Caleb’s Weekly Favorites: NeodotcoM, Six Time Users, Simon D James, An Echoic, Mending

Hey guys,

If you’re like me, you don’t really just focus on one genre of music when there is so much awesome variety out there. This post is meant to hit on 5 of my favorite songs that I just can’t get out of my head this week, regardless of genre. If you like, or already know one of these artists, stick around and check out the others, you might be surprised what you fall for.

NeodotcoM – “Manifest”

I am a sucker for hip-hop with classic 90s vibes. Call it nostalgia maybe, but this song sounds straight out of hip-hop’s golden era. With a focus on lyricism and flow, NeodotcoM impresses from start to finish (but let me point out the flow change up and effortless rhyme mechanics that start around the 2 minute mark). As for the song itself, it seems to focus on the ways that creativity is a manifestation, a discovery of truth, rather than a creation from nothing. Considering all the call backs to his 90’s heroes, I would say NeodotCom is manifesting in a way that I haven’t seen in hip-hop in far too long.

Bio: Released during the eclipse on Friday the 13th, “Manifest” from Chicago Emcee/Producer NeodotcoM, is the latest release from his upcoming Album, “Gods of Egypt.” Just like this album, Manifest is inspired by the golden ages of hip-hop and the gods of the art form. Inspired by Drink Champs, Neo has decided to give his favorite artists their flowers while they can smell them and trees while they can inhale them. Dedicated to Jay Dilla, Slum Village, Rakim, Eminem, Big L, Jay-Z and Tribe called quest among others, Neo effortlessly displays a level of emcee mastery which hasn’t been witnessed in decades. Lord Haiti freaks the original sample from Slum Village’s fantastic showing respect to Jay Dilla while making the record his own, while Neo borrows classic flows and patterns making them his own and then taking it places unimagined.

Six Time Users – “If You Know Me”

“Jesus sitting in the back of the car
I hear him whisper say we gone too far
Comet coming from the broken sky
I see a tear in my mothers eye
The preacher standing at the podium
And in the square there’s pandemonium
The crowds compelled, blood in their veins
The heat fever that will drive you insane”

I don’t know how you can start a song or poem or use imagery with more depth and intrigue than the first verse of “If You Know Me.” Six Time Users describes themselves as making “millennial bullshit blues,” if that’s what this is, I need more of it. The instrumentals have a hauntingly psychedelic quality that emphasizes reverb in creatively dissonant beauty. If you’re looking for something to capture your winter blues in a bottle, this song is it.

Simon D James – “Burn The Man”

“Wake up folk’s, Its time to dance,
The human race has one more chance.
Rip the needle, from the vein.
Lets kick the habit, dream again, and be the change we want to see in the world.”

I’ve been meaning to share this song for a long time, but I actually am really happy that the timing ended up being at the start of 2020. As we start a new decade, I think the messaging in this song is really important. Don’t let the lo-fi vibes fool you into thinking this is a sad song; this song encourages each of us to take the world into our hands and dream big. Don’t forget to check out his newest EP, Days of Heaven

Bio: Simon Started to write music at the age of 16 and has continued ever since. Three tracks on ‘Days of Heaven’ were recorded and produced by Ben Hampson, who Simon was in a band with as a teenager and it has always been a dream of Simon to work with Ben again. ‘Written By Rules’ & ‘Fooled By You’ were recorded at GreenMount Studios where Simon recorded his first EP.

Simon has busked his way around the world and has spent the last years playing music in the Brighton music scene where he started the band that recorded this EP.

An Echoic – “Love (..As I Was Told)”

“Forget her, up and move on cause deep in that pond there’s always someone better
I know there’s fish in the sea but someone made me afraid of open water”

This song explores something that I’m sure plenty of us have experienced, unrequited love. I’d like to make a quick note that whoever did the album art for An Echoic deserves a shoutout; it’s gorgeous. One thing that stands out to me about this song, and the title, is how different the experience of love and the search for your “soul mate” can be from the common media depictions of it, or “what we are told” it’s supposed to be. This song does a great job of capturing the feeling when we realize it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, and there’s a lot of pain involved in the struggle. At least we have this excellent band to keep us company in the meantime.

Bio: In December of 2016, Martin Kihlstedt released An Echoic’s self-titled debut EP, and shortly thereafter signed to Rexius Records for his second project. The new release presents us with a chamber of thoughts in the form of experimental songwriting (recording spoken word and sampling traditional folk instruments, for example) and unimaginable stories.

