The first thing you notice about Smooth Sailing, Mike Pace and the Child Actors' new LP, is that it gleams. Picture a studio stuffed with synth whizzes, session bassists, forty or fifty world-class audio engineers. Picture some label accountant rubbing his temples, grilling a Child Actor over some outrageous line item ("ten thousand dollars for 'vibe maintenance??'). Picture, of course, the man himself, Mike Pace: stomping around in a speedo and bathrobe, refusing sleep, verbally abusing children, sinking periodically into morose funks, instantaneously emerging from those funks with gnomic yet emotionally lucid career highlights like this album's "Troubleshooting," etc.
The reality is, in its way, even more outlandish. In the years since Pace adopted his Child Actors moniker and released Best Boy, he's had no fewer than two children, acquired a mortgage, and settled fully into a consuming job in production music. Smooth Sailing, then, was written and recorded in the cracks of a full and meaningful life: in those minutes or hours most of us use to watch bad TV, or stare blankly into the middle distance. And yet in terms of scope and lushness of sound, and in the way it updates and personalizes a whole slew of classic rock reference points, it stands with the best of War on Drugs or Father John Misty. Like those guys, Pace is first and foremost a nerd, the good kind: someone who cares passionately and unpretentiously about something most people never think about, specifically progressive rock and big-tent singer-songwriter stuff from the 1970s, and puts that care to productive artistic use.
On some level Smooth Sailing is its own classic rock radio station, diverse enough to appeal to a whole jammed freeway's worth of commuters. Some might prefer the Randy Newman/10cc-style "Senior Statesman" (one of Pace's full-fledged story songs, which some enterprising movie producer should option ASAP), others the perfect power-pop of "Blaster" (think Sugar, or Matthew Sweet). Undoubtedly some will cry right there in their cars to "Disconnected Heart," a ballad so beautiful you could picture a Xanax-addicted SoundCloud rapper sampling it. I personally love "Americana Manhasset"—a pink-sunset ambient-instrumental track which harkens back to at least four imagined pasts, only one of which I lived through. (Credit goes as well to Matt LeMay, the producer/multi-instrumentalist who embellished, shaped and mixed each of the songs on Smooth Sailing.)
If you've ever listened to Pace's music you know this already, but just to be clear: this is no kind of bloodless genre exercise. As always with Pace, the cherished albums are all mixed up with the memories of those cherished albums, and with the memories those albums soundtracked, so that the result—filtered through Pace's well-established interest in nostalgia, time's passing, etc.—is on the one hand new and idiosyncratically Pace-imprinted and, on the other, familiar and comforting and kind of pleasantly sad—pop sad.
This stuff might not sound much like Mike's last band, Oxford Collapse—possibly New York's last great indie rock band, before the whole operation shipped over to Philadelphia—but it definitely feels like Oxford Collapse, because all of Pace's songs yearn in this totally unique way. And as ever these songs are set in places built for yearning: beach towns, high school hallways, commuter trains. The yearning has something to do with growing up, with putting away childish things. A song like "Escape the Noise," with lyrics about giving up on guitars and "ragged nights," has a ton of parallels in Pace's discography, but this one's his best—for many reasons, but especially because we now know for sure that he doesn't actually mean it—that he'll be writing about this stuff for a long while to come. - Daniel Kolitz
Jonathan Lear released his first short experimental/acoustic/ambient album “Outside Worlds” in December of 2011. Following the reception of some really high and unexpected praise, he began work on a full length album which took approximately two years and two inter-continental trips to write and record. After carrying out a successful crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter to press the record on vinyl, he released “Memory Well” in March of 2014.
Since Memory Well Jonathan has put out two more one-man-band, instrumental math rock-esque records: “Reflection” (August 2016) and “Nina” (August 2018). While Reflection was very much a sequel to Memory Well, Nina is much more of a tribute to his ex-landlord’s dog Nina. Both albums are available in both digital and physical formats.
"Nina" is an instrumental math rock journey. Although the few lyrics on the album give away very little, conceptually speaking, the record is in fact Jonathan's attempt to keep up with his landlord's dog: an utterly gigantic, supremely energetic, deaf pit bull / Dalmatian mix named Nina, who he is tasked with walking, feeding, and occasionally babysitting. Long story short, Jonathan peers into Nina's soul and realizes that there is a fully-formed human being inside, and this record is his attempt to capture that humanity in musical form. In doing so, Jonathan realizes that is actually dogs that make us human.
Grizzly Coast"s background as a poet, mixed with her lifelong affinity for playing music, lead her to blending the two mediums on her debut album Gold Lined Path. Her new single, “Zuzu’s Petals,” showcases her expansion into a full-band sound, and her commitment to free-falling even deeper into her lyrics. This video attempts to capture the growth and joy that solitude can bring, and frames it in a single summer’s day.
"“Zuzu’s Petals” is about the feeling of self-assurance – something that struck me on a refreshing upswing that I rode after going through a breakup. Finding simple luxuries in both solitude and community, and really focusing on music were what brought me back home to myself. With the song’s upbeat tempo and lyrics, I aimed to evoke the excitement that you feel when you’re inspired by the boundless possibilities that exist in your future."
The first single "Burned Skin Will Heal" by MAJJ is out! Their new album "Relapse" will be out on September 21. Listen to the single and pre-order the digital album on their Bandcamp.
MAJJ is an alternative rock band from Sarrebourg, France. The band was created in late 2015 . They started recording in the end of 2016 and released their debut album “Motion Bloom” on June 21st 2017. Their music is instinctive, raw and emotional. It goes from quiet places to noisy-driven moments, not necessarily in that order. They like atypical song structures and unexpectedness. They found their musical sweet spot to be somewhere between progressive, post-rock, and math-rock.
Braden McDannell is a singer-songwriter hailing from the blue-collar backwoods of Western Pennsylvania. His musical roots began in various outfits playing guitar, drums, writing, collaborating and performing various music types, such as Rock N' Roll, Indie, Folk, and Punk. These opportunities and experiences have solidified his rhythmic style of writing and other views of the world. His sound is a derivative of Post - Alternative Rock and Acoustic Folk.
The Debut EP LP was inspired by the relationships we have created both in the past and present, as well as the opportunities and directions life takes us as we follow our path. This album was written with the intent to shed light on our own perceptions of life and in consequence, help in channeling any of our own struggles of reality into positive creativity and art.
A combination of retro aesthetics, enduring lyrics and alt-rock grit.
The best music happens when artists refuse to remain stuck in their own comfort zones and creative boxes. Whenever this happens, they are free to give full range to their vision, and they can really come up with something that’s groundbreaking and personable. This is certainly the case here with Tommy Red and his brand new EP release, “I Wanna Be Exploited.”
Marva Von Theo is an Electropop / Synthwave duo formed in 2016 by the Athens-based singer-songwriter Marva Voulgari and the Vienna-based composer-producer Theo Foinidis.
Their Debut Album “Dream within a Dream” was released early in 2018. The 12 songs on their Album, lean towards an electronic sound that incorporates a variety of influences ranging from the music of the 80’s until today. Darkwave sounds, Jazz harmonies, Rock and Dance drum beats resonate together and mature into something darkly romantic.