Week in Pop
In the last quarter of 2017, we were treated to the anticipated album Opposable Thumbs (Anyway Records/Midheaven) from Columbus’s own Counterfeit Madison that brings the feeling of revival for all living beings. From the uplifting electro-gospel of “Shout About Cloud”, Madison illustrates the importance of self-empowerment on the theatric swagger of “Like One and One and A to Z” that measures the spaces between people & places right as “Light Switch” moves upward in an ascension toward higher celestial ground. Expressions of gratitude ring forth in the caring keys of “Song For the Loyals”, to the Meatloaf-level stage presence of “I Hope It’s Alright”, to the heart-felt brass inflected “Concept of Life #1 in B major”, before the off-Broadway flair of “Bartlett’s” that is arranged like a rock opera. Counterfeit Madison keeps the stylistic shifts in flux on the hand-clapping & shoulder-shaking pizazz of “Frank”, where the action hits an apex on “Control Freak” that coasts to the curtain call on “Show As Molasses” that imagines Counterfeit Madison along with bassist Adam Hardy & percussionist Seth Daily stepping to the stage apron to give a bow. In Madison’s own introductory words:
Many thanks to God from whom all blessings flow
many thanks to the continent of Africa for producing beautiful people
many thanks to anyone who questions themselves
many thanks to anyone who has loved me as I am
many thanks to Bela, Kyle, and anyway records taking a chance on this alien
many thanks to Keith for going above and beyond for me
may he and his loved ones be blessed for ever and ever until eternity, amen.
Los Angeles artist Keeley Bumford, otherwise known by the moniker of Dresage who presented a gorgeous acoustic string rendition of “Renaissance” filmed by Mattias Evangelista at Culver City venue The Chalet. Conducting an orchestra & illustrating harmonies through ranges that span from hushed to ascending; Keeley’s exhibition of ambitious & imaginative arrangements for vocals & strings presents a fascinating look at contemporary baroque pop.
Featured off Open Mike Eagle’s brilliant album Brick Body Kids Still Daydream via Mello Music Group, we present the latest visual from one of the year’s best records with the Brent Bishop directed video for “Hymnal” ft. Sammus where the dynamic, future path-paving hip hop duo assume the roles of eccentric televangelists. Billed as Mike Eagle’s own Dark Comedy ministries, the artist assumes the dove befriending pastor for profit Dr. Alobar Crowley (clever name-play allusion to Aleister Crowley) as Sammus stars as the Tammy Faye-esque Lucinda Simmons Crowley, where the two of them put their best Jim & Tammy Bakker-faces forward in the name of saving souls through sales. Sammus & OPN unleash their remarkable gift of gab that strikes the core of the spirit even while parodying the point of sale pursuits of the corporate pulpit.
Like many of us, the overbearing weight that was 2017 has left us all with a sense of exhausted befuddlement. In times like these we find a certain release in art both intricate & minimal, and yet sometimes the most simplistic arrangements & executions yield the most complicated of responses to the work in question. Zach Le Fleur illustrates this with the deceivingly sparse solo single “The Hole” that accentuates the power of a singer, songwriter, their guitar and perhaps a few pedals & switches. “The Hole” illustrates the LA tunesmith wearing earnest reflections along the seam of their sleeve while the strums & chorus echoes add up to an emotive build where the chords unravel in an unfurling of human expression.
Get ready for a testimonial to remember with the Erin Elders & Jeff Tomcho video for “Testify” from rising LA artist DAVIE. Get ready to attend the most inspired church session that will fill you with the gospel of life’s graces that will have you rejoicing & jumping out of your chair. From a super solid rhythmic bass line & touches of brass; DAVIE brings a big dose of inspiration tantamount to the most uplifting Sunday morning sermon imaginable. The celebration of life in the present tense starts now.
San Francisco’s DONCAT enlists fellow local percussionist Cody Rhodes on drum duties to send out some honest & down-home warmth with “December Lows”. The chords & restrained vocal harmonies calmly collect like the cumulative collection of thoughts that swell up in the mind’s eye when you’re all by your lonesome. In Duncan Nielsen’s own reflective words about the new song:
This song is inspired by seasonal depression, and an urge to hide from friends and family at a time of year that is supposed to be full of giving and cheer. Basically leave me alone I’m smoking weed for the rest of the winter.
Brooklyn’s Indo Dhans shared some seasonal cheer with the radiating Rhodes piano-tinged holiday tune, “River”, that contemplates holiday escapism amid reflective winter dreams. The notes inter-mesh with electronic touches of ambiance & auto-tuned elements that further the romantic edges of wishes & desires that build up from within, while mulling over what the events of the year truly meant (coupled with the reflections that revolve around the loved ones that are not present at the festive table).
