By Gerard Marcus

2012 Bid Adieu is a DIY artist collective headed by Jordan Clark and Gray Hall, featuring a lot of our favorite artists in the New York scene. Their output to date has consisted of three singles and two videos which all exude creative experimentation and high levels of musicianship. The new video for “Something To Tell You” keeps that trend alive. The track, fronted by Hall on vocals and guitar, deals with themes of escapism. How do you move on after finding yourself in a situation where remaining would only make things more confusing. The video, directed by Jeff O’neal, helps bring that story to life through creative use of isolation and distortion, with a spotlight on Hall allowing the emotional content of his words shine through. It’s another truly intriguing piece from the New York based collective, and has me very excited for their debut “We Died In 2012: This Is Hell,” set to release Friday, June 7th of this year.

Words from Jordan Clark himself:

As it stands, We Died In 2012: This Is Hell serves an open-letter to the internet set to release Friday, June 7th. “Something To Tell You” is 2012 Bid Adieu’s third single off their debut album. Sung by Gray Hall, “Something To Tell You” is a conversation with someone who the singer no longer has a relationship with. Frustrated and seeking answers that he is not receiving, the singer ultimately knows that he’ll have to leave the situation (“I’ll move to a city”). While 2012 Bid Adieu’s album begins with a more generic look at escapism in the internet-age, "Something To Tell You," the final song on the album, looks at the singer’s own struggles with escapism.


Obvious Creature - Hiding (Video by: Lobo Incognito)

Gerard Marcus

Through all the histories I’ve read in my short time here on earth, I've learned that hiding has been a crucial elements of human survival. Hiding from danger, hiding from the truth, hiding who one really is–it’s a skillset one develops in order to protect or withhold one's personal world from outside influences. As important as hiding has been in the past, it's interesting to think about the modern-day climate of shared information where everything you do is recorded. Nowadays, where can you truly hide? Artist Lobo Incognito takes on this question his video for Obvious Creature’s track “Hiding.”

The video is a mixed collage of found-footage and hand-shot imagery exploring the idea of where we go when we hide. Some of the imagery seems almost voyeuristically intimate, while at other times it is distant and cold. It's the balance of these contrasting elements that Incognito nails beautifully in this video, perfectly capturing the tension of hiding in a modern world where nothing is really secret. Images distort, repeat, and cut to the point where they only fly past as reference. Color change to impossible hues. And digitally-constructed images bend around the analog. Nothing seems stable, and it feels like at any moment all the secrets held within the video will be revealed–but it never happens. Incognito is able to hold it all together with a strong sense of style and aesthetic, teasing at a digital realm where all secrets lie. The video's warped digital style, paired with the chill jazz stylings of the Obvious Creature’s track, creates a dueling experience that breezes through subliminal messages and shows us the reality that today, we all hide in plain sight.

PREMIERE: Walktell - Nonsense

Laura Kerry

Jake Wachtel’s home, he says, is The Open Road. In this spirit, he has adopted the word “walk” in his stage name and many of the sounds he has encountered on his travels into his music. As Walktell, the artist plays kaleidoscopic psych pop that incorporates a wide array of instruments familiar and unfamiliar to most in a Western audience: ukulele, mandolin, sarangi, hulusi, tro, sueng, baglamas, and gunbri, to name a few.

If that list of instruments has left you feeling a little disoriented, you’re now in the right frame of mind to watch Walktell’s new video for his song “Nonsense.” Written in Mumbai and shot in Guangzhou, China, it illustrates the feeling of trying to process the volume of people in the foreign cities around him. Made up of one continuous, lo-fi shot, the video places the viewer in the perspective of the artist as he walks through the masses of commuters in the 14-million-person city. Wachtel’s face dips in and out of the frame, singing listlessly as forges on; the camera pans dizzyingly; and unsuspecting strangers dodge the camera and the tall, curly-haired American man headed their way.

Also disorienting is the Walktell’s version of a lyric video. Though it includes all the lyrics in the right order and timing, the words do more to confuse than guide. This partially results from the words themselves, whose chorus—”Is there any value to nonsense / I couldn't float a flock of fidgeting fibers / But I'll try to assign meaning once again”—might be the most comprehensible string in a song that take great pleasure in playing with the sounds of syllables (“irascible bullies bellowing,” “I can’t keep my cortex courting lies”). The text itself doesn’t help, though; highly stylized in translucent neon, its Ts curl into Bs in lines that dart out of order across the screen. A song about the futility of discovering meaning, “Nonsense” and its video are delightfully bewildering. As Walktell would probably agree, though, there’s joy in the journey.

PREMIERE: Edmondson - Turnings

Laura Kerry

The band Edmondson is actually two Edmondsons—brothers Jack and Robert who come from Hollywood, Florida and now split their time as musicians between Gainesville and Sacramento, California. On their new single, “Turnings,” their familial ease and sentiment is evident. Picking up the theme that emerges in the title of their forthcoming album, Strange Durations, due out in May, and their first single, “Meanwhile,” the brothers lead us through a reflective meditation on time. “The last time we drove here was when we were kids,” they sing in a smooth, slow melody whose lines bleed over into the next. It’s a nostalgic observation only siblings can share, a dimension that makes a simple line rich. Coming full circle, they repeat “Everything is turning” at the beginning and end of the song—a comment, it seems, about the immovable forward motion of time.

In their short existence, Edmondson have already proven themselves a band that considers every layer of their music, and in “Turnings,” they continue that streak by perfectly marrying form and content. The song begins with a piano line that ascends and descends with light urgency. As drums, bass, and a meandering guitar enter, the piano continues its consistent movement up and down, until the song enacts its title by turning at the halfway point in an instrumental swell. Then, after a second refrain, the song turns again, this time into a two-minute segment of smoky jazz piano.

“Turnings” also performs another change of course, from the nostalgic psychedelic–rock leanings of their other single, “Meanwhile,” to a more progressive-rock feel, but each song is also entirely original and eludes any conclusive attempt at classification. Signaling another promise of what’s to come on Edmonson’s debut, “Turnings” provides plenty of food for thought to sustain us with until May.

REVIEW: Cassandra Jenkins - Play Till You Win

Laura Kerry

“We were singing along / To an old familiar song / When she came waltzing through the door,” sings Cassandra Jenkins on “Tennessee Waltz.” Crooned over a pedal steel sound and a simple, guitar-led chord progression, the song tells a story of love lost to another in a style that borrows heavily from country. It sounds familiar, like an old Americana song that has burrowed deep in the collective consciousness, but as the other tracks on Play Till You Win waltz in, they begin to reflect uncannily on each other. Jenkins’ full-length debut is a balance of old and new—country, indie, and dream pop—so delicate and clever that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

Leading the album through this balance are Jenkins’ beautiful and versatile vocals that move through subtle variations on vulnerable (“Shame”), haunting (“Red Lips”), soft (“Hotel Lullaby”), and touches of twang (“Candy Crane”). She has a voice that, like Angel Olsen or Beach House’s Victoria Legrand, can command with quietness. Even as her it dances with cinematic strings, jazzy horns, and wobbly synths, Jenkins’ voice remains in the foreground, ethereal but strong.

For the 11 tracks on Play Till You Win, though, Jenkins credits 21 different people with contributions, and the scale of the effort shows. Assimilating the many instruments used throughout the album into her warm, dreamy sound, the artist plays with a mixture of analog and digital, classic and new. The first half of the album leans old, favoring sparser rock instrumentation in tones and arrangements that establish Jenkins’ version of country, but “Tennessee Waltz,” “Jan Lee Jansen,” “Shame,” and especially “Candy Crane” are not so straightforward; all contain hints of strings or synths that lift them from the earthly genre to the more otherworldly realm of synth and chamber pop.

For the most part, the second half of the album emphasizes that gesture. Synths step further into the mix in “Disappearing” and “Hondas Well,” and in “Hotel Lullaby,” woozy, carnival-like keys lead a dizzyingly good art-pop track. And it is dizzying; as in the rest of the album, it’s hard to know exactly where you are, both sonically and in the narrative of the song. While tracks like “Tennessee Waltz” tend towards understandable narratives, others dip in and out of concrete language and metaphor. In “Hotel Lullaby,” Jenkins establishes a clear image of a hotel room in which someone lies next to her. But the song reveals a dream world on top of the one in the room: “You are nothing but waves / And I break,” she sings.

As with Jenkins’ voice, her writing is simple and powerful enough to carry the listener through any turns. We follow through musings on death in “Jan Lee Jansen,” candy and toys on “Candy Crane,” the psychedelic swell in “Hondas Well,” the heartbreak of failing to see Halley’s comet, and even through the inclusion of charming voicemail from an old man named Richard. And like the impulse in the face of the arcade claw machine in “Candy Crane,” from which Jenkins gets her album title, the only thing to do once you reach the end of Play Till You Win is to try it again.