national

National Site

Moon Kissed have something important to tell you and right now may be a good time to listen

Released earlier this Fall (shades of Milton’s Paradise Lost entirely intentional given recent trends) the second full-length by Moon Kissed, called I’d Like To Tell You Something Important (its title a callback to their first record) is a deeply human fusion of contradictory yet complimentary impulses—ranging from its chew-you-up-and-spit-you-out opener “Bubblegum” (“chew you up you're just like bubble gum / I’ll spit you out when I’m done”) to its chew-me-up-and-spit-me-out closer “Chameleon” (“Chameleon, I’ll change for you / I’ll do what you want me to / until I don’t know who I am”) a dialectical lyricism mirrored by Emily, Khaya and Leah's impressively wide-ranging musical palette—skipping like a stone across songs featuring sweet poptimistic flirtation, grinding electro trepidation, epic party-anthem-ification, hushed diary-entry introspection, operatic power-ballad salvation, stripped-down spoken-word elucidation. and last-call-for-alcohol piano-bar romantic resignation.

But no matter how varied the emotional and sonic landscape, it all comes across as a coherent statement—to the extent that raw, urgent passion can be considered “coherent" but let's not get off track here—with the full tapestry of the LP woven together by the consistently ultra-vivid, ultra-visceral nature of the songwriting and arrangements. Indeed, it seems Moon Kissed have got something important to tell us after all. 

Not to knock their first record at all (2019’s I Met My Band At A New Years Eve Party and I stand by my earlier statement that  “Runaway” should by rights be widely known as one of the top bops from the past several years) but in the interim Moon Kissed have taken things to the next level when it comes to making even their more synth-heavy numbers feel entirely organic to the point where practically every song feels like it’s about to crawl out of its own skin, whether due to anticipation or anxiety, dread or desire, morphing and mutating from one moment to the next, a quality that applies equally to Khaya’s vocalizing and also to the production work on ILTTYSI (and even to more lo-fi numbers like how on "Chameleon" the audibly squeaky piano sustain pedal makes you feel like you're sitting there in the same room where it's being performed) a sonic elasticity that helps account for how all the synthetic and organic textures blend together so seamlessly on the record (including the stark cowbell part on "Saturday Night" that nearly rescues the instrument from sketch comedy hell).

What’s more, I’d Like To Tell You Something Important coheres not just musically but also thematically, organized around a central theme of pleasure and its (dis)contents. Or, as Moon Kissed themselves put it on the penultimate track “Bender,” “Let me try to make this better / Let me evaluate my pleasures,” which is a song that both Lady Gaga and Lin Manuel-Miranda must desperately wish they’d written. Except they'd each probably choose to repeat the final rousing chorus a couple more times (at least) so kudos to Moon Kissed for displaying the restraint and self-confidence to leave us wanting more. 

Anyway, safe to say, many permutations of pleasure appear across the album’s 35-minute run time, not only in terms of the most simple-minded mission to “have a good time, all the time” but also in terms of the oft-overlooked complexities of pleasure--whether pleasure as politics (gender politics in particular), pleasure as escapism, pleasure as transcendence, pleasure as power, pleasure as surrender, pleasure as spiritual and/or psychological and/or physical salvation. In a word, pleasure! 

And Moon Kissed don’t limit their pleasure explorations only to making records either. Because their live shows bring an even bigger dose of pleasure to audiences with fearless heart-on-sleeve, inhibitions-stripped-away abandon and a determination to have a good time all the time. On this note, over the past several weeks Moon Kissed have undertaken a three-week residency at the Ridgewood, Queens D.I.Y. spot known as Trans-Pecos with each of the three shows organized around the theme of “Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice” with each ingredient engaged sequentially. (first show “Sugar,” second show “Spice,” etc.)



