Dripping with a nocturnal, soulful soundscape, “That Shit Cray” is a wholly consuming track from Minneapolis-based duo Flowstate, released in the past day. Already impressing with “Breathe” last year, Flowstate show their most impressive atmospheric creation to date with this effort. Savannah’s vocals are intoxicating throughout, her entrancing croon perfectly accompanying a late-night synth pad, guitar trickles, and the occasional dose of strings. Her sweetly melodic vocal presence is met with sharp contrast from a nonchalant, near spoken-word male vocal. The nocturnal wandering and dual-vocal approach works beautifully, the hip-hop verses meshing well with Savannah’s more soulful pop-laden exterior.
“That Shit Cray” is the type of atmospheric hip-hop that gets stuck in your head due to both melody and overall vibe.
Ben deHoedt is an independent musician and filmmaker from Melbourne, Australia. His latest creation, “The Thirst” is an atmospheric folk effort with a calm, nocturnal feel in the verses that counteract with a bustling bass line, which builds into tightly wound rhythmic accompaniments. An ominous key-laden shimmer emerges at 01:35 as the track starts to rise in intensity, with anthemic percussive pushes to follow. The “when you reach the desert,” bit – as folk guitars and percussion take turns up front – resonates with emotive appeal. Brass emerges as the track reaches a conclusion. deHoedt shows himself here as a very capable songwriting with a knack for unsettling soundscapes.
The track is off deHoedt’s newly released album The Gentle Northern Wind, streaming in full below:
“We Are All Mad Here” is a vibrant, melodic track whose lyrics relay the power of acceptance, and rejoicing in our own idiosyncrasies. “When I first read Alice in Wonderland my favorite characters were the Mad Hatter and his friends,” the track’s creator, Luna Keller, says. “They were different and certainly mad, yet they were together drinking tea and embracing each others peculiarities. Wouldn’t the world be a better place, if we would do this?”
Keller further describes the track as “a song for everyone, that invites you to be a part of a colorful happy crowd that doesn’t judges or discriminates you.” In lyrics touching on some people’s unique attributes – “Some are mad about money, some are crazy and funny / Not strange, just unique, we are all mad differently.” Over this is a carnivalesque melody with a strident melodic bounce, with guitars and twinkling keys accompanying Keller’s confident vocals. The track marks the second single release from the forthcoming Alice Is in Love with the Mad Hatter EP.
“16 Lovers” recalls an era of sophisti-pop where brass flourishes and twangy guitars are familiar cogs. The track is a success from S A Reyners, a New Zealand-based songwriter whose fond of dynamic guitar lines and melodic key-laden accompaniments. Certainly, Stefan Reyners’ sound is fondly reminiscent of acts like Prefab Sprout and Aztec Camera. Especially as the second half approaches, there’s an impressively dexterous range in melody and structural twists, particularly as brass spurts emerge alongside the organ and twangy guitar. “16 Lovers”is an alluring single from Reyners. Listen to more of his material on Soundcloud.
“Feelin'” is an upbeat, summery rocker from Brandon Hoogenboom, an American singer/songwriter who lived in Australia for a considerable part of his music career. After a successful run there with the quartet Set Sail, Hoogenboom moved back to the United States and settled in Los Angeles to start his solo career. “Feelin'” shows a sound that emphasizes Hoogenboom’s knack for accessibility and warm, soaring melodies. Aesthetically, I’m reminded of the hazy sunshine-pop of acts like Little Joy. You can stream several of his recently released tracks on Spotify and Soundcloud.
Chris Lastovicka’s “The 7th Chapter of Job” is powerful on its own, a great showing of the artist’s modern classical arsenal. Now, the track has a remix from Jeremy Allom that adds another dimension. Ominous strings stir to start the track, with an additional line creeping in around the one-minute mark before a graceful piano accompaniment lingers in the distance. There’s certainly a feeling of wintry classical music here, especially as the solemn wordless vocals kick in. This is a track that feels fit for a post-apocalyptic setting. The vocals ascend to a very powerful, ghostly presence around the three-minute mark that resonates with chills. This is a very atmospheric, gripping effort.
On the remix, Lastovicka says the following:
“When I was thinking about who I’d like to remix my album, I thought about my favorite album, Massive Attack’s “Blue Lines”. I wondered if I would be able to even get Jeremy Allom, who mixed that album. I did, and it has been an incredible experience working with him and getting to know him.
When I looked for a mastering engineer, I wanted to get someone who would understand the sonic imperfections of the recordings and how I felt they mirrored the rough experience of seeking the Self. I chose iconic mastering engineer Emily Lazar because of her early background in creative writing, and her drive to tell the story of an album through her mastering work.”
Harvie June’s “Hourglass,” released this past September, touted a jangle-pop allure that made it one of my favorite tracks from 2018. So, I was happy to see he released a new track in the past day, the engaging “Collision Course.” The Richmond, Virginia-based artist impresses again here, touting a more rock-driven sound with dexterous bass and melodic guitar shimmers. The bursts of guitar that take focus – first emerging at the 45-second mark – provides melodic moments of beauty, giving the vocals a moment of reprieve and providing their presence with more oomph throughout. “Collision Course” is a great start to the year for an artist who finished strongly in 2018.
Nostalgic shades of ’80s rock and synth-pop alike are abundant throughout “New Experience,” a stellar debut single from Guest Singer, a project created by Doncaster’s Jake Cope and comprising Paul Burdett and France Lahmar. They recently signed with Manchester-based label Heist or Hit. On this track, Guest Singer team up with producer Matt Peel (Eagulls, Pulled Apart By Horses, Menace Beach) for a polished, nostalgic result. Parts War on Drugs, The Killers, and Springsteen, “New Experience” builds steadily from synth flourishes and a lush bass line into a series of anthemic vocal deliveries and glistening guitar emphasis.
15th February – Band On The Wall, Manchester*
16th February – Yellow Arch Studios, Sheffield*
Phileas Fogg returns – following last year’s impressive “Will Never Be Played Again” – with another slice of psych-rock goodness. The elusive project touts a suave guitar presence with a bit of a spaghetti-western pull, with emotive vocals establishing a firm lead and eventually sporting a haunting reflective background layer. There’s a turn around 01:30 to a more contemplative, nocturnal tone with vocals bordering on spoken word, before concluding with a forceful array of frantic guitars and the repeating vocal hook. “Predict All My Failures” is another success for Phileas Fogg.
Acidic Base is the Chicago-based project of Siddharth Goswami, a young (12 years old) musician with a clear aptitude for electronic music creation. Sid first got his start learning structures and chord progressions, then moving onto stringed instruments and later electric guitar and percussion. His debut album Purple Skies explores a blend of EDM and progressive house, emphasizing atmosphere and hypnotic song structures. The opening, self-titled track is an effervescent success that touts a feel-good vibe. You can stream the album on Spotify here
“I believe my music tends to be in the progressive house genre of electronic music,” Sid explains. “My main inspiration in this genre are deadmau5 and Eric Prydz, though I follow several other artists in various genres.” Speaking of the debut album, he says: “The album is a mix of various styles of music culminating into Electronic format. You will observe my love for improvisation directly in numbers like Halcyon and Mountain Face.”
The track is also featured in the genre-based, best-of Spotify compilation Bright Electronica.