Lillian Frances is a Sacramento-based singer/songwriter, producer and self-professed “sonic collager.” Inspired by the creative and imaginative nature of children, Francis’ work generally isn’t bound to genre or style conventions. Her work frequently meshes and blurs genre and style lines, often within the same song with lyrics sung in English and Spanish.

Frances’ 2018 EP Timeism featured a sound that some have compared to LordeSylvan Esso, and Billie Eilish — and received praise from NPR’s Heavy Rotation, Indie Shuffle, and Cap Radio.  She supported the EP with appearances across the state and regional festival circuit with sets at  Sacramento PorchFest, the Davis Music Festival and the Davis Cherry Blossom Festival among others. Adding to a growing profile, Frances has opened for Sylvan Esso — and she has played alongside Shakey GravesSage the Gemini, and Lexi Panterra.

The Sacramento-based artist released her full-length debut Moonrise Queendom back in 2020 and the album featured “Raincheck Summer,” a breezy and forward-thinking, summery pop confection centered around a coquettish and mischievous push and pull — and a deep, timely sense of irony: A summertime bop for the summer in which you never actually saw anyone. Interestingly, underlying the song’s bold playfulness and irony, the song as Frances explains “explores the idea of authentic connection.”

This February, Frances did something she had been dreaming of for years: She finally moved out of her parents’ home and into her own apartment. The pandemic had been in full swing for about a year, and she was — understandably — champing at the bit to get out of the way-too-close quarters with her mother, father and sister.

When she moved, the Sacramento-based artist was overwhelmed by what she describes as a beautiful wave of freedom. She felt as though she could go anywhere, do anything, be anyone (within reason) — and so she did.

Week after week, Frances would jump into her Chevy Volt and head to some new outdoorsy location, usually revolving around rock climbing, like Joshua Tree, CA; Smith Rock, OR; Red Rocks, NV; and so on. Through her road trips, the Sacramento-based artist experienced a level of freedom, adventure and romance that reminded her of what it’s like to be truly alive and present.

Those road trips wound up informing and influencing her latest single “Direct Sunlight.” Around the time, she started writing the song, she was figuring out how to be a good plant mom — i.e., figuring out where in the house is the sunniest? shadiest? how much water? etc. — she was figuring out how much sunlight and care, she really needed.

Written, recorded and produced by Frances, “Direct Sunlight” is a breezy pop confection centered around skittering trap-like beats, atmospheric synths and glistening bursts of mandolin paired with Frances’ coquettish, come hither delivery. The song captures the feeling of being on the road — perhaps for the first time in some time — and the sense of adventure and possibility that every single trip brings with it. Add it to your road trip playlist.

New Video: Plaster Cast Share A Hazy and Dreamy Bop

Plaster Cast, which currently features members split across the country, can trace their origins back to when producer Alex Esk started the project with vocalist Cameron Wilson back in 2011 — while both were studying video art at UC San Diego. Wilson’s sister Michaela Lustig joined the project as a second vocalist. Producer/engineer Brah1m joined the band after meeting Esk, when they both worked for The Real Housewives.

And with that lineup, the members of Plaster Cast wrote and recorded their debut EP, 2016’s Permanence, which received critical praise from Gorilla vs. BearThe FaderVice, and BBC Radio. Adding to a breakthrough year for the outfit, EP which featured “Sunless,” a melancholic, downtempo pop song centered around Wilson and Lustig’s uncanny harmonizing and a warped beyond recognition Adele sample, and “Undecided,” which featured Foxes in Fiction appeared on a number of year-end lists.

The project’s sophomore EP Control is slated for release tomorrow. Understandably, informed by the vast changes of the sociopolitical climate that have occurred since 2016’s PermanenceControl EP thematically is a large, perceptive grown towards modernity with the EP’s material touching on various concepts of individualism vs. collectivism, intimacy vs. alienation, and the self-consciousness of empathy — but in an understated, largely philosophical fashion. 

The EP also sees a deeper sense of collaboration between the project’s core members, inspired by the insight that relinquishing one’s own ideas can provide both empowerment and diminishment simultaneously. And as a result, the EP reportedly feels more like a group of friends in a personal therapy session, in which all their collective fears, joys and uncertainties are shared in a way that touches upon a more expansive reflection of the human condition. 

