The first three songs exist on the fringes of electronic experimental pop: Antn Hrkwk produces as unpronounceable but as intriguing tunes as his name, Absofacto debuts a new little heartfelt synth number and Zambri pumps up the energy with some ethereal girl zinging. Moving in a different direction to seamlessly crafted melodic rock, Onward, Soldiers gives us a lovely hammock-ready ditty, and finally, R&B/dance pop/indie genre-crosser Leonard Friend (of The XYZ Affair) showers us with 7 songs from his first solo EP.
-Your Loving Editor, Nancy Woo
1. Antn Hrkwk - "It's So Not Like That"
(click to stream or right click to save as)
LP: Mutually Assured
Woven together from a series of unrecognizably short samples of existing songs, Antn Hrkwk's "It's So Not Like That" is a quite unusual tune. Hrkwk is a musician who specializes in these re-assembled tracks, which he allegedly creates using film editing software Final Cut Pro. "It's So Not Like That" comes from his 2008 album Mutually Assured, which is available for free in its entirety via Recycling Records. In this song, Hrkwk builds abstract vocalizations and a jaunty acoustic guitar vamp into a slowly churning melody that is rather catchy in a weird, hypnotizing kind of way. No lyrics or deeper meaning here, just a loopy little lollipop that you're bound to either find grating or entrancing. If you like it, check out Antn Hrkwk's new album Thoroughbred, available here.
2. Absofacto - "Lies"
(name your price from Bandcamp)
I've been quietly obsessed with Absofacto since I first heard his music in early 2011. He just released a new single so I figured I the timing was right for sharing. Absofacto is the side project of Jonathan Visger, a member of the band Mason Proper. Through Absofacto, Visger releases, as he puts it, "experimental pop music." After relishing in the little synth number that is "Lies," make you check out the rest of his music at music.absofacto.com.
3. Zambri - "ICBYS" (Pronounced Ick-Bees)
(free download from Stereogum)
LP: House of Bassa
The uncanny musical magic that sometimes erupts from siblings (whether because of shared genes, shared tastes, similar vocal cords, or growing up together) has manifested in the duo of sisters, Zambri. They went from sharing toys and dreams as children to sharing ethereal electronic pop as adults, and this song, "ICBYS" is the first official release from their soon-to-be-released debut LP, House of Bassa. I imagine neon hair and geometrically patterned dresses from this punchy, girl rock song. If you dig it, watch for their upcoming album, out April 10th, from their Facebook page or website.
4. Onward, Soldiers - "Telling Nobody"
(free download from Soundcloud)
Veering away now from the electronic music, I'd like to share a lovely little melodic pop gem by a group you'll love if you're a fan of Dr. Dog, Wilco or Built To Spill. Strummed and sung as if lazing on a hammock in the early afternoon, the song is crafted with precision and mastery. The piano melody introduces you immediately to the easy tempo, gliding smoothly into the subdued drums and bass keeping a lolling rhythm, with the seamless overlapping of harmonizing vocals and a relaxing guitar shining at the right times. If, like me, you're instantly impressed by the pleasant and unfolding songwriting from these North Carolina bandmates, you're going to want to seek out their upcoming album Monsters, available February 21st off of Winoca Records. In the meantime, listen to some previously released tracks from their website.
5. Leonard Friend - Lynyrd Frynd EP
(free download emailed from Bandcamp)
7-song EP: Lynyrd Frynd
Lana Del Ray isn't the only one with a confusing stage name/album title. Leonard Friend (born Alex Feder), who used to be in the indie band The XYZ Affair, is now issuing solo releases as Leonard Friend, with his first EP titled Lynyrd Frynd. It may not be as controversial as Lizzy Grant's release of Lana Del Ray (which was retracted after she became Lana Del Ray herself), but still worth doing a double take. And once you listen to the music, you might want to do a double listen.
Existing somewhere between R&B, dance pop and electronic indie, there's a smooth and savvy soul vibe running through the sometimes flashy dance-floor tunes. With bedroom lines referring to the 1990s in the same breath as something like "it was a thrift store party," Leonard Friend gracefully merges multiple trendy worlds - it's nearly a half hour of good and surprising stuff. Get a hold on this before the clubs (or vinyl producers) do. And Facebook him up here.