Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Matt Connelly and bassist Will O Connor, Wilmah aims to make listeners think while simultaneously creating grooves to make them move. Blending blunt introspection in their approach to songwriting with some humor and multi-genre fusion, the band’s alt-pop sound attempts to make sense of life’s intricacies while retaining some uplifting vibes. Using the opportunity from the pandemic in creating new music, Wilmah returns with a growth in their sound that fully represents themselves as individuals. In succession to the romance and nostalgia based “Television ” and politically charged “Welcome to America”, their new single “Wait Until Tomorrow” aims to reach the psyche and spirits of their audience.
The track immediately hits with a burst of upbeat mix of acoustic and electric guitar licks with the rhythmic punch of 80s new wave-esque drums. The production of this song can automatically get one to think it is a breezy feel-good anthem, while the lyrics seem to tell a different story. As heard in the passionate hook “If you’re gonna break my heart, can it just wait until tomorrow”, Wilmah makes a plea to push off negativity for the time being to revel in temporary happiness. The juxtaposition of the single’s sonic bubbliness with its therapeutic subject matter makes for an interesting anthem that can comfort listeners while not sugarcoating their true feelings.
“Wait Until Tomorrow” drops on November 19th and check out Wilmah’s preceding singles.
On Introspects of a Psycho, Massachusetts-born artist, 30, successfully combines rap and hip-hop with pop to tell stories about being human amidst the societal constructs we face. When it begins, we hear “Your Skin Crawls”, a sort of pick-me-up that serves to reassure his person of their beauty. As the guitar soothes, the melody moves. “Lost in Colorado” feels like a diary entry of a cross country road trip stretching from Ohio to Colorado. It seems to be a goodbye of sorts, though he continues to describe the sights he sees to the person who may be bidding goodbye to. The groove picks up with “I Kinda Like How Your Father’s Fist Feels on My Face”, a track that features an electric guitar and creates the perfect late-night vibe, dimmed lights and all. The final track, “Ms. Uncomfortable (Stripped)”, slows everything back down again, bringing everything full circle, which tells the story of a girl who seems unsure of herself, a call-back to the first track on the album.
The Introspects of a Psycho feels emotional and vulnerable, every track exceeding the next. It supplies a song to satisfy any mood one could be in, and tells a compelling narrative along the way.
There’s something about a folk/indie vibe that feels so incredibly creepy in the context of horror. (“Tiptoe Through The Tulips”, anyone?) Singer-songwriter Anna Wolf and songwriter/producer Pop Morrison certainly bring this spine-chilling energy to their title track and music video for the horror film “The Unfamiliar.” Wolf is a singer-songwriter and holder of many awards for her sharp and highly idiosyncratic music. Morrison is known as Jamie when he drums for the rock band The Stereophonics, but he transforms into the eccentric and explosive Pop Morrison when he takes on music production.
The music video intersperses scenes from the movie with close up, blurry shots of the duo. With Wolf and Morrison lingering outside the narrative, the video feels like a micro-horror work in its own right. It plays with the dynamics of dark and light, and though it’s simple on the surface, there are layers of intricacy that reveal the deep amount of thought that was put into it. As Wolf sings “the dark and the light” the shot moves from the darkness surrounding her to the light shining on Morrison’s guitar. A fleeting scream cuts through the song as the visual flashes to and from a shot of a child from the movie. These subtle touches add a lot of depth to the video, creating a haunting and memorable performance that finds its own beauty amidst the occult psychodrama of the film.
