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Author Archives: Patrick St. Michel

New Crunch: “Blue”

Nagoya trio Crunch wisely lead off their first brush with major-label life with their finest moment to date. “Blue” isn’t new — it originally appeared on last year’s short-but-sweet Blue Blue Blue, serving in the lead-off spot and delivering one of the year’s most emotionally wrenching numbers out of Japan, building slow and growing in intensity…before ending in uncertainty, a masterstroke grounding the number in reality. It’s their best, and as solid a choice Crunch (or Space Shower) could make ahead of their debut album Tenkiame, out in November.

And they found a way to beef it up more. This version of “Blue” takes advantage of a presumably better recording situation (it sounds better, in the sense of more details become clear in this version) to ramp up the intensity lurking beneath the rather skeletal portions of this song. More wordless singing is added between verses, and the guitar sounds downright sinister, popping up right before the song boils over, giving extra force to the words and then carrying them out to the wispier ending. Yet through these changes, the impact of “Blue” stays in tact. Listen above.

New Andrew: Edits Vo. 1

This has been the year where I’ve accepted the fact I have no real idea of what’s happening in American music. This development probably solidified like two years ago, but I’m at peace with it in 2017, a stretch of time where the amount of time spent on Twitter means I get a certain exposure (some would all it “an addiction”) but wherein I really lack any deeper understanding. Well, thanks to Andrew of Trekkie Trax’s first set of song edits, I have a slightly better understanding of some names. His rework of Playboi Carti’s “Location” — and there is no better artist for me to highlight my new reality than him, a rapper I know about, but for a single song and like a bazillion blog posts — surgically removes the vocals and turns the dreamy bed of music into a rumbling bit of lushness. He transforms Jacquees and Dej Loaf’s “Want Your Sex” into a rumbler and then goes back in time a bit to slow down Anita Baker’s “Whatever It Takes” into an icy instrumental. Get it here, or listen below.

Speak Up: HoneyComeBear’s “Rainy Girl”

Simply adding singing to a song can take it from familiar to thrilling. Tokyo duo HoneyComeBear create uptempo, at times claustrophobic, electronic music (“future bass” if you please), the sort of songs that sound like they were recorded in HiDef. Yet Kakko, who sings on their songs as well as pens them and helps compose the tracks, adds a humanity to the core their songs that helps them stand out. Not new in this corner of electronic music, but the way HoneyComeBear’s songs teeter between big, sugary joy and something more melancholy is a nice change of pace for sounds often coming off like a rave in Chuck E. Cheese’s.

“Rainy Girl” finds them slowing it down. The song unwraps at a stroll, interrupted only by metallic percussion. It allows Kakko’s singing to really take the center spot, and it works wonders on a song featuring lyrics devoted to meditations on loneliness in the rain. Yet the hook is a big burst of noise, partially joyful but leaving enough space to imply some continued ennui. Critically, the combo works, and makes “Rainy Girl” a highlight of this style in 2017. Listen above.

New Buddhahouse: “See You”

“Tropical” has become such a meaningless buzzword that hearing something that genuinely sounds tropical is a genuine shock to the system. Buddhahouse has done this well over the last two years, whether via the cool shimmy of “Summer Breeze” or borderline kitsch of “Mango!,” each of which have genuinely gotten me writing about weather.* “See You” turns away from obvious summer references, while the sound is more subtle, featuring the sliced vocal syllables most commonly tied to that other tropical sound. Yet it also gets accented by steel drum notes, and features a great groove. Get it here, or listen below.

*not a tough thing to do, though

New Luby Sparks: “Thursday”

[looks at calendar] Oh hey, nice.

Indie-pop outfit Luby Sparks are the latest up-tempo group charging through ennui to get the call up to a bigger label. They just released their debut album via Space Shower Music, and shared the title track. “Thursday” zooms ahead, featuring a slightly fuzzed guitar melody which adds some force behind the all-together-now singing of the band. Like Homecomings or For Tracy Hyde, the catchy music obscures some pain, lurking in the lyrics. Here’s hoping a big group of people hear it. Listen above.