Except that the triptych-concluding “Everything Nice” event scheduled for tonight was cancelled/postponed out of an abundance of Omicron caution. And to think that tonight's opener Kate Davis should’ve been taking the stage right about now if not for that pesky mutating virus. But on the plus side at least it gives you more time to work on putting together a truly impactful outfit for Everything Nice, whenever it happens to happen, with potential inspirations including (quoting directly from the party flyer here) "poodle skirts, kitten heels, 50s fantasy housewife with a beard, 50s working husband but with a thong, sexism as an outfit, strap ons, breast plate, drag make up, curlers" and I’m gonna go ahead and add "cha-cha heels" to the list cuz I doubt they'd mind and I'm secretly hoping to receive a pair for Christmas.

Which brings us to one last newly-relevant-yet-again-selling-point for ILTTYSI which is that it’s a great lockdown listen, an album conceived and recorded in part during lockdown numero uno or are we still keeping count—meet the new year, same as the old year—that's chock full of the frustrated pent-up passion that's highly familiar to the socially-distanced set by now, besieged as we are by “lonel[iness] and heavy memories [that] linger like a gymnast on a beam that isn’t steady” prone to “walking off cliffs in [our] dreams / wak[ing] up in sweat and it’s hard to breath” counterbalanced by coping skills such as “buying…ice cream to see if it gets better / but nothing’s getting better at all” and finally resigned to the fact that “if the world is about to blow / [we] may as well lose control” to loosely paraphrase various lines from the album. 

And yeah I’m probably making it sound like a pretty despairing set of tunes but it’s really not—there’s plenty of life-affirming lyrics as well (“we should run around the city / everybody kissing everyone / cuz we all know what we all want”) not to mention the overall inspiring live-wire intensity of the music. In fact it’s one of the most life-affirming albums this writer has heard in a while.



So maybe just settle in for the evening, change into your best club duds and put on I’d Like To Tell You Something Important and then dance around your bedroom like it’s Your Own Private Idaho for the rest of the night (and the next night, and the next night) and when you get tired of ILTTYSI you can put on Moon Kissed’s single from earlier this year called “Clubbing In Your Bedroom” and its crowd-sourced, quarantine-themed music video and rave on for the rest of the night or the rest of your life. (Jason Lee) 

 

   

Squirrel Flower "Unravel"

Squirrel Flower (aka Ella Williams) recently released the first single, "Unravel", from her forthcoming EP, "Planet", which is due out via Polyvinyl on January 28th.

"Unravel" is a cover of the classic 1997 song by Bjork, and was released along with another track from the EP called "Ruby at Dawn".

Williams is planning a tour this Spring that will be taking her across the US and around the world. You can catch her performing at Schubas on February 20th with Christelle Bofale.

   

Michele Thomas "No More"

Michele Thomas has released the first single and opening track, "No More", from her forthcoming album The Assumption which is due out on January 18th.

This is a blend of Gospel, Soul, and Jazz as Thomas pulls from her roots as the daughter of Preacher to bring forth an inspirational message.

For this project she is joined by Darren Scorza (Drums, percussion & organ), Clark Sommers (Bass), Neal Alger (Guitar), Chris Mahieu (Piano, Rhodes & Wurlitzer), Jeff Hedberg (Trumpet), Chris Greene (Alto & Soprano Saxophones), and Davin Youngs (Background Vocals).

   

Jordanna "The Full Story"

Jordanna has released a new album called "The Full Story". The new project features contributions from Mother Nature, Yasmine Mifdal, and DJ SKOLi, and it pulls together several of her past single with a handful of outstanding new tracks.

One of our favorite tracks on the album, "untitled (chicago)", was released back in October of 2020 and is accompanied by the video below.

   

Lance Skiiiwalker "Save My Number"

Singer and Producer Lance Skiiiwalker has released the second installment in his new EP series, "Tales From The Telescope Chapter 2: Internal Shine"

The five song EP kicks off with a collaboration with his labelmate SiR called "Peso", but the EP's lead single features a contribution from Mia Gladstone. The new single is called "Save My Number" and is accompanied by the video below.