Forever your beacon of light & hope at the end of the weekly tunnel, Impose’s Week in Pop delivers the breaking media & exclusives you won’t get anywhere else. But first we give you your weekly rundown of just some of the week’s biggest buzz from the headlines, with first news that Kanye West allegedly dropped the first yet-to-be-titled track off the upcoming Cruel Winter (the follow-up to Cruel Summer from 2012) on Big Boy’s Neighborhood via 92.3 ft. Big Sean, Gucci Mane, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, Migos’ Quavo, Yo Gotti, & Desiigner; #SAVETHESMELL!; Angel Olsen dropped the song & video for “Intern”; Kool A.D. dropped the Ronald Grandpey animated video for “Prove It” produced by Scoop Deville; Radiohead dropped the latest artist interpretation for “Identikit”; MUTEK Montréal fun; Primavera Sound 2016 buzz; Young Thug dropped “Gangster Shit”, allegedly off the forthcoming Hy!£UN35; Waxahatchee’s Early Recordings will be available June 17 via Merge, hear “Home Game” via The Spark Mag; P.S. Eliot (Katie & Allison Crutchfield of Waxahatchee & Swearin’) to release their complete works September 2 on Don Giovanni with 2007-2011, & dropped the single “we’d never agree”; The Avalanches’ new album Wildflower will be available July, & dropped “Frankie Sinatra” ft. MF DOOM & Danny Brown; M.I.A. dropped “Poc That Still a Ryda”; Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better” remixes; James Blake announced tour; Vic Mensa dropped the EP There’s Alot Going On; Of Montreal announced the new album Snare Lustrous Doomings available August 12 from Polyvinyl, & dropped the single “it’s different for girls”; Beck dropped the single “Wow” after much fanfare; PJ Harvey dropped “The Orange Monkey” video directed by Seamus Murphy & shot in Afghanistan; President Barack Obama in a proclamation has declared June to be “African-American Music Appreciation Month”; Thurston Moore’s Bernie Sanders collaboration “Feel It in Your Guts”; Prophets of Rage supergroup are plotting a “ruckus” at the National Republican Convention in Cleveland; Anohni to walk 110 miles in the Western Australian desert to protest the development of a uranium mine in solidarity with the Indigenous Australian Martu people who live in Parnngurr; Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds announced that their new album Skeleton Tree will be available September 9; The Killers played a brand new song; Built To Spill announced fall tour with Alex G & Hop Along; Joey Bada$$, Mac Miller, & Vince Staples NYC shows have been canceled and/or rescheduled; Minor Victories supergroup (consisting of Rachel Goswell of Slowdive, Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, Justin Lockey of Editors) North Americana tour postponed on account of visa delays; Sunset Music Festival in Tampa, Floria turned fatal; Zulu Nationa issued an apology to alleged victims who have accused Afrika Bambaataa of sexual abuse; we wish Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie an expedient recovery after a stage fall at the Caribana festival; we implore you to help Phil Elverum’s (of Mount Eerie, Microphones) wife Geneviève Castrée fight cancer; and we all continue to remember Surfer Blood’s Thomas Fekete.
With all this in heart & mind, it is our pleasure & privilege to present the following interviews, insights, & exclusives from Decorations, LUKA, Pastel, Nick Leng, Savoy Motel, Small Million, South of France, Alex Vans, Golden Brown, Marsheaux, Soto Voce, Yuzima, featuring guest selections by Maria Usbeck, and more—in no particular order.
Occasionally every so often a troubadour comes around with a song in their heart that changes your life upon first listen. Perhaps it was some opening act that gripped you by the heartstrings as you patiently awaited the act you had waited months, weeks, and years in advance to witness performing in the flesh. And maybe it was that artist who caught you off guard with some clever chord arrangement, a lyrical couplet, a bridge, a bar, a beat, a stanza, a verse, a chorus, a refrain, or sustain that then sent you weeping into the contents of the 12 ounce beverage that you paid $10 to the barkeep for, not including the obligatory gratuity. But no matter what, who, where or when; these artists whose personas and work enter our lives at the precise correct time can make the biggest impact imaginable in our respective worlds.
Which brings us to Toronto’s latest rising tune-smith LUKA, who premieres the live video for “Pauses of the Night” featured off the forthcoming album Summon Up a Monkey King available June 24 from Yellow K Records. Directed & edited by Colin Medley with additional camera work by Katrina Singletton; LUKA’s own unique intimate style is captured on stage at Toronto’s The Smiling Buddha where the minimalist b/w style allows the viewer & listener to feel at home, up close & personal with the artist & band. And it is from here that we are introduced to the songs & sounds of LUKA, where the wild nature of the heart that yearns for what the hearts for is spelled out in the most sublime & cryptic of passages. The own consciousness of amour is personified as a force of nature that exists outside of our own reins of control, where mentions of memories allude to those blank spaces & voids of space & time that abide by a certain sort of logic, and supernatural set of metaphysics that encase our most mythologized memorized of moments that replayed in the mind’s theater like a favorite film scene watched ad nauseum to conjure up feelings that supersede descriptions, definitions, & pithy adjectives.
