In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends time with new music from Rhyal Knight, Neosho, Jared Saltiel and Passed Out. What have you been listening to lately?
Rhyal Knight, “Little Hands”
Recent Athens, Georgia, transplant Rhyal Knight knows the aches and pains of touring and the complicated lives of band members. After years performing with Cold Cold Sweats, his previous band that disbanded at the beginning of a 17-day tour, he’s developed an acute sense of his strengths and weaknesses. Imbued with a singer-songwriter’s heart and a soul filled with the sounds of Muscle Shoals, Knight uses his past as fodder for his songs, a trait that has given him a unique understanding of how he’s come to deal with certain events in his life. You can hear this awareness laced throughout his upcoming EP, “In Quotations,” which is due out Nov. 10 and was mastered by David Barbe at Chase Park Transduction.
On his recent single, “Little Hands,” Knight combines blue-eyed soul vocals, sparkling guitars and rumbling organs with hints of deeper jazz influences. He spends four minutes bridging the past, present and future in a tangled mass of experiences and genre experiments. Blending subtle Americana vibes with classic folk intonations and weightless funk suggestions, he crafts a hypnotic swirl of sound and texture, a carefully manicured groove that resists characterization and exudes a pure emotional outlook. Gentle but possessing a great spirit, it builds a lingering and sustained momentum that doesn’t bash you over the head and never allows the song to dissolve within its various musical atmospheres.
Neosho, “Big G”
The roots of experimental duo Neosho can be traced all the way back to an online forum for Ableton artists called “solipsism,” which is where Jackson Bennett and Justin Bernard Williams first met. They developed an immediate musical rapport and decided that their collective weirdness gave them a better understanding of each other’s abilities. After a series of roster changes, duo to full band and back again, they began work on what would be their debut record. They named themselves after a river that borders their home states of Missouri and Oklahoma. Having settled in Austin, Texas, now, they are ready to offer their fans the first official collection of Neosho songs, dubbed “Borderline,” due out Nov. 10.
On their new single, “Big G,” the band melds analog to digital, the physical to the abstract, and comes away with a sound that’s equal parts synth-inspired indie rock and sax-laced psych pop. The song’s eclectic appearance and unpredictable production reveal it to be a shivering musical echo with a buzzing melodic pulse—not a heartbeat, exactly, but a sound that reflects its own emotionally connective experiences. Skronking sax and digitized beats bark and thud as the song settles into a decidedly psychedelic groove. And as Bennett and Williams continually contort and manipulate their individual inspirations, the track begins to take on a chameleonlike appearance, able to blend in with its surroundings but still holding fast to its feral electronic personality.
Jared Saltiel, “Wayward Queen”
Brooklyn singer-songwriter Jared Saltiel isn’t content to adhere to bland musical labels or genres. His work builds upon an extensive history of rhythmic fascinations. Having previously played with Ann Arbor, Michigan, pop-rock quartet the Dirty Birds, he’s well-versed in the intricacies of pop arrangements and has been releasing albums that showcase his penchant for complex compositions and emotionally invested melodies. Similar in tone to artists like Sondre Lerche and Jens Lekman, Saltiel finds the miraculous in ordinary events. His forthcoming record, “Out of Clay,” set to be released Feb. 2, was recorded at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn and finds him working through classical influences and indie pop machinations.
On his latest single, “Wayward Queen,” Saltiel delivers a heartfelt rumination on what it means to accept the realities of our own shortcomings. Opening with the beautiful simplicity of a strummed acoustic guitar and Saltiel’s gentle voice, the song soon begins to incorporate strings and electric guitar, but they’re not used to hammer home some blunt sentimentality. He’s far more nuanced in his application of these cresting sounds. The idea that this “Wayward Queen” exemplifies some archetypal feminine form and line of thought adds a particular resonance to his music. The track seems to bleed a cavernous emotionality, the kind of tidal absolution that doggedly clings to the inside of your heart.
Passed Out, “Bukowski & Brautigan”
Shouldering the mantle of classic punk and emotionally raw indie rock, Buffalo, New York, rockers Passed Out turn their attention toward stories of guarded vulnerability and emboldened musical obsession. Filled with an undiluted youthful angst and the ability to see past their own troubles to view the world on a much larger scale, the band champions the downtrodden and the heartbroken. Doling out brief blasts of percussive fury and guitar-driven noise, they use their familiar influences to create a sound that’s both respectful and refreshingly self-aware. Quick on the heels of their 2016 debut EP, “Infinite Regression,” the band recently released an EP called “The Aforementioned and How It Pertains to Absolutely Nothing” Oct. 20.
Within the punk-fueled confines of their recent single, “Bukowski & Brautigan,” the band explores the ideas of losing someone dear and how that was allowed to happen. Buoyed by a rush of churning guitars and lightning-quick percussion, the song details the lead-up to the dissolution of a longtime relationship, but they’re not really interested in laying blame. The band dives into these turbulent rhythms in an effort to discover the underlying reasons why people tend to push away those they love and cling to silent seclusion. The track manages to build a formidable narrative, leaving room for conjecture and discussion as their punk and anthemic rock tendencies pour out from their collective consciousness.
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.