TOTD: Strange Neighbors “Ghost”

 

I love this song! I know, I know, I say that in every post, and it’s true, I wouldn’t be sharing it if I didn’t. This song hits on a niche that I think is sorely lacking at the moment: a female led grunge/punk band a la Paramore, Alanis Morissette, etc. Not only does it hit that niche, it knocks it out of the park. When asked about the background of the track the band replied: “Ghost is a tongue in cheek song with multilayered meanings – drawing out tropes and stereotypes from horror films as metaphors for feeling like existence is ultimately doomed, confusing and trite identities, and so on.”

This description becomes immediately apparent as you listen to the lyrics mention Michael Myers, tropes in horror movies, a hook mentioning the existence of ghosts in a tongue and cheek sort of way, etc. That “tongue and cheekness” is probably my favorite part of Strange Neighbors. Their bio reads:

“Every once in a while, a band comes along that changes the world. But, shit, that’s a lot of responsibility. Strange Neighbors combines the talents of Aidan (vocals), Tracey (drums), Dob (bass) and Zach (guitar) to make noise about things that matter, things that don’t, and things that lie somewhere in between. Some songs are quiet, some are loud, but at least they’re all honest – rock ’n’ roll that makes your ears feel nice.”

I have to say it’s so refreshing to find a band that knows exactly what they are, doesn’t try to take themselves too seriously, and seems to be having a lot of fun making art, which at it’s core is what art is for most of us: a form of expression that allows us to be whatever we want, silly, funny, romantic, dark, brooding, and all the shades in between.

-Caleb

As always, you can find this track on our monthly Spotify playlist, right here. 

 

The Flock: Rap and Hip-Hop – Emil, Jamar Carr, PENPALS, Fontzerelli, Agency, Whooda Thunk

We have two goals here with our blog and our podcast; we want to help you find a bunch of new artists that you love, and we also want to support those artists. We came up with a new idea for a post where we take a genre, and give you a few artists within that genre. That way, it helps everyone. If you come here because you love one artist, you’ve got five more that you’re probably going to love now. That helps you load up your playlist with tracks that will impress your friends, and it also helps the artists hit untapped markets and possibly network with likeminded artists they didn’t know existed. Without further ado, I present “The Flock.”

Emil – Alive

Emil hits just in time for summer with his beach ready single, Alive. The whole premise behind the song is to enjoy the moment you are currently in, and that’s something that we here at B-Side Guys can get behind. Emil has a heady flow with a smooth beat behind him, and I know it’s something that we will definitely be playing at lake days and beach vacations all summer.

Favorite line:
I can’t have regrets
Look at all the things I manifest.
I can’t help but feel like I’ve been blessed.
Come alive and let me do the rest.

Jamar Carr – R.N.S.

Song number two is definitely more of a banger than Emil’s song above, but this gives you that perfect balance. Emil gives you the daytime flow, and Jamar Carr gives you the key to get pumped up when you go out with your friends after a day of drinking on the beach. Hopefully nothing happens, but if it does, this song is the song that’ll get you hyped up. This song shows the versatility of Jamar. If the name sounds familiar to you, it’s because we’ve already shared one of his tracks on the blog before (spoiler alert: there’s more coming soon). The previous one was a real brain burner about the plight and systemic oppression of African Americans in the United States, whereas this one is more about being real. Jamar Carr has already made mine and Caleb’s playlists, and continues to impress us with every song we hear.

Favorite line:
Love my brothers in uniform
Always going to make it through the storm
But y’all never want to hear that though
because y’all are some real niggas.
Dudes is ass,
Flow is trash
Exactly how I feel, nigga.

 

PENPALS – Hi Tech

He’s been chugging kerosene since 9:30 in the morning. And their video reflects this. Their flow fits so perfectly into almost any hip hop era, with elements that give nods to the 80s and 90s, but don’t feel dated. Their lyrics are simultaneously heady and interesting, and witty and funny. And they also seem to take themselves seriously while still poking fun in all their videos. All of this combines to one of my favorite new hip hop projects I’ve discovered this year. There’s something so anthemic about them belting “High-tech but we’re still fucking low lives” over and over on this track that makes it impossible not to want to sing along and feel like they are describing your existence.

