Heidi Gluck

“One of Us Should Go” – Heidi Gluck

A breath of frictionless fresh air, “One of Us Should Go” is a rapid-pulsed acoustic confessional, and if it initially sounds like just another “girl with a guitar” song I invite you to listen more carefully. The instrumentation is simple but rich: in fact, there’s not a moment in this three-minute heart-breaker that doesn’t reveal itself to be exquisitely conceived and executed, from thoughtful electric guitar contributions to well-timed piano accents and creative electronics. Gluck’s plain-spoken vocals, which achieve the difficult trick of sounding like talking even while singing, add to the subtle interpersonal drama on display.

And the extra awesome part is how beautifully the song’s sound and structure intertwines with its content: this is a stunning breakup song, in which the music’s very feel echoes the inertia of a relationship that has outlived its spark, and the words of the chorus betray the difficulty of breaking the passivity with actual action:

I’m sure it’s nice out there
I’m sure there’s beauty everywhere
A wide open road
And one of us should go

Gluck is Canadian by birth, but has been living and working in the US midwest for a length of time that eludes internet research; I do know that she spent some years in Indiana, and has been in Lawrence, Kansas for about the past eight. Careful readers of liner notes (yes, such people still exist!; I have faith) may recognize her name from her session work with Juliana Hatfield and Margot & The Nuclear So and Sos, among others; she was also a member of the well-regarded Indiana band The Pieces in the early ’00s. “One of Us Should Go” is a track from Gluck’s first release as a solo artist, an EP called The Only Girl in the Room, which was released at the end of April on Lotuspool Records. You can stream the whole thing via SoundCloud. MP3 via Magnet Magazine. The EP is the first of a planned series of four; work begins on the next one this summer.

Fabryka

“The Unheard”- Fabryka

Check out the rhythm section on this one: not often do you hear inventive bass-playing and inventive drumming intertwining so smartly while still allowing a coherent song to be built on top. And what a coherent and engaging song it turns out to be—astutely arranged and structurally sound, “The Unheard” is a marvelous slice of 21st-century rock’n’roll, coming to us from the seemingly unlikely source of Bari, Italy, down there at the top of the heel of Italy’s “boot.”

I like how busy and determined this is even while cloaking itself in a bit of shoegazey mist. There’s that rhythmic pulse at the bottom driving things, but it’s that ongoing, canny employment of both electric guitars and synthesizers that ultimately gives the ear a lot to chew on—so much, in fact, that what appears to be the song’s chorus (first heard at 1:31) feels like a dreamy breather between purposeful building blocks. Both the guitars and the synths each get a motif-like theme to express—the former a hard-charging, syncopated riff (first heard at 0:55), the latter a chimy noodle (1:21) that shares a similar sense of syncopation. The more I listen, the more I am impressed with the song’s construction, and the more I think I hear something genuinely timeless in its mix of drive and dream. Give good credit to singer Tiziana Felle, whose voice can penetrate or levitate, depending on the need.

“The Unheard” is a song from the band’s new EP, Sparkles, which comes out in Italy next week. This will be the band’s third release, following an EP in 2012 and a full-length album, Echo, in 2013.

Star Tropics

“Summer Rain” – Star Tropics

Urging itself into our lives at the ever-wonderful nexus of dream pop and power pop, “Summer Rain” features a ringing, evocative guitar line, a reverby backwash, a brisk backbeat, and a breath-filled, sweet-voiced lead singer. You don’t need any more description than that, right?

Well, okay, I’ll talk a little. First I am taken with how all but onomatopoetic the song is, with the aforementioned ringing guitar line deftly mimicking rainfall, and with the aforementioned sweet-voiced lead singer (Nikki; no last name provided) creating, for me, somehow, the sound-picture of a warm, grey-green landscape moistened by a gentle but persistent shower (note the summer rain evoked here is of the comforting old-school variety, not the terrifying climate-change-driven monsoons of the 2010s). Next I am oddly intrigued by the brief, willowy instrumental break two-thirds of the way through the song (2:22); when songs are this assured and on-point, I’m always interested in what they are going to do with a bit of leisure time, as it were. Here we get meander-y 25 seconds that begins with the guitar kind of refusing the spotlight that was seemingly aimed at it—rather than the confident chiminess of the intro we get unassertive arpeggios and, most intriguing of all, the distant sound of repeated notes played high up on the neck. The guitar is joined by a particularly low-tech kind of synthesizer, pushing out a wistful, air-toned melody that comes from an entirely different world than Planet Dream Pop but is all but heart-breaking and perfect.

Star Tropics is a Chicago-based four-piece with one previous 7-inch release to their name. “Summer Rain” is part of double-sided single released in March. MP3 via Insomnia Radio.

EPS2-04

Okay so I really don’t think the jaw-dropping Paul Simon song “Adios Hermanos” is made for playlists, as it operates doubly out of context in this setting—it comes from an album in which he sang a selection of songs he wrote for his ill-fated Broadway show, The Capeman; in this song he sings, first-person, in the voice of the lead character, a Puerto Rican gang member in NYC, convicted of murder. Not made for playlists and yet here it is, because wow it’s just too stunning to leave it there on a semi-forgotten album from a troubled show. The presentation slays me, having a lot to do with the radical way he turns doo-wop music into something theatrical and timeless, with an air of unimpeachable solemnity and sorrow. And that part where the song shifts and heads into its extended coda at 3:23 (beginning with “I don’t lie when I speak”)? Gives me goose bumps every time. Simon got rather beat up for The Capeman, but if it only existed to bring this song to light I am thankful for it. You can tell me if I succeeded in shoehorning it into a playlist that, I understand, ends up going in a variety of odd directions. (Oh and note the language in the Simon song is NSFW; don’t be fooled by the old-fashioned musical setting.)