The live footage from Colin Medley & Katrina Singleton places the listening/viewing audience in a very cozy crowd at Toronto’s Smiling Buddha on the date of this past April 28. Joined by a band of guitars, subdued percussion & accompanying voices; LUKA takes time in developing the narrative that explores the feelings that two individuals possess for one another over epoch blocks & eras. What draws us into LUKA’s songs is the way that memories both good, bad, & everything else in between is recalled with painstaking honesty in every breathy utterance and strummed note. Feelings that remain & the feelings from yesterday are mixed together in a lonesome, pensive cocktail of solace where reality & romantic realness collide in the most unlikely of ways. “Even though I am the part of you that you would like to lose, you are forgetting that love is a profession you can never choose.” LUKA depicts the sobering departure of a significant other while holding on to some sort of human, and heart-held hope that wishes to retain the foundations & castles that the two have built. Vulnerability abounds in LUKA’s slow tempo & low tempered tones that seeks the embrace of a former love in lines like, “cradle me in your embrace and hold me like the baby that I am.” Memories in this song & live rendering are rewound like watching old VHS movies of friends that moved away, family members that have since passed away, or the feeling that sifting through ancient epistolary correspondences yields. “Even though I am the mountain you would wish to crumble, your heartbeat ran away like a train escaping underground,” LUKA passionately sings with an emotive restraint, where the residual feelings of the one that got away are imagined along with intimations of complicated and a difficult yesteryear. “You will start to smile when the years come flying back, your lucky there’s no video to smudge the hazy vision of the past…” And for all these intricacies and jumbled connotations, the static-squelching connections spit out these sparks of infinite possibility & beauty left behind that LUKA illustrates beautifully & cryptically in the mysterious & allusory language like, “For even just a memory will make you open up the world that we created in the pauses of the night…” Join us for an intimate conversation with LUKA featured right after the following live video debut for “Pauses of the Night”.
Describe your earliest adventures into music.
A beatbox band with my brothers and a family friend, “The Rotten Cherries”. Altering the lyrics to Take That’s “(Want You) Back for Good” to “Wash Your Back For Good”.
First favorite musical heroes?
They Might Be Giants. Flood, Lincoln and Apollo 18 were big records among my brothers and I.
Current favorite musical heroes?
Joni Mitchell. Alice Coltrane. Jonathan Richman. David Campbell. Arthur Russell.
All wise, sincere innovators of language and sound.
Tell us what you’ve been recording lately for Yellow K.
“Summon Up A Monkey King” is the latest LUKA record Yellow K is putting out. It’s the most open and direct music I’ve written. I feel my songwriting voice has altered since writing these songs, but I’m glad the record captures a moment of unguarded sincerity.
Give us insights into your own personal creative approaches to song writing & the process of recording.
For me, songwriting is very intuitive, quick and solitary. Any laboured attempt to write something seems to be a dead end.
The process of recording for “Monkey King” was much more collaborative. Most tracks began with live vocals, guitar and drums and then Stephen Prickett (Producer, Engineer) would take over. The record owes much of its mood and sound through the musical conversation of quick live recordings by myself and Evan Cartwright (drummer) and the more laboured, intricate soundscapes of Prickett.
What’s good in Toronto right now?
To name a few…
The Highest Order. Eucalyptus. Bernice. Jennifer Castle. Marine Dreams. Marker Starling. Ada Dahli. Julie Arsenault. Thom Gill. Omhouse. Doug Tielli. Ryan Driver. The Weather Station. Anamai.
The city has riches of great songwriters.
What are you the most excited about for your stateside tour?
Diner Breakfast. Diner Coffee. Chocolate Donut.
LUKA’s album Summon Up a Monkey King will be available June 24 from Yellow K Records.
In our continued anticipation of Pastel’s (oka Gabriel Brenner) follow up to the It Will Be Missed, it is our honor & privilege to present the electro-ambient environments of introspection & ineffable intimacy on the single “Touched”. Having recently shared the already much lauded track “The Mirror“, the latest single move from the perceptions of reflective perspectives to the tangible & visceral feelings of physical contact. Featured off the upcoming Bone-Weary EP available June 24 from Very Jazzed / Frenchkiss Label Group; the continued reckoning of identity, solitude, desire and more are met in an ethereal cycle of processes that documents changes, feelings, and so forth.
Pastel’s “Touched” delivers the organic and electronic enhanced expressions of feelings that ruminate after the conclusion of a relationship. Rainfall can be heard like the warm flicker of a fire, further adding to the song’s aspects of isolation that are further illuminated through the sparse percussion and solemn progressions of sustained keys and restrained rhythm sequences. Moments of pause are exalted as a chance to catch breath and work out the tension and issues of desire and self-examination where everything from urgent wants and even more immediate needs are addressed. And like the chorus that closes out the song of “nobody has ever touched me like you,” these aspects of absentia and inner-inquiries create an emotional space that can almost still be heard echoing long after the conclusion of “Touched”.
Pastel’s Gabriel Brenner shared the following keen insights into the making of his new track “Touched”:
“Touched” was recorded following the fallout of a relationship, when I found myself reflecting on the difficulties of navigating intimacy (both emotional and physical) as a queer person. It’s difficult to find someone you’re comfortable sharing the vulnerable parts of yourself with, and often I’ve found myself having trouble letting go of people I depended on but no longer could. “Touched” explores the complexities of that dependency, creating a sense of uneasiness and loneliness that runs throughout the track. Though I had a few particular relationships in mind when writing this song, I find now that it functions less as a representation of those relationships and alludes more to the concurrent thrills and anxieties of physicality.
Decorations, the outfit helmed by Devon Geyer have been generating a buzz of affectionate infatuation ever since the debut of the Girls EP, with buzz and hype building via all applicable pop culture outlets. With anticipation further rising with word of the forthcoming first full-length album Have Fun available June 10 from Frenchkiss Records, we are proud to present the premiere listen to the debut Decorations album first streaming in full. Devon has been spreading the adornment obsessed gospel of their self-described sound as being “nu-wave without all the sadness”, where new-new romantic impulses and urgency are entertained like joyous games of sport and a whimsical joviality.
The exhilaration of Decorations Have Fun begins with the single “Girls”, that kicks with the feeling of infatuation the singes with the sound & styles of carefree summer festivals & never-ending vacations. A full on hit parade takes off like the pomp & circumstance of a main street sort of processional as “Promise” which deals in sentiments of the live for today type of variety with that overexcited anticipation over the promise of a potentially beautiful & enlightened tomorrow. Refusing to take it fast while respecting the process involved in taking things slow, “At Your Leisure” provides a moment of reflective pause, allowing all to catch their breath while indulging in decorative displays of chords. The art of apprehension & hesitation also plays a significant role on track “I Can’t Even” that allows for a moment to sort through the good, the bad, the great, and the sordid.
