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VIDEO: Ah-Mer-Ah-Su Drops “No One,” 2021’s Summer Empowerment Anthem

Self-described L.A.-based “poptronic princess” Ah-Mer-Ah-Su has released “No One,” a track from her upcoming Hopefully Limitless EP, due late this summer, along with an accompanying music video filmed in collaboration with filmmaker Roge Stack. Judging by the track’s life-affirming lyrics and club-ready sound, she may have released this summer’s first big Alt Pop empowerment anthem.

The track starts with a tropically psychedelic keyboard flourish, before Ah-Mer-Ah-Su’s effervescent, nimble lead vocal enters in full, buoyed by impactful, elastic bass and fizzy but hard-hitting electronic drums, making for a formidably danceable rhythm section. Later, saxophone and chorused lead guitar lines deliver a refreshingly non-clichéd dose of carefully-arranged 80s pop bliss.

The lyrics are seemingly self-addressed and allude to the challenges the black trans artist has undoubtably had to face on her career path. With lines like “you dont’ got it easy / you’ve always had to work / for it and so / work it you do,” it’s clear that the challenges, although formidable for Ah-Mer-Ah-Su (the name is a paraphrase of Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun in Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan) have been taken on with the same deftness and grace as her songwriting and vocals.

Overall, “No One” delivers the kind of catchy vibes that fans of Laura Mvula, Robyn, and Whitney Houston will enjoy, while also delivering a glimpse of an artist on the rise. Gabe Hernandez





VIDEO: “Am I Alive” Finds MINDY Taking On A Tough Crowd

Electropop singer, songwriter & producer MINDY (Mindy Song) has released “Am I Alive,” the first single/video for her upcoming debut solo EP Version 1.27, premiering July 23. The new track/video provide an intriguing glimpse into MINDY’s sonic and visual world.

“Am I Alive” begins with a grungy bass/drum intro before MINDY’s breathy but confident lead vocal takes the stage. When the chorus crashes in shortly after, it’s with a flood of 90s electronica/dance sounds, but without any of the cliches that those sounds typically bear. Overall, the track is a full-bodied electro pop banger, but with lyrics that suggest there’s an perceptive artistic soul behind things.

Meanwhile the accompanying music video (directed by Adrian Pruett) adds precious context to MINDY’s enigmatic lyrics, cutting between the singer performing her heart out for the jaded and image-obsessed denizens of a blue-lit nightclub, and striking scenes of self-harm. It’s a delicate balance to keep things both serious and entertaining, but it works.

About the video, MINDY states in a press release: “‘Am I Alive’ is about my struggles with violence and the relentless cycles of murder, pain, and healing. Director Adrian Pruett and I turned my internal agony into a performance in which we ask, ‘what does it mean to be alive and engage with others when so much suffering continues right before our eyes?’” Certainly, a prerequisite for being alive is being moved by MINDY’s well-crafted, emotive new track. Gabe Hernandez

 

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VIDEO: “Half Life” Finds appleby Brimming With Life

Photo Credit: Annie Rhodes Kane

L.A.-via-Chicago artist appleby spent much of his early childhood competing on the international tennis circuit, before reassessing his priorities as a young adult, shifting to pursue his music-making ambitions. Judging by his latest single, the soothing yet cathartic “Half Life,” and its accompanying zen-like poolside video, it seems his dedication to honing his craft hasn’t wavered a bit.

The track begins with a simple repeated electric piano note, setting the stage for appleby’s soulful harmonized vocals to enter shortly thereafter, followed by warm and full-bodied piano chords, all of which are later joined by a skittering electro-acoustic beat that propels the track just enough to inject it with energy without shattering the overall life-affirming vibe. The track gets fuller throughout, but it never gets too busy. And all the while, appleby’s vocals—which brings to mind other alt-soul auteurs such as Moses Sumney—keep things comforting and uplifting until the track gently crescendos, his vocal finally fragmenting like the beat.  Perhaps it’s a fracturing or, possibly, a transcendence? 

There’s hardly any help in his lyrics, which find him in a state of limbo: “I’ve been stuck in this half-life full time / and I don’t know what to do.” In press releases, though, appleby describes the genesis of his latest track as “…organic and borderline magical…” If that’s the case, here’s hoping he indulges his taste for both on his upcoming releases. Gabe Hernandez

 





VIDEO: On “Hush,” The Marías Show Who’s In Control Of Things

 

L.A. by way of Puerto Rico indie pop group The Marías—led by the bilingual core duo of writer/producer Josh Conway and writer/lead vocalist María Zardoya—have released a video for “Hush,” the first single off their debut album, Cinema, out June 25th on Nice Life Recording Company/Atlantic Records, and it’s a slinky, two-tone minimalist slow-burner.

The track begins with insistent, pulsing synth bass, laying out the carpet for Zardoya’s breathy, beguiling lead vocal performance over a languorous, seductive mid-tempo beat—the kind you’d probably sway rather than dance to.

Lyrically, we’re firmly in “woman in control” territory, with lines like “every night / got you running in circles/touchin me/get your paws off my dolce cologne/back it up/off my throne cuz you know/you wanna make me/walk away and forget about it?”

Meanwhile, producer Conway keeps things moving along tightly, with shimmering, swimming synth pads and dream-pop guitar arpeggios entering at points, adding a tasteful sheen of 21st-century disco glam, while during the single-word “hush” chorus, pared-to-the-bone guitar lines yawn and warp like hot metal, while Conway’s deeper bass vocals share the stage with María during the bridge, adding a vague feeling of menace.

Visually, the video makes the most of a modest budget, cutting between a sterile but stylish 1960s psychiatrist office—decorated all in white, except for María—and a series of crimson-soaked sets that feel like a dance club designed by David Lynch, complete with writhing dancers costumed to look like living condoms. In the middle of it all is María, sitting stately on her ultramodern throne, perhaps getting cozy with the pop stardom she and the band may be on the verge of achieving. Gabe Hernandez

 





On “SITUATIONS,” Paris Texas Meld Hip Hop & Synthpop Sensibilities

Photo Credit - Jimmy Bui

Compton, South Los Angeles multi-disciplinary creative outfit Paris Texas (the team of Louie Pastel and Felix) have released their debut project, BOY ANONYMOUS. Across the project’s 8 self-produced tracks, the duo span an impressive range of genres and textures, and a particular standout is the single “SITUATIONS.”

The, tense but nimble track is a spare, minimal blend of icy late 70s/early 80s UK synthpop with “slice of life” hip-hop lyricism. The sonic landscape is populated with warm, rounded synth bass, distantly-reverbed vocals, and a jaded chorus repeating the phrase “hey now / these situations / hey now / just keep your patience,” while lines like “leave the house for all the dreams I had to chase,” and “couldn’t stay behind ‘cause shit would stay the same” hint at a desperate desire to escape a dire domestic situation to stake a claim at some sort of autonomy, whether creative or otherwise. And all the while a nervous, insistent synth organ phrase repeats throughout, restlessly peaking over the fence at the rest of proceedings.

The sense of anxiety mixed with fatigue is palpable, but the off-hand style and catchiness of the track keeps things from growing stale. Gabe Hernandez

 

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