First, an admission: this month’s column was at risk of not going live because of, um, demons in my head. I hate romanticizing it like that, but there you go. Thing was, I’ve long decided on a list of artists to feature this month – at the beginning of August, to be exact – and yet it took me until two days ago (err, now, in my time frame) to write a word and make sense of everything. Yes, that’s the reveal: this column is not as deliberate as it seems. Sometimes I stumble on acts. Sometimes I re-stumble upon them. Sometimes they’re topical. Sometimes they just have interesting names. This month’s collection fit that criteria in one way or another. Or something.
About that interesting names bit – Conscious and the Goodness fall in that category. Also, I’ve come across them many times this year, and, of course, I have not gotten around to listening to them. The news that they’re nominated for an Awit Award – for Best Jazz Recording, for “Pero” – compels me to finally give at least that song a listen. The whole horns-appeal-to-me thing aside, let’s talk about the song itself – about that linger, specifically; about how the whole act of leaving us hanging, that hook of “pero” at every verse, ends up being so satisfying. Yes, it’s been over a year since this was released. Yes, as always, I am late. Yes, I am just now bathing in how, um, perfect this song is.
Next, Hannah + Gabi. Nope, this is not a female-fronted anything: in fact, it’s one guy, Mikey Amistoso. “Too Much” just went out and brought me back to 2005 when I was feeling my way around local alternative – starting college does that to you, yes? – when a friend introduced me to Ciudad. Well, that makes sense, because Mikey is the frontman for Cuidad. Apparently the plan is for this to play host to his quieter music – and to never go live – and, while I get that, it’s somewhat amazing how the same notes are struck and you still feel good about all this in the end. Or maybe it’s the rose-tinted glasses talking. You see, while I never really heard a lot of Ciudad (I was limited to what NU 107 played) it always felt like a tonic after a busy college day. I hope it works as a tonic for the days I’m having right now, though.
Finally, the Strange Creatures, yet another band I’ve always stumbled upon in recent months – but this month I’m writing about them because of a conversation we’ve had on Twitter about Camera Obscura, and our collective sadness over the death of their keyboardist Carey Lander last year. (“Fuck cancer,” in the words of whoever was tweeting on the band’s behalf at the time.) Instant kindred spirits there, I suppose. Again, I am incredibly late to them – they released their EP, Stargazer, two years ago – but I’m drawn to this heady mix of different flavors of indie pop: of course I’m hearing the Camera Obscura influence, the slight tinge of melancholic Scottish pop in one corner, but there’s the jangly sound from south of the Scottish border mixed in too. Not a mix I expected, but a mix I love nonetheless. [NB]