The other night, I was stepping off BART when a late-20s-something guy waiting for a train going the opposite direction perked his head up, twisted his neck in my direction, and looked me right in the eyes.
I see this as I’m still three people deep from exiting the train, and I’m curious, but also cautious. Do I encourage this behavior by engaging with his stare, or am I asking for trouble?
Once I reach the platform, I look back at him and take a right out of the train towards the stairs. Before I quickly disappear out of range, the guy yells across the platform at me, “Can I ask you a question?!” I continue to walk towards the exit, but I turn to look at him, and raise my eyebrows out of curiousity.
He takes this as a yes, and projects even louder now that I’m further away. “Has anyone ever broken your heart!?” he shouts. I turn my head back towards him, consider whether I should even participate, then give him a sincere and hearty, “YES!” He’s taken aback by my answer, but he smiles, then looks down into his lap and crumples his face in confusion and pain. He shoots his head back up and shouts back at me, “WHY!?” I took the corner, and up the escalator I went.
Why would someone ever break my heart? Good question. It isn’t easy trying to navigate the “why” of heartbreak. I just know it’s really fucking painful, and I’m not very good at handling it well. Which brings me to Widowspeak.
The dreamy, psych-folk rock, “earth tone pop” duo out of Brooklyn, NY has perfectly captured the wavelengths heartbreak creates with their latest, insanely beautiful jams. The songs can be found on Widowspeak‘s latest album, “All Yours.” It’s due out September 4th, and is titled after one of their most gorgeous, and accessible tracks about heartbreak aftermath. The album is also currently streaming on KCRW.
I highly recommend you soak in the essence of these jams, but with this word of warning: these beautiful tracks may elicit some serious sadness or nostalgia, ignite flames of heartache, and leave you wondering, “WHY!?” Enjoy:
Widowspeak – All Yours
Widowspeak – Dead Love (So Still)
Widowspeak – Girls
Get ready to trip out. Boston hailing psych-dream-pop-folk rockers, Quilt have released two new trippy tracks: “Tired and Buttered,” and “Arctic Shark.” Both tracks can be found on Quilt‘s forthcoming sophomore album Held in Splendor.
Since Quilt emerged in music scene back in 2009, and released a debut LP in 2011, Anna Fox Rochinski, Shane Butler, and John Andrews have continuously succeeded in ‘patching’ together a magnificent conglomerate of equally upbeat, rockin’, spacey, catchy and dreamy sounds. The results are splendidly out of this world.
Quilt – Tired & Buttered
Quilt – Arctic Shark
Dream-pop from Tokyo? What’s not to love! Tokyo is such a surreal, bustling, beautiful and magnetic city. Add ambient music to the mix and it’s like experiencing your own Lost in Translation, Bill Murray not included.
Mayuko Hitotsuyanagi is the (now) Berlin, Germany residing, Kyoto/Tokyo native and girl behind the moniker Cuushe. In 2009, her psychedelic, ambient dream pop sounds recorded in her paper-thin Japanese apartment caught the ears of Tokyo record label Flau. Now, as Pitchfork stated in Cuushe‘s recent LP review, “The imprint was a good place for Cuushe to hone her restrained style, and it nabbed American performers Julia Holter and Motion Sickness of Time Travel to remix her work last year.”
Following last year’s success, Cuushe has recently released a soothing, dreamy, whispery second full-length album, Butterfly Case (which you can stream on Spotify). Have a listen below, and watch her latest video for “Lost My Way,” which premiered on Gorilla vs. Bear this morning.
Cuushe – Sort of Light
Cuushe – I Love You
Happiness… a feeling, conquest, goal, that everyone painfully strives for each day, yet it sometimes seems just out of reach. “Happiness, it’s just around the corner. Taste it. I want to taste it. I want to taste it ’til i’m wasted.” These are lyrics to the rapidly rising, Seattle-hailing dream pop, post-punk duo, Iska Dhaaf‘s recent single, “Happiness.” The track is dreamy, heartbreaking, and touches on the very real desires yet realities most people struggle with on a daily basis. So who are these musical talents known as Iska Dhaaf, and what do they know about happiness, or the lack thereof?
Iska Dhaaf, which loosely translates to “Let it go” in Somali, is the moniker for Nathan Quiroga & Benjamin Verdoes. According to this article in Seattle Weekly, Verdoes was a former bilingual teacher located in a largely Somali neighborhood and began studying the language. “… I just fell in love with the sound of it; the words will get stuck in my head like songs do.”