Fontzerelli – La Di Da Di

This song was my biggest surprise of the week. I saw the thumbnail for the music video, and expected something a lot more poppy. I was pleasantly surprised when that beat kicked right at the beginning. Absolutely no build, this song jumps straight into the deep end, and Fontzerelli swims fast as hell. This U.K. rapper has an articulate flow with a growl that makes DMX perk up in his jail cell. This song isn’t a one-off win either. I fell down his content rabbit hole last night, and loved every single thing I came across. If you’re looking for a more articulate, wordier, UK DMX with exponentially more flow, you’ve found the dude. This video is a great introduction to him because it’s so aesthetically pleasing: beautiful colors, beautiful people, and a beautiful flow.

Agency – Cruel Joke

This is one of those videos you throw on repeat at the background of a party and just wait on someone to get sucked into it. It’s a really simple concept, with the ice cream cone slowly melting away while a countdown of some sort counts up. I’m guessing it is seconds? I guess it really depends on how hot the room is.

The next thing you’ll notice is one of my favorite new R&B tracks that explores a complicated relationship. And then a quick reverse of the melting ice cream cone. Some sort of comment on retracing an old relationship? Righting some wrongs? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Whooda Thunk – Alien Boy

Aw man. This is one of my favorite new tracks at the moment. It mixes some really interesting 90s elements that remind me of Beck but mixed with some cool psychedelic samples that are reversed throughout. Also the lyrics are so hilariously playful and witty. They somehow strike a balance between stand up act, and heartfelt plea.

“Based in Kalmar, Sweden, Whooda Thunk is looking to combine his influences in a sound that celebrates his love for music. By finding inspiration in everything from metal-band Korn, electronic artist Aphex Twin, to movies like Donnie Darko, Whooda Thunk manages to make something unpredictable.”

I have to agree with their self described mission statement, and can hear all of those elements. There’s no doubt that Whooda Thunk is making some of the most unique music I’ve ever heard, and I can’t wait to hear more.

 

-Seth and Caleb

 

Morning Commute: Cloudmouth “Nice Looking Mountain”

 

Good morning guys! I’ve been traveling around my hometown all weekend, and it’s made keeping up with the blog a little difficult, but I think we are back on schedule now, and we are coming back with a very strong song. This song has a ton of wonderful sentiments throughout it. It starts strong with:

“All my time is spent chasing the meaning and the money, and the funny thing is lost along the way.
All I need is a nice looking mountain, a little fire burning, and a bottle or two (three, four five).”

I don’t know about you guys, but I feel this way at least once a work when I’m waking up to go to my job. I think most of us would be quite content with a pretty simple existence, with some time to search for meaning and a good time. Unfortunately, our society is set up to make that a herculean task. I am hopeful that all of you out there can strike your work/life balance in a way that finds you content. It’s no easy mission.

I’ll end with some word from the song itself, because they express the duality of this sentiment quite well:

“Some people truly follow their heart,
others just carry it around like a breifcase or a pumping clutch, all covered in blood, and it’s just dragging them down.”

-Caleb

As always, you can find this song and all our other June tracks on our Spotify playlist right here. 

 

 

Video of the Day: Pablo Nouvelle feat. Lulu James – “I’m Not”

Hey there guys. We have an excellent video for you today. The main thing that will immediately strike you is the amazing use of collage-like effects. It reminds me of that scene in The Truman Show where he is trying to piece together faces using magazine clippings, but on a more cosmic scale.

The next thing you’ll be struck by is how awesome the music is. It is ambient in the best way, and subverts your expectations at every turn. When you think it’s building up to a drop, it’s building up to a mind expanding section that let’s itself breathe out. The main thing I hear repeated is “Trying to find my way.” I think that’s a perfect sample for this track and video, that finds us traveling through the cosmos, trying to find our way.

-Caleb

Want to hear this track again? Me too. Follow our Spotify playlist to hear this and many more June features.

 

Caleb’s Favorite Releases June 15th: Jah Movement, David Myhr, Maddison, Johnny Conqueroo, Mikey Wax

Favorite Summer Song: Jah Movement “To You I Pray”

I always find myself getting into Reggae vibes in the summer. It’s just music that sounds like you should be sitting in the sun, with a spritzy drink in hand. This song particularly seems to focus on some Rastafarian elements of love and spirituality. There are some excellent instrumentals, with some fun melody matching with a lead guitar (or maybe a synth, not positive, but you’ll hear it). Another thing I like about this song is the message, self-described as: “With all the trouble that is going on in the world today. We hope and pray to Jah that it will get better for our Youths.” Who can’t get behind that?

