Monday Mix-down featuring: Dubby, Telescreens, The Escalator, and Awolk

This is a grab bag of all of my favorite artists from the week to carry you through those Monday blues. No genres, no themes, nothing. I mean, I guess the theme is that I love these songs.

We try to group artists with similar artists, but the fact of the matter is that most music fans don’t solely like one genre. If you’re like me, there are very few genres that you don’t get into in some capacity. What I’ve found is that a lot of people cross paths with the same people in their musical taste. Seth and I have a lot of crossover, but one distinct difference right out of the gate is that Seth gets more into the folk scene, and I get way more experimental with what he likes. Some of what he listens to sounds like Elvish chants in the woods to me, and some of what I listen to probably sounds to him like what Michael Caine listened to  in Children of MenYou’ll probably start to notice a trend in these posts at some point. We have a lot of crossover, especially when it comes to hip-hop and emotive indie rock, but there’s a lot of music that Seth and I don’t necessarily agree on. We both know that objectively they’re good tracks, we just don’t subjectively like it as much as some other stuff. Without further ado, here are my favorite tracks of the week.

Dubby – “Gelati Kong ft. King Los”

Image result for dubby gelati kong

I had never heard the plural of “gelato” before this, and I’m not entirely sure what Gelati Kong would imply, but this song is so smooth. The beat is a classic throwback hip-hop beat, mixed with some trap elements that make it feel modern. I know that this song will find it’s way onto all my summer playlists.

 

Bio: If you enjoy the sound of this south central Pennsylvania artist, be sure to check him out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @Dubbygotbars! Be on the lookout for his second album entitled “TOWN” which was re-released on 10/13/18. Visit http://www.dubbygotbars.com for free music, merch and behind the scenes footage

 

Telescreens – “Poison”

Image may contain: 3 people, people playing musical instruments, people on stage and people sitting

I adore this song. The guitar line is so smooth, and has a nice genre-mix to it that makes me feel like a lazy summer day. It’s not necessarily a happy summer day, but it’s not overly depressing either. It seems to be pondering a person that is “poisonous”. The difficult thing of course is that poison is usually hidden until it starts effecting you negatively, and the damage is already done. I can’t wait for them to release more music! In the meantime, do like me and put this one on repeat all summer long.

 

The Escalator – “The Cathedral”

Found my way to St Patrick’s Cathedral
Took a seat by the alter and I cried
All alone, starring up at the ceiling
Closed my eyes
Asked God why?
Violence is normal
Why violence is normal
All through the night

What a haunting way to end a song. This song was actually sent to us a long time ago, and it’s just sort of happenstance that this is posted a week after the events in New Zealand. Of course, unfortunately, we are never too far from an act of violence in the news at any given time, but I definitely think this song hit me harder than usual this morning. The lyrics themselves would be haunting enough, but then you combine that with the soulful vocals, and it really starts to raise the hair on your arms. I think it’s fitting that this album was created to “create a cathartic experience for people visiting Trump Tower,” and hope that more people get to feel that catharsis after hearing this today.

Bio: The Escalator is a protest album featuring Grammy award winning bandleader, Steven Bernstein, vocalists Amy Leon, Trixie Whitley and many more. The album is an audio walking tour with a total playtime lasting the duration of time it takes to walk from the top of the escalator at Trump Tower, then down the street to St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York York City.

Awolk – “Open Doors”

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I get some real Ben Howard vibes from this song, and seeing as how Ben Howard is one of my favorite artists, it’s pretty easy to see why this song makes my list of favorites. Another thing I really love about this song is just how positive it’s messaging is. As someone who struggles with overcoming fear/anxiety, I really needed this message of finding the open door and walking through it.

Fear is far too close
Fear will choke your growth
Fear don’t break down doors 

I think a lot of us could use this message today. Spring is starting all over the U.S. (albeit slower than I wish it was). It’s time for a new beginning.

Bio: Awolk is an alternative folk-rock singer-songwriter from Nova Scotia, Canada. For almost 10 years he has been playing under various stage names and bands.

