Don’t you wanna get away? Escape all your problems somehow? Jump off a “cliff” into the “ocean”? Just do it! Go for it! Take those monkeys on your back and throw them in the garbage! Nobody’s gonna stop you! Jump! Fly! Live! Here, watch this new Paperwhite video to get you in the mood (SPOILER ALERT: it’s quite good):
The first thing I’m reminded of after listening to “Dancing On Glass,” St. Lucia’s new single, is The Lonely Island’s YOLO. It took the then used-to-death phrase that legitimized any and all reckless decisions and completely flipped the tone behind what “You Only Live Once” should mean. You only live once! So Stop being stupid! Be more pragmatic with your one allotted life!
St. Lucia comes in with all of that awareness in mind, conceding that logic should win out in most situations. The mighty chorus even begins with a couple of rhetorical pro-safety questions: “how long until we find that dancing is dangerous?” and “how long until we find the devil inside of us?” Also, Soda’s bad for you! Meat accounts for 50% of greenhouse gases! Put your seatbelts on!
But despite knowing all the hazards, excess is simply way too fun to pass up on. So let’s just keep chugging along until the train derails, who cares. It’s an often discussed topic, especially in the world of intoxicatingly fun Synthpop, St. Lucia steers clear of the usual carousel of platitudes spun out and seems to be the only one in the club with enough foresight to at least know how shitty tomorrow is going to feel on all of their slowly decomposing bodies.
At this point, I find it necessary for me to mention that I’m usually the person in the back of the dance floor, using my crossed arms as a makeshift coat rack for all my friends’ jackets. So for everyone else, “Dancing On Glass” probably doesn’t need to come with as much existential baggage. It’s a super fun song! You’ll love it! Who cares if you’re gonna die soon!
I have listened to “Love For That” by Mura Masa feat. Shura possibly a hundred times. I have watched the music video maybe a million times. No shame because how could I not?! Masa’s fun flute and steel drum sound mixed in with Shura’s magical lungs that reach the most beautiful pitch gives my ears such a buzz. The music video only adds to the charisma of the song. Theatrics, dancing and an enticing storyline will leave you absolutely falling in love with everything about this single. Check it out below!
Alex Crossan, the 19 year old “beat-slayer, heart-breaker, producer, singer, writer, lover” has got some serious musical chops. Appearing on BBC’s Sound of 2016 List and featured on Spotify’s Spotlight UK, there’s no doubt we’ll be hearing more of this kid. He sets on a European tour starting in the spring, so if you’re around you better not miss this!
His EP Someday Somewhere released earlier this year and has gotten some great reviews.. that’s just judging by the comments on his Facebook page. For lack of a more intricate description upon first listen to the EP, it is pure fire. The funk and high pitched sounds are similarly stimulating to that of a Years and Years/Frank Ocean musical brain child with a heavy dash of electronics to give it the edge so prominent in his sound. This guy needs to come to the US asap. I’m serious.
Ok let’s just clear up this confusion right away. Darwin Deez is the name of a band from New York. But it is also the alter-ego of the band’s front-man and creator, Darwin Smith. He made a splash in 2009 with his self-produced/self-titled record. Featuring infectious pop jams like “Radar Detector” and “Constellations,” the album showcased Darwin’s talent for quirky but catchy-as-hell tunes. After a slight turn towards the angst with 2013’s Songs for Imaginative People, Deez has returned to form with the recently released Double Down.
Double Down shows real growth in almost all aspects. While Songs for Imaginative People was step up from the first record in terms of production, it also had a much edgier sound. Bizarre electronic glitch noises gave the album a unique tone, but the added grit was a bit at odds with Darwin’s pop sensibilities. Still, songs like “Alice” and “Redshift” illustrated Darwin was headed in the right direction. Double Down is a delightful mix of the boppy and emotional tracks we have come to expect from Darwin Deez, along with some new sounds. This added variety gives the listener more to dig into, and all with better production and guitar playing than we’ve heard from Darwin before.
We were able to steal a few minutes from Darwin’s day, and find out a little more about the man behind the Deez.
How did you get into playing music?
And you started right in on guitar.
Yeah when I was 11. My dad played guitar.
What, would you say, is your ultimate goal when you make music?
I was hanging out with some hipsters yesterday, and I met this guy. He plays with a group called High Functioning Flesh. I went to check his music out after sort of crashing his family’s thanksgiving, and there was a mission statement under one of his songs… I liked it, but maybe it’s also a bit pretentious… but it was something along the lines of “Our music is designed to shock people awake from the spectacle induced coma that society puts them under.” And that made me think about goals people can accomplish through music. Personally I think that music is first and foremost emotional. So my main goal is to help people process and manage their emotional state, and give them an emotional boost. That happiness is the sort of thing I like to get from music. So nothing really grand or political or cultural – although I would love that – but actually in the writing of it, I think a lot more about trying to bring some joy. Because life is dark, you know?
