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Electronic

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VIDEO: “It’s All Right” Finds DIY-er Tatiana Hazel Working on Herself

Photo Credit: Yanin Gzv

L.A.-based Chicago native Tatiana Hazel’s latest track/video, <i>It’s All Right</i>, is a preview of her latest EP (after 2020’s <i>Duality</i> EP), and it’s difficult not to enjoy the track’s laid-back danceable groove and breezy vocals, while also being touched by it’s casual honesty about facing mental health challenges.

At points throughout the song, Hazel delivers some sobering lines about facing ones mental illness as well as general disillusion with “truths” presented by the larger world: “maybe i should take a good look at myself / and mirror check on mental health / couldn’t be clearer that I’m not doing well, darlin’ / and maybe everything you told us was a lie / maybe all we gotta do is pass the time / maybe everything is gonna be all right.”

Ultimately, though, the chorus takes solace in the idea that, as crazy as this life can be, having someone who loves you along for the ride can make things somewhat more tolerable: “It’s all right / It’s all right / as long as I know that you love me / as long as you are thinking of me.”

Listeners will find Tatiana Hazel’s pleasingly unaffected voice similar to other electropop chanteuses such as Amelia Meath of Sylvan Esso. However, if one looks past her admittedly polished, Top 40-ready public image, one will quickly realize that, with Hazel not just singing, but writing, producing, recording, mixing, and mastering all but one of her EPs tracks herself, she’s a one-person indie pop dynamo well on her way to bigger, better things. Gabe Hernandez

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VIDEO: Ah-Mer-Ah-Su Drops “No One,” 2021’s Summer Empowerment Anthem

Self-described L.A.-based “poptronic princess” Ah-Mer-Ah-Su has released “No One,” a track from her upcoming Hopefully Limitless EP, due late this summer, along with an accompanying music video filmed in collaboration with filmmaker Roge Stack. Judging by the track’s life-affirming lyrics and club-ready sound, she may have released this summer’s first big Alt Pop empowerment anthem.

The track starts with a tropically psychedelic keyboard flourish, before Ah-Mer-Ah-Su’s effervescent, nimble lead vocal enters in full, buoyed by impactful, elastic bass and fizzy but hard-hitting electronic drums, making for a formidably danceable rhythm section. Later, saxophone and chorused lead guitar lines deliver a refreshingly non-clichéd dose of carefully-arranged 80s pop bliss.

The lyrics are seemingly self-addressed and allude to the challenges the black trans artist has undoubtably had to face on her career path. With lines like “you dont’ got it easy / you’ve always had to work / for it and so / work it you do,” it’s clear that the challenges, although formidable for Ah-Mer-Ah-Su (the name is a paraphrase of Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun in Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan) have been taken on with the same deftness and grace as her songwriting and vocals.

Overall, “No One” delivers the kind of catchy vibes that fans of Laura Mvula, Robyn, and Whitney Houston will enjoy, while also delivering a glimpse of an artist on the rise. Gabe Hernandez

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Nation of Language speak in tongues on new single

On their debut single released in 2016, Nation of Language asked “What Does the Normal Man Feel?” and it’s a question that's become all the more relevant in the five years since, given, you know, the five years since--five years which has made our brains hurt a lot. But “normal” itself doesn’t feel so desirable anymore anyways (if it ever did) and N.O.L. already understood this when they distanced themselves from normal man feelings (“free from it...can not find it in myself”) backing up this sentiment with a neo-Devo meets Human League meets Howard Jones sound, a sound harking back to men (and women) who didn’t exactly scream normalcy either back in the day despite penning many hits between them. 

In the interim Nation of Language put out a bunch of singles and one full length called Introduction, Presence, exploring a range of musical tributaries without deviating too far from their core sound. For instance, just listen to the band's stark coldwave cover of “Gouge Away” which evokes the Pixies’ extreme dynamics but in a whole different fashion.

On their most recent single, N.O.L. acknowledge how we’ve crossed “Across That Fine Line”  (see the video up top) and go full-on Motorik throb a la Krautrock/Kraftwerk which fits perfect with the notion of being in transit/transition from one state-of-being to another whether literally or figuratively or due to falling in L-U-V or whatever. And they manage to work in an anthemic chorus which is not really native to Krautrock so it makes for a cool push/pull dynamic which even comes across in the song’s opening lines, alternately comforting and disconcerting:

“Reach out, call my name
Whenever you want
Faced with the final convulsions
Contorting my tongue”

 

It’ll be interesting to hear what other new accents and dialects Nation of Language work into the mix on their next full-length, A Way Forward, scheduled for towards the end of this year, no doubt to be made available at your local record and tape outlet. (Jason Lee)

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VIDEO: “Am I Alive” Finds MINDY Taking On A Tough Crowd

Electropop singer, songwriter & producer MINDY (Mindy Song) has released “Am I Alive,” the first single/video for her upcoming debut solo EP Version 1.27, premiering July 23. The new track/video provide an intriguing glimpse into MINDY’s sonic and visual world.

“Am I Alive” begins with a grungy bass/drum intro before MINDY’s breathy but confident lead vocal takes the stage. When the chorus crashes in shortly after, it’s with a flood of 90s electronica/dance sounds, but without any of the cliches that those sounds typically bear. Overall, the track is a full-bodied electro pop banger, but with lyrics that suggest there’s an perceptive artistic soul behind things.

Meanwhile the accompanying music video (directed by Adrian Pruett) adds precious context to MINDY’s enigmatic lyrics, cutting between the singer performing her heart out for the jaded and image-obsessed denizens of a blue-lit nightclub, and striking scenes of self-harm. It’s a delicate balance to keep things both serious and entertaining, but it works.

About the video, MINDY states in a press release: “‘Am I Alive’ is about my struggles with violence and the relentless cycles of murder, pain, and healing. Director Adrian Pruett and I turned my internal agony into a performance in which we ask, ‘what does it mean to be alive and engage with others when so much suffering continues right before our eyes?’” Certainly, a prerequisite for being alive is being moved by MINDY’s well-crafted, emotive new track. Gabe Hernandez

 

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VIDEO: “Half Life” Finds appleby Brimming With Life

Photo Credit: Annie Rhodes Kane

L.A.-via-Chicago artist appleby spent much of his early childhood competing on the international tennis circuit, before reassessing his priorities as a young adult, shifting to pursue his music-making ambitions. Judging by his latest single, the soothing yet cathartic “Half Life,” and its accompanying zen-like poolside video, it seems his dedication to honing his craft hasn’t wavered a bit.

The track begins with a simple repeated electric piano note, setting the stage for appleby’s soulful harmonized vocals to enter shortly thereafter, followed by warm and full-bodied piano chords, all of which are later joined by a skittering electro-acoustic beat that propels the track just enough to inject it with energy without shattering the overall life-affirming vibe. The track gets fuller throughout, but it never gets too busy. And all the while, appleby’s vocals—which brings to mind other alt-soul auteurs such as Moses Sumney—keep things comforting and uplifting until the track gently crescendos, his vocal finally fragmenting like the beat.  Perhaps it’s a fracturing or, possibly, a transcendence? 

There’s hardly any help in his lyrics, which find him in a state of limbo: “I’ve been stuck in this half-life full time / and I don’t know what to do.” In press releases, though, appleby describes the genesis of his latest track as “…organic and borderline magical…” If that’s the case, here’s hoping he indulges his taste for both on his upcoming releases. Gabe Hernandez

 

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