Dead Sara

Dead Sara

* WARNING     WARNING     WARNING *
This is not the oft-soothing sounds of CGPLS you've come to expect. No, this is a brutalist rock beatdown with face melting danger level RED. Prepare your mind and body for an all out assault before you click the little play buttons. Also I'm definitely gonna drop the F-bomb. Just keep swimming, we'll all get through this together.

A thing you may not suspect about me, based on the content I post here, is that I used to listen almost exclusively to raging guitar-driven hard rock and alternative. I know, right? And here's the thing, as in so many other ways, deep down inside that kid at the Deftones concert that doesn't really know how to mosh but feels the mosh INSIDE, he's still in there. The only thing that gets him out of the cage is a raging distortion-fueled guitar set, though that is not a frequent happening of late. That's on me, of course. As you might expect, I have strong opinions on what my rock music should sound like and my experience over the last decade or so has been that I didn't really care for much of what was going on. I'm not saying it's all bad music or anything but you can see what I've been listening to, singer/songwriter, electro-pop, it was really gonna take some legit shakabuku to get me back on the other side. The songs at the bottom of this word-wall, they are so, so that.

Straight dope: Dead Sara rocks so hard it's fucking absurd. They're a straight up four-piece but they produce a devastating tsunami of red-hot lava. Emily Armstrong's voice is once-in-a-generation stunning. Through the action of some type of sorcery I do not understand, she is simultaneously pitch-perfectly melodic while also a screaming, visceral rage-angel. The gravel will sandblast you to the bone, the register shifts and cracks speak in a primal language you know but did not know you knew, the phrasings and the fills, ugh. I love every single bit of it. You are laid bare before this voice, the you that is You is SEEN. Then you back that with Siouxsie Medley conducting a master class in rock guitar, and I'm not talking about double-tapping speed-metal minute-long pentatonic Steve Vai acrobatics, I'm talking about chugging, crunchy rock; no-nonsense licks, the occasional blistery harmonic and when the solo comes it is fucking worth it. And the rhythm section, Chris Null on the bass and Sean Friday on the trap, solid like rock, strong like bull. It's a trim four-piece and a four-string and they just play the living hell out of them. This madness is held together by these guys and they get that done with style. So let's review:

  • Singularly gifted vocalist: ✓
  • Crunchy, raging guitar: ✓
  • Rhythm section like a tactical metronome made out of buzzsaws: ✓
  • Enough energy to power Los Angeles: ✓

Yep, it's the perfect rock band. This is it, we found them, it's Dead Sara.

You wanna know just how hard they shaka'd my buku, I drug my electric guitar out of a very long retirement and wailed on a truly pathetic cover of Weatherman for an hour and it felt so good. I was back in the garage with my very first rock band teaching myself how to shred correct.

So here you go. I've waxed poetic, I've confessed my guitar sins, now you get to hear the magic, and it is that. Buy every album. I'm just going to set up a direct deposit from my paycheck to go to Dead Sara on the regular, I want more music forever. If it's not tax free, it damn well should be, this is a public service.

Weatherman
Test On My Patience

Where to find Dead Sara:
Twitter: @deadsara
Website: deadsara.com

PS: This album, self-titled Dead Sara, came out in 2012, but there's ANOTHER album, a NEWER album that came out in 2015 called Pleasure To Meet You, and I also love it with my whole body. They funded it on PledgeMusic and that makes me a little sad because I missed it but also hopeful that they'll go back to that well for the next album and I can get a signed LP for my wall, at minimum. However, since I only talked about the FIRST one, now I get to write ANOTHER thing about the SECOND one and I want that for myself so I'm taking it, it's mine. So stay tuned sometime for Dead Sara: Take Two, Pleasure To Meet You.

