Beneath The Surface: Rex Orange County – Pony

Pony, Rex Orange County’s 33-minute long sophomore album, attempts to condense the breadth of a pop album into a small, neat, tidily wrapped package.

The record kicks off with “10/10,” an upbeat tune that sees Rex reminiscing about failed friendships and expresses a desire for self-improvement. With concise lyricism, a triumphant chord progression, and creative synth work, this song is certainly a contender for the highest point of the record. The lyrics are honest, which is refreshing in the pop music industry known for its decreasing lyrical quality.

Second in the lineup is waltz-ballad, “Always.” This song is absolutely drenched in nostalgia as Rex riffs over a funky horn-line, singing about the difficulties one might face in a romantic relationship, or in a quest to improve oneself. 

Face To Face” is a rather uninteresting entry in the Pony’s tracklist. Although Rex describes the track as being about “feeling trapped in an undesirable situation,” and being away from home, the song only seems to skim the surface of what those themes could have entailed. Additionally, the instrumentation of the track lacks inspiration, sounding rushed and unemotional.

“Never Had The Balls” is a fairly strong point, making a good showing with its almost 80s-esque compositional style and harmonics. It’s a sweet, catchy song about a reluctance to admit an unrequited love. It’s a story that we’ve all heard many times before, but Rex succeeds in finding a creative renewal of the narrative, keeping listeners on the edge of their seats. 

Pluto Projector” is quite possibly the emotional peak of this record’s tracklist. The song begins like many of Rex’s other tunes with an understated instrumental and simple vocal line. The track slowly builds layers upon itself, concluding in a euphoric display of the singer’s true compositional ability. The horns, strings, and pianos all complement each other nearly perfectly, and the build of emotion throughout the song creates a satisfying rise and fall.

This song then transitions into “Every Way,” which acts as a sort of interlude. Although it bears a heavy resemblance to “Always,” it is intimate and makes the listener feel as if they could be listening to a friend singing in their bedroom.

It’s Not The Same Anymore” is the album’s conclusion. Reflecting on the loss of youth, Rex Orange County sings of how his “face has changed” and “lost its joy.” This song does a wonderful job of synthesizing the lyrical themes of the entire record and providing a satisfying end to a moderately impressive pop record that will likely inspire some aspiring musicians for some time to come.

Although Pony drags at certain points (mainly during “Stressed Out” and “Laser Lights”), there are enough shining moments to prevent the project from taking too much of a hit from these shortcomings. In his moments of true sincerity, which are unfortunately scarce, Rex did some fairly good work on this project.

Rating: 6.5/10

Credit: pitchfork.com

Pony, Rex Orange County’s 33-minute long sophomore album, attempts to condense the breadth of a pop album into a small, neat, tidily wrapped package.

Gothic Tropic at San Diego’s Lantern Street Festival

Gothic Tropic Frontwoman

Gothic Tropic’s Headlinging Punk Performance at San Diego’s Lantern Street Festival Rocked and Banged the Night Away.

It’s a cool 70 degrees at approximately 5:35 p.m. The sun is shining down on San Diego’s Lantern Street Festival at Liberty Station headlined by Los Angeles band Gothic Tropic. Opening act Pretty Polly gracefully takes the stage, kicking off the evening as festival attendees are checked-in and given their lanterns. An all ages event, the festival is home to dozens of food stands with lantern decorating station taking over the back of the courtyard. The show has only just begun.

As a crowd of over 5,000 cycled in throughout the cool evening, opening performances by Pretty Polly and BELLSAINT warmed up crowds who were already filled up with delicious food. The time is now 8:30 p.m., Gothic Tropic is slated to take the stage in a few moments. This is their first headline performance, ever. Which begs the question, who is Gothic Tropic?

Gothic Tropic is the indie pop band of Southern California you’ve never encountered.

It is the creation of multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and Los Angeles native Cecilia Della Peruti. Della Peruti was recently chosen by Fender for their American Series Campaign, exemplifying the power she holds when a guitar is in her hands. Similar to what Prince’s band The Revolution was first known for, a guitar is a vessel for Della Peruti to express herself while putting a focus on the music instead of the artist.

Gothic Tropic’s debut album “Fast or Feast” was released on May 19, 2017 and has since established their name in Indie Rock and Pop. The quality of the debut shined a light on Della Peruti, being recognized by Beck and asked to join his touring band. Della Peruti stated that playing for Beck, “really elevated my understanding of what the gig is.” Della Peruti went on to
say:

“This artist is somebody I profoundly respect and admire and actually really look up to as a songwriter and an artist. Now I feel like I’m finally doing something right.”

Cecilia Della Peruti

Touring with Beck was an astounding achievement for the Gothic Tropic frontwoman…

But despite this, she still stays true to her methods. Humility, consistency, and transparency are the tools driving Della Peruti and Gothic Tropic to the top, at their own pace.

“Nothing’s changed in my approach or practices, but what informed me now watching him was how generous he is. And how easy-going and respectful of everyone an artist of that caliber can be.”

Cecilia Della Peruti

Fans are anticipating their next album, expected sometime before summer, and Della Peruti is as excited as the fans. “I’m really excited! I’m just so stoked.” said Gothic Tropic’s leading lady.
She is also working on a collaborative project called “Bloodthirsty” with Italian Composer Daniele Luppi and writer/producer Alex Goose.

