Band Appreciation Friday – Favela

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Ever since I first heard the track “Easy Yoke” from 21 year old Leeds-based producer and vocalist Favela a few months ago, I have found myself going back to it over and over again. There’s not much information on the musician, and his identity is still unknown (at least, to my knowledge), but I am glad that this music is available on it’s own volition. His style of electronic music is so gorgeous and sweetly mixes the beauty of love with the pain and bitterness of loss.

Favela’s Easy Yoke EP (his second) was released earlier this year and only houses three songs, but each is enough to tide you over and satisfy your ears to an elevated extent. Each is chock full of emotion, sacrifice, and purity, and has a kind of irresistible melancholy that forces you into paralysis of the best kind. “Sunlight” starts out the record on a lovely, yet slightly somber note, with shimmering synth and beats that come in after the first refrain. It’s definitely true to it’s title, considering that it literally sounds like sunlight pouring in through the trees and shining on perfectly blue water. The most beautiful thing about Favela is that he effortlessly manages to make you imagine these scenes, but they seem to change every time you listen. “Easy Yoke” starts out with these breathtaking, colorful violins that provide the emotional backbone as a whole. Of course, it’s about love, but it’s clear the concept is based on something more meaningful and poetic, due to the delicate nature of the song. It floats and drifts on these same violins until the synth and drum beats kick in, and again, it’s so amazingly sung. The vocals touch on metaphors galore, and they always mesmerize me into a trance whenever I hear them intertwine with the glorious electronic instrumentals. It’s one of those songs that’s just too beautiful for words, and in the end, it allows for the listener to provide their own meaning. The EP ends with “Throne,” another delicate, yet highly complex and fervent track. The synth and hazy vocals play around a little more here, with alterations and variations on texture, technique, and emotion. We hear a new aspect of his voice as well, and it’s more energetic and hopeful whereas the first track was dreamy and the second desolate and somber. Together, these three songs made up Favela’s second EP perfectly. Each has an intricate construction, yet individually they have a personality all their own. Hopefully soon Favela will release a full-length album soon in continuation with these tracks, but in the meantime, I’m happy to have these three as a placeholder.

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Nite Fields – “You I Never Knew”

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Psychedelic rock, I feel, has been revived somewhat over the past few years. The same goes for shoegaze and post-punk, and I couldn’t be happier. The emotions conveyed in these few genres are so pure and raw at the same time, which was a combination I never knew existed. Nite Fields’ new track “You I Never Knew” follows the same sort of musical protocol as bands like Wild Nothing and Real Estate, with an edge of dark, sullen notes reminiscent of The Cure and TRUST. It’s energetic, jagged, and dismal all at once, but beautiful nonetheless.

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Crystal Ghost – “On My Own”

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Crystal Ghost is a new type of electro-funk pop that’s amazingly catchy. Similar to Toro y Moi, the Denver based musician creates these atmospheres in his music that are intriguing, complex, and intricate. The funk inspired beats mesh well with the supersonic synth in his single “On My Own,” with processed vocals that seem to morph and change. However, with simple loops and repeated beats, this music remains accessible despite it being quite experimental.

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Portable – “Surrender” (feat. Lcio)

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Portable is made up of Alan Abrahams (AKA Bodycode) and he creates music that can only really be described as African electronic house techno. It’s deep house music too; the beats and the synth sound impeccably atmospheric and introspective. In his new track “Surrender,” it’s clear that a dynamic struggle is taking place. There’s the simplicity and innocence to the passionately sung lyrics, but then it’s pressed up against these dark, melancholic piano chords that remind me so much of Majical Cloudz and Depeche Mode. Abrahams’s voice is so rich and pure, and it’s really this aspect that makes up this gorgeous song.

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Day Wave – “Nothing At All”

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Simple, straightforward surf-rock is amazing, and it’s even better when mixed with an ethereal vocal track that’s beautifully languished. This is what Day Wave (AKA Jackson Phillips of band Carousel) thrives on – lo-fi, energetic sounds that don’t sound the slightest bit forced. It flows with ease and drifts with each beat, giving it a feel similar to Cayucas, Local Natives, and at it’s best, Real Estate.

 

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Band Appreciation Friday – Washed Out

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Washed Out has time and time again been an incredibly impressive example of the chillwave genre. The genre has obviously grown over the years, and with it, the techniques used along with the ideas responsible have solidified and matured as well. Synthesizers willingly take a front seat while guitars and other instruments remain as accompaniment, and vocals are hazy, soft, and dreamy. Although these instructions might sound simple on paper, execution takes both a steady hand and a steady mind in order for the product to not sound messy and forced. Basically, Ernest Greene knows what he’s doing, and it’s clear with each listen.