The material is rooted within the intersection of warmth and isolation — and the band’s desire to acknowledge their own literal and symbolic closeness and distance, shaped by each member’s own reality. “The songs are connected by themes of remoteness and looking at relationships as a negotiation of what you get and what you give up,” Plaster Cast’s Wilson explains. “Ultimately the work of looking at your place in your relationships is worth the pain it can cause, as we are useless alone.”

But ultimately, the central theme at the heart of Control is the relinquishment of control in one’s life: The control of our thoughts, the control over the circumstances and impermanence of life, the control over a world that’s often confusing, uncertain and mad. And paradoxically through relinquishing control — and the possibility of it — there often comes a sense of great mindfulness and calm. 

Last month, I wrote about EP single “Waves.” Beginning with an ethereal introductory section featuring dreamily cooed vocals and atmospheric synths, the song around the 25 second mark quickly ramps up to become a relentless, disco-tinged, motorik groove-driven bop with mournful synth pads and an infectious hook as a sinuous and lush bed for those dreamily delivered harmonies. While sonically bearing a resemblance to Chromatics and others, the song expresses an aching yearning for understanding and companionship in a desperate, uncertain moment.

The EP’s latest single , the dreamy and hazy “Videotheque” much like its predecessor begins with a lullaby like introduction featuring strummed acoustic guitar paired with achingly vulnerable vocals that quickly morphs into a slickly productions club and lounge friendly, house music-like bop centered around layers of glistening synth oscillations, skittering beats and a breezy melody serving as a lush bed for dreamy boy-girl harmonies. But unlike its predecessor, the song thematically touches on the sense of dissociation, longing and ache that often comes from any relationship.

Shot by Cameron Wilson and Rachel Louie with assistance from Christopher Konecky at Hook Fabrication and edited by Cameron Wilson, the lyric video features the members in a glitchy VHS haze, which adds to the song’s dreamy and hazy air.

New Video: DJ Premier Teams Up with Remy Ma and Rapsody on a Banger Celebrating All Things Hip Hop

Founded in 1996, Mass Appeal is an entertainment company dedicated to documenting the emerging movements that influence popular ideas through the perspective of those, who shape and shift culture. Since its founding, Mass Appeal has become the self-professed elevated voice of hip hop and its ever-expanding sphere of influence.

With 2023 marking hip hop’s 50th anniversary, Mass Appeal developed #HipHop50, a massive, cross-platform initiative aimed at celebrating the momentous anniversary in the most authentic and globally impactful way possible: #HipHop50 is a multi-year celebration that includes strategic partnerships, immersive global activations and charitable elements, as well as the creation of once-in-a-lifetime moments featuring the iconic voices that have transcended culture.

Mass Appeal have teamed up with The Orchard to distribute Hip Hop 50: The Soundtrack, a collection of ten EPs of all-new, original music that will unite the industry’s most highly regarded producers and talents to look back, honor and celebrate 50 years of hip hop music and culture — all while looking forward at hip hop’s bright future. The series will feature music curated by DJ Premier, Swizz Beatz, Mustard, The Dream, Mike Will Made- It, No I.D., Hit-Boy, Take A Daytrip and Tainy. A portion of all #HipHop50 proceeds will be donated to various charitable organizations, including the Universal Hip Hop Museum, set to open its doors in 2024.

The first EP of the series, DJ Premier: Hip Hop 50: Volume 1 is a five-song EP entirely produced by the legendary DJ Premier. Featuring collaborations with Lil Wayne, Nas, Remy Ma, Rapsody, Joey Bada$$, Slick Rick, and Run The Jewels, the EP salutes and celebrates the beloved — and wildly influential — Preemo sound, while amping hip hop heads for the next releases in the series. (Personally, the Preemo and Swizz Beatz editions are right in my wheelhouse. I’m curious about the No I.D. edition, too.)

DJ Premier: Hip Hop 50: Volume 1‘s first single “Remy Rap” is a neck-snapping banger centered around a minimalist, tweeter and woofer rattling Preemo production featuring looping bursts of wobbling bass synths, skittering beats, explosive hand-claps and some good ol’ fashioned turntablism serving as a funky and sinuous bed for Remy Ma and Grammy-nominated Rapsody to trade fiery and swaggering bars and verses. While showcasing two criminally underrated — and just fucking dope — emcees, the song is a forceful reminder that hip hop wouldn’t be where it is today without the women who have cultivated, supported and performed alongside the men.