Beck

Beck

So, story time. I got some new speakers for my home audio setup, they're very spiffy and they sound great and I was looking for interesting music to listen to on them. Whilst stumbling haphazardly around various audio review sites looking at what songs they used as test tracks, I saw a mention of a 2013 Blu-ray Audio release of Beck's 2002 album, Sea Change, mixed for full surround sound and in a lossless format. At this point in the story I'm not really a Beck fan. I mean, I knew the older radio singles (Loser, Where It's At, etc) but I don't listen to Beck as a rule and I hadn't listened to any Beck in years, that I could remember. Since I had lived in an essentially Beck-free bubble since Odelay, I had never heard a single track from Sea Change and considering what Odelay and Mellow Gold sound like, I was very curious why an audiophile stereo reviewer would be playing a Beck album to test out speakers in the Honda Civic price range.

Here's the thing about Sea Change. It's categorically amazing. As it turns out, a lot of people said that when it came out, but I wasn't listening to Beck then. I didn't care if Beck made more songs like the Beck songs I knew. They were fine, my "Where It's At" supply was stable. No. That's not how Sea Change works. That's not how any of it works.

For me, coming at this from 1/10 on the Beck familiarity scale, Sea Change is kind of like putting Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and a string section in a blender with Beck, but a different Beck, a Beck I didn't know was out there. Beck′.

Beck′ might be a musical genius. The arrangements on Sea Change are flawless; direct and sincere and seeded with a mellow ennui that reverberates on a level just beneath consciousness. In case you didn't think it could get better than that, the surround mastering on the BD-A release elevates his already-unassailable work with a command of space and ambience that's honestly breathtaking. Dumbfounding, even. I put this on all casual like and minutes later I found myself, hand-to-god, frozen in place. I was staring directly at my speakers, confused, as if I hadn't heard sounds before. I did not understand what was happening.

I know I play the embellishing, smitten rube on here often for laughs and because many times I actually am one in some way or another, but this is not that thing. This is the feeling you only get when you hear something and you immediately realize that you've Heard Something. Something profound. Something unequivocally brilliant. I don't have a crush on this album, I think this is honestly an album that everyone should hear. It's beyond my normal mania for new music, this is timeless wonder.

Sea Change is a masterpiece.

The Golden Age
Already Dead

Where to find Beck:
Twitter: @beck
Website: beck.com

Lights

Lights

TO: Lights, Canada, Action
FROM: Adam, Tucson, It's still hot here I swear
DATE: Today

Dear Lights,

How are you? I am fine. I don't know how you keep doing it, but you are super good at music-ing. Even though you're a Canadian from America's hat, I'm glad you let us buy your music here in the USA. I went to Canada once, it was very cold but also very pretty. I was at a lake I can't pronounce. Anyway, please always make more music and I will listen to all of it.

Sincerely,
Adam
Esq, DDS, LLC

I haven't mailed this. Yet.

Friends, I have heard the words of the great philosopher Robert Palmer and decided I might as well face it, I'm addicted to Lights. I love what she does. I have no reason to suspect I will not love everything she does going forward. She is my biggest fan.

Midnight Machines is a cut-down run at several tracks from Little Machines with some new content thrown in for good measure. In that way that Lights does, she has made magic and now here is that magic for you to listen to. If I haven't sold you on Lights by now, I think we're at the time in our program when you must ask yourself hard questions like:

  • "Do I even like music?"
  • "Can I actually hear sounds?"
  • "Am I a robot who cannot feel?"

I hope the answers are not too disturbing, but that your personal revelations will make you a stronger and better person who understands that you actually do like Lights.

Here are the two. No more. No less.

Meteorites
Running With The Boys

Where to find Lights:
Twitter: @lights
Website: music.iamlights.com

VÉRITÉ

VÉRITÉ

VÉRITÉ (Kelsey Byrne) comes to us from the land of alt-pop indie-tronica (also New York, I guess) with a voice that I would follow right into a burning building. It's a textural toolbox; smoke, gravel, breathy falsetto, vibrato, she just pulls out the tools and goes to work. Also, and not in these tracks, but sometimes, just sometimes, she'll reach in there and pull out an f-bomb and just drop it right on you and I think we all know I love a good f-bomb.