Awolk recently released his debut full length record, available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, and Bandcamp. Self titled, the album is a weighty and eclectic list of tracks, covering his lyrical and melodic thoughts, developing over the last few years.

His alternative style, blends melody focused songs with modern acoustic and electric soundscapes. Awolk used to be known by his birth name, Jesse Thomas, releasing 2 EPs and 2 single recordings under that name. In 2017, he diverged into his new stage name.

  • Caleb

Video of the Day: Alex Bloom – “Elevator”

Image result for alex bloom music

Reminds me of: Ben Howard mixed with The Beatles and Radiohead

If you watched the video, I feel like this is already pretty clear, but let’s check out what the artist said about this excellent tune:

“I wrote a song about the existential elevator ride of life. I think it’s something everyone thinks about all the time. My creative inspiration came from this little white Casio keyboard with preset beats that I set to ‘Rock’. Then I started with this guitar riff and immediately noticed the shape and movement of the chord I used, kind of looked like an elevator.” – Alex Bloom

And what an existential elevator ride it is. From the lyrics, it seems to suggest that a lot of that ride points downward (although the end of the video finds our elevator in ethereal space). I think this metaphor is an excellent way to describe the existential dread that comes with post-modern existence. A lot of us know/believe there is no purpose to any of this, but most of us think it is important to create our own meaning regardless. It is an unwinnable game that each of us has to decide whether or not to play. I think that this song suggests that even though it’s hopeless, that doesn’t necessarily mean the game isn’t worth playing. If you can fully accept that there is no inherent purpose, that can be depressing, but it can also be freeing. This can be seen most clearly in this section:

“I don’t believe
I don’t believe
let me cheer you up
let me offer
let me take a sponge
to your human condition now I’ll boil down
all your suffering to an
elevator ride
no one will survive terminal speed Hades receive me
you can be afraid
of all your sins
you can’t see yourself breakin mirrors
climbing through the shaft see what’s coming
elevator ride
no one will survive terminal speed Hades receive me
I don’t wanna cheat it
I don’t wanna cheat it
there’s no way to beat it that’s the way I want it”

If you fully accept reality for what it is (or as close as we can get to perceiving what it is), then you can perhaps live a better personal existence, even if no one is watching over you.

One more thing I wanted to mention about the video, is how cool the blurred effect is. I have (under control) DPDR. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a shorthand for Depersonalization and Derealization. This video gets very close to explaining how I feel when I go through DPDR episodes (which is a pretty difficult thing to explain fully). It fits along nicely with the existential lyrics, and atmospheric vocals. I’m not suggesting that the video was trying to explain DPDR or anything, but I just found it comforting in a strange sort of way from a personal angle.

Bio: His 2017 “One More Shot” song became a “quiet” YouTube hit with over 2 million cumulative streams and his debut album Blue Room already has over 450,000 plays on Spotify.

Earlier this year, in the midst of working on his new material, Bloom’s song “Evanesce” was featured in the Netflix Original movie “The Open House.” An exciting moment for an indie artist who runs his own label…

Alex has received early critical praise for his songwriting and complex vocal arrangements.

“Elevator” is just a foreshadow of the rest of Bloom’s new material (sophomore album) set for release in 2019.

 

-Caleb

Video of the Day: Tender Glue – “Rudy”

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I have a really chill song for you guys to check out this morning. Before we get into the song itself, I really like the vibe of this video. There’s nothing overly complicated going on. It’s mainly just quick shots of various things, and an occasional video of the guitarist playing the song in a shadowy room, but the bright colors and strange effects keep me glued to it, and it fits so well with the music and vibe of the song in general. If you guys are trying to make a good video on a budget, take notes. Now, let’s dive into the song itself a little bit, listen to it again here if you want, to give my guy some Spotify plays:

 

“And if I go
Roll one for me
Cigarettes you used to smoke
Hope you will quit
And if I die
Bury me so deep under all our lies
Hope you will quit”

I love the sentiment to the chorus here. There is this awesome dissonance of wanting what’s best for someone, and accepting them as they are. He wants this person to remember him when he’s gone, and remember him in the way that they feel comfortable, even if he’d rather the person quit smoking and be healthy. It’s really a beautifully melancholic sentiment.

