Alt Pop

PREMIERE: Amy Rage's singular pop vision explodes on debut "Doin' It Right"

Jersey City songwriter and producer Amy Rage debuts her maximalist sound on new anthem “Doin’ It Right,” a dazzling showcase of synth-driven indie pop with nods to 80s femme forerunners such as Madonna and Blondie. A singular product of the artist’s existential crisis earlier this year, induced by the slog of the 9-5 and feelings of office-bound inertia, Rage turned to a small MIDI controller and a makeshift home studio to craft a vibrant sonic escape from the malaise. Hammering synthesizers and a strong emphasis on larger-the-life vocals, alongside emotional lyricism stressing how the right person can render the world’s sanity inane, propel this saturated electronic bop forward, delivering a single evocative of pop’s past and present stylings. Recommended for fans Charli XCX and Perfume Genius, stream our premiere below, and keep an eye out for Amy Rage’s forthcoming debut EP out later this year.

   

PREMIERE: Bandits on the Run soundtrack modern love in new short film "Love in the Underground"

The baroque-pop sensibilities of New York trio Bandits on the Run well make for cinematic music — with vivacious cello lines intertwining with acoustic guitar, and three part harmonies as a centerpiece, there’s a goosebumps-inducing element to their tunes, a plethora of hair-raising moments wherein the band’s distinct parts emerge from quietude into a full, sunny sound. It’s fitting then that their newest single, “Love in the Underground,” was released alongside a nine minute short film for which the track serves as score (and in which the band serves as background players), enabling listeners and viewers to become swept up by the band’s dynamic, driving performance. Visually charting two strangers (actors Jason Gotay and Michael Hartung, themselves a couple IRL) falling in love on the subway, their dialogue is told primarily through choreography and music, a conversation which spans several station stops along the L and the East Williamsburg streets, before settling in at an atmospheric speakeasy — where the film visually enters its second act. Transitioning from an upbeat, primarily string-forward approach to the tone of a piano-driven ballad, Bandits on the Run re-emerge in the bar to perform a slower, more somber rendition of the track, creating a visual and sonic B-side to the entire production that builds to this featurette’s heartfelt climax. An impressive endeavor by any metric, aided by production from veteran companies Chucklehead and Must B Nice and choreography from co-director Lane Halperin, it’s required, sweetly succinct viewing in a time where love might seem far away — though it could just be one train car over. Watch it below. Photo by Fletcher Wolfe

   

Dance like nobody's watching to Dream Machine's "Sarajevo"

After sitting around in your house for too long, you might crave for something to get your blood flowing. Dream Machines have a new EP out called Trust/Desire with five tracks to get you out of your quarantine-induced stasis. Jamming out at the intersection of Prince, Hall & Oates, and Queen, Dream Machines take 80s rock and mash it with the future pop sounds of today. "Sarajevo", the lead track, introduces the EP with a heartbeat drum riff to get your body pumping. Then it throws in the energetic vocals of Harry May Kline and Luke Burba, along with some soulful synths and fiery guitars to send a shockwave to your brain. Fans of Ariel Pink, Drab Majesty, and Tame Impala will want to take a listen to "Sarajevo" below. - Will Sisskind

   

04.15: Alt-country songwriter A.W. opens live-streamed show for Future Teens

Experts say that we may not see another live concert until next fall, but that won't stop the most passionate from chasing their dreams of performing great music. Alt-country songwriter A.W., a major collaborator in the alternative scene, will perform live on Instagram on Wednesday, April 15th as an opener for Philly-based indie powerhouse Future Teens. A.W. has worked with artists and bands such as The Front Bottoms, The Wonder Years, and Chris Farren, and has released three full albums and several EPs of their own original music. As one of the key voices in the rising alt-country scene, A.W. is an act to watch, even if it's on the small screen for a while. Take a listen to their latest track, "Good Luck", which they released under the name Charlie Mtn., and don't miss their show on April 15th at 3:00 p.m. on the Instagram account @SmartPunkRecords. - Will Sisskind

   

Thurlowood quietly soundtracks the end on “Shells”

Conventional wisdom dictating the world will end not with a bang, but with a whimper, seems to be playing out famously, but at the very least we’ll get some good music out of it. New video “Shells” by New York “pre-apocalyptic electro indie rock” project Thurlowood is the latest to cover Armageddon in a quiet, dignified, and incredibly catchy manner. With the cool keys of a Nord Electro 6 and a rudimentary drum machine backing, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Thurlow Wood sings Cold War-era instructions to schoolchildren on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Against a music video incorporating archive footage of a 1951 educational film, Wood’s haunting vocal delivery simultaneously emphasizes the futility of such directions were an actual tactical strike ordered on the United States, in addition to the fragility of our continued existence as a human species. Reminiscent of the Postal Service’s similarly depressive earworms and Ra Ra Riot circa 2013’s Beta Love, it’s a beautiful, harrowing single that’s a perfect soundtrack for our increasingly precarious times — give it a watch below, and stream new LP Discontinue Normal Program, out now. Photo by David Yang