In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends some time with new music from Ablebody, Katie Rose, Pip Blom and Elijah Ford. What have you been listening to this week?
Ablebody, “Backseat Heart”
Ablebody is the moniker of former Pains of Being Pure at Heart and The Depreciation Guild guitarist Christoph Hochheim, and with the help of his brother Anton, the two have been making foggy pop diversions for the past couple of years. Taking the dreamy pop inclinations of his former bands and adding a synth-addled delirium, he creates a wondrous ’80s rock landscape where shimmering melodies cross paths with featherweight rhythms and develop into absurdly catchy nuggets of indie pop goodness. With a wonderful EP released back in 2013, the band now looks to their first official LP, “Adult Contemporaries,” due out Oct. 14 via Lolipop Records.
On their new single, “Backseat Heart,” the duo concocts a sugary yet weighty indie pop groove, the kind of song that evinces an organic sense of evolution. Having taken their work from the bedroom to the studio-courtesy of Cole M. Grief-Neill and Kenny Gilmore (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti)-the sound feels fuller while still evoking the kind of introspective longing and ebullient resolution that bedroom pop architects seem drawn to. There’s a comfort in its rhythms, as if the Hochheim brothers have discovered that sometimes the best way to involve someone is to allow them to place their own experiences and motivations on top of the music. “Backseat Heart” is a glimmering indie pop prize, and one that should be held up to the light as often as possible.
Katie Rose, “Wonder”
Charleston, South Carolina, singer-songwriter Katie Rose was young when music first crept into her life-it all began with piano lessons when she was 5. Just a few years later, she scored a solo for her school play, and from that moment, she knew without reservation what course her life needed to take. By the time she was 12, she was attending the Charleston County School of the Arts for piano and was learning to play guitar in her spare time. And now, at the age of 17 (after a brief stint in the duo Katina Rose), she’s looking to release her latest record, “Everything Yesterday,” and discover the joy and freedom that come from following your own path and throwing yourself completely into each new step.
With recent single “Wonder,” Rose manages to take a pop ballad and turn it into a glorious emotional catharsis full of gorgeous string arrangements, courtesy of Jay Clifford. The song is her repudiation to the often-tedious and broken-down feelings that come from working your way through heartache and a good deal of internal rumbling. There’s a sense of spatial awareness, as if the faint echoes and generous room within the song are Rose’s answer to the constricting events of her life. But even when she’s staring at these moments head-on and the music is rising to a stirring climax, she still manages to make everything seem completely inclusive and dependent on the smallest details of everyday life.
Pip Blom, “Hours”
The music of Amsterdam native Pip Blom is buoyed by a youthful restlessness and a sense of its own deterioration. Characterized by dance rhythms and indie rock rebelliousness, her music is steeped in a long history of guitar-driven artists whose own experiences provided fodder for their lo-fi revelations. And even though she’s only 19, she possesses a wisdom and grit beyond her years-the kind of worldly understanding that comes from a preternatural ability to view the world as it is and not through the rose-tinted glasses of youth. Her work is both mature and full of the exuberant mischievousness that hits us hard when we’re in that transitory space between adulthood and the last vestiges of our teenage years.
With new song “Hours,” she wanders through a personal anxiety, the result of her approaching that moment when the passage of time seems to be catching up with you and your life suddenly demands full and unequivocal attention. Guitars wobble and drums fan out in undulating patterns, and she rides it with all the casual ease of someone who has been doing this for decades. She’s begun to look for something more meaningful in life, and “Hours” is her response to the confines of her own understanding. Draped in fuzzy guitar lines and opaque melodies, the song produces a familiar and nostalgic yearning for a time when things were just beginning to get complicated.
Elijah Ford, “Try as You Might”
California native Elijah Ford has found an adoptive home in the streets and alleys of Austin, Texas. Taking a break from his bandmates in The Bloom, Ford is looking to stretch his legs for a time and see what mischief he can get into under his own name. An earnest and resolute determination invades his traditional rock inclinations, splitting the difference between his conventional inspirations and those of a more experimental nature. His work still clings to the tried-and-true aspects of classic rock, with stray bits of indie rock’s recklessness, but Ford’s approach is one of reverence and homage, not simply a reiteration of his extensive influences.
Across the length of his new single “Try as You Might,” Ford distills the essence of finding yourself in a transitory place, a time when ideas of home and feelings of uncertainty are vague reflections of one another. The guitars are brisk but weighty, creating a patch of earnest rock ‘n’ roll that clasps directly onto your heart. Plying its head spinning melody like a lasso, the track quickly binds you and kicks your feet out from under you. It’s all in service to a remarkable burst of emotion and feeling of freedom, but it also recognizes that there are some things beyond our control. And often, it’s best just to ride it out until things calm down a bit.
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.