“…feeling the wrath of it all.”

“Wrath” by Dorvin Borman | This one is pretty interesting. “Wrath” is the debut from Los Angeles-based Dorvin Borman – just last Friday, actually – and it’s one that straddles the line between the jangly pop of the 80s and the dreamy shoegazer pop of the early 90s. And it loses neither in the process. I was really lost in “Wrath” – sure, I was trying to figure out just one line off the lyrics I can quote, but then there’s the push-and-pull between the two styles that feels both like a conflict and a graceful dance. Interesting, and good. Dorvin says there’ll be a bunch more singles along these lines in the coming months, and a EP too, soon. If this is the barometer, we’re in for a ride. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

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“Tell me, who do you think you are?”

“Wings” by the Jacks | Back to the inbox, so thoroughly interrupted by our holiday break, and while this song’s almost a month old by today… at least it’s just a month. And the sound goes further than that. I’ll admit to thinking this song would sound more 60s, more surf rock – the press release felt like that. The Jacks don’t want to call themselves a rock band, but a rock and roll band – and it is a necessary distinction for the Los Angeles quartet to make, because this one sounds good. Not exactly unconventional, by all means – they’re mining all those classic influences, and that mythical Californian sunshine I haven’t got first-hand experience of – but it’s a fun romp that sounds gritty yet polished, sufficiently bluesy yet modern in its appeal. There’s an EP coming out early this year, so, I’ll expect, watch this space. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“You were the jet plane. I was a parachute failing.”

“Heartbreak Junky” by Kyle Craft | Well, it seems I’m catching up with more new music lately. Keep that streak going, Nicksy! But there’s a lot to work to do, still. You’ll have to forgive me for knowing little. Kyle Craft is a southern rockster transplanted to the north west – this isn’t a sound I’d expect from Portland, but then, everything collides these days. (Also, he did come from Shreveport, so says Wikipedia.) He’s prepping for his second album, and off it is this song, which makes for a surprisingly potent soundtrack to an afternoon walk. But then the lyrics feel like you’re watching someone spiral into despair, wanting to get out… but that’s what makes it alluring. I go through Wikipedia further and learn that Kyle and I share the exact birthday. Down to the year. I guess a major difference is that I did not pick up a musical instrument. [NB]

“Don’t you care for something sweet to drink?”

“Skin” by Locks | Well, look who’s listening to the radio again, and writing about songs from off it! Now, only if he could do it faster. I heard this track on 6 Music a couple of weeks ago, but decided to schedule it today because of that inbox situation. Locks is a band from London, unsigned and with a very bluesy sensibility – which I find refreshing, admittedly, considering I’ve been listening to more pop in months past. The sense of foreboding comes from L. Geary-Griffin’s vocals – cold yet inviting, warm yet chilling – and the band fully embraces their Tom Waits-meets-Nick Cave thing. “Skin”, their new single, wraps that all up in a package you can’t help but be drawn into – I was essentially in a trance, and I had this on earphones. Must’ve been a weird few minutes, me dazing out to a song. But that happens many times. [NB]

Review: Just For Us by Francis and the Lights

Just For Us by Francis and the LightsAdmittedly hearing Francis and the Lights sound so sparse on Just For Us takes a bit of getting used to. His surprise second full-length – dropped in the middle of that period of stasis between Christmas and New Year – strips away the occasional lushness of his works, so much so that most of the album is just him and a keyboard. I was pretty sure there should be more to it. I even thought it’s an unfinished record. But then, Francis Farewell Starlite’s keen sense of groovy pop – definitely a nod to the pop of the 80s, here more so; Phil Collins! – is evident from the very first track. It’s a curious thing: sometimes it’s quite straight and in-your-face, sometimes it’s subtle. I didn’t know what to make of it at first. After a while, it’s clear he’s stripped things down and what we have is the bare essence of the stuff he’s done all this time. It’s a bit of work to get to, but perhaps in the right mindset, you’ll get it. [NB]3/5