Posts tagged ‘Cali’

Starlight Girls are a Hidden Gem

The Brooklyn-based Starlight Girls (whose name was taken from the 80s cartoon Jem) have received legit underground buzz in NYC and for good reason.  The 2 girl/2 guy group has released a bunch of fun, sultry, thick songs (the EP is due out in April) that mix a bit of 60s psychedelia, west coast surf, and Brooklyn indie rock resulting in some undeniably addictive sounds.

With splashing guitar, horns-driven synth, pummeling drums, ominous harmonies and Christina B’s lead vocals that conjure disco-era Blondie, Starlight Girls’ playful, flirty pop songs sound like a melting pot of the music your parents used to listen to and the music your kids are going to listen to.

Flutterby starts out as a spooky carnival ride but sways with a hypnotic consistency as Christina B’s voice drips all over the track that starts and ends with her airy flute.

Everyone’s dirty little secret is that they love Gossip, and the Starlight Girls play up to it with their seductive, mischievous sound.

The Hunch feels like a subliminal message, subtly bending you with it’s twangy guitars, soothing synth, and pulsing vocals.

Wasteland starts with a sharp beat and classic piano (played on synth).  There is tangible disco influence on this track and Christina’s haunting voice mirrors Blondie more on this track than any other.

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Singular Focus – No Surf by Wet Years

I don’t know much about San Diego-based Wet Years, except that their song No Surf flirts with psychedelic rock thanks to the distant vocals, wavy guitars, and slowly paced drums.

According to Wet Years, “The title comes from a hidden little beach in San Diego. People love to drink, and smoke, and soak the sun there.  We wrote the lyrics about a girl who may or may not have been psychic…”  The loneliness conveyed in the lyrics of No Surf matches perfectly with the dark tones of the guitars, creating an ominous tone as the song builds up like a wave that never crashes.  She walks bored through sand and saltwater, between the rays and drags of cigarettes/Blue skies and stars all shattered over, I knew that you were stuck in the sun.

You can find the band here

Incan Abraham takes psychedelic rock to new levels

Why risk taking mind-altering drugs when Incan Abraham‘s music can easily replicate those effects with its psychedlic and dreamlike songs?   With its hypnotic vocals, trippy electronic-induced sounds and complex percussions, Incan Abraham may be the great hippie band of the iPad generation.

The Los Angeles based quartet has been steadily releasing EPs since 2010 displaying their signature sound which takes 60s rock influences and twists them around until they sound completely modern.  Taking a cue from bands like The Flaming Lips, Incan Abraham mesmerizes with gentle guitar riffs, speedy techno synth resonance, and Teddy Carfaro’s atmospheric vocals.  Able to slip into your subconscious with a balance of sensory overload and sensory underload, Incan Abraham translates inspired emotion into subtle yet remarkable rhythms and sounds.

Track Breakdown:

This week’s breakdown will highlight one song from each EP.

Sunscreen, off the EP with the same name, starts off quickly, with synthetic notes tripping over themselves until a relaxed guitar riff sets in as effortless vocals blanket the song with an intangible calmness.

Hors D’oeuvres, off of Adult World starts with helium-filled vocals and spacey backgrounds.  A little over a minute in, the band drastically shifts gears, with a consistent cheerful thumping synth piano, pop-oriented chorus and harmonies, and simplified lyrics which bows to their 60s influences.

In Milan, off of Ancient Vacation, relies less on soundboards and more on guitar riffs and vocals with an identifiable chorus.   In Milan showcases Incan Abraham’s ability to branch out from their niche sound and create a track that is more radio-friendly that their previously released EPs.

When and Where:

If you ever find yourself falling down the rabbit hole or lost in the middle of the desert, I’d take the time to make sure that Incan Abraham was playing.  It’s a great album ifyou want to see something in a new perspective.


Hors D’oeuvres

In Milan

Links to the free EPs:

Singular Focus – So So Fresh by Nico Vega

The rarest of female singers are the ones that can rock out and rip the mic to shreds.  While not the strongest album in the world, Los Angeles-based Nico Vega’s self titled debut album contains a few decent songs, however, the shining jewel in the crown is So So Fresh.  The immediate familiarity with the song is due to Aja Volkman, whose vocals are a throwback to Joan Jett.

I can’t help but snarl when I hear this song.  It makes you feel like a righteous mofo with the rhythmic lead guitar and the chorus which has that balls-to-the-wall straining vocal followed by some messy chanting that fits the tone of the song perfectly.  Even without a bass guitar, you feel deep full thump laced throughout the song.

If you fall madly in love with this song, I recommend Wooden Dolls which shows off Aja’s versatility in displaying her smoky vocals that easily transition to a piercing voice triumphantly bashing the chorus (a little over a minute into the track).  I guess I’m cheating and should have called this double focus.  Whatever.  Get over it.


So So Fresh:

Wooden Dolls:

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Gorilla Manor by Local Natives

A lot of bands have come out over the past few years successfully copying or building on that Beach Boys harmonized pop-surfer sound.  One of the most successful is the Los Angeles-based Local Natives, whose 2010 debut album, Gorilla Manor, is filled with great percussion and crisp harmonies.  While there is a single thread through this album of optimism stemming from the dreamy, starry-night-sky sound, the band branches out with some grungy songs and afropop percussions.

This album can be broken down into two parts.  The first half is upbeat, but just when you begin to get a sugar high, the second half, starting with Cards and Quarters, slows down with more reflective, emotive lyrics.

Track Breakdown:

Wide Eyes is haunting, powerful, and the perfect introduction into the album, showing off the band’s skill at making complex harmonies sound relaxed and simple.  With ominous opening lyrics, Oh some evil spirit oh some evil this way comes, Wide Eyes verges on but is too thoughtful to be considered “pop.”

An opening filled with piano and grunts, Airplanes flies you to places you weren’t expecting.  A song about longing for someone’s return, Airplanes starts with heartfelt aching that builds powerfully to desperation.

Sun Hands is the kitchen sink song, where the band uses hard rock guitars, twinkling vocals, and a tribal pace that keeps you so focused you don’t realize how many styles are being used.

When and Where:

This album is a summer anthem.  Blast Gorilla Manor the first day of summer when you are passing out at the park or lounging on the beach.

Wide Eyes:


Sun Hands:

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