Mid-Day Music Blast: Joel Porter – “Amaranthine”

I admittedly didn’t know what an Amaranthine was, so I looked it up:

” The appellation is rooted in the Greek words “amarantos,” meaning “immortal” or “unfading,” and “anthos,” meaning “flower.” The word “amaranthine” emerged as an adjective of the imaginary flower and subsequently of anything possessing its undying quality” (Merriam-Webster dictionary)

So as a metaphor, it’s really quite beautiful. It is a flower that doesn’t exist, because it cannot exist, because the quality that defines it is immortality, and everything ends. Nonetheless, artistry explores abstract concepts that don’t have to sync up with reality all the time, and so Amaranthine can be as real as a song, an idea, a poem. The song itself backs up these poetic notions with it’s lyrical and atmospheric quality. Here’s my favorite snippet:

“Winter love and paradigm stoic
I cannot live like this
Strike the match to burn my pattern holding
Today I choose to live
Away from infinite (Someday I’ll befriend to death, there I’ll stay in Infinite)”

 

As someone who tries to take a stoic attitude toward things I cannot control (such as death in this example), I really connected with these lyrics. It seems that he is feeling the pull between trying to live stoically in the face of certain death (the infinite), and also that we as humans are passionate, we are not always meant to be stoic, and for a moment, maybe it’s best to light that passion on fire, forget about the inevitable end for a while, and hope maybe one day in the future he can “befriend death”. Whether that’s the literal meaning or not, it’s the message I needed to hear today. I’m very thankful that Joel Porter shared it with us.

Bio: Joel Porter is an ambient-folk writer, instrumentalist, and producer from North Dakota, now living in Nashville, TN. As an instrumentalist, he has recorded string and brass parts for Foreign Fields, Hembree, Matthew And The Atlas and Boom Forest. In 2017, with the guidance of producer Eric hillman (e.hillman – Foreign Fields), he introduced his intimate, ambient-folk solo project with the release of the nature-inspired Mountain Twin EP. Again in collaboration with Hillman, Joel recently released his heritage-inspired Hiraeth – EP on August 3, 2018. For the release, in collaboration with creative company Makewell, Joel created a pop-up gallery event featuring 20 different artists from the Midwest region. Over 50 pieces of art were shown, as well as the premiere of Joel’s album-length film “Hiraeth”, which told a visual story and further supported the themes and messages on the Hiraeth – EP.

A native musical son of Bismarck, Joel went to Nashville to find his truth. Along the way, he met other travelers seeking the same truth that he was. He returned to North Dakota and discovered that there were spirits hidden in cracks and crevices everywhere he looked. His simple observation could coax these beautiful truths out of hiding. His dreams of mountainside campfires and prairie oceans were full of them. And from these observations, he felt certain he was emboldening and strengthening the truths that he was finding. Making them richer and deeper.

-Caleb

 

Morning Commute – Culture Wars – “Bones”

Let’s get this morning started with a little energy. Culture Wars have such a great vibe to them that combines clean vocals with interesting alt. rock and synth elements. It reminds me a good bit of a band like Local Natives, but maybe with a little heavier vibe to it (see the short breakdown near 2:40 or so). One of my favorite things about Culture Wars is that they seem to lean into the creative process, without getting bogged down in the scientific way some modern music tech can halt your flow.

“We write the heart of every song using a couple of synthesizers just to get chords and melody. We’re not really technical guys. I still don’t know how to work half of these things; I’m basically just turning knobs until it makes a noise that I like,” Dugan explains. “We’re creating most of this on our laptops. A lot of our tracks have the appearance of a rock song, but underneath there’s all sorts of weird experimental shit going on. Like, we’ll strike a match and record that sound, and put it through a reverb plug-in, and stick it underneath a track so it sounds like a percussion instrument. Or we’ll record the sound of the rain outside on our iPhones, and we’ll put some reverb and delay on that, and use it as a texture.”

I think that’s a really cool way to look at all the new ways we can use technology in music. Use it, but don’t worry about doing the “right thing”, just keep playing until something inspires you. I know this song has me inspired to pull out my MIDI keyboard and play with effects all afternoon.

Bio: Leather clad Austin rockers Culture Wars “come blazing out of the gate with an addictive electro-rock sound and swagger” (PopMatters). Merging edgy, infectious song craft with inventive electronic textures, punchy guitar work, insistent melodic hooks and the commanding vocals of charismatic front man Alex Dugan, the band makes vibrant, bracing music that’s sonically adventurous yet effortlessly accessible.

 

Culture Wars’ self-titled debut EP (2017) saw its first taste of success, with their single ‘Bones’ rising to #43 on Alternative radio chart, meanwhile their previous single ‘Lies’ cracked one million streams. Culture Wars has quickly established themselves as a band with their own unique style and vibe, writing and recording both from home on laptops and in the remote setting of Sonic Ranch, located just 45 minutes toward the border outside of El Paso, TX. Alongside production by longtime friend and collaborator Robert Sewell, and mixing by Manny Marroquin (Kanye West, Imagine Dragons) and Alan Moulder (The Killers, Nine Inch Nails), Culture Wars have an extensively talented team behind them. The band return with their latest single ‘Let Me Down’ (2019), which Dugan says was created in “now-typical Culture Wars style, post-vodka and pickle shots at 2am at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo.”