Don’t just take my word for interpretations though, let’s check out the artist’s idea about his creation: “‘Rudy’ was written about 6 years ago and was inspired by a girl I met once. I had chords and a melody written beforehand and the words came quickly to me. This girl had shown me how she rolls her cigarettes, which was inspiration for the lyrics “And if I go ; Roll one for me; Cigarettes you used to smoke; Hope you will quit”. Although some of the lyrics were based on real scenarios, the whole idea of the song is more of an imagination. I took some of the details of this brief non-intimate meeting and created a story.”

I love the idea of these random encounters allowing us to create an entire universe of art, a relationship that never actually happened, and yet, I, as the listener, feel the same emotions regardless of how real or not it was. Really incredible.

Bio: Tender Glue (noun): Not a person. Not a band. Music made by an urge to create.

Tender Glue is made up of Tom Gluewicki, who was originally born and raised in Poland and later moved to New York in 2002. He explains his first encounter with playing music when he was twelve years-old after he had fixed a broken guitar that his brother brought home. You can learn more about his story in the “ABOUT” section of his website.

On September 25th, 2015, Tender Glue released his debut EP titled, “Wait For Steady Light”. After several years of creating original music, this album is a culmination of raw recordings, composed with minimal equipment, using the resources Tom had in his home. Full length album “Steady Light”, which was a continuation of the EP, was released year later on August 26th, 2016.

The latest album titled “Closet Leftovers”, was released on September 28th, 2018 on Tom’s record label called Don’t Label Me Records. The first four singles from the album were released between February to June of 2018. “Closet Leftovers” was recorded and produced by Tom in his studio apartment closet after he moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan more than a year ago.

-Caleb

Morning Commute: Small Words – “Darling”

Good morning B-Side Back Massagers (idk man, I’m running out of alliterative ideas). I have a really great indie/pop-punk style track from Small Words to share with you this morning. This song reminds me of the best parts of my late teens/early 20s. It captures the angst, the newly found freedom, and the cautious hope that I sometimes get nostalgia for now that I’m pushing 30. Let’s dive into the first verse and chorus:

“Darling, I am calling.
I’m locked outside
With someone else,
A fragment of my former self.
So darling, could you save me?
I’m not the type to ask for help,
But if you could I’ve never felt this way.
Lets get away.
I’m far too drunk to drive,
Do you think you could??
We took the back road
singing ladadadada”

  1. I appreciate this song advocating for not driving drunk.
  2. On a serious note, these lyrics perfectly capture that youth I was talking about before. Drunk, figuring out who you are, singing on back roads with friends (or more than friends), it’s really a beautiful nostalgic picture.

If you are looking for more from Small Words, this song is from an EP called For What It’s Worthless which you can find here: For What It’s Worthless.

 

Bio: Small Words is an energetic Indie-Rock band out of Indianapolis, IN.

With 2016’s “For What It’s Worthless” EP, the 5-piece quickly began making a name for themselves in the music scene.

Drawing influence from a myriad of genres, the band keeps the audience on their toes, and glued to their performance.

2019 will see the release of their new record, “Good Day, Bad Me”, recorded at The Lumberyard in Hammonton, NJ. (Produced, and mixed by Ace Enders, and Nik Bruzzese)

The album explores the struggles of addiction, grief, depression, and accepting one’s own mortality without spoon feeding you “it’s gonna be okay”’s. In these trying times we need to know that it’s okay to struggle, and no one needs to fight their demons alone.

 

– Caleb

TOTD: Thacker – “From The Hands of Angels”

Image result for thacker from the hands of angels

 

 

 

“Well ever/greens don’t grow/ overnight/ so tell me/ when can I start
And treetops/ once grown pierce/ the sky/ freeing the sun/ shine upon me now”
I love the sentiment at the end of this song. I think we all want to be evergreens, able to withstand changes, in weather, seasons, years. The problem is, most of us don’t know how to build ourselves up to that level, because we only see the finished product. I think this song encourages us to just aim to be a sapling, and try to grow a little each day. And that’s just the lyrical content! The best part of this song, is even if you didn’t hear the message, you’d love it. It’s got some beautiful horn arrangements, a consistent and polished vocal track, and crisp string sound from the rhythm sections. I really can’t get over how phenomenally constructed the whole track is. Everytime I listen to it, something different stands out, as I’m writing this, I’m just noticing how fun the bass line is that’s driving the song. This is a band that is criminally underrated. I hope our followers go give them some much deserved listens and love.

