“Is the waking world more important than sleep?”

“Blade Runner” by Dutch Party | More indie pop from the inbox, then? Surprised it didn’t fill up while we were out, but there’s a handful we have to get to, and we begin with another Los Angeles-based band, Dutch Party, aka San Francisco-bred Ken Franklin and his cohorts. So, yes, I called this indie pop, which means you reasonably have some expectations about its sound, but I like how it teases to go all out and then it doesn’t. It meanders, which clapping along, feeling a bit trippy. Un-fuzzy lo-fi, essentially. “Blade Runner” – I’m sure it’s about the movie, another reference I will never get – comes with their upcoming EP Combat Pop, which drops in the fall. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“널 어떡해야 좋을지 잘 모르겠어 난.”

“Dumb Dumb” by Jang Jae-in, Giantpink and Perc%nt | Before I overplay this song and it loses its mystique, I’ll write about this. Yes, for the eagle-eared out there, this is a cover of Red Velvet’s signature song. Apparently, there’s this web series where two entertainment companies, S.M. and Mystic, do cross-pollinating stuff like this. I bet it’s only the case because the former bought a majority stake on the latter, though. (Red Velvet did this song the same week, which, well… but then I am not familiar with the original.) I haven’t heard of Perc%nt before, but I know Jang Jae-in for her soundtrack work, and Giantpink won the last season of Unpretty Rapstar, a show I of course haven’t watched, but know of because it brought us Kisum. So this one – this one’s sexy. Sure, it might wear off its welcome soon, but considering the original is the distillation of Red Velvet’s quirky pop concept (one they can’t seem to get a grip of now, which is a shame) you would have never thought an approach like this one would work, but it did. So, there. Enjoy. [NB]

“I’m stuck with nowhere to go.”

“Stuck” by the Aces | Welcome back from a week-long break that felt refreshing, because… really, should I still be doing this blog? Anyway, here’s a song I stumbled upon from yet another German radio station. It isn’t new: it dropped just over a year ago. They’re the Aces, they’re from Utah, and the fact that they’re four ladies should be irrelevant: “Stuck” is hook-y, almost straightforward indie pop that gets a kick by how unfettered it all feels in the end. No need to be cool – just sing it all out. Now I’ve thought about it, perhaps I missed this song because of how well it melts in the background with the rest of the stuff kids like these days. Then again, I always take a while. A year is good enough. [NB]

Review: Call It Love by Briana Marela

Call It Love by Briana MarelaIf you’re coming in expecting another dreamy record from Briana Marela, well, not this time. Call It Love may still have the hazy signature of her previous work, but it’s definitely her synthpop record. Everything bounces, everything bites – not aggressively, but perhaps you can call it that considering what came before. It’s nice how she contorts nicely to the punchier sound she’s adopted – halfway through the album it all feels natural now. It provides an interesting tug between both extremes, and you don’t feel lost. What seems to be lost, however, is the message. It seems you’ll have to work a bit more to get to what Briana is trying to say – and then you’ll have to wonder if, in this case, she’s telling a story she’s intimate with, or just reading out of a script. Well, clearly it’s still her perspective, somehow, but with that taking a back seat… are you supposed to just lean back and let it all snap? [NB]3/5

Review: Holiday Night by Girls’ Generation

Holiday Night by Girls' GenerationWell, of course Girls’ Generation will not suddenly reinvent themselves on Holiday Night. Their (relatively) experimental era, which kicked off with The Boys and ending right around the time Jessica left the group (and “Catch Me If You Can” was released), won’t be coming back any time soon – a listen to their last album, Lion Heart, says as much. (Want them to go modern pop? Listen to their solo releases.) Thankfully it’s not a bunch of terrible songs, either. Holiday Night is their tenth anniversary release – ten years is something in K-pop, a world of seven-year contracts, if not bust-ups from groups failing in varying degrees. There is a vibe of celebration all over, which means relatively pedestrian, yet still enjoyable, songs. (“All Night” gets stuck in your ears.) It doesn’t feel like a look back, although there definitely are concessions to the sound the group launched with in 2007 – a bit retro, a bit pure, but now with an edge that they’ve definitely earned. That’s how you set the template, I guess. Come to think of it, just change the image a bit and you have songs perfect for Red Velvet. Now that’s a group that needs a shot of inspiration. (I didn’t review their latest release, Red Summer, because I had five other reviews that week – that, and I gave up on their slow downward spiral.) I don’t begrudge S.M. for keeping these songs for their biggest girl group, but, you know… [NB]3/5