In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends some time with new music from Fast Romantics, Louise Lemón, Beth // James and Linnea Olsson. What have you been listening to this week?
Fast Romantics, “Why We Fight”
Sometimes, you just want to throw your fists up and charge blindly into the light, and Toronto six-piece Fast Romantics make music that’ll gladly soundtrack the various states of your emotional impetuousness. Spreading their joyously raucous indie pop message to anyone who will listen, the band fashions a bright and inclusive sound from some very communal sources. Throw in some synth-drenched pop from the past few decades and a smattering of indie rock rebellion, and you’ve got a good idea of the glorious noise that Fast Romantics peddle. And with the forthcoming release of their new record later this spring via Light Organ Records/Postwar Records, we’ll have even more emotions to spill in the coming months.
On their new single, “Why We Fight,” the band combines the dramatic ’80s pop jolt of The Cure with the modern indie rock ebullience of The New Pornographers. Detailing the individual reasons why we push and struggle every day, the song is a mission statement that roars from the heart of the band. With guitars that burst like fireworks in the night sky and drums that build to a mesmerizing indie pop cacophony, “Why We Fight” is an energetic explosion of melody and fine-tuned pop instincts. The band eases through their collective inspirations with a singular pop determination, one that favors complex innovation over simple homage.
Louise Lemón, “Egyptian Darkness”
Swedish musician Louise Lemón possesses some interesting and murky instincts-she likes to slide from one shadow to the next without fully explaining the mechanics behind her skewed pop inspirations. She’s worked with a disparate group of musicians and producers, including those associated with artists like Thurston Moore and Sunn O))). Built within her songs are emotional releases capable of devastating everything in their path-she casually shakes the foundations of her influences and forms something unique and wonderfully abstract from the resulting ruin and catastrophe. She has a new EP on the horizon, one where she’ll continue to pry and pull apart these sounds in gleeful revelry.
On her latest single, “Egyptian Darkness,” Lemón exposes a sultry pop-noir groove within her ghostly vocal theatrics. Often subtle and occasionally unsettling, she creates a shadow-filled landscape where pop music is inverted and reimagined as something a bit darker and more forlorn. Her smoky voice casts a dull-hued glow across the track, highlighting the shivering emotional heartbeat that thuds and shakes among the broken rhythms of her influences. Capturing the icy, gray-washed sound that artists like Lana Del Rey and PJ Harvey often employ, Lemón fashions a devastating portrait of hard-won liberation and independence.
Beth // James, “Lion Eyes”
Austin, Texas-based indie folk duo Beth // James revels in the intricate wordplay and melodic dispersion inherent to the genre within which they work. Their insightful folk inclinations guide them through these familiar waters, leading them to a place that feels remote and soaked in the mist of nearby mountains and valleys. Composed of singer-songwriters Jordan Burchill and Mikaela Kahn, the band brings atmospheric guitar lines, experiential lyrics and ethereal harmonies to bear on their involved folk influences. This sense of future and past musical lineages colliding and assuming an entirely new perspective is at the heart of their upcoming record, “All in Life,” due out April 28.
On their new track, “Lion Eyes,” Burchill and Kahn evoke a gorgeous folk atmosphere filled with a sense of its own expansiveness. Guitars slide and shiver along the edges of your periphery while a persistent drumbeat drives the whole engine forward. Written after a friend fell prey to a bad relationship, “Lion Eyes” finds their voices circling one another in a spiral of heightened emotion and awareness. The music completely surrounds you as it struggles on in a continual march toward the horizon-it’s a beautiful tragedy performed by two individuals who feel the pain all too clearly and can translate this intangible desperation through a balanced mix of laceration and comfort.
Linnea Olsson, “Hall of Tragedy”
Scandinavian artist Linnea Olsson creates vast and intricate rhythmic plateaus through the dense echoes of her cello and the airy breathlessness of her voice. Her work is often steeped in darkness but never wallows in the shadows. Born from classical modern influences, her music feels exciting and relevant at a time when detailed creativity is in short supply. At the moment, she is gearing up for the release of a new EP, “For Show,” due out Feb. 24. Aided by a nimble imagination and a classical pop compulsion, she isn’t merely looking at the immediate future-her sights are set on the ever-unfolding evolution of her mixed-genre revelations.
With recent single “Hall of Tragedy,” Olsson builds a mountainous cello-driven track drawn together by her persuasive and forceful vocals. The palette she works with is fairly minimal, but each moment is loaded with an inescapable emotional gravity. With each bow motion, her voice rises and flows out from her body, a spectral thing capable of leveling entire cities. With each listen of “Hall of Tragedy,” we get a better sense of the majesty and epic histories that she channels through her voice and those strings. It’s a powerful and colossal bit of classical subversion that would make Kate Bush proud.
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.