“Ignorant” is a critique of willful state of mind despite all the negative, violent stuff going on around you and in your own life from gun shots in the neighborhood, vulture developers, lack of self-accountability to making excuses for self-destructive and generally destructive behavior. It calls for an awareness and a conscious reaction to these things so the real conversations to address the roots of social and psychological issues rather than a passive acceptance of things as they are. Too often in America we accept not a status quo but a stasis that keeps us from challenging power whether from a corrupt presidential administration, a power tripping supervisor, our own position of power over others or others over us used to coerce and manipulate or a “system” that benefits the very few at the expense of the many based on lines of ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality or legal or economic status. “Ignorant” by hip-hop artist Lil Primo reminds us that to keep ignoring those pressures on an everyday basis means we will probably ignore it on the macro scale that more than a few people worldwide have been feeling so poignantly. The beat is haunting yet urgent and the emotional tenor of Lil Primo’s vocals compassionately concerned. Follow Lil Primo at the links below.
The jaunty pace of “See Right Through,” the lead track from Mystery Friends’ debut album Past & Future Self, lends the song a freshness and charm that made all those C86-era and Sarah Records songs endlessly listenable. Combining a breeziness of tone with introspective and confessional lyrics, “See Right Through” reveals a vulnerability and personal resilience that is always a winning alchemy in pop music because everyone feels sensitive about so much in life and we get hurt or feel exposed and yet we have to find our peace with it and, if the situation calls for it, the strength to work through our insecurities and failings. Less synth-driven than some of the other songs on the record, this composition is given some of its dynamic buoyancy by Robbie Lee’s treble-y and melodic bass line that is the ideal counterpoint to Abby Sevcik’s luminous vocals. Listen to the single below and follow the DC band at the links provided.
With a relentless flow of references and imagery, “Drip Too Hard (CCG Mix)” by Hunnid draws for us in rich detail life coming up on the Chicago’s Southside. The gangs, the grind, the struggles, striving for self-improvement and ultimately keeping your head above water and the poetry that comes out of those experiences. The video for the song features Hunnid rapping with a brisk cadence and packing so much content into each line with an impressive economy. The insistent, dreamlike beat, a sample of warping guitar, shuffled claps and clicks like drum sticks on a wooden block, accents Hunnid’s storytelling perfectly. Throughout the song there isn’t some kind of tough pose, rather an attempt at preserving sensitivity and not being inured to hardship by becoming hard oneself. The music video is vibrant, urban scenery, graffiti and all, with Hunnid and his colleagues representing the kinds of people you might see every day in the Windy City. And of course a crane or two in the backdrop just like every rapidly gentrifying city of size in recent years. See the video below and check out Hunnid’s other musical adventures at the links following.
“Come Set Me Free” finds Miles Monroe getting things going with what might be described as a psych grunge dub of echoing vocals and riffs. As though he’d listened to a whole lot of Adrian Sherwood laying down the bizarro remix on a Siltbreeze noise punk cut-up tape. Something which the producer never did. But that’s the kind of strange Monroe brings to the first half of the song. Then it becomes some kind of lo-fi Alice Donut inspired stream-of-consciousness warped raga akin to early Butthole Surfers or Flaming Lips. If Eat Skull, Psychedelic Horseshit and Pink Reason decided to record with more conventional clarity they might be making something like this now. Take a big draught of the song below and follow Miles Monroe’s adventures to sonic outer space at the links provided.
Tsägä’s “Tuuleen” builds with some unconventional percussion reminiscent of Can into a chill soundscape with expressive vocals floating into ethereal heights. The lyrics are in Finnish so if you don’t understand Finnish don’t worry. It is, after all just a relatively short song and not The Kalevala if you’re trying to figure out the actual lyrics. At any rate, plenty of us listened to Sigur Ros and had no clue what those songs were about especially when the claim was it was in “Hopelandish,” a made-up language. But the music was moving and Jónsi such a gifted vocalist he conveyed an emotional truth that could resonate with anyone. As with that band the tone of the singing here communicates the mood powerfully as well with a melancholic urgency. Musically it sounds like something that could have come out of Bristol in the 90s combined with the more organic Krautrock of the 1970s—manipulation of textural tones and all. If a post-punk band skipped three or four decades of obvious influence and took in not only what influenced the likes of Bauhaus and Joy Division but also 90s and 2000s downtempo, deep house and minimal synth it would sound as wonderfully unusual and haunting as “Tuuleen.” Listen below and follow the band from Vallila, Finland on their Facebook page.
Sara Gougeon’s “Invisible Closet” calls for coworkers, friends and family to respect the space of those who are not ready to come out yet. The spare guitar and gently strummed guitar melody and Gougeon’s intimate vocal delivery could apply to any situation calling for grace, sensitivity and respect for the boundaries of other people. The hush cymbals and minimal percussion and strings bring out the delicacy of the composition beautifully. While not obviously influenced by “Silent All These Years” by Tori Amos and “If It Be Your Will” by Leonard Cohen it shares with those songs a tender and compassionate sensibility that is rare in popular music where often ego, swagger and brashness are the most valued qualities. Sometimes a gentle touch is much more powerful and benevolent sensitivity a more effective frame of mind in songwriting. Listen below and follow Sara Gougeon at the links provided.
Like beams of sunshine streaming deep into the algae rich waters of a hidden lake, the melodic drone of “Lightworker” by Aura Gaze brings a sense of calm and wonder. The enigmatic wind chimes and breezy white noise swirl around a shimmering synth figure, following it beyond the immediate reach of that solar illumination, which in the field of sound becomes a vague notion in the blue green mist. Alternately it suggests great vistas of arboreal splendor protected from the ravages of human industry by mountain peaks forbidding to summit and to descend into the immense valley where earth’s oldest living plants have taken root since time immemorial. It’s reminiscent of Popol Vuh’s work for Werner Herzog’s Aguirre the Wrath of God. But whereas there is an immense sense of melancholy to that work, there is a one of warmth and benign spirits to this song. Listen below, listen more to the full-length Eternal Hymns and follow Aura Gaze at the links provided.