If there's one thing that's frustrating to me as a member of the ancient Music-Comes-In-Albums people, she's fond of dropping singles and then collecting them up into EPs and, I assume at least, potentially gathering them together again into the traditional LP that I would normally direct you to, though this final form has yet to manifest. This makes it hard to know if I'm listening to the newest VÉRITÉ, and I often forget and must check the Spotify artist page again to see if there are more singles. It's really a point upon which I am genuinely torn. On the one hand I like the organization and demarkation of albums, even EPs, as often they're thematically organized and I can refer to the tracks found within as a grouping in some terms or other. On the other hand, I am genuinely chuffed as hell that we're living in a musical landscape that's conducive to an artist putting out a series of singles and being successful.

It's just another entry in a distinguished list of things that demonstrate my inherent aversion to change. Functional obsessive-compulsives of the world unite.

So here are a couple. I mean this when I say that she's just generally fantastic at this music thing and though I can't direct you to an LP for consumption, I'd head on over to the artist pages I've linked below and get to gettin'. "Underdressed" and "Strange Enough" and "Colors" and and and. You have much to do, reader. Much to listen to.

Sober
Weekend

Where to find VÉRITÉ:
Twitter: @Verite
Website: veriteofficial.com

Christine and the Queens

Christine and the Queens

I'm gonna keep it simple on this one. First, hot knowledge bomb for you. Her name is not Christine. It's Héloïse Letissier, which may be the most French name I've ever seen, and I keep pronouncing it in a truly awful French accent in my head over and over. I'm talking Steve Martin in The Pink Panther bad, here.

But never mind that. Brass tacks: "Tilted" is one of the best songs I've heard in a long, long time. Thick and round and warm and then she does the spoken word in French and...::sigh:: I want to wrap myself up in this song and stay there. It's synth-y heaven. "Paradis Perdus" I love for the Kanye "sample". She really does justice to it and since she sings the rest of the song in French, of course I adore it even though I have no idea what it means. I understand the lyrics are from a '70s French song of the same title, but I wouldn't understand it any better on the original recording, so this is just gonna be a CatQ song for me.

Tilted
Paradis Perdus

Where to find Christine and the Queens:
Twitter: @QueensChristine
Website: christineandthequeens.com

PS: I feel like I'd be remiss if I didn't also point you to the video for "Tilted". It's kind of an avant-garde pop-n-lock modern dance showcase, and it is mesmerizing and wonderful and I keep watching it:
Tilted (Official Video)

Honestly if I ever moved like that I'd probably need to see a doctor.

Lera Lynn

Lera Lynn

This was a total accident. Maybe fate, if you believe in that sort of thing.

I got a notification from PledgeMusic that Elizabeth & The Catapult had posted an update on the new album project and I popped over there on my phone and it gave me one of those "you might also like" situations and I'm not even kidding you, I hit the wrong spot on the phone and there I was looking at Lera Lynn's PledgeMusic. She's just put out her own new album, RESISTOR and I mean, once I'm there, may as well listen right?

The beautiful weight of Lera Lynn's sound is a hard thing to describe. Deep and dense and dark, guitar-driven tracks cut across a reverb-infused mix, intimate vocals with just a little grit. It's intent, and earnest, and consuming. I can't stop listening to Fade Into The Black. It pulls on me. It has gravity.

Listen, buy, etc.

Fade Into The Black
Shape Shifter

Where to find Lera Lynn:
Twitter: @LeraLynn
Website: leralynn.com

Marian Hill

Marian Hill

Come with me on a vision quest for a minute. Picture the word "slinky" in your mind. No, dammit, not Slinky®. Slinky the adjective. Cat burglars and black dresses and smoky nightclubs, steamy noir streets, tuxedos and delicate curls of cigarette smoke against an inky sky, right? Now, imagine slinky as a sound. That's Marian Hill. That's what they do. It's jazz, it's dubtronica, it's chill tempos, thick bass and sultry melodies that radiate classy cool while they whisper untoward nothings in your ear.

