Reinvention or Reimagination: Sho Humphries Urges Us to “Dream Again”

Posted on:

Before embarking on his next great adventure, Austin ukulele sensation Sho Humphries made sure to bestow his loving local community with a parting gift. Sho’s debut EP Dream Again is a triumph of creativity, an exploration of sound and style from a young musician whose bravery surpasses even his immense talents.

In Sho’s nimble hands, the ukulele is transformed. Empowered. Liberated. He embraces the instrument as something far beyond its simplistic representation in public perception—more than a toy, more than an instrument for beachside celebration and casual singalongs, the ukulele is an embodiment of possibility itself. In Sho’s hands, the ukulele seems infinite, irrepressible. It breathes water and whispers fire and sings of a bright tomorrow.

The growth showcased between earlier releases and this new EP are striking. Sho’s 2017 instrumental album Making Summer Memories flirted with musical expressionism, pushing and pulling at the boundaries of expectation while staying firmly rooted in a larger framework for what ukulele music is and can be. Opening track “It’s Shotime!” is a notable exception, its near-frantic urgency and rock-and-roll aesthetic harbingers of both Sho’s sonic fearlessness and profound, near-brooding pensiveness. The rest of the album tends toward bright and buoyant, though the assertive percussiveness of each strike sometimes seem to belie an underlying (and typically teenage) impatience.

2020 single Love You! was the virtuoso’s first foray into electronic looping, his airy, math rock-y riffs given ample room to breathe and, in turn, breathing life into a lo-fi trend threatening to sedate swaths of the younger generation. The track showcases a young musician at peace with the process of finding peace — more patient, perhaps in love with the simple joy of making music. The chorus is endearingly heartfelt, and all the more powerful for it: “Breathe in, breathe in/Love out, love in.”

 With the Dream Again EP, Sho emerges more confident, more hopeful, that familiar sense of urgency appearing again but tempered now by faith in himself and the future. He is more accomplished than ever on the ukulele itself — every finger-picked run impeccable, every strum irresistible. But the sentiment underlying each song feels more profound, more mature, more complex. What might once have felt like emotional reactions are transformed into careful reflections and reimaginations.

The echoing, atmospheric emptiness of the title track slowly evolves, swelling with elegantly amplified ukulele riffs that complement, rather than overpower, Sho’s stirring baritone (on debut!). Tight songwriting and a deep appreciation for the power of empty space cultivate in a wonderfully distorted crescendo, with Sho’s direct poeticism lending a sense of urgency to Sho’s pleas for the world to “dream again,” to build a better future and to avoid our own mutually assured destruction.

A return to Sho’s sonic roots — hopeful, determined, vibrant — “Rising Hope” builds on that momentum. It is the song of rebirth and reimagination, the sound of grass beginning to grow again as a new sun shines a light on far-off horizons. There is a sadness of sorts underpinning it all, a recognition that new beginnings demand their own sacrifices — what once might have been innocent idealism is tempered by an acceptance of reality that makes Sho’s resolute optimism all the more impactful.

Vision and imagination, determination and dynamism — these are traits we desperately need in our younger generations, who we have collectively burdened with so much responsibility and expectation. Armed with his ukulele and a searching spirit, Sho Humphries is stepping into the world ready to make a change.

 — Adam Wood


Summer Playlist Bingo

Posted on:

 The time is almost here for summer fun! And for summer fun, you need summer music! As in, summer music conveniently organized in playlist form! Obviously! As in a MASSIVE EIGHT-HOUR-PLUS SPOTIFY PLAYLIST of songs both old and new (but mostly new) that have a summer theme, or a summer vibe, or an "I’m playing this while it’s summer" thing going on! And then, after you’ve taken a sick day off from work and risked getting fired to listen to the Spotify playlist, you can spend untold hours more viewing the custom-made YouTube playlist below–cleverly titled Beach Blanket Bedlam–which includes not only a bunch of cool music videos (and not very much overlap with the Spotify playlist) but also all kinds of wacky commercials and film trailers and news segments and other visual ephermera tied to summer somehow.

Wait. What? What’s that you say? It’s almost over? Summer’s almost over? Uhhhhh whut?

Well, I guess summer is almost over. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy some beach-appropriate-music while you’re raking leaves and baking pies and crying salty tears into the homemade crust you made for the pie because fall is here and summer is over. IT’S OVER!! JUST DEAL!!

What, what? Ahhhh, ok. So summer doesn’t end for almost a month. On September 21, you say? And it doesn’t even end "unofficially" until after next weekend and Labor Day. So yeah, then…..Better get out there now! HURRY! Summer fun is waning!! FUN FUN FUN FUN!!!! You’re on a summer countdown clock dammit so better get to work!