“So it’s like punk as f*ck, but with like all this beautiful melody. And it’s very Italian, and I’m Italian!”

proudly declared by Della Peruti.

It’s now nine o’clock at the Lantern Street Festival. Gothic Tropic was supposed to be onstage 30 minutes ago.

Unfortunately, technical difficulties have been frustrating the band and the crew for the last hour. Eager to play, Della Peruti does a lap around the stage after showing a bit of frustration. The backing tracks are not coming through, making it difficult for the band to perform new songs, let alone any at all. The tracks are not coming in anytime soon.

“We’re a punk band tonight!” exclaimed Della Peruti as she ran on stage, signaling the band behind her.

The crowd watches.

The crowd has been ignorant to the technical difficulties up to this point; Soon, Peruti takes control of the crowd’s attention. “We’re Gothic Tropic, tonight it’s a punk show and we’re gonna play a new song called drunk on a rhythm.” Della Peruti shouted into the mic.

All the frustration is let out by her initial guitar strum; the headliners are here to rock the show. As the beautiful hand-decorated lanterns shone across liberty station, Gothic Tropic lit up the stage with their electric performance. Drummer Sheldon Reed was speechless after his first festival performance. Della Peruti melted faces of all ages with her masterful guitar solos
throughout. The transition of fan favorites from “Feed You To The Sharks” to “Your Soul” stole the ears of audience members. Closing out with their notable track “Stronger,” Della
Peruti’s exhilarating almost 3-minute guitar solo left the crowd cheering and Gothic Tropic’s frontwoman with nothing else to give the audience but a wave goodnight.

Written by: Alexis Camel

Private Island’s Electric Whisper

Once again Private Island found themselves gracing San Diego’s House of Blues. Musical acts Mating Ritual and Creature Canyon joined them. On Saturday, Nov. 11 the band came out onto the shared space to an antsy crowd. Instantly, the room was filled with beachy vibes as the band started their performance.

As a surprise to most, Private Island threw things back and switched it up by performing their rendition of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” In the band’s own fashion they brought a fresh and vibrant twist to the classic while still remaining true to the source material. Something about the band’s version of the song brought a cohesive energy to their live show that most bands seem to miss out on. At this point during this song, the whole crowd was moving and singing along. Private Island’s bassist Tommy Knickerson and lead guitarist Cameron Anderson couldn’t help shaking it as well.

With a slight change up in instrumentation, female vocalist Michelle Guerrero provided the synths and keys for the night while Roger Mawer played rhythm guitar. The band was able to exude the L.A. ‘indie-pop’ sound that they’ve been known for, while bringing the dark melodical R’n’B tones that come across in their new songs. Private Island seems to have found the sweet spot with playing their new songs live. The performance gave the audience a chance soak up all the nuances of the darker grooves of the new singles.

Lead vocalist, Christian Lum took the wheel that night and left the audience with their arms waving out the windows, all the lit up faces were entranced with Lum’s vocals and way with words. Drummer Timothy Barbour provided the backbone for the whole night. Truly talented and a presence all on his own, Barbour kept the beats grooving and the people moving.

Next time Private Island rolls through to San Diego or to your respective city, be sure to jump on the bus and jam out with L.A.’s freshest indie band. They’ll continue their tour all the way through December 7, with their last stop in Phoenix, AZ, where they’ll be playing the Valley Bar.

Back from the Dead: San Cisco

Bands can evolve for years, creating new sounds that draw listeners in. However, for San Cisco, this Australian band has reconnected with their roots and put out a new track called “B Side”. The song’s bright, clean guitar sound and catchy melody pays homage to their 2012 self-titled album with popular tunes like “Fred Astaire”, “Nepal”, and “Awkward”. The simple yet infectious clean guitars in “Fred Astaire” give it a 50’s vibe. The synth, on the other hand, adds a modern sound recognizable in Vampire Weekend songs. Other stand-out tracks like ‘Awkward’ with its distinctive groovy bass and thumping drum beats, and “Nepal” with its dreamlike guitar effects has made San Cisco’s debut album a personal favorite. Their second LP Gracetown, on the other hand, takes a subtle but different approach.

Gracetown carries a more mature sound. They ditch the pure indie pop for psychedelic, hip-hop, and disco leanings. Lead guitarist Josh Biondillo adds more complex and creative hooks listeners can groove to. Complimenting the bouncy riffs and melodies, Scarlett Stevens shows off her exceptional drumming and even her pipes in “Magic”. Nick Gardner’s ingenious bass lines bring depth to the songs while Jordi Davieson’s lyricism and dreamy vocals tie every aspect together.

The record opens up with “RUN”. The bass line is an immediate stand out and the jangly guitars are nice changes from the usual clean effect. Including “RUN”, “Magic” and “Bitter Winter” are the best tracks on the album. Nevertheless, in spite of raving reviews, Gracetown fell flat for me. I appreciate San Cisco’s musicianship and maturity as a band, but I also miss the bouncy pop vibe from their debut album.

‘B Side’ takes me back to the self-titled days. The clean guitars, infectious riffs, and Davieson’s melodious vocals gave me a little spring to my step. Even the endearing lyrics in the chorus aren’t cringy at all, but sweet and fun. Overall, it’s a solid track and a solid “B-side” to their new single “SlowMo”. I’m excited to hear their upcoming record so stay tuned for more updates!

It’s DJ Ricky P signing out. Deuces.