On the track “Believer”, Geyer provides something of a dream pop guitar-glazed sequel to John Maus’s song of the same name, while taking inventory of allies & adversaries in the neon lit setup & scene of “Enemy” that seeks a greater bond based on something other than conflict while utilizing every 80s/90s radio pop trope available in the Decorations audio arsenal. Expressions & displays of affection are encouraged & exhibited anywhere and everywhere Devon has a chance. “Care For You” illustrates degrees of care in that perfect blend where the keys and chords blend into a mix of perfect melodic harmony. Homages are everywhere on Have Fun, where toasts to complicated relationships and femme fatales are presented in emotional & honest ways as heeard on “Marcy”, right before investigating the magnetic fields & laws of attraction on the rollicking & rip-rolling “Opposites”. “Right Here” is a testament to living in the here-and-now of the moment an ear work guitar progression deeply embeds itself into your heart & consciousness, further moving past the superficial toward something of possibly greater substance on “Lip Service”, right before leaving you with the heartache wound healer “Scar of Love” that tackles the casualties & collateral involved when taking a chance on the heart (and the hearts of others). Join us immediately after the following debut listen for an insightful interview session with Decorations’ Devon Geyer.
Describe the making of your new album Have Fun, and tell us about the process of writing/performing & producing everything yourself. How have you noticed a shift in your own approaches and processes from the debut of your Girls EP to now?
First off, thanks for asking! The writing process took about five years, mostly because for the first three I didn’t know I was making Have Fun. I was just writing songs, most of the time I had no idea where they were coming from until months or years later. The Girls EP was recorded at the same time as half of songs on the album, so for me they go together; it wasn’t so much a shift as a continuation.
“Promise” is such an affectionate and righteous single. Can you share what sorts of promises lead inspiration for this number?
Well now we’re getting personal—I like it! The line that the title comes from is “tonight we sleep -tomorrow there’s a promise to keep” and that’s all about a promise I made to a girl I was seeing at the time to work things out in the morning, that we just can’t have this fight right now, at 2am, drunk and tired. Needless to say, working it out the next day didn’t solve anything. But immediately after that happened I was reading My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard, and the line came to me, I didn’t know what the rest of the song was going to be, but I knew I liked that one line.
After we broke up I stayed inside for three days writing and singing whatever came to mind and one afternoon the rest of that song just appeared. It felt really cool to turn inward and find myself there.
What’s good in LA right now?
Apparently that train to the beach is awesome, I’ve still yet to take it, but really, it’s all good. Historically, LA gets a bad rap, but I grew up here and if you live here long enough this city just opens up to you. I see extraordinary kindness and love in and around my life in this city so I’m just gonna say it’s all good. Oh and all the Japanese food!
What else are you and your friends super excited for right now?
Burritos, Bernie Sanders, and barbecues.
I think I’m attending about two thousand weddings this year. I should probably think about getting a suit.
Parting reflection, thoughts, wisdom, etc?
I don’t have much wisdom to offer, but always make an appointment at the DMV, go see lots of live music especially jazz, love yourself and you should be all good.
Also, donate to The Smell—it’s one of the longest running all ages venues in LA and they just got served a demolition notice. To me, this place is more important than most arts programs in schools (which are also totally important!), but they need all the help they can get right now.
And I really want to know what you think of the album! Hit me up on twitter [@decorationsla] because I love meeting people and talking about music, so if I don’t run into you at the coffee shop then just reach out, ya goob!
Decorations’ debut album Have Fun will be available June 10 from Frenchkiss Records.
South of France
Jeff & Kelly Cormack make up the central core of LA by Denver’s South of France who have been working in the studio lately with Shane Stoneback on their album follow up to their 2012 debut album Another Boring Sunrise. Presenting the premiere of the single & video for the near perfect pop of “Kings”, South of France basks in the aristocratic delights of the upper crest echelons of auteurs, artists, actresses, actors, & international, regal upstarts gathering together in congress. The lives & loves of lords & royals are met together like a game of tennis held on the clay courts while the South of France soundtrack plays on serenade the sports of competitive love-doves.
On the debut of the new single “Kings”, South of France not only delivers the substance to back a song with such a regal name but brings about a modern day duet that you have waited your entire life to hear. Taking a classic stripped-down rock & roll approach, SoF takes their electric sound back to it’s primitive basics while managing to do anything and everything they can with an economy of instruments. The result turns into a whirlwind of guitars and keys that spin about together in perfect harmony, even while spinning about within the vortex of the cyclone. “Kings” deals chiefly with the dialogues between monarchs & patriarchs alike as they go about their day, with their own air of charm & beauty that is translated here through the following sporty sounds.
The Ric Remington video for South of France’s “Kings” sees the group assembling on a tennis court to score games of competition between their posh & pretty friends. Kelly & Jeff’s duets here set the stage for a showdown between an avid tennis playing couple who begin their tennis dialogue in between flirtatious interruptions that occur on both sides of the net. Amid diversions from fellow friends’ conversation over banquet beer, we watch as the match heats up as our courtly subjects re-align their focuses aways from their surrounding diversions and proceed to play a proper game of strategy, tact, wit, & wills. Join us after the following debut viewing for the “Kings” video as we catch up with South of France’s Kelly & Jeff Cormack.
Describe your Denver by LA migrations and connections.
Jeff was in Denver writing and recording songs and looking for a female singer. Jeff released a few demos online and an awesome music writer in LA wrote some nice words about the demos on her blog. She and Jeff remained in touch and she also happened to be good friends with a lady name Kelly who was looking to sing in a more serious-ish band. Jeff meet Kelly while he was in LA and then five months later convinced her to move to Denver…and then three years and 150 plus shows later we got married. We were planning on moving to LA, but things are just too awesome here in Denver.
Is there a Southern French connection involved as well?
Jeff went to Southern France for a little bit, got inspired, came back, quit his old job, and committed to writing songs, and making music full-time.
What kind of regality inspired the epic and royal single “Kings”?
