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VIDEO: INNER WAVE’s “Take 3” Is A Surreal Take On Covid Life

photo courtesy of the artist

 

L.A.-based band Inner Wave has announced the coming release of their fourth and latest album, Appotosis, on September 30th by releasing a music video for album track “Take 3.” Inner Wave are managed by Cosmica Artists + Records.

The track begins with a thick, honky, effortlessly funky bass line rolling alongside a languid but insistent four-on-the-floor drumbeat, both sharing space with polished, delayed synth mallets. Frontman Pablo Sotelo’s vocals are pleasingly lethargic in the way his syllables land in the pocket with the four-on-the-floor groove. Sotelo’s vocals are accompanied by delicate, echoed guitar strums and mournful, siren-like, infinitely stretched synth lines that seem to underline the melancholy and emotional fatigue of his vocals. Plucked synths that dominate during the chorus add an extra layer of dancefloor gloss that wouldn’t be out of step at a local club some night this weekend. The icing on the cake is the lush middle section that leads the song into it’s conclusion, which has an “everything but the kitchen sink” feel, while managing to remain stately in its unraveling.

The track is special in that its music video also marks Sotelo’s directorial debut. It’s a fairly simple affair, but full of symbolism for covid quarantiners. The singer spends the bulk of the video standing camera center, viewable only from the waist up, and wearing a simple white tank top. Footage of vintage road scenes are projected onto the upper part of his face (an enigmatic but potent visual, to be sure), which alternate with multi-exposed versions of himself. Some are lit from the front with a blood-red glow, some from behind with a single blinding white light, revealing a sea of fog at his feet. It’s definitely a pick for best use of minimal prop resources, and the shot where Sotelo slowly struts across the multicolored stage wearing a full military gas mask apparatus is a not-too-subtle nod to the Covid pandemic. It’s an effectively narcotic video for a lush and hypnotic track that accurately reflects the breakdown of time and space that the covid crisis created, and another artistic document to note the events of the past year and a half. Gabe Hernandez





Introducing Lizzie Donohue

In March of this year Lizzie Donohue played her first live performance, in virtual form natch, as part of a live-streaming benefit for Save The Scene—a benefit organized by Pan Arcadia (recently profiled in this space) together with the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund in support of fellow independent artists during the lockdown.

In the midst of two evenings full of fine musical entertainment Lizzie caught my ear with her two-song acoustic set (see above) and most of all with the sheer presence of her voice—a voice both smoky and sweet, kind of like Kansas City barbecue sauce in audible form (insider tip: most voices can be compared to regional barbecue sauces) or, in case you’re a vegetarian, a voice that's one of those gritty-pretty voices where you're likely to assume the speaker’s got a chest cold or some other similar ailment, but then it turns out it’s just their normal singing/speaking voice like with say Tina Turner or Rod Stewart or Bonnie Tyler, or legendary late-night NYC radio DJ Allison Steele (aka The Nightbird) which suggests a possible alternative career path for Ms. Donohue should she ever need one.

But probably not on the new career path, because as revealed in an exclusive interview with Deli Mag, Lizzie Donohue recently acquired a degree in Textile Design and Photography from FIT and already does freelance graphic design work on the side, including band logo design, and we all know lots of bands out there with ill-considered logos or no logo at all, so it sounds like lucrative work to me. But back to the music. Lizzie’s first song in the virtual concert performance above is now her first officially released single and it’s called “What’s it Matter.” Opening with some strummed guitar chords, the rhythm section soon kicks in alongside Lizzie’s voice reading you the riot grrrl act (“Hey, fuck you / you gotta pretty face but that don’t make you cool”) and really you had it coming didn’t you? But the the blow is softened by the quality of her voice, thus making for a compelling juxtaposition. So you see it’s complicated.

And it’s further complicated by another insight gleaned during our interview, namely that Lizzie sees herself singing the song to herself as much as to anyone else. So when she gets to the next lines about “what’s it matter if I dye my hair blue?” and “all the things I say just come out lame / what’s it matter anyway?” she’s basically saying why worry about socially-mandated appearances or SAT-enforced verbal skills when it’s more important to just be yourself and put yourself out there. So basically it's like an Id vs. Super-Ego situation we got going on here (“I’m completely aware that I’m my own worst enemy”) if you happen to be into psychoanalytic theory.

These lyrical sentiments are supported by an uncluttered pop-rock arrangement that's got some nice, subtle flourishes like the occasional up-the-neck bass notes and the faint, breathy background vocal at 1:22 (something we'd love to hear more of just sayin') and the cool slide-guitar-break-down-and-build-it-back-up section that comes soon after. Incidentally, “What's it Matter” was produced and mixed by Dylan Kelly who plays guitar and keys for Pan Arcadia (those guys again!) and plays bass and lead guitar on this single, a recording laid down in a friend's basement DIY home studio somewhere out on Long Island using camping tents for isolation booths which is a pretty cool idea.

