Single & Lovin' It Vol. 27
By Mandi Kimes
ALEX CAMERON - "THE COMEBACK"
Sydney’s Alex Cameron presents the third single, “The Comeback,” from his debut album, Jumping The Shark, out August 19th on Secretly Canadian. “The Comeback” follows the release of the sleaze-pop jam of “She’s Mine” and the undeniable “Take Care of Business,” or as Cameron would prefer you say, the third part in a series of four-minute short stories dealing with the trappings of show business. Of all three, none deals with that topic more directly than “The Comeback.” Narcissism, competition, and desperation are all wrapped up and served to the listener in a pulsing and evocative statement. Recalling David Bowie and Ariel Pink under a Lynch-ian lens, Cameron weaves intelligent, poignant lyricism with primitive 80s synths and seemingly minimalist arrangements. Jumping The Shark is a brilliantly raw and confident collection of four-minute tales written to provide you with insight into the inner workings of Cameron. Following European tours supporting Mac DeMarco, Kevin Morby and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Cameron and his saxophonist will tour this fall supporting Angel Olsen and Thee Oh Sees.
MILD HIGH CLUB - "SKIPTRACING"
Mild High Club recently announced their new album Skiptracing, due out August 26th on Stones Throw Records, and shared the first single, “Homage.” They’re back with another new single, “Skiptracing.” On the album, there’s both a heightened thematic aspect as well as more complex musical arrangements encasing it. In Brettin’s estimation, the album’s story arc is that of a “private investigator attempting to trace the steps of the sound and the spirit of American music.” And in investigating the spirit of American music, Mild High Club re-imagine AM radio hits as blasting in from a parallel universe, the sound of early 70s LA in a smog of sativa. Brettin and band look to the wry, trenchant wit of Steely Dan, gazing deep into the dark underbelly of sun-bright LA and coming away with a catchy song underpinned by slippery jazz phrasings. Dig deeper into the lyrics and imagery and that detective story slowly emerges. Skiptracing is Philip Marlowe driving around LA listening to Caetano Veloso or that deleted scene in John Cassavetes’ The Killing of a Chinese Bookie where Cosmo Vitelli reads Cosmic Trigger.
NICK WATERHOUSE - "IT'S TIME"
On September 30th, California rhythm and blues revivalist Nick Waterhouse will return with his third full-length studio album, Never Twice, which will be released via Innovative Leisure. Never Twice is a culmination, intensification, and realization of everything Waterhouse has been developing throughout this prolific frenzy. Catchier and loaded with more hits than its predecessors, the new LP is at the same time harder hitting, more rhythmic, more harmonic, more diverse, and more adventurous than any of the excellent work that already separated him from the pack. A cool and elegant post-post-modern cocktail of 1950s R&B and club jazz, mixed with 1960s soul and boogaloo, and shaken with a minimal contemporary sensibility, Never Twice finds the artist taking his time, refining his vision, and speaking with new authority. In five short years Waterhouse has come a long way and it looks like he may have just painted his masterpiece. With Never Twice, Waterhouse returned to his original collaborator, producer Michael McHugh (Black Lips, Ty Segall, Allah-Las). Once he had McHugh on board, Waterhouse began cold-calling his favorite players, all of whom miraculously said yes. Jazz musician Bob Kenmotsu contributed flute, Tom Waits and Elvis Costello collaborator Ralph Carney played saxophone, and Dr. Lonnie Smith protege Will Blades on organ. The result is an exuberant and impeccably recorded album of songs, showcasing Waterhouse's prowess as a musician and a band-leader.
MOTEL RADIO - "PALMILLA"
New Orleans' Motel Radio debuted their "laid back, beachy vibe...[that] captivates your attention from start to finish" in their new song "Palmilla,"which is the third song released off the band's forthcoming new EP Desert Surf Films to be released on August 12th via Roll Call Records. The Desert Surf Films EP expands upon the breezy Americana of Motel Radio's 2015 debut EP Days and Nights, and was recorded as essentially two chapters, with the band first isolating themselves at Dockside Studio in Maurice, LA alongside the Vermillion River. The second chapter, which includes "Palmilla," was tracked and self-produced in Motel Radio's uptown New Orleans neighborhood at Bear America Studios, with assistance from Joe Ceponis and studio owner Carson Thielan. The resultant six songs of Desert Surf Films feel warm yet urgent; the sound of a young band pursuing their dreams while coming to a better understanding of their place and purpose in a big world. There's a newly experimental edge to the songs as well, with tinges of surf-y psych rock woven seamlessly throughout. Formed in 2014, Motel Radio’s early writing and recording culminated last summer with the independently released Days and Nights. The EP earned them supporting slots for national acts such as Drive-By Truckers and Kurt Vile in addition to festival performances and being named "Best Emerging Artist" at the 2016 Big Easy Awards in their hometown this past spring.
