While this is officially designated as a “work in progress” by the band, it’s just so damn pretty in it’s current state that I didn’t want to wait until a fuller version appeared to post it. Just some real beauty here, sparse, and tuneful, with an especially warm and wondrous vocal.
Okay so, a bit late to this party, but this is too pretty not to spread the word about. This track appeared on Fire to the Stars “Keep You Safe” EP back in 2014, and was then included on the band’s 2016 “Made of Fire” album, so it’s been lurking around for a bit…but we digress. All that needs to be said is that it’s a beauty, somehow managing to be both funereal and pop, starting as a slow dirge dressed in black, with a keening vocal, then suddenly turning the corner onto a sunlit street, courtesy of a beautiful guitar led hook. And while it brings to mind both Patti Smith, and Marianne Faithfull in parts , the glorious spectre of Stevie Nicks hangs over the whole thing, like the dark, dancing around the fire Stevie, the one that consumes all of us earthly beings during the last minute of “Gold Dust Woman”.
This jangles sweetly, swiftly and ever so desperately, and is not a million miles away from 80’s babes Aztec Camera, from the Roddy Frame-esque vocal, right down to the the romantic optimism of the title…which is all to say it’s a bit of a throwback and is eminently lovable.
Here’s a baby fruit bat just because. Also here are a couple of shiny new playlists featuring some handsome September songs, plus a couple of rediscovered oldies that are more than ready to get immersed in. They are unusually hefty because hey, it’s been a good month ! As usual there’s some stuff that is only on Soundcloud, and some that is only on Spotify, so there are playlists for each to catch all the raindrops.
Here’s the Soundcloud playlist:
And here is Spotify:
I was working my very first summer job at the “One Hour Photo Lab” wearing a blue lab coat the first time I heard the System. Just doing my ordinary shift, mixing a huge vat of film developing chemicals ( not fun), with the radio on when “Promises Can Break”, their new single off the “X-Periment” album came bursting out of the junky boombox we had there. The song was soul, yeah, but it was fueled by a fat synth, so it sounded kind of different, modern. It also featured a dizzying hook, and downright swoon-worthy ascending vocal line. I was instantly in love. I went and bought the album from which it came, “X-Periment”, the very next day and discovered that track was the tip of the iceberg, and that the whole thing was full of tunes with lush electronic heartbeats, and every one sounded like a single.
The band itself consisted of David Frank, Mic Murphy w/assistance from Paul Pesco, and their singular, hard-earned moment in the sun came with their 4th album, “Don’t Disturb This Groove” whose title track was a mega-hit, and is still justifiably beloved today (with over 2 million Spotify plays and counting, not bad). Now while that album is pretty fine, the bands charms and gifts shine the brightest on the aforementioned “X-Periment”, and it’s follow-up “The Pleasure Seekers”. Both feature plush, melodic, electro-soul pop of the highest order, all melodic, edgy, anxious, and emotional, and are absolutely worth seeking out.
And with that let’s raise a glass to these guys, the true pioneers of electro-soul, they still deserve a lotta love , and all of our ears.
Have a listen/look at these sweet things:
And here are the “X-Periment” and “The Pleasure Seekers” albums on Spotify if you wanna go deeper:
I pray for records like this on a regular basis. Specifically, the kind where reggae, pop, and post punk tightly snake around each other, and make you completely forget what year you’re living in. “Lemons” spiritual father is “Ghost Town” by the Specials, while the soul of Slits legend, Ari Up, is living, and breathing inside of Mina’s ace vocal…which is to say, it’s a bit of a classic. Oh, and one more thing ! : there’s a nod of honor to Smiley Culture preceding the song in the video, and so if you haven’t done it yet, please check out our piece on his wondrous creations under “Lost 80’s” in Topics section of this very blog. You won’t regret it.
Remember when when Madonna was making classic, boundary pushing singles at every turn ? Big, fat pop records that you couldn’t get out of your head ? And then we hit the 2000’s and she wasn’t ? It’s still sad and disappointing….well, meet Baum, and allow her to redress the balance, and pull us into the pop future. She is bitchin’ and unapologetic. There’s a real raw depth, and assertiveness to her singing ( and songs for that matter) that kicks the asses of all the pop queens lurking in the top 10 these days. And with that, here are 2 shining stars to share. “Hot Water” is an infectious, sinewy, candy coated groover that gets bigger by the second. Then comes “First”, a ballad, featuring a world weary, sultry, I’m throwing up my hands vocal, within a tune that sounds like some long lost Prince ballad from the late 80’s, married to an early D’Angelo record, and I can’t think of a higher compliment to pay than that.
A heavenly widescreen hymn for staring at the sun, and wiping your brow to. The sparseness of “Count No Count” contradicts how positively epic it is, which is part of what makes it so compelling. How to describe it ? Well, simplest way would be imagine Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star singing a gospel song… but the LA duo take it well beyond those confines, and it is a singularly beautiful beast.
He is Joseph of Mercury, and he is here to polarize you. “Angel” is completely earnest and romantically over the top. It’s a fifties soul ballad that seems to have gotten lost and found itself wandering around in 2017. It’s a scene where everyone is dressed in white and the stars are shining, and we are all bowing before Venus standing in her shell ( in the parking lot of a drive-in). Okay, will tell you straight : you will either love this or hate it. We recommend you just give in and succumb to it’s undeniable charm, and accept it’s bouquet because it really is pretty freakin’ swell.
This is a pretty nifty piece of post-punk here, with a tuneful, New Order-esque guitar line as the star, some understated whispery vocalizing following sweetly in it’s wake, plus some bonus dissonant twangs…subtle, memorable, and cool.