The Deadpan Desperation of Dick Dudley’s Herky Jerky and Angular Post-Punk Song “Train” is a Strikingly Accurate Portrait of Self-Oppression

“Train” is practically pointillist in the rapid fire execution of its rhythms. But in short order Dick Dudley’s song unfolds some in a paradoxically herky jerky, The Fall-esque giving the song an urgent mood. The vocals are delivered in what might be described as a desperate deadpan depicting the daily routine of a man who seems locked into a ritualistic daily routine but resisting inwardly with no direction “with his elbows up and his legs spread wide” in a gesture of confrontational repose even though “he’s just another passenger with no time for his kids and no kiss for his wife.” Sounds like the kind of person who knows this isn’t living but lacks the self-awareness to go for a life that would mean something or to adopt an attitude toward a job that is providing for him and his family that keeps the work and its stress on him in perspective and not treat it like it matters as his whole identity and maybe develop a personality that includes finding joy in his existence somewhere rather than be so buttoned up. Ultimately this jagged yet loose song is one of compassion for someone who doesn’t know how to break this cycle or lacks the will to recognized that the unclenched jaw is superior to self-reinforced diligence over nothing no matter what anyone suggests to you. Fans of Protomartyr and IDLES will find some strong resonances here. Listen to “Train” on Spotify and follow Dick Dudley on Instagram.

Malmö’s Video For Ambient Drone Piece “Brutalisme” Traces the Parallel Rise and Fall of Human Social and Physical Structures

Malmö, photo by Zatax

Malmö’s video treatment for “Brutalisme” juxtaposes the stark architecture suggested by the title of the song with mass human activity that has been an expression of a support for brutality or resistance to the same. In black and white the visuals trace the layers of drone and the shining tones that peek through the curtain of cycling sounds like the frequency of the inevitable rush of historical events and repeated human activity that in the moment can seem like the most important thing in your life when carried about in groups and mass movements. But when one can pull back with the perspective of history one can pick out the themes and triggers, the rise and fall of social organization and to marvel at both the resilience and fragility of societies and individuals that make them up. The tenor of the song is one of wonder and awe rather than menace or inevitability. It sounds forward looking rather than simply cyclical even as the entire track sounds like one great becoming. Watch the video for “Brutalisme” on YouTube and follow the French ambient artist at the links below. His EP from which this song is drawn Les Grands Ensembles EP released on February 17, 2023.

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Springworks Deconstructs and Reconstructs and Reinvents its Sound on Lo-Fi Psychedelic Pop Song “Joke of the Season”

The impetus behind the writing of Springworks’ song “Joke of the Season” was the feeling of hearing a lot of uniformity in in music, probably popular music, and how a stylistic trend of production method will run through a huge swath of music or really form of art for awhile. In the 2010s too many years meant yet another “garage rock” band that sounded like everything else on Burger Records or a “psych rock” group that wasn’t particularly genuinely psychedelic or really even trippy but just had a little reverb or delay on the guitar and vocals to thicken the tone and give it a little atmosphere. Just prior to that the whole chamber pop thing or indie Americana. If you listened to a radio station touting the indie music format you might very well listen to a half hour of music and not know it was a different band from different decades. The title refers to a joke told too often, or really any trick or rote creative choice or habit repeated to the point of being stale rather than reliable.

