WIBLT: 2nd of the month
What I've Been Listening To, 3/2/22
‘What I’ve Been Listening To’ is a bi-weekly series that highlights 8 projects, 1 song, and 1 video that have been on repeat for me. Be sure to follow the ‘What I’ve Been Listening To’ playlist that is always up to date with the eight standout tracks from all of these posts in 2022.
Got a real good batch of projects in store for you today!
Good Boy - Moon Tide Gallery
6 tracks, 20 minutes
Released: February 22nd, 2022
From: Baltimore, MD
Genres: Indie Rock, Alternative, Lo-Fi, Garage
Recommended For Fans Of: Nick Hakim, Petite League, Yot Club
Good Boy is the latest from Baltimore’s Moon Tide Gallery, and their first release since the When We’re Red album in 2020. Moon Tide (the project of 21-year old Mason Gainer) combines lo-fi indie rock with waves of psychedelic. Winona’s Elevator and Sex VHS lead off the project with two of its strongest tracks, showing Gainer opening up as a songwriter. With lyrics like “wash away all of my phobia, every time we share a breath” and “set the world on fire, just to make you smile,” Gainer is putting himself on display more than ever with this new project. The psychedelic wash over the lyrics has them floating along with the production as delays and backing vocals bounce back against them. Both singles are supported with music videos (courtesy of Faraz D), and the home movie/camcorder shots compliment the meticulous DIY style of the tracks perfectly. The rest of the EP continues to showcase Gainer’s hazy anthems that feel slacker-rock in attitude, but sonically have so much more to offer. Sadism is one of the juiciest cuts, as it lulls you into a druken stupor that can only be healed with the sweet serenades of saxophone (also included). When you stop and pay attention to all the different sounds and instruments here, it would clearly come off as messy or overproduced when put in the wrong hands. But Gainer takes great care to not include anything unnecessarily, and ensures it all fits cozily into place.
Standout Track: Winona’s Elevator
P.O.V (Deluxe) - Tony Bontana
11 tracks, 24 minutes
Released: January 15th, 2022
From: Birmingham, UK
Genres: Hip-Hop/Rap, Underground
Recommended For Fans Of: Mavi, MIKE, Standing On The Corner
Alphonse Pierre’s Way-Too-Early Look at the Best Mixtapes of 2022 tapped me into this unique project from across the pond. P.O.V. Deluxe (acronym for People Of Value) is a quick trip through Tony Bontana’s swirly sample based world. An updated edition of his project from late in December, Bontana takes an interesting approach to the idea of a deluxe release. This new version is only one track longer than the original, but it features four new tracks as some songs have been switched out for others, and the songs that were on the original have been rearranged. It feels more like a reimagined version of that initial release. Much of this project was produced by Bontana, showcasing his sample choice and arrangement abilities as this could easily play as a seamless beat tape without the vocals. But Tony’s raps add a whole other dimension to the project that easily makes this one of the more compelling releases in rap so far this year. In fact, your reaction listening to this tape might be the same as the title of my standout track, because it’s really like that. And at 11 songs in just 24 minutes, he doesn’t waste any time in displaying his skills. You’d be hard pressed to find an artist dropping more frequently, as the original P.O.V. was one of 5 releases he put out in 2021. And if the soul sampling abstract rap isn’t your cup of tea, Bontana also makes punk rock under the name Spew. SPIN named his January EP HATE DEALER (released four days before this tape) as one of the best punk releases of the month.
