TOTD: Caicos – “Promised Lands”

“Sands fallen through hands
Make new promised lands”

This song from Caicos is a really interesting look at opportunities and change. The image of sand shifting through fingers, like if you picked up a handful at the beach, is a nice metaphor for many aspects of life. I can’t say I necessarily have the right interpretation, but here at B-Side Guys, we like to give you our take, with the thought that art has two important pieces, the artist and the observer. So, the line that is repeated above to me is talking about the things that slip away from you, and that you think at the time is a tragedy. Maybe a relationship doesn’t work out, maybe you lose your job, etc. Given enough time, those opportunities missed, can make “new promised lands” that take your life in directions that you couldn’t imagine back when you were trying to hold onto a handful of sand.

“Arms and ears
Mouth in gears
Rewired and sore
But well enough to get
One foot out the door
Prepared for what had met
Me at the threshold
Between the new and old”

I think this section really emphasizes what I said above, when he describes “the threshold between the new and old.” Even though you’ve grown comfortable with the way things are, nothing lasts forever, and to continue, you’re going to have to adjust, and maybe even go through some growing pains :”rewired and sore, but well enough to get one foot out  the door.” As someone who has had several major life changes that on the surface sounded like a negative, but ultimately turned into a positive, I really love the message of this song and the stoic philosophy it relates.

Bio:  Alex Frenkel was one of the principle songwriters in the New York-based band Gospels ( http://www.nylon.com/articles/song-premiere-gospels-sleepwalkers https://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/discovery-gospels ) and is a collaborator with Gabriel Garzon-Montano (appearing on a couple of tracks on his recent LP out on Stones Throw Records).

He is in the process of completing three of his own records to be released under the pseudonym Caicos. The first of these records is called Promised Lands, and is out on veryjazzed records/Frenchkiss Label Group on August 10th. The title track from the forthcoming album is the second single.

-Caleb

Want to hear more music? Check out our August TOTD Spotify Playlist.

Don’t forget to check out our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, etc. Here’s our newest episode: Episode 17: Idols

 

TOTD: Emily Brown – Beautiful Baby

If you’ve listened to the podcast/followed along with the blog for at least a couple of weeks, you know how much we love this song. We’ve had a live interview with her, her music was on episode 17 of the podcast, and now I want to do a proper review of it. Caleb and I are both better at writing our feelings than articulating them in conversation, so to give this song the credit it is due, we had to bring it up one more time.

This is one of the most interesting tracks I’ve heard in a long time. The lyrics are both empowering and poignant, giving power to women everywhere while evoking a sense of regret and introspection from the men in the audience. Before we go any further, I want to make sure you’re tracking what the lyrics mean.

“Beautiful Baby responds to an old love song by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer called ‘You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby.’ It speaks to the heartbreak and disillusionment of women who have been infantilized or treated with lightness in highly emotional relationships.”

As a woman, (which I’m not, and luckily we had an interview with her that kept us from mansplaining too much, that is going to be posted as a bonus podcast episode this weekend) this is the kind of song that gives you support and aids you if you’re in a relationship where it feels like you’re treated as more of an accessory or lesser-than. As a man, it makes me think about past interactions and relationships, and makes me a little sad. I was a different guy than I am now, especially in high school. I can’t recall a time where I knowingly treated a relationship or emotions lightly due to the fact that the other party was female, but I definitely can’t rule it out.

It is easy enough to have an unhealthy power dynamic in a relationship, but when that power dynamic stems from a sexist ideal that women are cute little butterflies that don’t have real thoughts, goals, dreams, beyond however they relate to yourself, that’s more a reflection on your worldview than on the relationship you are in right now.

-Seth (with a small assist from Caleb, whatever part you didn’t like, it was Caleb)

You can find this song and more on our August TOTD Spotify playlist.

We also premiered this song for the first time on our newest podcast episode.

TOTD: Isak Thomas and The Stoop Boys – Old School Walk

Spotify, if you prefer

This is such an appropriate song to wind down your Thursday night with. It is a great way to end a date night, and it’s that perfect groove track to get your weekend moving in the right direction.

This is a song of old school chivalry and a feeling of how things used to be, which is really strange considering that Isak and the other two stoop boys are so young. I don’t have an exact age, but let this picture speak for itself.

Image may contain: 1 person, sunglasses and closeup

That’s Isak. The same Isak who sings about going way back like a ’69 Cadillac. I am sure that people talk about the discrepancy between his lyrics and tone, and the picture he presents, so I don’t want to linger here too long. The point I wanted to make is that Isak and his fellow Berklee grads have a sound that’s refined well beyond their years,  bringing that old school soul vibe with harmonies cusping on doo-wop to a new generation with soulful ad-libs along the lines of a Hozier-esque vocalist at times, and some really smooth guitar riffs.