Directed by Maya Table, the accompanying video for “Remy Rap” pays homage to early 90s NYC hip hop and its related imagery: The NYC skyline, inner city building rooftops, grainy black and white footage, Kangol bucket hats, enormous hoop earrings, hockey jersys, thick Cuban link chains and DJ Premier furious scratching — and of course, two amazing emcees vibing off each other.

Fittingly, this one comes out on the 49th anniversary of DJ Kool Herc‘s legendary “Back to School Jam” at 1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Bronx, the birthplace of hip-hop. So let’s celebrate and honor the pioneers, the dreamers, legends and icons of the music and culture that has become the lingua franca of the past three generations or so of young people. Long live hip hop, y’all! Long live the DJ! Long live the emcee! Long the live the breakers! Long live the graffiti writers!

New Video: Hanya Shares Surreal and Feverish Visual for “Amateur Professional”

Brighton-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Hanya — currently Heather Sheret (vocals, guitar), Benjamin Varnes (guitar) and Jack Watkins (drums) — exploded into the national and international scenes with the release of their debut EP, I Used to Love You, Now I Don’t, an effort that saw the British outfit quickly and firmly establish a sound that featured elements of dream pop and shoegaze. 

Much like countless acts across the globe, back in 2020, the Brighton-based JOVM mainstays had plans to build upon a rapidly growing profile both nationally and internationally: they released their acclaimed, sophomore EP Sea Shoes, which they supported with touring across the UK and their Stateside debut at that year’s New Colossus Festival. But since then they’ve been busy.

Last year, the Brighton-based released their acclaimed third EP 100 Metre Sprint which featured: 

  • Texas,” a shimmering bit of dream pop that nods at 70s AM rock, and focuses on the longing and excitement of a new crush/new love/new situationship
  • Monochrome,”a hazy and slow-burning ballad that celebrates the pleasures of life’s small things
  • Lydia,” a slow-burning and gorgeous track that continues upon their winning mix of 70s AM rock and Beach House-like dream pop. 
  • Fortunes,” a slow burning track, which featured  A Storm In Heaven like painterly textures, ethereal harmonies and deeply personal, lived-in lyricism. 
  • Logan’s Run,” which struck me as a lush and brooding synthesis of AM Rock and lush, A Storm in Heaven-like textures. Fittingly, the track was inspired by the 1970’s sci-fi classic, which the band watched a lot during the pandemic. 

Hanya’s newest single, the Theo Verney-produced “Amateur Professional” sees the rising Brighton-based outfit marrying their live show energy with their recorded sound — while further refining and pushing that sound in subtle yet decided new direction. Centered around a post-punk influenced take on shoegaze and dream pop that features shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars paired with angular and propulsive bass lines serving as a lush bed for Sheret’s gorgeous and vulnerable delivery singing ongue-in-cheek lyrics, “Amateur Professional” features the band’s penchant for rousingly anthemic hooks. But at its core, the song strikes at something deeply familiar for me — and those I’ve spent my adult life covering: The moral and mental gymnastics that creatives must grapple with when attempting to make a side-hustle viable in a consumer world that doesn’t value authenticity and constantly vies for every moment of our attention. 

“‘Amateur Professional’ was written at a time when we felt our most cynical,” Hanya explains. “Trying to remain inspired in this chaos and constantly grappling with self-doubt is something every person experiences, and we wanted to explore that in this world of a ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ mentality. The track is about attempting to be a full-time professional in whatever it is you want, even if you feel like a lousy amateur a lot of the time. It’s a fighting song, for when you’re feeling like giving up.”

Directed by Sara Azmy, the accompanying video for “Amateur Professional” is a gorgeously shot and surreal fever dream split between the office drone working at the office to support themselves and their dream until they burned out and lost their minds — and their dreams of music stardom. That balance between doing what you have to do to support yourself and living your dreams can be extremely complicated.

