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VIDEO: “Retreat” Finds Dzang Soundscaping The Climate Crisis

photo courtesy of artist's bandcamp page

Dzang is the project of L.A.-based electronic producer Adam Gunther, who has released “Retreat,” the lead single from his forthcoming EP Glacial Erratic, due out July 23rd on Bandcamp, along with an accompanying music video.

The moody, downtempo instrumental track begins with ominous FM-synth bells tolling over a subtle bed of digital noise and bleeping, before a soft, swollen bass enters along with a drum pattern that resembles a ticking clock with a seizure. Gradually, sparse upper-octave synth notes and insular, beautiful synth pads enter your ears, with the entire soundscape splitting the difference between serene grooving and cautious searching. The late addition of the metallic shuffling of chains to the rhythm lends extra weight to the track, before it fades out with the same fateful bells from the beginning. Are they a warning? Or are they simply mourning?

Gunter explains that the track was meant to convey the feeling of California’s climate crisis and the need to escape. The accompanying music video “shows a talismanic bird flying through scenes of climate disruption only to arrive at an urban core, unable to escape humanity’s influence.” It’s a chilling but mesmerizing visual paired with music that is just as good at provoking deep thought about our global predicament as it is for blissing out on a late-night highway drive. Gabe Hernandez





FRESH CUTS: quickly, quickly Makes Magic Out Of Long-Distance Heartache

artist photo credit: Kyle McKenzie

L.A. by way of Portland, Oregon songwriter/vocalist/producer/arranger Graham Johnson is only 20 years and makes music under the moniker quickly, quickly, but he’s showing a talent and work ethic beyond his peers, having just released “Shee,” the third single from his new album, The Long and Short of It, to be released on Ghostly International on August 20th.

“Shee” is quickly, quickly’s love letter to their girlfriend during their long-distance relationship when he moved to Los Angeles. The track begins with strummed guitar and a soulful lead vocal jumping out at the listener, bouncing across the speakers with a subtle but long echo and reverb. Sweet vocal harmonies join in for a verse before a lively but compressed drum groove drops in with force for the wordless chorus, joined by tasty lead guitar lines. A more hip-hop oriented second verse takes shape with strategic percussion drop-outs and some excellent falsetto vocals touches, before taking on more ethereal, Bon Iver-like vibes for the middle. very casual tambourine and hand percussion appear before quickly being swallowed by the drums and lead guitar again, before ending in a final swirl of acoustic guitar and falsetto, ending in abstract electronic whirring and humming, as if the music was disintegrating itself back into the basic elements of sound.

Overall, the track is an intoxicating blend of R&B, psych-pop and hip-hop that has the potential to appeal to fans of either genre, and shows the formidable young talent making musical progress by leaps and bounds. Gabe Hernandez





FRESH CUTS: “nwts” Has Amindi Making Big Sounds Out Of Little Pieces

photo credit: vinny nolan

L.A.-based Alternative R&B singer/songwriter Amindi has released “nwts,” a track from her upcoming EP debut, nice, out July 28th through label Human Re-sources.

The track begins with muffled—but angelic—vocals slowly coming into focus, along with the lightest touch of bass, before a compressed, possibly sampled, drumbeat lands with assertive force, balanced by a more active bass line, a sprinkling of guitar (or keyboard?) ornamentation, and Amindi’s casually sung lead vocal. It’s an impressively minimal soundscape that still sounds full of activity, and sports a deadly, hypnotic groove.

Lyrically, the track appears to be a kiss-off to a relationship with someone who lacks the narrator’s self-motivated, “DIY” mindset (note the recurring lyrics: “I’m still me without you/You ain’t made shit/Self-made bitch/DIY, makeshift/Buzz so big I could sell a blank disc”) while also being a reminiscence of the artist’s aesthetic development from early school days to their current status as a formidable songwriter, oozing with talent and undeniable cool in their presentation (“And I paid my dues/Since them days in school/Since them payless shoes/I was way less cool/Now I done bossed up/“).

"nwts" comes alongside an announcement that Amindi will be presenting an innovative live album experience with OkiDoki on July 15th. During the event, fans will be able to see Amindi perform the EP for the first time and to interact with visual stories that bring her words to life via animations from artists behind novel works, such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Gumby, and Adult Swim's Robot Chicken. Gabe Hernandez

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VIDEO: “Holy Roller” Finds DEATHCHANT Doing Very Bad Things

image courtesy artist's bandcamp page

L.A.-based heavy metal / stoner rock quartet DEATHCHANT have released their sophomore album, Waste, on label Riding Easy Records, and you can watch the music video for track “Holy Roller” below.

The first thing to remark on is how the album was recorded: in a rented cabin up in secluded Big Bear, CA. According to T.J. Lemieux, singer and guitarist, “we packed a big-ass van and set up in the living room and kitchen, tracked it live, with overdubs after.” Despite the humble setup, the album has both a professional clarity and a hard-hitting brutality, especially on the vinyl version, which the author of this review was able to enjoy at maximum volume at a recent evening at Permanent Records Roadhouse in Cypress Park.

Track “Holy Roller” opens with cutting, rusty distorted slices of rhythm guitar at battle with dissonant feedback howls to arrive at your ears first, before both are shoved out of the way by a pummeling bass/drum combo. Soon, the vocals enter, sounding like a platoon of demented monks yelling unholy, apocalyptic incantations from inside a cave. Meanwhile, start-stop doubled guitar lines bring the chaos to a temporary halt, before cranking back up to break-neck speed, until the half-time bridge that offers somewhat of a breather before the song transforms into an ultra-sludgy, Hawkwind-style chug. It’s part sludge metal, part grunge, part Thin Lizzy in its dual lead guitar lines, but at all points it’s compelling. Which is all the more impressive when you discover that most of the band’s music is improvised (!).

Finally, extra points to the band for connecting all the tracks on Waste together with droning, abstract interludes, giving the whole thing a sense of oneness and cohesion. DEATHCHANT work hard to create a complete atmosphere and populate it with heavy riffs, hypnotic grooves, and dark sludge. Where they’ll take us next is anyone’s guess, but one can be sure it’ll be somewhere worth heading. Gabe Hernandez





DIY/Lo-Fi

Time: 
07:00
Band name: 
Melt Mars
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/meltmarss
Venue name: 
FTG
Band email: 
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