Jazz

VIDEO PREMIERE

2012 BID ADIEU - SOMETHING TO TELL YOU

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.

VIDEO PREMIERE

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.

REVIEW: Smalltalker - Talk Small

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Will Shenton

Smalltalker's latest EP, Talk Small, opens with a quiet, distant-sounding jazz-hop groove, casually noodling along and seeming to promise a more demure sound than their previous work. But fifteen seconds in, the track comes into focus with a few bold instrumental hits, fleshing out the atmospheric haze before launching into the lush harmonies of "Wildcard." It's a playful tease to kick off the record, and one that captures the band's easy confidence.

One of the first things you'll notice about Smalltalker is the comparatively huge roster of musicians—ten in the regular lineup, including ThrdCoast's very own Gerard Marcus on trumpet—that gives their smooth, jazzy soul its size. But they don't just rely on walls of sound to bowl you over; every song is meticulously crafted, giving each instrument its own time to shine. The crisp production makes it easy to pick out the constituent parts, leaving the listener plenty to discover on subsequent listens.

Talk Small may be a relatively short EP, but it feels like a fully-formed album. We ride from the wistful melodies of "One Too" to the energetic, danceable highs of "To Choose," before closing with the quiet reminiscences of "Sorry." And with such a density of instrumental and vocal elements throughout, Smalltalker seems to have crammed more into its twenty-minute runtime than most bands do with twice that. It's an impressive feat, and one that will leave you satisfied even as you pine for their full-length debut.

REVIEW: Kai Basanta - earth

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Will Shenton

As we noted in his recent video premiere, Kai Basanta has a penchant for blurring the line between digital and organic. Every facet of his new EP, earth, seems determined to draw both elements into the liminal space that divides them, blending jazz instrumentals with synths, samples, and drum-machine beats. The result is an artful take on jazz-hop that feels more intentional and dynamic than the bounds of the genre usually dictate.

From the summery grooves of "sunlight" to the off-kilter mashup of a Kendrick Lamar interview and an Olivier Messiaen quartet that is "love," earth isn't afraid to show off Basanta's impressive range. The album feels like an ascent into unrestrained creativity, as we move from more recognizable tropes into the simmering soundscape of "shadows," its beats resolving slowly out of an ominous ether before closing the EP.

At first glance, earth feels familiar, and perhaps that's the point. It's only by delving deeper into its textures and homages that we can see Basanta's sound evolve right before our eyes.

REVIEW: Michael Rocketship - Meaning of Love

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Phillipe Roberts

Glitzed up by the perfectionist grind of working in a professional studio, the final product of a record—that taut slab of vinyl slapped onto your turntable and the compressed stream of compacted waveforms meant to serve as its digital analogue—is often a carefully constructed method of escaping the agonizing process by which it was created. The endless hours of re-amping previously recorded parts, the ravenous EQ-ing of each sound nugget, the paranoid adding and subtracting of new elements, hoping to stumble on that bulletproof arrangement that will make the idea in your head understandable to strange ears. Any artist who’s been through that ringer of self-doubt knows it all too well.

For Michael Coleman, recording under his Michael Rocketship moniker for Meaning of Love, the answer was to set up a kind of improvisational workshop. Waiting til the end to edit the results and even then spending just a week mixing it down, Coleman/Rocketship flexed his abstract pop chops on a month-long binge of recording one song a day, tuning his ear to whatever melodies and lyrics happened upon him in the moment. The result is a record where process and product merge seamlessly, slathered in a healthy dose of humid, tape-hiss fizz. From start to finish, Meaning of Love is an escapist fantasy come to life, a celebration of freedom within self-imposed confines.

Just as dreams depend on waking life for fuel, fantasy requires context, and Coleman goes right to work setting the scene with opener “Not Easy.” From within a tangled web of skuzzy percussion, Coleman rants in sing-song. His voice is almost completely unintelligible, sloshing about with distorted echoes, coming up for air only to howl that “It’s not easy / Sometimes...” before the whole affair implodes in a glitch-bomb of noise. Followup track “Phone” sees him coming into focus a bit more, riding a triplet drum machine pulse as synths warble and detune overhead. The voice is a bit clearer, but the overall effect is of a cartoon soundtrack: setting a scene of disorientation without packing too much of a narrative punch.

From here, the record erupts into a string of blissful pop tracks, and it’s in these moments of unabashed warmth that Coleman really comes out swinging. “Be A Waiter” is pure tropical schmaltz, a confessional tune about skipping town for the simpler life, best distilled in the adorably dark lyric “I want to be the one who ghosts.” Noise-pop interlude “Make Me Melting” briefly stares into an abyss of spiky guitar arpeggiations, haunting organ and propulsive drums, but then it’s back on track with “Days Gone By.” Coleman finds something truly special here, playing with some classic Beach Boys harmonies and a lumbering backbeat to conjure up a nostalgic, psychedelic shore cruise that never sounds overworked. Indeed, for all of his abstractions, his quirky takes on established forms (like the lopsided yet ethereal country stomp of “There’s A Place”) are where he connects most successfully. When he sings about escaping to heaven—in his words, “A great place to sleep / So I can rest there for eternity”—and then launches into an utterly delicious slide guitar solo, it feels like he’s halfway there already.

His first full length as Michael Rocketship after a string of EPs, Meaning of Love balances Michael Coleman’s heady experimentalism with a clear love of bold songcraft. And though he builds up a wealth of escape scenarios over the course of the record, even up to curtain-call closer “I Know,” Coleman can’t help but sound optimistic that this newest direction is the right path for him. If we believe his narration on “Eastern Seaboard,” it might be the only one left. “The place I came from / Well, it’s gone,” he sings, harmonizing over chirping guitars, “We’ve come so far / So far to go / I can do more.” Given that his pace of work seems to be kicking into frantic overdrive, Michael Rocketship might well make good on that promise before you have time to finish spinning this one.