In the celebration of the annual winter solstice, New Jersey’s Old Smile offered some earnest introspective warmth with the gift of a new EP titled Two For Winter. The singular vision of the talented & prolific artist Tom Herman, the single couplet opens up with the spaced-out & stripped down “Find Your Song” that seeks something of an out of an escapist body experience. The subtle sound of shifting tides & life in motion are celebrated on the rhythm & chord brew of “Changing Moods” that chronicles the strange & mysterious nature found in the mercurial movement of our own emotional framework.
Take in the sights that survey the modern systems of sciences via Tom Herman’s visual companion for the Old Smile single “Find Your Song”.
Snuff Redux’s Ess Ford & Gunior present the promo visual for the upcoming album Quarter Cent available soon. The Seattle based artists take the audience for a deep forest hike to their old childhood stomping grounds to unveil an electric synth odyssey instrumental, shared between the two over a rolled-up tight one to heighten the suspense for all of tomorrow’s future events.
Human, lead by Daniel Adams-Ray, presents the Oscar Lund-Hansen video for “Higher” that moves forward & upward to an elevated level of being. Feelings of being alive & out in the world of nature are combined with the technological trappings that prevent us from fully embracing these moments of unbound beauty. In Lund-Hansen’s own words on making the visuals:
is about opening our eyes to reality and asking what is important. Our generation is caught in digital captivity, not seeing further than our screens.
Water From Your Eyes presented a listen to the title track “All A Dance” available on the upcoming album of the same name available January 19 through Exploding In Sound Records’ own Tape Club. Rachel Brown (of Thanks For Coming) & Nate Amos (from Opposites) fuses together locomotive rhythm sections that are met with curious & beguiling guitar loops that propel the vocal harmonics through ballrooms of their own aesthetic design.
Nashville artist Tristen delivered the sentimental, earnest & organic single “Crying On Christmas Day” to benefit Doctors Without Borders. The collective season of heartbreak, hardship & memories of loved ones lost is summed up beautifully in an acoustic, holistic ballad that will leave you misty eyed & with the spirit of goodwill toward all in need.
Hawaiian artist Trent Kainalu, oka Kainalu, shares a meditative moment with the zen of “Finding Peace of Mind”. The quest for stillness & tranquility is told through the keys & rising vapor atmospheres that emulates the feeling of a meditative session met by throwback pop tropes reminiscent of AM radio essences recalled in the throes of peaceful nostalgia. In Kainalu’s own words:
[My dad] would always try and get me to read Alan Watts’ literature as a way of accepting the stress and anxiety of the world. Although, it’s kind of ironic though because a book inspired the lyrics which are about not being able to learn yourself inside of books.
FutureClown, oka Rachel Mason presents the self-made video for “Time to Resign!” that blends a mash-up of audio & visuals from the executive powers that be & more that include Kathy Griffin, Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Miss American Contestants, Time Magazine, The White House, Wrestlemania & much more. Cleverly re-arranging speech fragments & sound bite quips to spell out what the popular majority has already woken up to; Mason makes a point & takes a stand to shake the remaining cronies & trolls out of their delusion in an effort to save the sovereignty of our shared tomorrow.
Fresh off his recent massive tour, hip hop’s rising hero wifisfuneral delivered the single “LilSkiesFuneral” ft. Lil Skies combined with the pluming bass heavy production from Cris Dinero. The Florida star emcee rides with a quick sense of reckless & wilding out style of strict rhythmic delivery & tone—joined by Skies’ flashy flow that further establishes the Waynesboro by Chambersburg, PA up & coming mic manager.
Ireland’s own premiere imprint Little L Records presents Dublin artist This Fresh Hell, aka the multidisciplinary vision of Des Garvey who shares a listen to the debut single “Intact” featured off the upcoming album available later in 2018. The grandiose pop schemes of Garvey are realized through collaborative contributions as the Dev’s voice is lifted upward in ambient & electronic buzzing key-sequences that ascend like the vapors of the morning dew that rise to reach the morning’s sun.
Tbilisi, Georgia by way of London artist APIS shares the emotive heavy weight single “Proof” that operates in a sparse & visceral style of expression. Like something from the Dark Skies Association that sounds in conjunction with a Molly Nilsson or John Maus aesthetic; APIS offers analog approaches to the electronic medium where the brooding delivery is met with the sparkles of synths that sends out glimmers of hope for a greater happiness.
