In Notes from Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends time with new music from Becca Richardson, Guggi Data, Ephrata and Anastasia Minster. What have you been listening to lately?
Becca Richardson, “Wanted”
Growing up in Middle America, current Nashville resident Becca Richardson always grappled with feelings of alienation and what it meant to belong, eventually using music as a vehicle through which she could work through these complicated feelings. With help from the music of bands like Fleetwood Mac and Phoebe Snow, an interest was sparked in how these rhythmic sounds could connect people in unexpected ways. From a small town in Ohio to the campus of Stanford in California and on to the mountains of Tennessee, Richardson grew to see how music could be used as tool of self-empowerment and how it could help people find their place in the world. She’s gearing up for the release of her debut record, “We Are Gathered Here,” which is due out sometime later this year.
On her new single, “Wanted,” Richardson blends a subtle electronic twitch with a blues-y roll and melodic coos, creating a rhythmic sensuality that shimmers and shakes in the light of its own indie rock distillation. The song acts as a middle ground of influence and experience, a place where the various sounds and tones echoing through her bones can form and take an appropriate shape. The repeated refrain of “doesn’t it feel good to be wanted” exposes both a vulnerability and confidence lurking along the edges of the track. She manages to have these distinct emotions coexist and play off one another in a way that feels refreshingly devoid of blatant sentimentality and reveals a predisposition toward unpredictable arrangements and emotional revelation.
Guggi Data, “All There Is”
Guggi Data is the moniker of Swedish musician Gustav Data Andersson, who previously spent time as the guitarist for Makthaverksan and Westkust. Exploring a shimmering indie rock noise, he brings a careful and considered approach to the refinement of his sound. Eschewing the early ’90s indie rock adoration favored by many of his peers, Andersson opts for something a bit bigger and emotional, a pop-rock decadence that stands in contrast to some of the more austere sounds you’ve likely heard recently. With the forthcoming release of his debut record, “Pop/Rock” (out Aug. 18 via Luxury Records), he’s looking to bring his bright melodies and guitar-driven movements into a blissful pop equilibrium.
On his latest single, “All There Is,” he reveals a preternatural understanding of the intricacies of elaborate indie pop, wrapping the track in gorgeous orchestral flourishes and register-defying vocals. As a form, this kind of twee-ish pop ballad should have few shadows left to explore, but Andersson finds a few new craters in which to shine his iridescent light. Composed of sweeping magisterial movements, the song is tender and affectionate, full of a grand theatricality that suits its specific emotional introspection. Among the wash of strings and ringing pop arrangements, there lies a truth and honesty resting within its exuberant appearance, which offers an ecstatic and personal glimpse into his expansive inspirations.
The music of Seattle band Ephrata is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Brady Hall and can be traced all the way back to 2012 when he met singer-guitarist Skadi Von Reis and the two collaborated on a number of songs that Hall had been working on. They were so happy with the resulting set of songs that they immediately brought on bassist Jules Jones and drummer Ben Bromage to help them translate the music in a live setting. Crafting intricate harmonies alongside dreamy, washed-out guitars that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Slowdive record, the band mines these complex rhythms in their bid to discover some last great mystery hidden within their influences. They’re set to release their self-titled debut record on Sept. 22.
On their recent single, “Odds,” the band constructs a song around the kind of melody that seems to infest your consciousness for weeks, refusing to budge and leaving a permanent mark on your brain. It’s surrounded by fluorescent guitars and dreamy harmonies that shake and roll from one ear to the other and back again. It’s a rare that a song so determinedly poppy manages to feel so substantial, but Ephrata has created something here that doesn’t simply evaporate once it’s run its course. It’s so expertly built around the band’s dynamic interplay and seemingly spontaneous movements that you’ll swear it simply appeared out of thin air, fully formed and waiting to be fully embraced.
Anastasia Minster, “When I Die”
Moscow-born musician Anastasia Minster works within a captivating and darkly infectious rhythmic landscape filled with various classical music histories, folk ornamentation and expertly woven jazz arrangements. She brings all these influences together on top of an intricate pop infrastructure, giving each track its own existential perspective while retaining a gorgeous melodic cohesion. Her latest record, “Hour of the Wolf,” is due out Sept. 22 and finds her channeling the staerk sounds of her homeland as well as those of her adopted home of Toronto. Dense but curiously fragile, these songs evoke great distances, intimate emotions and the particular feeling that hangs in the air just before a storm.
With her latest single, “When I Die,” Minster provides a somber and haunting platform for her jazz-influenced chamber pop instincts to bloom and evolve, rolling around in a space where her music isn’t restricted by simple labels or genres. The song doesn’t wallow in an abject melancholy though–it simply posits that all experiences, including death, is part of the natural order of things and should be embraced when necessary. Her fierce and portentous piano work is fairly staggering, creating a ghost-like apparition that hovers gently by our side and whispers secrets in our ears. Reveling in emotional ambiguity, the song revels in a joyous sadness, giving Minster a way to highlight the full range of emotions that trail behind us every day.
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.