It was originally called “Kings and Queens”. The song is just about men and women, babes and dudes. We thought “Kings and Queens” was way too long and dramatic. So we just deiced to call it Kings. Annnnddd….”Kings” was the first South Of France song ever written and recorded. It started South Of France essentially and kind of defined our vibe/direction a bit. Therefore, it’ll always be our ruler.
Tell us about the tennis-chic video rendering.
Since the song kind of talks about the downside of a unhealthy relationship, in a very lighthearted and almost funny way. We kept thinking of lighthearted and funny ways to have a couple just go to battle. We went from food fights, to skee-ball…all sorts of ideas. But then when we came to tennis, and that was it. It’s kind of a timeless thing, it’s colorful, it’s outdoors, sometimes Jeff really likes to watch it on TV…and we just had so many fun ideas for a tennis match. So we put our awesome and very attractive friends to work and made them battle it out on the court for us. Everyone got sunburned and we ran out of beer way too early, but it was a really fun day with our friends.
What’s next for South of France?
We are scheduled to finish recording our new album in June. We have written and recorded over 30 songs throughout the last few years… We didn’t care much for any of them, scrapped them, and started fresh about 6 months ago and we’ve finally got some songs that we’re proud of. It’ll be a long album with about 15 songs…. long story, but Wayne Coyne kissed Jeff on the head while were were playing a few shows with the Flaming Lips, and incepted all sorts of inspiration into him. Hopefully the album will come out late fall. We’re really excited about it!
Catch South of France on the following forthcoming dates:
10 Alene’s Grocery, NYC
11 Northside Festival, Brooklyn
13 First Ave 7th St. Entry, Minneapolis
02 Hi Dive, Denver Colorado
29 UMS Festival, Denver Colorado
Listen to more from South of France via Soundcloud.
We are proud to premiere the electro-emotive textures found on the premiere of “Quite Some Time”, featured off Nick Leng’s new Drivers EP available today from B3SCI Records. Leng proves to be a master of fusing the found-sound of windchimes into an electronic stew of surface noise and his own lyrical musings that reverberate with an intimate chamber room echo.
“Quite Some Time” arrives with a log-crackling-in-the-fireplace kind of feel as Nick Leng chronicles the lengths of time past and all the thoughts on things in-between. The keys take on the progressions of chimes ringing in an after summer breeze, as Leng delivers introspection in a holistic arrangement of shining keys and percussion that remains burning brightly in the forefront. The track feels timeless, as if Nick’s vocals could have been ripped from an old 12″ wax kept up in a musty attic for generations and then discovered by a current day music enthusiast who matched the sincere croons to a beautiful blend of rhythms and evocative notes. “Quite Some Time” is a song for everyone who has wondered where exactly time goes when it’s gone, and for all those that guard nostalgia, love notes, and faded Polaroids with everything that is in them. We had the chance to catch up with Nick in the interview featured after the following debut listen.
Describe the passages of time and reflections that informed the making of “Quite Some Time”.
That track was made over a long period of time actually. I wanted to throw away of some of the traditional song structure and create a sonic journey where you felt like you were traveling with the music to different far off places.
Interested in hearing further what it was like for you fleshing out the entire Drivers EP for you, and when did you realize that the songs & EP was for you finished (as much as any release can be finished)?
“Quite Some Time” was made in conjunction with the music video. “Playing With Fire” was an ode to “Leaves” from the previous EP, and was a project that started out with a bunch of sounds that eventually coalesced into a completed track. “Drivers” began as a written song, and I added the production and fleshed out the sound from there. “Endings” was created to tie up the EP. I wanted it to feel like the closing paragraph of a story. All of these songs began as individual projects, and I could tell that the EP was nearing completion when they all began to sound like cohesive parts of a unified whole.
What other musical endeavors and more are you embarking upon?
I have a lot of other side projects in the works right now. Some are farther along than others. I do a lot of work with others behind the scenes as well, and I don’t see any of that slowing down in the near future.
Summer & fall wishes & hopes?
A lot of projects in the works, so I’ll be plugging away at those quite a bit! The goal is to stay busy and maintain a good artistic balance.
From Oakland, California we bring you the new group Soto Voce that brings maudlin mixes of electronic tones that underscore the emotional weight. The East Bay artists take the events that occur above the surface and earth and tunnel through the subterranean networks and levels to find the perfect keys of expression.
On their debut single “Better” the keys are heard like a signal being received by a transistor radio late into the evening hours of morning’s dawning. Soto Voce as a group counts up the various situations, and marks up the tallies of what these events show us that ultimately build up character toward self-betterment. The course of change can be heard as the song courses about it’s own story arc where we are brought to the song’s conclusive refrain of “there’s not a thing you can do for me now that I’m better.” After the following listen to “Better”, read our interview with Soto Voce’s own Kenny Soto featured right after the jump.
Tell us about the start of Soto Voce & the story behind the chosen name?
Soto Voce came from an Italian drummer friend of mine… Anthony, who would tease me for speaking so Softly. It’s also Italian slang for being on the down low. In Italian they call it Sotto Voce. Being that my last name is Soto it was a perfect fit for a band name. He also introduced me to allot of my friends in the SoCal music scene. Me being in between Oakland and Los Angeles makes it hard to socialize out of the studio.those friends introduced me to some other friends who introduced me to Miguel! When we met it was over for me! It was like I had met my other music half! Miguel understood all of the pain, darkness and raw human sexuality that I craved for sonically. I became transfixed by the pure human dynamic of this project and we devoted a lot of time making music together with no aim for major success. That was the true start of Soto Voce. I finally had someone who could finally hear me.
How do you describe your own personal creative approach to music as Soto Voce?
I am inspired by life and art. I used to take to writing music like a robot. Just write until I couldn’t write anymore. However I have found that in maturing my best ideas come in waves so I just remain fluid and try not to get stuck to any one way of creating.
What sorts of self-betterment and more informed “Better”?
Its about accepting all of my faults real and imaginary…still not sure if I am better.