Both Verdoes and Quiroga come from vastly different musical backgrounds prior to Iska Dhaff. Nathan Quiroga (vocals/guitar) was previously known as Buffalo Madonna in a crew of notorious electro “hip-hop hedonists” called, Mad Rad. They essentially wreaked havoc, created debauchery, landed themselves in jail and were banned from more than five Seattle venues.
Benjamin Verdoes (drums/synths/backup vocals) previously played in a more likely to envision indie rock group, the Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, and toured with various big band names like Japandroids and Cursive.
Together, the two make raw, honest, emotionally driven music, all of which attributes to their up-and-coming success. Have a listen to both of their recently released singles, and watch the brand new video for “Happiness.” Also, give ’em a follow and a listen on Facebook or Bandcamp.
Iska Dhaaf – Happiness
Iska Dhaaf – Rumi
Ugh. Josef Salvat. The London-hailing singer/songwriter consistently releases smooth, sexy, emotionally driven slow jams, each one more addictive than the next. He’s giving sexy slow jam counterparts, Rhye, SOHN, Autre Ne Veut and How to Dress Well a serious run for their money. Luckily for us (but maybe not for them?) Josef Salvat has released yet another ‘ugh’ inducing, heart-swooning, hip swaying track.
“Every Night” is one of two tracks that’ll be released on a double-single, due out December 9th via Fingers & Thumbs. Have a listen and I dare you not to melt:
Josef Salvat – Every Night
Roberto Carlos Lange aka Helado Negro is one of the most magnetic and magical performers to see live. There’s nothing crazy or outlandish about his sets, but his voice is whimsical and romantic and his eclectic, ambient, electric beach jams from space have a way of moving your hips and locking you into a cloud of dreamy musical bliss.
Helado Negro‘s 2013 LP, Invisible Life has been a serious staple of constant listening pleasure since its release in March. As luck would have it, Lange has been hard at work and recently released his latest EP, Island Universe Story Two (which you can buy here, and on cassette!) via Asthmatic Kitty Records. At the beginning of August, Lange tweeted out a list of 50+ artists and songs, all of which were apparent influences when creating the EP, some of which include Stevie Wonder, Ice-T and… Eddie Murphy? Interesting choices, especially after you have a listen. The new EP is full of crazy beats, exotic synth and fuzzy, dreamy vocals that’ll make you scream for more Helado Negro aka black ice cream.
Stream Helado Negro‘s new EP on Bandcamp or Spotify and be sure to catch the man in action. He’s currently on tour along with Javelin, Spiritualized, the Breeders, John Cale, Big Boi, Suuns and The High Highs.
Helado Negro – We Will You
Helado Negro – Enters
For all you recording and sound engineering aficionados, here’s a mini documentary by Weathervane Music showing behind-the-scenes footage of producing/recording a Helado Negro song. (Watch even more videos from this recording here).
What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?- High Fidelity
Clare Maguire, the young British singer-songwriter with a voice reminiscent of Stevie Nicks has released a new single, “Paper Thin.” It’s a brooding, somber, soulful and beautiful gem laced with keys and Maguire’s delicate, enchanting sound – An excellent track if your misery needs company:
Clare Maguire – Paper Thin
The LA-based sisters that make up Haim have done it again – Released yet another ridiculously catchy pop song you just can’t hate. I’m still debating what the lyrics actually mean. Did she cheat on him? Regardless, the “new” single (the track has been around for a while, but they finally created a fine-tuned studio version) is already blowing up blogosphere, and it’s well-deserving. the The trio have yet to release a full-length album, but each new single creates even more hype than the last. Enjoy:
Haim – The Wire
UK dance quartet Rudimental has been giving electro-pop brothers, Disclosure a healthy dose of competition. The group released their album, Home in the UK earlier this year and it’ll soon be hitting US streets in August via Big Beat Records. According to BrooklynVegan, Rudimental has collaborated with “choice vocalists like Sinead Harnett, and even more interestingly, Angel Haze, they’ve also got a track with Internet Explorer commercial soundtracking dude Alex Clare,” and of course Ella Eyre as heard below in the upbeat and infectious track, “Waiting All Night.” Have a listen …and tell me that you want me:
Rudimental – Waiting All Night ft. Ella Eyre
Judson Claiborne is an indie-rock-pop-folk band hailing from Chicago. They’ve been compared to Beck, Rufus Wainwright, and on last.fm someone tagged their music: “makes good goddamn hibiscus rose hip tea.” So, you know, it’s gotta be good. “Neo-Pagan Lovesong” is a romantic new number that can be found on their recently released LP, We have Not Doors You Need Not Keys.
