Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Persuasive Examination Regarding New and Recent Audio Releases

Four enticing musical releases from over the last few weeks are the focus here within this months DaveCromwellWrites. Critical attention is applied to all aspects of songwriting, sound design and lyrical acumen. Favored genres that focus on fuzzy dream pop, pedalboards, indie rock, goth pop, witchy magic spells. alternative, electronica and post power pop all share space here in this latest deep dive analysis.

Reaching out to the DCW universe is a new band formed within the last year out of Nashville, Tennessee going by the uniquely lettered name Hushhh. Perhaps those extra “h’s” are for their hot, heavy and huge sound. If that smacks of a writers literary projection, what’s certain is quality level of songwriting and musicianship the band delivers. Having released their debut EP "Summer Medication" last October, a new video treatment for featured song “In My Head” has recently arrived now as well. DCW digs in to it’s sound and imagery with an ear (and eye) for it’s essential components.

Compressed, forceful drum strokes lead the song out of the gate before buzz-gaze guitars and locked-together bass enter the mix. Four distinct chords are delivered in a descending sequence that immediately triggers memories of peak-era Dinosaur Jr. The band members are visible from the start of their video, walking down the street, putting stickers up on the back of street signs, getting coffees and ultimately on stage playing a show. The instruments pull back as vocals begin “Paranoid – can’t believe the words I say,” followed by that classic deep-twang hook you hear in the very best alternative rock songs (like The Cure, etc). The earworm hook is reached in well under a minute with the line “life keeps dragging – on and on and on and on and on and on through hell.” This commences a sequence of building riffs over lines “I can't tell if I will ever be well again” with higher register chiming guitar lines blending in with blurred voices against images of the band doing things in their local community.

The second verse continues the songs introspective, soul-searching feel with the lyrics “Wish I was Happy all the time - Impossible - Impossible is what I find.” Back to that catchy chorus as imagery of video game screens, the band onstage and walking around through their community. The music continues to build and the percussive accents and instrumental turn-arounds are crisp, precise and oh-so-tasty. There’s a cool minor chord (or is it a 7th?) drop on the end these passages that points to a more sophisticated level of songwriting (all within the confines of a 4 minute plus rock song). At the midpoint, a quieter moment of guitar strumming and softer cymbals sets up internal conflict lyrics “Dragging on and on and on and on and on in my head,” before one more explosive run through the hook. At 3 minutes in the tempo shifts dramatically and the overall progression slows to a doom-gazer pace inside a glorious shimmer. A ghostly circular image appears on the video, morphing between what might be a ring light and a moon / sun-like planetary figure above.

Check out this kick-ass song and video here:

Follow the exploits of Hushhh via their Social Media here:

and through their Linktree.

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This past January DCW reviewed the two singles gazey dreampoppers Phantom Wave released at that time, in anticipation of their full-length album “Bonfire Secrets.” Comprised of Ian Carpenter (guitar/vocals), Rachel Fischer (drums) and Yanek Che (bass), a focused songwriting style and compatible musicianship fully realizes this sound. Having put the whole album out since then, and with additional distribution from our friends at Shoredive Records, it’s time to dig down into every other song from that release.

Moving past those previously mentioned singles, deeper cut “Shook” builds around a more controlled drum pattern with floating toms enhancing the dominant snare work. Vocals again hearken back to the classic 90’s alterna-pop bands, while guitars shimmer.  A rising progression continues to build, leading everything out to conclusion.    “Paceline” opens with a rough edge, before dropping the harshness back momentarily as bass guitar drives along. The big emotional chorus brings that wall of guitars back for dramatic exposure.

Modulated guitar textures provide harmonic effect on introductory guitar chords for “Comet Gain.” The initial vibe is easy going and laid back, like Dean Wareham’s original band Galaxie 500. Things get punchier, though once the lyrical hook “spark it good” is reached. A more chaotic wall of sonic disturbance swirls around more structured bass and drums, so diligently attempting to hold it all together. This lengthy, over six minute track reaches it’s emotional peak with the lyrics “and you – so true.”

Reaching the album’s mid-point has the band taking the above-mentioned “easy vibe” a step further into dreamy romanticism with “Astral.” Just when you think this is shaping up to be another over six minute exercise in two-chord meditation, the tempo begins to quicken near the 3 minute mark. Feeling more now like the hurried pace and soaring overtones of Ringo Deathstarr, vocals reveal how “somehow everything’s gold.” Bass guitar cuts loose with melodies while the drums slosh and clatter with wanton impunity. “Got you up in dreams - fly along and be” is the battle cry.

