Semi Precious is the sample-based project of British producer Guy Baron. Baron takes two source samples, crossfades/chops/shrinks/warps them together with fresh vocals and melodies. The result is often understated and gorgeous, like the following track:
Listen to the debut EP here »
It’s not surprising that Rivergazer, the solo project of Porches guitarist Kevin Farrant, would garner comparisons to Porches – in fact when I heard the first single “Whimper” off debut album Random Nostalgia, it was the first thing I noticed. On “Whimper” Farrant seemed to be aping Aaron Maine’s slow, syrupy drawl and vocal inflection in a way that while not an exact replication oddly recalled the Porches frontman. That however is where the comparison began and ended and in many of Random Nostalgia‘s slower numbers the potential of Farrant’s songwriting becomes beguilingly clear.
“Random Nostalgia”, the penultimate and title track of the Rivergazer album is perhaps the greatest display of what Farrant has to offer. It’s a sparse, mostly acoustic number but its simplicity is perfect to quash all those pesky Porches comparisons resolutely. Farrant pairs the album’s indie pop leanings with the narrative showcase of a downtempo ballad – it’s a pitch perfect combination of infectious melodies, revealing lyricism, and stellar arrangement in the use of its horn accompaniment that makes it an enjoyable track. Farrant captures the spirit of twentysomething ennui where the first pinpricks of nostalgia are first felt in a style completely devoid of flash and sizzle but no less rewarding.
Random Nostalgia, the debut full length from Rivergazer, is out now on Father/Daughter Records. Grab your copy here »
Jack Robert Hardman first grabbed attention in late 2012 with his beguiling track “Plymouth”, featuring sprawling, multi-layered pop harmonies. “I Don’t Need An Answer”, the second track from JRH’s latest EP, The Great Unknown, scales back the ambition a bit but is no less endearing and may even clarify the multi-instrumentalists songwriting prowess:
More to chomp on here »
Fayetteville, Arkansas indie rockers SW/MM/NG is a good example of a music festival discovery you absolute fail to pursue until much later. When I stumbled upon them at last year’s CMJ, they were a pleasant surprise in every regard – their name easily searchable due to a cease and desist from a UK band kept them from going by Swimming (the proper pronunciation of their name), a tight and talented band with easy to consume offerings – the only thing that kept me from pursuing them in earnest after that was surprisingly enough the band name. With their FB and Bandcamp pages still under the old moniker, a cursory search turned up very little and yet made me more intrigued. How does a band play CMJ with no music out there to promote? It struck me as a particular bold move for a young band and one that endeared them to me regardless of whether or not that was actually their motive (it wasn’t).
Fast forward several months later and with their debut album Feel Not Bad on the horizon, and my interest in SW/MM/NG was reignited seemingly out of nowhere. A stray link to their album stream brought the memory of their awesome live set back and I hunkered down and dug in. “Some Dreams Come True” and the majority of SW/MM/NG’s songs, especially on Feel Not Bad are absolutely ready-made summer jams. With just the right touches of pop vernacular, SW/MM/NG’s songs are brightly colored, infectiously memorable, and intensely enjoyable. Everything about SW/MM/NG’s core structure recalls lazy summer days while avoiding the clutches of typical beach pop stylings – from Brian Kupillas’ drawling vocals to the effervescent melodies and angular guitar lines all work hand in hand to remarkable effect.
SW/MM/NG’s debut full length Feel Not Bad is out August 26th on Old Flame Records. Preorder it here »
I stumbled upon Kitsuné America 3, the latest compilation from French electronic label Kitsuné, through the inclusion of previous featured electro pop duo My Body’s new track “If I Need You, I’ll Call”. While a definite new direction from the band’s heretofore recorded input, the real showstealer of the compilation happened to come from recently transplanted DC band Misun. Known for tinkering around in pretty much every area of pop music from world to RB-esque dalliances, the quartet have set their sights on conquering the beachy summer single in “Eli Eli” and certainly succeeded in that task. From its 60’s style female-fronted vocal harmonies, to it’s chill rock ‘n roll swagger “Eli Eli” is an immaculate pop confection – it’s guilt free and infectious without being saccharine – frontwoman Misun Wojcik imbuing the track with a lot of its energy, bringing the turbulence of her big, brassy vocals to the rather placid accompaniment. While guitar and bass circle each other and drums mostly keep the beat, Woljcik brings the heat – delivering stormy declarations of love that escalate to a borderline Shakespearean extremes. It’s a balancing act between butterfly-inducing infatuation and darkly glimmering dependence, Wojcik’s pleading lyrics almost completely at odds with her utterly commanding vocal presence – a sleight of hand type of vulnerability that you’re likely miss in the toe-tapping sun-kissed pop of “Eli Eli”.
The compilation is out now and features a uniquely outside view of what Kitsuné thinks are some of the best up and coming bands in the USA – not a bad guess considering they include artists like Lucius, Son Lux, and My Body.