So did Springworks succeed in bursting past a popular trend of today or at least burst through an instinct to repeat a successful formula? When the song begins it’s not unlike a good psychedelic pop song with some resonance for psychedelic music of the 60s but around the halfway point the song shifts into a piano driven section with samples for a half minute a so before returning to the musical themes of the beginning of the song. But the chorus of “We are the joke of the season” in the outro gives us a clue as to the conclusions reached in writing the song. It’s like what Thirteenth Century Zen master Dōgen wrote “Before one studies Zen, mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after a first glimpse into the truth of Zen, mountains are no longer mountains and waters are no longer waters; after enlightenment, mountains are once again mountains and waters once again waters.” It seems Springworks in undertaking challenging their own internalized creative complacency that seems to have infected too much of popular music discovered that some principles of songwriting work for a reason bur that in “Joke of the Season” the innovation comes in the structure of the song and the reworking of the placement of lyrics and not getting stuck in stale habits yet not rejecting completely what you do well. Is that indeed the titular realization? A perennial desire to revolutionize your creative aesthetic only to conclude that you can only be you but you can reconnect and reconfigure your methods and mode of expression. And to be fair does Springworks sound like a band in a worn out popular style? No. “Joke of the Season” is effective in the way Springworks has always deconstructed lo-fi psychedelic pop, the band just found a new way to give it a fresh approach. Listen to the song on Spotify and follow the band at the links below.

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Louise Burns Transports Us Into a State of Euphoric Infatuation on Chillwave Single “Bloom”

Louise Burns, photo by Mackenzie Walker

Louise Burns is channeling a bit of the eternal late night summer energy on “Bloom.” The hazy saturation of the synths billowing around Burns’ hushed yet warm vocals and clearing away by the end of the song is reminiscent of the glory heyday of early 2010’s chillwave sound and Neon Indian in particular. But Burns updates the production and the sense of nostalgia is more leaning into the melodrama underpinning that music that makes it a perfect vehicle for being caught up in strong emotions and swept away by feelings of romance and infatuation. There is a purity and clarity in Burns’ expressions of hopefulness and yearning in the song and that is what elevates the sentiments beyond the suggestion of how sad it might be as mentioned at the beginning of the song. Instead it’s easy enough to be caught up in this wave of affection along with Burns. Listen to “Bloom” on YouTube and follow the Canadian singer/songwriter at the links below.

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Lo Artiz Leans Into Her Heartache on the Neo Soul Single “get by”

Lo Artiz, photo courtesy the artist

Lo Artiz has taken a major bout of heartache and set it to a chill and melancholic beat with “get by.” It’s neo-soul flavor takes just a touch of the sting out of mistreatment and feeds into a spirit of wounded resilience that flows through the song. But lines like “Lately all I do is cry, but imma still get by/So clean, still whenever I walk by/You know imma get by” are so poignant it captures such a specific feeling when you feel like you didn’t do anything wrong but got treated like you don’t rate by some trifling fool who you thought might have been different. So you just lean into that feeling, that ache and relive some of those memories and ride that pain until you’re through it and maybe, just maybe, not have to revisit it with the clown of the moment and be stronger for it going into the future and preserve some of your dignity in the process. Listen to “get by” on Spotify and follow Lo Artiz at the links below.

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LINEBUG Helps Us to Find a Manageable Way of Processing a Rapidly Changing and Complex World in the Charming Stop Motion Video for Chamber Pop Single “Sideways”

LINEBUG, photo courtesy the artists

“Sideways” by Danish pop duo LINEBUG is a song about drifting without direction and searching for identity in an increasingly complex world. But the song and its delightful stop motion music video takes on this subject at a creative and playfully personal manner. We see singer Line Bøgh surrounded by images seemingly assembled by a hodge podge of objects at hand, like the kinds of information, events and cultural developments that seem to be coming at us at a fast rate constantly these days, and many of these objects form the lyrics of the song as if that is one way of making sense of it all and finding a path forward by finding a way for it to make sense in a way that’s relatable and useful in your own life. The video is reminiscent of the kinds of animation one might have seen in children’s shows in the 70s and 80s and perhaps now and in deconstructing the complexity to those fundamentals the changes with which we must come to terms seems manageable. The song driven by strings and piano in a spare, chamber pop style itself makes a new way of seeing things seem palatable and desirable. Watch the video for “Sideways” on YouTube and follow LINEBUG at the links below. LINEBUG’s new album, a meditation on and exploration of similar themes as “Sideways,” Fast Changing Landscapes, released on April 21, 2023.

