Ephemeral is a fitting title for the new album by the Minneapolis outfit Umami. Although identifiable pop song structures are featured throughout the LP, the smorgasbord of sounds that Umami brings to the table constantly keep the listener on edge. One idea will suddenly give way to something else entirely without a moment’s notice, foregrounding a psychedelic, more free-form take on synth and electro-pop. Yet for all of the ephemeral moments throughout this Ephemeral LP, there’s a clear core to the songwriting. Contrast is one of the main constants that keeps the experimentation fresh throughout: see the juxtaposition of sharp buzzsaw synths and airy, reverb-laden vocals on “Living in a Nightmare”.
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The bilingual, acoustic guitar-led “Half a Chance” is one of the standout cuts from Healer, the new LP by Alex Cuba, the self-described “Spider Man of Latin music”. Like the rest of the album, “Half a Chance” represents the two different perspectives from which Cuba approaches his songwriting: as a Cuban-born immigrant to Canada, his music reflects where he’s been and where he’s come from. Cuban and Latin influences are prevalent in his music, but so too are pop and singer/songwriter tropes from North America. For “Half a Chance”, Cuba is joined by fellow Canadian Ron Sexsmith, who provides some nice harmony vocals in the chorus.
Featuring an ultra-catchy chorus hook and synths that bring LCD Soundsystem to mind, “Shining Amor” is a capture of the Brooklyn trio Basic Shapes’ sharp pop sensibility and sense of fun. The latter particularly comes out in the new music video to “Shining Armor”, which you can view exclusively below. What began as a tribute to an Azealia Banks music video became something else entirely: something goofy, charming, and well within the spirit of the tune itself.
Having already garnered attention in her native UK with placement on two BBC Radio 2 playlists for her singles “Crash & Burn” and “Elated”, Scarlette recently made a video—which you can watch exclusively below—of her tune “6ft Woman”, a loving tribute to both rock music and cinematic iconography. Essentially, the video is a snazzy collection of opening credit scenes, with all of the cool fonts that one can see on classic film posters.
Not long after she finished recording Miracles, her third LP as Lady Lazarus, Melissa Ann Sweat moved to Joshua Tree, located in the California High Desert. The area’s musical legacy is well documented; musicians such as Gram Parsons took quite a liking to the desert’s dry and seemingly mystical environs. For Sweat, the move to Joshua Tree facilitated the enhancing of her already well established artistic profile. As tunes like the lovely “Train Song” evince, Lady Lazarus’ shift from comparatively lo-fi sounds to more potent balladry, due in part to trading out electronic keyboards for a baby grand piano and the addition of strings, French horn, and flute, has proven a boon to her songwriting process.
You can exclusively watch the “Train Song” video below, which adds to the song’s tender piano chords with visuals of Sweat and her partner holding each other close in the desert.
// Channel Surfing
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