Soul

VIDEO: Ah-Mer-Ah-Su Drops “No One,” 2021’s Summer Empowerment Anthem

Self-described L.A.-based “poptronic princess” Ah-Mer-Ah-Su has released “No One,” a track from her upcoming Hopefully Limitless EP, due late this summer, along with an accompanying music video filmed in collaboration with filmmaker Roge Stack. Judging by the track’s life-affirming lyrics and club-ready sound, she may have released this summer’s first big Alt Pop empowerment anthem.

The track starts with a tropically psychedelic keyboard flourish, before Ah-Mer-Ah-Su’s effervescent, nimble lead vocal enters in full, buoyed by impactful, elastic bass and fizzy but hard-hitting electronic drums, making for a formidably danceable rhythm section. Later, saxophone and chorused lead guitar lines deliver a refreshingly non-clichéd dose of carefully-arranged 80s pop bliss.

The lyrics are seemingly self-addressed and allude to the challenges the black trans artist has undoubtably had to face on her career path. With lines like “you dont’ got it easy / you’ve always had to work / for it and so / work it you do,” it’s clear that the challenges, although formidable for Ah-Mer-Ah-Su (the name is a paraphrase of Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun in Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan) have been taken on with the same deftness and grace as her songwriting and vocals.

Overall, “No One” delivers the kind of catchy vibes that fans of Laura Mvula, Robyn, and Whitney Houston will enjoy, while also delivering a glimpse of an artist on the rise. Gabe Hernandez

   

DRAMA "Don't Hold Back"

DRAMA has released a new single and video called "Don't Hold Back". This is the duo of Via Rosa & Na'el Shehade and this is their first single since the release of their early 2020 album, Dance Without Me.

It was recently announced the DRAMA will be performing at Lollapalooza this year, July 28th to August 1st. Daily tickets and line-ups for Lolla will be arriving today, June 2nd.

   

VIDEO: “Half Life” Finds appleby Brimming With Life

Photo Credit: Annie Rhodes Kane

L.A.-via-Chicago artist appleby spent much of his early childhood competing on the international tennis circuit, before reassessing his priorities as a young adult, shifting to pursue his music-making ambitions. Judging by his latest single, the soothing yet cathartic “Half Life,” and its accompanying zen-like poolside video, it seems his dedication to honing his craft hasn’t wavered a bit.

The track begins with a simple repeated electric piano note, setting the stage for appleby’s soulful harmonized vocals to enter shortly thereafter, followed by warm and full-bodied piano chords, all of which are later joined by a skittering electro-acoustic beat that propels the track just enough to inject it with energy without shattering the overall life-affirming vibe. The track gets fuller throughout, but it never gets too busy. And all the while, appleby’s vocals—which brings to mind other alt-soul auteurs such as Moses Sumney—keep things comforting and uplifting until the track gently crescendos, his vocal finally fragmenting like the beat.  Perhaps it’s a fracturing or, possibly, a transcendence? 

There’s hardly any help in his lyrics, which find him in a state of limbo: “I’ve been stuck in this half-life full time / and I don’t know what to do.” In press releases, though, appleby describes the genesis of his latest track as “…organic and borderline magical…” If that’s the case, here’s hoping he indulges his taste for both on his upcoming releases. Gabe Hernandez

 

   

On Psych-Jazz “Kensho ! EP,” The Growth Eternal Finds Quality Over Quantity

Tulsa native and L.A.-based psych-jazz auteur Byron Crenshaw unveils their second official work as The Growth Eternal. Clocking in at a brisk 10 minutes, Kensho ! EP, is a collection of six lovingly-crafted miniatures that offer, according to the artist, “…introspective sentiments on Black identity, love for the environment, social media anxieties, and more.” Crenshaw continues: “This EP comes from my direct experience, me trying to see and connect with my true nature. I hope it helps you like it helped me. If it does, that’s Kensho.”

Kensho is a Japanese word from the Zen tradition, roughly translated as “seeing one’s true nature.” And these six tracks, although just a taste, feel as if we’re getting a small but vivid glimpse into the artist’s inner world. The songs pulse with anxious and wobbly, pitch-shifted vocals; haunting, spiraling vocal harmonies; guitar fragments filtered through a broken kaleidoscope; skittering minimalist grooves, and elastic and jazzy bass lines reminiscent of L.A. jazz/R&B virtuoso Thundercat. In other words, it’s a view into a complicated yet fascinating musical world.

Here’s hoping that The Growth Eternal shares a fuller look at their true nature with listeners soon. A fuller sense of Kensho. Gabe Hernandez

   

VIDEO: In “Fool,” Jonny Kosmo Makes A Surreal New Friend

Photo: Joseph McMurray

LA artist Jonny Kosmo has built a dedicated following fusing immaculately-produced 70’s-vintage funk/soul tunes with an at-times truly surreal visual sense that evokes contemporaries Unknown Mortal Orchestra, albeit with a seemingly more playful and innocent heart. But with his latest video, “Fool,” which also serves as a preview for his upcoming album, “Pastry” (out June 4th on Feeding Tube Records in the States), he’s upped his game on both fronts. 

The track itself is a warm, pleasantly viscous slab of gently psychedelic slow-funk steeped in 70s Stevie Wonder-era synths, shimmering tremoloed guitars with occasional wah-wah lead flourishes, a bass line as thick as hash oil, and soulfully gauzy close-mic’d vocals.  

The accompanying video, however, left us questioning our sanity in the best way. Set in a hilly beige meadow that could’ve served as a Windows ’95 desktop background, Kosmo sings the title track while intently at work with a metal detector. He ends up crossing paths with an unusual new friend, and the dance party ensues. It’s simultaneously hilarious and unsettling, another example of the David Lynch-lite vibe that is quickly becoming a Jonny Kosmo signature. Gabe Hernandez