9fm (short for Ninth Floor Mannequin) is the solo music project of New Jersey-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jarrod Pedone. Drawing influences from some of his favorite artists like Paul Simon, Fleet Foxes and James Blake, Pedone melds folk and alternative rock, injecting bits of synth pop here and there to create fascinating and pleasing songs. He’s also a big fan of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone, as well as the more recent Twilight Zone-influenced British sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror, and many of his song lyrics are based on particular episodes of those shows.
In September 2018, I reviewed 9fm’s marvelous EP Little House, and am now happy to feature his latest single “First Blush” which dropped April 27th. The song is based on Season 3, Episode 4 of Black Mirror, entitled “San Junipero”. San Junipero is a simulated beach resort town where the deceased can live and the elderly can visit, all inhabiting their younger selves’ bodies in a time of their choosing. The plot involves two women, Yorkie and Kelly, who meet at a nightclub, and eventually become romantically involved. They meet up at different times over the years in both San Junipero and in the real world, where they face real-life complications. In the end, both are euthanised so that they can be together in San Junipero.
9fm wrote the music and lyrics, sang vocals and performed all the music on “First Blush”, as well as recording, mixing and mastering the track himself in his home studio. Starting with skittering percussion and assertive drumbeats, he layers lo-fi synths, humming keyboards, and what sounds like a bass guitar, though it could also be guitar that’s been fed though a pedal or some other device to give it a deeper tone. The result is a dramatic, fast-paced song that captures the sense of urgency and emotional intensity described in the lyrics about an unusual and logistically challenging love affair. His smooth vocals have an ethereal, almost otherworldly quality that’s quite pleasing and well-suited to the subject matter. “First Blush” is another fine effort from this talented guy.
A life in a place & time, we didn’t choose
Abide by the rules we find, oh ’ til we’re through
Then I decide on a place in a time to reside that I wished were true
But who we are we can’t escape, so I wrecked that too
At first blush
I came on way too strong
I’d never known someone like you
So I knew first, the path that I would choose
I’d trade that life for one with you
Please see it through
You’re all I have to lose
A place in a time designed for our own use
A place we can feel alive, in health & youth
So I decide on a place in a time to reside that I wished were true
So now here we are now free to stay, until we’re through
Without a doubt, the lives we learn to lead die out, & then, leaving us only
to find out, the lives we’re meant to lead are found, not with, but without, stable ground