Now, Now

Now, Now

I had a real photo problem with Now, Now. See, they used to be a three-piece with Jess Abbott (who I know from Tancred and not from this, what a world) but they're back down to the original duo of Cacie Dalager and Bradley Hale. Unfortunately, most of the band photos on the intertron are interminably ancient and as such depict the trio and therefore are not what I'm after. As an additional wrinkle Cacie Dalager is currently sporting some super rad pink hair, as seen above, and there's no way I wasn't gonna showcase that situation, so this is what I've got. It's the press photo you've probably already seen or will see everywhere you look for more news about Now, Now. I try, reader. I swear I try. As an aside, in the wake of our collective loss of Hayley Williams' venerable flame-job locks, it heartens me to see Cacie Dalager in good company with the likes of Lights picking up the vibrantly-colored torch and carrying it forward.

Oh right, music. Not a hair color blog.

YET.

Now, Now has been lying dormant for a while. Their 2012 outing, Threads, is not an album I was particularly taken with at the time (though listening to it now I find a lot more to like), but in the interim they've been hard at work. Ahead of a full album release, they've let slip this one single and if this one single is in any way indicative of what they've got in the wings, we're in for something great.

SGL (a short-hand reference to the phrase "shotgun lover" you'll hear in the track, I'm hip, I'm down, how do you do fellow kids) is, more than anything, a track of driving rhythms. The no-nonsense elements stack up through the first verse into a building chorus that drops off like a hard down-shift for the second verse, in a theme you'll see repeated through the track of a staged mountain climb that barrels right off a cliff at the finish. I'm definitely not saying they invented the form, this is certainly a phenomenon you've encountered before, but this particular instance of it is powerfully tight. The relative sparseness of the early arrangement really drills the chugging guitar riff and drum'n'bass rhythm into you; by the time they're sprinkling in the light 'tronicas and reverb-y echo magicks, you're part of the machine. I don't know exactly what this machine does, but it sounds damn good doin' it. Cacie Dalager's smoky near-monotone melody works a treat; anything more vocally acrobatic would've upset the groove and anything less would've sounded like spoken word. They've really got something I'm digging here and I anxiously await the revelation of the fullness of this album. My breaths are appropriately bated.

Now, as a general policy, I don't normally post random singles I find on the intertron. I like albums, and I could wait for the album quietly while you, dear reader, perhaps know nothing of this track, but that feels like a real waste. We're coming into the peak of summer music season and maybe you're making your road trip or family beach outing or vacation airplane playlists and I want you to have SGL in your bag o'tricks for that. I want that for you, reader, so I've done this thing. I will re-visit Now, Now when the time arrives and we'll find out if my enthusiasm today pays off, but right now? Right now I bring you this.

SGL

Where to find Now, Now:
Twitter: @nownowband
Website: nownowmusic.com

Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers

It's likely you've heard about Maggie Rogers already. We all know that's not gonna stop me from doing my bit here according to my own particular idiom, but it is nevertheless a thing that needs to be acknowledged. Alaska is a certified Internet Event after her, and I'm quoting her directly here, "gif-able moment with Pharrell" and I linked Alaska down there like I damn well must because in addition to being a phenomenon it is a planet-killer payload of quality.

So what is Maggie Rogers doing here that is so magical? Pharrell went a little around the bend on exactly how unique this situation is (Wu Tang reference though, Liquid Swords!, recognize), I expect I am (as are you, dear reader, almost surely) steeped somewhat more significantly in the genre contemporaries than our boy there. I expect that any of you that have read the other posts around these parts might be thinking that you can hear some Sylvan Esso or VÉRITÉ or maybe just a little Ryn Weaver and I don't think you're wrong about that, but there is definitely a unique alchemy coming out of Maggie Rogers' lab.

It may surprise you to know (well, not if you watched all the videos up there, but you probably didn't) that Maggie Rogers used to make banjo music. Alright it's not exclusively banjo music, but it's certainly not this. Well, it's not ALL of this. When you listen to these folk/singer-songwriter songs, you can hear some threads that run up into this new EP and I think that may be where some of the magic is gestated. Her music is coming from this other place and it's passing through this filter, the disillusionment and her nature detour and the reinvigoration, and out the other side of that is this organically danceable, tightly arranged electro-pop with bumpy-bump synthetic bass lines and space-y reverbs and clean beats, but the singer-songwriter is still in there and it's the addition of her stellar vocal work that puts this over the top; just the right vibrato and a smooth falsetto and a sprinkle of echo...que belíssima.

Since Alaska is a given (and I will fight you if you disagree with that) I only had to pick one from this five song (well, four remaining) EP and while that should've been easy it really wasn't. I like On + Off a lot and I was pretty convinced it was the right choice, but when I really got down to it I loved the first pre-chorus at a 12/10 and the rest of the song at about an 8 and I had all of Dog Years at a 9 so here we are.

Go to one of the links down at the bottom there and get this EP. Pay the money, I want the LP, or more EPs, singles, literally whatever she does with all our sweet sweet Benjamins, I want it. You do this for me and we will forget about all the things I've done for you. I mean, also I need you to buy all the other things I've told you to buy, but right now, today? This one, buy this one right now.

Alaska
Dog Years

Where to find ARTIST:
Twitter: @maggierogers
Website: maggierogers.com

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