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Aleesha Dibbs Casts Off Pernicious Fools With Dreamlike Elegance on “Conjured You Up”

Aleesha Dibbs, photo courtesy the artist

In setting “Conjured You Up” to a soft electronic beat and layers of hazy synth with a melody in tone like something written on a Mellotron, Aleesha Dibbs gives the song a dreamlike cast. It’s like something crafted from library music but with that psychedelic pop style its lyrics about deep self-disappointment and feeling foolish at the mistreatment of an abusive person time and again. So in the lyrics Dibbs puts some distance between her own failings as a person by describing the abuser as a “fake idea” and “I conjured you up.” This framing somehow makes it easier to see these fools as manifestations of one’s own vulnerabilities rather than something or someone to which to give too much power and influence on one’s life. The song is an acknowledgment of how our very natures can attract certain energies without taking that on as an inherent flaw, but something to expect and cast off. Musically it’s reminiscent of a downtempo Black Moth Super Rainbow song and though short the song’s gently radiant melodies and textures linger with you. Listen to “Conjured You Up” on Spotify.

Nikki Oniyome Sifts Through the Fog of Social Projections on New Age Ambient Track “Underestimated”

Nikki Oniyome, photo courtesy the artists

The current of roiling ethereal tone that runs through Nikki Oniyome’s “Underestimated” hits some beautifully disorienting notes throughout the course of the song. It cycles and resonates as the vocalist speaks words about how many people interpret who you are and project their hidden and not so secret desires for you and your identity as it is reflected in their own lives and insist that such images are your truth. And the saturated and distorted synths that wash about in slow waves are like the frequency of a lucid dream that make it more clear what your own truth might be separate from the expectation of others. Musically it’s reminiscent of Alice Coltrane’s 1980s New Age era or like early Laurel Halo with a spiritual energy that lingers with you as an encouragement to embrace one’s own authentic self. Listen to “Underestimated” on Spotify and follow Nikki Oniyome at the links provided.

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Boambee’s Synthpop Single “Cactus” is a Heartfelt and Affectionate Portrait of a Complex Parental Bond

Boambee, photo courtesy the artist

“Cactus” begins like a poem that Boambee has set to a beat with dreamlike background melodies casting a tone of regret. And the words hit heavy given the songwriter crafted the song in the wake of the passing of her father because they’re like a letter to someone with whom you had unresolved conflicts that had you the time to sit down and talk maybe discuss the hurts when they’re intertwined with lingering feelings of love the way every kid feels toward their parents especially when that love was real and despite conflicted feelings remains long after you lose that parent. Boambee imbues the song with that psychological complexity and nuance with a warmth and power in the expertly orchestrated waves and sweep of the song’s gorgeously ethereal synths and finely arranged beats. The image of the title is perfect as a symbol for a relationship that sticks in your mind with the pain and beauty in sometimes equal measure but leaning toward the positive as something that can be appreciated and valued on its own merits. Listen to “Cactus” on Spotify and connect with Boambee, the Kiwi/Aussie producer now based in Nashville, at the links below.

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Josephine Odhil’s Hazily Psychedelic Video for “Rye” Gently Drifts Into Your Mind and Guides it to Contemplative and Restful Spaces

Josephine Odhil, photo courtesy the artist

Josephine Odhil, formerly of psychedelic rock band The Mysterons, brings a gentle drift into the melodies and billowing structure of “Rye.” The lyric video by Michael Cullen with is flowing and hazy images in beautifully washed out colors matches the song’s fuzzy edges and daydreamy energy. Odhil’s melodious vocals seem to lean back into a floating reverie as elegant guitar work traces the rhythm, swells of synth bloom and cascade in slow pulses for an effect that’s soothingly hypnotic befitting the song’s impressionistic lyrics. The video and the music together are like a painting in motion and its subtle layers of texture and atmosphere sinks deep into your mind easing it into a more restful and contemplative space. Watch the video for “Rye” on YouTube and follow Odhil at the links below.

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