Electronic

VIDEO: “You Lose" | Magdalena Bay

photo credit: Lissyelle Laricchia 

 

L.A.-based electro indie pop duo Magdalena Bay (Mika Tenenbaum & Matthew Lewin) have released a frenetic music video for “You Lose,” the latest single from their debut album, Mercurial World.  

The band describes the track as being about “trying to be a musician and feeling like time for success is always running out. It’s definitely melodramatic, describing ourselves as aging and nearing death, but sometimes it really feels that way.”

Fully written, produced, performed, mixed and mastered by the duo, The track begins with a short loungy section, complete with VHS-detuned vaporwave synth pads that sound like the background music for some retro afterlife suburban mall, before it’s taken over by a hyper-digital soundscape of buzzy synth bass, jagged sawtooth lead lines, and sampled late 20th century video game sounds. Tenenbaum’s beyond breathy vocal manages to sound weightless, jaded and in-your-face at the same time during the verse, while during the pre-chorus, the edginess gives way to a highly melodic, more angelic tone that adds good contrast to the rest of the track. By the time the chorus comes crashing in, the musical release, with shouted vocals and full-on synth and grunge sounds, is exhilarating. 

The quickly-edited, colorful music video, meanwhile, takes on the premise of the duo looking for their lost “dog” (in reality a Pokemon-like creature), in between their binges of video gaming and performing music in front of a wall of old-school TV screens that resemble a Nam June Paik video art piece, if it were commissioned by Atari or Nintendo. It’s a subtle but biting commentary on both the retromania that much of the music scene finds itself trapped in, as well the state of near-perpetual digital adolescence that social media seems to foster, to the detriment of society at large. 

Mercurial World is scheduled to be released on October 8 via Luminelle. Gabe Hernandez

 

   

FRESH CUTS: “It’s Like A Dream” For Neil Frances On Latest Single

photo credit: Victoria Smith

 

Los Angeles-based indie electronic pop duo Neil Frances (consisting of Jordan Feller and Marc Gilfry) return with the effervescent late-summer dance floor confection “It’s Like A Dream,” first new track since their Stay Strong Play Long EP was dropped earlier in 2021.

The track starts up with airy synth keyboard chord stabs, finger snapping and a tumble of bongo drums, before gooey but nimble synth bass and crisp, slapping drums crash land, setting off the eminently danceable “daytime disco” groove of the kind that Neil Frances have become known for. With Gilfry’s effortlessly chill, soulful vocals floating above everything, the track simultaneously feels feather-light and as “in the pocket” as one can hope for. Neil Frances themselves describe the track as: "...about the feeling of yearning for the club. We want our music to soundtrack people's weekends, and this one was made for that purpose. Like when you get in your car and you need that one song to set it off, we want ‘It's Like A Dream’ to be that.”

Up next for Neil Frances is a performance slot at Outside Lands festival in San Francisco this October. Gabe Hernandez

   

FRESH CUT: ORNAMENT AND CRIME, "You're A Mess"

photo credit: Lecomoura

 

Just in time for the unofficial end of summer, Poolside producer Alex Kemp and Grizfolk drummer Bill Delia combine as LA-based duo ORNAMENT AND CRIME, and we’ve got the first single from their debut EP, Another Night on The Astral Plane, the laid-back, semi-tropical groove workout “You’re a Mess,” featuring the vocal talents of Virginia Palms.

“You’re a Mess” tumbles from the speakers in a cascade of effortlessly chill bass and drum work, delicate keyboards that seem to evoke the sway of an accordion player at a bistro on the French Riviera, and even the vaguely mystical vibes of a pan flute. All of it combines into a lush, buoyant track, which is only elevated by the mixed male/female unison vocals that sing above it all. As for the lyrics, Bill Delia explains, “Everyone falls for the wrong person once or twice, right? It’s an enjoyable fail, really. This song honors the toxic lovers we all encounter at some point in our lives, the ones we have a blind eye of love for.”

The new EP by ORNAMENT AND CRIME is scheduled for release on October 15th. If the new single is any indication, we could be looking at a belated end to the summer so that this tune has a proper chance to sizzle out of earbuds and speakers across the city. Gabe Hernandez

   

Reinvention or Reimagination: Sho Humphries Urges Us to "Dream Again"

Before embarking on his next great adventure, Austin ukulele sensation Sho Humphries made sure to bestow his loving local community with a parting gift. Sho’s debut EP Dream Again is a triumph of creativity, an exploration of sound and style from a young musician whose bravery surpasses even his immense talents.

In Sho’s nimble hands, the ukulele is transformed. Empowered. Liberated. He embraces the instrument as something far beyond its simplistic representation in public perception—more than a toy, more than an instrument for beachside celebration and casual singalongs, the ukulele is an embodiment of possibility itself. In Sho’s hands, the ukulele seems infinite, irrepressible. It breathes water and whispers fire and sings of a bright tomorrow.

The growth showcased between earlier releases and this new EP are striking. Sho’s 2017 instrumental album Making Summer Memories flirted with musical expressionism, pushing and pulling at the boundaries of expectation while staying firmly rooted in a larger framework for what ukulele music is and can be. Opening track “It’s Shotime!” is a notable exception, its near-frantic urgency and rock-and-roll aesthetic harbingers of both Sho’s sonic fearlessness and profound, near-brooding pensiveness. The rest of the album tends toward bright and buoyant, though the assertive percussiveness of each strike sometimes seem to belie an underlying (and typically teenage) impatience.

2020 single Love You! was the virtuoso’s first foray into electronic looping, his airy, math rock-y riffs given ample room to breathe and, in turn, breathing life into a lo-fi trend threatening to sedate swaths of the younger generation. The track showcases a young musician at peace with the process of finding peace — more patient, perhaps in love with the simple joy of making music. The chorus is endearingly heartfelt, and all the more powerful for it: “Breathe in, breathe in/Love out, love in.”

 With the Dream Again EP, Sho emerges more confident, more hopeful, that familiar sense of urgency appearing again but tempered now by faith in himself and the future. He is more accomplished than ever on the ukulele itself — every finger-picked run impeccable, every strum irresistible. But the sentiment underlying each song feels more profound, more mature, more complex. What might once have felt like emotional reactions are transformed into careful reflections and reimaginations.

The echoing, atmospheric emptiness of the title track slowly evolves, swelling with elegantly amplified ukulele riffs that complement, rather than overpower, Sho’s stirring baritone (on debut!). Tight songwriting and a deep appreciation for the power of empty space cultivate in a wonderfully distorted crescendo, with Sho’s direct poeticism lending a sense of urgency to Sho’s pleas for the world to “dream again,” to build a better future and to avoid our own mutually assured destruction.

A return to Sho’s sonic roots — hopeful, determined, vibrant — “Rising Hope” builds on that momentum. It is the song of rebirth and reimagination, the sound of grass beginning to grow again as a new sun shines a light on far-off horizons. There is a sadness of sorts underpinning it all, a recognition that new beginnings demand their own sacrifices — what once might have been innocent idealism is tempered by an acceptance of reality that makes Sho’s resolute optimism all the more impactful.

Vision and imagination, determination and dynamism — these are traits we desperately need in our younger generations, who we have collectively burdened with so much responsibility and expectation. Armed with his ukulele and a searching spirit, Sho Humphries is stepping into the world ready to make a change.

 — Adam Wood

   

Fire-Toolz "I Am A Cloud"

Fire-Toolz have released the latest single, "I Am A Cloud", from the forthcoming album, Eternal Home, which is due out on October 15th via Hausu Mountain.

The new single is accompanied by the wild new video created by the talented Jesse Bond.