The music itself is atmospheric, but sparse, leaving you feeling exposed and vulnerable. Voices sweep across the background like the wails of a ghost. Drums beat gently but ominously beneath Wolf’s searing vocals. Her voice takes on the supernatural quality of Kate Bush and Joanna Newsom, helping her to embody the eerie, possessed nature of a ghoul. Even Pop’s guitar has the transient, mystic feel of a phantom, thanks to his precise production. While the rest of the track feeds into the sinister feel of the film, the acoustic guitar adds an interesting fairytale quality that projects elegant indie-folk imagery for the audience. There’s a lot in “The Unfamiliar” that reveals things about the film. Morrison says, “The song sets a tone before you’ve even seen the film, the same way the movie leaves a mark after you’ve seen it.” The duo did an excellent job of executing the vision of the filmmakers, with the film’s director and co-writer Henk Pretorius saying, “Anna Wolf and Pop Morrison’s music dreamily conveys the dark lure of The Unfamiliar. I got emotional when I heard what they created.”
About The Unfamiliar The Unfamiliar is an independent horror film, set in the UK and Hawaii, showcasing a melting pot of rising British, European and South African crew and cast members. Directed by Henk Pretorius and produced by Llewelynn Greeff and Barend Kruger, the Anglo-French Jemima West (Indian Summer, The Mortal Instruments) stars as British Army doctor Elizabeth ‘Izzy’ Cormack, returned from war to rekindle her relationship with her estranged family. Alarmed by the numerous inexplicable activities around the house, Izzy seeks ineffectual professional help before confiding in her husband. He believes that she is going through PTSD and advises her to rest and recuperate in Hawaii. It’s there that she gets sucked into the underworld of Hawaiian mythology, as she attempts to piece together the elaborate and elegant puzzle to reveal an ancient and terrifying spiritual presence haunting her family. You can watch the trailer here.
Los Angeles-based alt-pop duo Rainne – comprised of Annie Dingwall and
Justin Klunk – recently released their dark and brooding new track “Psycho Killer”, which will make anyone feel like they have an edge. Not only are the instrumentals heavy – a tinny sound layered in to make it all the more eery – but the practiced vocals add a feeling of insanity to it all. One thing is for sure: Annie’s vocal range is off the charts.
Explains Annie of the track, “‘Psycho Killer’ is based on our passion for psychological thrillers and true crime. The song’s story is set during a passionate moment between two lovers, when one realizes that the desire that’s taking over may be too intense to handle.”
Cole Guerra has crafted a sound that balances on the edge between progressive rock and pop with latest project I Am Casting, a musical entity we have been captivated by since premiering “Clay” last year. Amidst the release of the project’s debut album, we got a few minutes to sit down and dig in with Guerra on everything music. Check it out below!
There was a time when you were studying and performing, were there any points where the focus of your studies intermingled with your song writing?
That period was well before writing any of the songs on Carnival Barkers. The overlap would have occurred primarily during the writing of an album called Scarves & Knives, which I put out under my own name years ago. I don’t believe that the focus of my studies really made its way into contemporaneous songwriting material, though I can look back and recognize that I was, at times, working some psychological stuff out (about myself) through my lyric writing.
On the other hand, my exposure during grad school and beyond to issues central to clinical psychology and social psychology has pretty clearly influenced my lyrics over the past couple years, while writing the tunes on Carnival Barkers.
Does your background in psychology help when writing lyrics?
In general, I’m sure that the psych background funnels me towards certain subject matter, even if I’m not altogether deliberate or conscious about this, and that it then informs the perspective I have on the chosen subjects. The psych background definitely influenced how I approached the material on Carnival Barkers. It was 2016 when I began working on the album, and from the start of lyric-writing I knew my framework was to write a collection of tunes that would observe, from various angles, something about the psychology of the political moment. Most of the songs offer a take on toxic influencers and/or their impact, both on those who ‘buy in’ to the message and those who do not. For example, I think of ‘Wolf’, ‘Charmer’, and ‘Lullaby’ as Pied Piper-like riffs, thematically. I view ‘Helpless’, ‘Muggers’, and ‘Seams’ as fragments of possible responses by those upended and left feeling powerless in the wake of a malignant carnival barker. ‘Flood’ and ‘Window’ are songs about the political exploitation of fear and prejudice.