Bio:  First EP from the Los Angeles artist Thacker. Members include:

Andrew Thacker

Matty Margallo

André Eliazar de Carvalho

Masaki Micky Miyase

They say they are forever in gratitude for and to family, friends, listeners now and in the future, supporters, and the musicians who have illuminated the path.

-Caleb

 

Morning Commute New Year New Me Edition (and a brief apology) 1/4/2019: Levant – “Time to Shine”

Hey guys. You probably noticed we haven’t posted in a while. That’s kind of a bummer. There’s been some things going on in the background that has kept us from doing this blog justice, mostly concerning obligations and real work and real-life responsibility. It’s a new year though, and I am committed to posting several times a week at the very least. I hope you stayed around, and enjoy our journey into the future, because we still have so much amazing music to share with you. Let’s get it started today with this awesome track from Levant called “Time to Shine.”

Levant- “Time to Shine”

This project is really cool. Levant wrote and arranged all the songs on this project, but then had different people come into the studio to play/sing the songs.  This track features JJ Jackson from The Bastard Sons and is the closing track on the album, Beneath rubble, run rivers red, which can be found on all your major music providers. I really love how this song feels like a taste of something new and something old. It has some moments that sound a lot like mid 00s indie, and even some tinges of grunge, but it’s also something completely new and fresh. The thing I think that stands out the most to me in this song is the creative use of the sample, and the transitions between piano and low end instrumentation.

 

-Caleb

TOTD: Mia and Jonah “Spin as One”

I’m so happy to introduce you guys to one of my favorite songs of the moment, off of a brand new EP that came out on Friday. I had a great interview with both Mia and Jonah that I’ll be posting soon as a podcast episode, so keep your eyes peeled for that. They were absolutely delightful, and even played a live song for you guys. For now though, let’s focus on this super hopeful song in not so hopeful times, a song that encourages us to “spin as one” when the world turns upside down. The press release describes the inspiration behind the song with: “The couple’s daughter, Rose, was born in 2012. Spin as One’s lyrical themes reflect on family life—overcoming struggles through love and care of one other—as well as Mia and Jonah’s wishes of soulful self-discovery and a collective coming-together for our world to find its way back home.” Both personally and collectively, I really need this song in my life right now, and that’s before even mentioning how beautiful it is instrumentally. The strings in particular are just incredibly arranged over flawless harmonies from both Mia and Jonah, and trust me, the whole EP is just as good as this song.

Image result for mia and jonah

Bio: “With accomplished highlights such as opening for pop idols such as Sia, Tracy Chapman and Ben Taylor at the Fillmore, the duo eventually migrated south to Los Angeles whereby they quickly ingratiated themselves into the local scene, sharing a residence with the Burning Man star William Close (Earth Harp Collective creator). Since their arrival, they’ve been religious performers at LA’s annual Truck Stop “Hootenanny!” where they played with Central California icon Brett Dennen and round the fire with up ’n coming legends such as Lukas Nelson.

In 2016, Jonah, along with his 6-pc band, released a 9-track excursion entitled Midnight Ball. With a funky sound that recalled the sunny effervescence of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sublime, LA Weekly commended “its vibey, eclectic sound, that embodies the laid-back coolness of Southern Californian culture.”

Scheduled for release on September 7, their new album, Spin as One,features the talents of bass player Seth Ford-Young (Tom Waits, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros), and drummer Steve DiStanislao (David Gilmour, CSN, Kenny Loggins), with banjo by Chris Pandolfi (Infamous Stringdusters), and violin by Alan Grubner. Americana UK praised their “highly effective harmonies, as good a pairing as anything out there.”

