As one of D.C.’s most promising, consistently impressive acts, GEMS is dream pop duo that knows how to emulate and innovate. They sound like their peers–Lindsay Pitts’ billowing, smooth vocals are halfway between Beach House and Mr Twin Sister, and the duo’s production is cut from the same crystalline diamond that brought groups like The XX so intimate and valuable to listeners. Yet even as the group situate themselves in the contemporary indie pop canon, GEMS sounds distinct and confident. Early singles like “Pegasus” were certainly oneiric and dramatic, but were also uncharacteristically focused on something tangible. Dream pop so often seems to find success in illusion, yet Pitts and her musical partner John Usher sing about completely understandable characters and emotions.
“Sinking Stone” from last year’s excellent Medusa EP exemplifies this juxtaposition wonderfully; Pitts sings about themes in love that most of us have dealt with. Inadequacy, longevity and trust are all present in the track’s lyrics, but they simply increase the drama and beauty. The more music that GEMS release, the more it becomes apparent that the duo excels at instilling a unique mood while also conveying recognizable human perspectives. They make dream pop that’s lovingly tethered to the ground.
Check out the insanely gorgeous video for “Sinking Stone” below to see how well the band can visualize their sounds and lyrical narratives. It seems inspired by the urgent drama of Rihanna’s visuals for “We Found Love”, but with less linearity and more experimental cinematography. Whatever it reminds you of, both the music and the images will leave you in an altered, enchanted state. Also… see the band tonight with Tei Shi and VERITE at U Street Music Hall.
Rediscovered this wonderful track from earlier this summer. Remix and edit by Cousin Cole and Nacey of Misun’s track “Miss You”. Get breezy people…
Latest and greatest from former DC, and now LA based outfit MISUN. Enjoy the vibes…
Get breezy (and a little funky) with Starlight Girls single from early this summer “Fancy”. Enjoy…
Jillette Johnson’s voice is strong and exciting because it’s unstable. Sometimes on her excellent debut album Water In A Whale, it’s lavishly heavy and amorous, and other times it grinds, grits and cracks like a windshield in a hailstorm. The New York songstress knows how to display her emotional lyricism through this spectrum of vocal tricks, matching captivation and infatuation with smooth hooks and everything else with war-torn, epic singing. Just one listen to “Torpedo”, which combines intensity with self-confidence, showcases Johnson’s strength as a newcomer to the pop conversation. The saccharine hook brings listeners back to the central theme of the song: even in the face of her biggest challenges and fears, the artist is standing her ground and ignoring all the bullshit. Johnson uses the song’s winding verses to flex her voice’s range and complexity, and the marching strings and piano melody that boils around her only adds to the powerful message of the track.
One can only imagine how affecting and life-affirming “Torpedo” or any of Water In A Whale would sound like live. Luckily for us, Johnson is touring the country this fall with the lovely and equally moving Mary Lambert. For those in the capitol, the pair will be playing at U Street Music Hall on Oct 23, and we have tickets to give away! Comment below or tweet us @newdust for a chance to claim them and witness this new rising star. Also, check out the video for Torpedo. See you there!
Music is one of the greatest channels for powerful emotional release. Most of us claim we’re optimists, but the darkness in life really makes for the most impassioned listening experiences. This has been proven time and time again on mainstream radio—the public’s veneration of tracks like “Someone Like You” by Adele or “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus proves that we are empowered by our idols’ shared misfortune and solitude. It’s even more common to relate to tragedy in rock, which finds much of its soul-searching disillusionment in Blues music.
The Olympics embody this emotional turmoil excellently in their new single “Who Are You”. The track has all the right elements to create a wholly downcast mood. A harried guitar solo, impassioned vocals, and explicit lyrics that fully expose the narrative of the song: “I hope you choke in your sleep” is the climatic kiss-off here in a track about unobtainable affection and rejection. “Who Are You” is immediate, and satisfies our masochistic nostalgia for feeling abject and unlovable. It’s also a poignant and direct exercise in pop-structured rock, and introduces the Olympics to a wider audience. While the band hasn’t come any closer to reconciliation with the track’s out-of-reach lover, they define themselves as musicians.
Easily the most associated word with lo-fi pop master Ariel Pink is weird. His music, his interviews and his visual impressions are always pleasantly distorted and out in left field. Wherever you land in his almost endless discography, you’ll encounter the absurd sounds and visions that Pink inhabits—he’s one of those artists whose persona in the public eye is believably the same even in his most private moments.
And the weirdness continues! Pink’s new solo album pom pom is due later this fall on 4AD, and the lead single is an instant classic. “Put Your Number In My Phone” is sunny and hilarious on its own, but with accompaniment of its eerily engaging video, the complacency of the music becomes the soundtrack to a lucid dream. I don’t know what makes me more uncomfortable: the man with the Darth Vader mask or Pink’s green cowboy hat. Check out the song and the vision below, and appreciate that Ariel Pink never ceases to defy expectations as a connoisseur of the queer and off-kilter.