After teasing their first new bit of music in over nine — nine! — years, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Karen O. (vocals), Nick Zinner (keys, guitar, drum machine, bass) and Brian Chase (drums) — announced their long-awaited and highly anticipated fifth album, Cool It Down last month.

Cool It Down is slated for a September 30, 2022 release through Secretly Canadian and features cover photography by Alex Prager. The eight-song album reportedly is an expert distillation of the band’s gifts and will impel the listener to move, cry and listen closely. 

“To all who have waited, our dear fans, thank you, our fever to tell has returned, and writing these songs came with its fair share of chills, tears, and euphoria when the pain lifts and truth is revealed, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O wrote in a statement to the band’s fans. “Don’t have to tell you how much we’ve been going through in the last nine years since our last record, because you’ve been going through it too, and we love you and we see you, and we hope you feel the feels from the music we’ve made. No shying away from the feels, or backing down from what’s been gripping all of us these days. So yes we’ve taken our time, happy to report when it’s ready it really does just flow out.”

“The record is called Cool It Down which is snagged from a lesser known Velvet Underground song. I told Alex Prager whose photo graces our record cover that her image speaks to sweeping themes in the music and sums up how I, Karen, feel existentially in these times! But there’s always more to the story. This is how our new story begins, we present to you with heads bowed and fists in the air ‘Spitting Off the Edge of the World’ featuring Perfume Genius.

Cool It Down‘s first single, the Dave Sitek-produced “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” featuring Perfume Genius is a slow-burning and cathartic power ballad centered around glistening and droning synths, Chase’s thunderous drumming, a distortion-driven guitar solo by Zinner, arena rock friendly hooks paired with the lush interplay between Karen O’s and Perfume Genius imitable vocals. Sonically “Spiting Off The Edge of the World” to my ears sounds like a slick yet subtle synthesis of Show Your Bones and It’s Blitz — and as a result, the song is simultaneously urgent yet an exercise in restraint. 

Lyrically, the song reflects on the current state of the environment, and the need for honesty about the damage we’re inflicting on the Earth. “I see the younger generations staring down this threat, and they’re standing on the edge of a precipice, confronting what’s coming with anger and defiant,” Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O explains. “It’s galvanizing and there’s hope there.” 

The album’s second single., the Andrew Wyatt-produced “Burning” is a dance floor anthem built over a twinkling piano loop inspired by The Four Seasons’ “Beggin'” and features Zinner’s fiery guitar sprawl, thumping beats, Chase’s funky drum patterns pared with Karen O’s imitable croons and shouts. The song captures the Karen O being engulfed in the tumult and unrest of Los Angeles in 2020 — with fire and smoke bearing down on the city and everything its in path. Sonically, the song sounds like a subtle refinement of It’s Blitz!-era YYYs that nods at Fever to Tell.

“Back when I was 19 living in the East Village, one night a roommate dragged me out of the apartment for an impromptu drink across the street,” Karen O writes. “I left a votive candle burning on a plastic yaffa block which, in my absence set flame to my room. Within an hour and-a half of having one drink down the block, firefighters had come and gone extinguishing the fire. I came home to find that a natural disaster had occurred (to my room) and most of my stuff, lost in the flames. All electronic goods were melted and demolished like my laptop, cameras etc. but oddly enough the items that held the most sentimental value remained intact like sketchbooks, a favorite sweater with hearts across the chest, and photographs. I had photos of my parents in their youth where the fire burnt around the two of them as if there was some intangible force field protecting them, many photos like that, mysteriously leaving the beloved subjects untouched.”

If the world is on fire I hope the most beloved stay protected and that we do all we can to protect what we cherish most in this life. ‘Burning’ is a song about that feeling, smoke signals for the soul. Begging to cool it down, just doing it the best we know how. Nick and I nodded to Frankie Valli’s ‘Begging’, with the line ‘oooh lay your red hand on me baby.’ We’ve cut a rug to many a soulful sixties bangers in our day, it was in our DNA by the time we wrote ‘Burning’.”

The trio are in a middle of a handful of summer and fall dates that includes a highly anticipated October 1, 2022 stop at Forest Hills Stadium. Check out the remaining tour dates below. 

