Heavy Hawaii are a San Diego duo that are truly operating on a plane of their own - their latest single, "Washing Machine", is a disquieting, heavily reverbed pop ballad seen through the lens of a hallucinogenic nightmare. It'd be facile to put it in the same vein as Syd Barrett via The Madcap Laughs, except the instruments are deliberately buried into the mix as opposed to Barrett's clear, repetitive guitar parts. It's as if Matt Bahamas and Jojo Keylargo dreamt up a scene in which they buried Barrett in the sand and recorded him from underground while basking in the kaleisdoscopic tinted sky. The rhythmic pulse is one of stillness and calm, but that quavaring organ bewilders your senses and throws you into a tailspin. And once it finalizes, you feel like taking the ride again. Their new album, "Goosebumps", drops April 2nd on Art Fag Recordings.
Laurel Canyon-based songstress, Meg Olsen, is like something out of an Anthropologie ad. Romantic and mysterious, yet somehow familiar. She sings plaintively in a more relaxed, but similar fashion to the ladies of First Aid Kit. Tambourines, twangy guitars and rotary-drenched organs dance underneath Olsen’s lilting, laid back poetry. “Corners of Bars,” the first track off her EP, ‘Deal From the Bottom,’ has a ghostly quality that captivates your imagination. She sings stories wrapped in dreams from a bygone era. There’s a mix of folk and bluegrass influence on the EP, but the overarching landscape is mellow, seasoned, and covered in a layer of mist and fog. Stream the entire EP below. - Jacqueline Caruso
LA-based trio Gliss is offering an intimate take on songs from its newest album, "Langsom Dans," with a five-part video series of stripped-down performances. Adding to the album's entrancing and amorous sound, the video series takes listeners to the songs' most innermost layers. The videos take place in a simple, yet mystical living room setting, making viewers feel like they are getting a personal concert. The series includes the songs: "Into the Water," "Blur," "Weight of Love," and "Kite in the Sky." While Gliss' songs often carry dark tones, the band manages to add soft beauty and lightness through whispered vocals and sparkling synth textures. The warm, moody qualities of the music lend themselves well to the cozy setting of the video series. It is a nice change of pace for the group after having performed a handful of shows at SXSW. However, Gliss will return full force with a show on Wednesday at the Echo. - Karla Hernández
Recorded in an impressive five days, ‘Empire’, the debut full length from GRMLN, is set for release on June 4th on Carpark Records. The first single, “Teenage Rhythm” captures the frenetic, impulsive energy of a young man ready to be taken seriously. While still in his sophomore year at UC Santa Cruz, 20 year old Yoodoo Park, made time to write the nine songs that comprise this album, and put together a band to record it. The thread that weaves these songs together is their punk-inspired brevity and intensity, which supports the disillusioned youth storytelling. There’s an upbeat rock-n-roll edge, especially to the single, that adds a layer of hope, as if to further pro-port the claim that while the transition from boy to man can be tumultuous, the audacity to dream stays alive. Stream the track below and catch them for free at Origami Vinyl on March 31. - Jacqueline Caruso
A danceable psych-pop tune inspired by the homeless epidemic in our sunny city, “Hail the Madmen” is the first single from newbies, Honeymoon. Despite the heavy subject matter, this is a tune you want to blast rolling down Sunset with the top down. Layers of psychedelic synths swirl over funky bass lines and dreamy guitar licks allowing the conscious message to be an easy pill to swallow. This LA-by-way-of-Australia duo have been working on their debut full length over the past year, with an expected summer release. - Jacqueline Caruso
Los Angeles prog metal outfit Intronaut always keep you in an addled state of unease, constantly counterpointing their intricate arrangements between ambling, burnished guitars and soaring melodic lines. "Sore Sight for Eyes" perfectly exemplifies this in how it seamlessly shifts from shock to bliss with its' textured, multi-hued sections and outré time signatures, but it never comes off as forcefully technical. Their latest full-length, Habitual Levitations, was just released this week via Century Media Records.
The newest single off their full length release, ‘Island Universe,’ out on Innovative Leisure, “Big Mother” packs a serious punch. An in your face garage-y psych rock tune that’s punk rock short, and full of those sexy, Grace Slick style vocals from frontwoman, Jessie Jones that make you swoon and sweat. The video is cheeky and fun. It’s the best kind of tease, sure to send you straight to your e-retailer of choice to buy the whole album. Feeding People will join The Black Lips, Nick Waterhouse, and many more at Burgerama Day 1 on March 22 at The Observatory in Santa Ana. - Jacqueline Caruso
The glory days of house music were heavily marked with a physicality that could be both seductive and goofy. This has translated in revival house acts like Pharaohs, whose exuberant track "Miraculous Feet" takes you right to the dance floor with a wobbly synth line that insists on going and going until your feet can't take it anymore. And then there's that sinuous bass lines that's juxtaposed with Maria Minerva's cut-and-dried vocals, explicitly implying the rise of a sexual urge that's triggered by a stranger's irresistible moves. The group's debut full length, Replicant Moods, comes out on April 20th via LA label 100% Silk.
Shreveport, LA five-piece Engine truly know their way around a shimmering pop hook. The fuzzy, amplified drone and moaning guitars that open "Lands of Sleep" vaguely recall the Flaming Lips in their mid-nineties period. It is fueled with a subtle swagger that is just begging for release. And then it does in a big, big way - the song's finale breaks into an athemic refrain that emphasizes its spindly guitar lines and histrionic harmonies. The video comes off the album of the same name, which was self-released through bandcamp late last year.
Former Depreciation Guild and Pains of Being Pure at Heart guitarist Christoph Hochheim has created a new solo project called Ablebody, and will be premiering his new songs live at SXSW. Appearing to have put aside his primary instrument in favor of synths, samplers and a laptop, the most surprising aspect of All My Everybody is how the vocals are much stronger than anyone could have anticipated (since he never sang in either of those bands). The recently released 5 song EP’s cover image is a seated body with no head, placing clear emphasis on the band name's meaning. That of an able body, ready for instructions.
Chimes on the dominant beat accentuate the multilayered atmospherics of first single “Sally Hot Jazz.” With vocals that evoke Tears For Fears at their peak, (“Sowing The Seeds Of Love”) the chord progression does in fact touch the edges of actual jazz. Wonderfully streamlined at under three minutes in length, impeccably crisp synth textures share sonic space with a marching, natural sounding percussion (capably supplied by former Depreciation Guild band member and twin brother Anton) while otherworldly sine waves build to a sunburst conclusion.
“No Room For I” expands on this sonic palette as its near five minutes in length would allow. Brief moments of sparser instrumentation encourages focus on the emotion being conveyed. Curiously, this wonderfully strange and mysterious song’s title does not seem to be mentioned even once. However, hook sequences with the repeated lyrics “one more night” and “I can see your eyes” create the sense of wonder as to why it wasn’t called either of those. Vocal placement is artfully crafted here as deeper harmony cascades under the higher register lead.
The cleverly titled “Phantasy” pops along a synth bass and danceable beat with those wonderful chiming bell sound samples at the forefront. Using perhaps The Pet Shop Boys as a reference point this time, the bridges are still more sophisticated structurally, with minor chord passages lifting the track above mindless dancefloor fare. “Quick & Painless” slows everything down significantly; with its near dirge-like pacing, the chirping synth textures evoke “The Man Who Fell To Earth” era David Bowie. The overall feeling is as reverential as seeing sunlight streaming through a cathedral’s stained glass window.
Closing track “Sister Marie” is a Harry Nilsson composition that surprises, not only as a cover choice, but also in its execution. Presenting this one as something you might hear on a post-Pink Floyd Syd Barrett solo album, it is perhaps a fitting conclusion to a most creative debut. - Dave Cromwell