SLOTHRUST - "HORSESHOE CRAB"
Slothrust debuted "Horseshoe Crab," the first single off their long-awaited third LP, Everyone Else, where the band delivers ten riveting anthems that reward repeated listens. The songs grab the ear and pierce the psyche with complex arrangements and lyrical depth intensified by guitarist-vocalist Leah Wellbaum’s penetrating vocal delivery. Slothrust is Wellbaum, bassist Kyle Bann, and drummer Will Gorin. The trio first staked out their unique strain of jazz- and blues-afflicted rock as students at Sarah Lawrence College. The band’s 2012 debut Feels Your Pain, and its successor 2014’s Of Course You Do, established the band as a breed apart, serving up deceptively clever epics that veer satisfyingly between incandescent riffing and pop hooks, winsome anxiety and powerful heft. While Everyone Else clearly shows Wellbaum fulfilling her early promise as a singer, it’s where she hits her stride as a lyricist: pulling the listener under the surface to explore a submerged world brimming with exotic creatures. Water motifs abound, detailing oddly off-kilter observations about floating, submerging and drowning that are anything but morose. Instead, they contort and reflect worldly truths about life on dry land. Nowhere is this vision clearer than on the slow burn of the album’s centerpiece track “Horseshoe Crab,” where storm cloud riffs and Gorin and Bann’s perfectly calibrated rhythmic undercurrent erupt in a geyser of emotional and spatial distance, as Wellbaum observes, “I don’t have anything in common with myself, except that I came from the sea, like everyone else did.”
SQRD - "GOLD"
Developed from a background in jazz and classical music, Swedish-born Berlin-based artist Carl Robin Kirchmann (AKA SQRD) has soaked up the soul of these two cultural Meccas to develop his unique blend of low-key, dreamy electronica. With a Master’s degree in mathematical engineering under his belt, Kirchmann’s process for creating music is seemingly drawn from his ability to solve equations, experimenting not only with developing his personal tastes and musical disciplines, but also with various vocal and instrumental textures, effects and rhythms; the result of which is his new EP Gold. The EP sits somewhere between the engulfing and benign sounds of The XX and Four Tet, whilst vocally Kirchmann calls to mind the opaque melodies of James Blake and Active Child. It’s a captivating blend of sonic components, which is more supportive and protective than it is forlorn; however there are still wistful and reminiscent undertones throughout. It is the influence of this beguiling honesty and courage that can be heard across tracks such as title-track “Gold,” where soft and somber electronics meet melancholic yet resolute vocals that are accompanied by hypnotic oscillating rhythms. Thematically, the EP is about the end of Kirchmann’s seven year relationship and the process of finding your own path. SQRD is constantly exploring how he can push the boundaries of writing electronic music, and his experimentation with different tones and moods both sonically and subjectively is what sets him apart from the rest. It’s rare that an artist is able to define their sound so equivocally yet so proficiently, and this short yet consummated EP is just an introduction of what he is capable of.
KINKY LOVE - "TV GIRL"
A rare Nancy Sinatra song first inspired the band’s name, but three years later the Chicago trio Kinky Love is better known for the quick gratification of their ethereal electronic sound. Breathy new single "TV Girl" further explores the innate chemistry of the group, with a layered gloss that combines frontwoman Xoe Wise's pop lust with Dan Zima's mastery of '80s programming and Alan Shinkunas' structured rock bent. The release follows an active year for the band, issuing their first double-side 7" as a trio in 2015. The band garnered a Daytrotter Session as well as a spot among NME's "14 New Bands to Round Off February." Chicago Tribune has also praised the band, calling their music “slinky, synth-y and downright sexy,” and Idolator has compared Zima's manipulation of electronic sounds to early Pet Shop Boys. In August, the femme fatale spirit of Women Without will be released followed by concert dates that continue the trajectory of raved about appearances with Jamaican Queens, JMSN, and The 1975.
