Since their formation in early 2013, Los Angeles-based duo Smoke Season, comprised of Gabrielle Wortman (vocals, keyboards) and Jason Rosen (guitar, backing vocals) have quickly built up a local and national profile for a sound that meshes elements of electro pop, Americana, rock, chillwave, country and the blues — with incredibly anthemic hooks. 2014 and 2015 were breakthrough years for the duo as they received a great deal of praise and attention from music journalists and bloggers across the country. Their sophomore effort, Hot Coals Cold Souls was featured on two Spotify playlists, which resulted in over 500,000 plays in a month and since then the album has received more than five million streams across the globe, which has resulted in the duo seeing a growing international attention as well.
The duo’s latest EP Ouroboros is slated for an April release both digitally and physically ,and is accompanied with a several part short film written by Wortman and APLUSFLIMZ‘s Scott Fleishman. The film was shot in several locations across both Northern and Southern California and similarly to feature-length films such as Magnolia and Crash comments on life’s symbiotic and interconnected nature as each chapter explores seemingly disparate lives of characters divided by race, class, sexuality — but whose lives actually intersect and influence each others. (Aesthetically, the multimedia/movie-like nature of the short film reminds me quite a bit of Yassou‘s gorgeous and surreal multimedia EP, which I wrote about last September.) Certainly, in a contentious and highly divided political season such reminders of life’s connectivity and our responsibilities to one another seem absolutely necessary.
The EP’s first single “Loose” is a slow-burning track that has the duo pairing Rosen’s bluesy guitar chords with atmospheric electronics, shimmering synths and Wortman’s seductive vocals in a song that will not only further cement the duo’s reputation for slickly produced and deeply sensual electro pop but it’s also arguably one of the more deeply introspective songs in Smoke Season’s catalog as lyrically the song captures both the thoughts and sensations of its narrator.
Fittingly, the first video takes the viewer back to high school — and to the plaintive, first stirrings of love and desire. For many of us, trying to maneuver your understanding of your identity with the desire to fit in and the desire to be loved and admired was difficult enough. But imagine how difficult that might be if you’re weird and such an outsider that you can’t possibly fit in. The video’s protagonist is an aspiring artist, who falls in love with a classmate and initially the video follows the young couple in the awkward, joyous, passionate love. But things take a turn for the worst, when the video’s protagonist sees her lover at a party kissing a male classmate — and whether from drunken jealousy, wounded pride or obsessive desire, the protagonist (seemingly) inadvertently outs herself at the party by kissing her lover in front of everyone at the party. Ironically, the same classmate happens to be a bully and with the help of several classmates laughingly shame the poor girl by streaming the live video online. And it results in disastrous consequences for everyone involved as the video’s protagonist kills herself by jumping off the roof of her school. (If you can’t see something of yourself in the video’s love triangle — or be moved to empathy by the plight of those who are frequently outcasts, then there’s something deeply wrong with you.)
The second video or chapter of the series continues where it the first left off, but follows the story of a character, who appears in the first chapter. Check that out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GEmh_M_Nug&feature=youtu.be