In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends time with new music from R. Finn, Bummerville, Forest Bees and Jeremy Bass. What have you been listening to lately?
R. Finn, “Quiet House”
The influence and friendship of legendary musician Levon Helm is a powerful thing. And for folk singer-songwriter R. Finn (born as Chris Rondinella), a nervous phone call to Helm some years ago created a connection where Finn was able to bring recording equipment to Helm’s empty studio in Woodstock, New York, and spend time working on the house concert jam sessions that Helm regularly led. After a couple of years producing these impromptu shows, Finn moved back to Los Angeles, created a personal studio called The Heritage Recording Co. and began work on his own material. The ensuing sessions yielded the Americana-tinged record “Collecting Trip,” due out Jan. 19.
On his new single, “Quiet House,” Finn radiates a bucolic intimacy, a warmth that extends outward from the lingering syllables of each line to the comforting melodies that cling to your ears. Acoustic guitars and a gently shuffling percussive gait bend your attention to the effortless way he creates detailed folk worlds from a host of familiar sounds. There’s a definite twang and tangible ache in each moment of the song. The persuasive rustic rhythms latch on to your senses and form a nice little folk cocoon inside your head, a perfect nesting spot for Finn’s compelling use of mandolin and pedal steel shivers. Blending Americana and ancestral folk tendencies, he comes away with a sound both reverential and casually ambitious.
Bummerville, “Time That It Takes”
There’s always room for innovation and movement in the music surrounding Daniel Brady Lynch, a Savannah, Georgia, native who holds an active membership in at least four bands: Sunglow, Cray Bags, Greta O. & the Toxic Shock and The Lipschitz. Lynch has been indulging his experimental punk and garage rock instincts for years now, amassing a history that would make most other musicians blush. But even as he was performing with these bands, he was still looking for something different, a new outlet for his manic creative impulses—and he found it with Bummerville. Possessing a virulent rock ‘n’ roll roar, “Bottom Feeder,” his debut record as Bummerville, will be released Jan. 26 via Graveface Records.
On recent single “Time That It Takes,” he hums and bristles with a punk-fueled rock rumble, evincing the kind of emotional expulsion that would feel at home in the late ’70s. But he also commands a collection of dense riffs and punchy vocals that aim for the ribcage but manage to hit the heart. Fuzzy licks and hiss-soaked melodies ooze from every pore, keeping the song mobile and not tethered to any given genre. Lynch is getting his kicks in the dingy bars and dives that populated New York City in 1977, and he couldn’t be happier. Thriving on both its brevity and inclusiveness, “Time That It Takes” is a heartfelt ode to lost summers and the ocean of blown-out city lights that lead you home at 3 in the morning.
Forest Bees, “Hollow Bones”
Earning her stripes as the bassist for early ’00s San Francisco noise pop band The Stratford 4, Sheetal Singh was always trying to comes to terms with what it meant to be the daughter of Indian immigrants and how it felt for a woman of color to be surrounded by a sea of white indie rockers. After that band fell apart, Singh focused on schooling and raising a family. When there was an initial push to restart the band, those familiar creative feelings arose, and she knew she had to start making music again. She formed Forest Bees as a way to indulge those particular inclinations and is getting ready to release a self-titled mini-LP Jan. 17 via Venerable Wax President.
On “Hollow Bones,” a standout track from that upcoming release, she tackles the difficult theme of postpartum depression and how it can quickly and mercilessly take over your life. Using languid electronic beats and subtle background flourishes, she creates a sense of quiet desperation, a claustrophobic reality that exists deep within these circuital rhythms. There is still hope, however, no matter how well it’s buried, and Singh shows that things can get better when you accept that there are some limitations in life but that you can push past those seemingly unconquerable obstacles to find purpose and light. “Hollow Bones” is an acknowledgment and a “f&#% you” to the darkness that surrounds us on a daily basis.
Jeremy Bass, “The Greatest Fire”
As the musical director of New York City art collective The Secret City, classically trained guitarist Jeremy Bass knows how to wrangle vastly different sounds into a coherent display of technical prowess and emotional resonance. Having his formative musical training in Italy and Spain, he eventually settled in Brooklyn and began a deeper dive into the heart of the music community there. Gaining acclaim for a pair of stylistically divergent EPs in 2015, he went on to gain recognition from the John Lennon Songwriting Competition and the U.K. Songwriting Contest. He’s currently gearing up for the release of his latest album, “The Greatest Fire,” due out Jan. 19 via Jungle Strut Music.
On the title track to his forthcoming record, Bass takes inspiration from that great quote from iconic musician Tom Waits: “I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.” The song itself isn’t about any particular terrible thing, although you could certainly find some allusions to political events from this past year; it’s more about having the cognizance to be aware of your darkest fears and facing them with some semblance of hope. The catchy synth lines and stadium-ready chorus focus our attention on the devastating lyrics and how Bass uses these spry rhythms to underscore the innate desperation of his words.
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.