STAINWASHER - "AFTER ALL"
The output of the Swedish Dream Pop project has really captivated me as of late. The entirety of the production sound distant and hazily formed – like coming into consciousness from a deep sleep. Ethereal synths, strummed guitars deep in the mix are buoyed by vocals that cut right through the mix, offering an anchor and a focal point of this otherwise gossamer track. Beautiful work.
FRITZ MYERS - "THE TIME IS GOING TO PASS AWAY"
Compressing huge emotions into bite-sized compositions, Fritz Myers work for film and podcast have a way to use wordless music to name very specific emotions. For his work on “The Time Is Going to Pass Anyway” Fritz is joined with New York’s Ensemble 63 to pen a highly lyrical, highly active piece that moves from wistful nostalgia to a frantic present. Using a string quartet to pen lines that swoop, arc and dive around each other with stunning precision and emotional heft.
CAUTIOUS CLAY - "SIDEWINDER"
That voice, right? Cautious Clay has the ability to completely fill up what would otherwise be a sparse track with a space-owning, soaring voice that needs little accruement to be the leading vehicle in the track’s forward progression. Joined by lightly propulsive percussion towards the latter-half, “SIDEWINDER” is Cautious Clay at his best and in his element. Totally arresting from the first note.
HAAV - "REFLEKSJON"
The Norwegian ambient artist created “Refleksjon” around the inherent resonance and musical possibilities of water. Lightly percussive rain drops and the basis for the evolving, shifting overtones “Refleksjon” takes the shape of its container, moving from bright arpeggios to subtle shifts intone until it is joined by a bubbling percussive pad that provides just enough propulsion forward to have this track stand out.
BUCOLIC - "LIGHT TRACES"
Existing on heat-warped cassette tape played through a busted ’95 Camry car stereo, “Light Traces” uses a charming lo-fi aesthetic to buoy, instead of mask, a penchant for writing highly melodic, extremely hooky indie pop songs. Think Memory Tapes’ aurally warped sound world meets Guided By Voices earworm pop sensibilities. Great work by this New Jersey based artist.
SON STEP - "SAUCY"
The Philadelphia-based trio create stunningly complex but inherently tuneful compositions led by intertwining melodic and percussive synth and vocal lines that move at their own idiosyncratic pop sensibilities. It seems impossible to reverse engineer a Son Step song. Every twisting and turning line seems triggered and manipulated by its predecessor. Fortunately the trio have the songwriting skills to marshal all of these dependents into a tuneful, mid-spring pop song that erases any traces of a brutal winter.
SIMEN MITLID - "CHAOTIC GOOD"
“Dungeons & Dragons, apathy and love” are the perfect non sequitur combination for a this almost perfect indie-rock ballad by the Norwegian based artist. What could be a hazy strummer a la The Clientele is given a fully-fleshed treatment as the saccharine sweet melody is joined with bright synths, electronic percussion and a fat, low-end bass that sounds so warm and clear, peeking in and out of the melodic framework.
SHEYE - "/ME"
I am a big fan of the restraint shown in “/Me”. What could be a running set up to a lush beat-heavy drop is instead laid out as a track steeped in longing and anticipation, percussive bits floating in and out of the track but never quite landing in a way that provides a predictable skeletal framework. The UK duo instead bob and weave musical modes and motifs throughout the track, creating a feeling of ever-ascending
RYAN HELSING - "DECAYING FLOWER"
The highly percussive and danceable “Decaying Flower” packs a lot of additive percussive and melodic elements into its relatively short run time. Petals are pushed back to reveal another bass line, percussive pad or guitar arpeggio that move this track forward into ever-increasing heights. It’s a track that demands headphones and a morning commute.
KYLE DIXON & MICHAEL STEIN (OF S U R V I V E) - "Affluenza"
The lead single off of Rashad Johnson’s critically acclaimed rendition of Richard Wright’s novel, the duo behind the wildly popular “Stranger Things” and John Carpenter synth-revivalists, take their narrative abilities into the deeply fractured heart of a racist America. Joining a forboding sub-bass with waves of noise and strands of intersecting melodies, “Affluenza” narrates a whole different kind of terror.