Friday, October 29, 2021

Maggie Gently gives you a first taste of 'Peppermint.'

Maggie Gently’s debut LP Peppermint won't be out until sometime early next year, but she recently released the album's first single, "Hold My Hand."* 

More on Peppermint at a later date, but chugging guitars and Gently's sweet yet strong vocals propel "Hold My Hand," while the lyrics pop and sparkle as they investigate the stirrings of affection as the protagonist slowly grows comfortable with their own romantic feelings for another. 

I love how the song follows the short journey from two eyes furtively catching each other's stare from across a room, to the narrator's final refrain of "No, I’m not afraid to tell you everything I’m feeling now." It's a song about falling in love and unlocking that kind of freedom with another human being. 

And it hits hard these days. I could certainly use more tales like this to help get me through these trying times!

The video is above for the more visually inclined, but if you wanna add "Hold My Hand" to your collection, you can snag it below as well.

*Yes, when you read that song title, you immediately thought of Hootie And The Blowfish, didn't you? You want to say The Beatles, but it was Hootie. Admit it!)

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Kickback returns, one song at a time.

After a long hiatus for the band, The Kickback has started to make noise publicly again. Currently, the group is releasing a single track of new music at a time, and as I hear more music from this stage of the band's evolution, I can tell you that sitting with "PreshMo" and really digging into it gives you some tantalizing clues about where the band is headed. And singer/guitarist Billy Yost's work as Billy Ghost has given the band a whole bunch of new toys to color their songs with. 

This is just the beginning, so get your ears wet and strap in for a long ride.

I know I can't wait to hear where this goes next!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Where S. Raekwon is at now is both intriguing and rewarding.

Photo by Daniel Dorsa
I've heard S. Raekwon's name* floating around, but that was the extent of my awareness heading into his latest album Where I'm At Now. So I'm not sure how to describe this combination of soulful kinda-sorta R&B running smack dab into singer/songwriter acoustic performance conventions and a variety of other bits and bobs thrown in for good measure.

O.K., I guess I just tried to. But that doesn't capture the magic of this album. I went in with no expectations, so when the music within started to lift my soul it felt akin to a carnival ride that suddenly shoots you into the sky, seconds after the attendant confirms you're safely strapped in. Your stomach is far behind, but your brain is whirling and buzzing as you momentarily float at the apex, and it's a whole bunch of things you're feeling up there.

So I think this is one of those album that, if I spend a ton of time really trying to explain its strengths to you, might rob you of some of the wonderful sense of discovery listening to this should engender.

Stream it for free below, but at only $3, I can't see why you wouldn't just download it for keeps. Either way, you'll win and have some new vibez in your ears to add addtitional color to the shifting seasons outside your window this morning. Where S. Raekwon is at now is definitely an excellent place to visit.

*Full name: Steven Raekwon Reynolds, in case you're curious.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

And now for something completely expected, and exciting!

Well, you knew I had to post this, right? I mean, I don't even need to write an entry for it, since I tweeted about it months ago!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

And now for something completely different, courtesy Natalie Jane Hill.

Photo by Julian Neel

I am not a "folk" kinda person in general. Unfortunately these days what most people (folks? HA!) call "folk" is really just anodyne singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar stuff, and that often bores me. But when I come across a true folk album, it makes my ears perk up!

Natalie Jane Hill's new album Solely is folk music done right.

Solely has an otherworldly patina, and sounds like it was plucked from a sunny meadow covered in hazy early '70s shade. And Hill's voice is just so emotive and raw and full while somehow staying smooth in delivery, even at its most emotionally fragile. And the musical accompaniment is super minimal yet somehow fills all the surrounding space, enveloping you in the allure of Hill's artistic vision. It's simple and uncomplicated, but incredibly effective. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

You won't be stuck in neutral forever.

Let's start with the positive. A thing that has really helped me stay afloat mentally over the last 18 months.

I'm grateful I've been employed throughout the pandemic, since it's given me some level of continuous connection with other people, and kept me incredibly busy creating exciting things. So I've felt incredibly productive in, and proud of, my professional creative life. I can not state strongly enough how much my job has been a positive element in my life, overall.

But my personal creative life? That's a little different.

