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KOTA The Friend tames his "Dragon"

“I used to want to be up on the music blogs / [...] / I may not have a million but I’m chillin’ dawg”

KOTA The Friend is hardly a slacker but he could play one on TV. A multi-instrumentalist who excelled early on as a first-chair trumpet player who taught himself bass and guitar while going on to hold down two jobs and attend performing arts school eventually becoming a producer, photographer, visual artist and interior designer in addition to a musician, the man is actually a polymath if you do the math. Plus on his 2020 full-length Everything KOTA somehow managed to score features from such obscure names (sarcasm alert) as Lakeith Stanfield, Joey Bada$$, and Lupita Nyong’o which is hardly the work of an underachiever. A true DIY artist, it’s been reported elsewhere that KOTA will take on mundane tasks himself ranging from flyer design to directly answering fans’ queries, all the while turning down three major-label offers (so far) in order to maintain his independence. 

And yet, on his latest single “Dragon,” he sounds as laid back as a panda bear that just got laid. (apologies for the mixed animal metaphors, KOTA is actually named for a baby bear of the non-panda variety) Opening with a loping, start-stop jazzy guitar loop, KOTA laconically drops lines like “I do what I want, I go where I please / but still I want more things” over a beat that sounds like an outtake from the Lofi Beats to Relax/Study/Quarantine To videos--sonic shorthand for sitting at one’s desk and staring off into space all day. The conversational flow and mellow vibes on “Dragon” can be deceptive, however, tinged as they are with regret, doubt, and deceit lurking around the corner. Likewise for KOTA's flow itself, laidback on the surface but twisty at times and shifting relative to the main guitar riff.

Not unlike a good friend IRL, KOTA The Friend puts the listener at ease but doesn’t stoop to please, giving it to you straight: "Before it gets better, it's gonna get worse" so you better “Skip the fast pass, be knowledgeable, that’s the bag bag / polish all your skills, set your price, then you tax that.” Sage advice as 2020 slouches towards its end. (Jason Lee)


 





Sara Noelle debuts serene cover of "Emerald River Dance"

L.A’s Sara Noelle offers us her atmospheric take on Judee Sill’s “Emerald River Dance” and does the popularly covered song justice. The track is a weaving of swelling tones and nature-oriented rhythms that create a serene soundscape that is soothing for troubled minds. Noelle’s vocals have an elegance to them and emotional precision that wholly create a version of the song that belongs to her. With piano-key trickles and pulsing synths, the cover has a heartbeat of its own, and it is worth listening to; stream Sara Noelle’s cover of “Emerald River Dance” below for an ambiance to enjoy. - René Cobar





Wet Tropics "Don't Believe It"

Wet Tropics dropped a new single called "Don't Believe It" last week. This is the band's second single of 2020 and their loud, proud, and aggressive protest anthem.

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Wrong War "Fixed Against Forever"

Hardcore group Wrong War has released their debut album, Fixed Against Forever, via Council Records. This is the latest project from Matt Weeks of Current, Calvary, and Ottawa, and he is joined by Patrick Keenan and Dave Pawlowski, who are coming back together for the first since leaving The Phenoms, along side Salvo Beta drummer Dan Smith.

The album was released on the Election Day and carries a politically charged message through its blistering nine tracks.

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Kierst has a "Crush" on latest single

Following a few bars of strummed guitar Kierst declares “it's nothing more than a crush but / I'm holding my breath” and I believe her. For one thing she repeats the second line four times in a row and indeed crushes are nothing if not obsessive, and while singing the line four times whilst holding one's breath defies logic, crushes are nothing if not illogical. Check and check.

A pathway to love turned into a a cul-de-sac of hopeless hope: “Tinged blue in the face no it's not too late.” A distressing new fetish for emotional distress: “An unwanted switch that's leaving me reeling.” Check and check.

Keirst's lyrics here scan perfectly in a song that slowly and steadily and almost imperceptibly builds tension--but crucially never achieves release. Layer by layer you hear the addition of ride cymbal flourishes, plaintive guitar wails, hints of bass and perhaps keyboard and finally some insistent drumming over a late-in-the-game declaration to “love you to death.” And then like that it's over. And you want it to start all over again. (Jason Lee)


 

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