DIY/Lo-Fi

From the submissions: jake or luca's "friends and a half, summer forever and ever"

From 2016 to 2019, Jacob Levine toiled away at his new EP friends and a half, summer forever and ever on his iPhone, creating a loose conceptual record about a summer spent indoors — “because of depression and all,” in Levine’s own words. The end result is a crushing, intimate lofi release under the moniker jake or luca that’s filled with entrancing songwriting and melodious vocal performances, one that captures the dulling nature of mental illness in terms lush and bright. Charting the experience of untethered day-to-day living (“dreaming”) or the creeping feeling you’re letting someone else down (“bet you would”) through primarily acoustic guitar and the human voice, Levine’s craft is nuanced and meticulous, able to render malaise in a manner that’s both deeply personal and universal; snapshots of binging television and imagining the ghost of Zelda Fitzgerald find themselves situated within an ongoing internal monologue detailing an abiding hope things will get better, and the corollary fear that they won’t. Moreover, the record’s production, which features Levine’s layered vox front and center with occasional ambient synth, furthers its confessional qualities while lending a reassuring warmth to each of its six tracks. Recommended listening for fans of (Sandy) Alex G or Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell, give it a thoughtful listen below. —Connor Beckett McInerney

   

Kidhimself recalls a hazy romance in new single "Hooked On You"

Portland, Maine’s Kidhimself is quite serious about his feelings in his latest track “Hooked On You” which is a cool, laid-back pop song that is gooey with dreamy thoughts sprung from love and recreation. The atmospheric song recalls amid its swelling ambiance and snappy rhythm someone worth remembering, in a haze or otherwise. If love is fleeting, the music of Kidhimself is forever ever, mostly because its chill/wavy vibe is a keen sonic translation of the coastal New England winds that surely inspired it. For something to get lost in, for someone to remember, “Hooked On You” is streaming below. - Rene Cobar 

   

Sludge abounds on Spacer's noise-friendly "Red Wolf"

The saturated image of a fleeing canine adorns the cover of Red Wolf, a recent release by New York experimental rock trio Spacer, a fitting image given the effort’s skittish, sometimes wandering internal monologue and its fight-or-flight inducing guitar work. Through sludgey drop tunings with a slight psych influence, Spacer impress on listeners a sense of indefinable external danger, or at the very least a mild malaise, over the course of six tracks, replete with an impressionistic approach to lyricism and distorted, heavy shredding. Visceral and anxiety-inducing, it’s evocative of Boris’ Akuma No Uta, the type of record for those seeking an experimental, noisy release from the city’s current quietude. Stream it below.

   

Ritual Boys Club's experimental delights on "Fishing in Boon"

New York experimental outfit Ritual Boys Club is a hard group to pin down. Their debut LP Fishing in Roon radiates a wide range of disparate indie subgenera, sometimes simultaneously and authorities in quick succession — droney slowcore can quickly become upbeat jangle jams, math-y breakdowns congeal into twee indie, with the whole project underscored by the pleasant lo-fi hiss of tape recording. It's this drive towards experimentation, towards seeking out inscrutable electric guitar-centric soundscapes, that makes the record so incredibly listenable, twisting at each track towards a new undefined direction, yet unified under the intimacy of Ella Sinskey’s intimate, almost home-recording quality vocals and concise, focused songwriting. Recommended for fans of Avi Buffalo, or perhaps those seeking a quieter band in the vein of Captain Beefheart, give it a listen below. 
 

   

From the Submissions: Moon Sand Land's "The Duality of Man"

Evenhandedness is the name of the game for New York songwriter Jason Ross. Under the handle Moon Sand Land he impressionistically charts life’s various ups and downs on split EP The Duality of Man, letting recollections of the oceanside views, secret-sharing, and afternoon trysts fall out his mouth in a signature, exasperated drawl while leading a lofi cadre of collaborators in garage rock unison. In line with the EP’s title, there’s an impeccable balance that permeates this project’s duration — the oftentimes frustrated nature of Ross’s emotive vox is cut with the brightness of his instrumental backing, a pleasant blend of shimmering 90s electric guitars and progressive, exciting song structures, which keeps this extended play interesting throughout its four tracks. Give this submission a stream below.