Alt Pop

VIDEO: ”Back in LA” Is Jordi Up Late’s Midsummer Feminist Bop

photo credit: Isabel Damberg

L.A.-raised artist Jordi Up Late (aka Jordan Tager) grew up around filmmaking and music production, picking things up here and there as the years passed. Eventually, her passion for visual art took her to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to earn her BA. With a unique visual style and musical influences ranging from Daft Punk to Little Dragon and James Blake, Jordi seems to be cresting at the right time, as the video for her song “Back in LA” demonstrates.

The track opens with piercing, club-ready synth pianos banging out syncopated chords, while Jordi confidently belts her vocals in between the empty spaces. Soon after, tight electronic drums and a gooey synth bass come tumbling in, laying down a funky, instantly catchy dance groove, reminiscent of some of the 80s-90s best dance-pop tracks, but with a 2020s vibe of her own. The choruses, though, when she delivers an assertive kiss-off to the lover whose spell she’s finally broken free of (“two is for you/ and three for me/ fuck you / ‘cause I love me”) offers an ethereal, muted oasis from the previous electronic cacophony. They seem to represent, in music, the relief and freedom she feels upon regaining her sense of agency after an emotionally-trying romance.

The video itself is a pastel, Day-Glo, multi-textured, Memphis Group-inspired moving tableau of simple, looping animations that provide both evocative and humorous counterpoint to the track. It’s an impressive feat that Jordi is able to do so much with so little, and demonstrates her confidence as a modern animator. Both track and video seem to co-exist with each other, and one should experience both to understand Jordi’s full talents. Gabe Hernandez

 

   

Alt Pop

Time: 
19:00
Band name: 
Big X
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
http://www.facebook.com/thisisbigx
Venue name: 
Bottom Of The Hill
Band email: 
   

Alt Pop

Time: 
20:00
Band name: 
Big X
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
http://www.facebook.com/thisisbigx
Venue name: 
The Viper Room
Band email: 
   

VIDEO: INNER WAVE’s “Take 3” Is A Surreal Take On Covid Life

photo courtesy of the artist

 

L.A.-based band Inner Wave has announced the coming release of their fourth and latest album, Appotosis, on September 30th by releasing a music video for album track “Take 3.” Inner Wave are managed by Cosmica Artists + Records.

The track begins with a thick, honky, effortlessly funky bass line rolling alongside a languid but insistent four-on-the-floor drumbeat, both sharing space with polished, delayed synth mallets. Frontman Pablo Sotelo’s vocals are pleasingly lethargic in the way his syllables land in the pocket with the four-on-the-floor groove. Sotelo’s vocals are accompanied by delicate, echoed guitar strums and mournful, siren-like, infinitely stretched synth lines that seem to underline the melancholy and emotional fatigue of his vocals. Plucked synths that dominate during the chorus add an extra layer of dancefloor gloss that wouldn’t be out of step at a local club some night this weekend. The icing on the cake is the lush middle section that leads the song into it’s conclusion, which has an “everything but the kitchen sink” feel, while managing to remain stately in its unraveling.

The track is special in that its music video also marks Sotelo’s directorial debut. It’s a fairly simple affair, but full of symbolism for covid quarantiners. The singer spends the bulk of the video standing camera center, viewable only from the waist up, and wearing a simple white tank top. Footage of vintage road scenes are projected onto the upper part of his face (an enigmatic but potent visual, to be sure), which alternate with multi-exposed versions of himself. Some are lit from the front with a blood-red glow, some from behind with a single blinding white light, revealing a sea of fog at his feet. It’s definitely a pick for best use of minimal prop resources, and the shot where Sotelo slowly struts across the multicolored stage wearing a full military gas mask apparatus is a not-too-subtle nod to the Covid pandemic. It’s an effectively narcotic video for a lush and hypnotic track that accurately reflects the breakdown of time and space that the covid crisis created, and another artistic document to note the events of the past year and a half. Gabe Hernandez

   

Introducing Lizzie Donohue

In March of this year Lizzie Donohue played her first live performance, in virtual form natch, as part of a live-streaming benefit for Save The Scene—a benefit organized by Pan Arcadia (recently profiled in this space) together with the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund in support of fellow independent artists during the lockdown.