What’s good in Oakland right now?
Gentrification and soaring rent prices in the hood.
Next in the pipeline for Soto Voce?
EP? videos? Shows?
Other East Bay artists & events & activism we should be aware of right now?
I’m a hermit… this is the most human contact I have had all month…
Introduce yourselves to What’s Your Rupture?‘s new signees Savoy Motel, made up from members of Cheap Time & Heavy Cream that specialize in bringing you all those funky & fun retro riffs that you revere already from your well thumbed record cubbies. With a listen to their debut single “Souvenir Shop Rock”, the band brings you something to remember them by with addictive chord progressions and whispy vocals that wrap about like the comforts of a spring summer breeze that carries on into the dawn of the new sunny season.
The Savoy Motel gang of Jeffrey Novak and Jessica McFarland from Cheap Time, coupled with Mimi Galbierz and Dillon Watson of Heavy Cream adhere to the alternate histories and traces of influence brought about by yesterday’s mythic rebels & renegades of rock. Abiding by the fuzzy riff regimented radical aspects of vintage counter-culture nuggets mined from the junkshops and second-hand stores; Savoy Motel make up musical morsels that that deliver time capsule souvenirs from the today to be further discovered by future progeny and the nu-tribes of tomorrow’s hedonists.
Also from Nashville’s newest & neatest freaks Savoy Motel, don’t miss the video for “Hot One” that features the band decked out in the darnedist 60s & 70s styles to match their own AM radio admiring panache for making fun & odd sounds.
Savoy Motel took a quick moment to share with us the following succinct thoughts on the founding of the band, how their experiences from Cheap Time & Heavy Cream have impacted their current sounds, and what we can expect next:
We were shooting for the opposite of what we had already achieved in our previous groups, and we wanted to embrace everything we love about twentieth century music that none of us had able to tap into before individually.
Malachi Graham & Ryan Linder are Portland’s Small Million who are set to release their debut EP Before the Fall tomorrow June 4 and premiere the single “Nightblooming” that takes the listening audience to the entrance of night time events and offerings of enticements with the allure of an evening that never ends. Following up the single “Six Feet“, Small Million moves the thoughts from the mortal coil to a fanciful world that exceeds beyond the grave in a night of perpetual indulgence & adventures yet to be embarked upon.
“Nightblooming” is the commencing call for all to join together beneath the pale dim light of the moon. Small Million jogs memories and games of shame that play about the night like he said, she said sorts of conversations that carry on past the point of midnight that are full of emotion and headed for daybreak to watch the sunrise. Malachi’s delivery stands front and center around an array of vocal-samples and glimmering synths that shine forth like a cave of wonders filled with thousands upon thousands of sparkling rubies. Small Million take the blooming of night very seriously on “Nightblooming” where the advise and conversation with best friends provides a warm shoulder to cry & lean on while the note progressions point toward an ever unfolding evening that blossoms into the caffeinated feels of what an all-night heart to heart at a diner or elsewhere with a best friend feels like. Malachi & Ryan from Small Million took the time to chat with us in an interview right after the following debut of “Nightblooming”.
Rumor has it you two met on the dance floor; we’re interested in hearing the full story, and then how Small Million was launched.
Ryan: We met completely by chance. A friend Malachi had just met convinced her to go out to a local club called Holocene that night. It was in the middle of the week, so outside of my friends, they were the only ones there and our groups started to chat. It didn’t cross my mind that the encounter would lead to an actual collaboration until later that week when I sat down and listened to the tracks she had online (malachigraham.bandcamp.com). To this day, her song Sonámbulo still gets me!
Describe what making Before the Fall EP was like for you two, and what sorts of rises and falls informed both of your creative processes?
Ryan: There was a lot of back and forth. I would write a snippet and send it to Malachi. Then she would write something and I would really begin building the track around her vocals. Rinse and repeat. Other times, Malachi would just come over and improvise a ton of takes over different starts that I had been sitting on. Then I would shape a song and the back and forth would continue from there.
Malachi: Our creative process kicked in to overdrive after we wrote our song “Six Feet”—that track showed us what we could do together. What I love about writing for Small Million is that it has driven me to write more impressionistically—less from my head and more from my heart and my gut.
What is awesome right now in Portland?
Malachi: We both love PDX Pop Now!, a yearly all-ages music fest and non-profit organization. I also discover great music through XRAY.fm, the independent radio station.
Ryan: I have to throw my praise towards The Circuit Bouldering Gym for their awesome Black Friday deals on annual passes, and to Euphoria (where Branx/Rotture used to be) for filling the void with some interesting electronic artists. Kaytranada was just there last weekend!
What about Portland inspires you both?
Ryan: Good music, food, people, and lots of greeeeen (trees).
Malachi: Portland has organically developed into such a rich musical hub. For a long time the livability and affordability here have attracted creative people and fostered a mutually supportive culture, and you can still really feel that here in the venues, studios, the diversity of sounds… It’s becoming hard because as in many cities these days there’s a big challenge with affordability for artists, so I think it’s going to take a really conscious choice from Portlanders to continue to value the role of music and culture here.
Other PDX artists on the rise we should be looking and listening for?
Haley Heynderickx has been killing it all over town—she’s a fantastic songwriter and her voice is to die for. We’re also really excited that the fantastic duo My Body has moved back to town after several years in Brooklyn… Portland needs more electronic pop!
Other insights into the synergy at work between you two as Small Million?
Synergy’s a good word for it…it’s an awesome collaborative experience. Given our very different musical backgrounds, Americana and psych/electronic), we didn’t expect that we would communicate and work together so effortlessly. It was a wonderful surprise, and we’re both really excited about what we’re creating together. We’ve been working on this EP and writing material for our live set for a long time now, and it’s been a lot easier to be patient and develop our sound because we genuinely love working together.
Forthcoming musical projects and more?
Ryan: We have quite a few new tracks in the works! The LP is on its way.
Malachi: And we’ll be doing some touring this summer! I’m also so happy to have a fantastic band for my Americana project under my own name. I’m loving bouncing back and forth between synth pop and americana, it keeps me on my toes.
