So much music, so little time. Sometimes, it’s just impossible to get to everything, especially stuff that comes out at the end of the year, when pretty much everyone drops new stuff. So in the interests of playing catch-up, here are a few gems I almost missed.
“Memory Disappears,” by Freezepop: The video for this Boston-based synth-pop band is absolutely gorgeous. The members of the band wander ghostlike though the woods, captured on what looks like old-school home movie footage, and while the listeners lose themselves to the song’s lush tones, it’s easy for them to miss someone suddenly vanishing on the screen in front of them. “They save it for a while,” sings vocalist Liz Enthusiasm, “Memory on trial/The machines won’t look back/Why should you?” It’s a song about how everything eventually fades, memory most of all. But there’s also a sort of sadness at that though, of everything being ultimately ephemeral and slipping from your grasp.
“All the Stars,” by Prateek: The lyric video for Boston singer-songwriter Prateek’s song “All the Stars” is a lovely piece of work, its simple illustrations well-capturing the song’s sense of wistfulness and squandered time. The song starts with an image of a restless teenager, and then transitions to the subject well into adulthood: “Turning 39 and the years/have been unkind they say,” sings Prateek, “Aches and pains/won’t go away./Pour another drink and think about your wasted youth/like a rotting tooth/ain’t it the truth?” Later he sings that “killing time’s not a victimless crime.” It’s lovely, sad work from a truly remarkable songwriter.
“Papi,” by Louie Gonz: OK, if you have a problem when your music gets a little raunchy, this song by Worcester rapper Louie Gonz is definitely not the song for you. The song, which features rapper Mr. Pacheco, is fearless in the way it gets down and dirty, even if the song is less about casual sex than it appears, and more about the persona’s unwillingness to settle down, valuing the hustle of a music career over love or children. There’s a sadness to that sentiment, one that’s easy to miss against the scorching beat by BNoise x NoxBeatz. The song may not be for every audience, but there’s no denying it’s a banger. Also, the video – directed by Gonz and TC Animations, with noted producer DJ Manipulator as videographer – has Gonz being subjected to an alien autopsy and riding a velociraptor, and it’s pretty hard to go wrong with that.
“Break Off,” by The I Want You: The video for the Boston-based rockers The I Want You’s “Break Off” has a kind of trippy, ’80s-retro feel to it, with video game-esque graphics and fractaling images of the band that recall the early days of MTV. Underneath all that, though, is a pretty straightforward blast of blues-rock, with killer harmonica and an infectious groove. “You don’t like my behavior,” sings vocalist Jim Gerdeman, “you think it’s hit and run/no point currying favor/when you hate everyone.” A tad misanthropic, to be certain, but the band has a way of making the misanthropy fun.
“Gram Jams 1-3,” by DJ Manipulator: Hopedale’s DJ Manipulator is one of very few hip-hop producers who is able to take a high concept – such as making an entire mix tape based on Soviet-era propaganda or the jazz riffs that are frequently sampled on rap albums – and turn them into something both totally unique and engaging. In a lot of ways, with the three “Gram Jams” mixtapes he dropped last year, Manipulator is sort of working in the opposite direction, working with loose beats, some made for other artists and discarded, others straight from his cutting room floor, and melding them into something that’s weirdly coherent and at times downright captivating. It’s a reminder that Manipulator is a genius when it comes to musical puzzle pieces, taking scraps that others might ignore and refashioning them into something amazing.