Saviors of Pop
Contemporary artists distill viral rhythms that make you hum
BY VONYX (soundcloud.com/mikawvawn) | I have a personal battle with pop music — more specifically, the radio pop of today. There were eras, many years ago, when pop music was deliciously corny and filtered from folk songs and other elements of our unique American musical traditions.
Not so anymore. These days it sounds like everything on the radio is written by a boardroom of fat, sleazed out executives at Capitol Records ready to pull whatever used car salesman move they can to sell more records. Whether it’s Miley Cyrus grinding to generate PR hype or Lady Gaga sacrificing cows for her stunning VMA outfit, nothing is out of the question. Pop music (for the most part) has lost its soul.
However, not all pop music is dead. There are artists out there who are not ashamed of listening to sing-song hooks from yesteryear in order to distill what makes pop great — catchiness. These artists distill viral rhythms and melodies into emotional songs that make you turn up your headphones and hum along.
This week, I present the saviors of pop.
WASHED OUT, at TERMINAL 5
Washed Out is the reason I started making music. Listening to a Washed Out track is like walking through a sunshower, mistaking the rain for your own teardrops of melancholy content. Ernest Greene, the man behind Washed Out, has a knack for capturing the hazy summertime vibe like no one else can.
“Paracosm,” his latest album (released August 13th on Sub Pop) stayed true to the reverby, thick fog he has always called home — but this time, it sounds like something a bit happier is on the other side of the mist. Greene calls this album a trip outside, “surrounded by a beautiful, natural environment.” The record plays through smoothly, with seamless transitions between the chilled-out anthems. His live show, supported by guitars, basses and synthesizers, should provide great renditions of these tracks.
Wed., Sept. 18, at Terminal 5 (610 W. 56th St., btw. 11th & 12th Aves.). All Ages. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at door. Doors at 8pm, show at 9. For info: terminal5nyc.com.
GOLDROOM, at BROOKLYN BOWL
A lot of people have said that chillwave is dead. Well, hopefully the name is dead, ‘cause it kinda sucks. But the sound of compressed, poppy, melancholy, electronic pop is here to stay.
Goldroom is one of the chillwave mafia that sheds a low-key tear in the bathroom and emerges more powerful than ever with a sample library and a Juno synthesizer slung across his shoulder like Rambo’s bullet sheath. His music sounds like a sativa cross between Phoenix and Washed Out. Catchy yet pensive. Sometimes he crosses a bridge into tropical nu-disco territory, as he did with his “We Can Dance” remix for Lancelot. There’s no doubt this talented multi-genre producer is only going to keep getting hotter.
Brooklyn Bowl will be hosting tipsy bowlers and eager dancers all night. Go check out Goldroom’s analogue-rich live set and toss a couple balls at some pins.
Fri., Sept. 20, at Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Ave., btw. N. 11th & 12th Sts.). 21+. Doors at 11:30pm, show at midnight. Tickets available at the door, $10, cash only. For info: brooklynbowl.com.
CHVRCHES, at TERMINAL 5
You can’t listen to Chvrches’ latest album without succumbing to their bubblegum synthesized rhythms and the lead singer’s hooky voice. You try as hard as you can to turn away. You saw Wikipedia and read the section where Chvrches admits the name doesn’t mean anything religious — “It just sounded cool.” You talk to some bearded guy at a Brooklyn coffee shop about how his girlfriend bought him the Chvrches vinyl as a reward for going vegan. He asks you if you like them, then agrees with whatever you say. You try to resist the brainlessness, but dammit, they’re catchy.
Infusing folk, post-rock and indie pop into one package, Chvrches is a hypermodern hybrid of popular, Pitchfork-friendly music. Playing a show at Terminal 5, they’ll be making heads bop, begrudgingly.
Sun., Sept. 22, at Terminal 5, (610 W. 56th St., btw. 11th & 12th Aves.). All Ages. Doors at 7pm, show at 8. Tickets: $25. For info: terminal5nyc.com.