LUKE ROBERTS - "SILVER CHAIN"
Nashville-based Luke Roberts releases his unwaveringly honest and raw new album Sunlit Cross on Thrill Jockey on October 14th. Recently, Roberts shared the beautifully contemplative video for his debut single, “Silver Chain,” with music featuring Kurt Vile. Sunlit Cross was recorded with Kyle Spence (Kurt Vile, Harvey Milk), who worked extensively with Roberts on arrangements and instrumentation resulting in the most sonically rich record of Roberts’ career. Vile, with whom Roberts had toured, added unwaveringly backing vocals and banjo on “Silver Chain.” In addition to Vile, other collaborators include John Neff (Drive-By Truckers) on pedal steel and Creston Spiers (Harvey Milk) on viola, guitar, and piano. Working in such a bucolic environment, the Georgia pines, birds and crickets echoing all around, suited Roberts. “It feels like you’re in a billionaire’s office in a treehouse,” Roberts says, “making music with some real pros.” Roberts has long searched for freedom – even as a kid growing up in East Nashville, he began train-hopping, exploring who he was and where he should be in the world. Four years after the release of his second album, The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport, Roberts has gone from living in a trailer in Montana to living on acreage in Tennessee, where he is learning how to farm. In the passing years, Roberts dealt with heartbreak and wanderlust, driving between New York and Nashville, living out of his car for weeks, traveling to Cambodia and Thailand and finally to Kenya, where he stayed with a family whose day-to-day challenges and simple needs impressed him. It was in Kenya where the songs on Sunlit Cross originated. The record is a lullaby, Roberts says, one that pits darkness and disenchantment and the ugly side of life against levity, love, and childhood.
COREY HARPER - "CALIFORNIA SUN"
Hailing from Portland, 21-year-old singer-songwriter Corey Harper released his debut track "California Sun," which showcases his raw, emotionally-crafted and soulful grit while providing a catchy, memorable chorus. Originally born in Missouri, Harper began playing guitar at an early age when he came across a Fender Stratocaster at his uncle's house in Kansas City. With the help from his uncle and father, he learned simple chords and furthered his skills from watching videos of Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Eric Clapton, and copied what he heard on guitar. Harper crafted his own sound from growing up around 60s and 70s rock, contemporary pop and soul music and notes John Mayer, Ben Howard, Bob Dylan, and B.B. King as major influences. It is these artists that have shaped his guitar playing, voice, songwriting, and passion for music. Harper studied music and literature history classes in Eugene, Oregon shortly before dropping out to pursue his career in music in Los Angeles, California. Settling in Venice Beach, he tapped into the inspiration around him to not only create his upcoming debut EP but also a collective called Winston House. In many ways, Winston House began as just a house, but over the past few years, talented people from all over the world have come through to hang out and create together. By creating and being an integral part of this community of dreamers and artists, Harper was able to hit the road with his music opening up for American soul musician Allen Stone.
FIELD TRIP - "2 NY"
New York-based void pop band Field Trip have shared their new track "2 NY," the first track to be released off the band’s upcoming debut album, Horror Vacui, due out on November 11th. After the song lived entirely in singer-drummer Noah Champ's head for a year, it finally became this celestial track about being "horrified and invigorated simultaneously" in the midst funky, psychedelic pop music laced with just the right amount of spaced-out fuzzy reverb. It’s not easy for people with strange, sometimes puzzling minds to control the sounds in their heads and effectuate them into meaning through sound. Los Angeles native Champ has one of those elusive minds: neither here nor there, but somewhere in between, constantly building and re-building upon the expanses of thought. His music, penned field trip, exposes a deeply-altered perspective, horrified and charged by new environs and feelings. Unlike many, Champ has successfully been able to materialize the emotional voids at the core of his person, and has etched them on tape for us to indulge in. Champ moved to New York in what proved to be a deeply-altering time not only for him, but for his new home’s music scene. The beau monde-induced demise of dominant venues prophesied the inevitable extinction of the tight-knit, music-first rooms that incubated records the band regarded as scripture. Wishing to experience the space’s ephemeral legacy and mythos, Champ was joined by guitarist Nico Geyer, synth player Phillip Braun, guitarist Jason Park, and bassist Will Sacks. Another year of playing and ambling in New York finds the band tapping into further reaching sounds, connecting the dots between the likes of Factory Records alums, early trip hop, and space-age California.