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best-emerging-bands-artists





D'Zhari "Alone"

D'Zhari released her latest single, "Alone", back in September and it is accompanied by the beautifully shot video below.

This is the R&B singers third single in as many years, and follows-up her wonderful 2019 collaboration with femdot. "Soul Searching".





KOTA The Friend tames his "Dragon"

“I used to want to be up on the music blogs / [...] / I may not have a million but I’m chillin’ dawg”

KOTA The Friend is hardly a slacker but he could play one on TV. A multi-instrumentalist who excelled early on as a first-chair trumpet player who taught himself bass and guitar while going on to hold down two jobs and attend performing arts school eventually becoming a producer, photographer, visual artist and interior designer in addition to a musician, the man is actually a polymath if you do the math. Plus on his 2020 full-length Everything KOTA somehow managed to score features from such obscure names (sarcasm alert) as Lakeith Stanfield, Joey Bada$$, and Lupita Nyong’o which is hardly the work of an underachiever. A true DIY artist, it’s been reported elsewhere that KOTA will take on mundane tasks himself ranging from flyer design to directly answering fans’ queries, all the while turning down three major-label offers (so far) in order to maintain his independence. 

And yet, on his latest single “Dragon,” he sounds as laid back as a panda bear that just got laid. (apologies for the mixed animal metaphors, KOTA is actually named for a baby bear of the non-panda variety) Opening with a loping, start-stop jazzy guitar loop, KOTA laconically drops lines like “I do what I want, I go where I please / but still I want more things” over a beat that sounds like an outtake from the Lofi Beats to Relax/Study/Quarantine To videos--sonic shorthand for sitting at one’s desk and staring off into space all day. The conversational flow and mellow vibes on “Dragon” can be deceptive, however, tinged as they are with regret, doubt, and deceit lurking around the corner. Likewise for KOTA's flow itself, laidback on the surface but twisty at times and shifting relative to the main guitar riff.

Not unlike a good friend IRL, KOTA The Friend puts the listener at ease but doesn’t stoop to please, giving it to you straight: "Before it gets better, it's gonna get worse" so you better “Skip the fast pass, be knowledgeable, that’s the bag bag / polish all your skills, set your price, then you tax that.” Sage advice as 2020 slouches towards its end. (Jason Lee)


 





Sara Noelle debuts serene cover of "Emerald River Dance"

L.A’s Sara Noelle offers us her atmospheric take on Judee Sill’s “Emerald River Dance” and does the popularly covered song justice. The track is a weaving of swelling tones and nature-oriented rhythms that create a serene soundscape that is soothing for troubled minds. Noelle’s vocals have an elegance to them and emotional precision that wholly create a version of the song that belongs to her. With piano-key trickles and pulsing synths, the cover has a heartbeat of its own, and it is worth listening to; stream Sara Noelle’s cover of “Emerald River Dance” below for an ambiance to enjoy. - René Cobar





Kierst has a "Crush" on latest single

Following a few bars of strummed guitar Kierst declares “it's nothing more than a crush but / I'm holding my breath” and I believe her. For one thing she repeats the second line four times in a row and indeed crushes are nothing if not obsessive, and while singing the line four times whilst holding one's breath defies logic, crushes are nothing if not illogical. Check and check.

A pathway to love turned into a a cul-de-sac of hopeless hope: “Tinged blue in the face no it's not too late.” A distressing new fetish for emotional distress: “An unwanted switch that's leaving me reeling.” Check and check.

Keirst's lyrics here scan perfectly in a song that slowly and steadily and almost imperceptibly builds tension--but crucially never achieves release. Layer by layer you hear the addition of ride cymbal flourishes, plaintive guitar wails, hints of bass and perhaps keyboard and finally some insistent drumming over a late-in-the-game declaration to “love you to death.” And then like that it's over. And you want it to start all over again. (Jason Lee)


 

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Burnt Umber Penumbra releases B.U.P.3

On his third collection of 2020 so far (quarantine goals!) Burnt Umber Penumbra opens with a track called “Landings” that with its percolating digital oscillations and warm hazy drones does indeed sound like a good soundtrack for a lunar landing. On the next track (“Scamz”) the listener is brought back down to earth cold-opening with a voice message left by a robotic female from an unidentified government agency, promising “you will be taken under custody by the local cops as there are four serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment,” followed by a fuzzed-out looped beat and heavily-reverbed repeating chords. Whether this message pertains to four overdue parking tickets or a quadruple homicide we may never know but the mystery’s the thing.

Based on no evidence whatsoever I would hypothesize that Burnt Umber Penumbra got his name from one of those band-name-generating-algorithms that in this case takes a discontinued Crayola color and combines it with a word or phrase likely to be uttered by Neil deGrasse Tyson. If so, consider yourself lucky not to be listening to Prussian Blue Trigonometric Parallax. Anyway based on a minute-or-two of extensive Internet research I learned that a “penumbra” is a physical phenomenon equivalent to a shadow of a shadow. So go ahead and light up a jazz cigarette and ponder that for a moment and while you’re at it put on this album because it’s perfect music for just this sort of mental activity--on B.U.P.3 you’ll hear echoes of everything from Tangerine Dream to M83 ready to take you on a journey to the center of the mind. Space is the place indeed.

As value added Burnt Umber Penumbra’s video output so far further solidifies the mystical aesthetic of his music. A crystal pyramid of unknown origin features consistently for instance, and he apparently has the ability to play clarinet through a Covid-style bandana face covering (see below). Which is pretty cool and so is the music. But consider yourself forewarned, there’s some magickal forces at work here. (Jason Lee)


 

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