Blarg, which is a name many of us wish we had thought of before these guys did to express our contempt and disgust for so many things in the world and to put a humorously on the nose name on the project, really take us to strange places in space and time on its new single “Suburban Lawn (Su, Where Are You Now?).” It slips effortlessly in and out of a kind of psychedelic surf rock song but not the kind that got so played out between 2009 and 2018. It’s far noisier and Blarg seems to have no time for staying on script as there is an aspect of the cut-up method to the songwriting. At the end it sounds like someone just turned down the delay on the whole track and then a sound like someone ejected the VHS tape that was the source of the recording with the audio version of visual glitches mixed in with the song. Somehow Blarg wrote and recorded a song that sounds paradoxically futuristic and retro at the same time partly by grounding itself on a classic rock and roll structure and then dispensing that entirely when it goes into the tripped out section where most of the instrumentation drops out and extended synth blips convey a sense of being in outer space then back into a garage rock at the drive-in-theater-to-watch-campy-horror-movies vibe. But across the song there are sonic anomalies like bits of trap beats dropped expertly and perfectly into choice moments. Like some songwriter from the future who fell in love with various eras of past music and culture and didn’t see any reason why it couldn’t all be reconciled. Kudos to the nod to Su Tissue of weirdo post-punk band Suburban Lawns. Maybe VH1 can revisit one or more of its old series to answer the question in the song title. Listen to the track on Soundcloud and follow Blarg at the links below.
The beginning of “No Favors” by Blood Cultures sounds like someone is sampling the instrumentation from a heat warped record and the vocals like they’re coming from an AM radio broadcast. But then the electronic bass comes in and the bright, melodic synths to make a flow of upbeat yet, organic pop but with interruptions in the flow like a set of frames clipped from a film. As the track unfolds it passes in and out of styles of music while maintaining a dream pop/chillwave-esque sound. The song disorients expectations in order the cleanse your brain of predispositions and then aims to fill in that blank with comfort in ambiguity as the vocalist admits to not knowing what to say or do in a life and world of flux but leaving implied that we have the ability to work through the moment without having to have a firm operating framework and that often we must act or at least feel the moment without the convenient certainty most people naturally crave—a world that makes sense. This song plays on those tensions of knowing and being okay with not knowing and to be off the map a little. In the end the song, as a coherent pop song, suggests we’ll be okay even if we never really get our footing if we trust in our ability to handle what comes our way. Listen to “No Favors” on Soundcloud and follow this anonymous, enigmatic band called Blood Cultures at the links provided. Look for the group’s new album Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs out on September 13.
“Colours of Gold” begins like a tape or a film getting up to speed as if replaying a nostalgic memory from an analog format. The melody is wistful and the lyrics knowing as if from the perspective of someone who has moved on from a former love but a chance encounter brings back memories. Such as how that person likes to see themselves in gilded hues and their life as glamorous but whose reality is neglect of self and of the relationship. The line “You’re never here, lights on no one’s home” speaks much to how the subject of the song isn’t present and more focused on keeping up appearances rather than being a human among other real humans. With a dynamic structure, Paton’s spare yet gracefully written pop song is short at two minutes thirty-nine seconds but it truly captures a specific moment in life vividly. Follow Paton on her Facebook page and listen to the rest of her new EP Early on Spotify
Luca Vasta’s “Old Italian Songs” switches between Italian and English lyrics as the sweeping dynamics of the song convey a sense of forward momentum. While it resonates with a 1970s pop aesthetic this kind of song wouldn’t have and couldn’t really have been written then as the touchstones are more modern as are the complex dynamics. Yet it sounds like something that should have been in a movie set in the mid-to-late 70s. Shades of Nino Rota haunt the edges of the song and its structure and it seems obvious that Vasta has more than a passing familiarity with ABBA and that band’s winning combination of orchestral and electronic pop. With Vasta’s vibrant vocals and the upbeat yet moody composition, this song hooks into your ear like something beloved but forgotten. Listen to “Old Italian Songs” on YouTube and follow Luca Vasta at the links provided.
“I Spy” by Krept & Konan, the remix including Bugzy Malone, SL, Morrison, Abra Cadabra, RV and Snap Capone anyway, is like a community dis on the do nothing “fuckboys” of the world who try their level, well not best because let’s be real that’s not happening, minimal effort to bring things down. Whether that’s with careerist climbing, turning their backs on the community in pursuit of performative dignity through phony association with celebrity and wealth. The hard beat coupled with the finely sculpted sidechain ducking gives the track a playful quality but one that reflects the amusement at the foolishness being called out. It’s a song with the fascinating contrasts and commentary on social reality that we’ve come to expect from Krept & Konan. Watch the video for the “I Spy” remix and follow Krept & Konan at the links below.
“Turtle Race” from Working Breed’s new album Hieroglyphica is like a symbolic dialogue with aspects of oneself. Set to a slow, processional pace the earlier parts of the song are a prelude to when the pace picks up along with the vocal narrative. One of the aspects of personality represented sings of a yearning for not living a life in perpetual stasis and wondering when the time will come when she’s ready to act on buried wishes and if she’ll even recognize the opportunity to act. The accompanying music video reveals further aspects of the song suggesting the story of a kept woman who a wealthy man thinks he can keep under glass while he pursues other women with the promise of the privileges his status can bring her. But the triple characters of the “Mind,” “Astral” and “Real Life” Erika, played of course by Working Breed frontwoman Erika Laing, reject that value system in favor of her own dignity and finally comes to see the “brick of gold,” “country club” and “palisade” as ersatz symbols of devotion. In the end of the video Erika sheds the outer signs of her relationship to be free. It would be difficult to sum up what style of music one might call “Turtle Race” but fans of Sunshine Blind and The Dresden Dolls will appreciate the baroque pop and musical theater aspects of the song as well as its darkly ethereal mood. If you happen to be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 24, you can catch the album release show at Thunderbird Music Hall with opening band Cello Fury. Watch the video on YouTube and follow Working Breed at the links below.
“Gas Station” sounds like something written and conceived by someone who has worked lots of overnight shifts at the titular business on the edge of town while working on their Literature and Music Composition degrees by day. The dead hours of boredom when you can’t read anymore post-modernist literature and you’ve listened to Wowee Zowee, In an Aeroplane Over the Sea and Worn Copy back to back all night so you work on songs with arrangements that would stimulate your own brain only to find out, after you’ve stopped working nights and your mind is back to working like normal that your songs were like some late night jazz lounge indie/hypnagogic pop psychedelia and that your song “Gas Station” was like an awkward yet appealingly earnest love poem. Maybe that has nothing at all to do with how Durgi came to write the song but its unconventional melodies and decidedly eccentric and non-standard dynamics and rhythms were certainly birthed from a perspective familiar with the derangements of mind many of us undertake to get through life as a filter on our already established weirdodom. At the end of the song you may ask yourself “What did I just listen to?” And then find yourself listening again and again to appreciate the wealth of details and the places Durgi takes you emotionally and artistically. Listen to “Gas Station” on Spotify and follow the band at the links below.