Joseph Dubay really nails the best side of that time in American culture and music where a certain stripe of teens were listening to dramatic music and not distinguishing between emo and Goth because no one told them those are distinctly, culturally different (which, let’s be real, they’re not when you get to the essence of them). A time when bands like My Chemical Romance and AFI helped define an aesthetic of Goth-and-punk crossover with make-up and stark imagery and Bayside, named in the song, worked with Gil Norton on its 2011 album Killing Time to not just bring his expert ear but the mystique of having worked on key 4AD records to the proceedings. Not that so many “pastel goths” did a lot of listening to Echo & The Bunnymen, Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus. Dubay has all of that and a youth spent playing N64 with friends and crushing on girls who seemed so tough and cool and too good and interesting for you. Until you have the guts to become a character like you’re listening to in an emo song and express your feelings. And yet the song also acknowledges the poses people adopt to try to fit in while the music and culture they love is all about exposing frailty and vulnerability and expressing the insecurity, pain and feelings of inadequacy—the melodrama—of youth. Dubay honors those feelings many people go through when it all seems so poignant before the unsavory reality of some of those those musicians people held in such high esteem who seemed to articulate what you’re feeling so poignantly got exposed as abusers or UFO conspiracy theorists or simply flawed and human like everyone. But there’s something beautiful about remembering what it felt like to feel like you were really living and feeling and not adjusting to the consensus reality of drab, supposed adulthood. In title and story, Dubay gives us a poignant snapshot of an era. Listen to “Pastel Goth” on Soundcloud and follow Joseph Dubay at the link below.
A lot of synthwave sounds like it’s reflecting the dystopian end of 80s science fiction and crime drama, as it should, as the 80s had more post-apocalyptic cinema per capita than any other decade unless you count the whole zombie thing. But “Lifetimes” by Zaxcess, the fourth track from its new The Takeover EP, sounds like what a sequel to Blade Runner soundtrack might be like if things worked out with Deckard and Rachael. Roy Batty’s expiration date turned out to be a false alarm and they all hung out in a tropical paradise with Gaff who decorated the landscape with even more elaborate and fanciful origami creatures. The melodies are bright and effervescent, the dynamic expansive and filled with a sense of joy and wonder. And hope, which is the antithesis of the cynicism that informs the dystopian aesthetic. Now that we live in fairly dystopian times, Zaxcess is offering the sound for a divergent vision of our future. Listen to “Lifetimes” on Soundcloud and follow Zaxcess at the links below.
On the new Porlolo single “I Quit,” Erin Roberts lays out in no uncertain terms her departure from a job that has worn out its welcome in her own life. And ending situations and internal desires that have lead down the path of exhaustion and being worn thin from unreasonable demands placed on her psyche from without and from within. Perhaps the inspiration was being fed up with her full time job, the kind where one is not paid enough for emotionally and physically demanding work and where perhaps “other duties as assigned” were added with no adequate compensation. And sometimes there is no such thing as the latter. Early in the song Roberts sings “I don’t wanna be cool anymore, I quit/I don’t wanna be you anymore, I quit,” later “I don’t wanna be yours anymore, I quit” and speaks to social pressures that tug at everyone in some way at some time that become so egregiously tiresome. Somehow Roberts makes her litany of those things that erode us from the inside trying to carry them in our hearts seem not so difficult to ditch.
Recorded with Anna Morsett and Jake Miller of Still Tide and James Barone (of Beach House, formerly of Moccasin and Tjutjuna, also producer of the forthcoming Porlolo full length due in October), Roberts taps into the sense of liberation and casting off of psychic weights on one’s time and any hooks into one’s identity and self-expression as demanded by far too many jobs. Roberts has long been a bit of a musical chameleon and one of Denver’s most interesting songwriters and while “I Quit” could be said to be informed by Brill Building or Southern California pop, Roberts’ feisty spirit and just shy of surreal sense of humor shines through and gives the track some undeniable zest.