In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends some time with music from Miss Geo, Kid Runner, A Grave With No Name and Tuskha. What have you been listening to this week?
Miss Geo, “Sea in Between”
Music is associative in spirit, drawing together both artist and audience in a delicate but resonant waltz of expectation and experience. And for Boston-based electronic pop trio Miss Geo, this sense of synchronous communication is what drives the heart of their music to push past what is expected and dive headfirst into uncharted, synth-drenched waters. With the release of their forthcoming record, “Connection” (due out Sept. 16), the band has amassed a collection of songs that each represents a different feeling, creating an album of distinct emotional personification. So while the band constructs variable sensations resulting from this assemblage of rhythmic affections, they never allow the music to lose its focus or individuality.
With recent single “Sea in Between,” the band buzzes through an ocean of dense synths and chest-rattling beats. Built around a yearning to find a place in the world, the track surrounds this sentiment with a euphoric pop brilliance. Shimmering vocals slide across this neon landscape, casting dramatic shadows on everything in their path. Perfect for that next bout of fluorescent introspection or just a cacophonous night out, “Sea in Between” highlights the power of both external and internal emotional shifts. It finds the band reveling in a full pop ebullience, creating an elated and malleable synth masterpiece of melody and texture.
Kid Runner, “Give Me Something to Love”
Columbus, Ohio-based alt pop band Kid Runner lives in the loud and unexpected gasps of air that come from having your lungs emptied by a truly mesmerizing pop elation. Their singular synthetic sound is the work of bandmates Drew Lizon, Fran Litterski, Kurt Keaner, Scott Griffin and Bobby Heigel-musicians whose collective musical creativity is matched only by their dedication to creating breezy, sun-drenched pop expulsions. The band is gearing up for the release of their new record, “Body Language,” Aug. 12 and is set to continue their exploration of this bright and fuzzy noise for everyone within earshot.
On their new single, “Give Me Something to Love,” the band expels all those useless labels and characterizations, hitting you with a barrage of saccharine, synth-led patterns. There’s something wonderfully satisfying about a chorus that gives you exactly what you want. And here, the band provides just the right amount of anthemic synth escapades and throbbing rhythmic explosions. Everything about this song screams “summer jam.” From the peaks of its vocal euphoria to the undulating melodies buried beneath its pulsating textures, Kid Runner has created something that appeals to our communal appetite for cascading sound and our need for ecstatic emotional release.
A Grave With No Name, “House”
The work of London-based singer-songwriter Alexander Shields (AKA A Grave With No Name) inhabits a world of foggy melodicism and intimate narration. His songs reveal the desolation of his moniker while wrapping his voice in a cocoon of field recordings, ambient noise and acoustic manipulation, with the resulting brew dedicated to uncovering the ways we separate ourselves from each other and how we hide behind figurative masks. His music is both an indictment of and answer to the not-so-subtle ways we put this emotional distance between us and those who would want to get just a little bit closer.
With “House,” Shields mixes a series of ramshackle acoustic melodies and atmospheric flourishes with a knack for being able to get under your skin before you know what’s going on. The song possesses a power that isn’t obvious until you’ve picked apart its delicate nature to understand just how affecting this lo-fi simplicity can be. You’re not being bombarded by sound and fury-there’s more going on here than a full-frontal assault on your senses. And in a lot of ways, this is an even more devious way of infiltrating your emotions and experiences. Shields quietly and utterly disarms us to the point where each verse feels as personal as a recent heartache.
Tuskha, “First Date”
Tuskha is the solo project of Bowerbirds frontman Phil Moore, and if you’re expecting more of the same kind of burnished singer-songwriter acousticism that that particular band provides, you’re in for a bit of a shock. Moore has dropped the folksy winsomeness that characterizes Bowerbirds’ work for something a bit more moody and beat-driven. There’s even a danceable slant to this music that completely erases any assumptions you might have had about the nature of Moore’s individual influences. With the recent release of his self-titled solo debut, he finds that perfect balance between a certain atmospheric pop and R&B-inflected sound that’s as difficult to master as it is to describe.
For the video to single “First Date,” Moore and director Elise Tyler chose to film in a semiabandoned mall in Nashville, a fitting place for the song’s unusual blend of intimate melody and barren emotional weight. In the midst of all this stark commerce, Moore finds himself wandering through empty walkways and hollowed-out storefronts. The song’s bouncing synth swagger and Moore’s vocal expressionism are placed firmly at the front, all bare commonality and personal reflection tied up in a simple but refined pop aesthetic. “First Date” proves that there is still so much to learn about how certain people approach their influences-it’s something miraculous to hear.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.