The obscurity of the month is surely “Too Soon You’re Old” (ain’t that the truth), from the Milwaukee-based singer Penny Goodwin, who recorded one album in 1974 and was not apparently heard from again. Years later, the album gained a second life as a sought-after rarity for vinyl collectors, with original copies going for upwards of $150. But it was reissued in 2010, so is now available for the rest of us. I heard this first through the upstanding British blog Crying All the Way to the Chip Shop just a couple of weeks ago.

I am happy as well to present two relatively brand-new songs in this month’s mix: Jessie Baylin’s gratifying, earwormy “Black Blood,” which manages to be upbeat and brooding at the same time; and Laura Marling’s “I Feel Your Love,” which all but leaped out of the speakers when I was recently listening to her latest album, Short Movie. I have featured both of these artists previously on Fingertips. Baylin I believe to be seriously under-appreciated as both singer and songwriter, and I am delighted with her new album, Dark Place. Marling, on the other hand, has received gushing press since her 2008 debut, Alas, I Cannot Swim. I have been keeping her at arm’s length, convinced of her talent but not, necessarily, of her capacity to reach me personally. This album may change that. I am definitely going to keep listening.

Just two returnees this month from the 2014 volume of the Eclectic Playlist Series, and they are two of my all-time favorite artists, by a wide margin: The Kinks, with one of the greatest overlooked songs of the classic rock era, and the previously discussed Mr. Simon. Enjoy the mix, via the Mixcloud widget, and tell your friends, because there’s no point in keeping all this to ourselves.

Full playlist below the widget.



I like it here, at least so far (Eclectic Playlist Series, 2.04) by Fingertipsmusic on Mixcloud


“Lined Up” – Shriekback (Care, 1983)
“Come On Let’s Go” – Broadcast (The Noises Made By People, 2000)
“No More Looking Back”- The Kinks (Schoolboys in Disgrace, 1975)
“Pullin’ Back the Reins” – k.d. lang (Absolute Torch and Twang, 1989)
“My Place” – The Adverts (Cast of Thousands, 1980)
“Black Blood” – Jessie Baylin (Dark Place, 2015)
“The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” – The Walker Brothers (The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, 1966)
“Some Days Are Better Than Others” – U2 (Zooropa, 1993)
“Thursday” – Asobi Seksu (Citrus, 2006)
“Too Soon You’re Old” – Penny Goodwin (Portrait of a Gemini, 1974)
“Adios Hermanos” – Paul Simon (Songs From The Capeman, 1997)
“Sore” – Annuals (Wet Zoo, 2008)
“Changes” – Yes (90125, 1983)
“I Feel Your Love” – Laura Marling (Short Movie, 2015)
“Bohemia” – Mae Moore (Bohemia, 1992)
“12:51″ – The Strokes (Room on Fire, 2003)
“Don’t Give Up” – Petula Clark (Petula, 1968)
“Out of My Hand” – Michael Penn (Resigned, 1996)
“Good Girls” – Merry Clayton (Gimme Shelter, 1971)
“Leave Your Body Behind You” – Richard Hawley (Standing at the Sky’s Edge, 2012)

deeB

“Call It a Day” – deeB

The nostalgia floating through “Call It A Day” is mutli-layered, irresistible, all but unfair: containing within it both the stylized noir-ish-ness of ’60s soundtracks and the elegant trip hop of three decades later, which had itself found inspiration in those evocative spy-movie sounds in the first place. And now that’s 20 years ago at this point, so here we are again. The phrase “what goes around comes around” seems especially apt, given the itchy, circular ambiance of this canny, constructed, cinematic instrumental.

And yes, I have a hard time resisting the urge to call any instrumental “cinematic,” if only because of the way sounds skittering across a lyric-free aural landscape to my ears almost automatically conjure some kind of wide-open, wordless screen scene or another. But this one all but demands the label, with its three-dimensional distances, footsteppy echoes, and suggestive detail. Such is the aural buffet launching the song that the listener is hard-pressed to be impatient at the music’s unhurried unfolding, which is hung on a framework of unresolved chords, intriguing noodles of sound, and an unpretentious beat. We don’t get even the barest melody until 30 seconds in, and from there the main theme is evaded and implied but not heard until 1:25—and, even at that point it sounds more like an afterthought at first than the star of the show. It is restated at 1:38 but still sounds like throat-clearing. Finally, at 1:52, the theme emerges with confidence but only at 1:59 do we get the first full iteration—and we see now that previously we had been hearing only the theme’s second half. United with its partner, the sparse but purposeful theme feels rich and heady, bolstered by regular visits from a whale-ish trombone sound, ghostly guitar lines, and the drumbeat’s unfrazzled shuffle.

The man calling himself deeB here is Danny van den Hoek, a Dutch producer/beatmaker who is aligned with a collective called Phonophanatic in the Netherlands. “Call It A Day” is a track from the eight-song EP A Day in a City, released in January on the netlabel Dusted Wax Kingdom, based in Bulgaria. MP3 courtesy of Insomnia Radio. You can download the whole album for free at http://dustedwax.org/dwk296.html; if you like the sound of this one song, I recommend the rest.