Judson Claiborne – Neo-Pagan Lovesong
GEMS, the Washington D.C. based couple who’ve been taking the dream-pop spotlight by storm (and filling the hole in your heart you have reserved for ‘old’ Beach House sounds) has released yet another “gem.” “Sinking Stone” is a dreamy and nostalgic track, one in which front woman Lindsay Pitts delicately and somberly coos the chorus, “Could you ever love me again? I need to know…” successfully crushing your heart.
GEMS – Sinking Stone
Raphaelle Standell-Preston is a busy woman. As the vocal half of the ambient dream-pop “love project,” Blue Hawaii, and vocalist in the electro-pop “art rockers” group, Braids, Raphaelle’s dynamic voice is keeping electro music in Montreal alive and beautiful.
Blue Hawaii has been in the spotlight as of late – They released a new album this year, Untogether, which was received with incredible praise, and headed out on a whirlwind tour with electro Canadian comrades and bffs, Purity Ring. However, Braids is now having its well-deserved shining moment… again.
Braids made waves with their 2011 debut LP, Native Speaker, establishing themselves as a “promising band.” With two new recent releases, “In Kind” and “Amends,” Braids is back and it appears they’re keeping up with the reputation. However, the blend and undistinguished sound between Blue Hawaii and Braids has become even more apparent amongst fans – but can you really complain? Have a listen and decide:
I’ve been on this bedroom “night-time music” kick (as Rhye likes to call the genre), where you should either be getting into bed while listening to it, or just waking up. Luckily, there’s been a plethora of recently released silky bedroom jamz. They easily ease the need to swoon for smooth. Here goes:
LA-based Pat Grossi, better known as the ambient electro dream-pop artist Active Child, put himself on the map with his compelling 2011 debut LP, You Are All I See. Now, Active Child is currently working on his Sophomore album and just released his amazingly beautiful and intense track, “Evening Ceremony.”
While Grossi’s been working away on his album, he reached out to his Facebook audience for ideas: “Thank you all for the considerate feedback on the album. some really beautiful and sincere comments in there. glad to hear we’re all on the same page ; )) there are a few interesting collabs in the worksss.” The feedback obviously worked in Active Child‘s favor:
Active Child – Evening Ceremony
Fyfe is a hype-worthy 23-year-old London-hailing new kid on the blog/block who’s been blowing the blogosphere up and away with three extremely strong debut tracks. Paul Dixon, the boy behind the ballads, has an impeccably unique voice/sound and endearing lyrics that’s giving many an itch for more. Listen to “Lies” from Fyfe‘s debut EP, Solace, which you can stream on SoundCloud:
Fyfe – Lies
SOHN is the Vienna-via-London up-and-coming producer who made waves with his EP, The Wheel, back in November. Luckily for us, he’s just released another emotionally-driven and achingly smooth R&B influenced jam with some seriously sweet beats. Have a listen to “Bloodflows” now:
SOHN – Bloodflows
Wintercoats is the moniker of James Wallace, the Melbourne, Australia-hailing multi-instrumentalist who some don a “master of ethereal delicacies.” Wintercoats‘ track “Halogen Moon,” which can be found on his forthcoming EP, Heartful (via Cascine) is a perfect example of one of those delicacies:
Wintercoats – Halogen Moon
Now, you wouldn’t typically associate “remix” with “smooth,” however, last week, Hilly Dilly posted this gem by Nym, local San Francisco producer. Icelandic singer-songwriter, Emiliana Torrini has what NPR dons, “Iceland’s warmest voice,” and Nym‘s take her track, “On the Sunny Road,” brings it to new heights. The track can be found on Nym‘s latest album “Trembling in the Stone.” He’s also donating all proceeds from the album, which you can listen to on bandcamp, to secular charities, named quarterly by the Foundation Beyond Belief – Nice guy!
Emiliana Torrini – On the Sunny Road (Nym Remix)
Majical Cloudz, the alias behind Montreal-hailing Devon Welsh, recently released a powerful, somber, yet beautiful electro-based ballad, “Childhood’s End.” The track, Welsh’s strongest one yet, can be found on his upcoming spring release, Impersonator, and follows his impressive 2012, Turns Turns Turns EP, proving that Welsh is indeed a lyrical whiz.
According to Pitchfork, “Welsh says, with this new material, his goal is ‘to communicate a lot with as little as possible.'”
Today, we’re treated with the release of a chilling b&w music video for the “Childhood’s End” directed by Emily Kai Bock (Grimes’s, “Oblivion,” Doldrums’s “She is the Wave” and Grizzly Bear’s, “Yet Again”). Enjoy: