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Alt Pop

Trick Gum’s Quirky Debut Single “Hot Rifle” Turns On The Offhand Charm

Photo courtesy Trick Gum

L.A. duo Trick Gum is the work of producer Justin Raisen (Charlie XCX, Angel Olsen, Yves Tumor) and Jordan Benik of cult LA band Sweaters, and their debut single, “Hot Rifle,” sends out a strong current of left-field 90s indie pop quirk.

The new track marries tasty acoustic drums to a loping, charmingly clumsy fuzz bass, jaunty rhythm guitar touches, and gravely bass vocals. They show some real muscle in the chorus, with lines like “I am cheap perfume/I’m your prince of doom/Come get and eyeful/Of my hot rifle,” but overall the vibe is of two buddies horsing around, while still showing off their considerable skills in the studio.

The band says “‘Hot Rifle’ is about being pushed to the edge and losing your faith in societal norms, the moment you give up on the rules and consider stealing a very large amount of money, and the peace that dwells within you in this moment, freed from the constraints of principle… in other words, a summer jam.”

If only pondering grand larceny had a soundtrack a catchy as this. Gabe Hernandez


Phantom Handshakes: Shoegaze on Broadway

ALT TITLE: "Dream-pop Girls"

Way back in 2020, the Phantom Handshakes put out a song called “Aisha (Vs the Dirty Tongues)” which just from the title alone sounds like it should be a rock opera. And it’s not just the title because the song’s dramatic, moody music is likewise suited to the stage and would likely appeal to the youth of today since they don’t yet have a rock opera to call their own. Anyway I’d say the time has finally come for a shoegaze/dream pop takeover of Broadway and the West End.

The newest release by the Phantom Handshakes entitled No More Summer Songs could be the album to break the impasse and tap the potential for a dream pop rock opera if somebody could just find the next Mr. Lin-Manuel Miranda and get him or her to write a staged adaptation. I mean just listen to “Cricket Songs” and it’s inner monologue describing the protagonist’s heightened sense of perception in the midst of a summer heatwave complete with bedroom dancing and sweaty sheets and overemotive mothers and drifting off to the sound of chirping crickets. It’s pretty evocative stuff and so is the video above.

The album’s opening track “I Worried” would make a perfect overture with its ghostly echoes looking back at past misspent summers (that’s my take on it anyway) which would serve as a perfect framing device for the musical, and then the next song “No Better Plan” would be the crossover crowd-pleaser with its wordless catchy yet slightly taunting “Nya Na Na” refrain which should translate well to foreign markets.

The song captures a doomed-yet-determined forlornness but with a sunny/boppy melody and beat (sidenote: the aforementioned hit song from Hamilton also has a “Na Na Na” refrain) with lyrics about “building sandcastles despite the wind” which is essentially what King George does in Hamilton

P.S. I’ll gratefully accept a producer co-credit and a modest percentage of the gross box office if this idea comes to fruition. But if it turns out to be the next Moose Murders just remember you didn’t hear any of this from me.

Fresh Cuts: “Barbara Ann” From Rosie Tucker’s New Album “Sucker Supreme.”

More signs the light is at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic comes in the form of “Barbara Ann,” the sprightly, confident, but also wistful lead-off track from LA indie rock artist Rosie Tucker

Beginning tentatively with crystalline guitar arpeggios over a bed of soft static and guitar line noise, the track quickly blooms into a melodic brew of pleasingly crunchy rhythm guitars, sweetly endearing alto lead vocals, and breezy but half-jaded “oohs” and “ahhs,” joined later by a subtly humming, retro monosynth line. 

It’s a proper “75 and sunny” highway driving track, but its energetic sound puts a polished sheen to an simultaneously earnest and jaded lyric, with the narrator addressing the titular Barbara Ann with lines like “the life you chose that sent you reeling/How did it go? How was it,” while also reassuring Barbara by mentioning that “with a Louisville Slugger/Under your side of the bed/No one’s gonna hurt you now.” It’s a delicate balancing act, mixing hurt with hope, but Rosie Tucker pulls it off nimbly. Gabe Hernandez

RIYL: Soccer Mommy, Phoebe Bridgers, Alvvays

BONUS: Check out the lyric video for “Barbara Ann” on YouTube below (courtesy Rosie Tucker)


Ilithios shows the "Way of the Future"

There's some songs that get you right there and I mean there. And while everybody has a different emotional G-spot it's recommend you check out the Deli music video premiere below [editor's note: first premiered on our IG account] because if the song alone doesn’t get you there then the visuals plus the music might. The video is comprised of equal-parts sweet and melancholic home movies of and by our featured artist spanning from his childhood to the near-present, a montage of grainy footage from Greece, Korea, and NYC that forms a fascinating family tree even if you aren't directly related to Ilithios and I'm guessing most of you aren't even though you're reading this.

The lyrics and visuals of “Way of the Future” play off the strange liminal state we've all been trapped in for the past year-plus and still not knowing what’s coming next (or not coming next) and thus the opening lyrical query: “When all this passes / will you still be around?” And if it sounds a little heavy well yeah but the music that carries these ruminations to your ears floats by gently and generously even when it's being acknowledged that “I know you haven’t seen me in a while / I know I’m not your favorite one no more." But the sentiment is delivered in such a way that it doesn’t sting and everything seems pretty chill except that by the end of the bridge Ilithios is imploring us to “take apart this fortress with one touch" in a not-so-chill fashion which again captures a certain hazy blend of longing, contentment, and perhaps an overdue reckoning.

The press notes for "Way of the Future" compare its sound to Perfume Genius, Twin Shadow, Father John Misty, Beach House, and Arthur Russell (Arthur Russell!) among others which is true enough but I’m also getting a certain late ‘90s/early 00’s REM vibe—not a super heralded period for the band but if you go and listen to New Adventures in Hi-Fi, Up and Reveal you'll find that these are some seriously vibey albums and that they've aged well. And speaking of vibes don’t stop there because Ilithios has recently hosted some cool locally-sourced shows--including an outdoor showcase around a month ago with Slalomville, Sean Spada, Space Sluts, The Planes, Ana Becker, Shadow Moster, and Kissed By An Animal (viewable in its entirety above) that's chock full of vibes of the good kind and who couldn't use some of those. (Jason Lee)

Junaco Lets the Light Shine Through On Dreamy New Single “Dazed”

“Dazed by the simple things,” sings Shahana Jaffer towards the end of “Dazed,” the buoyant and shimmery new single by Los Angeles indie duo Junaco. We’re inclined to agree.

Junaco (consisting of both Jaffer and Joey LaRosa) embody the philosophy of “less is more” on the new track. It’s hard not to indulge in the atmospheric bed of chorused guitar strums; the warm, punchy percussion; the buttery, muted fuzz guitar lines that flit in and out of the mix like June bugs and, lilting above it all, Jaffer’s breathy and confident vocals, offering a measured dose of melancholy to softly patina the otherwise glittering sounds on display. Gabe Hernandez

BONUS: Enjoy a live performance of "Dazed" below (via the Junaco YouTube page)


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