Memory Gloss — “Porch Ghost”
With “Porch Ghost,” Memory Gloss offers up colorful melodies juxtaposed against stormy vocals for something that brushes on the angst of emo, without ever firmly committing. There is common ground with Don Caballero and American Football, although filtered through Helmet or Unwound, if only for the intensity of the vocal delivery — one that never strays off note. It’s a nice balance, and one that creates an odd tension — heavy, but thoughtfully so, energetic, but not overly in your face. As a unit, this is about as tight as it gets, with math metal, breakneck changes and dynamic shifts all laid out in a neat composition that doesn’t quite cross the two-minute finish line.
See Tai — “Glass Canyon”
Chillwave has never sounded quite so dreamy as on “Glass Canyon” by See Tai. The freshman release by one half of the former duo The Photographic, this track is a delightfully melancholic new-wave number. The riffs are stacked high, from the tasteful guitar work to the layered use of keyboards. Singer Jamie See Tai has a knack for this type of music and a voice to match — soft but confident. This is exactly the kind of track that you would imagine to hear on the radio in the mid-to-late-‘80s, the type of soaring pop track to score your teen crush. In fact, I could easily imagine this in a John Hughes movie — the music for the montage about the protagonist realizing that they’re in love and that that love is worth pursuing. And that’s the hold that See Tai has on listeners, painting a picture with sound in such a specific, relatable way.
Shadowpact — “Cutscene”
It’s a little uncomfortable that “Cutscene” starts with the lyric, “God this weather is beautiful / temperature typically suitable.” Delivered by emcee Modern Marvill, one half of the duo with Sleye Kooper, backed here by DJ Shaheed, there is something a little ominous. Combined with the chorus, “The calm before the storm / breathe in / Vietnam before the war / breathe out / before you grab your swords / know what you’re fighting for,” it’s hard not to take something equal parts beautiful and creepy. It’s February, and this weather is great, which is something to appreciate, but at what cost? Run that parallel to the current sociopolitical climate, and you’ve got a scary vision of the future: Enjoy your time now, but get ready to fight. This is a wonderful track that shows a lot of promise for their continued evolution.
Jaye Jayle — “Unnecessarily”
Opening with slow, strummed guitar, there is an undeniable movement to “Unnecessarily,” the latest from Jayle Jayle. Part of their split record with Emma Ruth Rundle, the track has a plodding shuffle that combines elements of the blues with a dark American gothic sound that would make Michael Gira blush. The music owes an equal debt to Hank Williams and Nirvana, thick and visceral, from the chords to the vocal delivery. Singer/guitarist Evan Patterson’s deep baroque carries the song, a string of stream-of-consciousness syllables held together by the titular refrain repeated for impact. What is it that’s unnecessary and why? Perhaps, given the emphasis on vocables, it’s easy to imagine that it’s meaning that’s unnecessary, or at least subjective.
Body Double — “Giving Your Man a Taste”
Comprised of one half of Straight A’s, Body Double is here to deliver the goods. There is a mechanical quality to “Giving Your Man a Taste” that commands the listener to get the fuck down and nod your head to the beat, regardless of where you are in life. Composed by Andrew Padon and worked out by Sean Roberts, also of Asm A Tik, this song is a tightly wound electro-acoustic track that blends 8-bit crushed electronics with John Bonham-style drum work, hard hitting and sharp as a tack. This is an intense listen that recalls the work of prog-rock legends Magma or the post-punk insanity of This Heat, updated with a modern sensibility.
iNTELLi G — “Stress 2 (2017 Revisitation)”
That sinister sound you’re hearing is a modern reimagining of “Stress” by iNTELLi G updated to reflect her evolving sound. There are elements of Autechre and Aphex Twin, that kind of Warp Records deep electro groove that never flinches from a hard beat. Anchored by an all-abiding sub bass hum, “Stress 2” is a carefully balanced composition that mixes a tight beat with a solid sample set.