Gus Dapperton – “Prune, You Talk Funny”

NY based artist Gus Dapperton has easily been one of our absolute favorite musical discoveries of the year, due to both his exuberant, yet surreal take on electronic pop as well as his seemingly poised and unperturbed personality that obviously bleeds into his work. His Yellow and Such EP, released this past summer, is also one of our favorite releases of the year, blending both color and texture seamlessly using synth, classic instrumentals, and various effects to achieve a cinematic, almost otherworldly sound. His latest release “Prune, You Talk Funny,” is definitely more guitar heavy, with a dreamy distortion that pairs incredibly well with his signature raspy croon. His lyrics, as usual, are on the poetic side, telling “Prune” that he likes “the way words come out” their mouth, how it takes him “many miles to make them out,” later in the chorus “treading on flower beds” among glittering synth and backing vocals of oohs and ahhs. The accompanying video is as whimsical and charming as the music itself, showing an underwear-clad Dapperton running from a girl’s father, guitar in hand, dancing at pools, parks, and school hallways dressed in 80’s friendly turtlenecks, sweaters, and blazers, and hanging out with his “bowl cut army,” all while possessing an inexplicable confidence that seems to burst through the screen.

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photo courtesy of artist
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Porches – “Find Me”

Last week, Porches, also known as the synth-pop project of artist Aaron Maine, announced the release of his third full-length album, The House. The news came with a brand new track, following the album’s debut single “Country” as well as its accompanying cinematic video released earlier this month. “Find Me” has Maine forgoing instrumentals and instead using synth exclusively, stacking the varying layers on top of each other seamlessly and thoughtfully to create a stable, unwavering foundation for a minimal, yet highly emotional narrative that touches on the painful nature of anxiety and the urges to escape. Maine, through a jungle of tense, earth-shattering synth, desperately begs a faceless, nameless being not to let “it” find him, simultaneously allowing the listener to fill in the blank with whatever is currently poisoning their subconscious, but, whatever it is, it must be something that takes a large amount of emotional strength to avoid, something large and unmistakably physical. Despite his attempts to resist, “it” eventually finds him just before the chorus, and with it comes a powerful wave of bouncy, glitchy synth that washes over as Maine succumbs to the influx of thoughts and emotions. Yet his voice towers over the surge in acceptance, and he explains that he’ll go “somewhere else, where I can sink into myself,” and asks those around to watch him go, to watch him try and escape from himself, to attempt to find peace through internal chaos.

The track comes with an equally gorgeous cinematic clip, showing Maine restlessly readying himself in various ways – shaving, fixing his hair, working out – seemingly all for that moment where he escapes to various places, the pool, the woods, an overpass, an empty field, the last image the most gorgeously expressive of his narrative. The video ends with that same image of Maine as the speck of red in a vast field of green, the high-pitched, animated tone of the words “watch me go” lingering for a moment as the last drops of synth dissipate into the air.

The House will be released on January 19th via Domino.

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photo by Jason Nocito

Tennis – “I Miss That Feeling”

Earlier this year, Tennis released their stunning fourth full-length album Yours Conditionally, a breezy, pastel-tinged recollection of husband-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley’s relationship as well as Moore’s own inner thoughts and emotions on being her own person despite being attached to another. “I Miss That Feeling,” the second single from Tennis’s upcoming EP We Can Die Happy, is a beautiful continuation of Moore’s vocal gift – which, here, sounds more beautifully fragile and delicate as ever – as well as Riley’s dreamy, yet expertly focused guitar melodies. Moore’s underlying piano evokes the subtle dexterity and delicacy of Tobias Jesso Jr., emulating that soft, hazy 70’s vibe flawlessly. Riley, in turn, dances around her via his calculated guitar swells – if you’ve ever seen them live, the image of him swaying to her every word as if in a trance definitely comes to mind. With this track, Moore also holds onto her title as the queen of rhyme – where else but in a Tennis song could you half-rhyme “every little thing starts trembling” and “needle of an EKG” and still manage to get away with it?

We Can Die Happy will be released on 11/10.

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photo via noisey

ALASKAALASKA – “Familiar Ways”

Last week, London-based experimental art-pop group ALASKAALASKA released their self-titled debut EP, featuring four unique, highly evocative tracks. Instead of flowing in one straight line from beginning to end, they stand on their own, addressing different ideas and emotions.. Our favorite, “Familiar Ways,” starts slow and unassuming, but lays down the foundations for the crescendo of sound at the closing – dissonant, almost punk-like guitar clashes, saxophone blares, and the seamless vocals that manage to stay in line with the off-kilter, yet jaunty instrumentals that surround it on every side.

