Part of HTF‘s job is to shine a light on the music talent that we believe deserve it the most. Yet, sometimes true gems slip through the cracks never to have been mentioned due to lack of resources/time to cover them in a full length review. Under The Radar will be a new feature in which we try to make sure that this never happens. This column will be dedicated to trying to bring you the best recent releases that you may have missed and telling you why you should listen to them.
You won’t find album ratings here, you won’t find another think piece of Kanye West‘s Lexapro habits or who Matt Healy is singing about sleeping with in his songs. What you will find are pieces on artists that we believe are creating some of the best new music around, yet aren’t getting the attention that they deserve. These features will contain small dissections of the music that these artists have put out, with a guide on who they’re for fans of. Let us know what you think of the artists yourself, leave a comment and start a discussion.
The Range – Potential
For Fans Of: Jamie XX‘s culture emulating debut, but with a harsher, broader tone.
New York producer The Range, shares more than just some of the sonic qualities that were shown on Jamie XX’s brilliant debut, In Colour, he shows a passion for the British culture that it portrayed. Rather than focusing on the actual sound of Rave culture like Jamie XX did, The Range decides to take the approach of focusing directly on the people. He takes clips of Youtube artists from the UK and samples a different artist into every single song on the album.
The Range focuses on a variety of sounds on his debut, mostly capturing an atmosphere of wonder and exploration as his compositions don’t particularly borrow from any particular scene, but they expand on sounds that are already commonplace. In particular the use of the vocal samples themselves are often taken from small monologues with basic instrumentation behind it, and then the music will swell up behind the sample making what seems like an ordinary bit of speech, sound compelling and inspiring. This is especially true when the lines are repeated yet the music around it evolves into something bigger than itself. Potential is an album about finding the beauty in all things small, whether The Range has to manipulate and obscure the samples he uses, or simply throw them onto a song that would sound stunning on its own, they’re always effective, and always used to their greatest capabilities.
Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp
For Fans Of: Lo-Fi Pop with Hi-Def ambitions
Michelle Zauner is a member of the band, Little Big League. After her mother was diagnosed with Cancer, she decided to go back to her hometown, which is where later on in the year she revisited some of the material essentially recorded in basements from her first band, Japanese Breakfast. With this material she and musician Ned Eisenberg managed to make music that’s both incredibly emotionally charged and self-aware.
Psychopomp captures a Lo-Fi sound while having a glossy atmosphere juxtaposed against it, a gloss that elevates these songs to sound much more rich than they should. They succeed at sounding fantastically hazy and thin, while simultaneously sounding dreamy and fulfilled. There’s no instrumentation needed to fill void left by the strangely charming thin guitars, it sounds perfect as it is. It bounces between sounding like Dream-Pop and like simple guitar-driven lo-fi gems.
After a few songs near the beginning of the album that struggle to find their footing, Psychopomp reveals itself slowly both sonically and lyrically. Repeat listens to songs show how strong Zauner’s command of her vocal melodies are; without realising upon first listen, these songs are lodged into your brain. The vocals shine through as the gel for the album, especially when straining into her higher register, they show diversity and passion. Lyrically Zauner performs a balancing act of dedicating songs to her late mother, as well as dealing with other personal issues, and being the overtly open woman she always has been in her music, touching on subjects such as sexual desire with pure honesty.
Ash Koosha – I AKA I
For Fans Of: Experimental Electronic music, in the vain of Oneohtrix Point Never/Arca.
Ash Koosha‘s second album, sees the man further blending his origins and identity with the formula of experimental Electronic music. As music of this nature general is, it’s hard to categorise. Ash Koosha jumps around from so many different styles and sound on his follow-up to the brilliant Guud, that it can be hard to keep track of, even if it’s consistently entertaining to try to. It’s not so hard that it can it’s a chore to listen to this music, Ash Koosha manages to create sounds that are fantastically jarring, and use them on simplistic and occasionally repetitive song structures, and at other times he’ll tone down the noise in order to show off his talents of playing with rhythm. Never does this music feel like it’s attempting to batter you to the ground with its obscurities.
Ash Koosha is someone who was born in Iran and now lives in London and like many musicians before him, from Godspeed You! Black Emperor to Paul Butterfield Blues Band, he attempts to blend Western and Eastern sounds together. But unlike most musicians who attempt this, Ash Koosha’s roots are deeply based in both sides of the cultures, so when he blends Eastern melodies with electronic sounds stereotypically found in Western music, he’s doing it because this is him. This is a man whose personality is rooted in two very different cultures, and as the title would suggest I AKA I he’s attempting to tackle that. This is an artist successfully showing us his personality in a genre that’s known for being one of the hardest to crack into emotionally.