“Blood Moon” – State Forest
Some songs are easy to get lost in and “Blood Moon” from State Forest’s self titled EP fits the bill. The repeating patterns of each instrument take you in with their simplicity, but break their own formulas over the course of a song that unfurls itself to reveal a slow motion nova. State Forest creates atmosphere and this song revels in it. At the mid-point, when the bass moves from the backbeat and starts wandering, the audience begins to hear the song that was always there but just out of reach. From the first few seconds right to the end the details in the layering add up to create a wash that never truly overpowers the vocals and instead enhances the ethereal but steady voice of Benjamin Greer. It’s the kind of delivery that makes you feel like you personally know the guy and that makes it that much better.
“Two Hands” – The Michael Character
The Michael Character’s brand of DIY folk punk is perfect for encapsulating the tiny moments of triumph, existential crisis, or social understanding that many of us live through day in and day out, but often neglect to reflect on. With “Two Hands” from his new album Wheelie?, The Michael Character looks deep into the fear of eating alone and the implications it has on one’s measure of comparative success. If nobody has the time to share a meal with me, does this mean I’ll end up alone? There is humor mixed into the acknowledgement of how absurd his train of thought is, but you can still see the dots as he connects them. Everybody has growing responsibilities as they get older, so if you start being less of a priority for people and find yourself alone do you still have time to find someone while it’s still socially acceptable for your age range? Well, you can always hold your own hand if you need one.
“Wake Up Slow” – Atlas Lab
Atlas Lab’s “Wake Up Slow” is as slow-burning as it’s subject matter suggests. From the EP of the same name, “Wake Up Slow” builds itself from start to finish in a lush bed of fingerstyle guitar and organ that comes alive as the tension grows. As the pulses swarm over the bass and drums, there is a wonderful transition into the fuller second half where the instruments drop out for the vocal hold, only to tumble back in with a new fire. The texture of Solei’s vocals are the right blend of out-of-this world and razor sharp. Her voice brings an ambiguity to the song, where I’m never quite sure if the line “You’ll be fine” is meant to be comforting or admonishing. The blended harmonies offer a contrast that rounds out the song as each instrument comes into the shuffle and moves the song out of its slumber and right onto it’s feet.