Carnival Barkers will soon be released, “Flood” was the first single released from your new album. What is the background behind “Flood”?
‘Flood’ was one of the first songs written for Carnival Barkers – it was penned in mid-2016. During the run-up to the election, I was disgusted, like many, by how often Trump negatively framed non-white and non-European populations and made racial and ethnic distinctions increasingly salient. He was explicitly signalling to his political base that they should care about race and ethnicity differences, and that those outside their racial and ethnic ingroups (here’s the social psychology influence I referenced above) were clear threats. In essence, he seemed to have a strategy of stoking and then exploiting people’s fears about those in outgroups. We’ve seen this play out over the past couple years – in, for example, the alarmism about the “Caravan” or with the just-declared “national emergency”. ‘Flood’ tries to get at aspects of this, as does the song ‘Window’.
The video for “Flood” used footage of historical events that ties into the song, of the footage you used which part sums up “Flood” the most?
The juxtaposition of (a) clips from a 1957 promo piece by Redbook magazine that depicted tranquil white suburbia with (b) clips depicting the aggression and hostility of white women and men towards the Little Rock Nine during that same year.
After Scarves & Knives you kind of disappeared, what were you doing in that time?
At the time of releasing Scarves & Knives, and then touring in support of it, I was ‘on leave’ from my clinical psychology program. I had a decision to make after touring – do I finish the degree or commit full-time to music? I was invested in both possible paths and knew I wanted to wrap up the doctoral degree and keep the door open to becoming a practicing psychologist. I re-engaged in the grad program, which was a pretty immersive thing involving dissertation writing and clinical work, followed by an internship and subsequent ‘post-doc’ experience. After that, I jumped into developing my clinical psychology practice. During that stretch, whenever I tried to write music, it just felt kind of painful – like if I couldn’t do it full-on, why bother? Hard to explain, really. I somehow ended up going years without doing anything music-related. Most of that time, I didn’t even touch a guitar or keyboard. It wasn’t until 2016 that I began writing again.
Is there any overall advantage from working primarily from your home studio?
Yes, absolutely, especially as I’ve come to view tracking itself as an important part of my songwriting process – things are pretty iterative at this point, so I benefit from having the ability to easily go in and adjust, rinse, repeat, etc. I guess I could just call what I end up with a ‘demo’ and then go to a full-fledged studio, but the home studio is sufficient for me to obtain most of what I’m after – there are exceptions, and I did leave the home space to record some stuff.
What element of Carnival Barkers are you most proud of and why?
Probably that it feels like an album. There are thematic threads that connect the tunes, as I was describing earlier, and I think there are musical threads that do the same (arrangement choices, tonally coherent). Hopefully, if a listener takes in the full LP in a single gulp, there is a “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” type impact.
You studied piano as a child, how did this set you up musically for your future musical endeavors?
I’m sure that early exposure to an instrument was one of the things that contributed to a love of music, along with extensive music-listening as a young kid. I’m also pretty sure that playing the piano made it easier to learn and play the guitar, which I picked up just after high school. This is conjecture, but maybe the most significant impact of playing an instrument as a young kid was that it introduced me very early on to the idea that one’s experience with music can be that of an active participant.
What was it about Richard Buckner’s Since that captivated you so much?
Just about everything, really. Chord progressions and melodies that grabbed me immediately and then somehow continued to grow on me after a ridiculous amount of spins. The sound itself – dry vocal upfront, immersive + emotional musical beds. The tunes cohere as an album, and yet there is a great amount of variability in song tempos, tone, structure, and length. I usually don’t weigh lyrical content that greatly in my music preferences, but Buckner’s lyrics on Since are just incredible. And lastly, the tunes seemed so specifically him – I didn’t have a clear sense of ‘influences’.
Since also introduced me to the work of producer and bassist JD Foster, who had produced the LP as well as Bucker’s preceding album, Devotion & Doubt. A few years after the release of Since, I invited JD to a show I was playing in NYC – the conversation with JD after that gig eventually led to the making of Scarves & Knives.
