Fresh New Tracks Vol. X

The juggernaut of new music releases continues without letup, so I’m compelled to post yet another installment of Fresh New Tracks less than a week after my last one! Today I’m featuring songs by two acts with rather unusual but terrific names that are new to me – Toronto-based electronic/indie pop band Cherry Blaster and Los Angeles-based sad-punk band Cuffed Up – as well as Nashville-based noir pop artist Notelle, who I previously featured on this blog in September 2019.

“New Age” by Cherry Blaster

Toronto, Canada-based artist Cherry Blaster is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Iulia Ciobanu, who creates an eccentric yet accessible brand of bedroom pop, with vocal stylings that call to mind such artists as Mitski and early St. Vincent. From what I can tell, she recorded music as a solo act for the first four years or so, beginning with the release of her debut single “Rosary, Mon Cherie” in January 2017. She followed with her debut album Sleep Depraved that September, and in the years since, has released several more singles. This year, Cherry Blaster expanded to a three-piece with the addition of musicians Scott Given and Tasker Hull, and on October 20th, they dropped their new single “New Age“. Recorded by Tasker Hull, and artfully mixed and mastered by Turner Wiggington, the song features quirky, sci-fi electronic sounds layered over skittering beats and subtle synth bass. Iulia’s soft vocals have a dreamy and otherworldly sing-song feel that perfectly complements the music.

“New Age” is about navigating the transition from your 20s to 30s, a milestone that causes great emotional angst for some (for me, turning 50 was a rough milestone). Iulia elaborates “Whether the bigger source of this fear was external or internal, as I approached my thirties, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my ‘time was up’ as an aspiring musician. One morning in my late twenties I woke up from a dream in which my silver hairs were turning pink and I was struck by the image. I turned this into a song that extended the dream into an alternate reality where I could transform myself into a forever young cyborg. Over the next few years, the song’s deeper meaning about self-acceptance through aging coalesced with the original idea to result in an all-pink, soft-sci-fi music video that ended up being shot the day before my 30th birthday.

The imaginative video, created by Isaac Roberts, Mick Robertson, and Alex Filtsos, and filmed in mostly pink and white hues, brings the song to a surreal life.

Connect with Cherry Blaster:  FacebookTwitterInstagramTik Tok

“Terminal” by Cuffed Up

Cuffed Up is a four-piece band from Los Angeles who play an exciting and emotive style of music they describe as “sad punk”. Formed in 2019 by guitarists/vocalists Ralph Torrefranca and Sapphire Jewell out of their shared love of the British post punk scene, they were soon joined by bassist Vic Ordonez and drummer Joe Liptock to complete the lineup. Their bold, edgy sound has been favorably compared with the likes of 90’s bands Sonic Youth and The Pixies, as well as modern day acts Wolf Alice and IDLES. They released their debut double-A single “Mother/Father + Small Town Kid” in July 2019, then had the good fortune of opening for Los Angeles alt-rock band Silversun Pickups in a series of shows in 2020. They subsequently followed up with a single “French Exit” and a self-titled EP. Their songs have garnered support and airplay on renowned Seattle station KEXP and Los Angeles NPR station KCRW, as well as BBC radio in the UK, and they’ve also been featured in NMEDIY Magazine and The Line Of Best Fit

On October 22, they dropped their latest EP Asymmetry, via Royal Mountain Records, along with a dark but entertaining video for one of the EP’s tracks “Terminal“. Featuring four tracks, the EP was produced and mixed by Brad Wood, and mastered by Hans DeKline. “Terminal” was inspired by Ralph’s experience with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), as he explains: “I suffer from serious OCD that is borderline crippling at times. I wanted to write a song that projects the anxiety and irrational thoughts that my body and mind go through during my worst ‘episodes’. The first chorus is a cry for help. It’s the dark place where my mind goes when the health OCD is at its worst; I’m convinced I’m going to die today and the universe has already decided this for me, and I have no control over this. The final chorus is when the irrational thoughts are pulled back down to earth and I manage to ground myself through meditation.” Musically, the song is highlighted by a rousing mix of jangly and gnarly guitars layered over driving rhythms, accompanied by Ralph and Sapphire’s soaring vocal harmonies.

The video, directed by Ben Mehlman and filmed by Colin Oh, shows the band performing the song wearing hospital gowns, with a guest appearance by Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups as a doctor who treats each band member/patient, but ends up leaving them all in worse shape than he found them. About the making of the video, Torrefranca notes: “”Brian had such a great vibe to be around! He turned our long shooting day into a really fun hang and played the doctor perfectly.

