would leave its mark on their psyches for a lifetime the way an emotionally traumatic can haunt you with contemplating their meaning, even if there are no interpretations or answers that will ever satisfy you, seemingly endlessly. Manon sings of the romance of being curious and dangerous and a chance encounter on an adventure together. The strange and mysterious event is one worth sussing out for yourself but the classical sensibilities of Manon’s songwriting is reminiscent of the avant-garde pop stylings of Kate Bush whose own songwriting brings together musical elements in a way to craft personal myth enshrouded by evocative sounds that themselves stir the imagination. Though short, at two minutes twenty-two seconds, “Girls” feels like you’re getting a poignant sense memory of something Manon will never forget. Listen to “Girls” on Soundcloud and follow Manon at the links below.
The mellotron loop that runs throughout Best Mann’s single “MCO” keeps up back drop of dreamlike abstract melody upon which songwriter and producer Nate Mondschein places percussion, bass, minimal guitar and a story of some people’s tendency to need to have one’s romantic experiences and relationships to be like something out of a movie and overdoing everything in a way that could never be sustained by mere mortals long term. And the expectations placed on oneself and others that puts undue pressure on the association before it can really start or solidify and work to erode it from the start with the heaviness of it all. Everyone wants their love relationships to be imbued with some magic and passion but life isn’t always peak moments and if we let in some breathing room we might have more of that if we don’t always expect it of ourselves and our loved ones. Or out of any situation in life. The down times and those times we might think of as boring or dull are as important to our psychology as those that are the opposite. Joseph Campbell might have implied something like that in The Hero With a Thousand Faces. At any rate, the lush atmospheres and slow dynamic wave of the song is a recognition of this reality and attempt to honor the impulse of connection without shame as well as the human emotional limitations that often go unacknowledged. Best Mann’s new album …And the Sky is due out on October 25, 2019. Listen to “MCO” on Soundcloud and follow Best Mann at the links below.
There are examples aplenty of the negative and destructive side of humanity in the world. But Caoilfhionn Rose’s “Being Human” is a song that puts the focus on the appreciation for the people who enhance and nourish our lives in everyday often small ways. The video for the song was filmed at Fletcher Moss Park in Manchester, England at a time of day when the sun is on the horizon and casting a soft, nostalgic light with some lens flare visible in the shot on the proceedings but it suits the tone of the song that is one about the songwriter letting the people in her life that she likes being human with them and all that entails that is unique and valuable and beautiful about the experience if you’re able step away back and see yourself and the people around you from an expanded perspective. Rose doesn’t seem to romanticize so much as shine a light on the fragility of existence and the necessity of expressing your appreciation of people for who and what they are, flaws and all. The gentle, intricate melody of the song and Rose’s versatile and warm vocals give the sentiment of the song a refreshing authenticity that is much more effective than scolding people to be better and care for one another. Watch the video on YouTube and follow Caoilfhionn Rose at the links below.