Since Toronto-bred four-piece Fresh Snow first started making improvisational drone and noise together in 2010, the instrumental krautrockers have shared stages with a sundry slew of notable acts—Atlas Sound, Tim Hecker, and Ratking to name a few. “Fresh Snow hates eardrums,” the band state on their Facebook page. Distorted guitar riffs paired with phantasmal organ melodies rip through the beginning of their single, “I Can’t Die,” off their latest record, ONE; the video is accompanied by frenetic visuals provided by Benjamin Portas. Hands and eyes whirl in surreal and vibrant landscapes until the song becomes centered around a slow bass line. The video has the same addictive and hypnotic effect of that Windows 95 screensaver maze. As geometric shapes pass through one another, it’s easy to let your mind sink into a meditative trance. "It's constructed spaces and realities in digital purgatory,” director Benjamin Portas told AdHoc via email. “I made up that world as a response to 'I Can't Die.'"
As an active member of the Philly music scene and previous drummer for Alex G, Scotty Leitch has proven to be prolific songwriter in his own right. Perfoming under the name Shelf Life, Leitch shares his third full-length, Spirit Bear, a heartfelt collection of songs that exude a rare kind of warmth. With noteworthy collaborative songwriting and vocals from his friends—Cleo Tucker of Girlpool, members of Arthur Shea, and Eli Sheppard aka Yung Sham, to name a few—Leitch crafts his most meditative work yet. Amidst the cacophonous guitar distortion time seems to move slowly, allowing one to reflect on uneasy qualms. Spirit Bear is a work that uplifts and helps collect jumbled thoughts.
Spirit Bear is out now as a self-release. You can stream it below.
Lauren Morgan used to sit in front of Jordan Shih in their high school Latin class in Florida, not knowing that the two would start playing music together in the years to come. Upon graduating from Florida State University, Morgan became a Blossom Parks Condominiums landlord in Orlando. At the end of her work days taking care of the shady property, Morgan would meet up with Shih, who himself would have just finished a grueling shift at an AT&T call center. The duo then began writing the simple yet moving pop songs that would birth their collaborative project, SALES.
With the help of their friends Guillermo Casanova and Alana Questell, the duo put out their first single, “Renee,” a yearning number, three years ago. Soon, people of the internet were hooked on SALES: with their songs featured on popular Vines and their curation of YouTube channels, the group has kept fans itching to hear Morgan’s mesmerizing vocals over infectious guitar hooks.
How did you first get involved with music?
Lauren Morgan: I took piano lessons when I was young—but I really wanted to play guitar. My parents made me take piano first. [In high school,] I met Jordan, who was on a totally different trajectory.
Jordan Shih: My background is in electronic music and production. I didn't pick up a guitar until I started SALES. But I really enjoyed growing as a musician with the project. I was at a point where I was burnt out with electronic music—mainly because there was tons of amazing electronic music coming out at the time, 2010. I was like, "Shit you know, I'm not that great." I gotta do something [else].
Robert Tilden started recording under the moniker BOYO after dissolving his high school band, Bobby T. and the Slackers. After becoming a favorite among L.A.’s warehouse scene, sharing stages with some of L.A.’s seasoned rock acts (Cherry Glazerr, Surf Curse and Girlpool among others), Tilden set on working on his debut full-length, Control. With some help from former Bobby T. drummer Ruben Radlauer, the album was recorded almost entirely by Tilden himself in his parents’ basement in a year.
With lackadaisical tones reminiscent of psych-rock outfit, Mild High Club, Control is filled with lazy, sliding vocals and warm guitar fuzz. An outline of his battle with drug addiction, debilitating isolation and anxiety after dropping out of college, Tilden lays out his grief and joy in a raw form. Pain is nearly palpable in the album’s first track. Fetching yet melancholic vocal hooks stretch over warbling guitar and synthwork as Tilden wails, “I’ll see you when I die.” “Won’t Shake” takes a different tone, serving as a declaration of defiance. Tilden’s distorted vocals ring out over a cacophony of strumming, as he yells, “Don’t stop.” Control is a perfect remedy for a mental demise.