Much of the time I feel stuck in neutral. The gears are whirring and the motor is revving, but there's no forward momentum. So many ideas, all fighting for a way out of a brain that twists and turns and examines all these things on long, rambling walks through my city. So it's created a huge cathedral of possibilities in my mind, but I'm often stuck on how to get those ideas out of my head.* And the varying states of limbo I've been stuck in for going on 2 years now is, well, starting to concern me. Is there an exit? A way out? Will I ever get back to "normal?"

I think all the answers to all those queries are: kinda? 

There has to be an exit, or demarcation line, or "other side" I've yet to reach. So there must be a way out of this. But I think the answer to the last question of "getting back to normal" is a definitive no and yes. Will I ever get back to the life I once had? Nope. But I will find a new "normal." I mean, so far, this is the new normal, right? And it's different than what I thought was "normal" a few months ago, and even more different than what I thought was "normal" a few years ago. It's obvious, but easily forgotten.

But being stuck in limbo this long has made me question my strengths. Or supposed strengths. Or the things I thought were important to my own composition.**

The cruelest joke is I thought I had my midlife crisis years ago, so I wasn't expecting to encounter a new existential crisis after that! But, and I know this sounds like a cliche but I truly believe it now, I am exactly where I'm supposed to be right now. Whether or not I know why isn't important any longer—I've just accepted that the life I'm leading is supposed to travel along this pathway, so I'm doing the best with what I've got.

Sorry, this isn't supposed to be a bummer. I've been more private over the last few years for a variety of reasons, but I still think it's important to be transparent about stuff like this. Especially if you're reading this and identifying with fractions or all of what I'm describing—you know you're not alone.

And knowing you're not alone in a world where you see friends or family, like, once a month or even less often, is vitally important. 

And if you're reading this, you're definitely not alone. 

And I appreciate you.

I truly, truly do!

*I can't emphasize enough how much I've discovered my prodigious levels of output in the last 30 years relied on talking through ideas with people, whether they (or I!) were aware of it or not. There's a reason I could kick out 3000 words on an event that happened hours before: all the work was done in my head and bounced off any number of human sounding boards ahead of time. The act of writing is a solitary affair, and while the thinking that goes into it can be done in isolation that's not nearly as strong as thinking vetted by other humans with their own thoughts and perspective to help inform my own conclusions. 

**As in the composition of the person as a whole, not my composition skills that lead to what you're reading. If there's one thing that hasn't changed it's that I can still write up a storm. And it's something I always feel the burning need to do. I just rarely want to these days. You know?

Thursday, October 07, 2021

FUR walks the fine line of a quiet life then turns it UP!

I was walking down the street when "The Fine Line of a Quiet Life" burst into my ears and I had to stop for a second and just luxuriate in it.

FUR's debut When You Walk Away isn't out until next month, but I think you're gonna dig it. The UK band hails from Brighton, though until I learned that you could've convinced me they were bouncing around Williamsburg, entering our era through a rip in time whose entry point was c. 2002 NYC.

Since it's still about a month off I don't want you to get too excited about something you can't hear in its entirety yet. But I think this "The Fine Line of a Quiet Life" will be more than enough to draw you in. And keep you salivating for more. And, don't worry, the more you are salivating for? It is worth the wait.

Friday, October 01, 2021

Soak in the innerdimensional grooves of Foamboy's debut.

Katy Ohsiek and Wil Bakula make up Portland's Foamboy, and they've created one of the more transporting albums of the year thus far.

The duo's debut, My Sober Dayrdream, is chock full of woozy, whoosh-y mellow pop stuff. It's catchy even if it sounds like it's stitched together by a bunch of components that simply shouldn't fit together. Drums meander and then machine gun; bloops and blorps of fat synth bass plops in and out of the mix; and Ohsiek's sweetly but knowingly delivered vocals slide above it all, as other voices poke in and out of the mix to add dizzying layers to slip and slide around in as you listen.

When I listen to this album I go to an interior space that feels suffused with Spring sunshine, rimmed by darker clouds of sly, sultry funk. It's a nice spot to escape to from time to time.

The album is pay-what-you-want or free right now, so you have no excuse not to give it a try, right? Get lost in their innerdimensional travels and let me know what sights you see along the way.