Bossa Nova

PREMIERE: Tag Cloud - Big Room

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Will Shenton

Tag Cloud's latest single, "Big Room," begins somewhat innocuously. The penultimate track on his forthcoming LP, Gnarly, it opens with Justin Mayfield's languid croon ambling across bossa nova instrumentals. But in less than a minute, that straightforward riff begins a transformation into something that defies categorization.

Perhaps better known for his membership in Brooklyn four-piece Sheen Marina, Mayfield's solo work reflects his comfort with genre-bending composition. "Big Room" is a song that seems to deconstruct itself, beginning with a low-entropy groove that gradually spins off its various components into minimalist reprises. That bossa nova opener soon becomes a collection of angular, staccato guitars and drums; shortly after, the bass (by Rance Mohammed), synths, and vocals work their way back into the picture, this time unadorned and somehow intangibly ominous.

The track winds down and eventually closes with an almost absentminded guitar melody, accompanied first by Mayfield's distant vocals and then, at the end, a wistful muted trumpet performed by Kai Sandoval. With this final farewell, "Big Room" asserts itself not just as an eclectic piece, but as one that skirts the borders between genres. Rather than picking and choosing disparate elements in some kind of collage, Mayfield has found the points of unity between sounds as diverse as jazz and bedroom indie rock.

Tag Cloud is a project that's willing to experiment, but Mayfield does so with the sophistication of an experienced artist. Gnarly promises to be an album that's as cerebral as it is irresistibly groovy.

VIDEO PREMIERE: Room Thirteen - Roccopulco

Laura Kerry

The debut album of the band Room Thirteen came out this past winter, but its spirit season has arrived just in time for the New Orleans-based group to release the video for the title track, “Roccopulco.” A mix of dreamy vocals, bossa nova guitar, and jazzy horns, the song sounds like a vision of the ‘60s imagined while drifting off to sleep on a bright-colored towel at the beach.

The video combines this retro tone with more contemporary touches. Set on a dark stage, it features a blazer- and moustache-sporting saxophonist playing an impassioned solo and backup dancers moving slowly in unison as the song cycles through shimmering harmonies. But the dancers contain elements of both go-go and American Apparel, one of the many ways in which the old-timey and tropical touches don’t take themselves too seriously. Fish dissolve into psychedelic patterns; the sax solo breaks into a cheesy split-screen; and a collection of fruits, leafy plants, and a mysterious glittery “D” appear on stage in the beginning and end before confetti rains down, a delightfully odd way to illustrate their equatorial party vibe. Theatrical, sultry, silly, and as mesmerizing as the song, the video for “Roccopulco” is the perfect way to reimagine Room Thirteen’s summery music.