In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends time with new music from Marble Mammoth, Amanda Mair, Tuvaband and Yo No Say. What have you been listening to lately?
Marble Mammoth, “Wrecked Ship”
Based in Stockholm, rock quartet Marble Mammoth eschews the usual modern rock channels for something a bit denser and more complicated. Their music is packed with heavy psych rock progressions and ethereal melodies that seem to have been plucked directly from the air. Combining the roughed-up garage rock of the ’60s with the sinewy and elongated sounds of classic rock, they find a midpoint between these familiar musical movements and proceed to conjure wholly original visions from these well-worn rhythmic experiences. The band has announced that it will release its self-titled debut EP Nov. 22.
For the video to their recent single, “Wrecked Ship,” the band teamed up with director Milja Rossi to create a suitably spaced-out, dreamy foundation from which to launch their fuzzed-up guitar theatrics. Hinting at a proggier framework, they mix psych-influenced riffs with extended explorations of muscular melodies and haunting hooks. Looping guitars and sparkling organs mix and erupt outward, leaving a crater in our collective expectations. The video pairs images of the band performing outside with lakes, cliffs and the endless depth of a star-filled night sky. These natural visuals lend gravity to the music, syncing their work to an organic rhythm and heartbeat.
Amanda Mair, “Wednesday”
A Stockholm native who first rose to prominence on the strength of her debut single, “House,” when she was just a teenager, Amanda Mair released her debut record back in 2012 and used the intervening years to further evolve her sense of self. Her early work evinced a love of artists like Robyn and José González, a blend of organic rhythms mixed with a decidedly pop euphoria. But since then, she’s developed a maturity that allows her to see the furthest ends of her musical abilities, a perspective that makes for great pop music and an even better lyrical awareness.
On her new single, “Wednesday,” she turns her arresting vocals toward a dreamy, intangible fascination with the idea of reality and how we perceive the world around us. Cinematic and thrumming with an intense pulse, she explores a barely contained euphoria that seems ready to break free at any moment. The song slinks from one ethereal melody to the next with vague outlines of synth-filled rhythms running along on a parallel course. Like M83 without the neon catharsis or Lykke Li with a fascination for emotional minimalism, Mair tackles the electric undercurrents of “Wednesday” with all the nerve and steady guidance of someone who’s been doing this for decades and sees hope hidden behind the encroaching darkness.
A Norwegian/English folk duo, Tuvaband revels in the pastoral intricacies of their chosen genre, creating beautiful passages of wooded narratives and understated emotionality. Built around the twin creativity of Simon Would (guitar, piano, keys) and Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser (vocal, guitar, songwriter), the band digs deep into their communal influences to craft a delicate but fierce acoustic aesthetic that speaks to their elaborate talents. Reminiscent of work by Laura Marling and Marika Hackman, their subtle and persuasive folk divergences are as compelling as they are complex. After quite a long time refining their sounds with arresting live performances and various singles, they’re finally set to release their debut EP in November.
On their latest single, “Trees,” the duo branches (no pun intended) out into a lovely melancholy, the kind of hushed sadness that often gets bogged down by maudlin arrangements and tepid lyrics—but it’s a sound Tuvaband seems intent on perfecting. Mixing a strong folk history with lyrics likening the deaths of trees to the ways we destroy the connections we have with one another, the song speaks to how when “we fell trees, we fell people,” a warning to those who undervalue the beauty of the natural world that surrounds us. But rather than beat us over the head, the band simply relays their heartfelt thoughts through gentle guitar lines and lullabylike vocals, ensuring that the message stays with us long after the music fades away.
Yo No Say, “Lock”
Baltimore band Yo No Say looks at music as a conversation starter, as an act that often results in open dialogues between friends, family and even strangers. And while it’s been three years since their debut record, “Get Lost,” the band has shown no signs of slowing down in their attempts to bring people together on common (or at least similar) ground. Parsing out a mixture of pop, rock and electronic grooves, they see music as all-encompassing, a broad palette of sounds with which they can paint a nuanced landscape of rhythm-driven ideologies. They are currently gearing up for the release of a new EP, “Inner,” due out Oct. 13.
With their recent single, “Lock,” they ramble through pop psychedelia, espousing ideas about alienation and the ways we mistreat those who need the most help. Clacking beats wander around while guitars slink and clatter in time to the electronic flourishes that chime in every now and again. It’s a distinct and memorable brew of influences that speaks to each member’s elastic inspirations, with the band working through a dense fog of skewed melodies and pop-minded indie rock with a casual ease. Despite the airy beats and swaying vocals, the track possesses an earnest outlook that allows the band to use their combined musical might to explore identity, immigration and the various refugee crises that plague countries around the world.
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.