LA’s master of the mic & lyrical knowledge MURS delivered the performance video for the inspiring & ultra-personal single “Melancholy”. Ruminating on the things that take a toll on the human soul, MURS exhibits the yin & yang of love, life & loss in frankly illustrative expressions that shines light on the hopes of tomorrow as well as the tribulations of the past. With news of the upcoming Michael ‘Seven’ Summers produced album A Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable available March 16, MURS introduced the new single & video with the following insights:
On March 16, my birthday, I’ll be putting out my most personal album ever. I’ve been through a lot in the past couple of years, from a divorce, to the death of my newborn son. “Melancholy” is the first step on A Strange Journey Into The Unimaginable, my new album produced entirely by Michael ‘Seven’ Summers, Strange Music‘s in-house producer and Tech N9ne’s go-to beat-maker. I know it’s the holiday season, and for those of you grieving, feeling alone, or for whatever reason can’t quite get into the holiday spirit, this one’s for you. And for those of you that are in the holiday spirit, consider this an early gift from Seven and myself.
Denmark’s TWIMM, fka INDIANS/Soren Juul, shared the introspective & earnest single “Blame” featured off the debut EP slated for later in 2018. Exchanges and expressions between lovers, both former & present, are relayed in slowed electronic zaps that allows all the energy in-between two parties to radiate in atmospheric discourse. In TWIMM’s own reflective words:
With respect for each other and the future, we can have the best intentions and a great desire to make it beautiful to succeed—to give something valuable further. We will likely do our best to make this happen, which may mean giving up the thought and imagination of how the perfect life would be lived.
Dent May presented the glamorous Carson Culver & Sean Price video for “90210” from the Carpark release Across the Multiverse. Starring Tennessee Luke as Dent’s plastic-surgery loving double, everything from champagne dreams to swimming pool dalliances are regaled as the Southern artist soaks up all the materialistic rays of the west coast that makes the artist’s Beach Boys’ affectation feel even more pertinent. Catch Dent May on a massive 2018 tour.
San Francisco Lapel presented the potent new single of confident & assertive purpose “Less Of A Woman”. Aspects of identity are observed through the comparative lens that finds Lapel breaking out the molds & expectation of others in the quest to truly be the person they want to be (no matter what anyone else says or thinks).
J F L E presented us with a listen to the track couplet of Guess My Age / Ambitioning that closes out our year with innovative sounds of care & comfort. “Guess My Age” breaks the conventions of chronological concerns through a creative array of intriguing sound designs, as earnest electro pulsing rhythms reverberate all throughout the illuminated synth-ensemble of “Ambitioning”.
San Francisco’s Westerns presented the single “Wanted Your Love” that sends out wishes of warmth out into the chilly winter sky. Josh Meer & Doug Schadt produce a sound that ruminates with expressions of desires coupled with subtle electronic elements that makes the sentiments seem even more expansive amid the cold air of the season.
LA’s Smoke Season delivered a look at the Scott Fleishman for APLUSFILMZ video for “Wolves” that takes the concept of Dancing with Wolves toward a new glamorous echelon. Leader Gabrielle Wortman is joined by fancy friends Luna Lovebad, Nicole Stark & Bella Graham in images that juxtapose the neon lit paths of city life with adventuring out to desert locales in a fashionable wolf pack force to be reckoned with.
Tim Kuhl sent word of the upcoming album SKY VALLEY with a look at the Chris Tucci animated video for “Mutations I” that explores the intrinsic & electronic aspects of evolution in motion. From forms, faces, shapes, colors & light coming alive; Kuhl crafts an ambient hymn to help us ride into the sunset of 2017, entering whatever 2018 jay bring.
New Portals delivered the Rotor Videos visuals for “SObER” that emphasizes the importance of coherence in exchanges that extend well beyond the chemically addled varieties. The somber song provides shades of December feels that reflects on a desire to connect in a manner beyond the substances that can separate the sweetest of hearts & souls.
Alex Winston & MS MR’s Max Hershenow are Post Precious who deliver a look at the visual for their debut single “Timebomb” full of expressive gesticulations & choreographed maneuvers. The duo embrace their most pop-forward sensibilities that strikes all the right keys & responsive nerves as Alex & Max play out their new-new-romantic expressions in dramatic poses & motions.
Those looking for some absolutely plugged-in & ultra amplified pop hooks and nothing but; then turn up stop.drop.rewind’s “I Was A Portrait” that takes the power-pop-punk thing to a complete over the top level. Like the entire west coast 90s pristine garage pop obsession, s.d.r unleash a feverish barrage of every catch harmony/chord trick in the book that they can possibly hurl at you.