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Alt Pop





Reinvention or Reimagination: Sho Humphries Urges Us to "Dream Again"

Before embarking on his next great adventure, Austin ukulele sensation Sho Humphries made sure to bestow his loving local community with a parting gift. Sho’s debut EP Dream Again is a triumph of creativity, an exploration of sound and style from a young musician whose bravery surpasses even his immense talents.

In Sho’s nimble hands, the ukulele is transformed. Empowered. Liberated. He embraces the instrument as something far beyond its simplistic representation in public perception—more than a toy, more than an instrument for beachside celebration and casual singalongs, the ukulele is an embodiment of possibility itself. In Sho’s hands, the ukulele seems infinite, irrepressible. It breathes water and whispers fire and sings of a bright tomorrow.

The growth showcased between earlier releases and this new EP are striking. Sho’s 2017 instrumental album Making Summer Memories flirted with musical expressionism, pushing and pulling at the boundaries of expectation while staying firmly rooted in a larger framework for what ukulele music is and can be. Opening track “It’s Shotime!” is a notable exception, its near-frantic urgency and rock-and-roll aesthetic harbingers of both Sho’s sonic fearlessness and profound, near-brooding pensiveness. The rest of the album tends toward bright and buoyant, though the assertive percussiveness of each strike sometimes seem to belie an underlying (and typically teenage) impatience.

2020 single Love You! was the virtuoso’s first foray into electronic looping, his airy, math rock-y riffs given ample room to breathe and, in turn, breathing life into a lo-fi trend threatening to sedate swaths of the younger generation. The track showcases a young musician at peace with the process of finding peace — more patient, perhaps in love with the simple joy of making music. The chorus is endearingly heartfelt, and all the more powerful for it: “Breathe in, breathe in/Love out, love in.”

 With the Dream Again EP, Sho emerges more confident, more hopeful, that familiar sense of urgency appearing again but tempered now by faith in himself and the future. He is more accomplished than ever on the ukulele itself — every finger-picked run impeccable, every strum irresistible. But the sentiment underlying each song feels more profound, more mature, more complex. What might once have felt like emotional reactions are transformed into careful reflections and reimaginations.

The echoing, atmospheric emptiness of the title track slowly evolves, swelling with elegantly amplified ukulele riffs that complement, rather than overpower, Sho’s stirring baritone (on debut!). Tight songwriting and a deep appreciation for the power of empty space cultivate in a wonderfully distorted crescendo, with Sho’s direct poeticism lending a sense of urgency to Sho’s pleas for the world to “dream again,” to build a better future and to avoid our own mutually assured destruction.

A return to Sho’s sonic roots — hopeful, determined, vibrant — “Rising Hope” builds on that momentum. It is the song of rebirth and reimagination, the sound of grass beginning to grow again as a new sun shines a light on far-off horizons. There is a sadness of sorts underpinning it all, a recognition that new beginnings demand their own sacrifices — what once might have been innocent idealism is tempered by an acceptance of reality that makes Sho’s resolute optimism all the more impactful.

Vision and imagination, determination and dynamism — these are traits we desperately need in our younger generations, who we have collectively burdened with so much responsibility and expectation. Armed with his ukulele and a searching spirit, Sho Humphries is stepping into the world ready to make a change.

 — Adam Wood





Alt Pop

Time: 
08:00
Band name: 
Graffiti Smile
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/Graffiti.Smile/
Venue name: 
The Grape Room
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VIDEO: With “Indecisive,” spill tab Shifts Into High Gear

photo credit: jade sadler

 

 

Claire Chicha is an L.A.-based, French-Korean artist who goes by the name spill tab, and she’s released her latest single, the effortlessly fast-paced track “Indecisive” (ft. Tommy Genesis), along with an accompanying lyric video that matches the track’s frenetic pace.