-Caleb

Morning Commute: Intellect – “Fonics”

 

If you pay attention to our Instagram you should recognize this album cover. I’ve been bumping it personally since it came out a few months ago in October. I thought it was time to start diving into some of the awesome music from the album, so you’ll see more posts after this one, and maybe even a podcast analysis. Today, let’s start off with the first song I heard from Intellect, “Fonics.” With a title like that, you would expect heavy wordplay and unique vocabulary in the flow and, to quote him, other “verbal gymnastics” and Intellect doesn’t disappoint. With references to Jay-Z and Nas, it’s obvious that Intellect is channeling 90s vibes with a lyrical focus and pulls it off in a way that’s difficult to do. Self described as going “back to the essence of what being a M.C. means. You know smooth, melodic, intellectual music speaking on life, love and everything in between…’Real’ hip-hop!” Intellect is an example of everything I love about creativity, hip-hop, and artistry. Be sure to check out his whole album, Out of Left Field and look out on the blog for more posts about him soon.

Bio: Hip-Hop / Cross Over / Neo-Soul / R&B Recording Artist Intellect aka ~Lect. Not only is he an ingenious songwriter and singer but he’s a “think outside of the box” entrepreneur. Intellect has quickly become successful in the competitive fields of both modeling and music. His music style is Intelligent, Classy and Eloquently spoken, and remains true to the essence of Hip-Hop. Intellect has a fierce loyalty to hip-hop and consistently delivers raw unabated energy in every track he conceives.

Intellect comes with a whole new sound to set himself apart from the rest of the hip-hop world. Something classy, jazzy, and smooth; “Veteran’s Day” and “Neck Deep” produced by Madd Frequency give a raw, personally uncensored, look into his life and experiences. Born in Pensacola, FL, Intellect has traveled the entire world and is a proud Veteran Service Member. He has also worked as an editorial clothing model in SOHO, NYC for Beau Brummel and ARI clothing Inc. and appeared on Allison Weiner’s Media Mayhem. He is currently a Consultant/Trainer/On-Air Talent for XG Productions. Using his life experiences, he helped bring together Season 2 of ABC’s hit show Quantico and NBC’s new series The Enemy Within as a consultant and actor!

-Caleb

Morning Commute: The Matchstick Skeletons – “Told Ya So”

Not to start out objectifying anyone, but good golly the eyes on the lead singer are insane. Okay, now that I got that out of my system, what a fun video! I love how straight they play it with the absurdity of going to pick up a band mate skeleton who texts them “PS I am dead.” Not to mention having to dig your own grave for said skeleton. It’s just campy enough to realize itself, without winking too hard, I love it. Also, the cigarettes being put out by the filling in of the grave is a really unique shot that I would’ve never thought of, but it’s a perfect ending to the saga. Or is it? (the The End? at the end leaves this story  open to continue haha)

Also, if you didn’t pay close attention, please go back to 2:30 and listen to the ramp up into insanity that starts there. Such a cool element to this song that takes it from a cool bluesy rock song into a different dimension entirely. Apparently the lead singer, Neu Mannas, did composing work on Dunkirk, and honestly after that build up, I can see it. I’m really impressed with this song and video, and it deserves way more love than it’s gotten so far. Please give them a follow, spend some money and give them some plays on Spotify so we can get more cool content.

Bio: The Matchstick Skeletons came out of the grave swinging. Formed by singer/multi instrumentalist Neu Mannas  and drummer Matty Carolei, this was a project years in the making.

Midway through a decade of being on the road. Neu & Matty starting playing together in Head of the Herd. After some chart topping, radio music award winning, touring, & record making in England, Wales, the Southern U.S. of A, and throughout their home and native land of Canada, they decided to lock themselves in a tiny dark room and become the band they always wanted to be.

 

-Caleb

Mid-Day Music Blast: Paintbox – “Honey”

Down EP by Paintbox

I’ve been so excited for this song for months now! Paintbox has such a unique sound that mixes so many of my favorite genres. The most obvious elements are folk in nature, but beneath that there is a subtle funk/soul vibe that drives the song from a nice singer/songwriter vibe to an epic ballad that pulls goosebumps up on your forearms. Let’s dive into some of the lyrics:

“I shuffled into town wonderin’ where to go
There is a home, I asked the man on the road he was praying to the Lord
He said if you go right there’ll be troubles you’ll find
Left will leave you just as sore, boy
Life is like lickin’ honey off a thorn
But

I heard its sweet, heard its sweet
Where the rivers do meet right before they reach the bend
And there’s a nice soft place to lay your head
You count your best, you count your worst,
But what is your comfort worth
To you when the truth is most everything it hurts”

 

Before I break the message down, I just want to say “life is like lickin’ honey off a thorn” is one of the best lines I’ve ever heard. It’s so succinct and relatable, perfect poetry. This song does a good job of analyzing the idea of comfort, how much of it is necessary, and if comfort even equals happiness at all. To me it seems that a lot of the times I’ve felt most alive have coincided with very little comfort: road trips, long hikes, foreign places. So maybe if you acknowledge that life is bumpy, whether you sit in the same place, or put yourself somewhere new, you can free yourself up to make the best of the time we do have here.

Bio: ​Paintbox is a Los Angeles based band that plays a unique combination of funk, folk, and soul. Formed in 2014 by singer Jake Dupre and guitarist Luca Brown, the band’s sound is a mixture of crafted songwriting and collective improvisation. Paintbox is currently writing for their second studio album, and playing shows around California.

– Caleb

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”

Image result for awolk

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