Favorite Video: David Myhr “My Negative Friend”

I mean I assume after you watch 2 seconds of this video you can get what I like about it. The music itself is exceptional and upbeat, but the really cool animation style just pulls you in. The clunky FPS give it a surreal vibe, and then once the chorus kicks in, and by extension all the flowers and colors kick in, you’d have to be soulless not feel completely powerless to be a “negative friend”. I hope this song/video leaves you feeling better than when you entered. “We only get one chance in this world we’re living in, so make it a good one.”

Favorite song for my morning Bike Ride: Maddison “Lose My Mind”

So the best thing for me when on a bike ride, is a consistent beat that has me nodding my head, and something upbeat. This song checks all the boxes. It is upbeat, has a choir effect on the vocals reminiscent of The Black Keys, a sick guitar solo, and a rocking drum beat. This should be added to everyone’s workout playlists, or summer windows down playlists, your choice.

 

Favorite lyrics: Johnny Conqueroo “Why?”

Sometimes I’m a man who loves depressing lyrics. The bluesy vibe of this song, with the emotive driven vocals really add to the desperation found in these words, that ultimately end, without resolution, with a suicide attempt in a hotel room. If I’m feeling optimistic, maybe the sick outro riff, and organ give us a glimpse of redemption, or maybe that’s what death sounds like. Either way, here are the lyrics in full: (note, if you are thinking of suicide please talk to someone, you are not crazy for feeling that way, but you also aren’t out of options)

Some people think I’ve lost my head

Some people wish I was dead

and just maybe, just maybe it will come true

Checked into my motel room

looked through the phonebook

and I couldn’t find nobody I could call

And I said Why, why why, is everyone so cold?

And I said why, why, why is everyone so cold?

I saw my only friend today

he didn’t have nothing to say

So I guess I’m here all alone

And I said why, why, why is everyone so cold?

And I said why, why, why is everyone so cold?

Put the belt around my neck

smoked my last cigarette

and I felt my skin turn so cold

And I said why, why, why is everyone so cold?

And I said why, why, why is everyone so cold?

Favorite composition: Mikey Wax “Big Little Life”

This song is just so perfectly constructed. The beat is fairly consistent throughout, but the guitar work progresses really nicely, and you hear these moments where a slide is happening in the background, either with a guitar or a synth emulating it. That’s not even mentioning the lyrics which focus on building a life and growing old together with bubbly vocals. This song is going on all of my summer playlists (and also our monthly playlist which you can find here.) Also, if I’m not mistaken, Mikey is getting married tomorrow (June 16th) so congrats on “building that big little life”.

Video of the Day: SamXVI – “Such a Pretty House and Such a Pretty Garden”

 

Have a spare 15 minutes? Check out this video, or save it for later when you do, I promise it’s worth it. The video is self described as: “An audio/visual art project exploring an intense and difficult struggle with depression, and how to “stay afloat” during a difficult time.” This becomes apparent quickly with the voice over and the shocking image of someone falling into a pond. This is one of those videos that is less a conventional music video (except the music which is also exceptional) and more of an impactful short film. It has a very DIY approach to it, most of it using a single camera and very few props. Take notes musician readers of the blog. You don’t need millions of dollars to start getting your videos out there.

Image result for samxvi

The full EP, which is titled, like the blog post, Such a Pretty House, and Such a Pretty Garden” is basically played in full throughout the video. You can find the EP in broken up form on Spotify (as well as the first track on our Spotify playlist here). Something that really becomes awesome as the video progresses are the effects overlayed (like you can see in the shot above). The use of color, animation, and varied styles in music, really allow the viewer/listener to follow the progression of this depression, and the sense of feeling underwater fighting for your life that so many who have suffered from these episodes are familiar with. I won’t spoil the ending, because you need to see it yourself, but I hope any one out there who currently feels underwater can see something worth fighting for, a light at the end of the tunnel, a better tomorrow, because, at least in my experience, it does always become apparent eventually, if you can just keep fighting. Thanks again to SamXVI for reminding us how important it is to keep swimming.

-Caleb

Mid Day Music Blast: Pistachio Gods – “a few more months”

I have a really interesting track for you today as you take a mid day break. When you start listening, you may think it is going in a pure folky direction. And then the beat starts to come in and you are like, oh okay I guess this is R&B. And then the flow kicks in, and hopefully you stop trying to define it. This one seems fully prepped to be one of my singles of the summer. It’s short and effective. It catches my attention with both catchy beats and elements of trippiness to it. The vocals are clean and various. I really can’t get enough of it.

