words by Nick Graveline
“When I Write My Master’s Thesis” – John K. Samson
On his debut solo album Provincial, John K. Samson, lead singer of Canadian indie-rock outfit the Weakerthans, captures the realities of what it really means to undergo the process of writing something huge (my undergraduate honors’ thesis comes to mind, and no I’m not gloating, it’s really not worth reading). Throughout the song, we hear Samson, or a fictional version of himself go through some of the more common activities that often accompany writing, i.e. video games, endless research, and just overall goal setting that shrivels into procrastination. Thrown into the mix is a clear nod towards a love interest that has fled the scene of Samson’s academic toil, promising to return only once said thesis is in the can, successfully adding pressure to a mind already under serious mental strain. This song is perfect for fans of upbeat power-pop and MLA formatted bibliographies.
“Go Girl” – Evian Christ
Released back in the first week of February, Evian Christ, Alias of 22-year old UK producer Joshua Leary, made his debut mixtape Kings and Them available courtesy of his new label Tri-Angle Records. Like his impressive label mates—Clams Casino, Balam Acab, and oOoOO to name a few—Evian Christ takes his audience into a dark, experimental realm, offering up a bizarre concoction of ghostly ambiance and off-kilter hip-hop beats as a cushion for pitch-shifted gangster rap. “Go Girl” features verses from track of same name by Baby Bash (featuring E-40), but Leary’s cut is just as much hyphy as it is fever dream. You can stream/download Kings and Them in its entirety here.
“I Belong In Your Arms” – Chairlift
Taken from Chairlift’s sophomore release Something, Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly offer up an 80’s inspired love jam that’s equal parts new-wave and modern day electro-pop. The production centers around warm synth oscillations, sparse bass lines, and classic drum machine sounds that harken back to New Order and Yaz, but Polachek’s vocals keep this track firmly rooted among the contemporary sounds of YACHT and Jona Bechtolt’s previous undertaking, The Blow. Capturing the purity of young love and the thrill of expressing it, this track would fit just as comfortably on a mix to a potential thing as it would at the prom scenes from Pretty in Pink. Definitely worth checking out if you’re not too jaded by the opposite sex, or currently stuck with a mouth full of cavities from eating your body weight in candy hearts last week Tuesday.
“The Way In” – Porcelain Raft
I wouldn’t describe myself as a sad dude, but I’ve always been drawn to songs that fall somewhere between depressing as hell and bittersweet. “The Way In” isn’t exactly a surface level tearjerker, but Mauro Remiddi, the man behind Porcelain Raft’s dream-pop, red wine and Xanax aesthetic, comes across forlorn. Layers of ethereal vocal washes and light guitar work evolve into a double dose of melancholy centered simultaneously on a break-up and summer fading into fall. But what keeps the listener, or maybe just me, from crying like a small child is the brightness and the wow-that-was-a-great-Rx-induced post-nap grogginess that seem to bathe even the harshest realities in a soft light. While this album was a bit of a grower, I’m now thrilled to see Porcelain Raft open for Youth Lagoon on April 5th at Turner Hall.
“Pete Standing Alone” – Boards of Canada
It seems I can’t go three months without delving back into Boards of Canada’s catalog, the godfathers of warm 70’s analog synths and collective childhood nostalgia. My friend Zach once described their music as actually sounding like nostalgia, or, after several more beers, started referring to it more specifically as “the Disneyland feeling,” which as far as I could distinguish, is a name he came up with for the way holidays, festivals, vacations, and yes, Disneyland, feels when one is young, or felt, in retrospect. But whatever may surface in your mind when you hear a song like “Pete Standing Alone,” my new favorite song off their 1999 masterpiece Music Has the Right to Children, there’s a certain element to their sound that tugs at that part of you that still wishes you were five, or at least that every experience could be taken in with the same innocence. For further listening, check out everything else they’ve ever released.