Tour Dates

September 18: Riot Fest @ Chicago, IL

October 1: Forest Hills Stadium @ New York, NY [Special Guest TBA, The Linda Linda]

October 6: Hollywood Bowl @ Los Angeles, CA [Japanese Breakfast, The Linda Lindas]

New Video: The Murlocs Share Slow-Burning and Pensive “Compos Mentis”

With the release of their first four albums, The Murlocs  — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Cook Craig (bass) along with ORB’s Cal Shortal (guitar) and Crepes‘ and Beans’ Matt Blach (drums) and Tim Karmouche (keys)— firmly established a reputation for crafting fuzzy and distorted psychedelic blues, which they supported as an opener for the likes of Gary Clark, Jr.Mac DeMarcoTy SegallThee Oh SeesPixies, Stephen Malkmus and The JicksWavves and of course, Kenny-Smith’s and Craig’s primary gig, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard — and as a headlining act, as well. 

Recorded at Button Pushers Studio, last year’s Tim Dunn-produced, 11-song Bittersweet Demons found the band lovingly reflecting on the people, who have left a profound impact on their lives — the saviors, the hell raisers and other assorted and mystifying and complex characters they’ve come across. While being among the most personal and complex batch of material they’ve written in their growing catalog, the album saw the band bouncing between and around sun-blasted pop, blues punk and wide-eyed psychedelia. 

The Murlocs’ sixth album Rapscallion is slated for a September 16, 2022 release through ATO Records. Self-produced by the band during the early stages of the pandemic, Rapscallion‘s 12 songs were recorded in the home studios of the band’s Kenny-Smith, Shortal, Blach, Cook Craig and Karmouche. Conceived and written as a coming-of-age novel in album form, the album’s material is partly inspired by Kenny-Smith’s adolescence as a nomadic skate kid. The album’s world is wild and squalid, populated by an outrageous cast of misfits — teenage vagabonds, small-time criminals, junkyard dwellers and truck-stop transients among others. The end result is an album that thematically — and narratively — is stepped in danger, delirium and wide-eyed romanticism of youth. 

Sonically, Rapscallion is reportedly a marked departure from Bittersweet Demons‘ garage rock leanings, with the album’s material featuring strains of stoner metal and post punk. And while darker and more formidable, the album’s songs are still fueled by the same freewheeling energy they’ve brought to the stage. 

Last month, I wrote about Rapscallion‘s first single, “Virgin Criminal,” a decidedly post-punk song centered around buzzing and angular guitar attack, a forceful motorik groove, Kenny-Smith’s punchy and breathless delivery paired with the band’s unerring knack for rousingly anthemic hooks. And at its core is a tale of an unnamed protagonist, who describes his first crime, an ill-fated convenience store robbery, which ends in murder — and the wild thrill the narrator gets from being an outlaw.

“Compos Mentis,” Rapscallion‘s second and latest single is a slow-burning and pensive ballad featuring fuzzy and distorted guitars, twinkling keys and a motorik-like groove paired Kenny-Smith’s imitable delivery. While seeing the band exploring a more contemplative — and perhaps even softer — side, “Compos Mentis,” asks a far deeper, far more vexing question: Are we in control of our own minds?

“After a long day of truck stop fights, hitchhiking and getting kicked off trains, our beloved rapscallion protagonist decides to spend the night in an abandoned junkyard,” The Murlocs’ Ambrose Kenny-Smith told the folks at Flood. “Finding peace within the garbage that surrounds him, he begins to question his purpose in life and whether or not he’s in control of his own mind.”

Created by Guy Tyzack, the accompanying video for “Compos Mentis” follows a dirty, Oscar the Grouch-like Kenny-Smith wandering around an abandoned suburban factory and a junkyard. He comes across four garbage bags, which oddly enough contain his equally dirty bandmates. It’s surreal and almost childlike fantasy of being a filthy, n’er-do-well kid forever.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Beacon Share a Surreal Animated Visual for Brooding “Pay My Debts”

Over the course of this site’s 12 year history, I’ve managed to spill a copious amount of virtual ink covering New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon. Their third album, 2018’s Gravity Pairs saw the duo — Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gossett (production, keys, synths) — radically changing their creative process and writing material that was a sonic left turn from their previously released work. 

