Today, maybe more than ever, people crave entertainment, distraction and connection.
The local artists of New Paltz have risen to the occasion by churning out incredible music which I have been getting tremendous enjoyment from. I’ve picked a few of my favorite projects to go over, although there are certainly other artists that deserve attention, and I encourage seeking them out. These albums have motivated me to be more proactive with my own creative projects, I hope they have the same effect on you.
Tonight – A Bit of Space
Let’s start off with the new EP from A Bit of Space: Tonight. The last project dropped by this group was Crossroads Cuts, which is currently streaming on Bandcamp. This new EP features a few tracks from their last project, plus a handful new ones. Unfortunately my favorite track off of Crossroads Cuts, “Twice,” did not make the cut. I’m sure the band had its reasons, and both of the new tracks are welcome additions.
“Corridors” has an absolutely infectious groove; it really makes me want to get up and dance. The percussion on this track is so fast that it almost makes my head spin. However, for me, the highlight of this project is the fantastic closer, “Omicron.” It’s a slow build that features call and response vocals towards the second half, creating a nice contrast. The whole thing eventually culminates in a dramatic finish which leaves a powerful and lasting impression. A very satisfying track.
As always, A Bit of Space incorporates velvety-smooth melodies and dreamy vocals to create a hauntingly beautiful sound. They combine elements of contemporary jazz, neo-soul, and vaporpop (amongst others) to create a rich sound which both relaxes and invigorates the listener. From the fast and smooth basslines, to the fiery drums, to the crooning guitars, to the smoky vocals, Tonight is a project of considerable depth and complexity which seizes your attention and holds onto it.
A Bit of Space — Elazia Pollard (vocals), Henry Perrottet (electric bass), Sheridan Grunn (guitar), Lorenzo Canadilla (guitar) and Matthew Kopec (drums and production) — can be found on Instagram at @abitof_space, and you can listen to Tonight on streaming platforms everywhere.
ALLCAPS/NOSPACES – GREENHOUSELAKE
Of course it would feel wrong if I didn’t mention ALLCAPS/NOSPACES, the latest EP by GREENHOUSELAKE. Now, let’s be honest, if you’re involved with the New Paltz DIY scene, you know all about GREENHOUSELAKE, and you’ve probably heard this project already. However, that won’t stop me from praising this thing to high heaven because wow — they really hit it out of the park with this one.
For those of you who are unaware, GREENHOUSELAKE is an Indie Rock band positively overflowing with heart and passion. On their most recent project, the boys deliver a handful of cuts to make you feel like you’re back at college having the time of your life. On several of the tracks there are samples layered in of people talking and laughing. It really makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a rowdy live show.
The pacing of ALLCAPS/NOSPACES is incredibly on-point. “GOODMORNING” is a fittingly sleepy song which eases the listener into the sound of the album. By the time you get to “300LBSOFBOOKS” you’re going to want to start moshing with your dog (or whichever pet/ family member is nearby). Finally, “AFTERHOUSES” finishes things up on an upbeat note with an unexpected old time jazz swing.
Without a doubt my favorite cut is “SUGARLOAF.” The lyrics describe a few characters who work ordinary jobs, but have hidden talents that have faded with time. Eventually the lyrics become self-reflective, culminating with the line: “When I think about the people I meet, I see myself and wonder how the hell we ended up here?” This track really hits home for me in a lot of ways. Just…. Just go listen to it, please. I swear, you can almost hear Elijah smiling as he sings
Elijah Bloome (vocal, guitar, electric bass), Caleb Couri (guitar), Nico Caro (electric bass) and Joe Leonardo (drums) make up the band. You can follow them on Instagram @greenhouselake and listen to ALLCAPS/NOSPACES (ohhh I get it now, because the name) on Bandcamp and Spotify.
Dirtfloor – Ratlung Worm
Last, but certainly not least is the fresh EP from Ratlung Worm: Dirtfloor. Colorful rapper and aspiring villain, Ratlung Worm offers a much different sound and tone in comparison to the last two artists I’ve mentioned. His lyrics contain graphic descriptions of violence, drugs and sex… and it is just great. Ratlung Worm absolutely revels in chaotic energy and it’s hard not to get on board.
The music off of Dirtfloor doesn’t just offer shocking wordplay. In terms of quality, this EP is solid and impressively diverse. Each of the first two tracks are throwbacks to the golden era of hip-hop. While “Two Cigarettes” incorporates the hard hitting boom bap drums of classic East Coast rap — strong Wu-Tang Clan vibes) — “Connected” makes use of funky piano and guitar instrumentals with some fiery horns thrown in. Following close behind is the hilariously obscene track “One for the Ladies,” which features some light and cheery instrumentation. This song contains the objectively best line of the entire project: “I keep the p**** wet like Old Man from Pawn Stars lips / He’s hard from sneaking peeks at Chumlees’ t*ts.” I mean… need I say more?
“Sunday Service” concludes the brief EP — which clocks in at only nine minutes and thirty second — and is my favorite track. Maybe I just have a thing for closers, but this song melted my brain a little bit. The warbling bass constantly throbs as Ratlung Worm delivers a hyper-aggressive, manic (dare I say, Death Grips-esque) flow and lyrics to match. It may not be the most easily accessible song in the world, but any fan of underground hip-hop will be sure to appreciate this one.
You can follow Ratlung Worm on Instagram @ratlungwerm, and his music can be found on streaming services everywhere.
I have personally seen a huge deal of support amongst the creative community of New Paltz, a silver lining during this time. If any of these projects seemed interesting, I strongly encourage you to check them out and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.