Work Shirt – “Conveyor Belt”
There is something so quintessentially Louisville about Work Shirt, a blue-collar indie band that recalls bands like The Shipping News or Shellac. An instrumental act, the music here is bombastic and visceral, a gut-punch of plodding bass lines and treble-heavy guitar work. Drummer David Wright is rock-steady and reliable, adding that sense of diligence that so informs the theme of the project. With “Conveyor Belt,” the band opens with the atmospheric sounds of a warehouse, of work in motion, as a grinding guitar slowly creeps in to set the pace. You can easily visualize this as the soundtrack to your daily grind, whether your work places you on the assembly line or behind a desk. This is a brilliant opening single to an album that promises propulsive highs and barn-burning fury.
Tender Mercy – “Make You Afraid”
With each release, the music of Tender Mercy is increasingly spare, a hyper-minimalism that privileges the space between each note as sacrosanct and holy. Moving at a glacial pace, “Make You Afraid” sees singer-songwriter Mark Kramer embracing the reverb and splendor that has so defined his career. Kramer can render single notes and simple chord structures into something wholly cathartic. The track is so austere that you can hear his breathing, the soft shift of his guitar strap and more. It’s here that Kramer renders not only his music but the space that he occupies as equally important compositional elements. As a vocalist, Kramer is equally committed to minimalism and poetic expression, here penning a song about compassion and empathy, in remorse for the times that he made someone feel uncomfortable. That self-doubt and reflection are critical to the art of Tender Mercy, which are realized on “Make You Afraid” in stunning, crystalline detail.
Furious Floyd – “Lunch Special”
The recently rebranded Furious Floyd (the artist formerly known as Pronoun) is back with a new track with his label Kr8vN8vs. A superlative emcee, FF continues his hot streak on “Lunch Special,” a song that balances want and need through the lens of operating on a budget. The analogy of “lunch special” is rich, and Floyd mines it from start to finish, couching his hunger as an artist in the relatable struggle to stay financially solvent. For context, the lunch special here is a delicious metaphor that tempers desire with pragmatism, with need and want. When Floyd raps about getting an already discounted meal for his family delivered by a third-party service, it’s one where he has the advantage of free delivery, or at least that’s his dream. As such, he taps into the all-too-familiar zeitgeist of socially distancing, staying isolated with the people you care about the most to stay safe, but wanting so much more. The production here is relaxing and rich, giving FF something to play with as he waxes poetic, a jazz-inflected, piano number that leaves you thinking while you nod along.
The Sleeping Bag – “Humor Me”
From the tape warble and hiss to the acoustic guitar, there is a warmth to “Humor Me” by The Sleeping Bag that is both inviting and comforting. Throughout his career, singer-songwriter Doug Campbell has expanded on his ambitious experimentations to make some of the most sublime music that defies his age and experience. This is to say that while Campbell is a young man, his music is incredibly mature and thought-provoking. Here, Campbell chooses a melancholic, folk-influenced number as his lead single, a track that shows amazing restraint and grace. This is an absolute beauty of a track, with Campbell providing his own backing vocals, all while a softly strummed guitar carries the root melody. This is a wonderful track, the sort that you put on when you need to sit back, close your eyes and just think.
TinyForest – “Dropbox Me Your Soul”
An apparently lost track, “Dropbox Me Your Soul” features the same kind of sub-bass heavy trap that TinyForest has mastered since his debut. An instrumental tune, there is a maximalist flow to the composition by virtue of the chopped and screwed samples that define the structure of the song. Outside of the obvious sub-bass hits and drum samples, it’s often difficult to identify the sample source of many of these sounds, which in turn renders the track into an aural onion, a seek and find to determine what it is you’re hearing and where it’s from. TinyForest’s work here is reminiscent of acts like David Banner or Three 6 Mafia, albeit as filtered through the Adderall addled production of Oneohtrix Point Never, party music that’s more than a little left of center.
Chris Chuun – “Victimizer”
A bouncy, electro-hop number, “Victimizer” is the first single from newcomers Chris Chuun. An instrumental number, there is a sense of drama given to the composition here by the bouncing bass lines and sinister synths. As such, the track lives up to its ominous title, albeit in a way that still recognizes the inherent pop structure of the track. There is an element of chiptunes in here, primarily in how strict each instrument is to the core grid line. In that sense, you can easily imagine the WAV files on this, each beat landing squarely at the top of each performance. This is to say that there is a relatively robotic nature to the music that is often missing from comparably traditional genres like rock or jazz that would otherwise allow for some looseness in the form. All told, this is a fun song that makes you want to race a villain in an 8-bit arcade game so that you can save the day.
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