Gold & Youth, Phillip-Michael Scales, Fair Visions, Work Wife, Local H, Safety Town, Samm Henshaw are among the press releases for September.
Gold & Youth – ‘The Worse the Better’ : Shimmering guitars and a retro flair for this explosive and charming synth-pop song with captivating and lush vocals by frontman Matthew Lyall. The catchy tune could recall the Killers as Lyall’s croons through early 21st century malaise on the verse: ‘As our beauty starts to fade in our grand decay/The boujie boys high-fiving us all through one big last parade.’ The chorus bursts with dazzling synths and glittery guitars beneath Lyall’s conviction: ‘The worse the better is coming our way!’ On the track, Gold & Youth say: ‘’The Worse the Better’ is a fun little bop about water-sliding into the abyss. A woozy anthem for the downwardly mobile about the crushing banality of evil rendered by the acid vat of late-stage capitalism as we work dead-end jobs at the end of history and pray for some technocratic savior to build us a biodome on Mars. Loud and fast and then sputtering and wheezing, kind of like a dream machine going kaputt as it runs out of gas. Truly the feel-bad hit of the summer! Tell your friends.’ This is the new single off Vancouver’s Gold & Youth’s brand new LP ‘Dream Baby’, out November 5th via Paper Bag Records.
Phillip-Michael Scales – ‘Another Man’s Sin’: An old school soulful number with bluesy guitars and plenty of character, sounding like a late-night bar walk. ‘‘Dive Bar Soul’ is effectively how Nashville-based artist Phillip-Michael Scales describes his music. The song is the new single from his forthcoming LP ‘Sinner-Songwriter,’ set for release on October 29th via Dixie Frog Records. ‘This is one of my favorite tunes off the record,’ Scales told Pancakes & Whiskey. ‘Most people have pivotal moments that inform how we act in the relationships that follow (for better or worse). ‘Another Man’s Sin’ is about the bad cycle of passing on the hurt because we’ve been hurt.’ Throughout the 14 soulful tracks of his album, Scales explores, growth, mistakes, being black in America, searching for love, and finding your place in the world. He manages to do that by blending indie rock storytelling with the passion of the blues. The honesty of the lyrics and the vivid storytelling are something he learned from his legendary uncle B.B. King.
Fair Visions – ‘Channel’: Cosmic swirls of synth turn into nervous beats as the post punk track tune explores the abyss of doubt and loneliness with new wave tones. This second single — off Brooklyn-based post-punk outfit Fair Visions’ new EP ‘Modern Kids’ — is an immersive experience with stomping synth hooks, pulsing dance-ready beats, becoming a haunted house of a dance-floor banger. Its Kafkaesque lyric bring awful presence to familiar complaints: ‘I changed your mind half a dozen times / but it doesn’t even matter.’ The six varied tracks of ‘Modern Kids’ form the second half of a statement begun with Fair Visions’ debut ‘A Way Out,’ released amidst the gloom and disintegration of 2020. But where ‘A Way Out’ was illuminated by innocence (or, perhaps, naiveté) — evoking David Bowie and New Order in its oscillating moods and lush instrumentation — ‘Modern Kids’ embraces darkness with a Pandora-like curiosity, introducing a wide chromatic rainbow of hooks and textures, from piano and stompbox fuzz to spectral background vocals and acid house breakdowns. At once tight and sprawling, Fair Visions have never sounded more complex in their channeling of the heady dance lineage of New York New Wave.