Mullarney III and Gussett embarked on open-ended writing sessions, in which they adopted a more linear songwriting style instead of the loop and texture-driven method they had developed and honed during the creation of their first two albums. The initial demos they wrote were built around piano chords and guitar phrases paired with vocal melodies, which they then edited into a number of different iterations. Doing so allowed the duo to look at each individual version from a multitude of angles and directions. 

As they continued through Gravity Pairs‘ creative process, they expanded upon some songs and pared others back. Much like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, patient and deeply painterly process eventually turned the material they had been working on into a space in which wildly different colors, tones and textures — in the album’s case, minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist simultaneously and at different speeds. 

Interestingly, with each iteration they created, the JOVM mainstays quickly discovered that they could easily expand upon how they presented Gravity Pairs‘ material in a live setting: They could play the album’s material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play that material in a very different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires. 

While Gravity Pairs found Beacon boldly pushing their sound and approach in adventurous, new directions, the material remained imbued with the vulnerability and yearning that they’ve long been known for. 

A couple of years have passed since the release of Gravity Pairs, but the JOVM mainstays have been busy: Back in 2019, they opened for acclaimed Aussie electro pop artist Nick Murphy during his North American tour, which included a stop at Brooklyn Steel. The duo shared a series of stripped down, live studio sessions — and they released a remix album, which featured remixes and edits by ElkkaHelios, and CRi. 

2020 saw the release, of a meditative, piano-led take on the Pixies‘ “Wave of Mutilation” inspired by the slower tempo and phrasing of the UK Surf B-side, which showcased the song’s mutability. Just before the pandemic struck, the members of Beacon embarked on a headlining European tour. 

Beacon capped off 2020 with the release of “Feel Something,” which saw Mullarney III and Gussett continuing to prioritize the creative process behind Gravity Pairs while painting a surrealistic and disturbing vision of desire, longing and control that feels like a lived-in perspective of a codependent and dysfunctional relationship — with a person or a situation. 

Last month, the longtime JOVM mainstays announced that their highly-anticipated and long-awaited fourth album, Along the Lethe will be released on September 9, 2022 through their own imprint, Apparent Movement. The pandemic forced the duo to change their creative approach again but reportedly, the end result is a gorgeous and brooding album meant to make the listener stop and reflect. 

The duo wrote, recorded and produced the album during a period of extreme uncertainty in the pandemic, with the band’s Thomas Mullarney III explaining: “I was haunted by this feeling of history intruding on our reality as lockdown descended on NYC, I was reading a book called The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth about the apocalyptic aftermath of the Norman Invasion of England in 1066, written in a ‘shadow tongue’ combining old and modern english. This uncanniness followed me through the pandemic.” Thematically, Along the Lethe is as much about the allure of forgetting tragedy as it is the need to maintain our connections to the past. But interestingly, it may arguably be the most eclectic, expansive album of their growing catalog to date. As the band’s Jacob Gossett says, “It feels like a record without restraints.”

So far I’ve written about three of the album’s singles:

  • Until Next Time,” the first bit of new material from the duo in over two years. The single revealed a fresh, new aesthetic rooted in contrasts: Rumbling electronic feedback and noise gives way to a swirling and twinkling piano-led melody paired with Mullarney’s achingly delicate falsetto, trembling metronomic beats and swirling static, which rises and crashes into Mullarney’s vocals. 
  • “Can’t Turn Back,” a stunning and seemingly effortless mesh of electronic music genres, timbres and moods centered around UK garage-like rhythms, twinkling synth arpeggios, skittering beats and atmospheric pads while Mullarney III sings of losing himself “in the constant dark” with achingly delicate vocals. As part of an album largely written during pandemic-related quarantines, the specter of hopelessness, uncertainty and struggle looms large — and yet, the song attempts to keep the existential doom at bay, while looking upward. 
  • “Ostrich” is a mesmerizing piano-driven song featuring contributions from multi-instrumentalist Colin Stetson, who contributes fluttering and mournful horns and woodwinds into the song’s gently swelling electronic noise. Inspired by a tuning technique used by The Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed and John Cale, “Ostrich” required all strings of every stringed instrument to be tuned to the same note. And with that foundation, Gossett and Mullarney III improvised on the synths and instruments in their studio, which gives the song a hypnotic and dreamy atmosphere. 

