Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – April 2, 2019

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Holy Fawn, Alex Jimenez, Blue Foundation, Mikal Cronin, Racketman, Big Wild.

Clockwise from top left: Holy Fawn, Alex Jimenez, Blue Foundation, Mikal Cronin, Racket Man and Big Wild.

SXSW just ended, and like many of my friends I tried to figure out how to sort through the myriad of artists and find the showcases we would want to hit up if we attended. It’s easier said than done.

It goes to show how overwhelming the volume of material in today’s musical landscape can become. For some of us, there’s still a weird obsession to make a complicated MS Excel spreadsheet to hear every single band coming out of the woodwork. Thanks to RIFF, now you don’t have to. We’re happy to bring you the best songs in this weekly segment.

Here’s to some good listening to start your week off right.

***

Blue Foundation and Sun Glitters, “Where The End Begins” — Sometimes a song and video are almost too perfect for each other. The surrealist cinematography intuitively complements this song’s trippy production. “Where The End Begins” is beautifully distorted and sonically captivating. The song is a trip through soundscapes that leaves you feeling mentally altered, yet unable to turn it off. Danish composer and producer Tobias Wilner and producer Bo Rande make such a weirdly beautiful and experimental collaboration, you almost expect their music to be found in a mash-up of a Gaspar Noe and David Lynch film.

***

Cold Showers, “Faith” — From the opening bass line of “Faith,” I was certain I stepped into the neon splash-lit pure Los Angeles film “Drive.” I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Cold Showers hail from L.A. The guitars have a goth-like  emotion here, as the reverb builds in the middle of the song. When it finally breaks, it throws itself into the gothic synth-wave filled world of Sisters of Mercy or Bauhaus. The vocals are reminiscent of the darkwave legends, but leave a positive taste in your mouth.

***

Racket Man, “Burt Stevens” — Cleveland’s Racket Man is a new-ish band, having formed in 2017. It took all of a few chords before I was sucked into “Burt Stevens,” off its new EP, Recreational Magic. The soft guitars carry Tommy Marx’s dreamy vocals and give off an ’80s feel with the keys of Tyler Elwing. Racket Man really comes together during the chorus’ hook. Through the lyrics: “to see one more day I might be gone alone,” it’s easy to get lost in the spacious, bedroom pop hooks. And then like any great pop song, its three-minute runtime has ample replay value!

***

Big Wild, “City of Sound” — Jackston Stell, who performs as Big Wild, has funky dance rock in spades. “City of Sound” reaches booty-shaking bliss via a throbbing lo-fi beat, shimmering synths and jangly guitars. The song is bouncy and fun with groovy keyboards over Stell’s signature falsetto. The big, catchy chorus that repeats, “Say your grace/ In the city of sound,” is impossible to avoid singing. You won’t be able to get the Stell’s song out of your head, as the stark production parallels his soothing singing.

***

Holy Fawn, “Dark Stone” — Any song that starts with blistering feedback and blasting riffs can grab attention, but this Arizona band transfixes with its stylistic combination. For this headbanger of a song, heavy vocals cross over into a soft, dreamy quality of the voice over the throbbing guitars. The wall of sound continuously builds, guitars thrashing and stacking over cavernous drums. If Slowdive joining Deafheaven seems like a compelling combo to you, Holy Fawn has the drifting melancholy of the former and the dynamic aggression of the latter.

***

Alex Jimenez, “Thingmahoo” — Alex Jimenez has been creating and playing music for the past 20 years in San Francisco. “Thingmahoo,” off of EP Inside, immediately brings to mind the likes of Matthew Sweet and The Judybats. It could easily find itself alongside ’90s power pop bands. Alex Jimenez’s vocals and sound transplanted me back in time. His lyrics tell a story of a distant past and joyful memories. “Forming teams for a game of capture the flag/ Life was good and life was grand/ I had no issues/ Had no plans,” he sings. “Thingmahoo” really stands out when the guitar comes out heavy and full, blending with the subtle drumming and vocals. Jimenez’s style of ’90s power pop has never sounded better.

***

Mikal Cronin, “Undertow” — This frequent Ty Segall collaborator built his reputation with amazing shows, but his first song in four years stands as a reminder of his songwriting chops in the surf and garage rock genre. Sticky riffs with backing vocals embody the California surf punk sound at its finest. The slick guitars and smooth vocals spring through the mix as he sings, “Let me go/ I don’t want to play this game/ I’m feeling all right/ It’s getting kind of ugly.” The song’s emotional tug is enhanced by its raw delivery. “It’s easy to get caught up in an undertow, pulled down into the water, weightless and directionless,” Cronin said of the song. “The current stirs and you lose your way. But eventually, if you’re lucky and patient, you can float back up to the surface and take a breath.”

***

Rachel’s Pick: I’m a sucker for surprises within a familiar framework. I already knew Alex Jimenez as a bassist and guitarist, but not a singer. When I first heard his raw, yet melodic singing voice on “Thingmahoo,” it jarred me (in a good way). The song recalls the explosion of alt-rock sound in the 1990s. His vocals envelop like an old friend, capturing the resounding guitar chords and unforgettable hooks of early power pop bands. The song exudes joy, while maintaining a relatable emotional foundation.

Follow writer Rachel Goodman at Twitter.com/xneverwherex and Instagram.com/xneverwherex.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *