ALEX STANILLA // BESS IV // AT BEST
Whaddup!? Here are some releases from the end of June worth checking out. I've been listening to them a lot over the last couple of weeks - you should follow suit!
Sometimes I when I write about an artist’s music I have the pleasure of knowing them personally. Alex Stanilla is one of these artists, and he’s just re-released his album Qualia.
When I first met Alex, it was by chance. We first hung out briefly at friend’s house when he stopped through Bowling Green, Ohio. We exchanged social media follows before going our separate ways. The two of us stayed in touch over social media and eight or so months later Alex crashed at my place in Cleveland when after we played an open mic. He made me a dope lyric video for “Down,” introduced me to Try Less founder Mikie Mayo, and has been great person to talk music with. It’s crazy what can happen from ten minutes.
If you like MGMT, Passion Pit, or The Postal Service you MUST listen to Alex Stanilla’s album Qualia. Alex previously self-released the album in 2017, but re-recorded and re-released the whole thing through Try Less Records this year, adding four new songs: “Changing,” “Quiet Kids,” “Birds,” and “Candy.” The result is an album that sounds huge. By huge I mean the arrangements and mixes have depth and the songs contain catchy melodies that pick you up in a warm embrace of synthesizers, drum machines, and warm guitar tones. Even at parts when the songs are quiet, there is something there, pulling your ears in to the vast pool of sound. Stanilla’s vocals have a sense of urgency that helps to drive the album. His unique tone and style brand all his songs like a signature. It is wonderful to see and hear Alex’s progress and journey through music. My favorite songs from Qualia are “Hyde,” “Candy,” and “My Luck.”
Bess IV is another artist I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. It was just a couple of months ago when we went to Anderson .Paak’s Cleveland stop of the Best Teef in the Game Tour together with a mutual friend. We shared a great alcohol fueled night of music and genuine conversation – the whole thing was a party and Anderson .Paak put on the best show I’d ever seen. Bess IV is a real one, and his debut EP Social Creatures is too.
Bess IV is a Cleveland born rapper, producer, and song writer currently living in Chicago. Late last month Bess released his debut EP Social Creatures featuring auto-tuned vocals, rapping, and Bess IV’s indie take on hip hop production. Bess’ songs will constantly surprise you. Murky Manifest for example, starts as a slow, sprawling, and chill testimonial that gradually builds up, adding in drum tracks, before falling away to an airy vocal section. You think the song is over when a laugh from Bess signals the best is still to come. The dynamic track finishes out with a heavy verse showcasing Bess IV’s vocal versatility. The rest of the EP doesn’t disappoint, I really like the title track. Who doesn’t love a Cleveland shoutout?
At Best is a Philly/South Jersey based pop punk trio that I don’t know in real life but I am still thrilled to be featuring them. I really like the sound of their two songs on Spotify that both feature catchy vocals and effortless guitar melodies contrasted by heavy breakdown sections and choruses. In addition to the two singles the band also has a music video for “Changing Shape” filmed by Luxwav Films. At Best expertly combines aspects of shoe gaze, grunge, and pop-punk to make something that feels both contemporary and nostalgic. The video is visually dark and features themes of addiction, loss, and sadness. "Life isn't fair...and that's not okay" singer and guitarist Lennon Cantwell declares during the chorus. The video is both chilling and inspiring and has already garnered thousands of views on YouTube.
Fans of bands like Silversun Pickups and Interpol will feel at home listening to At Best. With new singles, a tour, and an EP on the horizon there are tons of reasons to start following this band!
I can’t encourage you all enough to follow all these artists on Spotify and social media. Stream their music and attend their shows if they come through your hometown. We have power as consumers and these small actions help bands more than you realize!