Discography

2005 Shine I

2006 Hallelujah EP

2008 Rooms for Adelaide

2011 The Golden Ass (with claymation based on ancient story “The 11 Book Metamorphosis” by Greek writer Apuleius)

2012 Mountainside (single)

2016 Midnight Ball (Jonah’s band)

2018 Spin as One

-Caleb

Looking for more? We’ve added this song and more to our September TOTD Playlist.

Like I mentioned before, we will soon have an interview with Mia and Jonah on our podcast, you can check out our most recent episode here: Episode 18: Existentialism (Part 1)

Morning Commute: Cambriana – “Lucifer”

“When it’s visible
Every bruise in your skin
I will never pray
if our god’s a virgin

He could use some learning

Satan is grinning
and I just wanna go down”

 

This is a really unique track with some amazing instrumentals and really intriguing lyrics. To me, the section I pasted above seems to be a discussion about how relate-able a “perfect” god is to his imperfect children. I know that a lot of religions teach us to suppress our human urges, namely the sexual ones that are mentioned in this song, and you can decide for yourself if that has any value, but it is certainly a temptation that is difficult to overcome, and a virtue that is difficult to relate with. Ultimately we see that this lyricist is willing to go to hell for the love of a woman named “Kate”. Here’s how the song ends:

“Open heaven’s gate
Gather all insurgents
If they knew you, Kate,
they would all be plunging down

They’d be raining down

Spend forever burning”

I love this image. This woman is something so powerful and beautiful that all of heaven would choose going to hell just to be with her. It’s really a unique take on the whole thing.

Bio:  Brazilian folk rockers Cambriana are teasing their upcoming album, Manaus Vidaloka, with new single, “Lucifer.” Injected with a heavy dose of afrobeat and traditional bossa nova, the song is a potpourri of laid back flourishes, fingerstyle guitar, and tongue in cheek lyrics.

According to producer and lead singer Luis Calil, “Lucifer” is “meant to be sensual, yet profane and funny. It uses the fall of the angel Lucifer as a metaphor on ‘going down,’ and mocks how certain religious traditions demonize non procreation sex as sin.” Calil sings on the track, “If our God’s a virgin / he could use some learning.” Ones To Watch said, “‘Lucifer’ not only blesses our ears, but delves deep…into societal constructs, and deep into our hearts.”

Manaus Vidaloka is the follow up to 2012’s House of Tolerance, and 2013’s EP, Worker, from which the group achieved widespread success, boasting over 1 million streams and 20k monthlies on Spotify, a slew of festival performances, and licensing to major Brazilian TV shows. Rolling Stone Brazil called the Goiânia-based group “…so impressive it’s almost frightening. [They’re] on the same level of bands like Islands and Grizzly Bear.”

Facebook // Spotify // Instagram // Twitter

-Caleb

Want to hear more? We’ve added this song and more to our September TOTD Playlist.

Video of the Day: Couch Jackets – “Don’t Think Just Breathe”

 

I really have to work on taking the title’s advice here. This video is so much fun. I mean, maybe fun is the wrong word, considering the subject matter that finds its way into the video (natural disasters, protests, global warming, etc.) But it’s also offset with zen-like imagery, and trippy visuals that make it one of my favorite videos of the moment. Let’s dive into some of the lyrics real quick, in between eating bullshit and emotional dissonance (if you don’t get that reference, go back and re-watch the video, hell re-watch the video anyway):

“Lighting a burned bridge between me and the purpose I’ve made,
But in my~ smoky haze I’ve forgotten to replace it’s arcade
Every game I’ve ever played engulfed by flame, left to fade.
No one’s insane we’re each of different makes which are arcane

“Don’t think just breathe
Don’t think just breathe”

Here’s a short list of things that are bothering me at the moment:

  1. Stress at my day job.
  2. Trump
  3. Writer’s block
  4. The inevitable heat death of the universe
  5. Trump

I’m going to do my best today, because of this song’s inspiration, to slow my brain down and “just breathe.”

So regardless of the thing that’s bothering you right now, hopefully you can put this video on repeat for a bit, and take a short vacation from it.