And hey, along these lines, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Rockaway Beach at 94th Street (Queens, NYC) on Sunday 8/29 you can get in some last seasonal jollies at the NO NEW WAVE FEST 2 which FEATURES SIX HIGH QUALITY LOCAL BANDS playing live on the boardwalk starting at 2PM. And yeah, OK, it’s not exactly supposed to be sunny. But it’s not supposed to rain either. And since beggars can’t be choosers esp when there’s only about a week (or three weeks, or who-the-hell-knows-how-long….) left to Summer 2021 you’d better just get out there dammit!! 

P.S. And here’s one last thought re: "things you should do" while I’m handing out orders here —-> You should follow THEE DELI on Instagram if you don’t already. Because if you did, you woulda already known about the two playlists above weeks ago. And while you may live your life with regret until next summer knowing what-could-have-been you never know there may be a Fall or Winter playlist in the making. (Jason Lee)


Single premiere: Nihiloceros preps for imminent self-destruction with “Dirty Homes”

Posted on:

It’s one thing to know that the end will come one day (easy enough to ignore) but it’s another to know when that day will come (not so easy to ignore). The new single put out today by Brooklyn-based three-piece Nihiloceros (“Dirty Homes”) is based around the latter condition which Dr. Nessa Coyle, co-editor of The Nature of Suffering and The Oxford Textbook of Palliative Care Nursing, both of which make for excellent beach reads, has termed the “existential slap” i.e. the very moment where a soon-to-arrive demise is realized and internalized alongside the attendant trauma likely to follow a time-stamped death sentence.

Despite being something best-avoided in real life, the “existential slap” is a popular plot device in the movies like in all those ticking-clock-countdown-to-a-life-or-death-deadline type films, even if many of them cop out and allow the hero to live at the last minute. Existential slap movies also tap into our curiosity of how we’d react if we learned we’ve got only one year or maybe just 24 hours left to live, just like Ethan Hawke in that movie from a few years ago called (*ahem*) 24 Hours To Live. But my personal fave in this genre is Miracle Mile, an obscure 1988 film that’s grown a cult following over the years due to what Black Mirror sicko-satirist Charlie Brooker once labelled “the biggest lurch of tone” of any movie ever.  

Basically (warning: skip this paragraph if you hate tangents and/or spoilers) the movie starts off as a quirky “meet cute” rom-com that’s just about as Totally ‘80s as they come. And then it ends with our nerdy-adorable couple slowly sinking into the La Brea Tar Pits in a crashed helicopter as nuclear bombs rain down on Los Angeles (a surprisingly tender scene believe it or not). But most of the movie revolves around the existential bitchslap that arrives about 30 minutes in when Anthony Edwards first finds out (before anyone else) that nuclear armageddon is on its way in about an hour or so, and all the batshit crazy shit that transpires as a result.

But hey we’re here to talk about music, right? (thanks for the reminder!) While not on the same level as movies there are at least a few well-known albums (concept albums, natch) that deal with this very same theme—notable examples being Megadeth’s Countdown To Extinction, the Del/Dan/Kid underground hip hop classic Deltron 3030, and of course David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars which opens with the conceit of being down to “five years left to cry in” before the end.

But a “concept EP” that takes the existential slap as its central conceit, well this is breaking new ground. And Nihiloceros have done just that with Self Destroy (released digitally on 9/17 and then physically on 10/1 from Totally Real Records) perhaps the world’s first “existential slap EP” (make that “ESEP”) and there’s no bisexual rock aliens falling to Earth to spread moorage daydreams before the inevitable rock ’n’ roll suicide in the Nihiloceros’s rendition. Instead, we have a six-song self-described meditation on “the imminent evolutionary unraveling of the human condition and the absurdity of the end of the world” which obviously should make for good beach listening.

And guess what “Dirty Homes” is the lead-off track on the EP so we got a sneak preview now of how it all begins. Eschewing any “meet cute” gambits, the song instead charges into your earholes with a needle drop straight into a rush of Superchunky distorted intertwining bass and guitar and propulsive beating of skins (Chris Gilroy on the skins as well as production/engineering/mixing duties, whereas Siberian transplant German Sent handles current live drumming duties, got it?) and an eerie high-register melody. Meanwhile, right off the bat the narrator faces “youth erod[ing]” and “ages torn down” and the impending demise of humanity (difficult to imagine, no?) and just like Anthony Edwards in the phone booth scene above, humanity’s first reaction is flat out denial. When we talked the other day guitarist/lyricist Mike Borchardt called the song a “fairy tale vs. reality” type fableand that seems about right because the cognitive dissonance is palpable in both the lyrics and music.

Contrasting the titular “dirty homes” with pristine “white cathedrals” it seems humanity may have miscalculated in not taking better care of the places where we actually live (the dirty homes in question) instead tending to ritual spaces where we imagine our ideal selves as looked after by a beneficent god (this could be any type of “god” or "gods" take your pick). As further described in the lyrics through snatches of arresting imagery, we’ve travelled to the point of no return on “the yellow bricks [that] lead to Rome” and well now I’m picturing Dorothy hooking up with Caligula and bringing the whole gang along to a gladiator match (you know the Cowardly Lion is freaking the fuck out) followed by an imperial orgy (every tried to have sex with a scarecrow?) which all ends in chaos of course. 