Marian Hill is a Philly export, nominally composed of vocalist Samantha Gongol and electronic producer/artist Jeremy Lloyd. Their current LP, Sway, also heavily features jazz player/saxmaster Steve Davit, for the betterment of all mankind, I assure you.

Look, I didn't want to tell you this way, but you've got a fever. And the only cure is more saxamaphone. Luckily, Marian Hill is here to save you.

Got It
Lovit

Where to find Marian Hill:
Twitter: @MarianHillMusic
Website: marianhillmusic.com

Light PS: they are well on their way to releasing their second album, ACT ONE, some songs from which are already available and in at least one case (Amazon) if you pre-order the album, you'll get the tracks as they release going toward the finish. Also, they've got a super cool looking murdered-out signed vinyl pre-order situation on their main site store, so also give that the 'ol eyeball. I am beset on all sides by temptation, reader.

Genevieve

Genevieve

As foretold in the previous post, I am again attempting the difficult task of brevity. I struggle, as all do.

Genevieve sprung from the electro-pop fairy land that I exist within right now, but I find her further toward the pop end of that spectrum. "Show Your Colors" hooked me up front with an easy-going, uplifting, uptempo groove and a sing-a-long refrain, but as I went through the EP the depth and weight of "Human Again" really seeped into my pores and quickly became the track that defined Genevieve for me. I have many hopes that her first full-length will be with us soon.

Show Your Colors
Human Again

Where to find Genevieve:
Twitter: @hellogenevieve
Website: hellogenevieve.com

Allie X

Allie X

This is going to be a little shorter than normal. I have, no lie, four (FOUR) artists to post right now before my brain forgets again, so I'm going to try out...brevity.

I feel that I'm actually already failing...

Allie X is part of the synth-tronica pop-adjacent world I'm currently living in/loving. There's some rawness to this EP, but the overwhelming majority of the album is very tight and the composition of the tracks is lovely. The vocals are wonderfully variegated but there's a persistent razor's edge to her voice that cuts through the electronic pixie dust and right into your ear.

These two are both pretty uptempo but you can find some mellower tracks on the EP when you go to one of the links below and buy it like the solid, upstanding internet music appreciator person that you are.

Prime
Tumor

Where to find Allie X:
Twitter: @alliexxxxandra
Website: alliexandra.com

Allison Weiss

Allison Weiss

In that way that sometimes happens, Allison Weiss fell right out of the clear blue sky. I didn't find her among the rubble on Spotify or Last.fm, I didn't hear her on the radio or read an article, I didn't hear her lyrics coming out a car window and look them up on the spot. I didn't do a damn thing, folks. This one was all Jenny Owen Youngs.

I'm just readin' my Twitter like you do and Jenny Owen Youngs is talking about her UK tour and I'm internal-grumblin' about how I want to watch Jenny Owen Youngs and she sends out this little deal right here:

And I basically just click that business on over to Allison Weiss' Twitter and next thing you know I'm listening to New Love on Spotify and then I'm buying New Love on Bandcamp and New Love is all I'm listening to because I'm in love with New Love and well, now we're here.

I'm not sure how to describe why I'm surprised that I am so enamoured of New Love. Indie pop doesn't usually set up shop in my ear like this, but there is something here that is pushing the right buttons in the right order. Just the right combination of some rockin' guitar and some 4/4 time and earnest lyrics and some reverb and I don't know, probably mermaid tears? Hippogriff talon? Owlbear hide? Something. I've barely been listening to this album for a month and I've woken up no less than two times whistling "Good Way". I don't even know. You win, Allison Weiss.

Well, I guess actually I win.

Good Way
Golden Coast

Where to find Allison Weiss:
Twitter: @allisonweiss
Website: allisonw.com