Why did it take a text from Ian Schreier to get you making music again, had you not thought of your music before that point?
There was something motivating about re-engaging with people I’d worked on music with in the past – Ian had mixed Scarves & Knives and been involved in some of the recording as well. Also, quite frankly, it was probably that the messages from Ian over a couple months, along with some other input from musicians I respect a lot, helped to build up some lost confidence. The initial communication from Ian led to a couple meetings at the studio where he typically works, and to me taking a plunge on buying some home recording software/hardware – I’d never had any recording gear previously.
When creating music for Carnival Barkers it was the lyrics that came second, what is your usual creative process of writing?
Lyrics have always come relatively late in the process for me. Frankly, as a listener, the music (the chord progression, the melody, the texture/sound/feel, etc.) speaks to me far more than does any lyric. A bad lyric can put me off, but I’ll listen to a great-sounding tune with middling lyrics. A good lyric is like a bonus of sorts, icing on the cake.
Though I’ve always written music before lyrics, the creative process did change quite a bit for Carnival Barkers. Prior to CB, I’d write the progression + melody + lyric while sitting with a guitar or at the piano, and think about arrangement and texture after the song was, in essence, ‘done’. With CB, the home recording setup and software enabled me to write and record percussion (and other) parts in tandem with the keys or guitar, and the rhythm and ‘texture’ tracks ended up influencing my progressions and melodies to a degree I never would have predicted – I really prefer this newer approach. As I start playing with a vocal melody over a progression I’ve already written and recorded, a lyrical idea or theme will sort of emerge – usually a phrase or two grab me and then I shape the remaining lyric accordingly.
Thank you for giving Imperfect Fifth this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
No, other than thanks for expressing interest in the album!
Pearl & The Oysters are celebrating not only the release of their third album Flowerland, but the title track has itself a gorgeous music video to accompany it now. Filmed as though it’s aged decades to mirror the French-American Psych Pop duo’s audio energy, the art lies in the video’s visual “imperfections.” The lime green hues in the feedback add a boost of color to the otherwise largely dual-tone shots.
Hints of navy blue and flashes of magenta give the video dimension, and a sense of nostalgia, as we enjoy Juliette Pearl Davis (lead vocals, flute, synths) and Joachim Polack (keys/synths, backing vocals, bass, guitar, violin, percussion) enjoy an afternoon amongst the flowers.
Directed by Pearl & The Oysters Edited by Juliette Pearl Davis Analog system video processing by Vinyl Williams Music by Pearl & The Oysters
It’s debut album time for London-based band Tempesst with their release of Must Be a Dream that was brought to life at Pony Recordings; the band’s label in Hackney, London. The ten track album is filled with generous servings of psych pop and stylistic nods to the band’s influences of Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Wings, and Electric Light Orchestra. The core of the band is made up of twin brothers, Toma and Andy Banjanin, who’s musical journey spans across the cities they lived in and life lessons they learned along the way. Rooted into a musical family and playing in a church band as teenagers, the brothers left Noosa, Australia for a short stint in Brooklyn, New York during the bustling indie scene of the late 2000s. Inspired and full of the DIY tactics and ideas they experienced, they took to London and began culminating the band, their label, and the album. Rounding out the lineup with guitarist, Swiss-American Eric Weber and old friends Kane Reynolds and Blake Misipeka, the keyboardist and bassist, Tempesst hunkered down in the studio they built while meticulously working on their sound. “These days artists are expected to do so much themselves and we have always been slight control freaks anyway”, states Andy. “DIY is part of everything that we do, so that extends to our label, the studio, the videos, all of it and really it’s just how the indie music scene has evolved.”
