By Jolie Klefeker
Boulder has had a longstanding reputation as a hippie mountain mecca. Home of quinoa, cannabis, yoga, tons of people on bikes, granola and kombucha. Boulder is also known as a college town with a thriving party scene. Somewhere in the middle lies an intersection, where weed-infused, psychedelic-tinged indie rock-pop is king; where frat boys, indie-rock-dude-bros and hiking club kids alike sit on their lawns every Sunday and listen to Mac Demarco. Sometime amid all of these lawn listening sessions, stoner-pop has gotten a bad rep. Well, I'm here to tell ya that stoner-pop is still alive and well. It isn't all Demarco derivative, because Reptilians and Ariel Pink are kicking out plenty of wacky-weirdo pop to satisfy all your heart's neo-psychedelic desires and more.
Ariel Pink, aka Ariel Marcus Rosenberg, is one of most influential figures in lo-fi music's. He's been releasing stuff since the early 2000s, and while it's not for everyone, there are some real hits scattered throughout his discography. I would recommend checking out "Pom Pom" and "Before Today" if you're looking to dive a little deeper than what I'm recommending to you today: "Dedicated to Bobby Jameson."
Rosenberg's latest project is an homage to a lost pop star of the '60s. Ariel Pink and Jameson seem to share a lot through their enigmatic personalities and battle with the troubling confusion of being both deeply praised and harshly criticized in the public eye. Luckily enough for Rosenberg, "Dedicated to Bobby Jameson" is faring incredibly well, and for good reason. Perhaps it's experience, maybe it's the underlying sense of melancholy, but this record is refined and cohesive.
While maintaining his usual lo-fi weirdo sound, he fails to come across as contrived. Still irreverent at times, the album carries a hazy, retro-soaked pop sound throughout that seems to unify, allowing songs like "Another Weekend" to echo between the dreamy and mellow and the spacey psychedelic. There's a lot more to say about this album, but I'm running out of words. If you like Animal Collective or Deerhunter or neither, go listen to Ariel Pink.
Portland's wife/husband duo Reptaliens have recently got me back into the whole weirdo-pop thing. They just released their debut record, "FM-2030," on Captured Tracks a few days ago, and I can't stop listening — partially because it's just plain good and partly because I'm trying to figure them out. Falling somewhere between the pop groove of TOPS, the ambiguously ironic, lyrical pretense of Father John Misty, and the sunny indie sound of EZTV, there's a lot going on and it works. Circular, guitar-heavy melodies lay a foundation for airy vocals with hints of harmony and subtle synths. Their music induces a warm, fuzzy, dream-like state. It's easy to listen to but laden with subtle intricacies that make it all the more engaging. If you're looking for something smooth and groovy with a twist, check this out and enjoy your final weeks of autumn warmth wrapped in the sunny haze of Reptalien's "FM-2030."
If you dig what I'm talking about today, check out Walter TV, who just dropped a solid record last month. Also Blue Smiley (it's shoegazey for sure but has some great trembly guitar stuff happening), Boys Age and Jerry Paper might catch your ear.
If you're looking for something fun to do, arty, math rock sweethearts Palm play The Lounge in Boulder with Bodymeat at 11 tonight. Tickets are $10, and both of these bands are really cutting all possible edges right now. Come hang out.
As always, tune in to 1190 AM, 98.9 FM in Boulder or online at radio1190.org.