New Music Mondays | 10.2.17

Happy October, everyone! Get #spooked with some scary good tracks that WRBB has been loving.

‘traveler’ – Hippo Campus

The song ‘traveler’ by Hippo Campus comes off the short EP warm glow that was a released in conjunction with a slew of new dates for the band’s upcoming winter tour. Hippo Campus stays true to their signature sound in ‘traveler,’ yet manages to emanate a certain freshness and maturity that reflects the growth of the young band. Lead singer Jake Luppen launches straight into the lyrics while a quick, poppy rhythm pulses in the background, with a choppiness separating each word that plays along with the layered beats. The song changes in tempo throughout, which develops the melody like a story, as the music dips and swells in a way that conveys the shifting mood of the lyrics vibrantly. The music slows and quiets towards the middle of the song, with a single guitar playing behind the yearning words ‘I woke with a headache / my bones and my body screamed / son where the hell is your head?’ Soft drumming adds on and grows louder as the rest of the band gradually joins in and the track builds up to a crescendo of overlapping sounds and echoing vocals. With the warm glow EP being the first self-produced album from Hippo Campus, ‘traveler’ seems representative of the path that the band has taken so far and the trajectory they have set for the future—it’s a sign of only good things to come.” – Casey Martin

‘Hunting My Own Skin’ – Yung Lean

“‘Hunting My Own Skin’ is the second single from Yung Lean’s upcoming Stranger album, his first release since the Frost God mini-album released last December. After hearing this song, I feel nothing but excitement for the new album. ‘Hunting My Own Skin’ is super catchy and a lot more upbeat than his usual material. The contrast is especially striking between these new songs and those on his last full-length album, Warlord. Even comparing the album artwork makes this difference clear. The artwork for this song and the first single, ‘Red Bottom Sky’ feature Yung Lean looking fresh and clean, wearing all white over a white background. While the artwork for Warlord is a mangled, unintelligible mess of black and white that reflects the chaos in Yung Lean’s life that surrounded the release of the album. The instrumental for ‘Hunting My Own Skin’ features bubbly synths and bouncy bass that massage your ears while Yung Lean delivers a bright, fun vocal performance which is something that never happened on Warlord. The lyrics in this song are not revolutionary for Yung Lean, the first verse is just about drugs and expensive things. However, the second brings some lovely imagery with a touch of melancholy. I’m intrigued and eager to see what direction Yung Lean takes on Stranger when it comes out on November 10. If you’re interested in seeing him live in support of this album, he is coming to Boston on February 6 at The Royale, tickets on sale here. – Spencer LaChance

‘Lifeboat’ – New Politics

“With less than a week until their fourth studio album Lost in Translation is released, New Politics teased fans with one last single ‘Lifeboat’. This is the fifth single the band has released for this album. Guitarist Søren Hansen took lead vocals on this song, which is refreshing since there are few songs he gets to solo on. The track is very reminiscent of their self-titled debut album. It’s more grungy and hardcore in respect to the instrumentation. ‘Lifeboat’ is about ‘being stuck in a relationship and feeling helpless about it,’ according to the band. While the subject might be heavy, New Politics has turned it into an upbeat tune that is meant to be blasted through a stereo. Like most of New Politics’ music, this song written to be performed live- full of energy and powerfully loud. Lost in Translation is set to be released October 6th.” – Marisa Kenny

‘Don’t Go to Anacita’ – Protomartyr

“‘Don’t Go To Anacita’ is the final single and the seventh track on Detroit post-punk band Protomartyr’s most recent album. Their third LP, Relatives in Descent, was released this past Friday (9/29). The song’s instrumentation falls somewhere in between Protomartyr’s generally aggressive sound, which is characterized by the roughness and stripped-down instrumentation of punk influence, and a softer side that was represented on their earlier single, ‘A Private Understanding.’ The up-tempo track encompasses the usually clever and poetic lyrics of frontman Alex Casey, and on this particular track (as well as others on the album), anti-consumerism and the rejection of liberalism in favor of radical action come through as big themes — a call back to the classic days of punk as a form of anti-establishment protest. One of the most entertaining lines is ‘the liberal-minded here, they close their eyes and dream/ of technology and kombucha,’ poking fun at the type of person who fancies themselves a radical but makes no steps at all towards challenging the status quo… and instead ironically buys entirely into the culture they claim to be distancing themselves from. Casey’s gravelly, low voice, which sometimes edges more into shouting than singing, also gets a chance to shine on this song, and is one of my own personal highlights of the track. I would recommend this song and album to anyone looking to listen to more recent post-punk and, especially, to anyone like me who finds themselves strangely drawn to a really repetitive guitar rock sound.” – Caroline Smith

‘start//end’ – EDEN

EDEN is the stage name of Irish producer turned singer-songwriter Jonathan Ng. Originally known as The Eden Project, Ng produced mostly EDM and Drum and Bass music, but with his moniker switch to EDEN, he took on a much more indie pop flavored sound with the occasional electronic hint. Since the switch, he has released one full length album and one EP under the Astralwerks label. ‘start//end’ is the first single off his upcoming full length release vertigo, which does not have a set release date yet. The song itself is a slight departure from EDEN’s more chorus driven tracks on his EP i think you think too much of me, but is carried throughout by Ng’s moaning, despondent vocals. The lyrics tell the story of much of Ng’s musical career. He feels like he has been stuck in the past, both musically and personally, unable to better himself and his sound. This leads him to ask ‘Can we build our past right? Learning through future solecism.’ EDEN feels like he needs to make a change in his life in order to justify his past. This leads into the song’s title, ‘start//end.’ Ng seems to be saying that vertigo will be an important marker in his career, ending a past chapter and starting a new one, and that it will be the culmination of his different musical styles in the past. Instrumentally, the track features some very signature EDEN sounds. The opening consists of smooth strings that call back to EDEN’s first album End Credits, but the track quickly transitions into the acoustic guitar quasi-chorus, reminiscent of his previous EP, and finally into some synth and percussion heavy interludes similar to the work of The Eden Project. This is a very interesting direction to take given the lyrical content, essentially combining all of his past sounds into one singular work. Surprisingly, this track flows quite well. The transitions between the different styles in the song feel smooth and natural, especially because of a low droning synth in the background that carries throughout the track. If I were to say something negative about the track though, it would be that Ng’s vocal performance feels exaggerated and almost a bit insincere at times. Overall though, this single leaves me very excited for what EDEN has to offer in the future.” – Grant Foskett

