After releasing and re-releasing their debut full length Keep It Safe, Portland’s Wild Ones are plowing full steam ahead with new music in the form of their Heatwave EP. Wild Ones have never shied away from their synth-pop tendencies but “Show Me Islands”, the second single from the upcoming Heatwave EP, finds the band attacking them with a much more polished touch, the synths less in your face and instead weaved into the much more egalitarian fabric of the band’s instrumentals. Danielle Sullivan’s vocals remain as always the most effective part of Wild Ones’ songs but the subtly shifting dance-pop crafted by the rest of the band follow close the gap at a close second.
Arching synth touches and swaggering bass lines lay a steady foundation for the onslaught of lush melodies that makes “Show Me Islands” a contender for the Heatwave EP’s standout track. Never quite a weak band, instead “Show Me Islands” shows Wild Ones are capable of tightening up in ways no one could have possibly imagined, galvanized by spending so much of the past two years on the road and no doubt employing that live show energy to the studio sessions that led to their auspicious return. “Show Me Islands” is instantaneously ear-catching, taking what’s worked so well for Wild Ones in the past and refining it in a way fans weren’t aware the band even needed. Wild Ones are new and improved and on “Show Me Islands” they’re putting their best foot forward all the while inspiring all lucky enough to hear it to take to the dancefloor to do the same.
Wild Ones’ forthcoming Heatwave EP is out 8/14 on Topshelf Records. Make sure to catch them on their upcoming North American tour with Pure Bathing Culture.
As far back as CMJ 2013 when I was able to see Chicago musician J Fernandez flush his bedroom pop out into a full band effort at Floating Fest, Justin Fernando has been putting more and more distance between himself and the genre that spawned both his No Luck and Olympic Village EP in favor of a more performance-ready amalgam of his psychedelic rock influences. “Cosmic Was”, the lead single from last year’s Memorize Now EP, succeeded in imbuing a sense of forward momentum in Fernando’s normally listless but brief slices of lounge pop.
Make no mistake though: J Fernandez’s strength lies in the casual coalescence of his song’s simple, infectious melodies and the multiple layers that belie their single-man construction but on “Read My Mind” even as Fernando eases on the gas pedal there’s an undeniable propulsion underlying the soft-focus psych pop. It’s what makes those slight pauses – where the guitar sets up a series of question chords it mildly responds to all the more interesting. It’s a reoccurring gambit but utilized in a way that’s actually meant to be less effective each time it hits as the amount of slowdown is cut shorter and shorter until those chords are struck right in the bustle of “Read My Mind” while the rest of the track – its Wurlitzer organ’s constant whirring pervasive and eventually all-consuming; outlasting not only the guitar but Fernando’s vocals as well.
J Fernandez’s debut full length Many Levels of Laughter is out June 9th on Joyful Noise Recordings. Pre-order available here.
When Troy singer/songwriter Olivia Quillio released her debut album The Bomb last year, it was the summation of her life experiences thus far – the beginning of both her musical career and her navigation of her relationships that took her jazz-inflected folk pop to its logical conclusion while also allowing her to make peace with what had been years worth of stunning live show highlights. With all that behind her, it was time for Quillio to begin anew. Not that she had any real say in the matter. After a tumultuous year that found Quillio packing up and moving cross-country to work on a farm in Oklahoma just to regain her bearing and get away from it all, Quillio has distilled those experiences into a brand new collection where she faces both her own demons and the wolves in sheeps’ clothing with a steely-eye resolve and beguiling sense of calm.
“Meet You At The Bottom” is perhaps the best introduction to her sophomore record Get Down And Pray if only for it’s chronological merits. It eschews Quillio’s captivating heartbreak pop in favor of a sunnier delivery invoking the freshness of new beginnings. “I’ve been held before but not sure, so tightly, I know we’re premature but I can’t let it go lightly” Quillio sings and if you’re not immediately beset by a jaded sense of foreboding, you’re bound to be charmed by its upfront sweetness. The transformative power of love is a well-tapped well but Quillio stealthily presents it’s darker implications; getting so wrapped up in someone that you’re willing to take on their vices, all their baggage, all their darkness just to be with them. Quillio takes great care both narratively and compositionally to present her first person view; casual and optimistic, empathetic and maybe a bit too game.
“Meet You At The Bottom” is a springy pop number that offers an incredibly relatable spin on a songwriter trope. Olivia Quillio is able and charismatic songwriter talented enough to craft a catchy song that never loses sight of reality. Things might get a hell of a lot darker on Get Down And Pray but if her delivery is anything like that of “Meet You At The Bottom” you better believe you’re in safe hands.
Some people truly hate when new bands sound so unapologetically like the bands they listened to when they were growing up, but I’m an absolute sucker for the odd amalgam of fuzzy nostalgia and curious discovery.
… and Echo Park’s Lolipop Records catches another gem with Franky Flowers.
There’s no rest for Oakland outfit Waterstrider apparently. After just releasing their stellar debut full length album Nowhere Now and unveiling older, unreleased track “Arrive and Leave” for Bandcamp City Guides’ Oakland compilation, Waterstrider are being featured on another Bay Area compilation OIM Vol. 1.
“Frayed”, the fivesome’s contribution to OIM Records inaugural release saw the band entering the studio once more – this time with producer Jeff Saltzman. The end result is a synth-heavy jam built upon Waterstrider’s distinct percussion choices. Though prominently featured, the track’s strongest moments happen when it seesaws away from its buzzing synths and opens more of its musical landscape up towards Nate Salman’s vocals and the masterful guitar work. The interplay between Salman and the band is impeccable – the guitars shifting from cascading melodic flow from skittering shuffle to compliment all of Salman’s little vocal switch-ups that displays not only a versatility in Waterstrider’s song construction but also in the band’s talents themselves. “Frayed” manages to capture the ear-catching/memorable facets of pop music while avoiding predictable repetitiveness.
OIM Records’ OIM Vol. 1 is out June 23rd. Which happens to be right at the tail end of Waterstrider’s upcoming North American tour with Bay Area buds Trails and Ways. Dates here.