Folk-led, genre-blending musician Mike Pope has, arguably, been one of Southern California’s best-kept secrets for years. He has certainly shared his talents by making the rounds at venues around San Diego, but it took some time before local record label Blind Owl could get him into a studio. There, he had so much material to work with that this week he released not only his debut album Songs For People (High & Low), but a bonus sophomore album titled Ripening (Ain’t It Strange).
Songs For People (High & Low) is a more self-reflective album, dancing beautifully through the speakers with its haunting melodies, striking lyrics, and captivating musicianship. From the very first lines of literal self-reflective first track “Mirror,” through the slightly quicker pace of “Steeped Cracked Rocks” and into the meandering “Teach To Sow,” the listener is transported to a slower, quieter neck of the woods. The album itself continues at a beautiful, calm clip, the compositions as though the music is physically leading us into autumn nights with friends and family.
If you are looking for a particularly complex bit of picking, “St. Augustine” will breathe life into that craving. And while the 11-track album provides a particularly pleasant audible journey, taking the time to listen to “Maryanne,” “Maryanne (Again),” and “Maryanne (Again and Again)” will light a special fire in your heart.
Dropping into the second album Ripening (Ain’t It Strange), you can tell that what’s to come will be equally pleasing. The heavier instrumentals and incorporation of more rock-focused compositions make for a completely different soundscape. While we were absolutely delighted by the percussion in the vocal-less second track “Homunculus,” the fuzzier sound to “My Spirit Orbits” makes it the perfect track to bop to on vinyl with the windows open, autumn breeze flowing through.
Ripening feels, at its core, a little edgier, but still carries a similar warmth to its sister album, stirring energy and acute want for community leading into the colder months. Colder months if you, for instance, live anywhere BUT perpetually 70-something degree San Diego.
Take some time to play in the soundscape of both albums. Now that Mike Pope has found his way out of the San Diego-specific woodwork, we’d love to maintain a mainline to his work worldwide. If ever there were an opportunity to support and encourage an artist to head back into the studio sometime soon, this is it.
Debuting from Nashville, WILSN’s music video for “If You Wanna Love Me” sets the stage for her upcoming album release. In the song, she stakes claim not only on her heart but on her place in the music scene. While a potential love interest may need to learn how to love her before gaining access to her, we get the privilege of loving her song and its steady and empowering message upon first spin. The fast clip and lyrics connect listeners to WILSN before song’s end.
WILSN’s new song “If You Wanna Love Me” has a fast, steady beat, empowering vocals, and echoes of classic female-led bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Kicking off with a bassline that sets a strong tone for someone standing their ground, “If You Wanna Love Me” builds both lyrics and volume. The drum beats suit a fast-running clip, the snares matching footfalls on pavement, keeping audiences moving forward with WILSN’s attitude for direction.
This anthem lays out the ground rules for love, letting both singer and potential partner know the starting line. WILSN reminds me of my worth as I venture forth on my own search for my own romantic interest, that steady snare hits nailing home the point at a staccato clip. With no distortion, these lyrics come across loud and clear. They also offer solidary, inviting anyone to sing along.
WILSN’s clear message lights up the video in its simplicity. Depicting only the band performing, it keeps the song its focal point. WILSN’s dark hair matches her simple sleeveless black dress and killer knee-high black boots as she moves through the room, exploring sound, demands, and potential connection. Though no one outside the band appears in the room, perhaps echoing no one else having learned how to love WILSN yet, it gives fans plenty of space to join the music. It doesn’t take long to learn the words, let alone love the song, so we only can hope someone learns how to love her.
Canadian psych outfit Mother Sun is back to entertain, with their layered, intricate compositions and upbeat soundscapes. In the lead-up to their third riveting full-length release, today marks the release of their new track “Tangerine Beach” and its entertaining accompanying music video. We’ve got your exclusive first listen — and look!
The enticingly bright video – shot, produced, and edited by Josef Perzon – evokes feelings of giddiness and joy from the start. After all, who isn’t going to immediately be in a good mood after sitting in the sun, brilliant turquoise waters behind them?
‘Tangerine Beach’ and its video tell the story of a optimistic vacationer, played by Nathan, whose trip is thwarted by expectations of paradise. Arriving at at the beach, many margaritas in hand, Nathan loses a lens to the sunglasses shading him from the reality of his surroundings.
As heartbreaking as the dissolution of an artistic endeavor is, Turkuaz couldn’t have done it more gracefully and completely than they did. Today, they released two albums – a total of 26 songs – within two overarching genres, conveying two concepts that fall hand-in-hand. Paradiso and Apollyon.
“The very big picture concept is that Heaven and Hell are two human constructs. The only place that they really exist is right here on earth, and which one you inhabit depends largely on how you conduct yourself and what you choose to believe,” explains Brandwein. “Life isn’t as simple as black or white, this or that. It’s not binary. We’re all a little bit of both… Beautiful and tragic chaos.”
Paradiso opens with a very alien appeal. Not only is the song titled “Strange People (Strange Times)”, but the vocals layered in with the synth action and sound effects make it feel especially otherworldly. A literal manifestation of the words in the track, it is a powerful opener to one of the two releases.
Turkuaz continues with this disposition – an effortless blend of upbeat synth-driven pop and standout vocals – throughout, guiding the audience through an oft-autotuned adventure of sorts. Favorites from this release include “Shakin’ in My Sheets”, steadily-paced “Rewind”, and literal disco dream “Disconnect in the Discotéque“.
Apollyon follows suit in its substance, however, its sound exists in a completely different realm. Funk-inspired and flavorfully layered, they approached this release as a full band in a room together. You can feel the party atmosphere palpably in the twelve-track album’s span. Favorites include “The Ever Watchful Eye” and leisurely “Pleasure and the Pain.”
Turkuaz’s Dave Brandwein is now focusing on work with New Originals and solo music under the moniker Band For Sale. Taylor Shell is now a member of Ghost Light, and the two plan to collaborate more in the future.
Our favorite alternative project Goon – expertly commanded by Kenny Becker – is revving up to release their latest full-length, an enjoyable listen titled Hour Of Green Evening. The second single off of this album is titled “Ochre,” and is an absolutely magical track. From the light-as-a-feather vocals to the gorgeous piano arrangement, the song makes you feel like you’re falling backward into a cloud. While it generates ideas of kaleidoscope wonder – as though you are in an Alice in Wonderland fever dream – the song itself was inspired by Becker’s favorite color to paint with, yellow ochre.
Let inspiration consume you while you enjoy this beautiful new track.