TRACK | Max García Conover – 5 to 4 (ft. paula prieto)

5/5 golden merles

In Max García Conover’s “5 to 4” there is an attempt to reclaim wonder from the pit of kitsch, and dance delicately around that border, lifting. It’s got rare quality and a kind of playful but ruthless cunning that keeps the lines fresh and rewards instead of the normal, standardized route of punishing attention. A novel approach. The EP set is “somewhat inspired by a suitcase full of letters my grandfather wrote to my grandmother in the 1940s,” when she was in a hospital for the consumptive poor and he was a different person.

The EP has a good concept and a better execution, most of the value situated in its coherent perspective and phrasing. The featured track including killer lines like “The endless metal barbed in metal,” and “it came down just like you said it would, five to four against the poor,” landing resoundingly within the rhyming scheme.

And that feels not too distanced from Townes or Woody, far more in line with that school than the modern conception of folk that always seems to diminish in its refinement of style above substance, paralleling our diets and or assorted gods. There is a great rarity with which folk music seems relevant to me, with this calibrated style and substance, feel and fondant. It’s been given such a bad name through regular consumption that it feels such a shock when you do get a dose of the decent.

Found and stolen from the esteemed scouting of Jon Doyle at Everything in Winter EP is $5 on the bandcamp.

TRACK | GZ Grant – Bonds of Love

5/5 golden merles

Whether it’s Rules of Love, Hands of Love, or Bonds of Love, GZ Grant’s new single is in good company examining loves hidden facets and exploring its less celebrated aspects. Full of much aura and ache, it is psych-pop rock which questions the many-splendored thing.

Direct and undiminished lyricism gets enveloped in lo-fi texture, its merits heightened in the haze, while outlining the catch or comeuppance tied to ever being known. The language is borderline eternal pop fare, both classic and slightly alien: terms, conditions, a stage to assuage or embrace your fears.

There’s a lot to admire in the additional experimental and ulterior elements: a lead guitar line that chokes on its own distorted tail, the idiosyncratic hurl and hum of the lead vocal delivery, and the crystal chalice of a synth to help drown the remnants.

There is also an immensely admirable music video accompanying the single offering a rich tapestry of symbols and fine cinematography, depicting well the double-edged sword of it all. Give it a look / What’s the worst that could happen? Sacrifice a few moments of your freedom, youth and fortune to find out.

TRACK | Special Friend – High Tide

5/5 golden merles

“High Tide” is built of sterling garage-pop components and moves assuredly from strength-to-strength, no sequence a weakened, broken, or missing link.

Across the soundscape the fuzz’d bass and rhythm guitar are largely reading as one united instrument, beams of the lead guitar’s higher note hooks punctuating the greater haze. The complimentary backing vocals arise harmonious, steadily elevating the chorus and bridge. The drums guide everything toward its assured, abrupt conclusion.

The song is doing well what it intends to do. If you still maintain the capacity to hear things and earnestly assess them, evenly, I don’t think you can fault its form. There is craft, well realize, and in it some sense of purpose.

TRACK | Jeanines – Where We Go

5/5 golden merles

Jeanines’ 2019 self-titled album is full of killer hooks and excellent melodic structuring. A couple months prior to the pandemic I was fortunate enough to see them rip through a set at one of Brooklyn’s premier indie venues, Wonderville.

Golden, bright and jangly guitar tones consistently drift over some highly refined ruminations. The well crafted bass and drums are immensely complimentary, enrich the melodies and keep everything moving at pace. The songs are in fact refined to the point that no track on the record stretches beyond the 2:34 mark.

It is the output of aficionados, the zealots, the genre purists, and it is I think even more than most records meant to be consumed as part of the whole set or album foremost.

With the deceptive brevity, one track, any really, acts as an entry point that demands the others be likewise appreciated. There isn’t a weak point in the chain.

In its episodic and relative conciseness there is a mechanic here that plays with perception through a more manageable and enforced segmentation (Like happily binging a 12 hour limited series and it appearing less daunting than a single 4 hour film). These are 16 excellent tracks in just over 25 minutes and well worth a visit.

TRACK | Bnny – I’m Just Fine

5/5 golden merles

Coming off of 2021s Everything, Bnny moves from strength to strength with this remarkable single, “I’m Just Fine.

In a few direct lines recounting a brief encounter, swiftly this microcosm extrapolates into wide avenues of longing and of unrealized eventualities. The subtext is immense. This moment, or it’s recollection, acts as a portal to the vast emotional ocean of undercurrent that undergirds our every interaction.

And, yeah, most songs should do this. And most try to, if sort of inadvertently. But rarely do they render this phasing of micro to macro as convincingly, or wed the everyday to eternity in a manner that allows for direct intellectual as well as emotional resonance. Rarely do you feel as though the ground has opened up beneath you. And, better yet, by design.

There is great refinement in the two guitar leads, the quiet chorus of backing vocals that swells late on, and the elegant drumming variance. Where most songs would put the full burden of focus upon one of these individual endearing elements of instrumentation, the glut of quality coalesces here into one hell of a stunning track.