Single & Lovin' It Vol. 29
By Mandi Kimes
VHS COLLECTION - "THE LONGEST DRIVE"
VHS Collection shared their latest track "The Longest Drive," which guitarist Conor Cook calls “our favorite song to play live," and says “it’s been a staple of the live set for a few months now. We hope we’ve captured that live energy in this track. It feels a little more rock oriented than some of the other songs we’ve released. The song is about never wanting to grow up and about how people try to fake different levels of maturity.” New York based synth rock band VHS Collectionis known for high energy live performances and a unique blend of rock, electronic, and indie influences. Getting their start in the winter of 2014 with three core members Cook, James Bohannon, and Nils Vanderlip, they have been playing music in one form or another together since they were kids. Years later, they pulled together a collection of synth-heavy home recordings which they posted on Soundcloud and Spotify and, encouraged by the volume of hits the tracks received, the guys began performing a live set, selling out the Mercury Lounge several times in 2015. The band released their debut three song EP in December 2015 and will be releasing the Stereo Hype EP on August 16th.
BAD WAVE - "3AM"
Bad Wave are the band two best guy friends start when life's responsibilities become too great and they need to get nostalgic. Songwriter Tucker Tota and his production backbone Patrick Hart are really too young to be nearing midlife crisis, but nevertheless started Bad Wave out of the trappings familiar to all 20-somethings in adulthood's early stages. The name Bad Wave itself is taken from the Spanish phrase 'mala onda,' which literally translates as "bad waves" but you can take it as meaning "bad vibes." "We're trying to spread good vibes through," reassures Hart. By releasing their own anxieties through Bad Wave, these two only have great intentions. After releasing their sunny single “Extraordinary" earlier this summer, Bad Wave is back on the map with "3 AM," a track that maintains the upbeat Bad Wave sound while also possessing chameleon-like qualities that come through in its arrangement. There’s a nostalgic tinge to Tota's vocals as it unconventionally warps to a muffled, echoic chamber in the bridge, eventually building back up to the synth-poppy euphoric chorus.
MYZICA - "WE BELONG TOGETHER"
The Nashville-based duo of producer Micah Tawlks and singer Isaaca Byrd known as MYZICA premiered their new song "We Belong Together," which is the second song released off the band's forthcoming debut album Love & Desire to be released on September 9th. Although written and recorded throughout 2015 and into early 2016, Love & Desire hearkens back to the sumptuous classic pop of the 1980s. Filled with soaring synths, punchy, propulsive drums, and Byrd's honeyed vocals, the album's ten songs thematically tackle love in the modern age. Love & Desire reminds, implores, and emboldens its listeners to “just say it” in an era where romance can arguably feel more complicated and ephemeral than ever. The album was recorded in Tawlks' Peptalk Studio in Nashville, with Byrd on vocals and Tawlks and Dabney Morris (Wild Cub, Tallest Trees) playing nearly every instrument, alongside assists from friends including touring guitarist Garreth Spinn. MYZICA will celebrate Love & Desire with a hometown record release show on August 30th on the rooftop of Acme Feed and Seed.
CROCODILES - "TELEPATHIC LOVER"
Crocodiles have shared the first video off their sixth LP set for release on October 21st via the band’s own label, Zoo Music. The band previewed Dreamless with infectious lead single and opening track “Telepathic Lover.” Comprised of best friends Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell, Crocodiles have earned their place as one of the United States’ most engaging, hardworking and consistent rock and roll bands of the past few years. Dreamless is their most exploratory and focused release. Whereas their first two albums made their home amongst a stew of fuzzed-out psychedelia, and the following three albums explored Welchez and Rowell’s penchant for placing pop sensibilities against whirring guitars and barbed production, Dreamless sees the duo endeavoring on an artistic departure that positions their guitars in the backseat in favor of a more spacious, synthesizer and piano-driven sound. With the help of Martin Thulin, whose work on Dreamless kept with the exemplary production found on Crocodiles previous releases, he aided in the reconciliation of the band’s realigned focus on keys with their experiments of often pairing down the instrumentation to allow lyrical sentiments and themes to cut through to the fore. It’s an approach that has paid off, enabling the band to take more risks, both artistically and emotionally. An unsettling insight certainly, but if Crocodiles did indeed have to burn, weep and suffer in order to write and record Dreamless, then it was damn well worth it.
AARON HOLM - "CATCH A FALLING STAR"
Seattle's resident ambient producer Aaron Holm shared his latest single “Catch A Falling Star,” taken from his forthcoming album, The Boy. “Catch a Falling Star” is the story of a father’s love for his child and his heartbreak on hearing of the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown. On this one, Holm says: “On the morning of the shooting, my daughter’s first grade teacher sent out a recording of the children singing ‘Catch A Falling Star’. The recording is heard at the track start. As I heard the news of the school shooting [and that] first graders were the victims, I pulled to the side of the road and cried. The voices in this track soothe broken hearts and the loss of innocence and bring the boy full circle from childhood to fatherhood.” Holm is a producer and musician writing and performing experimental ambient and electronic compositions deep in the depths of the Emerald City. His ethereal mixes of real and imagined worlds continue in his organic new album The Boy, in which Holm explores the violence and isolation of the inner city boy as he grows, detaches and himself becomes a father. Sitting in the same space as contemporary artists like Taylor Deupree (who also mastered The Boy), Susumu Yokota, and Jon Hopkins, this haunting yet beautiful new album is filled with sonic solace, calmly bewitching the listener into a state of pure tranquility.