Luckily for us, Pistachio Gods gave us a little background about the seemingly dissonant elements of this song:

“This song deals with our struggle of moving on in a relationship, we had the idea to combine folk music with hard trap drums and tell the story of how we know in a few months will get over this breakup finally and be moving on, but right now things are really hard for us.”

This song definitely pretty well encapsulates that idea. It’s so frustrating when your logical brain tells you that time is the only cure, but you still feel all the difficult emotions anyway. Hopefully this song helps some of you feel better and carries you through some of the darkness.

-Caleb

Want more music? Don’t forget to follow our monthly Spotify playlists.

 

Video of the Day: Esbie Fonte “Ace’s High”

I have a perfect video for you guys for the Tuesday blues. This song is all about dissatisfaction in corporate America, the mind-numbing nature of 9-5 work. It’s also a bit about the deep existentialism that comes with getting stuck in a loop. It reflects on a tedium that never seems to end and always repeats again every week, slowly draining your remaining life hours away from you inch by inch.

“Ace’s high, and I’m so low

Getting by on tomorrow”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly felt this despair, and I mostly like my job. I also get summer’s off. I just think human freedom is somewhat at odds with forced labor. I know, I know, its’ not literal forced labor. There’s no slavery involved, but most people don’t really have other options besides working to afford the basic tenants of comfortability in this society.

“If this is life, then why am I afraid,

9-5 just to survive in vain”

Image result for esbie fonte

Definitely watch the video intently. The lyrics tell the story I’ve already laid out, but I appreciate that the video also seems to intersperse how our home life is somewhat of a loop too. And that these home lives are mostly just ways to cope with our career life, and our meaninglessness.

To end on an uplifting note: I assume many of you out there feel just like the song says. Do not get stuck in a career you hate for the next 30 years. Start making moves now to do something you’ll feel more happy with. Make sure your work/life balance is in order. It doesn’t have to be something you fix tomorrow, but make sure your intentions are towards fixing it in the next 5 years. I assume Esbie Fonte has made moves to get away from 9-5 life through her artistry. Seth and I are slowly working our way away from it by creating a space for you guys to hear music you wouldn’t hear otherwise. None of us are quitting our day jobs yet (though I can’t speak for Esbie, maybe she is, her talent is already there for sure), but I’m also not wasting my days assuming that my only option is to continue down the same path as the baby boomers. I have no interest in living to work. I just want to live. Start making a game plan for you to do the same. We do not have to buy the lie that there is only one path.

-Caleb

You can find this song and all of our June posts on our monthly Spotify playlist right here. 

 

TOTD: Basement Revolver “Baby”

I am so excited to share this track from Basement Revolver with you. It’s the first single off their upcoming project which will be available in August, so make sure you follow them on SoundCloud or Spotify so you can hear that as soon as it drops. I expect, if it follows the vibe of this song, it will feature haunting vocals, spacey instrumentals, and relatable lyrics. If you like bands like the Pixies or Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I think you’ve found a new band to add to your repertoire.

Songwriter Chrisy Hurn boldly shares intimate stories and personal wounds from her past, which have come together to reveal a deeply affecting and rewarding debut full length. Album opener and lead single “Baby” was written at a time when she was seemingly happy but felt an underlying sadness and dissatisfaction, “it’s about feeling confused about what I want in life, and how that affects other people. It is about crying a lot and feeling like I was burdening my partner with those questions and not wanting him to feel like he was the source of my anxiety.”

You can hear Christy’s pain in the lyrics:

“Baby I’m so sorry, I’m trying to figure this out.”

“Just give me some time.”

As someone who has constantly struggled with depression and anxiety, and then allowed those things to spiral in front of people I cared about, I related so much with this song. There is nothing worse than going through an episode, and then also feeling aftershocks of the burdensome feeling when it’s over. I can’t tell you how many panic attacks I’ve had that I ended up apologizing for “being stupid” for afterwards. Obviously my partner never acts like I am burdening them at all with that, but it’s still hard to get past it in my own mind, which causes a new spiral. It can definitely be a sick cycle. Luckily, a few years back I found a therapist that helped me through some of it. And I encourage any of you feeling this way to find another outlet besides your partner. Obviously I still share with her, but I try not to only share with her, and not every single day. You want to keep the relationship a relationship and a therapist a therapist. Anyway, didn’t mean to pour my heart out there for a second, but that’s what art does sometimes. It’s a wonderful mirror. Anyone of you that has listened to our podcast has heard more intimate stuff than that haha.

-Caleb

Go check out this song and more on our June TOTD playlist.