On the Radar – Glass Animals

“Twee vole go dig your hole/Squish squirmies in your nose/Tree hairs in your eyes/You smile so super quiet.” I have heard some strange lyrics before, but none as poetically odd as the ones featured in the song “Wyrd” by Glass Animals. Dave Bayley, the lead singer, is a genius when writing intriguing lyrics that’ll make your ears tickle with delight. Of course, the music itself is enough to do that.

Glass Animals are an English indie rock band that have entranced many due to their hip-hop inspired beats and trippy tunes. It all started in St. Edwards School in Oxford when Bayley would occasionally spend his free time writing songs and lyrics. It wasn’t until after college that he was able to convince his friends to start a band with him. Despite never being in a band before, Drew MacFarlane, Edmund Irwin-Singer, and Joe Seaward joined him by playing guitar, bass, and drums respectively. In 2012, they released their first EP Leaflings which caught the attention of producer Paul Epworth (Foster the People, Bloc Party, Crystal Castles, etc.). From there, they proceeded to work on their first album.

Their debut album Zaba was met with great reviews by critics, and it was well worth the praise too. Zaba happens to be one of my favorite albums because of the curiously phrased lyrics and minimalistic, psychedelic instrumental compositions. Zaba is exotic with a very jungle infused theme rhythmically all the while being a bit seductive with its soft, somewhat electronic ballads. The creatively made ambient sounds throughout the album are enough to make you want to really listen to what’s actually happening. It’s rare to find an album where all the songs are likable and mesh together so well, and yet Zaba does this almost effortlessly. “Gooey”, one of the band’s more popular songs, is deeply R&B inspired with some weird verses such as “Right my little pooh bear, wanna take a chance?/Wanna sip the smooth air, kick it in the sand?/I’ll say I told you so but you just gonna cry/You just wanna know those peanut butter vibes.” “Hazey” is a soothingly simple song filled with pops and snaps that make it hard not to dance to.

How To Be a Human Being, the band’s second album, was released earlier this year being the complete opposite of what Zaba was. It wasn’t shrouded in mystery or a dreamy atmosphere. On the contrary, their lyrics were more straight-forward, the tone was happier, and it felt like more of a groovy indie pop album. They decided to take a different approach and make a concept album where each song is a story about a different character. “Life Itself” for example takes the listener through a peculiar man’s life and the downward spiral it takes because he refuses to live in reality. “Youth” is a bittersweet melody about a parent giving up their child in hopes that they will live a better life. “Mama’s Gun” is a particular favorite from the album because of the sweet flute samples from The Carpenters and Bayley’s delicate vocals contrasting with the morbid subject matter of a woman with a mental illness, probably schizophrenia, murdering her husband.

Glass Animals are slightly weird and mesmerizing. They have the ability to awaken your senses by painting a vivid picture with their songs. The amount of detail they put into their music is so amazing that it deserves to be listened to on a nice pair of headphones or a speaker to really appreciate it. If you are ever in the mood for calm yet whimsical music, I say Glass Animals is a must.

On Your Radar – Mutemath

Dapperly dressed and unbelievably energetic, I discovered Mutemath when I stumbled across a curious video for a song called “Typical.” The video starts with a man in a gray button down and red bow tie playing some power chords on a guitar. He slowly starts backing away to reveal a somewhat chaotic looking scene around him. Brightly colored paint and post it notes littered the floor of this monochrome room. More band mates start to appear, but each of them seem to move a little peculiarly. It’s a little odd, until I realize that the band is performing the song backwards. The music video intrigued me enough to make me want to find out more about this band.

Mutemath started as a collaboration project between singer Paul Meany and drummer Darren King in 2002 when Meany was still in his previous band named Earthsuit. King would send Meany some demos and remixes he had done. Meany liked the work King did and started a correspondence with him where they would go back and forth exchanging new songs. Soon after, King moved to New Orleans to put more dedication into this project. With the addition of Greg Hill on guitar, later replaced by Todd Gummerman, and Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas on bass, this small collaboration evolved into an actual band.