Standout Track: Nah Son Shits Actually Crazy
Gravity Licker - Clear Capsule
6 tracks, 23 minutes
Released: February 1st, 2022
From: Los Angeles, CA
Genres: Rock, Shoegaze, Alternative, Fuzzy
Recommended For Fans Of: Smashing Pumpkins, trauma ray, toner
My first ‘22 discovery from a Bandcamp Essential Releases list, Clear Capsule brings explosive ‘wall of sound’ shoegaze onto their new EP. Gravity Licker is the followup to their 2019 debut EP Windowless Spaces, a project that got them on tours with Pile and Spirit of the Beehive. Here they deliver 6 tracks of 90s rock so fresh, you’d think it never went out of style. Speaking on the music, the band says they take “inspiration from the pitfalls of daily life. Transforming frustration and raw emotion into volume, they let the music create an escape and balance out the uncertainty of humanity’s outcome.” With guitar sounds as large as many artist’s entire mixes, it’s not hard to lose yourself in the sound here. And as you hear lead singer/guitarist Bryce Pulaski’s vocals hiss thinly through the massive production behind him, it’s difficult to not have Billy Corgan drift to mind. Clear Capsule does more than enough however to differentiate themselves, as they pack a variety of sounds and ideas throughout the tracklist. Songs like Bacteria take a break from the enormous guitars to let bass and drum kit take center stage. Overall the project is an excellent demonstration of taking an older sound and making it feel new and exciting. Though it’s been out for a month now, you’re not too late to attend the release show happening in LA on March 12th.
Standout Track: Grace Face
Blue Cabinet - Bats
9 tracks, 36 minutes
Released: February 18th, 2022
From: Nashville, TN
Genres: Folk, Indie, Alt-Country, DIY
Recommended For Fans Of: Haley Heynderickx, Lomelda, Morgan Powers
Bats is the solo project of 23 year-old Jess Awh, returning here with her second album, Blue Cabinet. Speaking on the album’s title on Instagram, Awh said it originates from her favorite color being blue and building cabinets as a carpenter for a living, but also that, “it’s where I’ve been storing all my darkest & worst feelings about myself and others for the past two years, turning them over like rocks in a tumbler until they grow smooth & become more understandable.” If you think that Instagram caption sounds poetic, wait until you hear her songwriting. The tracks here often sound simple on the surface, but with closer listens you’ll hear more complex arrangements going on than you initially realized. The lyrics take a similar approach as mundane topics like jobs, soccer, washing dishes, and quonset huts act as a Trojan horse for deeper themes of isolation, addiction, and those deep seated feelings that come from the beginnings and ends of relationships. Also, kudos for having a song called Quonset Hut because now I actually know what the official term is for these things. Mixing soft folk rock with elements of alternative and the country sound of her hometown (Nashville) creates a unique atmosphere of warmth and gentleness to help ease the sometimes difficult lyrical content. It’s all packaged wonderfully to make the listener feel the care, love, and emotion that went into the project.
Standout Track: New Job
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Green Onyx - STACE
4 tracks, 14 minutes
Released: January 28th, 2022
From: Brussels, Belgium
Genres: R&B, Alternative, Soul
Recommended For Fans Of: Isa Reyes, Elah Hale, Demae, Jamila Woods
Belgian singer STACE dazzles with the release of her debut EP Green Onyx. With her two 2021 singles making up half the tracklist, every (officially released) song to STACE’s name is on here. Intricate guitar picking and funky bass lays down the texture for this project, but the real highlight is STACE’s voice and how she harmonizes with herself to the point where it sometimes feels like she’s being backed by a choir. With the exception of some additional production on Void, this whole thing is written, produced, and performed entirely by STACE. Because if you have the talent, why wouldn’t you? In just 14 minutes, she’s able to not only introduce you to her sound, but make you fall in love with it. On the release of the EP, STACE told VOLTA, “I’m super excited because it’s a really personal EP, I’ve done it myself front to back. It also feels like the first step to introduce myself as I’m already working on a first album.” If the first album is anywhere near the quality of this, STACE will surely position themselves as an artist with plenty of crossover success between Belgium and the states.
