If some indie goddess mixed Stereolab, The Go! Team, and Alvvays in a witch's brew, we would drink it and hear "Pop Or Not," the new record from Whyte Horses. Joyful, vibrant, and nostalgic, "Pop Or Not" is the first LP from Whyte Horses released on CRC Music. The project is led by Dom Thomas, co-owner of Manchester label Finders Keepers, which specializes in obscure releases spanning the past 60 years.
I can hear Thomas' obsession with vinyl throughout "Pop or Not": surf rock guitars, warm bass, stereophonic effects, squishy drums and psychedelic vocal lines permeate the record. A couple songs are sung in a beautiful French soprano that feels comfortable yet exotic. Lead single "The Snowfalls" is a shimmery pop romp that made its way to a couple Spotify playlists last year; the full LP is sure to put Whyte Horses on the map. Heavy Foxygen vibes matched with the youthful energy of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros makes "Pop or Not" an excellent summer record. Pop or not, which is it? Somewhere in between. Decide for yourself when you hear it spinning on Radio 1190.
In a similar vein, the new release from Puzzle will delight the weirdo inside you. Puzzle is spearheaded by Fletcher Shears, one half of The Garden. I prefer Puzzle's droopy synths to The Garden's flat guitars, and "Soaring" is far smoother than anything The Garden has released. The release reminds me of house legends like Frankie Knuckles, Chip E and Jamie Principle, but the record never hits house head on. Rather, "Soaring" fits well alongside releases by Washed Out or Toro y Moi.
Title track "Soaring" along with "Seeing Green," "I Saw An Angel" and "Seasick" are standout songs on the release. The other tracks are good but can veer a little too abrasive or overstay their welcome. Honestly, this record sounds a lot like Denver-based bands Sugarsplat or French Kettle Station. The record is great, but it seems like merely another project for Fletcher Shears. I'm excited to see what happens when Shears settles down a little and releases a masterpiece. Until then, we have the new release from Puzzle to hold us over.
Whenever Richard D. James releases new music, it's a very, very big deal. Aphex Twin's 2014 release "Syro" won a Grammy for best dance/electronic album, was featured on almost everyone's best of 2014 lists, and proved that Aphex Twin was still the king of electronica. Aphex Twin has garnered quite a following since 1992's "Selected Ambient Works 85-92." Many respect James for his enormous catalogue, dedication to sonic quality and internet-savvy method of releasing music. His new record "Cheetah EP" does not disappoint.
"Cheetah EP" is murky and pulsing, immediately less frantic than "Syro," and it has a undeniable swagger. The four-on-the-floor kick sample in "CHEETAH2 [Ld spectrum]" and "CHEETAHT7b" is absolutely relentless. Many of the songs on this record are variations on a drumbeat — there are few changes in feel over the 33-minute recording. Two 30-second tracks divide the record between the first two songs and the last three. They serve as welcome moments of air.
The visual style of the record parodies 1970s adverts, and the title of the record is a reference to a company named Cheetah Marketing, which sold electronic musical instruments in the '80s. Whether you are familiar with Aphex Twin's previous work or you are a newcomer, "Cheetah EP" is something special. We'll be spinning it forever, so get familiar with it on Radio 1190 KVCU.
Jarocki is Radio 1190's music director. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists