Top Pops! January 2014: Death Vessel, School of Language, Farao, Tomas Barfod, Gardens & Villa, JMSN

“Pop music shouldn’t always get a bad rap,” says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of indie pop highlights across a selection of styles, updated every month to keep you on your wiggly toes.

“Pop music shouldn’t always get a bad rap,” says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of indie pop highlights across a selection of styles, updated every month to keep you on your wiggly toes.


Death Vessel – “Mercury Dime”

The type of song that just demands to be adored, Death Vessel’s “Mercury Dime” flies through all jingle-jangling worlds of sonic pleasure, using titillating adjectives like “mercurily blue” to paint a scene that relates human forms to nature. Androgynously-voiced frontman Joel Thibodeau confounds and entices simultaneously on the band’s forthcoming full-length album, Island Intervals, which comes out February 25th, 2014 on Sub Pop Records. This is just to wet your appetite for this neo-folk ambiance; catch them on tour this March.


School of Language – “Between The Suburbs”

Sounding quite seasoned for a band you’ve probably never heard of, School of Language reveals its hidden weapon in the familiar falsetto vocals David Brewis, frontman of Field Music. Now gracing us with his solo presence, Brewis will release Old Fears on April 7th via Memphis Industries (long-time Field Music collaborators), to be followed by a tour with a five-piece. Dates forthcoming.


Farao – “The Hours”

London-by-way-of-Reyjavik-and-Oslo musician Farao, aka Kari Jahnsen, pulls in the sounds of the European north on her debut four-track self-titled EP. Glittering like the greys and whites of snowfall, the EP is Full of gems, earnest, romantic, and hypnotic without being painfully derivative. It comes out on February 10th via Something Nothing Records.


Tomas Barfod – “Pulsing” (ft. Nina K)

Continuing with the same frosty Nordic breath as Farao is “Pulsing”, the collaboration between recent Secretly Canadian signee Tomas Barfod and female vocalist Nina K. Hailing from Denmark, Barfod will be releasing his new record on February 18th, to follow up his previous release, Salton Sea. This is the first glimpse.


Gardens & Villa – “Colony Glen”

This month once again brings with it a new track from Gardens & Villa, who will be releasing their second full-length on Secretly Canadian on February 4th. Sounding more mature than their debut self-titled effort, tracks like “Colony Glen” and the previously released “Bullet Train” explore complex vocal melodies, basslines that are truly astounding, and uncommon incorporations of the flute. Full tour dates below.

02/07 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
02/08 Santa Barbara, CA @ SOhO
02/11 Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom
02/13 Dallas, TX @ Three Links
02/14 Austin, TX @ Red 7
02/15 Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s: Downstairs
02/16 New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
02/18 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
02/19 Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle – Back Room
02/20 Washington, DC @ DC9
02/21 Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
02/22 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Club Upstairs
02/25 Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
02/26 Montreal, QC @ Il Motore
02/27 Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel
02/28 Holland, MI @ Hope College: Park Theater
03/01 Chicago, IL @ Schubas Tavern
03/02 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry
03/04 Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
03/05 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
03/07 San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
03/08 Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
03/20 Reno, NV @ The Holland Project
03/24 Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
03/25 Seattle, WA @ Barboza
03/26 Vancouver, BC @ Fortune Sound Club
03/28 Eugene, OR @ Sam Bonds


JMSN – “The One”

A bit Justin Timberlake-inspired in its delivery, this month’s JMSN track is accompanied by a strange video of forms mutated behind cloths, latex suits and wet crotches galore, as though to drive home the sensuality of it in the most abstract (and/or creepy, depending on your opinions on that sort of thing) possible. Even stranger, though, is when JMSN shows up, looking remarkably unlike anyone you would expect to create this kind of minimally soulful music, and there’s certainly something compelling about that. This is the second single from his †Pllaje† EP, self-released last year on White Room Records. Hear the first single here.


Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. 2022 sees the release of their next short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature film.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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