Single Reviews: 19 July 2023: Sloome, Brandon De La Cruz, Mookee, Felix Bornholdt, Jon Thorstensen

Photo by Markus Spiske

Sloome - Sparkle Finish

indie rock

Sweet melodies and atmospheric guitars are the name of the game for Californian rockers Sloome on "Sparkle Finish," a bodacious single from their recent EP Wonderful Nice. Exuding a coastal cool, this five-piece group manages to straddle the fine line between sweet and sour, carefully placing candy-esque vocal melodies around chugging rock music that sounds like it could head hellward on a whim. What's great about this single is that there's not too much singing, and the group focuses on building a strong wall of rock with foundational integrity, one that hits you like a ton of bricks before taking you out for a sugary cocktail and a night of summery shenanigans.

Brandon De La Cruz - Disguise

experimental folk

Portland-based folk artist Brandon De La Cruz takes what is essentially a simple love song on "Disguise" and brings it to depths unknown through strange whistling sounds, careful electronic percussion, acoustic instrumentation, and his brooding yet delicate vocals, which sound like they are ready to break at any moment. Taken from his upcoming album Two Kilos of Blue, "Disguise" uses nature as a metaphor for the complications of human relationships. While this subject metaphor may be as old as time, De La Cruz's use is justifiable as he paints an intriguing and sonically-soothing portrait that conjures rich imagery that is never too commercial or experimental. Instead, De La Cruz lands on a sweet spot of enjoyable folk music with real artistic intent, not to mention heart.

Mookee - Moss


Hailing from the German city of Darmstadt, electronic producer Mookee colours his mix of restrained beats, low-in-the-mix vocal samples, and ambient textures with jazzy instrumentation and circular melodies on the recent single "Moss," a highly danceable slice of glitchy goodness released on the ever-reliable Stereofox label. Featuring the cool trumpet of collaborator Andreas Stefano, "Moss" evolves over its four-minute-something runtime into a complete and robust production. Even though it is chockablock with various sounds and textures, it never feels overindulged or cluttered, with Mookee spacing out his sounds with clean economy.

Felix Bornholdt - Lacuna


From his recent album Man Overboard, Kiwi pianist Felix Bornholdt delights the listener with "Lacuna," a strangely beautiful, somewhat melancholic piece for solo piano. While it's no secret that the solo piano genre is oversaturated, with scores of composers vying for highly profitable playlists, Bornholdt's compositional skills are never too pretty and take exotic turns as they tug gently on the heartstrings. Recorded loud and clear with the nuances of the piano audible, "Lacuna" is innocuous if you let it fade into the background and highly effective when engaging in focused listening. The lines here rise and fall with depth and warmth, coming full circle for an emotionally complete investigation of a familiar yet ineffable emotion.

Jon Thorstensen - Clouds


Norwegian jazzer Jon Thorstensen compels on his recent "Clouds," which fuses traditional jazz arrangements with rockier and more experimental flashes. Taken from the EP of the same name, "Clouds" sees a somewhat menacing guitar lick bridge sections of hard-to-categorize, melodic-first compositions with more adult contemporary stretches of harmonious muzak. This amalgam never reveals too much about itself and asks more questions than it answers, but the unpredictability of the piece means those questions don't hang in the air. Instead, the white clouds of pleasant music effortlessly shift to something darker, offering cathartic moments of release like rain on a hot summer day.