Do you find it hard to fight against the spectacle of society without becoming a spectacle yourself?
Actually, I was listening to High Functioning Flesh, and I was like “Shit.” My music definitely does keep people lulled in a sense. In the same way it makes me feel good, it kinda makes me want to shop. It kinda makes me want to ignore society’s malcontents. So, yeah, I do worry about that. You know, if you’re not raging against the machine, you’re sort of working for it. But I think primarily music is an emotional experience. People need to contact joy inside of themselves before they have the energy to go and do their life’s work, which may or may not be more directly cultural, or more directly working on changing society.
In 2013 you were quoted in an interview saying, “I think people’s feelings are really important and worth hearing and investigating in every case.” Would it be fair to say that’s a general thesis for your music?
I’m not sure because there’s no listening involved. To take people’s feelings seriously is to listen to them, and I’m not there. They’re listening to me. If in any way it involves them listening to their own feelings, that’s good. But I think to really take someone’s feelings seriously you have to sit there and actively listen to them. Rather than just broadcast musical ideas.
So a lot of your songs focus on these emotions and feelings and relationships, and many of them do so by utilizing an extended metaphor. Is approaching these issues through metaphor easier for you?
I’m trying to make songs with individuality. Trying to make songs with specificity, songs that are memorable. That’s just my way of doing that. The other way that you can do that is you can have lots of particular lines that stand out and grab you. I mean, I do that too, but I’m really striving for memorability. I mean as a songwriter, the words have different functions. It’s like a multi-stage rocket booster. The first stage rocket-blaster-job of lyrics is to get noticed, and the metaphors help in that sense. People can grab onto something that’s explicitly about DNA or the Doppler Effect, or a last cigarette, or something else that’s very concrete. There are other jobs that lyrics have to do, but I think the metaphors have to do with that first stage of rocket booster. Just getting into the listener’s face a little.
If you had to pick another art form to capture these ideas, what do you think you might lean towards?
Prose. I like prose. I like to read non-fiction. I think the last book I read was about American History. I just read the chapters from about the 1950’s to the present. It would just summarize little incidents, and I’d be like “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that. What was so interesting about that?” And then it would go into brief detail about it. I enjoyed reading that. I don’t have a very large attention span so…
So you just came out with a new music video for “The Mess She Made.” You’ve developed a pretty distinct image for yourself as the front man of this band, and you put that in the forefront of this and other music videos. Does that tie into the idea of trying to grab people and grab attention?
Yeah, basically. There’s so much indie music out there. And not only is there a lot of cool music happening now, but there’s five or six decades – even more than that- that’re just totally fascinating. I’m just trying to make myself into a sort of bookmark, so that you can remember where you were the last time you listened to anything that I did. “Oh yeah! Bookmark this guy.” I mean that used to be a way that I liked to dress when I was younger, before I had any success in music and I was seeking my commission in more active ways. I was a New York Hipster seeking self-expression and recognition. Now that I’m older I don’t really walk around like that much anymore. I have a much more conservative look that I rock in my daily life. Which is just a hat basically. But I do think hair is pretty useful for rock n’ roll purposes.
So correct me if I’m wrong, but on your first album you did everything yourself.
But now you’re playing with a band.
I am, but I still do everything by myself on the record.
As a drummer I’ve always been very impressed by your programed drum tracks. Even though the drum sounds aren’t necessarily natural, the grooves are really good. I’ve caught myself on Double Down going back and forth between what I think is live drums and programmed tracks.
Yeah, pretty amazing software these days, huh?
So it’s all programed?
Yeah. Live drums are just so complicated and expensive to do, and then you don’t even have as much control over how it ends up sounding in the end. You just get what you get based on the snare that was available, and the room and the console and the person. I ended up just saving the money and saving the sense of control. I liked how it sounded, so I decided just to stay. It’s like playing blackjack and you’re at 17. Better not take a hit. It’s kinda like that. I did give it a shot for a moment. I had one day in my studio messing around with the drums. On top of everything, you’ve really got to get a good player, and it just didn’t come together. So I just went and got really into the programed drummer in Logic, and did as much as I could in post-processing.
I know! It’s pretty great.
So I’ve seen in other interviews you’ve done that with a couple of songs off the new album, you looked to write based off of bass lines, rather than guitar riffs or melodies. Is that something you’ve been thinking about more – trying to push yourself to write in new ways? You have a niche pretty nicely carved out for yourself with your sound. Do you think that these new types of songwriting techniques could push the boundaries of that?
