alexdgoldberg - Stay the Same

By Charley Ruddell

In our darkest hours, hitting a low isn’t what defines us; it’s how we handle the low that does. When Alex Goldberg hit a low, he asked life’s most stoic questions in search of answers, despite how evasive and impossible they might be.

On the Brooklyn-based composer’s new single “Stay the Same,” from his forthcoming debut album Loste, Goldberg addresses his own existential struggles through the variegated lense of jagged baroque pop; think Sufjan’s 50 States-era, arranged by Andrew Bird at his most-menacing. From the song’s anxious introduction—a fleet of hurried cellos and Sgt. Pepper’s-era schizophrenic voices—Goldberg brings to light the sensational rush of an oncoming panic attack; just when the dissonant strings approach tunnel vision, they resolve in a simple breath. It’s a theme that fluctuates in the song, and one that sheds light on his own empirical perspective. 

Goldberg hit his low during his 20s when a streak of anxiety left him sleep deprived, isolated, and starving. After passing out on the job and a subsequent ER trip, he was left to reassemble his pieces by asking the hardest questions to answer. “Will I go on?” he spouts in a cavernous falsetto (Caribou’s Dan Snaith, anyone?). “Will I ever change?” follows, his voice floating in tandem with the strings. A glimpse of speculative acceptance reveals itself in his final question: “Or will I stay the same?” In these cynical, unsettled moments, Goldberg shows shows his earnest, yet profound sense of character, sharing a likeness to John Cale, cunningly operatic and deranged all the same. 


Tony Kill - Love High Speed

By Phillipe Roberts

A genre-less expanse of frayed ideas, Love High Speed is a series of sonic detours taken with giddy abandon. Conducted by Washington D.C.-based artist Tony Kill, the EP presents seven smeared tracks that play right into the enigmatic presentation of their creator, offering little to no clues as to who, or what, we’re listening to beyond fragmented voicemails, clipped field recordings, and twisted singing that phases in and out of audibility. Let the constant distortion wash over you for the first listen, however, and you find yourself in a rich sonic world that makes a virtue out of misdirection. It keeps ambitions high even as the fidelity crawls deeper and deeper underground.

In contrast to the rest of Love High Speed, opener “Dolin Blanc” whistles its way in and keeps things smooth, much like the sweet vermouth that serves as its namesake. A sensuous bassline rumbles under gently splashing drums before dislocating from the groove entirely, playing against ambient swirls of guitar as the scene dissolves away from the pleasant morning reverie. Suddenly, a pen scratches out a signature, and a desk attendant asks if you need help with your bags. You’re fully checked-in to his surreal hotel now, and Tony Kill is free to really let loose for some twisted fun. Because for all of the sweetness and order of “Dolin Blanc,” it’s the rough-hewn weirdness of the rest of the EP that allows Tony Kill to really shine, unhinged from the expectation of providing anything for you to comfortably grip onto.

With the bouncing bass from “Dolin Blanc” still present as a holdover, Tony Kill begins his descent on “Heaven Sent,” charging through church organ swells with a chorus of Tonys proclaiming “You’re Heaven Sent” ad nauseum. Other indistinguishable vocals pour in, crying out with a kind of impassioned religious ecstasy that crashes over the main vocal in waves–a brilliant effect that sounds like watching someone have a mental breakdown in the middle of Sunday service.

Crafting these sharp moments of emotional tension is something that Tony Kill does remarkably well across the EP. Particularly so on “Drive,” where distorted shouts pile on top of a screeching guitar solo, which mellows out into a light, bluesy twang, before erupting again in chaos in a perfect mirror of the lyrics–“Intruder alert / Intruder alert.” But with all of this dissonance, Tony Kill isn’t afraid of a satisfying groove. Like the aforementioned “Dolin Blanc,” much of the EP ruminates on stretching simple ideas out into flavorful instrumentals. From the undeniably catchy krautrock pulse of “Gotta Turbo (Truck Stanley),” which almost sounds piped in from a Stereolab or Broken Social Scene rehearsal, to the industrial throb and burbling vocals of “I Am This Close,” it’s clear that Tony Kill knows exactly where to turn on the head-nodding charm.