Standout Track: Busy
Love Decayed - NightNight
13 tracks, 55 minutes
Released: January 28th, 2022
From: Brooklyn, NY
Genres: Electronic, Industrial, Post-Punk, Experimental
Recommended For Fans Of: Spelling, L’Rain, aya, Tirzah
“For just a few moments, let’s operate under the assumption that God is real,” NightNight declares, deadpan, at the start of the song Strange Dismay. And so we do, as throughout the album we take NightNight’s lead and sink deeper and deeper into their dark, strange, and fascinating world. NightNight is the solo project of Yasmin M Haddad, releasing their debut album here in Love Decayed. Haddad is a multitalented artist, as a classically trained violinist, guitarist, singer and recording engineer who is also one third of Brooklyn band The Wants. This debut is a stark contrast from the techo based indie pop of that group, and even further from Haddad’s first musical foray (growing up in Vegas, she got to feature as a violinist on The Killer’s album Sam’s Town). With this debut, Haddad unleashes electro-dark pop to pull you into a world of isolation. “It’s not a very happy record,” she told Audiofemme, as it’s inspired by feelings of isolation both from moving often, and from past unhealthy relationships. “Beyond being alone, because you’re just not around people, there’s also that extra aspect of being isolated because you’re attached to somebody who’s very negative and who doesn’t want you in contact with other people,” she continued. A combination of unique synthesizer sounds and real world recordings are the main tools she reaches for to pull you in. She assembles it all together to, “give the feeling of being in the place that I was in. That’s kind of how I go about it, like seeing it in my head and then making it sound like it matches that place.” Haddad undoubtedly succeeds in drawing you into those places, and they aren’t always the pretty, but it’s worth the journey. Because Love Decayed is a challenging album, but oh so rewarding to dig into.
Standout Track: Leaves
Name - Modern Nun
4 tracks, 11 minutes
Released: January 7th, 2022
From: Chicago, IL
Genres: Alternative, Folk Rock, Indie, Americana
Recommended For Fans Of: Sunflower Bean, HINDS, Girl Ray
What do you get when a Roman Catholic lesbian, a Southern Baptist lesbian, and an Evangelical Christian lesbian form a band? You get Modern Nun, the Chicago indie rock band set out to show that, “being queer doesn’t mean you’re unholy or unworthy of your own spiritual community,” the band told Block Club Chicago. The name initially was a joke about their various religious backgrounds, but quickly morphed into a reflection of that mission statement. “Sometimes we receive messages on Instagram saying things like, ‘your music helped me come out,’ and that means a lot to us,” singer and guitarist Edie McKenna continued. Don’t think that based on this you’re in for some type of Christian rock project though. The above goals are achieved by simply existing, making music, and harboring a sense of community amongst their fans. Here with their debut EP, Name, the group blends elements of Americana and Folk Rock with some jangly HINDS-esque indie rock mixed in. The trio’s vocals compliment each other nicely to make raw and earnest harmonies on each track. Even when the songs dip into tougher subjects, like the chorus of Teeths (my loneliness won’t let me be with you…my heartache won’t let me sleep with you), the production and melodies still offer a cheery sense of optimism. The songs that make up Name are the band’s first releases since their debut single in 2019. I hope it’s an indication of much more fun, rocking, and wholesome content to come.
Standout Track: Teeths
Crash - Les Louanges
15 tracks, 43 minutes
Released: January 21st, 2022
From: Montreal, Québec
Genres: Indie Pop, Electronic
Recommended For Fans Of: Mk.gee, Still Woozy, Leven Kali, Jim-E Stack
Les Louanges is Vincent Roberge, indie pop singer from Québec who has already made waves in his home country as the rest of the world starts to take notice. Crash follows up his 2018 debut album La nuit est une panthère, which won him best French-language album at the Juno awards, and landed him on the short list for the Polaris Music Prize. Needless to say, the stakes were high for this next album, but I don’t even have to understand the lyrics to know he hit it out of the park. Inspired by the likes of Prince, Frank Ocean, and Robert Glasper, Roberge brings elements of jazz, R&B, and soul into a pop setting for some absolute bops that have intricate and layered production behind them. Without even speaking my language, I felt charmed by this album from very early on, as it became clear that these were fun songs that also demand your attention. The album is a reflection of the vast changes that came into Roberge’s life following the breakaway success of that debut project. While it’s not all good news, the songs are always going to come with a groovy beat that you can dance to. So is the case with my standout track, whose title roughly translates to ‘What are you doing to me.’ Roberge told Apple Music, “It talks of seductive passion, but the kind you can easily fall prey to, and that’s reflected in the instrumentation—it’s danceable, but it sometimes takes some pretty dark turns.”
Standout Track: Qu'est-ce que tu m'fais
June - Pockets
You’re going to want to check out this whole debut EP from Pockets, a good friend of mine and former coworker. June will melt away any winter blues you’ve been harboring as we make way for spring.
CHICKEN TERIYAKI - ROSALÍA
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