W/ PEARL & THE OYSTERS:
Released / September 15, 2017
Recorded in / Paris, France, and their Gainesville Bedroom Studio
Sounds like / The Alessi Brothers, Broadcast, The Velvet Underground
Inspiration/ Stereolab, The Beach Boys
Key tracks / “Melinda, Melinda,” “Vitamin D,” “Lake Alice”
Where to get it / Spotify
Upcoming Shows / Nov. 24 release party at the Wooly
Pearl and the Oysters’ debut album pulls you through parallel universes, speeds across space and warps time. The album’s combination of colorful, retro pop and fuzzy, vibrant vocals is powerful enough to magic your troubles away.
Though the band began in Gainesville, bandmates Juliette Pearl Davis, 27, and Joachim Polack, 28, were born in Paris, France. They met in high school and studied musicology together in college. When Polack decided to pursue a Ph.D in musicology at the University of Florida, the pair moved to the United States.
Released in September 2017, ‘w/ Pearl & the Oysters’ plucks inspiration from the bands’ childhood favorites, like Stereolab and The Beach Boys. You can hear a bit of ‘50s rock in “Dia de los Muertos” and a smattering of ‘80s pop in “Vitamin D.”
Davis’ signature, syrupy voice permeates the entire album, transforming hard rock into soft pop. The result is chaotic but beautiful; it’s easy to get lost in the fantasy world the songs create. “Interstellar Appeal” teleports you into a distant parallel universe, while “Surfer Rosie” flings you onto an alien planet.
Meanwhile, “Melinda Melinda” drops you into an idyllic 1950s childhood. The song propels you into harmonious turmoil as the sounds of UFO takeoffs and video game power-ups are layered over Davis’ repeating “Melinda Melinda you’re breaking my heart” in varying pitches.
“We aim to evoke delight and happiness through our music,” Davis said. “In our album and even with our car when we roam around Gainesville, we pull the windows down, blast some funky music and spread some love.” •
By Aashna Farishta.
Released / September 5, 2018
Recorded in / His home
Inspiration / T-Pain, Drake, T.I., Lil Wayne, and Eminem
Key tracks / “Fine,” “Who Cares”
Where to get it / Apple Music, Spotify
Upcoming shows / Hardback Cafe Nov. 9, 2018
Instruments/ Uses pads/arps with heavy sub bass for his ambient/atmospheric elements
A few years before his death in 2016, singer Dennis Walton Sr. entered the Doo-Wopp Hall of Fame of America as the baritone for The Five Shillings, a band that graced the 1950s with the record “Letter to An Angel.”
But despite spending his life as a musician, Walton Senior forbade his children from listening to hip-hop. When he caught his son, Dennis Walton Jr., playing rap CDs, he’d throw them away.
That didn’t stop Walton Junior — a.k.a Azazus — from launching his hip-hop career. This September, Walton dropped the music video for “Fine” on Vevo, following up singles released earlier this year such as “Love War,” “Too Grown” and “Who Cares.”
“It’s a weird feeling, realizing where I’m trying to get now and knowing my dad lived it,” Walton, 25, said. “I think about what I’m doing now, and I don’t even come close to performing as much as he performed or making the kind of money he made.”
Whether you’re getting yourself hyped up or a night out or brooding in your bedroom, Walton’s got a track for you. His lyrics juxtapose the quintessential confidence of the rap genre with reflections on his mental health.
“A lot of my inspiration stems from my own personal anxiety,” he said. “If something is troubling me to the point where I can’t focus, I usually just start making music.”
Between evoking the vibrant nightlife of his native Gulf Coast and contemplating the time wasted on haters, Walton’s use of use of vocal effects and heavy sub bass stir up feelings of restlessness.
“Is life that horrible/Won’t check my horoscope/Tell me mirror-mirror/Is my life a damn horror show,” he raps through a distortion filter in “Dont Get Comfy.” “And I feel you’re the reason right now/Why I’m even getting up, leaving off this couch.”
To his fans, Azazus offers this advice: “Don’t give up,” he said. “I know that sounds cliche, but I’m speaking specifically to people that deal with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.” •
By Caroline Gaspich and Vincent McDonald.
BUGGIN: A LAZY, EMPTY SUMMER
Released / July 31, 2018
Recorded in / His Bedroom
Sounds like / Dandelion Hands, Flatsound
Key tracks / “Cicadas in Magnolia Trees,” “Previous Parents”
Where to get it / Bandcamp, Spotify
Instruments/ Guitar, Mandolin, Plastic Wrap, Cicadas
Gainesville undergoes a drastic transformation in the summertime. The herds of college students pack up and head home; restaurants and shops cut back their hours. The harsh Florida sun turns everything into a sweaty, sticky blur.
“During the summer, it gets so stiflingly hot that going outside is not an option,” said Levi Bradford, a 23-year-old University of Florida Levin College of Law student. “Experiencing the rest of the world is like a chore.”
Bradford spent this summer in Gainesville longing for something to do before school started. He pushed through with a microphone and a sheet of plastic wrap. By August, he had a four-song album titled “a lazy empty summer” to show for it.
The album is Bradford’s first release, “buggin,” also rose out the desire for a solo project. Bradford currently plays in Poblano, which began as a solo affair and evolved into a group effort when friends joined in.
Gainesville’s essence intertwines the album. Though it’s never mentioned by name, it can be heard in the sound of cicadas buzzing in Bradford’s yard.
“In smoke and heat and humidity/you make plans to leave/you’re broke, you’re beat but it’s what you’re feeling,” Bradford drones in “cedar key.”
If you’ve ever spent a summer in Florida, you will recognize the sleepy haze that oozes from the album. You know what it’s like to sprawl out in the shade, craving activity but rejecting the idea of moving. You get it. Bradford said that’s intentional.
“It’s more for the people who understand it intrinsically,” he said.
The record has another influence beyond summertime inertia: the fallout between Bradford and his older brother, Keegan, who is as important to the album as this city.
“Almost every time I say ‘you’ on that album it’s about him,” he said.
Even without a direct reference, Keegan’s presence is palpable. He lives in the heat mentioned in “sleep sweats” and in the sharpness that cuts through the blur and daze of the album.
“You’re mostly doing fine/only a couple bites,” Bradford sings in “previous parents,” a reflection on the brothers’ relationship.
“He was someone who I always considered to be my best friend,” Bradford said.
At Bradford’s wedding, Keegan stood at his side as his best man. Now, the two don’t even speak.
“When things go down so badly sometimes, and you don’t have the opportunity to make anything good, that pain can just sit there forever,” Bradford said. “You just live life like that.” •
By Brianna Moye.