Soundclouds of the Underground: New Pop Edition

Published August 7, 2014

ABOVE: YOUTH IS DEAD. PHOTO COURTESY OF OLIVIA SEALLY

These days, music truly lives online, with an infinite number of websites dedicated to hosting tunes for the laptop-wielding masses. However, the web’s bottomless pit of blogs isn’t the only place to troll for mp3 treasures—some of the newest and most exciting (Internet-friendly) artists can be sought out via Soundcloud, the online stage that allows musicians to promote and distribute their music to fans and friends across the globe. In this weekly column, expert Internet sleuth Alex Chapman goes into the depths of the music-sharing site, in hopes of shedding light on emerging acts, as well as sharing some digital diamonds in the rough.

Today, Pop means more than just “mainstream.” Since the mass emergence of electronically inclined sounds, pop has found many incarnations. Far more frequent than the conventional backing track is a hybrid of catchy hooks and melodies with more left-sounding, ambient production. Below are three budding acts helping to facilitate this exciting and fast-growing new space for pop music.

Youth Is Dead: “Lovers on the Moon”

Who: Formally known as the far more radio-appropriate, Universal-signed iFFY the Bad Man (whose song “Do You” may remind some of the doo-wop inspired Bruno Mars), the Harlem talent has completely switched gears with Youth is Dead, a self-produced project that seems to maintain a far darker depth.The Song: Off the new Hooligans Don’t Dance EP, “Lovers on the Moon” channels Kid Cudi, Bon Iver, and Washed Out all at once, an infectious track anchored by echoing harmonies. The track’s slow build flows nicely with the piano arpeggios, and the hypnotizing vocals fill out the song perfectly.

Current Project: For now Youth is Dead is rather elusive, but stay locked on the website for incoming info.   

Ayer: “Fight The Fire”

Who: Danny Schmittler is the voice behind Ayer, an indie electro-pop project that has gained steady steam since breakout track “Circle Down” was released nearly nine months ago. Since then Ayer have been consistent with its dreamy, glamorous sound, posting successful songs like the slow and sexy “Young,” as well as the anthemic “Black Diamond.”

The Song: With a beat by ARNOLD (of L.A. production collective MIOID), Ayer’s newest is a melancholic ballad with a slapping backbeat and a cool hook made up of cut-up vocals. Ayer’s lyrical talent is ever-evident here, combined with his clever phrasing and lovely falsetto to make for one marvelous pop star-to-be.Current Project: Keep up with Ayer (which just made its live debut on the August 9) via Facebook.

Carousel: “My New Friend”

Who: Together, Jackson Phillips and Kevin Friedman make up Carousel, a duo whose interests on their Facebook page are “Making people dance,” and who decidedly put themselves under the pop umbrella. Rightly so—the group’s sound (which can be observed through their original tracks as well as their host of impressive remixes) has a peppy energy and disco flair, oftentimes driven by cinematic chord progressions and fast-paced percussion.The Song: A recent track, “My New Friend” begins soft-spoken and emotional, with the guys singing, “I need somebody in my life tonight, and girl you know you are quite the fight.” The song oscillates between hushed and high-energy, with the chorus dragging in more percussion and synth to create the perfect summer romance track.

Current Project: Keep up with Carousel and see their video for “Another Day” on their website.

Soundclouds of the Underground runs every Thursday. For more, click here.