Summer is almost here. The weather is warming up, life is slowing down and change is in the air at Radio 1190. Last week's graduation included some radio 1190 VIPs, and now a new crew has arrived.
Hi, I'm Jolie! I'm the new music director for Radio 1190, and I'm beyond stoked. Us babies are chock-full of fresh ideas and a little too much energy. We are all about the vanguard in independent music. We want events, we want community and we want to engage with our audience wherever possible.
So let's talk about what we love — music. Girlpool just released their sophomore LP, "Powerplant." Consisting of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, Girlpool are no stranger to college radio. Their last record, "Before the World Was Big," is still a Radio 1190 favorite. The duo was known for crafting uncannily spirited and fulfilling melodies while retaining a commitment to minimalism: just guitar and bass. With a sense of youthful vulnerability, their poetic lyricisms are enrapturing, armed with simple phraseologies that cultivate moments of eerie and heart-wrenching nostalgia.
Vocally, "Powerplant" justly upholds the Girlpool mantle. Tividad and Tucker's harmonies are perfectly in sync; they aren't complex, but their synergy and control creates an unparalleled intensity. Their voices are raw emotion, colliding to forge a delicate equilibrium between the joyous and the poignant, the timid and the unapologetic. However, "Powerplant" shows significant instrumental change from their previous releases. They've added drums, and it definitely works.
This record is Girlpool growing up, graduating to a bigger and fuller sound. Don't get me wrong, I love their early work, but this album is mature, culminating their catalogue to date. We hear their maturation on the lead track, "123." The song's beginning is reminiscent of their older music. But gentle guitars and hushed voices carry us for about a minute into a gloriously loud and bold crescendo of brash drums and yelled vocals. "Static Somewhere" is also a highlight of the LP. The guitar sounds in particular are new for them, built of pretty, little riffs and gritty chords. Overall, this is a standout album. It has taken the best of Girlpool's experimental musings and combines it with the tried and true. It's complete, mature and teeming with emotion. Give it a listen.
Let's move to another big name in independent music. There are some parallels to be drawn here, because Mac DeMarco's latest release, "This Old Dog," also departs noticeably from his prior work. He's stepped away from his quirky persona and his antics, and emerges with a much cleaner and produced sound. Fortunately, the record does not abandon his characteristic, lazy-boy ethos. Another huge change is Mac's guitar sound. He's moved away from the wavy and wobbly effects and gone for something more mellow and, at times, acoustic. We hear this especially on the tracks "My Old Man" and "This Old Dog." Lacking his infamous DeMarco goofiness, the sound is rather flat. But don't be mislead — things pick up shortly after.
Several tracks on the album take on a very Homeshake or Mild High Club feeling due to the druggy, heavy, synth sound. Where I think Mac really stands out on this record is in merging the old with the new, at times making "Salad Days" and "Another One" seem like rough drafts of "This Old Dog." "Baby You're Out" really kicks off the album, a smooth combo of his new, cleaner guitar sound and a gentle addition of soft and bouncy synths. Later in the album, we hear "A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes" which sets in with an almost southern classic rock intro, very subtly hinting at an act like The Doobie Brothers' "Toulouse Street." The mix of harmonica, some gentle rock 'n' roll guitar licks, and the same acoustic chords that Mac's been using the whole album come together to make a song that's really fun and different. If you've been into Mac DeMarco for awhile, you may not love this album at first. As mentioned, it's drifting away from the fan-favorite sense of goofiness he's always had. But after a few listens, it has really started to grow on me. Out of "This Old Dog" emerges an older and wiser Mac DeMarco. Give it a listen, because you may just dig it.
Keep your ears peeled for these two albums and tons of other independent music on Radio 1190. Check us out online at radio1190.org, or turn your dials to 1190 AM Boulder/Denver, 98.9 FM in Boulder.
Klefeker is Radio 1190's music director. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists