2018 has been a year of many firsts for this blog. One of the most significant changes was a full redesign as we escaped from the clutches of Tumblr and moved onto our own dedicated site. While it was a long time in the making (and comes with its own challenges), this move has allowed us much more flexibility as far as what we can do and how we can present ourselves.
One important addition within that redesign was a contact page including an email dedicated solely to Swim Into The Sound. I initially just set this email up for solidarity and didn’t expect to get much use out of it, but I’ve been surprised, overwhelmed, and overjoyed by the number of music submissions I’ve received through it.
Busy as ever, I’ve let these submissions build up over the past few months as I tried to figure out how they fit into the site and my schedule. Hopefully a semi-recurring feature, I wanted to create a place to write explicitly about all this awesome music that is being sent directly to me. It’s already cool to know people are reading, but to get actual music sent my way is a different form of affirmation entirely. While I can’t write about everything, I wanted to say thank you to every band, artist, and creative that’s sent their work my way. Some of these have been in my inbox since the summer, so sorry that this took so long, but I wanted to make sure I gave your art the justice it deserves. Without further adieu, I’m thrilled to present Swim Into The Sound’s first-ever Submitted Music Showcase.
Nanaki - Decline & Dislocation
Simultaneously prolific and moving at his own pace, Nanaki is a post-rock project helmed by Michael Daugherty who’s creating spiritual post-rock songs that drip with distortion and head-bobbing riffs. Decline & Dislocation is actually Nanaki’s second release of the year after January’s Epilogue. Recorded in tandem, the two releases are independent pieces that also function together as part of a larger journey. Opening track “Curator of Molluscs” sets the tone nicely, beginning with a slow-burn instrumental that builds into a propulsive riff worthy of a Mogwai record. The remainder of the album hits just as hard, and late album cut “Despicable Fuckwits Elect Complete Prick” is a strong contender for song title of the year.
Wet Dream - “Groove Plug”
If you needed more heart-rending electronic indie rock in your life, Portland-based Wet Dream is here to supply it. Filmed in a geodesic dome filled with mirrors, the video for “Groove Plug” is a vibrant, dreamy, and hypnotic experience that pairs with the music perfectly. Sporting a smooth bass line, fan-like keyboard work, and an absolutely immaculate chorus, “Groove Plug” is a psychedelic love song of duality, replication, and universality.
William Patrick Owen - first person singular
Since the days of Bob Dylan, it’s only become easier to get your thoughts and feelings out into the world. While there were plenty of folk artists before him, Dylan represented a sort of stripped-back rough-around-the-edges purity that anyone could achieve. One man, one guitar, and his poetry. That’s it. It’s barebones, but it allows the words, emotion, and heart to take center stage, and that’s exactly what’s happening on William Patrick Owen’s first person singular. Fittingly sung from first-person, the album is a melancholy, earnest, and queer exploration of the self, sung to nobody in particular. first person singular has all the makings of a fantastic folk album. Evocative of cold fall evenings, crunchy leaves, and sorrowful goodbyes, the record is 52 minutes of nostalgic regret that can only be voiced to song, lest they be too powerful on its own.
Polartropica - “Golden Soul”
Some topics are too raw to handle on their own. Death. Grief. Suffering. Loss. Music is important because, not only does it give us a way to cope with those concepts as a listener, it also gives artists the same opportunity. While there’s something to be said about how performing that kind of emotional exorcism night after night impacts an artist, but the form itself will always be there to act as an outlet. On “Golden Soul,” Los Angeles-based pop/psych artist Polartropica is addressing this sort of pained experience writing about a friend who went missing after becoming addicted to opioids prescribed by a doctor. Within recent years we’ve seen multiple artists speak on this topic from The Wonder Years to Kanye West, it’s an issue that’s (sadly) recurring within our society. “Golden Soul” recounts lead singer Ihui Cherise Wu’s experience losing her friend to the slow, disintegrating, and hopeless phenomenon addiction that encroaches until it swallows someone’s life. It’s a touching song with an instrumental that melds an unexpected mix of pop, synths, and string arrangements creating what she describes as a “bubblegum psychedelia” sound. A vital message packaged in a unique song that tells an all-too-familiar story.
Tyson Kelly - “Girl You’re So Money”
Have you ever heard a song that sounded so familiar you’re sure you’ve heard it somewhere before? Something that feels as if it was beamed in from a past life. A sound that makes you unsure how music has progressed this far without this exact melody being created? That’s how I feel about Tyson Kelly’s “Girl You’re So Money.” Like a long-lost Beatles single, the song is a psychedelic love ballad with groovy guitar, smooth bass, and an absolutely infectious chorus.
Los Doggies - Heddagabalus
Sometimes tastes are simple. Sometimes you don’t need a high-minded concept, or multi-genre mastery, you just need a really great tone. Los Doggies’ Heddagabalus is a tripped-out, grungy psych album that drips with incredible guitar tone and laid-back melodies. Sometimes you don’t need anything else.
Weston Smith - “Beckon”
Inspired by Japanese Soul artist Hiroshi Sato, Weston Smith’s “Beckon” comes to us from DC in a skull-adorned psych pop package. Featuring a laid-back synthy instrumental, “Beckon” feels like equal parts Mac Demarco and Ween. A little weird. A little loving. A lot of emotion.
Norphlet - Norphlet
Walking an intoxicating line between emo, pop-punk, and indie rock, Norphlet’s self-titled EP hits you right in that space teetering between melancholy and unbridled joy. Packing an emotional punch, the EP’s first track “Brand New” bowls the listener over with a fakeout acoustic start, before erupting into a raucous pop-punk beat.
Emmanuel Patterson - The Silver Story, A Starry Night
Sometimes music is best enjoyed on its own. No visuals and no distractions, just you, sound, and the void of space. That’s exactly how Emmanuel Patterson recommends his music be listened, and I couldn’t agree more. While I gave the record a spin air-condition-less in the heat of summer, the album chilled me to the bone and left me in a completely different emotional state than I was going into it. Featuring gentle singing, warm lyricism, and loving instrumentation, The Silver Story, A Starry Night is a Wintery folk album. With well-considered ornamental additions, regretful lyricism, and thought-provoking ambient stretches, the album is meant to be enjoyed in isolation. While the cover is reminiscent of American Football, the snow-covered music almost evokes Michigan-era Sufjan at some points.
New Ghost - Burning Out EP
While they sound (and look) like a black metal band, New Ghost’s music is proof that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Released over the summer, the Group’s two-track Burning Out EP subverts expectations from its first notes, bowling the listener over with a cascading wave of electronic claps and warbles. Soon joined by the ghastly vocals of Caroline Cawley, the track plays out like a post-modern, futuristic dreamscape where technology has consumed everything and our narrator is the sole remnant of a long-forgotten world. Just as impressive, “Sleepwalkers 1 & 2” is an 8-minute instrumental expedition that winds its way to a conclusion fit for a feature-length movie.