Work Wife – ‘Plastic Windows’: Charming bright vocals over a lo-fi pop tune that delves into the personal and intense sensations with an intricate melody and warm tones. ‘Plastic Windows’ is the second single from Brooklyn by way of Seattle indie pop outfit Work Wife, the solo project from multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Meredith Lampe. On the track, Lampe writes about her experience with the song and gives more background: ‘It was one of those beating-back-your-anxiety-with-a-stick kind of walks, where you go outside hoping to quell a rising sense of anxiousness before it builds up too much. I passed a house under construction that had one of those temporary plastic coverings over the windows, and the wind was blowing against it and it was straining at the points where it was taped to the house. I love stumbling upon objects or scenarios that provide a really pointed visual metaphor for an intense feeling that you’re trying to describe in a song–this was one of those times. In ‘Plastic Windows,’ I describe my panic disorder using a couple different metaphors, and the writing process of finding these concise little pictures that describe my feelings does a lot to help me to cope in the moment. For some reason, being able to convert my formless feelings into physical and visual things is comforting, perhaps because it allows me to explain them to other people in away I know they’ll understand immediately.’
Local H – ‘Hackensack’ : A heartfelt and luminous cover with plenty of emotion and a falsetto. During pandemic lockdown, alt-rock Local H began performing covers, and this is their rendition of Fountains of Wayne’s ‘Hackensack,’ the second single off their forthcoming cover LP, ‘Awesome Quarantine Mix-Tape #3,’ following a cover of Looking Glass’ ‘Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).’ To accompany the new single, frontman Scott Lucas additionally wrote a piece for Talkhouse, speaking on their cover and the late Adam Schlesigner: ‘Fountains Of Wayne’s ‘Hackensack’ has always been famous for being the song with the lyric about Christopher Walken in it, but in the wake of Adam’s death it was the lyrics to the chorus that took on a new heartbreaking depth: ‘But I will wait for you/As long as I need to/And if you ever get back to Hackensack/I’ll be here for you.’ It no longer felt like a song about a guy who carries a torch for an old high school crush. Suddenly, it was a hymn to the people we’d lost. An almost Poe-like cry to the great beyond (or from the beyond!), a longing for some mutual communion between the living and the dead. Wait for me and I will wait for you. Kinda creepy, sure — but also kinda beautiful. Like all great songwriters, Schlesinger had written his own tribute and epitaph with ‘Hackensack.’ Something that could live on. ‘
Safety Town – ‘Fake It’: An upbeat stomping synth pop song with vocals interlocking with synth and drumbeats. This is the title track of Electro-pop Outfit Safety Town’s upcoming album (out 11/12) and it is representative of many of the tracks on the record: softly sung vocals over layers of programmed beats and carefully composed synthesizers that swell and swoon. The single came together quickly for Safety Town (aka Jackson Davis): ‘I started the song late one night after wasting time scrolling through social media, and just seeing some of the wild things people I’ve known from high school or whatever are up to now. I think a lot about how many phases of life we live and how radically they shift if you compare yourself now to like 10 years ago. While change can be a major positive, I did want to reflect on the bittersweet nostalgia we get when thinking about these sorts of things. I tried to keep the song in that vein, where the music sounds uplifting mostly with some slight dissonance, while the lyrics are more somber. For the chorus I tried to come up with a sort of ‘solution’ to that somberness, where I basically say to just ignore sad memories and forget the past, but at the same time I was trying to be purposefully have some naivety because we all know that’s not always the best idea to forget the past.’
Samm Henshaw – ‘Grow’: A soulful R&B track with British-Nigerian singer Samm Henshaw’s warm vocals, bringing to mind the old classics of the genre. In the video, produced by Josh Grant (Shawn Mendes, Tom Walker), Henshaw gives a nod to diva culture and provides an introspective examination of happiness, self-fulfillment, and personal growth. Meanwhile, the live version of ‘Grow,’ features a four-piece band backing the singer and features Samm’s cheeky personality as he acts out a diva version of himself and jokingly fires his bandmate at the top of the visual. Samm oozes charisma and soul as he and his band members perform the gloriously smooth summer bop. ‘Grow is just a song about understanding that the hard parts of a relationship (any relationship) are necessary for growth & strength and that we shouldn’t give up at the first sign of trouble,’ Samm explains.
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