Get Refreshed: March ‘22

“Get Refreshed” is a monthly column by Billy Bugara covering all things digital in the music world.

Refresh yourself here.


Sorry

I was too busy this past month and I forgot to ask someone to guest write for the column. Go read this really good essay on Yeat by the bestie Mano Sundaresan over at No Bells to make up for it.

Bells & Whistles, Vol. 8: Yeat is everywhere and nowhere


chase t: “These Bones is Weary”

I was had… I was played. I admit it. After the launch of my new “Web Tempo” playlist for SoundCloud last month, I felt so overjoyed watching all of the kind and celebratory responses come through from everyone. It was a good day on Twitter – those DO NOT happen frequently, believe it or not. But like a cough drop in a pile of sweet candy, I noticed this one measly “negative” response. I put that in quotes because… I mean it wasn’t the meanest thing someone has said to me in response to my curation. I get tons of worse things said about me every day (thanks!!!!!!). This response in particular, however, simply went as follows: “snubbed.” 

I saw this and was like… okay sick. I checked out the person behind the tweet, just to see what was up. Was this a shitpost? Oh lord, not in the slightest. This tweet was from underground dance act chase t – someone who I genuinely hadn’t come across yet even in my daily scouring of dance music across any and all platforms, let alone my beloved SoundCloud. I noticed below the tweet that they also stated there was an album on the way, so I had to check out what this person was all about if I would indeed “feel its wrath” as they put it. 

Well, it dropped. Consider the wrath felt. This album is easily the best full-length deep house record I’ve heard in a minute. My admiration stems from so many different corners of this dense, dense album, but I’ll try and keep it brief here. What carries this project far and away over most, if not all other deep house albums from the modern underground is how True it lives up to the genre it takes on. This is channeled through its Sound – the smooth, yet still gritty grooves that lace tracks like “Phantasm” and “Honey Deux.” It’s channeled through its Style – the 7 minute plus track lengths of “Planet 54” and “Sugarcaine.” It’s channeled through its Structure – the radio-esque intro and proceeding interludes heard throughout. It’s just the most ideal deep house record you’ll find from anyone working towards the bottom to the top, not the other way around. 

Let me say it like this: I haven’t been this over-the-moon about a full-length deep house album since Dirty Bird’s Brainworks. That’s… good company. Great company. I’m glad I “snubbed” chase t from the first playlist drop. Otherwise, I might have never been able to experience such an outstanding project.


xaviersobased: “who are you?”

Attempting to describe the work of xaviersobased is just music writing on Legendary Mode With All Skulls Turned On. I’ve yet to see any writer complete this task in full aside from a select few. Pitchfork’s resident God of digestible descriptions Alphonse Pierre was the first one – to my knowledge – who really got this right; in his column last September, he equated listening to Xavier’s music to “when you have too many tabs open on your laptop and several sounds start playing at the same time at full volume.” I had to include the entire quote because it’s true #MusicListenerProbz and I relate to this heavily.

Anyways, there’s just genuinely no better way to put it than this. Like, I’ve been listening to his recent album who are you? over and over again just wondering how music like this Even Exists, for one, but also how it sounds so fucking good and so fucking appealing. This might be a cop-out answer, but I truly believe that Xavier has just really, really perfected an inimitable craft to its highest degree. Some of these songs – and quite a lot of his songs within his full discography – are catchy in a way that’s so different than say… your average hit pop song, or hip-hop refrain, or what have you. Sure, the constant repetition helps to bolster that catchiness, it really does. But to go back to Alphonse’s quote, how do you make something Clearly memorable when there’s nothing “Clear” about this music at all?  

I mean… Xavier just does it. And he accomplishes it throughout 14 straight tracks that fly by in a moment’s notice. This album is straight up the musical equivalent to a tool-assisted speedrun, and I adore it for that.


hazelpop – A Gift From Niz, and a Gift To Us All

Every single day I wake up and thank God and Jesus and Whoever Else that my beloved Niz exists. It’s hard to properly give such an amazing person like this the respect they deserve, because doing so would require a thank you speech that would be far too long for a quirky little column like this. So just take my word for it; Niz is a gift from God. Why you may ask? Because he’s currently fostering the future of Internet music in exactly the way it ‘ought to be – through community. I’ve been introduced to – no hyperbole – hundreds of unheard acts through his Twitch streams and Discord community alike, some of which are already breaking through, and others being set to do so. Who let a man like this have so much power? If you ask me, we should give him even more…

Niz gave me and the rest of deadAir a gracious opportunity to raise some money$$$ for dA’s next new [redacted] on his Twitch channel. During this stream, I was floored by nearly everyone I heard, but none more so than one hazelpop – an electronic/dance outfit with next to no info on their page, with just a few tracks to their name. They submitted a then-unreleased 2-sided single called “dreamgrid // telephone calls,” and let’s just say I freaked the fuck out as soon as I heard it. You can go check Niz’s Twitch archive, I promise you that this was the moment I turned up the most during this lengthy stream. 

I mean… how could I not? “dreamgrid” alone literally blew me away upon first listen. It’s dance music on the level of an astute professional – one that might have already mastered their craft to the point of wanting to try anything and everything new to spice up their sound. Only thing is… who knows if hazelpop is actually at that point? Again, this track is one of just a few releases on their profile, but it’s as matured and fine-tuned as something you’d hear from icons of modern Web dance like DV-i or NANORAY. It conjures feelings of all sorts… not to mention the “NiGHTS into Dreams” vibe that I inexplicably shouted during the stream (I’m sorry I’m a Stan). And it flows so effortlessly into “telephone calls” – such a wonderful transition, and the relationship exuding from these two tracks makes for the ideal way to release a dance single in today’s age.


quannnic: “kenopsia”

“If you can’t do everything, you can’t make an impression.” For some odd reason, this sentiment has lingered in my brain for quite some time now. What does this mean? Well, I feel as though there’s a difference between a “damn good pop artist” and a “superstar musician.” I listen to like… a million individuals in the former category a day – acts who just make outstanding pop music day in and day out (see the digicore playlist, I think.) The latter category? At least in terms of the future pop landscape? I can’t say I listen to these artists on a daily basis, probably because they are few and far between. I’m talking about the storytellers, the “talented at everything’s,” the… well… superstars. 

Who makes up this category for me, you might ask. You have your dltzks (biased moment), you have your quinns (biased Moment), but if you didn’t know this other artist already, I’d like to introduce you to this pair’s newest contemporary: quannnic. Because if their long-awaited and meticulously teased album kenopsia proved anything upon its launch, it’s that they undoubtedly deserve a place in this upper-echelon. 

This is an album that certainly deserves more than a silly brief post to provide proper weight to; I just feel like failing to at least talk a little about why quannnic is tomorrow’s greatest superstar would be doing them a stark injustice. What we have here is a marvelous start-to-finish experience – an album that carries the drama of its opener – the absolute overture that is “think with your lungs” – all the way through its extensive, densely-detailed tracklist that follows. The serious side of quannnic isn’t some overt performance or a fictional character, maybe how their happy-go-lucky persona comes off in the TwerkNation28 setting. Between their impassioned and emotionally-driven vocal delivery, and production that could score a whole ass film much less a conceptual offering like this, quannnic’s deepest and most real personal disclosures line each and every second of this album. It’s a star-making performance from someone you will ALL recognize as such in due time.