Mending – “Alan at Emma’s Cradle”

I hope you have headphones on for this one. This song is epic. Mending is proof of true artistry in the classical sense. This is apparent in this song, that combines echoey vocals, dissonant drone sounds, piano, and subtle percussion. This is also apparent in the overall vision of Mending, where we see ambitious projects that explode in scope and narrative. If you like the vibe of this song, you have to listen to the full project, https://open.spotify.com/album/6catKVmxNPk9oMs0ySKFNN?si=qAMvDFOjSr-XyRmqSmZIXg

This is only the first chapter, as of the end of 2019 Mending has released 8 Chapters worth of EPs that span a 40 year period in an ongoing narrative. There is one Chapter left to be released in 2020, so catch up with the story now before it is complete.

Bio: We Gathered at Wakerobin Hollow is a four hour, 40 song speculative narrative, being released in nine chapters over 18 months. Combining folk songwriting with drone and noise, the songs trace the lives of a family and friends over a 40 year period in a series of connected vignettes. The broad narrative, told chronologically from multiple points-of-view, is set in motion by a catastrophic fire at an oil refinery in Odena, Alabama. From there we follow a handful of characters, as children become adults, spread out to Asheville, New York, and Bennington, get jobs, fall in and out of love, families grow, until coastal flooding and other impacts of climate change transform their day-to-day lives, eventually leading them all to Odena and Wakerobin Hollow.

 

-Caleb

Monday Mix – Rowan Kerrick, Arms Akimbo, George Hadfield, Nik Freitas, Curly Vampiro, Rea Garvey, Simon D. James, Liza, The Hollow Ends, Matt Andersen

Ten new artists to help you get through the next five days of work. 

 

Rowan Kerrick – Your Song

Rowan Kerrick has created something cool here with her new album, Foolish. The album tells a story of a relationship from beginning to end with Your Song leading starting the album by learning from the mistakes of previous relationships, and making promises of how this relationship will be different. Do yourself a favor and listen to the album from beginning to end and see how this relationship turns out.

With soulful vocals, and raw and emotive lyrics, Rowan Kerrick is an artist that people can appreciate regardless of their genre preferences.

 

Arms Akimbo – Velleity

Arms Akimbo makes the kind of music I wish I made. They have emotive lyrics, tight harmonies, wide open guitar, a lot of fun, but most importantly, a cynicism that runs deep in their veins. Velleity itself is an inclination or a wish that isn’t strong enough to act upon.

the notions on the road are keeping me at home
velleity to roam is keeping me at home

They delve into the idea that people become too comfortable with where they currently are to really break out and chase the things they really want. The idea that the grass isn’t always greener has been beat into our head to the point where we accept our current position and are content with dreaming and living vicariously through others. Fear of the unknown can be crippling, but as Michael Scott said that Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

 

George Hadfield – Brenda

George Hadfield has created a really interesting synth funk track with Brenda. What I can’t stop focusing on here is the idea behind the lyrics. Now, I have very little experience with synthesizers, but I do have experience with first instruments. George Hadfield has written a song that is an ode to his first synthesizer. He talks about the scenario that really kicked off his love for the instrument he affectionately named, you guessed it, Brenda. My guess, based on the lyrics, is that he sold it and knows that due to the increasing rarity of the vintage version he had and the increasing popularity of the instrument itself, he will probably never get to play with Brenda again.

If the loss of Brenda makes Hadfield continue to create more fun songs about loss, I hope Brenda stays lost for quite a while.

*I do hope they’re reunited one day though.*

 

Nik Freitas – Listen

“We live in a very self centered culture and its becoming harder to disconnect from everything, including yourself. My oldest daughter started preschool this year and when I’d pick her up in the afternoon she had so much to say about her day, just tons of words trying to explain herself. I had to stop everything i was thinking about or doing and really listen to piece it all together. Its been so refreshing stopping everything to listen and I try to apply it in more conversations now with everybody. Maria Taylor is a good friend and mother of two and i knew she’d get what the song was about, so i asked her to sing backing vocals on the song. I think her performance helped give it a softer and more inviting tone and really brings the point across.”

With a son who is close to entering preschool, this is a song description that really hits home. My son is the exact same way as Freitas’ daughter in regards to how they describe their day. I’ll return home from work and he will just start unloading all of the thoughts he’s tried to stash away to tell me, and they bust out with seemingly no rhyme or reason. He will unload everything from which dinosaur he decided was his favorite (ankylosaurus) to asking me if I had to pick a kitchen appliance, which would it be. This song and description has made me analyze the way I view my conversations with Ollie and the way I view my conversations with the rest of the world. I tend to give Ollie all of my attention and focus while giving most other people about 50% because I’m focusing on the other 298381 things that I currently have going on. I need to have my ears and mind wide open while I’m in ever day conversations so I can really connect with the person I’m talking to.

 

Curly Vampiro – A new new new here

I am such a fan of Curly Vampiro’s honesty on this track. When asked to give and elevator pitch about what the song was about, Curly states simply, “jobs, birthday, death, etc ty.”