Must Be a Dream allows listeners to transport musically and explore dense, emotional themes, all while being comforted in the juxtaposed moments of sun-kissed melodies and angelic synths. “Better Than the Devil” stands as the opening track, where Andy on drums showcases a steady kick drum beat in the beginning before really opening up with the rest of the arrangement. The background vocals on the title track are church choir melodies that serenade the metaphorical idea of the song; that the perfect woman in front of you couldn’t possibly be real; couldn’t possibly exist in your reality. Tempesst dives into identity faceting in “High on My Own”, through judgmental lyrical undertones about other’s self-acceptance, and a contrasting upbeat feel that leaves the listener with hope of following one’s own path. Tackling the haunting struggles that love can bring, “Mushroom Cloud” dramatically lays out the spite and pain sometimes felt for the ones we fall deepest for. Toma’s simple chorus guides the listener through the struggle, and ends with a lyrical punch to the heart “When sorry’s a worn out sleight of hand / good love is a dried up wilderness / you’ll know where to find me / on the fallen horizon.”
Complete with harp instrumentation, and “oh la la la la la” vocals, “Walk on the Water” is a euphoric transitional track to different themes of the album. A mashup of vocal harmonies on top of deep instrumental reverb, “On the Run” holds stories of death, substance abuse, and the forever loss of innocence. Explains Toma:
It’s about a close friend who disappeared for a decade and returned as someone completely different, and it’s an ongoing trauma. When I connected the music to the lyrics to try and finish the song, it felt like it had a rolling rhythm, so the chorus fell into place from there. For me, this song carries a lot more emotional weight.
The final album tracks explore themes of modern day society in relation to getting older, boredom within the digital age, and the paralleling question of what life is supposed to mean through all of it. It’s the juxtaposing ideas of sound and song meaning in this debut album where Tempesst really invites the listener to their psych-rock wonderland – where storytelling and sweet melodies will meet you at every riff.
Chicago-bred psych pop quintet Post Animal – expertly comprised of Dalton Allison, Jake Hirshland, Javi Reyes, Wesley Toledo, and Matt Williams – truly brought their A Game with the release of Forward Motion Godyssey today. Leisurely rolling into an easygoing soundscape with “Your Life Away”, the 80s-inspired fade-in on second track “Post Animal” is both nostalgic and frantic. “Schedule” brings us back to a more 70s-psych aura, bright vocals and crashing cymbals leading the way.
“Fitness”, as its predecessors, has a completely different feel, bringing with it an audible sense of mystery. “In a Paradise” feels more 80s hair band, a track we could easily see being placed in the soundtrack of Top Gun II, if things were to go our way. (The first minute at least, before it goes into more Guitar Hero territory.) “The Whole” is an instrumental track that sounds as though it should be played in queue for a Star Wars attraction. Glittering and lovely, it paves the way for “How Do You Feel” (Note: NOT a question) in a way that highlights the synth in both tracks.
“Safe or Not” brings with its title a mystery, and with its soundscape more of a dance track than anything else. We can very much imagine “Private Shield” as more of a contemporary Warped Tour track, while “Damaged Goods” rips hard, and we’re totally smitten. “Sifting” is the eleventh and final track, bringing the listener’s heart rate back down after a short burst of ethereal energy mid-track.
What’s your favorite song on the new release? Let us know!
As a music journalist, you’re never quite sure what interviewing a band will get you. Will they be awkward? Will they provide good insight, or just one-word answers? There are questions that plague your mind leading up to it. And it’s those incredible storytellers that spin their lyrics so well that seem to come out of the woodwork and really make you laugh. This proved true with Chicago-based art rock/psych pop collective The Curls. In fact, a full giggle fest ensued, and you’ll see why below. So take some time to enjoy this one. It’s well worth it!
What was your first musical memory, and do you think it has any bearing on who you are as an artist now?
Weird Al, first concert when I was just a little boy. Still one of the greats. I just re-watched his movie UHF for the thousandth time. Or maybe the Paul Simon song You can call me Al. That bass solo is a magical thing. I remember my dad or maybe my mom would play Paul a lot on our car rides. I’m sure the influence is there somewhere.
