New Music: Friday Roll Out! With Planet Giza, Golden Daze, Volcano

Who even realizes we’re in February? Well I do here. Every week I find myself even more balanced, but I still find distractions to the left and right of me. It’s the day after Valentine’s which means two things in 2019: You’re at work with a LOT of extra chocolate from the day before and…CZARFACE MEETS GHOSTFACE drops today. I refrained from writing about the album though because, well, we all know what it’s about, and that’s sheer dopeness. Everything you expect from it is what you get. ‘Nuff said.
Anyone ever have that “WTF” moment where you’re completely unable to classify something as being one thing, yet several, and completely singular? Well yes, that’s the moment I find solace in confusion because I know I can’t be the only one. While it’s clear the San Diego band steeps it’s feet in psychedelia, they take a varied approach to music with beautiful harmonies over their constructed jams, allowing Latin rhythms, or afro-centric ones – it depends on your perspective because they are in fact synonymous at times. The band features members of Harsh Toke, Joy, Loom, and Radio Moscow but that doesn’t mean Volcano’s identity is smothered by that of it’s predecessors. The band holds a tight identity all to itself.
As soon as The Island(Tee Pee Records) opens with “Naked Prey” we all get the sense the band isn’t here to take things on a lite communal journey, allowing listeners to eventually get wrapped in the musical notes. Nope, the band opts to pull in listeners tightly around, never allowing any breathing room. But dance mother fucker! Dance! Zachary Oakley’s guitar, mixed with Billy Ellsworth’s throbbing bass never seem to miss a beat, propelled by Matt Oakley’s drums & Ake Arndt’s percussion, as singer/keyboardist Gabe Messer’s delivery is surreal but warranted here. While the band takes a jam session approach, things are far from being loosely knit. In fact, one could say it’s tighter than a muskrat’s ass. The title track follows, with more percussion laying the foundation and the band quickly builds around it as Z. Oak’s guitar is nothing short of amazing.
Is it difficult to understand the happenings? No. Will listeners be perplexed by the sounds they encounter here? A definitive “NO!” The band grooves through every song, allowing your own body’s natural rhythms to flow free…even if you don’t have rhythm. The 10 minute plus opus of “No Evil Know Demon” is hypnotic while “Skewered” is chilling. And then there’s 10,000 Screaming Souls,” with sharp edges all around. If you’re not careful, one might fall into the abyss of beautiful loss within time and space. There’s no confusion surrounding the band, The Island is nothing short of amazing, a beautiful catastrophe happening every single time I listen to it. And I listen to it a lot.

My hesitancy gets the best of me sometimes and that’s how I go into Simpatico, the sophomore album by the Los Angeles duo, Golden Daze. If I’m being honest, when presented with a band that doesn’t hold more than two individuals, I’m usually left rolling my eyes thinking a project isn’t going to hold my attention as much as I can hope. Maybe I’m right…maybe I’m wrong.
As soon as Simpatico begins, a sense of sweet calmness seems to take over me, as if I’m enveloped in a cocoon slowly hurling through space. As cheese-filled as that sounds, it’s pretty accurate. With acoustic guitars surrounding “Blue Bell,” along with layered vocals and keyboards with the occasional drum pattern floating in and out, yeah. But the opener seems like a standalone track there as songs progress. The band’s light drones and majestic musical backdrops take hints from others for their pop craft, and although one can say the music takes inspiration from ’70s ballads (Carly Simon possibly?), Golden Daze takes a couple of steps forward to pull from the ’90s as well. I get it, comparisons are cheap but I’m feeling pretty frugal here, thinking these two would have found like-minded individuals in Ben Gibbard and Jason Lytle with their early work, who are steeped in just as much glorious pop as they are. The hypnotic “Amber” is filled with echoey vocals soaked in melodies channeled through instruments, as is the sonically diverse “Flowers,” although here listeners are drawn in by breathy vocals and a clever rhythm.
Golden Daze moves in so many directions but always end up at the same spot, throwing down the gauntlet to anyone willing to take a chance here with its brand of lush – yet sparse – pop music. The irony shouldn’t be lost on anyone there. There’s a delicate delivery in the songwriting and recording process but the possibilities are endless. If Golden Daze ever decided to revamp their work in any other way, it would sound just as impressive. Simpatico is just that good.

I don’t ask for much. All I sometimes want is some bounce in my music. Not a literal bounce but something I can hold onto. That’s how I feel right now. Now, Montreal is famous for both its Jazz Festival and being the home of fighter Georges St. Pierre, but its latest export is the soulful R&B/Hip-Hop act Planet Giza. There aren’t many groups that have the capability to mesh both genres well together, usually giving trivial R&B tracks alongside emcee immersed joints. I’ve only come across one artist that could do that, and that’s the Nigerian-English rapper TY (Big DADA) who accomplishes that feat every time.  He’s the only artist that is, until now.
Earlier this week, the trio dropped its 3rd album, Added Sugar, an album containing 9 tracks of  blissed out soulful shredders. “You Wasn’t Lyin” has that dancefloor head bop with a vocal dexterity where rapping holds melodies tightly, never relinquishing the beat of the track. “Brk Frm Nrml feat Mick Jenkins” has a slower tempo but the process remains the same with rapid fire lyricism floating on top of a watery musical backdrop. There’s much more grittiness added with the help of Chicago-based emcee Mick Jenkins breaks any monotony with his words.
There’s a lot of flavor encapsulated within the confines of Added Sugar, and the group allows the music to form and move organically at its own pace and rhythm. “Ace Boogie” is charged with so much heat, keeping it direct and to the point, while “Playerz Ball” swims between silk sheets. Planet Giza is on some next shit here, taking the mixed bag of genres beyond where most feel it can go.