Self-described as “trip hop meets electro pop,” Belgian foursome Lohaus are the latest European group making waves for their innovative and genre-bending musical style. On first listen, the band’s latest single “Overwhelm” will undoubtedly conjure Alt-J comparisons, particularly the vocal style and brooding electronic overtures, but it’s hard to ignore just how effective the amalgam is. I’ve never been a huge fan of trip-hop which has always seemed too meandering, too ponderous, but this is darker, sneaking around with purpose. “Someone’s coming in, silently, oh so still.” How deliciously creepy.
Check out another track at Lohaus’s soundcloud page »
Yoko Yuko weaves idyllic jangle-pop across the pond in the Netherlands with a homespun weirdness in the Mac Demarco blinded-by-cigarettes-falling-from-the-sky sort of way. “Seventeen and Melting” is a perfect introduction, pairing a too-jaded-to-be-angsty teen lyric set with awkwardly endearing guitar notes that are just the right amount out of tune.
Yuko Yuko’s Babes and I <$ U EPs dropped last year. Grab them and more from his bandcamp page »
The debut music video from Florida based electronic artist Sur Back is every bit as ambitious as the track that accompanies it. Directed by Derek Mitchell, it’s a mysterious thriller that relies on non-linear storytelling to create a sense of suspicion and unease. It doesn’t start off that way – and that’s probably the most impressive bit of the twist right there. After readying herself in a mirror, Sur Back’s Caroline Sans steps into the back seat in a station wagon. It’s odd but doesn’t immediately set off any alarms; it’s not until the unbuckling of the seatbelt and her attempts to get out of the car while it’s still in motion that you realize something is very clearly wrong. And that’s where the narrative splinters and obscures itself. What is real? What is fantasy? What is happening? These are the questions that spring to mind as the video barrels forward.
The video takes a lot of its cues from “Jane Eyre” – the lead single from Sur Back’s forthcoming record Kitsch. Its stuttering melodies and asymmetrical rhythms create a sort of natural tension that the video feeds off of. Sans’ vocal affections, similar to Olga Bell and Regina Spektor, also add to the dreamy quality. It’s a track that almost calls for some big artistic statement befitting of its quiet grandeur and luckily Sans paired up with just the right people to see that come to fruition.
After two EPs worth of material and last year’s “Redwood” single, Oakland’s Waterstrider are finally ready to release their full-length debut. While the band has yet to offer any details on when to expect it, “White Light” at least shows that the quintet mean business.
“White Light” continues with the band’s trademark world-inspired psychedelic pop and considering their jam band aesthetic, it’s surprising that the real star of the track is its sumptuous melodies that remain almost completely untouched for much of the song’s duration. While Waterstrider are no strangers to the casual build, there’s a sense of cleanliness in “White Light”. Despite the fact that Nate Salman’s vocals and the spindly guitar riffs seem to interact mostly with each other there’s never the sense of that there’s not a full band at play here. Waterstrider have, in their many years of playing together, stumbled upon a sort of precise chaos that allows them the ability to go from clustered to sparse when the band so choose.
“White Light” may be another sun-dappled slice of afro-infused psychedelica but it continues to show the considerable restraint the band has – always aiming for an organic development of ideas instead of an overwhelming surge. While the melodies are both simple and ear-catching, the most enjoyable part of “White Light” is listening to Waterstrider’s textural interplay – almost existing on separate parallel tracks but obviously operating with the same forward momentum.
“White Light” is the first single from Waterstrider’s forthcoming debut full length Nowhere Now out later this year as well as the first of a double A-side single out January 29th.
Previously: Waterstrider: “Feathertips”
New Orleans solo artist Julie Odell comes back with a pair of songs released at the end of 2014. Occupying a genre space shared with the likes of Regina Spektor, Joanna Newsom and another soul-singing newcomer named Julie (Byrne), she’s in good company, and we’ve got the benefit of witnessing her blossom, song by song, much like her gorgeously unraveling vocal melodies. Here’s new song “People Cheering” »
One of the most rewarding, if often under appreciated, parts of music blogging is watching an artist grow over time, in confidence, in experience, in experimentation. With “People Cheering,” Odell obviously still home-records–there’s the lo-fi quality to her music that endears and connects us to many bedroom artists–but she does so playfully, with a chirping crickets underbelly that crackles with static, her metronome ticking away on a bench close by, whether she stays on perfect time or not. She croons of crowded spaces, of fireworks and nature scenes, but everything else suggests she sits alone in a small room, eyes closed as she sings, accompanied only by her own reverberating vocal overdubs, dreaming of where she’s headed next.
Keep it up and the cheers will come, as they should. Here’s the second track, “Around and Around” »
Listen to about a dozen more songs at Julie Odell’s soundcloud page »
Previously: Julie Odell: “Old Buried Treasure”