Small Million’s debut EP Before the Fall will be available June 4.
The Lefse folks have started a brand new digital & cassette imprint titled Golden Brown, launching with the Perfectly Toasted, Vol. 1 compilation of unreleased gems from 11 rising artists available June 17. The newly spawned imprint based out of Portland, Oregon introduces itself to the world with the following words:
Golden Brown is a brand new label, music publisher and artist development company based in Portland, Oregon. Working with artists who bend genres, minds and hearts, this new label is focused on finding brand new artists and sharing them with the world in digital & cassette formats.
Perfectly Toasted, Vol. 1 is the label’s debut release and the first installment in the Perfectly Toasted Compilation Series. Featuring unreleased material from 11 emerging artists from around the world, it is an introduction to our label, our sound and our aesthetic.
Providing a listen to the track “Bang Chasing” from Bobey, listen as the eastern plinks & progressions make the sound of the harmonies & rhythms that rain drops make when they descend from their celestial clouds and strike the instrumental sections of water & earth in a resounding musical array of notes and keys.
Also from the Golden Brown compilation, check out Winds that combines field recordings with electro/electric hybrids that make for organic & analog feels as heard on the nature walk, “Walk Thru Time”.
Still more from the forthcoming Golden Brown comp via Lefse; we offer up Lady D’Ascalie’s “La Rencontre Avec Nico” that brings bright raconteur pop direct from Paris. New waves & nouvelle vague-vageuries past before the senses like the greatest lost pop diamond delivered from the rough from another time, place, & translation.
Having given us the insta-albums BASH and Behemoth, NYC’s wizard of noise & evolving consciousness Yuzima presents a listen to his latest cycle Living Off The Land. From this three track cycle of challenges and uncertainty, Yuz embraces the unknown of the void in the hopes for something greater, from the market of sold souls & Beelzebub-fuzz portraits of oppressor-men on “Atheist”, to pursuits of better politics, freedom, & happiness on “Would It Be Okay” to the big feudal “Living Off The Land” that turns sharecropping opportunities into dystopian symptoms of the current era. A complex artist who lives unbound through expressions of intricacies, paradoxes, that all embrace the places, peoples, cultures, and spaces that people have disregarded or long since abandoned. Yuzima shared the following thoughts about the making of his latest insa-album:
“Living off The Land” is about seeing the future like a prophecy. That’s why I sing about seeing the boats coming up on the shore. That’s a reference to Native Americans. It’s about the seeds that were sown hundreds of years ago. I’m taking all of the elements of rock and roll and speaking a modern language. Speaking to what’s happening now and what’s to come. There’s even a line “You bought the guns on the rock and roll tour” about violence in music—there was a shooting at a rap concert last week—so it’s prophetic.
Behold the Nacho Sánchez video for “Safe Tonight”, seeking places and points of sanctuary off of Marsheaux’s studio album Ath.Lon available June 16. From here fantasies of the night and day are blended together in a synth-pop ballad that seeks that warm security that many of us spend our entire lives in search of. Through entertaining empathetic pop progressions, and arrangements that display an array of hooks; Marsheaux makes a modern day lullaby to assuage & chase away the fears for all living creatures. Marsheaux’s Marianthi Melitsi and Sophie Sarrigiannidou provided us with the following insights on the safe spaces that inspired “Safe Tonight” with some notes on the upcoming album Ath.Lon:
“Safe Tonight” was inspired by another track of the album “The Beginning Of The End”. We wrote the lyrics originally for that dark melancholic track, that we wanted to be something like a lullaby that you sing to a little child to “keep the vampires from its door”. On the same time in the studio, we were working on an uplifting and optimistic melody, we sung the lyrics with that melody, loved it and “Safe Tonight” was born.
Ath.Lon is our fifth studio album and the most difficult to finish. We started working on it, together in Athens and then we needed to work separately from different locations (Athens+London). Our inspiration was the same as in our previously albums, our everyday life, our friends, the world we are leaving, the music we are listening, everything and nothing.
Alex Vans’ Bad Business recently released the Buy American Vol. 1 EP, and present a look & listen at the Brett Line video for “Velocirapture” that pits our protagonist between the polemics of preachy pastors and prehistoric predators. Beliefs in raptors & the rapture are presented here like a Jurassic plot setup where Alex seeks to jump town while being pursued by a dude with a velociraptor head. Seeking the solace of a nearby chapel, a member of clergy is thrown into the mix while the song rages to the chords of it’s own finger blistering tribulation. Alex Vans shared the following inspirations behind “Velocirapture”, providing some thoughts on coupling together ideas of raptors and some kind of spiritual/religious rapture experience:
Growing up in DC, I’ve always been a bit of a political junkie. Lately I’ve been getting more and more frustrated at how folks from both the right, and, disappointingly more and more, the left, have become increasingly irrational, rhetorical, and ideological. Instead of standing at the altar of a God, we now worship, and hold tribalistic attitudes toward ideas. “Velocirapture” tells the story of someone who is so attached to his beliefs and ideas, he is willing to watch the world burn for it. I thought it would be fun to make his religion/ideology complete nonsense, because to an outsider, any tribal identity, ideology, or religion can seem ridiculous. Plus, my co-writer Andy Valenti and I had just spent the afternoon binging on all four Jurassic Park movies and had Raptors on the brain. And you can’t write a good post-modern anthem to the apocalypse without Raptors.
We are proud to bring you the wild new release from Cincinnati’s Automagik who just followed-up to Dark Daze with The Road EP available today from Old Flame, and we give you a first listen of fuzz and frenetic fun. Automagik continue their sorcery where magic, mischief, & mayhem rules everything around them.
The wild ride begins with “The Road” where a tour de force adventure rides off into the throes of the sun’s blazing rays. The rock goes the way of the The Rocketeer on the flights of fancy that take off with the passionate soaring thrills & chills of “Jetpack Girl”, right before the pain and aches collide with the sentiments of abandonment on “Stood Up”. The entire event dives off the deep end on “Death Beach” that takes off for an ocean baptismal in a place where the sun never sets.
