soundscapes on a hot day [single reviews]
Words by Ryan Getz / photo by Zanne Chaudhry
Jeshi – “30,000 FEET (feat. Celeste)” – The UK rapper Jeshi has a style I can get behind. I’ve always been more of a “let’s vibe” than a “phat beats” kind of guy. “30,000 FEET” certainly checks that box. It also carries a trippy tone that almost feels dystopian. This is a very deliberate stream-of-consciousness track meant to elicit certain disquieting emotions from the listener. The accompanying visuals conjure a similar range of moods. Landscapes and snapshots of everyday life flash and distort into psychedelic and dreamlike filters, effectively forcing me to be still and think. The East London–based artist certainly chose a apt visual to hook me and pique my curiosity about the rest of his catalogue.
Ambergrove – “Intro: Choice (Rejoice)”: This project is one of those that, in spite of my intrigue being pretty high ahead of their first single, I still have a hard time articulating why that is so. I will try, though. This project is just that—a project. I hesitate to call it a band, as the vibe I get even listening to this song is that it will transcend one person or group of people. I’m reminded a bit of Polyenso and Sleeping at Last. A bright landscape, probably encompassing a valley and many bright colors, comes to mind. Bob Ross would definitely include this song in a soundtrack accompanying his episodes, if he were alive today.
The Still, Small Voice – “Roller Rink”: I was seriously so stoked to see that this song had the validation of a premiere in American Songwriter. This, the project of Philly by way of Nashville’s Christiana Benton, played our own Steadfast Festival in 2018 alongside Day Wave, Playing to Vapors, and Bonelang. There, Benton entranced the crowd with her brand of authentic, vulnerable melodic indie rock. “Roller Rink” is the latest offering from Benton, to be released on a forthcoming LP via Know Hope Records. Here, The Still Small Voice is as atmospheric as ever, but brings a needed sense of calm to my environment. Her words are vulnerable, yet they don’t bring me down. The end result is cathartic, warming, and even a bit nostalgic. Fans of Phoebe Bridgers, The Ember Days, Copeland, and even Death Cab For Cutie would most likely enjoy this.
Drishti Beats – “Give It All”: And now for something completely different. Well, kinda different. Downtempo and electropop are both no strangers to this site, however the context for this chillout inducing bop is a little new to me. This is a family band of sorts and have been making a name for themselves on the festival circuit. I’d just as soon be willing to catch a set from these folks at Electric Forest as I would at Desert Daze or Burning Man. This is a club ready track with an oddly wholesome effect. The group certainly succeeds at their goal of inducing a positive state of mind with this optimistic, poignant output. The yoga element I admittedly have a hard time relating to, but I’m certainly intrigued!
Lammping – “Greater Good”: I’m at that time of day where I’m starting think about bedtime. That vaguely pensive, slow time of day where I’m mellow but not yet sleepy. What in the world does that have to do with this barnburner of a song? Well, the deadpan vocals are a marked contrast to the driving force that is the instrumentation. If I had the energy, I’d probably be throwing down to this, but given the soundscapes and exploratory nature of this track, I’m content to sit here and kinda zone out while I type this response. This is a lead single off Lammping’s forthcoming LP entitled Bad Boys of Comedy, out this July on Nasoni Records.
5 Billion In Diamonds – “Divine Accidents”: This new wave meets post-punk outing is over almost as soon as its starts, but that’s part of its charm. The all-star collective is fronted and in a sense curated by Butch Vig. They don’t seek to dazzle outright with this track—they seek to leave you wanting more. I feel the track ends just as its getting somewhere. Yet, I find it infectious all the same. Fans of Joy Division, Metric, and New Order will enjoy this. I bet I could put this song on loop and enjoy it the first 10 or 20 repetitions. Why the music video is so much shorter than the full song, I’m not sure, but it will get your attention quick!
TWO – “In This Rough”: This powerful song is a barnburner (I use that word a lot, apparently) that is certainly both pop and rock, but to call it “pop rock” feels altogether limiting and unfair. The former members of LA outfit Nico Vega have the endorsement of Pink (yes, that Pink) and have released this atmospheric, hopeful track accentuated by powerhouse vocals and thunderous drums. You can hear that their mix-master, Rich Costey, has experience working with Foster the People and Sigur Ros. The song has a punch to it, but this assertiveness is only underscored by nonstop emotional swells.