A regular in the San Francisco rock scene for two decades, Michael Shaw is now taking a distinct step forward for himself as a solo artist, following years of writing and playing music in bands like Petrol and the Aktion. Under the name An Intimate Evening With Michael Shaw, he will release his debut LP This Is It., a collection of tunes that tips its cap to the legacy of groundwork artists such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys. The music of the former plays a particularly strong role in This Is It.‘s lead number, “Floating Away”, which derives its catchiness from smartly layered vocal harmonies.
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Just but a few weeks ago, PopMatters premiered the new video by the Canadian-born, California-based musician Lila Rose, “World on Fire”. Now that those few weeks have past, the day has come for the release of the album which hosts that song, WE.ANIMALS. This dark collection of tunes pulsates with primal energy, which forms a striking juxtaposition to Rose’s voice, which is often manipulated to echo widely against the music that surrounds it. This effect is not unlike what artist like Imogen Heap have done with records like Sparks.
From boot-stomping rock ‘n’ roll (“Tracking”) to brooding electronics (“World on Fire”) to acoustic reveries (“Stars”), WE.ANIMALS. spans a gamut of sonic textures, yet it remains grounded in Rose’s specific vision for the album. For more on that, read her detailed explanation below.
One obvious question arises when hearing a name like Jukestone Paradise, the new LP by the Brooklyn funk/soul outfit Pimps of Joytime: “What is a ‘jukestone paradise’, anyhow?” As frontman Brian J told L4LM, it’s “It’s kind of like a science fiction kind of place that I created in my mind.” Although the album may have begun in the mind, now that it’s finished and ready for the world to hear—which you can do below—the immediate impression of this eminently danceable music is that it’s visceral in all of the best ways possible. Grooves like these by their nature get the feet moving, and the convivial atmosphere of the band itself only adds to this. That’s not to say the cerebral has entirely left the building, however; as the guitar chops on tracks like “Heart is Wild” evince, these folks know a thing or two on the technical end as well. Simply put, this is party music that knows how to appeal to both the head and the heart.
Country Sleep, the debut full-length by Night Beds, was one of the under-the-radar stunners of 2013, a collection of ten sorrow-drenched tunes that showcase frontman Winston Yellen’s incredible voice. However, in contrast to the folk and country leanings of that LP, “Me, Liquor, & God”, a track dropped by Night Beds last December, reveals a new side to Yellen’s songwriting, one that brings electronics to the fore.
The same holds true for the just-released tune “Tide Teeth”, which finds Yellen’s voice soaring powerfully over layers of synths. When the beat kicks in halfway through the song, things get amped up to an even greater intensity. “Tide Teeth”‘s enveloping nocturnal ambiance bodes quite well for the next Night Beds release.
In case the title doesn’t make it a dead giveaway, Miskatonic Graffiti, the newest LP by the neo-classic rock outfit Casablanca, is a concept album. Not only that, the band describes it as “Ziggy Stardust meets H.P. Lovecraft in Twin Peaks.” If one is expecting grandiloquent, noodly prog, she would be well within reason; however, one spin of the album cut “My Shadow Out of Time” will dispel any such notion. Casablanca’s mindset on Miskatonic Graffiti is indeed cosmic, but their musical tastes are far more visceral than cerebral. Melding together the influences of ‘70s classic rock and ‘80s heavy metal, the group crafts a blissfully retro rocker in “My Shadow Out of Time”, with an energy to match the eccentric vision of Miskatonic Graffiti.