Femme Fantasm’s “Ritual You+Me” will be one of the best tracks you’ve heard this year. It’s nearly five minutes of spacey synth, gooey female dream-pop vocals and deliciously snaking electro synth-horn. The latter slides into the song at the :56 mark and is the one of the main reasons this song is so stunning. It’s easy to get lost in this leisurely textured delight, that still manages to keep steady pacing with its retro 80s rhythm. The lyrics are whispered and lush, featuring verses with imagery of dreams and love. The Los Angeles solo project’s song is just one of four on a self-titled EP released via the Beko imprint. The sound is reminiscent of Butterclock’s First Prom EP, Sleep ∞ Over and Nite Jewel. It just doesn’t get better. Follow Femme Fantasm on facebook, twitter, and tumblr. — David D. Robbins Jr.
Surrey, U.K. artist Worries is streaming two new tracks, appropriately named “Voice” and “Hidden”. Both tracks bury the shy lead vocals underneath a pretty wash of jangly new wave guitar. It’s difficult to understand what’s being sung, but the emotion (though muted) comes through as subdued passion, reflective shoe-gazing and a charming humility. One of the only distinguishable verses on the A-side, “Voice”, is the last line, another example of Worries’ insular personality or persona: “inside a shell / where I remain”. I also enjoy the active-state of the moniker — as if the artist is using the name as both noun and verb. You can follow Worries (aka Alex) at facebook, twitter, tumblr and bandcamp. — David D. Robbins Jr.
Thrashing Bay Area four-piece Never Young have a new video out for “Like A Version”, a song off their Father/Daughter Records release, Never Young EP. Not sure I’m sold on the video, it’s touch creepy for me. But I am sold on the song. It’s dark, anthemic, driving and maintains enough melody and gorgeous guitar work to keep it from every falling into total chaos. This would go over brilliantly live. You can hear a number of antecedents here, from …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Copenhagen’s Iceage and the now defunct Baltimore hardcore Double Dagger. Video filmed by Armando Armas. Follow the band at facebook. You can stream the EP at the label’s bandcamp page. You can order it at this link. — David D. Robbins Jr.
Day Wave’s (aka Jackson Phillips) new song, “Drag”, is a golden throwback to the purest kind of dream pop. Jangly, upbeat guitar and a simple drum-kit beat are the opening to a light song that reminds me of the daydream nonchalance of Her Space Holiday’s early 2000 material. The melodies are pretty and add a sunny exterior to a song with overcast lyrics about feeling superfluous: “You say I’m always getting mad / I’m always such a drag / But I’m not like that.” You can listen to two more songs, “Nothing At All” and “Total Zombie” at the artist’s soundcloud page. Follow Day Wave at facebook. — David D. Robbins Jr.
A Gentleman’s Guide’s nasty musical ooze is the perfect example of how lo-fi quality can trump glossed-up production any day of the week. You can keep your perfectly EQ’ed radio tunes, because I’ll be staying right here with these gutter-thump beats and raunched-out rhythms that combine to make a strangely compelling record. I can’t begin to explain how happy I am to have heard “A Gentleman’s Guide” EP” — which I’m assuming is both the name of the record and band. I received an e-mail pointing me to these songs, and unlike most notices I read, nothing else came with it excepting these “bio words”: “Distortion, Drum Machines, Ay Oh Let’s Go, I Iv V, Stay Alive”. Whatever the hell that’s suppose to mean, I don’t care — I just love the music. The EP consists of four simply composed DIY songs with a muffled, white noise quality. They’re an odd, smoldering concoction of disco beats, hand-clap rhythms, grizzled production, rock guitar solos, new wave edginess, goth, and a healthy dose of sludgy punk. I hear some Velvet Underground drome-hum , the trashy B-movie aesthetic of My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, all wrapped in the group’s distinctly stylistic repetition and vocal moaning. They’re like four aural montages, the vocals sometimes indecipherable, excepting a few catchy phrases and some catchy lyricism, like that in “Hypnotized”: “Like a clock that can’t tell time / Like a word without a rhyme / Has you hypnotized once again”. The siren-guitar solo at the end of the track is short, but smoking hot. “Number One Girl” is the opening gambit, a song assuring a girl just who is at the top of the guy’s list. The four-song cycle feels like a quick tale of tail, a gentleman’s guide full of attraction, persistence, and sexuality. The group leave the best for last, “The End” being one of the best songs I’ve heard this year. Without fail, every time I get kinda bored with the music I’m hearing — some unknown band drops a thunderbolt in my e-mail to defibrillate the soul. Follow this Brooklyn band at bandcamp. — David D. Robbins Jr.
Zero 7 has gone back to its roots on EP3. They’ve found and reconfigured that kind of sound they initially created back in 1997. Back when the duo’s remix of Radiohead’s “Climbing Up the Walls” brought them deserved attention and right before Air’s “Moon Safari” took off. After four official LPs, including the underground hit, “Simple Things” (2001), the band seemed try to easy themselves away from that female-lead style and back into the instrumental. EP3 is back to the moody, atmospheric Zero 7, but there’s also something darker, more spiritual and wise about these singles. Maybe that’s part of the reason they’ve opened the EP with a song tipping a cap to the name of François Truffaut’s “400 Blows”, a film about consequences and growing up. Follow Zero 7 at facebook. — David D. Robbins Jr.