Yeah, it could have that effect I suppose. I guess it already has had that effect a little bit, I don’t know… I mainly do it to stay inspired. There’s so many moving parts to a song and you can really use any of them as a starting point. It’s a way to keep it interesting when there’s so much structurally to worry about, you know, verse-chorus, verse-chorus. You can take any part of that song and say “We’re going to make a song that definitely has this element going.” And then just build around that. It becomes a completely different experience based on that. So I mainly just do it to keep myself engaged in the process.
Well however he is doing it, it seems to be working. All gambling references aside, Double Down is the strongest start-to-finish album Darwin Deez has made yet. Darwin’s earnest lyrics combine with some stellar guitar licks for a more polished and complete product than anything that has come before. I just wish I could somehow get the guitar lick from “The Mess She Made” to follow me around wherever I go…
Darwin is finishing up his North American tour over the next couple weeks, so there’s still a chance to catch his energetic live show for some of you. In case you needed any more convincing, I’ve heard the whole band has choreographed dance breaks.
So I’ll see you there?
Stolen Jars is the indie music project of Cody Fitzgerald and Molly Grund. Inspired by acts as diverse as Sufjan Stevens, Elvis Costello, and Dirty Projectors, the music is a vibrant mixture of looping intricate guitar lines and floating melodies all brought to life by a live band featuring Elena Juliano, Connor McGuigan, Matt Marsico and Tristan Rodman.
Fitzgerald and Grund are building off the success of Stolen Jars’ self-titled album released in 2011. The single off that album, “Driving,” was featured in an international Apple iPad commercial. Their sophomore album Kept is decidedly more ambitious. Fitzgerald composed and layered tracks in his bedroom, tinkering to ensure precision. He and Grund then worked together to build vocal melodies around the tracks.
Stolen Jars played CMJ for the first time a few weeks back, and Bob Boilen of NPR discovered the band and subsequently included them on his list of Top Ten Discoveries of CMJ, as well as All Songs Considered. He wrote of the band: “This staccato pop band wavers between arpeggiated guitar and electronics and a lilting, almost South African-styled guitar band at times. It’s that melody between two of its members – guitarist Cody Fitzgerald and singer Molly Grund – that keeps these six musicians from being more than just another joyous indie rock band.”
All this leads us to today where NPR First Watch shares Stolen Jars’ new music video “Waves” from their sophomore album, Kept.
Cody Fitzgerald of the band says this about how the video came to be: “The video is about falling into and out of different memories. I wrote this song at a time when I was wondering whether I should let those moments pass by as waves of emotion or embrace them. So when the three of us were making the video, we wanted to try and capture that wave-like feeling of falling into a memory and being unsure of whether or not that’s where you should be.”
When premiering, “Folded Out,” the first single from Kept, Wondering Sound wrote “Cody Fitzgerald and Molly Grund’s voices spiral and intertwine . . . flutes dart like fireflies, strings swoop down – what started modest and pretty becomes mighty and bold and imposing.” After their second single release, more music bloggers including Stereogum, The Wild Magazine, and Gold Flake Paint enthusiastically agreed, describing the music as “addictively vibrant,” “sweetly supple,” “grand, an anthem.” The album was mixed by Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs, Deerhoof, WHY?) and mastered by Jeff Lipton (Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, LCD Soundsystem).
Over the course of the last year, Stolen Jars has been performing regularly in the Northeast, including shows with Sofar Sounds, Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, and Brandeis College’s Springfest where they opened for St. Lucia, ILOVEMAKONNEN and Jessie J. In addition to all of this, Fitzgerald has been working as a film composer on features such as The Rewrite (2015) and Hard Sell (2015). Get ready to fall into and out of different memories, blaming the nostalgia for your new-found love of Stolen Jars.
“Am I allowed to have a nervous breakdown” chants Idgy Dean in her latest video for “Ominous Harminus.”
Idgy Dean has put us under her spell once again on her spooky new track. Her latest video hits our computer screens fittingly on Friday the 13th.
Idgy Dean is the rebel persona of the one woman show of solo, multi instrumentalist Lindsay Sanwald. She describes her music as pachamama garage rock. We don’t know what that really means but we like it.
Her fierce spirit when performing captured our hearts at this years CMJ and well, we couldn’t get enough of it. Check out her latest video below.
Want more Idgy Dean, well we highly recommend you catch her live show. It is 45 minutes of pulsating and captivating performance art.
San Francisco based band Yassou released a very ambitious video album this past month. The third installment of the video series is “To Sink”.
the wind was a torrent of darkness
among the gusty trees
the moon was a ghostly galleon
tossed upon cloudy seas
the road was a ribbon of moonlight
over the purple moor,
and the highwayman came riding
the highwayman came riding
up to the old inn door
The words of vocalist and sometimes bassist, Lilie Bytheway-Hoy often leave you mystified and entangled into what she refers to as Daydream Propaganda.