Love High Speed ends with the instrumentally slight and vocally dissociative “Anyone.” Tony unspools a yawning manifesto, “I don’t fear anyone,” just twice over a creeping groove that hardly shuffles past the one minute mark. Thought it follows the disorienting, dubbed-out odyssey that is “Suddenly Unknow Everything,” “Anyone” feels like the perfect place to conclude his latest adventure–fearless and unphased, laughing in the face of any potential detractors before they even get a chance to respond. Love High Speed keeps you on your toes–and is well worth the disorientation–but don’t expect any congratulations from Tony for making it through to the other side. He’s above it all, distinctly unimpressed that you’re finally on his level.


The Onlys - Flyying Kite

By Andy Andrade 

The Onlys’ new music video for “Flyying Kite,” produced by Kayhl Cooper and premiering on ThrdCoast, offers a glimpse into the melancholic thoughts of lead singer Max Solomon. The band is introduced in a four panel split screen, all of them stuck in a shared affliction of terminal waiting, before cutting to broodingly pastoral Vermont. The feel of the video is spot on, its use of 16mm film mixing perfectly with the melancholy, psychedelic texture of the song.

Solomon captures his music through a TASCAM Portastudio tape recorder, which, like all cassette tape, dilutes and degrades with each rewind. This beautifully matches the song’s themes, as he tries to get back lost time by having his friends listen in on his faded relationship. This coordinated dance of remembering what’s forgotten doesn’t bother Solomon. He’s guided by something greater than himself, a cosmic force driving him to never give up on his friends. “Even kites that fly / High above the trees / No matter what you see / They’re still tied to a leash / They’ll never let that go / I’ll never let them go.” At the end, Solomon is left alone, hoping for a chance to try again.

To hold onto who and what we know can feel like all we are. Time shared with others lives forever in our memory, a little bit different each time revisited, like a tape deck. But even when we’re back together, it’s different than what we remember. And when we can’t stop change, sometimes we wait. Why do we wait for something that isn’t coming?


Mirror Gazer - Inhale The Sky

By Phillipe Roberts

Sunny, reverb-drenched harmonies collide with grainy neon visuals in Mirror Gazer’s latest music video for the meditative “Inhale the Sky.” A simmering psychedelic jam that sits comfortably in lounge-indebted grooves, the New York-via-Portland songwriter’s track recalls the airy compositional sprawl and phaser-blasted production of Melody’s Echo Chamber. Its spaced-out beach crawl vibe moves through bubbling synthesizers, oceanic field recordings, and a delightfully twangy guitar solo. While it stretches out past the five minute mark, the constantly shifting instrumentation, playful interludes, and sighing “Everyday” chorus build out a groove that stays fresh long after listening.

The self-directed video for the track plays with a bright, retro-minded palette as we follow Mirror Gazer’s Dorian Duvall around his transplanted home of Brooklyn, tracking his every movement with a distorted fish-eye lens. Artfully combined with washed out and collaged drone shots of Coney Island, and cartoonish close-ups of the lead and rhythm guitar parts that tempt you to pick up a guitar and play along at home, the video imagines Kings County as a single interminable fun house, swimming with color and bursting with potential while Duvall breathes in the streets, stores, and shores that he’s learning to call home.


Field Guides - Lucky Star in the A.M.

By Abigail Clyne

Brooklyn collective Field Guides’ newest single “Lucky Star in the A.M.” is a sparkling musical meditation. The folk pop track is the band’s second single in the lead up to the release of their album, This Is Just A Place, out September 27. Written in the wake of a breakup, singer/songwriter Benedict Kupstas uses percussive rhythm and powerful vocals to paint a picture of a relationship on the rocks, singing “We were all waiting for some change in the season.” Kupstas’ invocation of Nabokov’s novel, Pale Fire, paired with his reference of the Chinatown bus to Boston, the title and chorus of the track, artfully invokes high culture against the pedestrian. The closing line “all the happenstances have been adding up apocalyptic” relays the need to filter our experiences through the lens of the world, the turmoil of our current times.

Alena Spanger, of Tiny Hazard, provides a beautiful female counter to Kupstas’ baritone in the chorus. The expansive instrumentation and the tempo of the single feels like watching the world world go by while aboard mass transit–the track, like a good bus ride, is a trip well spent.