In the midst of two evenings full of fine musical entertainment Lizzie caught my ear with her two-song acoustic set (see above) and most of all with the sheer presence of her voice—a voice both smoky and sweet, kind of like Kansas City barbecue sauce in audible form (insider tip: most voices can be compared to regional barbecue sauces) or, in case you’re a vegetarian, a voice that's one of those gritty-pretty voices where you're likely to assume the speaker’s got a chest cold or some other similar ailment, but then it turns out it’s just their normal singing/speaking voice like with say Tina Turner or Rod Stewart or Bonnie Tyler, or legendary late-night NYC radio DJ Allison Steele (aka The Nightbird) which suggests a possible alternative career path for Ms. Donohue should she ever need one.

But probably not on the new career path, because as revealed in an exclusive interview with Deli Mag, Lizzie Donohue recently acquired a degree in Textile Design and Photography from FIT and already does freelance graphic design work on the side, including band logo design, and we all know lots of bands out there with ill-considered logos or no logo at all, so it sounds like lucrative work to me. But back to the music. Lizzie’s first song in the virtual concert performance above is now her first officially released single and it’s called “What’s it Matter.” Opening with some strummed guitar chords, the rhythm section soon kicks in alongside Lizzie’s voice reading you the riot grrrl act (“Hey, fuck you / you gotta pretty face but that don’t make you cool”) and really you had it coming didn’t you? But the the blow is softened by the quality of her voice, thus making for a compelling juxtaposition. So you see it’s complicated.

And it’s further complicated by another insight gleaned during our interview, namely that Lizzie sees herself singing the song to herself as much as to anyone else. So when she gets to the next lines about “what’s it matter if I dye my hair blue?” and “all the things I say just come out lame / what’s it matter anyway?” she’s basically saying why worry about socially-mandated appearances or SAT-enforced verbal skills when it’s more important to just be yourself and put yourself out there. So basically it's like an Id vs. Super-Ego situation we got going on here (“I’m completely aware that I’m my own worst enemy”) if you happen to be into psychoanalytic theory.

These lyrical sentiments are supported by an uncluttered pop-rock arrangement that's got some nice, subtle flourishes like the occasional up-the-neck bass notes and the faint, breathy background vocal at 1:22 (something we'd love to hear more of just sayin') and the cool slide-guitar-break-down-and-build-it-back-up section that comes soon after. Incidentally, “What's it Matter” was produced and mixed by Dylan Kelly who plays guitar and keys for Pan Arcadia (those guys again!) and plays bass and lead guitar on this single, a recording laid down in a friend's basement DIY home studio somewhere out on Long Island using camping tents for isolation booths which is a pretty cool idea.

And speaking of Long Island musical happenings, Ms. Donohue hails from Nassau County (on the westernmost edge of L.I. directly adjacent to Queens) which is the ancestral home of one Lou Reed. So it’s fitting that 1) Lizzie opened her Save The Scene set by noting that is was Lou Reed’s birthday; and 2) her second number was a Velvet Underground cover. And a well chosen one at that, namely “After Hours,” the last track on the Velvets' self-titled third album a.k.a. the mellow one, sung by drummer Maureen "Moe" Tucker. Like a lot of Lou Reed’s best-known songs, "After Hours" expertly walks the line between nihilism and humanism but leans more toward the latter, thanks to Tucker’s sweet lullaby-like but rough-hewn singing on what’s essentially an impish music hall number about staying in and finding comfort in solitude, but longing for human contact at the same time. Needless to say the song fits Lizzie’s voice like a glove and she adds some vocal flourishes of her own, including a brief fit of giggling at the end when she flubs a guitar chord. (even her mistakes are charming, and if you wanna hear an original take on a similar theme you can listen to “Going Nowhere Slow” on Lizzie’s Soundcloud page)

Besides Lou and VU, Ms. Donohue is also a fan of Patti Smith, Pavement (a car stereo staple whilst driving around aimlessly with her friends in Long Island), Alanis Morissette, and Mazzy Star among others and hey that's a pretty good list. Personally I’m also reminded of the female pop songwriter renaissance of the late ‘90s moving into the aughts with artists like Lily Allen, Avril Lavigne, and Nina Persson of the Cardigans (each of whom, in different ways, take riot grrrl-like attitude and wrap it in deceptively "mild girl" packaging) but maybe that’s just me. Lizzie says her upcoming EP will cover topics and themes such as outer space, Elon Musk, and the movie Heathers so you may wanna stay tuned. (Jason Lee)