And speaking of Long Island musical happenings, Ms. Donohue hails from Nassau County (on the westernmost edge of L.I. directly adjacent to Queens) which is the ancestral home of one Lou Reed. So it’s fitting that 1) Lizzie opened her Save The Scene set by noting that is was Lou Reed’s birthday; and 2) her second number was a Velvet Underground cover. And a well chosen one at that, namely “After Hours,” the last track on the Velvets' self-titled third album a.k.a. the mellow one, sung by drummer Maureen "Moe" Tucker. Like a lot of Lou Reed’s best-known songs, "After Hours" expertly walks the line between nihilism and humanism but leans more toward the latter, thanks to Tucker’s sweet lullaby-like but rough-hewn singing on what’s essentially an impish music hall number about staying in and finding comfort in solitude, but longing for human contact at the same time. Needless to say the song fits Lizzie’s voice like a glove and she adds some vocal flourishes of her own, including a brief fit of giggling at the end when she flubs a guitar chord. (even her mistakes are charming, and if you wanna hear an original take on a similar theme you can listen to “Going Nowhere Slow” on Lizzie’s Soundcloud page)

Besides Lou and VU, Ms. Donohue is also a fan of Patti Smith, Pavement (a car stereo staple whilst driving around aimlessly with her friends in Long Island), Alanis Morissette, and Mazzy Star among others and hey that's a pretty good list. Personally I’m also reminded of the female pop songwriter renaissance of the late ‘90s moving into the aughts with artists like Lily Allen, Avril Lavigne, and Nina Persson of the Cardigans (each of whom, in different ways, take riot grrrl-like attitude and wrap it in deceptively "mild girl" packaging) but maybe that’s just me. Lizzie says her upcoming EP will cover topics and themes such as outer space, Elon Musk, and the movie Heathers so you may wanna stay tuned. (Jason Lee)





FRESH CUTS: quickly, quickly Makes Magic Out Of Long-Distance Heartache

artist photo credit: Kyle McKenzie

L.A. by way of Portland, Oregon songwriter/vocalist/producer/arranger Graham Johnson is only 20 years and makes music under the moniker quickly, quickly, but he’s showing a talent and work ethic beyond his peers, having just released “Shee,” the third single from his new album, The Long and Short of It, to be released on Ghostly International on August 20th.

“Shee” is quickly, quickly’s love letter to their girlfriend during their long-distance relationship when he moved to Los Angeles. The track begins with strummed guitar and a soulful lead vocal jumping out at the listener, bouncing across the speakers with a subtle but long echo and reverb. Sweet vocal harmonies join in for a verse before a lively but compressed drum groove drops in with force for the wordless chorus, joined by tasty lead guitar lines. A more hip-hop oriented second verse takes shape with strategic percussion drop-outs and some excellent falsetto vocals touches, before taking on more ethereal, Bon Iver-like vibes for the middle. very casual tambourine and hand percussion appear before quickly being swallowed by the drums and lead guitar again, before ending in a final swirl of acoustic guitar and falsetto, ending in abstract electronic whirring and humming, as if the music was disintegrating itself back into the basic elements of sound.

Overall, the track is an intoxicating blend of R&B, psych-pop and hip-hop that has the potential to appeal to fans of either genre, and shows the formidable young talent making musical progress by leaps and bounds. Gabe Hernandez





Molly Burch, Austin's Pop Queen, Drops New Music

 Austin-based dreampop siren Molly Burch spins shoegaze-inflected rhythms that call back to her favorite musical influences. She returns with Heart of Gold, a song that uses her skillful deployment of emotion to paint heartache as a silver lining. The song is the third single released from her upcoming record Romantic Images, an album that’s shaping up to be a dance party in the name of crying the pain away.


Heart of Gold employs some of Burch’s most notable strengths to her advantage. She cites Nina Simone and Billie Holiday as vocal inspirations in her career, and flits off vocal inflections derived from an appreciation for jazz and motown sensibilities. Her quick stutters are sneaky, only revealing themselves when you take a moment to listen back. They chip away at the self-serious bubble this kind of heartbreak anthem is familiar with.


Further building the song’s sense of humor, Burch laments her encounters with love beyond her own relationship experiences. “I give you advice for love but I hate it / Never wanna know what comes of it,” sounds like a confession from a burnt-out bar hound. She’s been around the block, but now, she’s tired of traveling in circles.


Burch’s voice lifts to a breathy lilt in the chorus as she pleads with her lover to make things right. “All I ever wanted was your love / I treat it like my job,” escapes her lips in a delicate cry that pleads for more attention. Her heart of gold beams with affection but clearly hasn’t received what it needs in return.


