In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends some time with music from Jessie Frye, Filipe Alvim, Mimes of Wine and Fialta. What have you been listening to this week?
Jessie Frye, “Big Bad Wolf”
The influence of the ’90s never faded away, not really. For all the derision occasionally cast at the grunge movement and the glaring pop disposability of the latter half of the decade, there was a definitive swagger that gave those particular years a distinct atmosphere and essence. And for some artists, this well of influence can be a simple grab for nostalgia, while others look to the underlying foundation to understand why so many people connected with the music of that time. For Denton, Texas, musician Jessie Frye, this pervasive ’90s alt rock attitude infuses her entire discography. There are moments, though, when a more experimental light shines through; but overall, her work evokes the churn and emotional bluster of a decade captivated by its own noise.
On her new video for “Big Bad Wolf,” Frye takes the rock showmanship that pervaded the ’90s and imbues it with a wicked wit and a stomping boldness. Her voice is still as fierce and resolute as always, a growling racket that can influence and intimidate in equal measure. Incorporating images of goth culture and detailing the feel of ’90s rock culture, this video finds the singer stalking through an ink-laced emotional graveyard of twisted lyricism and a series of full-frontal rhythmic expulsions. It’s a whirlwind of woozy slo-mo shadows, vibrating guitar lines and Frye’s inimitable voice, resulting in a not-so-subtle persuasion to take one more step toward the darkness.
Filipe Alvim, “Vida Sem Sentido”
Brazilian musician Filipe Alvim creates psych-inspired soundscapes that are filled with warm melodies and ragged guitar riffs-the kind that are born from some isolated garage or bedroom studio. His songs are steeped in the psych anthologies of the late ’60s and early ’70s but also contain enough personality to distance themselves a bit from their well-known influences. Psych rock tends to be somewhat insular in terms of its approach, but Alvim’s expansive aesthetic gives the genre a much-needed boost of creativity and unexpected weight. With the release of his debut LP coming sometime later this year, he’s getting ready to spread his ragged rock rhythms to everyone within earshot.
On his new single, “Vida Sem Sentido,” Alvim mixes a fuzzy garage rock sound with wobbly guitars and melodies that seem to crawl along the floor of the song. There’s a warbling psych atmosphere that allows the song to stay fluid while exploring the nooks and crags of Alvim’s imagination. And even the language barrier is no barrier to the evocative rhythms and influences that he manages to pull apart. The guitar lines are barely held together; seams burst and re-form as strings are bent and frayed. This track would have felt at home on one of those innumerable “Nuggets” compilations but still works out its own internal mechanics apart from its influences.
Mimes of Wine, “Birds of a Feather”
Mimes of Wine was initially conceived by Italian singer-pianist Laura Loriga, who now spends a good deal of her time in New York. Crafting intricate and personal vignettes of stark and smoky piano-led arrangements, Loriga creates a sound that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Paris café in the ’30s. Since 2009, she’s released a couple of records and worked sporadically with other Italian bands on various projects. Ever since her sophomore album came out, she’s been working with the same backing band, a collection of musicians who’ve helped shape Mimes of Wine over the past few years. The band is gearing up for the release of their third record, “La Masion Verte,” June 10 via Urtovox Records.
With recent single “Birds of a Feather,” the band has created something dark, moody and full of imagined things slinking from one smoke-filled corner to another. Opening with just some slight piano notes and Loriga’s lofty voice, the song provides some ebullient echoes before bringing in some strings to add depth to a noise already growing in momentum and stature. As everything comes together, we’re carried upward, above all the shadows and discordant sounds. The band coaxes some remarkably nimble rhythms and melodies from their instruments and builds upon a jazz-influenced landscape of complex arrangements that feel so intimate you’re not entirely sure whether the band actually knows you’re there.
Fialta, “Do the Best We Can”
California indie pop band Fialta never does anything in half measures. Their music is bright, buoyant and filled with a dense, emotional core of experience and influence. Sparkling melodies and soaring vocals lift the music up so high that the oxygen starts to get thin. It’s not that their approach isn’t subtle-it’s just that their songs are open invitations to share in their joy and sadness and excitement for what’s to come. With the forthcoming release of their sophomore record, “Shadow of a Drought,” the band is looking to expand their synth pop tendencies amid a series of youthful euphoric eruptions. It’s definitely hard to look away.
And with “Do the Best We Can,” they fashion a glimmering summer jam that actually won’t allow you to look away-its soaring harmonies and pop theatricality leave their mark deep in your brain. Plinking piano, rumbling synths and a buzzing percussive thump fill the air and coalesce into what is arguably the first song that will find its way to your summer playlist. The band constructs a towering pop monument from some familiar elements but infuses each second with an honest ecstasy and an unmatched sense of composition. They know just how to elicit every last ounce of emotion from your heartstrings without feeling devious about their motivations.
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.