According to their Facebook page, Chicago-based rockers The Funs "are not a party band" and don't "fake passion." These two statements ring true in their work, which traces back to their first release in 2013, S/T, a jumpy, frenetic vignette rife with crunching guitar distortion. Now fresh off the release of MY SURVIVAL, the duo shares their video for album closer "Weigh a Ton," directed and shot by Lucas Herzog in a desert just outside Los Angeles. Raucous, droning guitar plays as we follow the journey of singer Jessee Rose Crane, who carries a huge silver, shiny bag through a barren landscape in the sweltering heat. "I hold on," Crane repeatedly shouts. "I weigh a ton." She later explains to AdHoc, "It's about not giving into whatever holds you down. Shit builds up on everyone's back and you have to keep going and you have to keep hope. It's about pushing through the suffering to beauty into self-actualization." The heavy weight she carries in her words and in the video are nearly tangible.
Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce, better known as glam rock duo PWR BTTM, have been dishing out heartfelt, upbeat rock ballads since their first hard-hitting EP release in 2014. From writing songs about carbs to queer identity, the two have made humongous strides in their signature glittering garb across the country. As they prepare for their upcoming US and European tour this fall, they have released "New Hampshire," a wistful number that captures a comfort with death, opening poignantly with the line, "When I die please bury me in New Hampshire / I really like the leaves." Exuding warmth, the track is driven by fast and flowing guitar riffs and ornamental glockenspiel.
Shampoo began as three friends brought together by their love of Atlanta’s underground pop scene. The trio started playing catchy Top 40-inspired synth pop under the Shampoo moniker three years ago, sharing stages with beloved nostalgic pop acts like Memory Tapes, TOPS, and Pure Bathing Culture. Today, Shampoo shares their mellifluous debut record, Terrible Heat, an immersive sonic time capsule. Drawing inspiration from anime theme songs and Madonna, the album makes use of a vibrant palette of sounds, from saccharine synth work to hazy guitar riffs. Wistfully fetching hooks reminiscent of Joe Hisaishi course through “Hanging Up On U” and “Texaco,” whereas gentle guitar picking flows through “Otaku” and “Inside Out (All That I Want)” over a hard-hitting drum machine.
Texas-born artist Don Teel Curtis was born during a tornado and grew up on a ranch. Now living in Brooklyn, Curtis prepares to share a bill with Tim Hecker and Jessy Lanza for the Savages-curated Le Guess Who? festival in the Netherlands this November. He shares his a eidolic single, “Output Phantom” a crashing and cavernous call into a void. Curtis’ vocals seem to ricochet boundlessly over the warm humming of synths. The track reads as the non sequitur dream; one isn’t quite sure why events transpired as they did, but the dream still makes sense.
"Output Phantom" is out on Brooklyn-based label, Weather Patterns. Tour dates can be found below.
serpentwithfeet is the chosen moniker of Baltimore native Josiah Wise, who has has a hand in numerous musical and visual projects in New York's underground art scene in the past few years. Now, with the help from London-based producer The Haxan Cloak, the 27-year-old singer-songwriter shares his debut single via Tri Angle Records, "Flickering." Seamlessly interlocking R&B and classical elements, Wise creates an intimate space through sound reminiscent of UK singer Sampha as he layers hollow piano chords, vibrating bass and shimmering synth work. The track reveals itself as a desperate plea for connection as Wise repeatedly trembles,"I offer myself to you."
Jerry Paper is the internet experience brought to life by mastermind Lucas W. Nathan, who leans into charming absurdity under a genre he describes on his Bandcamp page as "11th dimension pop." Blending MIDI sounds with catchy keyboard hooks, the L.A.-based songwriter has been creating heartwarming, outlandish pop for years, and has garnered an abounding online fan base in the process.
Nathan dives into the further reaches of the realm of eccentricity with his latest record Toon Time Raw! and doesn't look back. Deviating from his more electronically centered pop with the help of BadBadNotGood, he grounds us in a kaleidoscopic, jazzy dissonance as he layers dozy keyboard over warm saxophone and roots songs in bossa nova rhythm (most notably in "Elastic Last Act"). Although the record seems to paint the primary colors of a simple, whimsical comic book, Nathan lyrically delves into heavier, complex existential issues. Toon Time Raw! is a strange and beautiful anomaly that requires an attentive ear and more than just one listen.