A doe-eyed, gentle demeanor on full display in the song’s music video compounds the dreamlike daze. In the clip, Burch walks aimlessly through the Hill Country with a couple of goat kids as she pines over a man who’s having a blast chopping wood. It’s a fun take on the idea that her romantic interest never notices her affections—the guy is enjoying himself so much that it seems he might never break away from his work. That space is where Burch’s music lives most comfortably: when all that seems lost presents itself as a joke right before your eyes. Her whit and her sharp tongue ensure that coming back for more is worth it, again and again.


Romantic Images is out July 23 via Captured Tracks.

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Songs of Summer #1: "Heatstroke Summer" by Charlotte Rose Benjamin

The jury’s still out on what (no doubt worthy) song will end up being officially designated the Song of the Summer 2021™ and far be it for us to even acknowledge such a hackneyed premise. But hey that doesn’t mean we can’t start our own highly unofficial list based around a hackneyed premise because who says summer deserves only one song so take that Billboard and Tik Tok Nation. And so here we reveal our first entry in the Deli's summer song playlist, an unparalleled honor bestowed upon Charlotte Rose Benjamin’s “Heatstroke Summer.”

Now mind that this is a song some would call a “B-side” using the no-longer popular parlance (ask your parents) but here at DeliCorp we openly acknowledge that this is a B-side kind of blog so it’s totally fitting. And even Ms. Benjamin herself has stated an affinity for musical obscurities such as B-sides and "deep cuts" (ask your parents) to the extent that she wrote an entire tender aching ballad based around the notion of deep cuts named, quite fittingly, “Deep Cut" based around the premise: “Songs are are like lovers / and if it was a record / we’d be the deep cut / that no one remembered.”

But I digress. Let’s get back to summer songs shall we because right now there’s a good chunk of this country that's undergoing a relentless heatwave like here in New York City with a forecast high of 97 tomorrow, or Seattle and Portland which hit 108 and 116 degrees yesterday (wut?) which is a full 18 degrees above recommended boy band temperature. And that’s not even to mention Canada’s westernmost province British Columbia reaching 116 degrees yesterday which shattered national records. So, you see, if we don’t get around to naming a designated Song of the Summer 2021™ soon we’ll all be melted into a congealed mass of musical indecisiveness before this week is even over.

But I digress again. On “Heatstroke Summer” Charlotte Rose sketches a sonic portrait made up of fleetingly observed slices of life with an evocative Zen-like concision like in the opening lines—“Heatstroke summer / yellow is the color / cowboy in Corona / but the beat goes on and on”—which is either about a cowboy living in Queens or living through coronavirus or possibly both because before long she observes that “you can’t prepare for death anyway.”

And hey I’m not gonna spell out the whole song for you but there’s an appears to be a theme of escape running through some of the lyrics (piña coladas optional) with the song’s narrator dreaming about it being New Year’s Eve again and weighing an invitation to hit the road for parts unknown, until the song’s extended coda rides off into the sunset with overheated dogs barking in the background and an intertwined guitar solo that’s equal parts jangly and distorted/dissonant much like the jangled, destroyed nerves of a heatstroke victim. But with the overall gentle swaying vibe, and with Ms. Benjamin’s voice being as winsome and gentle as a tall glass of pink lemonade, "Heatstroke Summer" is equally suitable listening for backyard barbecues and existential (or literal) meltdowns alike.

And hey we can't ignore the A-side of this two-sided single which is called “Cumbie’s Parking Lot” in reference to Massachusetts-based convenience store chain Cumberland Farms (aka Cumbies) which just happens to be the state where CRB was raised before she returned to her ancestral home of New York City where her parents launched careers as a dancer and a musician/TV jingle singer. Anyway she seems to have a fairly solid grasp of the typical thought patterns of Cumbie's parking lot denizens expressing sentiments like “I wanna separate my brain from my body / I want you to let me use you like a drug” and “I don’t wanna go home yet / you can take pictures of me and post them on the Internet.”

And even if summer isn’t explicitly mentioned it feels strongly implied with the theme of escape still to the fore—escaping home, escaping the city, escaping oneself—and with the phrase “I wanna” employed nearly as much as on a Ramones song. And when the song reaches its first chorus the whole thing opens us like a blooming summer flower with sweet fragrant melodies and lush floating harmonies that'll hit your senses like a face full of pollen (in musical terms it's something like taking all 35 volumes of AM Gold and distilling them into one single refrain).

And hey if the songs don’t do it for you right away then the accompanying music videos just might ("Cumbie's Parking Lot" is even directed by CRB herself) because there’s a clear aesthetic at work. Though be forewarned that based on the video above you really don’t wanna ask Charlotte Rose to serve you up a slice of cake, because she approaches the task of cake cutting like Jason Voorhees and his mother approach cutting up summer campers and you probably don’t wanna drink your cake through a straw. But it’s a minor misgiving and you were already forewarned in the song “Deep Cut” after all. 

But I digress one last time. So anyway now you've at least got somewhere to start with your summer-themed listening and you can continue to check this space for more to come. (Jason Lee)

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