With spill tab’s high school friend, Marinelli, on production duties, the track incorporates a classic jungle-style breakbeat that perfectly accentuates both spill tab’s smoky but nimbly melodic vocals, and featured performer Tommy Genesis’ rapped contributions. True to the title, the lyrics describes the singer’s contentious relationship with someone who manages to draw out the conflicting thoughts she carries inside, as well as balancing the gradually ballooning amount of details she has to keep track of thanks to a burgeoning career. It’s a rarity: a streetwise yet emotionally realistic track that doesn’t compromise on the technical virtuosity of the music, or the sincerity of the mental health struggles of a young artist on the move.

This October sees spill tab headlining venerable local venueThe Echo before going out on tour with Gus Dapperton. Gabe Hernandez





Try Not to Cry: Scott Collins and Kydd Jones Release Powerful New Single

Austin talents Scott Collins and Kydd Jones come together for an unexpected, yet powerful collaboration that pairs an outpouring of emotion with beautiful melodies and poetic lyrics. Both artists have a considerably different musical background, with Collins sticking to a folk-rock, americana type of sound, and Jones being exclusively hip-hop. But it’s undeniable that they were able to mesh their styles together in a seemingly effortless manner, resulting in an alluring piece of music that will compel listeners to play this song on repeat.

The opening piano chords are perfectly complemented by Scott Collins’ high-pitched vocals, which serve as the lifeblood of the song. As is the case with many songs, the simplicity of the music really allows the vocals to shine with the aid of Jones’ production. Having known Scott for a while, I was initially a bit surprised to see him take a step into the hip-hop universe. But supposedly, this has been a prolonged goal for the local legend. He explains, “First off and above all, I've been listening to rap and hip hop my entire life starting with Kriss Kross, and since my youth playing basketball out in LA, Compton, Watts and more on a traveling basketball team… It's been a dream and career goal of mine to start singing with rappers and on hip hop records.” Collins was able to make this dream a reality through his relationship with the rising star known as Kydd Jones. Scott also mentioned that he wrote the hook roughly nine years ago, indicating that he was waiting for the perfect opportunity and partner to showcase what he had in store for so long.

There of course have been many collaborations from artists who cross genres to collaborate. But in some instances, the collaboration might seem forced or unnatural. One of the impressive things about “Headlights” is that it is so easy to digest despite these two artists being considerably different from each other. According to Collins, the creation process was indeed as effortless as it seems. “I already had the hook written so I just hopped into my studio with Engineer Dylan Fischer and recorded my vocals, acoustic guitars and keys… Kydd then rocked out all the production and his verse within a week, got it mastered and released it immediately the same day!” To assist in the process of creating such a cohesive track, Collins referenced “Love” by Kendrick Lamar as an inspiration to the track. There is definitely a smoothness to “Headlights” that is relatable to the Kendrick Lamar classic. “Headlights” consists of thought provoking lyrics, a silky beat, and a catchy hook, bridging these two artists together superbly.

Overall, the professionalism, skill, and creativity is undeniably palpable in this song. These are two musicians who appear to be approaching the prime of their careers. If it were up to me, I’d say Kydd Jones and Scott Collins should make an entire album together. But in the meantime, playing “Headlights” on repeat will have to suffice. Hit Scott's Bandcamp to check the track out and stay up to date with future releases.

— Quinn Donoghue

 





FRESH CUTS: On “Hotline” Thrill You Kill You Longs for a Connection

Photo Credit - Ann Li
 

Thrill You Kill You (TYKY) is the project of DJ/producer/songwriter Fei-Fei, and today she has released her latest single, the energetic “Hotline,” on streamers worldwide.

The track begins with a classic hard rock-style drum intro, before being joined by TYKY’s feminine but assertive lead vocal, which evokes those of similar artists like Grimes. The track itself is tastefully drenched in delay and reverb, giving the mix an atmospheric quality while also managing to keep the higher-energy elements of the arrangement from washing out. The effect is of a track that simultaneously hits you in the face and seems to arrive from another galaxy.

According to the artist, the edgy yet melodic, synthpop and grunge-influenced track “…captures that feeling right before you give control, that anxious feeling of sexy dread…The excruciating cusp of fear and desire, power and submission. When you know something’s bad for you, but you just can’t resist. I’m fascinated with the exploration of our darkest desires because discovering who you are is messy…and beautiful.” Gabe Hernandez

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