PREMIERE

PREMIERE

Small Forward - Kind of Funny

Jordan Feinstein

“Kind of Funny,” the new bedroom pop single by L.A.-based Small Forward, is accurately named. It’s kind of a funny track. The audio landscape is cozy, a warm stream of guitars and smooth vocals, picking up only a little speed and turbulence as it builds towards the end. But this placid journey seems to bother the lead singers, who perform together as a single narrator.

“Always in the right place from the very start, there’s not a lot of things that I did to play my part” the song opens. This is a song about agency, and it feels weird to them how little they perceive having over their own life’s (albeit “right”) direction. While there’s an ambiguously troubled relationship with an even more ambiguous “you” throughout the song, this lyrical thread might remove more focus than it adds useful context. This is a song about their entire life’s experience, and the weird malaise that comes with not making enough active decisions in it. The song’s structure is nicely connected to its lyrics, taking a pretty break after “finally, finally, I’ll fall right back into place.” From there it builds into a slightly more dramatic ending, taking trips slightly outside of their comfort zone. But they don’t seem too concerned, and the song doesn’t sound it either. They’ll end up right where they’re supposed to be yet again. They even seem to rely on it.

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Monkeybars - Practical Suede

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Gerard Marcus

Synth pop can set you in a dream, suspending you in a brief, hazy reality. Sometimes this is a place of relaxation, and sometimes the lush synths and driving grooves propel your feet off the ground and your fist into the air as you jump along in a state of disoriented bliss. Or maybe that's just me?

"Practical Suede" is right at the center of this synth pop dream space, balancing themes of patience, doubt, and life's most overwhelming experiences with a groove heavy enough to push you through it all. The brainchild of songwriter Eli Aleinkoff, Monkeybars features a cadre of talented artists, including Sahil Ansari on drums and production, James Wyatt on guitar, Peter Wagner on bass, and Aleinkoff himself on vocals, synths, and soprano sax. The song melds synth with creative horn production, stretching traditional synth pop sounds in a fresh direction. And Aleinkoff takes the brass a step further with a blistering soprano sax solo, doing a great job of shredding it while not distracting from the track's groovy vibe. "Practical Suede" makes for a great ending to 2018, and has me looking forward to what Monkeybars have in store for the new year.

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TOLEDO - Bath

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Jordan Feinstein

“I take a bath and a bottle of addys” TOLDEO sings in their new single, “Bath.” The track is a dream-pop bath and bottle of adderall, suppressing its inner turmoil beneath mellow sounds and major chords, an aural approximation of the pill’s effect. Even though the singer has been medicated since nine years old for anger issues, he still doesn’t “find the peace of mind or the answers.” But he’s certainly figured out at least one way of coping, and like those warm baths, this song’s wash of sound might just be another.

PREMIERE

Reighnbeau - Slight EP

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Gerard Marcus

REIGHNBEAU is a New Mexico based musical project headed by artist Bryce Hample. His latest EP ‘Slight’ shifts and morphs like sand in a desert, flowing through dream pop, folk, glitch, and synth soundscapes. Colleen Johnson, Madeline Johnston, and Bryce Hample’s vocals fill six surreal tracks that explore love, loss, and the hypnotic nature of rhythm.

PREMIERE

David Vassalotti - The Light

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By Jordan Feinstein

David Vassalotti’s “The Light” is a song about the very specific moment when someone has messed up and is terrified that it will end their relationship. But instead of anger at his partner, David experiences relief that everything is out in the open now, and he can now exist with and see them honestly.

“The Light” is filled with beautiful lyrics and sounds, both taking a quasi-psychedelic approach to its themes. “There’s no beast left to fear behind the door… it’s good to see you here // it’s good to be with you here // why did it take so long to turn a light on?” Describing this unknown as a feared beast behind a door is a beautiful and fantastical metaphor. They entered the room, turned the light on, and instead of a monster, they’ve only found themselves together in a new, well-lit room. This warmth and comfort is paralleled in the aural landscape of the song: a warm bath of guitar, drums, and gentle singing. A repeated “boom” sounds throughout the track, perhaps meant to be the revelation in the relationship. But it’s non-threatening, mixed softly under the calming guitars and drums–an explosion that wasn’t. The song ends with a psychedelic journey of sounds as they “go out the back door,” awash with potential and optimism for what comes next

“The Light” is a beautiful take on a moment that could have been terrifying, but instead turned mesmerizing and exciting. It’s a complex and mature conclusion from a songwriter comfortable exploring themselves honestly, and more than capable of translating it into a gorgeous song. It’s no easy feat, and makes me nothing but excited to hear what David Vassalotti does next.

“The Light” is from David Vassalotti’s new album Guitar Dream out on 1/25/19 and up for pre-order here.