Experimentation has always been key for this alternative rock band. They are constantly striving to find new and innovative ways to create extraordinary music. It’s fascinating to watch some of their “behind-the-scenes” videos because their determination and creativity are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. They’ll tweak with samples many times before committing to something they like. Sometimes it involves slowing down or speeding up an instrument to the point where it’s nearly unrecognizable. The result is a fantastically composed, multilayered song.

I find myself drawn to Mutemath because of their uniqueness and incredible performances. Songs like “Typical” and “Spotlight” are upbeat and lively rock tracks to jam to. “Pins and Needles” offer a calmer almost somber side to Mutemath as Meany delicately sings, “And I’m growing fond of broken people/As I see that I am one of them.” While they have many great songs, “Clipping” has to be a personal favorite of mine. Throughout the song, loops of a distorted piano parallel with cheerier sounding piano notes as it builds up to a beautiful violin solo.

 Mutemath’s recent album Vitals is a testament to how much this band has evolved. Vastly different from their previous album Odd Soul, which was more of a soulful/bluesy album, Vitals shows off an invigorated new Mutemath with more synths and a more indie pop vibe. Meany really opens up to fans as his songwriting is more honest than ever on this album. “Composed” talks about trying to find peace during panic attacks while “Used To” deals with letting go of a toxic relationship.

Despite the fully transparent lyrics, there are songs on the album that lighten up the mood. “Monument” for example, is a euphoric celebration of a couple’s love. It is a perfect combination of poppy rhythm and joyful synths.

Filled with optimism and spirit, Mutemath doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. They recently finished touring with Twenty One Pilots and just released a remix album consisting of new versions of songs from Vitals. Mutemath’s hard work and dedication is admirable and well worth the listen.


On Your Radar: Bad Suns

The moment I first heard the band Bad Suns, I became completely entranced with their music. There was something hypnotic about them that drew me in. Whether it was the singer’s soothing voice or their dreamy melodies, Bad Suns had me craving more.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Bad Suns is comprised of lead vocalist Christo Bowman, bassist Gavin Bennett, drummer Miles Morris, and guitarist Ray Libby. The band is often described as 80’s new wave as they tend to get comparisons to iconic rock artists of the 80’s such as Depeche Mode or Elvis Costello. It’s no surprise considering Bowman grew up in a very musical household where he became inspired by the records his father would introduce to him. He was so inspired that he learned how to play guitar and started writing his own songs. This would later help him when the band released their debut album.

Language & Perspective was a great introduction for the indie pop band. It set the stage for the young musicians and showed people they were ready to enter the music scene. The first single “Cardiac Arrest” put the artist on the map with its mellow, almost beach like vibe. Bowman ingeniously compares extreme feelings one might have towards another person to a cardiac arrest. “Sleep Paralysis” is a personal favorite from the album as the band finds a way to make this song pleasurable yet disjointed.

With the attention they gained from their first album, Bad Suns began touring with The 1975 and The Neighbourhood as opening acts. After many months of touring, Bad Suns released their second album Disappear Here earlier this year on September 16. Sophomore albums can be a little tricky for some bands because they’ve already developed a fan base and expectations are raised. This seemed to be no problem for them as Disappear Here is a perfect successor to Language & Perspective. The songs are catchier and have more of a depth to them. The opening and title track for the album “Disappear Here” is a nice welcome back to the band with an upbeat rhythm. Bowman has an extra zing in this song especially evident during the chorus. “Heartbreaker” touches on a feeling that many young adults experience: the fear of failed relationships. He pretends that he’s okay and can go on without her, but it’s an act.

Bad Suns is a modern, retro sounding band filled with spirit. Their honest, sometimes cynical, lyrics not only make them relatable, but prove that they too are learning how to navigate life. With the amount of optimistic energy they bring to their music, it’s a band that I consistently find myself putting on repeat.