TRACK | Possible Humans – The Thumps

5/5 golden merles

The track for me represents music with a broader capacity than is normally assigned or attributed to it, one that is attempting to more properly incorporate doubt or uncertainty into the model.

Lyrically there is a reassessment at work and at the time of delivery we’re privy to some middle-stage in the process of reinvention.

Meanwhile the musical accompaniment is the energy embodied which acts as a catalyst for this effort, itself a spiraling, mechanical whirl.

The persistence fuels the framework, and is, through its action, a kind of enriched ground of possibility for the vocal performance to grow out of. Quietly at first, so as to not draw too much attention. And then later with determination.

It all locks together nicely in the tenuous/tempestuous process. Order the album here.

TRACK | Andy Shauf – The Magician

5/5 golden merles

I first heard about The Party as a Katie Von Schleicher recommendation. And may really prefer this live version from a tiny desk concert. So maybe check that version out as well if you feel the studio lacks a little bit of warmth.

But in either incarnation, the melody is a supreme and graceful thing. Full of delicate and elaborate instrumentation, it is a devastating and compelling opener to a great album.

TRACK | Aoife Nessa Frances – Here in the Dark

5/5 golden merles

As a rule I don’t trust any song over 3 minutes. There are exceptions, many of them, but generally songwriters just don’t have that much to say on any given subject. Or at least not nearly as much as they think that they do… If I wanted to hear the chorus four times I’d loop the track.

But in this case, with Aoife Nessa France’s “Here in the Dark” running to 5:14, every second feels earned.

It works in concert with the void it fills, not so much against it. Minimal instrumentation is set to the task of accompanying the singer-songwriter substratum. Glacial and understated, spirals of synth and strings fittingly accent the core elements of voice and guitar.

The song/record has a different scope and pacing to most material in the genre, but without sacrificing some underlying mechanics or the appropriate measure of attention to detail. I don’t just mean BPM, there’s a kind of assurance to it. It doesn’t take the audience for granted but also does without pandering or indulging. There’s a recurring and really well realized construction.

TRACK | Cool Ghouls – Gord’s Horse

5/5 golden merles

I am overcommitted to tasks and have not yet listened to 2021’s At George’s Zoo. But one thing I do know is that 2017’s tour tape from Cool Ghouls, Gord’s Horse, is strong stuff, wistful and warped.

Pleasing and affably askance, the title track ambles forward in a timeless sort of tread. There is a parity and tension present in the unfolding, part Americana in its pacing and instrumentation and part freak-folk in its poetic insinuations.

There is created here a well-worn path that somehow remains renewably enthralling due to the gently obscurantist phrasing and the overall loveliness of the wave-like, enveloping backing vocals. It’s an enduring and dreamy track.

TRACK | The Archaeas – Absent Mind

5/5 golden merles

The Archaeas “Absent Mind” is a dose of fiery garage-punk imported from Louisville, Kentucky. Recent P&P favorites Wombo are also from the neighborhood. But the ultimate embodiment of human evil Mitch McConnell also resides there, lest you think it strictly heavenly indie rock turf.

The track has all the peculiarities of elegantly controlled chaos and strikes a marked balance between its upfront, surgical pop characteristics and the smoldering, ruptured punk elements.

In the series of humiliations and degradations known as ‘the world,’ this can be a difficult balance to strike, what with all the distractions and immiserations afoot. But, considered or intuited, it has been achieved; the whole s/t album is great. With respect to Style vs Substance, Content vs Form, Design vs Function, Et Cetera vs Etc, there is enough tasteful thrash and tarnish around the imminently coherent core for you to invest your credulity in.

As the empire collapses, turns its exported brutality inward, and quality of life decline for us all, we’ll surely turn on one another instead of our shared oppressors. But one thing I hope we can all agree upon is that Louisville is making some sick tunes and that we’re both proud of and thankful for them.

TRACK | Saralee – The Motion

5/5 golden merles

Saralee’s “The Motion” has some immediate, panoramic, and vivid language. It is for me instantly displacing of my own or transportive to its own universe.

The lo-fi demo-like quality of the seemingly live recorded accompaniment provides both urgency and credulity as the track leans into the gutsy performance. The variable ranges of emphasis on the lead vocals conduct well the underlying unrest.

A small memory or anecdote, well detailed, acts here as an entryway into a great expanse of wondering, empathy and the unknowable. It is immensely effective storytelling.

So much of pop music is a kind of shoddy mesmeric and definitive declaration, an unconvincingly detailed and performative edict of eternal truths: hollowness and posturing. So, instead, there is a striking and surpassing power in embracing doubt and continuing to operate from a position of uncertainty. I have a great admiration for songs that end in inconclusive proclamations.

TRACK | thanks for coming – a character you can relate to

5/5 golden merles

Making music allows for a dialogue with culture instead of simply being dictated to. I think that Rachel/thanks for coming is maybe working within some form of this intention. They create adroitly constructed narratives with cunning delineations. They seem to relish the precision of fully conveying a convincing lowdown.

That’s not nothin.

They can make you out to be some kind of evil / They will convince you when they show you your own demons

There’s a fundamentally gripping and illuminating character to these expressions. It is material full of musing and philosophical brooding which provide an imaginative advising on the more or less ineffable. It’s a highly recommended catalog if you like lo-fi pop music with a narrator’s palatial scope, inventive phrasing, and a lack of patronizing oversimplification.

TRACK | The Rangoons – Two Minds

5/5 golden merles

The Rangoons’ “Two Minds” is an agreeably caustic mélange of noise. A phrase I promise I didn’t use a thesaurus to locate.

It was written peripatetically, on a walk to retrieve $40 worth of burgers (2) in the night. A rate hike commensurate with the corporate greed that cheapens and saddens all of our lives.

Music is innately funny.

What if I were to sing my woes in rhyming couplets to an arbitrary melody?

Music is innately serious.

I have honed my woes into a format most easily consumable by others in the hopes of being understood, of being tolerable while engaged in the act of conveying, and to attempt to whine in a manner that is pleasing, maybe even appealing. It’s an attempt to make entertainment of unease, or anyway of a feeling. It is a reasonable concession when confronted with the void and a limited time in which to be known.

The Rangoons understand the ridiculousness and seriousness involved in this dichotomy. And that this careening, combustible duality can be calibrated and pretty well conveyed.

TRACK | Happy Jawbone Family Band – fireflies make out of dust (take one)

5/5 golden merles

Sister project to Csehak’s The Lentils, Happy Jawbone Family Band is somehow differentiated, possibly meaningfully, possibly arbitrarily. There are some things man was not meant to know.

What is known is that it is good. What I like about this song is that it is immense, worrisomely so, and floating, but may have also been recorded anywhere that is partially submerged underwater.

It has various properties of shock and shiver in the guitar tones bounding off the snare. The dual vocals overlay and waver, and make a serrated cut for ease of accessing the heart of the track. That all comes together in a great and wondrous haze of waxy and metallic tones. Bigger than it has any right to be.

TRACK | OK Cool – Self-Sow

5/5 golden merles

Chicago’s OK Cool are making ruminative and well crafted hooks, angular and blazing within a shoegaze/bubblegrunge genus.

While lyrically pensive and introspective material, the instrumentation is sheer revelry and admirably honed to a point of exacting precision. There is great density within its melodic ornamentation, and seemingly always another generous layer or accent driving the tracks metering forward.

Sonically rich, there is considerable attention put into the pacing of all the accompanying forms. The vocal effects are an early ghostly clarion, but equally laudable are the vaporous, sophisticated guitar tones phasing in and out of the mix. It is a joyous thing to behold in the headphones.