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Sunday, August 1, 2021

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Arts + CultureMusicNew Music: Just-dropped tracks, from in and out of...

New Music: Just-dropped tracks, from in and out of the ‘rock’ box

Helado Negro rides rhythmic alchemy, Ah-Mer-Ah-Su births feel-good alt-pop, and Andrew Rinehart re-works Arthur Russell

Stretching the genre range from indie-rock, alternative synth-pop, and vaporwave-boogie, we’ve got three new tracks for you to check out.

AH-MER-AH-SU — “NO ONE”

Ah-Mer-Ah-Su, the one-time Oakland artist currently based in LA, returns with a feel-good lead single from her “Hopefully Limitless” EP that promises to work the synth-pop angle with stoic positivity and light. Like most of her work, track “No One” is emotional, with lyrics that evoke vivid imagery. Recorded with producers Vice Cooler (Peaches, Stereo Total, etc.) and So Drove in LA, it takes her work squarely into the realm of alt-pop. Most of the material was written before the COVID-19 global pandemic, but as the world returns to a sense of hopeful wonder, so has she.

This video, completely filmed on an iPhone, is my fourth video in collaboration with filmmaker Roge Stack” Ah-Mer-Ah-Su says in a press statement. “The song is about the idea of being there for yourself. It’s a song for ‘no one’ but me. Life has given us all a big humongous bag of lemons, many of us were in isolation. The need to be there for myself, to take this time to really come through for me is how I survived. In this case, the lemonade made is the gassing of oneself. A wise person once said, ‘If you can’t hype yourself, who the hell is going to hype you, etc.’” 

Word Up.

ANDREW RINEHART — “MORE REAL”

Originally from Louisville, KY, Andrew Rinehart has been active in both the Brooklyn and LA DIY scenes for the last 11 years. He co-founded the Body Actualized Center in Bushwick, and helped curate shows at Downtown LA’s “secret venue” ‘Basic Flowers.’ Along the way he’s released a double LP on Buddyhead Records, 4 EPs, and a slew of singles.

He covers Arthur Russel’s “More Real” in an exacting homage to the original. Filled up with joy, its Buddy Holly simplicity contrasts with Talking Heads lurch. This is one of the better takes on anything Russell has done.

“I hope it does a little good in the world,” says Rinehart. 

He recently announced a six-song EP titled “Have Fun Idiot”, a release that includes this track plus a Bonnie Prince Billy-assisted cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Friend Of The Devil.”

A little background info on the history of “More Real”: While taking residence as a keyboard player, vocalist and song contributor in the short-lived post-punk quartet The Necessaries, dance music innovator Russell anticipated the future of NYC downtown dance rock machinations.

1982’s Event Horizon, the one record he recorded with the band, saw Russell pushing a forlorn lyrical mood, summoning his exact inner metronome building sway within a searing power-pop-new-wave encasing. It’s track “More Real” is a mid-tempo lament that garners placement on a mixtape just before “When You Were Mine” by Prince.

This dalliance with established and upcoming new sounds was not a cheap Radio Shack rip-off. Most songs showed The Necessaries were more than worthy of making an appearance on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand”. Russell was on to something. 

With “More Real”, it’s as if he peeked through a portal to the future and saw The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Rapture, and LCD Soundsystem. Like, he introduced those sullen tones to his own moody post-punk DNA, and brought it all back to the early ’80s as if to say, “I don’t have time to wait. Death comes at you fast.” 

Russell eventually quit The Necessaries by jumping out of the back of the band’s van at the mouth of the Holland Tunnel in New York while on the way to an important gig. He went on to score massive underground hits under the aliases of Dinosaur L and Loose Joints, and passed away in 1992 with a myriad of unfinished projects on the table. The value of staying alive can never be disputed.

HELADO NEGRO — “GEMINI AND LEO” (4AD)

Back in 2019, Rogerto Lange shared This Is How You Smile, his sixth project under the moniker Helado Negro. When he played The Great American Music Hall in 2020, as part of Noise Pop, he cooed and swooned at the mostly young, brown, and queer crowd until all hit the blissful planet called “Lovetron,” as Daryl Dawkins would say. 

“We’re gonna play the record we put out last year,” Lange said, a statement greeted by the cheers of fans who were just waiting to be serenaded by the ambient groovy wizard. As soon as the mellow notes of “Please Wonʻt Please” arrived, varying couples toasted drinks with one another and kissed their partners admiringly on the cheek. Lange turned the sold-out crowd into one giant cuddle puddle.

This year, Helado Negro will release an album titled Fall In on October 22 via 4AD. Its first single is “Gemini and Leo,” a song in which Helado Negro follows the pattern of mellow-funk and stretch, making for a rhythmic moment that sure, will summon the White Claw-sipping crowds, but is also ready-made for all sorts of outdoor functions and even indoor, sweet-shuffling moves.

Ride on with the psychedelic visuals in the track’s music video. Lange has his shit together, once again.

John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.
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