Paige Calico‘s “The Hard Way” is pristinely loopy Americana, a gorgeous arrangement warped just a touch by a layer of sand and dirt. Calico sings dreamily over lolling guitar and choral backdrop, a touch of chamber pop influencing the song’s hazy make. Given that it’s a song about the strength and enigmatic nature of love, its semi-lucid atmosphere fits it like a glove.
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LOVECAT‘s “Song For Eternity” is a playful, bouncy synthpop piece, a strange choice given that its subject matter is the eternally masochistic struggle to make good art. In some sense, though, this is a fair approach — the best art often sounds effortless, and couching the realities of creation in springy synths and dance-ready drums bridges that divide between appearance and what lies beneath. It’s a line LOVECAT toes pretty frequently — his subject matter often dour, its instrumental bedding often light. If “Song For Eternity” shows anything, it’s that this duality can still sound cohesive.
“You make me want to dance to the music,” sings Robert Finley, and it’s pretty hard not to sympathize. “You Make Me Want to Dance” is a slab of dirty, sexy soul, gyrating around a firm funk backbeat in much the same way as most pairs of hips exposed to this song might. Finley’s Southern croon soars above sensual guitar and horns, reveling in the freedom the music provides and exploring the crannies of the instrumentation. If you need something to get you moving this Monday, this should be the ticket.
Sav Buist of the Accidentals has very nearly famously described North Carolinan piano-rock artist Ian Ridenhour’s music as “like Jack White and Ben Folds had a baby”. Humor and spectacle aside, the reason why this endorsement has rung like a bell as much as it has for the bespectacled, Asheville-centered rising alt. rocker is because it’s true. There is a certain melodic flair to the man’s music that comes across as very pop-sensible, but without sacrificing any of the darkly, sometimes Burtonesque gloom of his overall musical persona. Even still, there’s a warmth and a kindness, there, too, and it all blends together to develop what is easily one of the more diverse piano-centered rock acts of modern times to uncover.
It may still be August, but Darkher‘s “Moths” is ice-cold. It’s frigidly minimalist in an oppressive way, lilting acoustic guitar growing into a monstrosity of down-tuned guitars and crushing cymbals. It starts pitched downwards and slides even further, gothic folk that plunges headlong into doom territory. Darkher does a lot with a little—there’s not much more here than a couple guitars, some strings, and soft drums—and the result is magnificent in its bleakness.