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photo courtesy of artist

Album Review: Alvvays – Antisocialites

Through nostalgic, lo-fi dream pop and insanely clever lyrical wit, Alvvays’s self-titled debut album mostly explored the many details and nuances of a two-person relationship, touching on the serious as well as the more jocund. Though built on an aggressive and striking foundation, the debut still evoked the sun-drenched, bubbly mood of retro pop, as well as included unique instrumental flourishes to add moments of delicacy, the amalgamation of its contrasting tones of hard and soft being Molly Rankin’s breathy, and at times, beautifully dreary vocals. Following their signature style of hiding dark, visceral lyrics under the facade of bright, shimmering instrumentals, Alvvays’s sophomore album Antisocialites doesn’t stray too far from the path they’ve paved, but does change its lyrical tone. Mostly gone are the narratives that touch on dependence on another’s touch; instead, the Toronto four-piece explores the ideas of separation and escapism, at the same time fleshing out their jangly, colorful sound, resulting in a saccharine sweet, yet remarkably tenacious collection of tracks without the sugar crash.

The 60’s are still very much alive within Alvvays’s music, but the way in which they alter its components to fit their particular aesthetic almost seems like a parody on the genre itself; the fact that such somber topics lurk underneath shiny, bright instrumentals (see: the drowning of a loved one in the peppy tune “Next Of Kin” on Alvvays) is a brilliant reconstruction of a period of time where the music always seemed just a little too happy. Regardless, the ways in which they do evoke the style are wonderful – Kerri MacLellan’s fuzzy day-glo piano that introduces opener “In Undertow” beautifully swells and grows to provide ample room for Rankin’s velvet smooth voice and accompanying bass line to grab you by the shoulders and pull you into their world. The almost eerie doo-wop of “Not My Baby” house murky instrumentals and Rankin’s sinuous vocals weave around them, the flourishes of synth shimmering just underneath the surface, the bridge evoking a glimmering, refulgent light hovering under a pellucid body of water. “Plimsoll Punks” is more upbeat, cut up into equal moments of unrest and clarity, rebelliousness and frustration. Apparently, the track is about Rankin’s frustrations with being in the public eye and resisting the idea of authenticity in music, leading to the idea that we’re all just “punks” underneath our civilized disguises.

The most wonderful aspect of Molly Rankin and Alec O’Hanley’s lyrical narratives is the fact that they feel lost in time – they’re relatable to almost anyone, regardless of generation. Even though they have the tendency to occasionally reference items and ideas that irrevocably belong in the past (“Archie, Marry Me”’s mention of breadmakers, for instance), the seamless way it sits within the rest of the track only adds to their immense lyrical charm, which is even more pronounced in Antisocialites. “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)” reverts back to the the atmosphere of pinstriped, sherbet serving dance parlors of the 60’s, is one of the most effervescent, Rankin seemingly interrupting her own ebullient tone in her mile-a-minute vocals. “In Undertow” has Rankin exploring the feelings of doubt and insecurity in a relationship, but without really caring if they resolve it or not – the fact that she asks him “rhetorically” if they can be saved as well as the repeated epiphany of “there’s no turning back” during the chorus and the breakdown points to a woman that wishes to explore isolation for a while. “Dreams Tonite” is the experience of seeing someone you once thought you knew perfectly in a completely different light, its hazy, delicate tone making it one of the most earnest, unpretentious tracks in Alvvays’s career. “Not My Baby” provides a moment of epiphany for Rankin, where she explains that she “traded [her] rose colored shades for a wide lens,” focusing on more realistic ideas that include retreating back into her own subconscious instead of voicing her thoughts aloud in the past.

It’s true that Rankin spends more time emphasizing the feelings of separation, escapism, and isolation in this album – seemingly in that exact order – but the last two tracks gradually introduce another character, close to Alvvays’s infamous marriage-hating, alimony fearing “Archie.” in “Saved By A Waif,” Rankin criticizes a faceless “Adrian” among surf guitar and bombastic drums, claiming he “wanted to get it together” but doesn’t, and has no plans to do so in the future. And Rankin won’t wait for him either, apparently. However, it’s clear that Rankin still has a soft spot for whoever it was she was trying to cast aside for ninety percent of the album, because closer “Forget About Life” has her inviting him back to forget about their troubles for a while “under this flickering light,” going back to the youthful excursions introduced in the debut – images of sitting alone with someone that knew you well, drinking awful wine and talking deep into the night, but you can’t help feeling that the relationship that once was has since dwindled, resulting in a bittersweet, nostalgic tone that feels agonizingly tangible for those that can relate all too well.