Greene’s debut album Within and Without was released some time after his EP Life of Leisure, and houses a lot of the same blissful, atmospheric tracks. Opener “Eyes Be Closed” sounds dreamy and celestial, brimming with positive energy and synth that seems to illuminate with each beat. “Echoes” diffuses more into a dance track, with it’s bouncy, metallic sounds and fast-paced drums, and it’s here where we can hear a slight comparison to fellow chillwave enthusiasts Toro y Moi and Tycho. “Amor Fati” is probably my favorite off of the album, simply because I feel it’s one of the only ones that voluntarily takes you on a journey from start to end, much like the content of it’s music video. It actively sounds optimistic, deep, and introspective, and it’s these three ideas that seem to bounce off each other so beautifully. “Soft,” much like it’s title, is lovely, mellow, and beautifully lyrical. Greene’s voice is gorgeous, and the fact that the words all blend together make it even more fantastical. While you might have to actually look up the lyrics to understand them, that effort is worth the beautiful imagery that’s enhanced with the music. Within and Without is a wonderful album that eases you in gently into the world of chillwave, lovingly omitting the intense, complex ideas that often times steer others away. I enjoyed Washed Out’s sophomore album Paracosm a bit more, mainly because of the fact that it sounds more mature and sophisticated. It’s album cover was bright, colorful, and more intoxicating than their debut, which was more intimate. Immediately from the tropical sounding track “Entrance,” and it’s repeated aviary sounds give it a beautiful, exotic edge that streamlines wonderfully into “It All Feels Right.” Here, it’s clear that Greene took on a more psychedelic, MGMT style approach with these songs, although it’s extremely muted. “Don’t Give Up” is lush and vibrant, with a deep, intricate vocal track, that, for the first time attempts to break free from the normal progression that it usually takes. Greene’s voice is more readily and clearly heard, which is all I wanted from the first album. “Weightless” rings true to it’s name. The sparse arrangement of drums and percussion mixed with the broad, expansive dreamscape that is the synth is breathtakingly gorgeous. I’ve found over the span of these two albums that something that Washed Out is skilled at doing is providing a narrative and plot to his sounds, which is what makes him a force to be reckoned with. Speaking of which, “All I Know” follows the same path as what I feel is it’s predecessor, “Amor Fati,” I see  them as equals, both in their delicate, yet powerful construction and it’s intense, yet beautiful melodies. Title track “Paracosm” merges well into the closing tracks “Falling Back” and “All Over Now” with a triumphant, amazingly overwhelming sense of pure confidence. While With and Without is better considered a nocturnal masterpiece, Paracosm is more of a brisk, light listen meant to be enjoyed driving over sun kissed highways and basking in the warmth of the outdoors. Washed Out, despite his hilariously ironic name, is anything but. He knows how to evoke feelings of love and harmony with the bitter emotions of loss and pain, and that honesty shines through effortlessly.

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Zola Blood – “Meridian”

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London based band Zola Blood embraces heavily textured synth and graceful, smooth vocals that seem to drift and float with ease. Their track “Meridian” from their newly released EP of the same name sums up their endeavors, and it’s a highly evocative one, at that. The instrumentals are dark, yet soft and muted, and it’s brought to life with the inclusion of peaceful vocals. It swells in all the right places, and it’s perfect for a cold fall night.

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Public Service Broadcasting – “Gagarin”

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I love Public Service Broadcasting because it perfectly merges together knowledge and discovery with the power of music (besides the workings of They Might Be Giants, of course). I reviewed their track “Everest” from their debut album a while back, and I remember mentioning the premise of their project – it’s meant to educate and inform audiences of historical events that changed the world in a way that’s interesting and effective. They touch on things like the first journey up Mt. Everest, the Supermarine Spitfire that was used by the Royal Air Force in the Second World War, and now, they’ve created a tribute to Russian astronaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, who was the first man to orbit the earth. It’s definitely the most upbeat and triumphant that I’ve heard from the musical duo, seeing as though there’s colorful guitar solos and trumpet blares, and the video is so charming as well. “Gagarin” is from PSB’s new album The Race For Space, which is out next February.

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Ducktails – “Letter of Intent”

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Matt Mondanile of Real Estate’s side band, Ducktails, seems to encapsulate a majority of the same feelings and techniques as his main, but has a more fantastical, futuristic, and upbeat edge (see “Assistant Director,” which is one of my favorites). From their debut album in 2009 to their most recent, The Flower Lane, it’s clear that Mondanile is able to fully incorporate himself into both projects, though the two are remarkably different. “Letter of Intent” sounds like it could be in the background of a famous 80’s movie (you know the one I mean – think holding hands in museums, three best friends, and a day skipping school), and the flouncy, carefree vibe it gives off in the meticulous instrumentals is simply mesmerizing.

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