Likewise on the musical side of the things the song swings between extremes—the bouyant melodies of the verses masking apocalyptical imagery of locked jaws and rusted suns and “cities built on your cries” that is until the song gets stuck in its own groove with our narrator repeating “YOU! YOU! YOU! YOU!” in the chorus in an echo of the egotism and individualism and freedom-to-be-stupid-but-fully-satiated-at-all-times-at-all-costs that got us into this end times mess in the first place. Then later there’s a breakdown section (talk about literal!) and finally an outro that opens with a nice crunchy ’n’ catchy guitar solo that soon unravels into swelling sonic murk and doomsday countdown-clock rhythms before glitching out and ending on a bass and guitar single-note that hisses and crackles like a burnt out element. 

And if this all sounds a little on the dismal side it’s not so much really because much like Miracle Mile the songs on Self Destroy are the musical equivalent of action set pieces, adrenalized and strangly exhilarated by impending doom (thought don’t get me wrong “the shit goes down”) and plus the band creates such a powerful slab-of-sound that you’ll likely be mesmerized anyway—at times I still can’t tell which parts are bass or guitar, nevermind theremin or effects-laden Rhodes piano—which could be down in part to bassist/co-vocalist Alex Hoffman designing a custom line of pedals for the record (!) that’ll be available to the buying public at some point (plus an entire line of tie-in hot sauces, I shit you not) so check out “Dirty Homes” for now and then clean up your pig-sty why don’tcha and then get ready to blast off when Self Destroy drops because, well, it’s gonna be “a thrill ride into oblivion” (potential pull quote!) and you may as well sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds as it goes down. (Jason Lee)


Single Premiere: Sneezy “Not Sorry”

Posted on:

We are proud to be able to premiere the first single, "Not Sorry", from the forthcoming album, Open Doors, from the Jam Band Sneezy.

The album, which is due out later this year via Color Red Records, was recorded during the pandemic while the group was forced to take a break from touring.

Speaking of touring, the eight member group will be hitting the road starting August 28th in Charlotte, NC. You can find all of their tour dates here.


Wingtips “Wish U The Best”

Posted on:

Dream Pop duo Wingtips recently the released the fourth and final single, "Wish U The Best", from their forthcoming sophomore album, Cutting Room Floor, which is due out on September 3rd via Artoffact Records.

This is work of Vincent Segretario and Hannah Avalon, and the duo will be kicking off a tour on August 28th at Hangar 9 in Carbondale, IL.


Colatura release “King Kalm” and invite you for a ride

Posted on:

There was once a band called the Ramones who wrote a song about wanting to be sedated but the song itself sounded anything but sedated because, well, those guys spent a lot of time in a van together and, well, just imagine spending half your life trapped in a van with Dee Dee, Johnny and Joey (and whoever happened to be the drummer at the time) and you know that shit was far from sedate.

Based on the new single and video released today by New York City band Colatura (the song in question being “King Kalm” which also happens to be about wanting to be sedated) I actually don’t think I’d mind riding around in a van with Digo, Jennica, Meredith, and Alex especially if they brought along their gorilla suit, skateboard, and prescription meds and played more songs like this one on the van’s tape deck or 8-track player featuring chiming swirly guitars and synths swells and gently insistent bass/drums all topped off with gossamer overlapping airy vocals to the point where if this was 1987 or even 1993 it’d probably get you signed to Sarah Records on the spot and it would definitely make you feel sedated.

However, upon further inspection, I should mention that should the band Colatura drive up next to you in a sketchy looking van and offer you a ride to your destination along with some unwrapped candy then you may want to think twice because once you dig under the surface of “King Khan” (lyrics here) you’ll find it’s actually a song about battling anxiety and loss and regret and finding that the only way to do so is through some combination of denial, self-harm (if scab picking counts that is) and (wait for it…) drugs. So while your trip in the van probably won’t be stressful on the level of Dee Dee pulling a big Bowie knife on Johnny after the latter called his girlfriend a skank, instead you may be faced with four minds full of worry (and, who knows, possibly some passive-aggressiveness followed by a long icy silence) so maybe you’re better off just walking. But you can at least put their beautiful new song on your headphones. (Jason Lee)


Dehd “Desire” (Lala Lala Remix)

Posted on:

Dehd has released a second single, "Desire" (Lala Lala Remix), from their forthcoming remix album, Flower of Devotion Remixed.

The remix album will be released on September 17th and you can catch them live at Pitchfork Music Fest on September 10th.

The group will be touring this Fall in support of Julien Baker and you can find all of the dates here.


Pet Symmetry “Future Suits”

Posted on:

Pet Symmetry has released a new album called "Future Suits". The album features the lead single "2021: A Personal Space Odyssey" which is accompanied by the video below.

This is the trio Erik Czaja, Marcus Nuccio, Evan Weiss, and you can catch them on Sept 16th at Riot Fest.