If Alvvays‘s pragmatic, yet still carefree approach was made up of primary colors, the softness of everything in Antisocialites point to something more pastel in appearance – but don’t attribute the candy like color palette to something without substance; despite its initial sugary sensation, its earnest, unyielding aftertaste houses something fervid and tireless, something that can only continue to grow in strength as Alvvays continues to enhance their unique, unparalleled sound.

8.0/10

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photo by Arden Wray

Mons Vi – “Divina”

Brooklyn based indie group Mons Vi have returned with “Divina,” the newest addition to their unique repertoire, spanning everything from soft bedroom pop to alternative rock. They’ve released quite a few tracks over the past year or so, but “Divina” is the first to stray from their already versatile aesthetic, with bright, clean guitar plucks, textured effects, and a vocal exchange between vocalists Matthew Hershoff and Adrianne Gonzalez in both English and Spanish. Although it seems to be an argument about the anguish in their relationship, ironically, the moment their voices intertwine, it becomes less hostile and more enchanting.

 

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photo by Derek Jay

Slum Sociable – “Don’t Come Back Another 100 Times”

Edward Quinn and Miller Upchurch, also known as Aussie duo Slum Sociable, have returned with the lo-fi, color-tinged ballad “Don’t Come Back Another 100 Times,” following their previously released stunner “Name Call” as well as their fantastic 2015 EP TQ. The new track takes advantage of its slower, more lethargic tone to fit in layers of decadent synth and hazy vocals, as well as a nostalgic narrative, introspective and wonderfully self-indulgent according to the duo, yet still incredibly malleable and universal.

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Leo Kalyan – “Versailles”

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been immersed in soft, electronic R&B, and thankfully, Leo Kalyan has escorted me back into the haze. The London based singer-songwriter released his debut EP Silver Linings in 2015 and his second Outside In last year, containing the soft, vulnerable track “Fucked Up” as well as the most sparse, yet delicate reimagining of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” I’ve ever heard. His flinty, reverberated voice shines once again in his newest single “Versailles,” along with more multi-dimensional bursts of synth and and soft twangy effects. He compares his beloved to the Gardens of Versailles – a meticulously designed and maintained botanical entrance to the Chateau de Versailles in France – and, fittingly regards them as absolute perfection. The track pulses and sways so beautifully it’s hard not to nod along, his voice a constant reminder that it’s okay to succumb to aesthetic beauty every now and again.

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photo by Maximillian Hetherington

Mac DeMarco – “This Old Dog”

The fact that Mac DeMarco released not one, but two tracks supposedly out of nowhere yesterday was incredible for me considering I’ve been on a huge binge lately; I finally received the vinyl of 2 that I ordered weeks ago, as well as the fact that I’ve had “Treat Her Better” as well as the rest of Salad Days on repeat for the past month. There’s something about DeMarco’s delightfully lethargic croon and the simultaneous honesty, sensitivity, and humor in his lyrics that just seems right at the moment, and thankfully the news of his upcoming album This Old Dog means that there will soon be more of him to love. The title track, released along with companion “My Old Man,” has the artist even softer and more straightforward, with a quiet, uncomplicated melody that creates ample room for the fluttering waves of guitar in the chorus, acting like an excitable, pulsating heartbeat. Of course, the goofy, easily likable persona is still there, but judging by the calm beauty of Another One as well as these two new tracks, there’s a calmer, more introspective part of him that still deserves further exploration.

This Old Dog will be released on May 5th.

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photo by Coley Brown

The Jungle Giants – “Feel The Way I Do”

Australian quartet The Jungle Giants have released the first single from their upcoming third full length album, the follow up to 2015’s Speakerzoid. “Feel The Way I Do” is a perfect amalgamation of the quirky instrumentals of their past repertoire along with new sharp, metallic synth effects and frontman Sam Hales’s piercing, powerful vocals. The result of this newly assumed sound, changing from pure, bubbly pop to something grittier, is a remarkably addictive, danceable beat, where the group’s same quirkiness, now sleek, focused, and balanced, becomes a valuable asset.

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photo courtesy of artist