What’s the conception story of The Curls? Was it a meet-cute?
We met at this old mom and pop starbucks joint. We all ordered the same extra-fat hot chocolate Nutella truffle oil bacon latte at the exact same time! We looked at each other and of course laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. We were in that line just laughing for maybe an hour. They had to call the police and they dragged us out laughing our heads off, just like in the movies.
You have been working together for a while now. How do you keep from ripping each other into pieces sometimes?
We’re just popping muscle relaxers and goofballs constantly so the vibe is very communal.
Do you think being from the midwest has any bearing on your sound?
I have absolutely no idea. I don’t think so? I’d be curious to hear what others think. Most of us come from different midwestern states so I wonder if anyone hears that classic Ohio or Michigan or Illinois or Indiana or Minnesota sound.
Where do you draw the most inspiration from, for both your lyrics and your soundscape?
Who knows?! Sometimes it’s obvious. The song or a number of songs can start from a reference point inspired by another artist’s sound or arrangement style. Or maybe what I’m eating or drinking at the time. Like I had been drinking a lot of lemon lime Gatorade recently, so now I’m writing a song based around that. Eating and drinking are very universal concepts. There is inspiration all around us!
You played HHM Fest recently. How was that? Give us a snapshot!
I will give you a step-by-step account. We come into town late afternoon, check into our 5 star hotel as per usual and head straight for the pool. The chlorine level was a bit much, and don’t think I didn’t complain to anyone who would listen. We took a walk around beautiful Bay City, MI and arrive at the venue quite early. We spend the next few hours enjoying this terrific spread of pizza, chips, locally catered apps while polishing off some of Maps and Atlases personal beers. Sorry buds! And of course we went on to play an unforgettable set. So it was a great experience, a great crowd, the festival did a great job, we did a great job and I can only hope we’ll do it again someday.
Do you prefer playing festivals or more intimate shows? Why or why not?
It’s all good. I love smaller clubs like The Hideout in Chicago but I have to say I also love playing shows with the big, roomy stages that might allow for us to assemble a larger arrangement and to play to a larger crowd, like when we crushed at Pitchfork Fest. It’s a wash!
How did you prep to film the “Bad Boi” video? Looks like it took a little bit of yoga and a lot of drugs?
We were so hopped up on drugs and yoga you wouldn’t believe. I was taking one drug then hopping into a downward dog that would make your head spin, then another drug and even MORE of the drugs before settling into the most beautiful warrior pose anyone has ever seen. Then bada bing bada boom, the light bulbs went off and along with our terrific collaborators and directors at New Trash Productions we managed to create one of the great videos of our time.
If you could have your dream rider list, what would be included on it?
Donuts or waffles? (Your answers to these questions will determine our future together, obviously.)
Of course if it’s a dream list I think we could manage to get both a waffle making station and as many donuts as we like. You didn’t ask but my favorite donut? The chocolate long john. Beautiful donut. However, I was just thinking it would be good to request 100 copies of infinite jest to throw at the crowd if they lose their shit or seem disinterested. Maybe a few drones to fly and keep an eye on things.
Any dirt you want to dish on your band mates?
If my band mates were here they’d probably dish A LOT of dirt about me. Stuff like, “Oh Mick? He’s a garbage person. He cares too much, he works too hard, he’s too nice, he’s too inspiring.” The usual gripes.
Do you believe in aliens? Why do you think we should or shouldn’t?
This has been coming up a lot in my life lately. My friend had an encounter a few weeks back. Took a picture of a strange flying object in the sky, sent me a detailed account. He even claimed at one point that the objects in the sky were moving according to thoughts he was having. Very compelling. We’ve all seen things in the sky we couldn’t explain. I think It’s fun to believe and speculate. There must be something going on out there right?! I mean are ya kidding? Have you seen this documentary Independence Day?