Bio:  “Couch Jackets sounds like an alligator’s eating us,” reads the explanatory note on the Little Rock, Arkansas quartet’s Bandcamp page. Fans of the band have become accustomed to this sort of irreverence – these are funny guys, and they lead with their personalities. Yet it’s not just a joke. Listening to Couch Jackets can be like entering a whirlpool: songs don’t behave the way you expect them to. They come at the listener with manic energy; they twist and turn, shiver and shake, and no matter how playful they seem, they always carry with them a whiff of danger.

We suppose that if we were asked to be particular about it, we could try to classify Couch Jackets. Given their ambition and the idiosyncratic nature of the music they make, it’s fair to call them a progressive rock act. Their emphasis on texture and love of experimentation aligns them with the neo-psychedelic movement, and their supple grooves are redolent of classic ‘70s pop. There’s even a hint of country music somewhere in the mix. But we don’t think we’ve ever heard a band combine its influences in quite the same way. Go To Bed, the group’s most recent set, was made in Nashville, and it’s the fullest realization of their visionary sound yet committed to record. It somehow manages to sound more polished than their prior recordings while preserving the primal chaos and sense of fun that has always distinguished the band. We have no idea how they’ve pulled off this trick. Like so much about Couch Jackets, their methods are shrouded in mystery.

Just as the band has developed a singular sound, they’ve come up with a visual aesthetic that’s wholly theirs – and that matches the music perfectly. For a still-new band, Couch Jackets have made a lot of videos, and they all display the group’s inventiveness, imagination, and sense of humor. Consider, for instance, the clip for “Don’t Think Just Breathe”, which manages to satirize obsessive news-watchers, cooking shows, reality television, and the act of eating dinner.

 

-Caleb

Looking for more music? We’ve added this song and more to our September TOTD Playlist.

New Release Friday: Saba Abraha, Caleb Kopta

Hey guys! Happy New Release Friday. We have two new tracks for you today from some amazing artists! Check back every Friday for new releases. Don’t forget to support all the artists if you like what you hear!

Saba Abraha – “Utopia”

I absolutely love this song. It grabs me immediately with the interesting spoken word intro, followed by uncanny syncopated beats. The artist describes the lyrics as “a new world where an empress loses her crown and is forced to battle the harsh realities of the world on her road to redemption. “Sweet Mirage” awaits…”

To me, the production on this song is some of the best I have ever heard. It perfectly blends elements that sound modern and classic, in an absolutely unique creation. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the EP: Sweet Mirage.

Caleb Kopta – “Anything”

“I’ve been passing out with the ashtray,
I’ve been choking on the cavalier
we were two kids finding love inside of the hallway,
isn’t it a shame,
We didn’t make it anyway,”

This song has such a classic vibe to it. It reminds me a lot of high school, and how intense every emotion and relationship seemed at the time. When he repeats in the pre-chorus, “I’d do anything for you,” I don’t know how you can’t relate to that. We’ve all been in that spot where we desperately thought that if we just loved someone with everything we had, that would eventually be enough. As we age, we see that sometimes it’s not that simple, but this song reminds me of the times that we wished it was.

Bio: Inspired by the Rock and Roll greats that came before him, and motivated by the stories that we all encounter on a daily basis, Caleb Kopta is crafting a niche for himself in the modern alternative rock landscape with honest lyrics, driving guitars and a desire to craft the soundtrack to life’s everyday experiences.

Born the son of a music minister in small-town Pennsylvania, music has fueled Caleb as long as he can remember. From attending his first concert at only two months old to sharing the stage with such bands as Motherfolk, PHANGS, Michigander and Corey Killgannon, Caleb has devoted his life to creating meaningful, resonate music that can impact the world around him.

Often drawing comparisons to The Killers, Bruce Springsteen and Bleachers, Kopta’s music is a unique blending of the Rock, New Wave and Singer / Songwriter genres. He excels at delivering powerful, anthemic choruses while still allowing the song to feel personal and complementary to the story at hand.

 

-Caleb (the blogger, not the artist)

Want to hear more? We’ve added both these songs and more to our August Spotify TOTD Playlist.