JUSTIN PETER KINKEL-SCHUSTER - "LAID LOW"
Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster (singer-guitarist of Water Liars) debuted a new song, "Laid Low," which is the second track released off his forthcoming debut solo album Constant Stranger to be released on September 30th via Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum Records. Kinkel-Schuster, who recently wrapped up a run of dates with Water Liars, will head back out on the road next week in support of Julien Baker throughout the west coast and southwest. He will then join up with Futurebirds for a number of shows in Texas and Louisiana before wrapping up with two shows with John Moreland in Alabama. The eleven songs on Constant Stranger feel like snapshots documented, processed, and archived, filled with stories and images of how the small and often overlooked everyday moments affect the larger ones. There's a weary yet warm, resigned yet hopeful, realist yet romantic nature to Kinkel-Schuster's writing, which here strikes as an attempt at reconciling the complicated and changeable nature of memory and all human relationships. With evocative imagery of the natural world, Constant Stranger seamlessly blends these deeply personal ruminations on family, lovers, a musician's transient life, and the frequently confounding nature of existence and creates a universally felt home for memory, gratitude, acceptance, and regret. Written throughout the past fall and winter, Kinkel-Schuster recorded Constant Stranger in Water Valley's Dial Back Sound and played every instrument on it minus one bass part. The album was mixed at the Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis.
ALBERT AF EKENSTAM - "THE DEVIL BIRD"
Albert af Ekenstam just premiered his beautiful first track “The Devil Bird” off the forthcoming album Ashes. Over the past year, Ekenstam has, amongst other things, released two singles on Kning Disk (“Walking” and ”Angel Liz”), acted as a warm up act for The Posies and Bear’s Den, moved from Gothenburg to Stockholm and appeared in prestigious Swedish music magazines such as Sonic and HYMN. Naming his influences as Explosions in the Sky, Bon Iver and Mogwai, it is more than easy to lose yourself over and over in his mournful guitars, grandiose arrangements, heartfelt voice and poignant lyricism. On October 14th Ekenstam’s debut album Ashes will meet its expectant audience. Singer-guitarist Sumie Nagano, drummer-keyboardist-producer Filip Leyman, and trumpeter Max Lindahl have all helped Ekenstam bring it to fruition. Like Elliot Smith and Damien Jurado before him, Ekenstam is a brave and straightforward singer-songwriter.
SHY LAYERS - "SEG"
Shy Layers is the musical incarnation of Brooklyn and Atlanta-based artist and lifelong musician JD Walsh. His self-titled debut album, Shy Layers, is out August 12th as a vinyl-only release via Growing Bin Records, a vinyl imprint born out of a blog specializing in everything from new age to ambient jazz and beyond. Shy Layers began in 2015 in a dusty corner of Walsh’s Brooklyn studio, where meticulously crafted songs would be constructed, texture by texture, until eventually the entire studio would be consumed in a jungle of analog synths, drums, bells, triangles, guitars, and all manner of recording equipment. Walsh plays every instrument and sings, his vocals often transformed by a softly buzzing, melodic vocoder, floating over a bed of overlapping rhythms. The boundary between real and synthesized voices and instruments can often be blurred, leaving the listener to navigate a uniquely constructed space, where pastel hues and impossible shapes augment reality. Leading into the Shy Layers LP release, Walsh released two EPs: Shy Layers, which fuses elements of Krautrock, 80’s R&B, dub, African highlife, and rock & roll; and 2016’s 2, which delves into Balearic pop, Caribbean percussion, and free-form modular-synth jams. As eclectic as these elements can be, the songs always retain a pop sensibility, and remain accessible and compact. Comprised of tracks curated from the EPs, as well as the exclusive track “SEG,” the Shy Layers album is carefully sequenced to take the listener on a journey.
THE LUCID DREAM - "I'M A STAR IN MY OWN RIGHT"
Compulsion Songs is the third album from Carlisle's The Lucid Dream. Rather than bathe in the critical acclaim of their recent second album, The Lucid Dream are quick out the blocks, venturing into pastures new again, making no secret of their aim to separate themselves from their peers as much as possible. On Compulsion Songs, pulling away from the pack is the order of the day, and the ideas on show here reaffirm the many claims that The Lucid Dream are one of the most important, diverse and exciting bands in the UK at present. Compulsion Songs is a demonstration of the band’s skill in binding the sounds of their broadening musical palette through their unifying songcraft. Recorded at Whitewood Studios in Liverpool with Rob Whiteley, the album is produced alongside long-time collaborator Ross Halden (Ghost Town Studios). The album’s showpiece comes via the 8-minute space-dub of “I'm A Star In My Own Right,” as the band hit a full on Jamaica dub groove, set as it is to contorting, reverb-fueled passages. Compulsion Songs is released on September 23rd via Holy Are You Recordings.