Dipping back into the “Cure-style” pool with it’s open string guitar chord phrasing and Simon Gallop-esque penetrating bass comes the more “reasonable” length “Spiraling.”  It doesn’t go on like this too long before a gazey wash of white noise and cymbal slosh accompanies lyrics “Hey there, hey there, hey there, right on there.” Stand out melodic guitar lines also remind why we revere that Robert Smith led band so much, right down to the middle-break of this instant classic song.

Coming in as the longest track track on the album (at 6:42) the appropriately titled “Burning Clocks” moves the bands sound closer to prime-era Cocteau Twins, with Guthrie-style guitar and Raymonde-esque bass. That vibe continues onto it’s primary change, with the lyrics “what can I tell you - feelings transmit - stay on horizon - stay on.” Guitar riffs and their associated noisy textures become more urgent and boisterous during instrumental passages from the midpoint on. Higher-end cymbals and guitar tones pair well with the lower register bass. A plateau is reach after four minutes which allows for the songs title line to be sung “the burning clocks, the twilight smiles.” One more pivot to a sonic liftoff emphasizing the aforementioned “stay on” vocal.

Fireworks” is introduced by way of natural sounding trap drum set laying down a warm, organic beat. Chime guitar and deep twang bass flood the sonic space as a lyrical tale of conflict unfolds. “Woebegone, don’t stay long” becomes the essential chorus placement hook.  Dynamic forward-pounding, rising-note segments are repeated for dramatic effect. “So much trouble, push it all away, away” is the ultimate resolution to these pyrotechnics.

Listen to this perfect gazey album and find out how to acquire it here:

Follow Phantom Wave on their Instagram , Facebook and Bandcamp

A previous feature of the band on this Site can be found here.

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It’s been a minute since this site checked in on the distinctive style PR Rep William Z and his Moon Coil Media clientele have been up to. Having featured a number of their high-quality artists here over the last few years, the time to dip into that well has arrived once again. Digging into New York (and sometimes Vermont) based Witchy Goth Pop artist Metamorph is an eye (and ear) opening experience. The inspired project of veteran musician Margot Day, her multi-range vocals, songwriting and flute playing are blended with dark synth electronics. Recent song release “HEX” has been given an official Stabbing Westward remix by the bands founder Chris Hall.  Additionally, an Official “Witchy Matrix” Visualizer accompanies that track, receiving a detailed analysis below.

With large pentagram earrings on immediate display, Margot Day strikes the classic gothic rock figure, conjuring the spirit world with expressive imagery. The recognizable Stabbing Westward industrial synth-pulse and matching percussion charges forward, enhanced by Margot’s flute textures.  Vocals commence with mystical lyrics “Your eyes, like onyx stones, a power source dark and deep - when our eyes meet we gleam.”

The visual and audio mood is seductive as Margot reveals to both “glamour up” and become “Guardians of love.” You had to expect a “spell” was coming (it “drops” and the “night wakes”) with the ambient prelude and single title word “Hex.” However, rather than an incantation calling up bad luck or trouble, the magic has amorous intent. “I want what I want when I want it - babe I want you” is how the dancefloor banger chorus goes. The spell is cast in a “dollhouse discoteque” where lovers “glimmer the night away.”

Check out this bewitching song and video here:

Follow Metamorph via their LinkTree here

A previous feature on a Moon Coil Media artist can be found on this site here.

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What seems like a while ago (but actually only two months) UK Rockers It’s Karma It’s Cool’s spinoff side project Solitary Bee reached out with their latest single “Love Wakes Up.” Giving that one the old Cromwell review at that time, they now return with a brand new release “Autumn Recruits.” That quirky track now receives the deep-dive DCW analysis to decipher it’s fundamental melodic and lyrical revelations.

The sound of a buzzing synth (a solitary bee?) are the introductory audible moments before vocalist Jim Styring fervidly delivers lines “all the leaves on the trees on vacation.” Byrds-ian ricken-jangle guitar chords chime and measured bass notes mark out musical parameters. Drums enter the mix while “naked branches” have “deep conversations” about earlier times (poetically referenced as “the lives fully clothed they once had”). More is discovered about these seasonal “recruits” with the twee question “but did they ever say goodbye? When they left a hole in the sky. In their golden space suits.” 

While comparing the browning of autumn leaves with “golden space suits” is quite imaginative, the sonic elements now in full motion are equally impressive. A rippling keyboard line repeatedly descends while bass guitar provides counter melodic movement. The songs midpoint pulls everything back, but for an acoustic guitar, some subtle synth pulses as Jim’s reprises those thematic opening lines. The full band charges forward with the primary theme and lines “I’m hoping they all learned to fly, before they jumped from way up, all the autumn recruits.” A final quick instrumental breakdown emerges that leads the whole track out in layered call-and-response vocals and twinkling pulse arpeggios.

Listen to this sweet and sophisticated track here:

Follow the band here and here.

A recent song review feature covering Solitary Bee on this site can be found here.

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