Connect with Cuffed Up:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

“Turnover Rate” by Notelle

Notelle (the music moniker of singer-songwriter Stephanie Middleton) is an immensely talented and hard-working artist based in the music city of Nashville. Since she began working in 2014 with DJs and music producers around the globe as both a songwriter and featured vocalist, her collaborations have accumulated more than 23 million streams on Spotify alone, have appeared on numerous Spotify and Apple playlists, and garnered millions of plays on YouTube, as well as coverage on Sirius XM Radio and EDM.com.

Beginning in 2018, Notelle started focusing more on her solo career, blending her love of dirty, chest-compressing low end and rhythmic, percussive synths with her beautiful otherworldly-sounding vocals to create her own sound she calls “nightmare pop”. In less than four years, she’s released an astonishing 14 singles, one of which, “Beyond the Grave”, I reviewed in 2019. Her latest single is “Turnover Rate” a dark song she describes as “the alternative love child of Nine Inch Nails and Mutemath”. She combines eerie industrial synths with jagged riffs of gritty guitars and chugging bass to create an ominous soundscape for her enchanting vocal drones that sound a bit like Alice Merton singing a Billie Eilish song. 

The lyrics are sung from the perspective of a former victim witnessing someone’s self-destructive and self-protective patterns. Notelle elaborated to the music blog Lefuturewave on her inspiration for writing the song: “I’ve known people throughout my life that refuse to grow. They’re self-centered, self-serving, and self-destructive. Everyone knows someone like this, so I’m not unique in that – but I’ve known my fair share. Some of them I’ve dated, some of them I’ve stayed away from, but this song is really about watching those people continue their broken cycles of living, you know? Like wash, rinse, repeat their toxicity. First, they find a community, convince everyone that they’re kind, or compassionate, or a genuine person, but eventually, that facade cracks. Then instead of sticking around to mend the relationships they’ve so casually broken, they burn the bridge to the whole lot of them and start over with a new group of people—every couple of months, every couple of years, every couple of seasons. It’s astonishing really.” And so, I must add, is this song!

Connect with Notelle:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

NOTELLE – Single Review: “Beyond the Grave”

notelle-BTG

Nashville, Tennessee-based Notelle is a hard-working and talented music artist who, over the past five years or so, has been making quite a name for herself in the music capital and beyond. Working with DJs and music producers around the globe as both a writer and vocalist, her collaborations have accumulated more than six million streams on Spotify, have been featured on numerous Spotify and Apple playlists, and received over four million plays on YouTube, as well as coverage on Sirius XM Radio and EDM.com.

More recently, Notelle has been focusing on her solo career, spending the past year perfecting her sound – which she calls “heavy, messy pop” – with the assistance of producer Timothy Ryssemus of Altru Creative. Combining her love for dirty, chest-compressing low end and rhythmic, percussive synths with her gorgeous commanding vocals, she’s thus far created five superb singles that really showcase her musical gifts. Her stunning debut solo single,“Power”, premiered on local Nashville radio station Lightning 100’s The 615, while her third single “Out Of Love” was selected as a DJ pick and placed in regular rotation.

At the end of August, Notelle dropped her latest single, “Beyond The Grave“, where she explores a grittier, harder sound than her previous works. Straying from traditional song structures, she fuses elements of Appalachian folk melodies with driving industrial synths and deep bass, producing a dark and dramatic soundscape for her haunting vocals.

The track opens with her soft, breathy a capella vocals, then deep, pulsating bass and strong, percussive beats ensue, creating an ominous, yet incredibly seductive vibe. At about 1:20, the bass drops and a throbbing EDM beat grabs us by the hips, compelling us to move while Notelle’s vocals turn more urgent as she implores: “I find darkness so comforting. It hides the shadows I beg not to see again. Let me be your prey or virtue. If you leave me, let me grieve you. Sweetest love is the love we take. I’ll hold you from beyond the grave.” It’s a brilliant and beautiful track.

About the song’s lyrics, Notelle explained I have always been attracted to folklore about tragic love and loss. There is something about a ‘haunting’ that appeals to me. The idea that your longing for someone else can become so ingrained into your soul, that when your body passes on, the severity of the love and the loss stays behind and lingers – that’s so unbelievably interesting. It’s become a piece of your being. It’s almost as if there is no separation between what you feel and who you are, no way to disassociate from someone else’s crippling desperation for you or your desire for them…even after you’re gone. How can such an intense connection with another soul NOT leave some type of divine mark? Just because desire isn’t tangible, doesn’t mean it can’t take on a life of its own – maybe it gets stuck in some tragic loop in the afterlife.

To learn more about Notelle, check out her website
Connect with her on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream her music on  Spotify / Soundcloud Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes / Google Play