The lyrics speak for themselves, so I don’t want to touch on them too much. I did want to point out that the lyrical route they take is important because the robust flavor of the love songs in old school soul are almost as synonymous with the genre as the vocalists who made it famous. If you start singing 60’s soul with lyrics centered around politics, rambling stories, or any other off-brand topic, it loses a lot of the power. That’s coming from someone who relates to political dissidence and rambling tales of rail workers a lot better than I relate to love stories like this.

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Also, if you’re interested, check out our podcast Here.

TOTD: Van El – “Japanese Garden”

I immediately got early Fleet Foxes vibe from this song. It has this excellent space to it that mixes folk musings and reverberating vocals that sound like they are being belted from one mountain top to another. The whole song, instrumentally and lyrically, feels so relaxing and peaceful. I imagine I’ll go back to this song a lot in the fall, just like I do with Fleet Foxes, because it’s so fitting to listen to this style of music when I’m driving through the mountains for a big hike, or a camping trip.

“Waterfall, koi fish pond,

I’m singing in the garden.”

Like I said, the lyrics really add to the peaceful vibe that’s created here. I can’t wait to get a full copy of the lyrics before we feature this on the podcast eventually, but the bits I gathered just from listening seem to find a speaker that is at peace, both externally and internally. Externally his surroundings are peaceful, hence the name, Japanese Garden. And internally, they seem self assured, with the repetition of the line: “I think I know, where to go.” I don’t know about you guys, but there have been very few times in my life that I have felt that, but the few that I have, the clarity is unreal. I imagine this speaker is having one of those moments, where everything just seems like it’s inevitably headed in a certain direction, and you just have to execute.

This song is the first song off of a four song EP that Van El plans to release in about a month, so if you liked this song (I know you did) then keep your eyes peeled for that. And like I mentioned before, we are hoping to eventually feature the song on an upcoming podcast episode.

-Caleb

Want to hear more? This song and many others have been added to our July TOTD Playlist on Spotify.  

 

 

TOTD: Tim the Lion Tamer – “Dancer”

I really feel like I could break down every single line in this song. It’s one of those haunting songs with minimal production that relies on the beauty of the voice and the depth of the lyrics to carry everything, and damn, does it ever carry everything in this song.

“i’ve never seen nobody
dance like you
in times like these i wonder
if that’s true
if you are lonely too
’cause we’ve always been
hopelessly fucked up”

I don’t know if any of you have ever been in a relationship like the one described here, but it’s brutally beautiful. Two people messed up and in love and unstable, like a collapsing star. It’s full of passion and beauty, but it also isn’t sustainable. Ultimately the song sees the instability become too much, but it’s not as easy as just walking away and never thinking about it again.

“i guess i should move away
’cause in some sad way
i’m already gone”

I’m a known crier. I cry during emotional movies. I cry the first time I realize what an emotional song is really saying, like “Limousine” by Brand New, or “Honey Jars” by Bryan John Appleby, or a billion other instances. This song can now be added to that list, because when I read this last stanza, I couldn’t help but cry:

“it hits me when there’s nothing
left to give
in the ashes of my failures
there you live
ageless and possible
i’m watching you
dancing in your prime
twenty-some
frozen in time”

It may hit me particularly, because I had a 5 year relationship fall apart in my early twenties, and even though it was the best possible thing for me and her, I can relate to the idea of an ageless dancer, stuck at twenty something, frozen in time. Also, from a songwriting standpoint, the symmetry of the first and last stanza are just perfect. Go check out more of Tim the Lion Tamer’s stuff. It’s been added to our July TOTD Spotify playlist.

-Caleb

 

TOTD: Kiddo – Much To Me

I feel like that has to be a Sam Cooke nod, right? I mean, it’s the same progression right out of the gate. Listen to it again, but hear the words, “I was born by the river in a little tent. Oh, and just like that river, I’ve been running ever since.” If it’s not a Sam Cooke nod, kiddo, you should start saying it is.

kiddo pic 1

This is such a bizarre song because it takes familiar funk vibes and blends them with a Timberlake-esque vocalist. What I mean by that is that kiddo has a higher register as it is, but he seamlessly moves back and forth between his falsetto and his normal range. His vocals are pitch perfect and the instrumentation provides a sound that can easily fill packed out arenas, which I expect kiddo to be playing soon enough.

TOTD: Jay Man Sun – “The Day You Left Me”

Are you ready for an epic ballad? Who isn’t at all times? This song sounds like it’s straight out of the brain and mouth of Morrissey. Dripping with sadness and a self awareness that keeps it from veering into cheesy, “The Day You Left Me” is easily one of my favorite songs of Summer 2018. Stick around for the 3:40 mark when it explodes into an emotional crescendo like I haven’t heard in quite some time. The whole song, which focuses on loss of love, takes the listener straight back to the day each of our “you”s left us standing on a doorstep.

Want to hear more? We’ve added this song to our July TOTD playlist on Spotify.