The band began when they were teenagers in Hudson Valley, NY and has evolved immensely since they relocated to San Francisco, California a few years ago. Their sound is often described as “haunting” and with good reason. Once you watch the video above you will understand that better, since their music will be stuck in your head for days.
Do you remember the 80’s? Do You? DO YOU?!
The 1975 does. At least the year or two of it that they were alive for. They’d like to show you what it was like.
The 1975 made waves in 2013 with their self-titled pop-rock debut. Walk the Moon with a nice, thick British accent. It seems they’re going in a bit of a different direction with their new single “Love Me.” A direction heavily influenced by Prince and the theme from Ghostbusters.
The song starts off with a promising guitar riff, illustrating what Daft Punk and Mark Ronson have proved: disco/funk rhythm guitar is still awesome. Then the rest of the band comes in, reminding us why Huey Lewis and the News is no longer a thing. Now, don’t get me wrong, Huey had his moments. But most of those moments came from Huey Huey-ing it up. In other words, unabashed 80’s power pop-rock. Huey didn’t also try to blind us with science, Thomas Dolby style. He knew that Dolby already did that, and you can’t blind someone with science twice. He also didn’t try to incorporate sparse Prince grooves into his music, as that would be diametrically opposed to his goal of blowing the top of your head off with his horn-infused party-pumpers.
The 1975 miss these points. “Love Me” sounds like the band just discovered 80’s music and crammed their favorite parts into a blender. While this is not an inherently flawed technique, The 1975 managed to produce a downright overpowering smoothie. The lyrics half-heartedly bemoan the plight of the successful musician (”fame, what a shame”), adding a stale dollop of Cool-Whip to an already bizarre creation.
Yet there is a great moment in “Love Me.” It’s the moment where the listener follows the band’s footsteps and says “Fuck it!” When you finally let go of all the reasons that this should be a terrible song, you’ll find yourself bopping your head. The ridiculousness of it all just washes over you, bringing a wry smile to your face. While I don’t foresee “Love Me” going down in any sort of history, I challenge you to get through the song without cracking a grin.
Hailing from Columbia, South Carolina, We Roll Like Madmen deliver a cacophony of static frequencies, grimy bass, and an onslaught of percussive beats. They fit neatly into our electronic music zeitgeist, soaking up and repurposing influences ranging from the dark ambiance of Aphex Twin, LA-via-Brainfeeder beat music, and skeletal depravity akin to Disclosure or Mount Kimbie.
They’re onto something, there’s no doubt about that, and while a few of their tracks are abrasive to the point of limiting their overall appeal (Check out “Brazen Tone“, written by the awkward suburban college kid that confines himself to his dorm room to write poetry), their atmospheric soundscapes and provocative vocals will continue to find appeal among the headphone junkies.
Madmen continued to refine their sound on last year’s Hermetic Vol. 1, an EP which they’ve pegged as “conceptual multimedia.” It’s filled with evocative, distinct sounds that include “You Thought You”, which perfectly showcases their angsty pallet (below).
We Roll Like Madmen make frequent stops up and down the East Coast, so keep an eye out for them if you live in a city with a dedicated indie electronic scene. They are planning to drop their second full length, AF, early next year. In the meantime, be sure to check out their Soundcloud, which includes a slew of goodies that are free to download and ready to be tossed onto playlists.
With the electronic-production prowess of Baths (think Obsidian) and the R&B influence of honest, soulful, hip-hop powerhouses like Drake and Frank Ocean, Lontalius is dismantling classic songwriting structure while retaining its best elements. In his latest release “All I Wanna Say,” he is able to somehow recreate every nostalgic, first-love feeling you have ever felt with less than 25 words.
Lontalius plays with harmonic structures by placing his elegant melodies against unexpected chords in “All I Wanna Say”. The song is able to build in tension and complexity as it reaches its apex. The two main themes in the piece are layered over one another in an ultimate, sweet, 8o8 fueled, crescendo. The listener cannot be sure if they are meant to cry from the beautiful lyrics or dance to the infectious grooves.
The development of the song is its most unique aspect. There is no traditional chorus and the entire song is hook based, it creates a structure of its own (something along the lines of intro -> hook -> more hook -> hook developed -> interlude -> bridge -> hook layered on top of intro -> HOOK/INTRO -> ending).
While he only has two tracks officially released, one needs to just go to his personal SoundCloud page to experience his originals. Lontalius (Eddie Johnston, hailing from Wellington, New Zealand). The songs feature more trademark harmonic beauty and poignant lyrical sentiment, similar to Perfume Genius but with more of a substantial groove underneath.
Hopefully you were able to catch one of Lontalius’ recent CMJ shows, if not us Americans will have to just be content with his awesome new video!
Written by Alessandra Licul