‘She’s Not Him’ – Miley Cyrus

“After the sugar rush that is the bubbly first two singles on Miley Cyrus’s Younger Now, ‘Younger Now’ and ‘Malibu’, on the album’s penultimate track, Cyrus goes melancholy. This spacey song is about her ex Stella Maxwell, and the fact that she just couldn’t fill the hole that her ex-ex (?) Liam Hemsworth left. This song is really beautiful and definitely one of the more raw songs on Younger Now. The song starts with the noise of orchestral instruments tuning, a chaotic and anticipatory sound, and one that doesn’t particularly fit with the rest of the song. But once you hear what ‘She’s Not Him’ is about, it seems to make sense; the tuning instruments are the scattered thoughts that Cyrus finally manages to articulate in the song, a heavily apologetic and almost dreamlike piece. Cyrus doesn’t try to sugarcoat, hide, or lie about any of her feelings, which is what I respect most about this song. It’s not an easy song to write, and it can’t be easy to listen to if you are the subject. But that’s what makes this song so special.” – Clio Fleece

‘Nite Expo’ – Thee Oh Sees

“Thee Oh Sees’ (or Oh Sees) Orc is a further display of their unstoppable force, a force that has come to evolve beyond their garage punk roots. Take ‘Nite Expo’ for example – the track opens with a synth line more reminiscent of frontman’s John Dwyer’s electronic project Damaged Bug than Thee Oh Sees’ past raw riffage. Soon enough, however, that synth line gives way to a signature reverberant guitar, raging in a colossal wave over that sustained synth. The tension rises to unfathomable levels with that synth, just moments into the song, before cascading and resolving into a subdued groove. Immersed in ‘Nite Expo,’ within its flaming guitars and thudding drums, you can see the moment when the masses in the pit go from bobbing their heads to leaping wildly, shoving against each other, slinging the grease off their hair into the sky, screaming inaudibly against the precisely distorted, perfectly timed wail of the guitar and the driving stomp of the twin drums. The transition doesn’t feel cheap or jarring, but fluid; a deserved kinetic payoff after a rapid build of potential energy of bass and drum. The lyrics mirror this emphatic release, this debaucherous descent into bedlam, as Dwyer menacingly coos ‘Jump up, lay down / Roll around boiling / Make your home in dirt,’ enticing the crowd to join the grimy bacchanal just before the guitars hit home. And join they will, whether in the crowd or in their bedrooms. ‘Nite Expo’ shows that Dwyer has the sound of Thee Oh Sees down to a science, a science of cathartic madness, scum, and distortion, but a science nonetheless.” – Kenny Oravetz

‘If Blue Could Be Happiness’ – Florist

“I haven’t always been a fan of subtle bedroom pop. Categorically I find the genre to be a little lackluster. But if there’s one group that does it well, it’s Florist. This kind of low energy and highly emotional music is only as good as the songwriter, and frontwoman Emily Sprague continues to prove that her writing chops are top notch. Coming off of 2016’s critically acclaimed The Birds Outside Sang, Florist has just released their new full length, If Blue Could Be Happiness, and they’ve taken a bit of an ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach. The new album uses a very similar sonic palette as the previous, but perhaps with a bit more focus on acoustic instrumentation than synthesized effects, although there’s still a balance of the two. The title track is certainly a highlight of the new album, and if you’re in the mood for a well crafted, low key indie pop ballad, then I’d highly recommend this song. Emily Sprague continues to approach songwriting in a way that feels like both a poem and a journal entry at the same time. Those moods combined with a more polished bedroom pop sound makes Florist feel like a modern update to the singer-songwriter genre, a sort of Elliott Smith for 2017. Altogether, Florist delivers a sound that is both satisfying in the now and makes me excited for their future.” – Isaac Shur

‘Brain Telephone’ – Frankie & The Witch Fingers

“Hailing from Los Angeles, psychedelic rock band Frankie and the Witch Fingers successfully throw listeners back into the trippy era of the 1960s with their exciting new title track, ‘Brain Telephone,’ off of their recently released album. The track starts off leading the listener into another dimension in which multiple dial-up phones are ringing and several indistinguishable conversations are taking place. By choosing to listen to the song, it is clear you’ve picked up a telephone that will be taking you to another place out of this world. With the intro guitar fading in and out, the transition into the full soundscape of the song explodes as the rolling drum beat meets the fuzzier second guitar. Dylan Sizemore’s Lo-Fi vocals began after the rhythm steadies and he effectively ushers the listener into the colorful mind-bending altered state that is created through picking up your ‘Brain Telephone.’ Buddy Holly’s guitar strumming style meets ’60s surfer rock in the high tempo that continuously speeds up and slows down, taking the listener for quite a ride. The middle of the song sprinkles in some Ray Manzarek-esque keyboarding that is the cherry on top of the throwback vibes that the song aims to deliver. Overall, ‘Brain Telephone’ is the perfect track to start off the psychedelic journey that is Frankie and the Witch Fingers’ new album.” – Kathryn Garcia

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