The 6 best local songs from February

Soft Self Portraits – “Winter in Flight”
Few bands in town lack an immediate contemporary, at least on a local level, but Soft Self Portraits certainly fit that criteria. The closest analog for comparison is early Grizzly Bear, a lo-fi and experimental take on folk and indie tropes that privileges atmosphere and texture as a supplement for pomp and circumstance. With “Winter in Flight,” the band has made something with an almost air-like quality, twee drum sounds and simplistic keyboards awash in a sea of room reverb. As such, you can easily envision the bedroom that this was likely recorded in, making for a personal recording that digs into the author’s psyche in a way that bigger studio sounds fail to really capture.

Crush – “Other Thoughts”
There is a melancholic beauty to “Other Thoughts,” the debut insofar as I can tell from Crush — and one of the stand out tracks on the recent Louisville is for Lovers compilation. It’s hard to pin down any one sound here, as the song seems to synthesize its influences into a greater whole. There is an almost Neil Young quality to the main riff, but the vocals are more PJ Harvey-like in nature. The drummer is busy in the best possible ways, creating a jazzy shuffle. The wonderful Cheyenne Mize provides a welcome texture to the track that fills in the little spaces in a way that never distracts. Taken as a whole, this is a master’s class on restraint in composition and it works perfectly throughout. The main groove and vocal melody are oh so lovely too, making for a compelling listen, at least insomuch as I found myself returning over and over to this track. “Other Thoughts” is catchy in the best, most cinematic ways possible.

Jaye Jayle – “Heaven is Cold”
A plodding doom underscores the music of Jaye Jayle, that kind of backroom swagger reserved for smoky rooms and neon lights. It’s a sinister sort of groove that singer-songwriter Evan Patterson and friends capture here, that digs deep into American gothic, for an almost True Detective (season one, obviously) vibe that slinks off in dark corners to nurse its wounds. In fact, this sounds like the soundtrack to the moment after a fight, when your endorphins are starting to wind down and you feel that pain in your clenched jaw and know that you’ll have that sensation for a while. Whether or not that’s an accurate depiction of what Patterson is going for, it certainly speaks to the narrative quality of his music, visceral and brooding, which flirts with a dirty and ominous breed of western that would fit in handily to the score for a Cormac MacCarthy novel.

Kaleidico – “Ordinary Men”
At some point every band that isn’t AC/DC has to struggle with how to evolve your sound in a way that is honest and representative of where you started. Often that manifests itself on a sub-conscious level, the sort of thing where you can only really appreciate change by comparison, but for Kaleidico that evolution is a bit more premeditated and considered. The track “Ordinary Men” represents a band in transit between their first and second full-length offerings, and offers a glimpse of that transition in progress. You can absolutely hear the DNA for “Zoetic” here, but there is a bit more acoustic instrumentation at work in a way that relates more to “Free Falling Waltz.” It’s nice to recognize those moments of a band in motion, and, in many ways, leads me to recall the great Pink Floyd album “Meddle,” which existed in between the insane psychedelia of their earliest material and the smooth prog-pop of their later work. That delicate shift between worlds is evident here and stands out beautifully as such.
Click here to stream.
Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff — “The 1”
At this point, Dr. Dundiff has more than proven his skill as a producer, and now it seems that he has broadened to include his abilities as an effective collaborator and curator of new music. Maybe that’s wrong of me to assume though, and that Otis Junior has had a rich and vibrant history already sans any work with Dundiff, but I have Dundiff to thank for bringing Otis’ sweat R&B croon to my ears and I appreciate him for it. What I can write, with some certainty, is that the duo makes a great pair, and that the end result of their efforts is the beautifully composed “The 1,” which has a Motown vibe as filtered through the modern tropes of the genre (think Aloe Blac or Mayer Hawthorne feel.) The highest compliment I could possibly pay to anyone is that this has the soul of a classic Bill Withers hit, which blends love and loss with a solid pop hook. The only problem with this track is that there is not more of it to listen to, and hopefully that can be rectified in the future, because this is fucking fantastic.

FreDDc – “S U M M E R S E A G R A M S feat. Eons D (prod by Knxwledge)”
Damn, this song bounces in the best possible way. It’s hard to really place this style of hip-hop. There is an undeniable fire to the raps that FreDDc spits and the beat has a dynamic forward momentum, but there is so much chill in this track that you have to wonder what you would do with this in a live setting.This is a thinker with a strong back beat that balances that drive to get down with more provocative narrative style —contemplative rap meant to incite conversation, and we’re better off for it.