“Pay My Debts,” Along the Lethe‘s fourth and latest single sees the duo effortlessly meshing genres as you’ll hear skittering trap beats, glistening synth-driven hooks paired with syrupy R&B-like grooves and Mullarney III’s achingly plaintive vocals. “Pay My Debts” manages to convey a core theme of the album, as the song lyrically reckons with the weight of guilt and absolution.

“The title of our new album, Along the Lethe, came from lyrics in the song ‘Pay My Debts.’ The Lethe is one of the five rivers of the underworld in Greek mythology, and souls who drank from it lost all memory of their lives on earth. Forgetting can be seductive, and the Lethe offers a kind of absolution—not in the form of forgiveness, but erasure. The desire to transform the collective trauma of the last two years into a collective amnesia is one of the themes of our new record. The chorus in ‘Pay My Debts;’ alludes to an impending ecological disaster that’s followed the narrator even into Hades: ‘Something in the sky turns black, start another fire, I guess.’ Despite the allure of forgetting, and the Lethe’s metaphysical power to do so, the spectre of the last two years is inescapable.”

Directed by Boy Tillekens, the accompanying surreal, animated video follows a faceless, purple humanoid on a journey from the idyllic, Holland-like banks of a motionless river towards a billowing plume of black smoke across the horizon. “I was picturing a Thomas Hart Benton painting coming to life,” Tillekens says in press notes. “Kind of treating the landscapes as if it’s a character itself — quite surreal, a bit Lynchian.”

New Video: Saint Kochi Shares Lysergic Animated Visual for “Leeches”

Born in London to parents, who immigrated from India and Kenya, the rising British chamber pop/psych pop artist Saint Kochi has led an extraordinary and unusual life, that for a while got in the way of his real lifetime aim — to make music his entire life, not a part of it. There was so much that occupied his time: a flirtation with genuine stardom as a professional cricket player, parents who doubted hat anyone could survive with a career in the arts, and an unexpected career as a seller of massive ships. 

Saint Kochi continued to push forward with his lifelong dream of making music, releasing last year’s self-titled debut EP. Building upon the growing buzz of his debut EP, the British chamber pop and psych pop artist’s Dom Ganderton co-produced sophomore EP Almost Lost officially dropped today. The EP is a bold step forward for the rising British artist, as it sees him crafting gorgeous and thoughtful music meant to transport the listener to another place.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, I’ve written about three of the EPs singles in the lead-up to its release:

  • Almost Lost,” a cinematic track that brought  The BeatlesScott WalkerThe Verve, and JOVM mainstays POND to mind — but while possessing an enormous sound, the song is rooted in intimate and lived-in lyricism that’s personal yet universal. 
  • Out of Time,” a single that features a gorgeous string arrangement paired with a sumptuous bass line, boom bap-like drums, twinkling bursts of keys and Saint Kochi’s plaintive cooing. And much like its immediate predecessor, the widescreen vibes are rooted in intimate, lived-in experience. 
  • Lifeline,” a single that continued a remarkable run of cinematic, swooning, orchestral pop rooted in personal yet universal experience: With “Lifeline,” the song thematically is rooted in the desire to connect with another person, who understands you for you, and is there for you during the most tumultuous and difficult periods and struggles of your life.

Almost Lost‘s fourth and latest single “Leeches” is a stunningly gorgeous and thoughtful song featuring strummed guitar, a soaring orchestral arrangement, a fuzzy and lysergic guitar solo and enormous hooks paired with the rising British artist’s plaintive falsetto. “There is a lyric that is lifted out of a Basquiat painting called Leeches– it made me think a lot about unspoken realities of peoples’ lives that exist alongside our interactions with people and relationships in a very immediate sense,” Saint Kochi says.

While primarily recorded at Saint Kochi’s purpose-built basement studio, the string arrangement performed by the 14-piece string section was recorded at RAK Studios, where iconic albums like Radiohead‘s The Bends and a lengthy list of others was recorded. The string section fulfilled the rising British artist’s ambition of “making a record that had these big cinematic James Bond, Beatleseque type of strings on them.” 

Directed by Kate Renshaw-Lewis and featuring animation, VHS and transfer workday Dillion Moore, the accompanying video for “Leeches” follows an animated Saint Kochi through a lysergic journey through the lives of every day folks he encounters during a regular day in London.