From the arid sands & tumbleweed alleys of the Mojave; we bring you Sugar Candy Mountain who bring a lush psych-pop vision from their Joshua Tree home as they get weird with their homage to the beast & more on “666”. The weirdness and wonders of lost afternoons/lost weekends/lost holidays and other short stories abound all over with lyrics like “Dynamo of the dixie, devil of my heart, where the cotton meets the corn, a bad man can get a real good start…”
Alap Momin dropped some deep, fresh styles under the BKGD Audio handle with the dizzying dance cycle titled Round One that runs 14 tracks deep. The beat goes all over the map on the blame game finger-pointing prowess of “Tell Me I’m A Problem”, the Louisiana percussive potency of “Blacka This One”, keeping it fearless and 100 on “No Fear”, to the chromatic character convo that beams & bounces on “Blue Is Not Red” t. Avery Arcaro, inverting the keys & atmospheric rule books on “I Got The Screw”. The nu-house action and danced-out decadence gets turnt up with the kinetic slammer “Get Merc’d”, the sky-bound sentiments of “Come On And Take Me”, the tranquilized “Feelin Like Chill”, turrning the fever up another notch on “Plebeian Mountain Show” (BKGD Audio Remix), the infatuated electronic air of “Love Was All You Needed”, the style complimenting composure of “You Are Fly”, the romantic sidewalk-streaked rhythms of “Love Is Not Just A Verb”, the haunted church-style hymn of “The Naked Heroes What Trouble Is” (BKGD Audio Remix), right before the entire affair is shut down with building blocks of “Basic (Iroc-Z Music)”. This is that mixtape for the discerning dance music listener who is looking for some new creative arrangements to get the evening regiments & routines rolling in motion.
From JJ MAZZ, we bring you their cover of Beach Fossils’ “Daydream” that features some blurry psych visuals courtesy of Linda Brusiani. The Italo dream pop artists tips a hat and distorted keyboard key (or two) to the Brooklyn group while providing a blearier & hazier rendition.
Featuring performances from Florence Bell & Christopher Mock, watch the Clipstone Productions (Simon Waldock & Callum Henderson) video for The King’s Parade’s “Gathering the Pieces of a Broken Heart” the mixes memories of heartbreak and the aches that strum about in the aftermath. The gathered pieces from the wreckage are collected in thought & feeling for the future processes of mending & ultimately moving onward & forward.
From the recently released Heavyweight EP from Dave Moisan, get into the instinctual-dance-move-inspiring track “Animal” that is sure to inspire and speak to the most wild zoological facets of your being.
For those looking for some thought provoking jazz moods & moments; look no further than a listen to The Claudia Quintet’s “JFK Beagle” taken from the forthcoming Super Petite album available June 24 from Cuneiform Records.
Also available the same date from Cuneiform, Deus Ex Machina dropped the dramatic presentation of the ultra-passionate “Figli”, taken off the forthcoming album Devoto.
Also available June 24 from Cuneiform Records, dig the illustrious heavy vibes on the hip & happening number “Sir William” from I.P.A. off their upcoming “I Just Did Say Something”. From here vibes, brass, and percussive brunches enjoy a very genrative & lucrative dialogue of progressive barts, beats, notes, & measures.
The Pheels combine Atlanta talents Curtis Fields & Phil Jones (of HAUNTED) together to deliver nu-trap beats that bump like heartbeats aligning with the details of the day. “French Toast” reinforces this particular morning motif where that whole mode of waking up and getting some breakfast grub is detailed through sunrising textures through Curtis & Phil’s full experiential presentation.
The Record Summer, the musical focus of Bret Rodysill, who dropped the single “Prizefight” of life searches, dreams, challenges, goals, & a host of other desires. With word of a follow-up to to 2011’s Race To The Bottom, “Prizefight” delivers the latest from Rodysill that chronicles his movements from NYC, to Minneapolis, to where he currently resides now in Los Angeles, where all the various thoughts and inclinations in life that happen in between migrations rise to the surface with an arrangement that the Fleetwood Mac folks & fans might dig.
Deepakalypse drums up & strums up a little something for everyone looking for a little rhythm to help rock-away the blues with the single “Drummers,” taken off the forthcoming album Floating on a Sphere available July 8 from Everloving Records.
Fresh & Onlys own one & only Wymond Miles readies his upcoming solo album Call By Night available July 8 via Sacred Bones, sharing tales of division and diverted attention & focuses on “Divided In Two”. The passionate portrayal of being torn into two pieces breaks through with anthem-laden chords of gripped fist resolve & a profound pronouncement of dedications & departures.
Introducing Florida’s Sur Back, who makes electronically enriched pop with her breakout single “Trophy Daughter”. Her vocals and synths surround the listener as she gives pause to close ones in our life that are prized beyond human adoration to the echelon of an award or medal to be kept to the confines of an accolade display case.
Touring circa the end of June around NY, Baltimore, DC, Charlotte, Philly & elsewhere; NYC’s Vacances offer up a throwback trip through time to return to that much mythologized 80s decade with the videotape-tapped analog world of visuals for the synth-soaked track, “Runaway”. Combining an array of throwback visuals for the neon-dazed sound; you will feel as if you are flying in a time-machine series of flashbacks & VHS memories.
Great American Canyon Band’s Kris and Paul share some transcendental music for mountains, valleys, friends, and families alike that are grappling with issues of loss and moving beyond the great beyond with the beautiful, “Only You Remain”.
Taken off their new O EP, London’s Holy ’57 brings some pop tones even brighter than the popular decades they references on the track “22.214.171.124.”. The jubilation of a thousand summers springs to life here on a track to play all season long.
Featured off their You Are Nowhere EP, check out the Kyle Marchen video for Glass Face’s “Holland” that brings about affectionate arrays of emotional images that bring about the immediacy and intimacy illustrated through sound to visual life.
