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FRESH CUT: ORNAMENT AND CRIME, "You're A Mess"

photo credit: Lecomoura

 

Just in time for the unofficial end of summer, Poolside producer Alex Kemp and Grizfolk drummer Bill Delia combine as LA-based duo ORNAMENT AND CRIME, and we’ve got the first single from their debut EP, Another Night on The Astral Plane, the laid-back, semi-tropical groove workout “You’re a Mess,” featuring the vocal talents of Virginia Palms.

“You’re a Mess” tumbles from the speakers in a cascade of effortlessly chill bass and drum work, delicate keyboards that seem to evoke the sway of an accordion player at a bistro on the French Riviera, and even the vaguely mystical vibes of a pan flute. All of it combines into a lush, buoyant track, which is only elevated by the mixed male/female unison vocals that sing above it all. As for the lyrics, Bill Delia explains, “Everyone falls for the wrong person once or twice, right? It’s an enjoyable fail, really. This song honors the toxic lovers we all encounter at some point in our lives, the ones we have a blind eye of love for.”

The new EP by ORNAMENT AND CRIME is scheduled for release on October 15th. If the new single is any indication, we could be looking at a belated end to the summer so that this tune has a proper chance to sizzle out of earbuds and speakers across the city. Gabe Hernandez

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VIDEO: On “Habit,” Angelnumber 8 Draws Us Like A Moth To A Flame

photo credit @jeralddjohnson 

 

L.A.-based singer-songwriter Angelnumber 8 today releases “Habit,” the first single from his upcoming project Digital Tribal, along with an accompanying music video, released via CashApp Studios.

The track begins with Angelnumber 8’s crisp, double-tracked vocals accompanied for a couple measures by echoing synth keyboards, until the beat (complete with itchy-sounding snare) enters, alongside delicately arpeggiated, tropical-sounding electric guitar and deep, rounded synth bass. At points, Angelnumber 8’s voice is transformed with clever use of tremolo, lending a hypnotic quality to his voice and blurring the lines between vocal and instrument. When he chooses to bypass the effect, it’s in favor of double-tracking his vocals using the low bass range of his voice, which lends an additional pleasant depth to the soundscape. The track ends just as quickly as it starts, with mischievous vocal hiccups and gentle yelps seeing the drums and bass out until, at last, all that’s left is the electric guitar.

Lyrically, Angelnumber 8 seems to address some unnamed romantic interest in terms of his addiction to them, but also laments their neglect of him in favor of other distractions, including those that earn them money, but not artistic or creative output. “Breathless/I am again,/Like jeans ripped from the hem/Holding on to a thread/Bending,/Twisting,/With limbs,” he sings, describing his strung-out state of mind after bing neglected by the person he’s addressing.

The ingenious music video (directed by the artist and with visual effects by Zach Beech) finds Angelnumber 8 in an idyllic romance with a glitch-ridden, technicolor digital moth. They cavort together in the wilderness, they have dinner at a “fancy” restaurant (although she goes unnoticed, at first, by the waiter), but their time together takes an unfortunate turn toward the morbid, as well as the surreal. The final sequence is startlingly Lynchian in both its banality and its chilling effect. This writer expects bigger and better work to come soon from this artist on the rise. Gabe Hernandez

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FRESH CUTS: On “Goosebumps,” Gregory Uhlmann Stretches Time

photo credit: Jacob Boll

L.A.-based art-folk auteur Gregory Uhlmann (guitarist and vocalist with local act Fell Runner) has today released “Goosebumps,” an atmospheric one-off single—following up on his Neighborhood Watch album of last July—on Topshelf Records.

 

The art-folk track begins humbly with a simple muted acoustic drum fill, announcing the entry of two strummed nylon-string guitars and an hypnotic, elliptic bass line. The atmosphere of the recording is warm and open, quickly inviting the listener into its center.

Uhlmann’s voice is alternately deeply resonant and choir-boy pure, with a bit of breathiness, especially during the chorus, where his voice fades into a deep ocean of reverb on a single syllable. The addition of a gooey, tremoloed synth about halfway through the song changes the flavor but does so tastefully, as does the entrance of plucked instruments, pitched somewhere between mallets and a ticking clock, along with oceanic synth pads that resemble a school of shimmering sea creatures.

By the time the swelling single-note guitar lines double Uhlmann’s vocal melody and a lone, perfectly-timed cymbal crash signals the conclusion of the song, the listener has been taken on a unique aural journey, where contrasting timbres that shouldn’t fit well together still somehow manage to do so. Gabe Hernandez

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VIDEO: On “Monochrome,” Runnner Sets Faded Memories To Music

photo credit: Nell Sherman & Silken Weinberg

Runnner is the project of native Angeleño songwriter Noah Weinman. He’s recently released a music video for “Monochrome,” the latest single from his upcoming debut album for Run For Cover Records, Always Repeating, released July 16th.

The track fades in with fingerpicked acoustic guitar and banjo, with what sound like reversed electric guitar lines, all swelling into a beautiful, abstract mix, before drums kick in to establish a vaguely rollicking shuffle, dropping out to allow Weinman’s plaintive, double-tracked vocals space to enter. He sings with masterful restraint while the guitars and banjo provide delicate rhythmic emphasis on his lyrics. The music and vocals slowly build in emotional intensity, along with volume, squeezing every possible bit of pathos out of the highly personal lyrics.

“Although this isn’t the oldest song in the batch,” begins Weinman, “this feels like the first Runnner song…It’s about nuance and memory, and how hard it can be to remember something in all its color and detail. Part of me fights against that and tries to remember everything, but part of me also resigns to it.” The video was created by Weinman with the help of Helen Ballentine.

Runnner will celebrate the release of Always Repeating with two L.A.-area shows: a sold-out show July 22nd at Baader house, and a December 3rd gig at the Lodge Room in Highland Park. Gabe Hernandez

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VIDEO: “Retreat” Finds Dzang Soundscaping The Climate Crisis

photo courtesy of artist's bandcamp page

Dzang is the project of L.A.-based electronic producer Adam Gunther, who has released “Retreat,” the lead single from his forthcoming EP Glacial Erratic, due out July 23rd on Bandcamp, along with an accompanying music video.

The moody, downtempo instrumental track begins with ominous FM-synth bells tolling over a subtle bed of digital noise and bleeping, before a soft, swollen bass enters along with a drum pattern that resembles a ticking clock with a seizure. Gradually, sparse upper-octave synth notes and insular, beautiful synth pads enter your ears, with the entire soundscape splitting the difference between serene grooving and cautious searching. The late addition of the metallic shuffling of chains to the rhythm lends extra weight to the track, before it fades out with the same fateful bells from the beginning. Are they a warning? Or are they simply mourning?

Gunter explains that the track was meant to convey the feeling of California’s climate crisis and the need to escape. The accompanying music video “shows a talismanic bird flying through scenes of climate disruption only to arrive at an urban core, unable to escape humanity’s influence.” It’s a chilling but mesmerizing visual paired with music that is just as good at provoking deep thought about our global predicament as it is for blissing out on a late-night highway drive. Gabe Hernandez

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