Pickle Darling - “Bigness”

(Z Tapes)

Musician and producer Lukas Mayo returns with another release under his Pickle Darling moniker. Each of these ten tracks is a unique and tightly produced blend of electronic pop, and intimate singer-songwriter musings. These songs sound like they were written on guitar first and elevated with all the electronic goodness. There’s an earthiness and down-to-earth feel behind all the bright rhythms and beats.

A good example is the track Rinse Spin Cycle / Nicolas Cage. This six-minute track exudes the warm, buzzing energy, clean lines, and personal writing that exemplifies everything we love about Pickle Darling. “What if no one likes my music?” sings Pickle Darling. Not a problem, Lukas. We really dig this.

Standout tracks include: Soft Cars, an intimate ballad that begins with good guitar textures, and slowly introduces bass and drums to fill out the track, as the lyrics meander through a story in a string very casual, conversational lines, and Greta, which is built on a warm synth line and some curiously tune bent vocals.

Bigness represents to me a movement from the lo-fi beginnings of bedroom pop to a much more polished sound that still retains the innocence and personal connection that made bedroom pop so popular to begin with, and is a logical successor to the previous Pickle Darling album, which hit a lot of the same marks. This album is a realization of more, further, and higher.


Gray Lee

TMBOY - "Steam"


TMBOY - “Steam”

Normally, music categorized somewhere between “dance” and “pop” will have certain common elements, such as a driving 4/4 beat, and computerized voices singing empty platitudes about imaginary, idealistic infatuations. Such is not the case with this album. Electronic duo TMBOY releases Steam, a full length record that blends the high energy of electro-pop dance music with the subtlety, nuance, and vulnerability of singer-songwriting.

This music is charged with kinetic energy, surging with hard hitting EDM beats and buzzing with smooth lines of delicious synth - it's music that emerges from, speaks to, and urges movement. Each track draws the listener in from the opening notes, and holds that attention through to the end. Listening to the instrumentation on these tracks, produced by electronic composer Will Shore, would be enjoyable enough - but add the phenomenal vocal work by Sarah Aument, and this record skyrockets to new heights. Her effortless, charming, and powerful delivery leaps from each arrangement from smoky, intimate passages to full-voiced splendor that soars skyward. The brightness of her voice, and the raw beauty of the streamlined lyrics she sings, cast across the shadowy, atmospheric backdrop of synth bliss, makes Steam an emotional and urgent listen. Channeling beloved voices from the 90s,  Aument’s style brings to mind powerhouse voices such as Eddi Reader, Björk, Tracey Thorn, or Cocteau Twins - but never gets hung up on emulating the styles of others. She has a strong, confident presentation that is distinctly her own.

The combination of this duo’s powers is evident in tracks such as No One, where crucial timing and contrast between tender, reflective verses and bold, vibrant choruses create a dynamic feel. The title track, Steam, pairs a textured, exotic beat with singsong lyrics, precise harmonies, and a wide open chorus that hits hard with sweeping, anthemic power and resonant waves of synth energy.

Another highlight track, Zephyr, begins with a looping synth arpeggio with some exquisite falsettos, a supercharged pre-chorus that buzzes with tension, and a beautiful chorus backed by distant orchestral synths. “What if I am so small, I am nothing now?”  is the beautifully self-reflective line from the chorus - one of many such lines in the uniquely minimal and poetic lyrics found here. Each of these tracks is blessed with stylish, relatable, and intimate writing.

Overall, Steam is what we would classify as an essential release. There isn’t a note out of place. Every selection has its own identity, yet the release is a solid listen. Just like its namesake, Steam is full of rushing heat, immediate kinetic power, and the simplicity of combined elemental forces. The album is available in compact disc, LP, or digital. We highly recommend that you put this in your ears.

Gray Lee



WHETTMAN CHELMETS- “Miniforms 1: Movements” and “Miniforms 2: Ten Pin Alley” [FREE CODES!]

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Whettman Chelmets- “Miniforms 1: Movements” and “Miniforms 2: Ten Pin Alley”


Like many of us in the independent/DIY music world, Matt Clement is a busy adult with a full-time job and a multitudinous host of other obligations and responsibilities.  Nevertheless, after the kids are put to bed and the dishes washed and put away, Matt Clement becomes Whettman Chelmets-a multi-instrumentalist maestro and active netizen of the underground music community.

His latest two EP releases are two selections of carefully curated and lovingly remastered tracks from his 2014 Forms, and each EP displays a different aspect of his multi-faceted musical mind: 

Miniforms 1: Movements displays his compositional chops and programming prowess. Tracks such as Fugue in C Major and Fall of Frigia demonstrate his advanced knowledge of such sophisticated musical concepts as contrapuntal melody and 12 tone theory.

Miniforms 2: Ten Pin Alley does an about-face in style moving from classical composition to pop. However, “pop” is a term that just doesn’t do justice to this tight and punchy release.

Songs such as I Just Wanna Play and That Man Just Stole That Old Lady’s Purse! again demonstrate a profound eclecticism in style ranging from autotune electropop to gypsy jazz.

So with these two EPs, we see a fun and creative exploration of the many different forms that the world of music has to offer.

Chelmets sums it up succinctly by saying, “I love form.”

In addition to his love of musical forms, Whettman Chelmets has a big place in his heart for you the listener, and as a demonstration of his love and generosity, he has given away free download codes as a special Houdini Mansions exclusive!

So what are you waiting for? Grab the codes and click the links below to enjoy some great tunes!

Theron Willis

Miniforms 1: Movements













Miniforms 2: Ten Pin Alley