Clarence Clarity returns with the collaboration with St. Louis emcee Pizza Boy with a dystopian joint that has a bit of fun while the world goes down the tubes. CC & PB bring some bounce & frenetic action and antics to help celebrate the discontinuity of things with a confused quest for a greater clarity amid the madness.
Introduce yourselves (if you haven’t already) to Atlanta, Georgia’s Shantih Shantih who share a listen to their Winter in September EP available now. The quartet of Anna Barattin (fka Vermillion Sands), Julia Furgiuele, Anna Kramer, and Nikki Speake deal in the rock & roll heard on the west & east coasts and distilled to a slow strutting, bar busting Southern setup. All the high surf tidal waves crash & ebb on future classics like “Come and Treat Me” that invites the regal treatment, scooting along with “Snails”, the glistening glow of “Ruby”, the jangling pop request of the utmost sincerity “Come To Me”, to giving some rich guitar tones to retain warmth all year long with “Winter”. For those that adore the coastal surf-punk craze, Shantih Shantih deliver beach-bashing sound from way down south.
Hear Minneapolis’s Strange Relations who shared their new single “Ceremonies” that provides some opening ceremonial bliss soon to follow on their forthcoming Going Out EP available July 16 from Tiny Engines. Casey Sowa’s voice guides the surreal sweep of sensual sounds while keeping the rhythms programmed in conjunction with the bass & synths from Maro Helgeson, & Nate Hart-Andersens array of guitar chords and further keyboard adornments. Keen an ear on this trio for more fun to follow this summer.
Hear the UNKLE Reconstruction of Ten Fé’s single “Make Me Better” that works on improving the original through different applied synths and bar sequences that inspire new rhythmic and key re-arrangements.
Meet the super slow-burning post-trap drippings heard pouring in viscous slo-mo on Manast LL’s new track “Sookah” found off the brand new Known as Sookah EP available today from Kitsuné. That Ryan B production allows Manast’s auto-tuned delivery to enjoy an environment of open electro spaces of hedonistic potential.
Denmark trio Slaughter Beach brings us a listen to their new single available today from Norwegian imprint Brilliance with the blazing glory of “Glaze” ft. The Kissaway Trail’s Hasse Mydtskov. The Scandinavian senses of electronic pop are brought upward to the ethereal temples and ancient bathhouse ruins that we dreamers imagine exist beyond the sky-scape of celestial cloud bodies.
The Pass share the synth-snazzy new title track single taken off their upcoming album Canyons available June 10 from SonaBlast Records. The gulfs between people and the new frontiers to explore are laid before the listener with pressing potential for all kinds of new discovery & all the excitement yet to arrive.
Sweden by Barbados pop star Naomi Pilgrim shares wonders of consciousness and lingering questions that remain unanswered on her new EP Sink Like A Stone available today, sharing the inquisitive assertion of “I Wonder” and the EP streaming in it’s entirety. Responding to heavy themes of life and the world, inspired the death of Eric Garner in NYC and more; Naomi continues an electrified trajectory that attempts to understand the open ended queries and thoughts that request a sense of calm & closure. The title track moves with a force of gravity and fury, right before the conversation turns to the endearing maternal homage that is sure to bring a tear to the eyes of many with the long warm embrace that is “Mama”.
Introducing Toronto quartet FRIGS who are readying their debut for Arts & Crafts with their upcoming Slush EP available June 10. Delivering a listen to “Ringworm”, FRIGS take us back to the mat in gym class where physical education pedantic and notions of nostalgia meet again like chance encounters met in the hallways between the lockers and your next class. Catch FRIGS touring about North America & Canada through August 20.
Chris Cohen announced a fall UK/EU tour spanning from September 1-18, sharing the “Yesterday’s On My Mind” video shot on 16mm film by Kate Dollenmayer taken from the much-lauded album As If Apart available now from Captured Tracks. Watch here as Cohen provides a very intimate look into his personal studio, complete with a personal walk-through of his surrounding neighborhood comforts.
Glass Spells present the snazzy “Away From Space” performance video from Alonso Bell, where jagged lights and digitized effects make for a full on electrifying experience for all involved senses.
London duo Ekkah (Rebecca Wilson & Rebekah Pennington) present their DâM-FunK collaboration “What’s Up” that serves us some further future-funk fusions. Some of this week’s essential listening, Ekkah x DâM-FunK operate in rhythms & blues infused with disco sensibilities that hint at possibilities soon to follow on the heels of their recent Last Chance To Dance EP.
Maria Usbeck’s Week in Pop
Maria Usbeck performing live at Cake Shop; photographed by Sam Leung.
Maria Usbeck (of Selebrities, Soda Shop, solo, etc) has released her anticipated solo album debut Amparo via Cascine (also featured in our Best of May feature) and it is our honor & privilege to present her following exclusive guest selections:
Chose my most recent Down the YouTube rabbit hole top tracks of the past few months. I spent an awful lot of time digging on youtube and curating my favorites playlist. There are some serious gems to be found. These are my top 5 of recent finds.
Renée, “Lay Me Down”
This song is so sexyyy. It has a bit of a Dire Straits feel to it. I love how playful the vocals get, up and down and down and up. And that guitar looping on and on and on.
Blue Gas, “Shadows From Nowhere”
The first time I heard this I thought perhaps it was a Bee Gee’s song I’d never heard. Very similar harmonies. This Italian italo disco really killed it with this track, it’s so smooth.
Charanjit Singh, “Raga Bhairav”
This is a pitch down version of the original song, I prefer it this way. So into 80’s synth inspired raga music, the best.
I think Music From Memory is one of my favorite labels of all time. I really enjoy everything they choose to re-release. Can’t wait to hear more of this record. The instrumentation in this track is so fun and different. Check out Gigi Masin on Music From Memory as well.
Meridian Brothers, “Salsa Caliente”
The kind of song that will put you in the best mood. The caribbean all over your ears.
Follow Maria Usbeck via Twitter.