Monthly Listening: September 2021
By Albuquerque Green Room
ABQGR here with another sampling of music you may have missed! We like to keep these brief - sometimes that's the easiest way to getting into exploring new music. This month, we have four ABQ-based acts ranging from surf rock to emo rap, and one Chicago-based, indie pop solo act. We're grateful to the bands who reached out to us and to the bands we found! Is there someone you'd like to see featured? You know where to reach us!
1) WillaJay - "Her!"
WillaJay's latest single has a collage-like execution, resulting in a spunky production. I think this spirit may be authentic to who WillaJay is as an artist: open to the possibilities that are presented when she creates. The lyrics have a naturally occurring rhyme scheme that masks a conundrum of a song; the track is a surprising enigma in an unsuspecting though eclectic box. The music video for the single is compelling (and also mirrors the collage effect); WillaJay dons different costumes, each representing a different persona. She sits in a chair alone, singing "Her!" in the distinct characters. I think the intention might have been to depict a real representation of some individuals who are traditionally shut into one-dimensional roles. To me, it reads like social media - a constant scrolling motion, seeing the faces and attitudes change but not necessarily knowing what's lying underneath.
2) The Directory – “Below the Fold” and “Morning Sun”
This surf rock fourpiece makes the changing seasons disappear and wraps me in warm light. “Morning Sun” is, quite literally, sunny in a Monkees-like way with lead vocals that also approach Brian Wilson territory. The groovy bassline and jangly drums evoke unmitigated delight. It'll be perfect for a walk when the cool October air hits, and it'd also make for a fantastic listen on your morning commute to work. “Below the Fold” is equal in jaunty surf rock glimmer; the background vocals here are make better use than they do in "Morning Sun" and it's a welcomed element. I think The Directory will be able to accomplish a lot vocally as they continue to record, as they have quite a pleasant cohesiveness happening. These tracks are worth checking out for when you want to nourish your bubbly side.
3) Vice Lovee – “xxx thoughts.”
"xxx thoughts." explores exactly that - it's a pensive concentration on what goes through one's mind in regard to, literally, explicit scenarios. "X-rated on my mind, got some bad thoughts," Vice Lovee details in a catchy intonation. While it feels like a swift listen, it is resonant and loaded with energy so it maintains integrity throughout the length of the track. The song hangs in an easy zone - it is something to sit with, to allow it to reverberate. Vice Lovee has a comforting, natural flow that lets you sit back and relax, because he knows what he's doing. The synthesizer's use of the organ tone is doing a lot of work in creating that smooth atmosphere, as well.
4) Colleen Dow – “Periwinkle”
This indie pop single is the first from Colleen Dow as a solo artist; they have previously released music with their band Thank You, I’m Sorry. The Chicago-based artist overenunciates lyrics in a charismatic way - it could be an indication of their Midwestern roots or it could be in emulation of the feigned dialect pop punk made popular. Either way, it's effective, and their pronunciation of "periwinkle" as almost "peri-a-winkle" is fun. It’s a flavorful track, from the charming song title, the hyperaware, vulnerable lyrics (“My overreaction is typical"), to the way the lithe instruments contrast with Dow’s cool and aloof voice. It feels like a masterful production to me—it’s complex, it’s thoughtful, and engaging with a lot of pep.
5) TRT612 – “Graveyards”
I don’t know that this is a universal feeling - I'm only speaking for myself - but I’m oddly put at ease by this beat and the artist's voice. I only say “oddly” because I do not think that it was the artist’s intention to create a soothing track with “Graveyards” - it was just my feeling after going into this track with an open mind. It's like quick-paced emo rap with heavy influence from electronic music, which makes for an unambiguous and propelling listen. The music video is visually playful and contextualizes the song and artist. It contains a nice use of the natural Albuquerque skyline, as well. Trt612 has an album, "Yeah, Okay!," coming out on October 13th, which will be his second full length of 2021.