An experimental track in the same vein as King Krule, A new new new here is the perfect blend of melancholic truth, perfectly placed samples, and the fuck all attitude that makes it impossible to stop listening.

I can’t believe I lost last month’s work check 
I drink hibiscus tea am I fucking high yet 
Use chapstick cherry, kiss July very 
I’m 25 i’ll eat cake and just be happy 

 

Rea Garvey – Is It Love?

If you have been keeping up with us for a month or so, then you know I recently got back from a trip to Ireland. Rea Garvey, an Irish singer-songwriter, has written a song that kind of sums up a lot of the struggles going on over there right now. Women are fighting for the right to control their own bodies and have the right to not be controlled by a government full of men who don’t understand them.

I won’t pretend to know the full scope of the struggles going on in Ireland right now because I am neither a woman nor am I Irish, but I know a culturally relevant piece that will last a lot longer than a season when I hear it. Rea Garvey’s song has been adapted as an anthem for many across the world, garnering over 14 million plays on Spotify within the first month of its release.

 

Simon D. James – In The Fields

With his second single, Simon D. James writes what may be one of the warmest songs we’ve ever shared on the blog. This is a song that talks about the deep and infinite bond that true friendship creates, and that even though time and distance may separate us, we are always family until the end.

With a timbre all his own, Simon creates a distinct sound of pure emotion with a very humbling gravitas to his music.

 

Liza – Vladimir and 1 Girl, 2 Cups

We have never shared two songs from the same artist in one post, but Liza is a truly unique musician who deserves the distinction that we will call, due to the song title, 1 Girl, 2 Songs.

Vladimir starts out, appropriately enough, like a scene from Eastern Promises; it’s wide open, full of intrigue, and could not possibly sound more Russian. The dark echo of the guitar sets the scene for something truly beautiful.

I can beg you all I want
But you won’t give in
It’s either me or the world in her arms
And I heard she’s with stars
Next to god
She’ll breathe you in

It’s either me or the world in her arms, and I heard she’s with the stars. Damn. She could’ve packed it up after that line, and she would’ve had a more developed world than 98% of the songs I come across. This song is lyrically gut-wrenching, the composition is gorgeous, and Liza’s voice is something that is on a visual spectrum when you close your eyes.

The reason we had to share both is because this song is the yin to Vladimir’s yang. The buildup is smooth and calculated, and develops into a strong finish at around 2:30. The songs have two similarities: Liza’s raw and developed voice full of pain and emotion, and the fucking lyrics. I mean, dear god. Liza is a woman after my own heart as a writer. I’m sure she’s seen happy times, but she doesn’t write about them. This song is about a physically and emotionally abusive piece of trash that is written in such a way that it has to be at the very least “based on a true story.” She writes in a way that could only be achieved if you have been on the other end of flying fists and venomous words.

I hope the boys like a girl who can’t breathe
You think about spending another nice night with me
You live in a dream and my fists are all you can see
And don’t you ever pick up that phone
Your friends never liked you
They want you alone
I told you this countless times
You only have me and that should be fine

Finding artists like Liza actually kind of pisses me off, and it’s not because of anything she did; I tried to find her page on Spotify and had to sift through so many objectively bad artists who have more of a following than her. She easily joins the ranks of my “Criminally Underrated Artists.”

Also, if you are in an abusive relationship and need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.

 

The Hollow Ends – Bears In Mind

With a rambling melody, tight harmonies, and vocals that mix James Mercer and Chris Thile, Bears In Mind is the kind of ride that is best taken with the windows down.

The song starts out at a Decemberists pace and flow before moving into an absolutely untethered frenzy of abrasive guitar, sweeping harmonies, and a sympathy head rush for Zachary Schwartz, the brain behind the Bear. He hits notes with a strength that is very difficult to do, and then he holds onto those notes for longer than most can. I would go light-headed if I attempted to do what he does.

Starting in a controlled folk environment and ending in a cacophonous folk rock boot stomper, Bears In Mind is like if all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park somehow made it out into the real world; they are beautiful to look at and admire, but you don’t truly know their power until they’re in your every day life. That’s this song.

 

Matt Andersen – Going Down

If you’ve used this list correctly, this is your Friday afternoon song. This is the song that is going to start your weekend, and I couldn’t think of a better way to do that than with Matt Andersen and crew absolutely melting your face off. Their larger than life live track features roaring vocals, multiple feature solos, and the deep emotion and stage presence needed to carry the audience through six and a half minutes of head rush blues. I’ve listened to this song three times in a row, and it still makes my lip curl and get that stink face whenever one of them steps forward to show us what they’ve got.

 

Check out all of the artist’s songs in a convenient Spotify playlist here.

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