Brazilian-born producer Amon Tobin often assumes a nom de plume for new projects: hip-hop-meets-drum-and-bass as Cujo, heavy bass as Two Fingers, punked out electronic as Only Child Tyrant, and a master of cutting, splicing, repurposing and modulating under his given name. His newest alter ego, Figueroa, presents Tobin’s electronic vision of psychedelic folk. Tobin spent 10 years, on and off, working on the material that makes up the debut Figueroa album, The World As We Know It, during periods of isolation in the woods of Northern California. The sweeping Spanish guitar of lead single “Weather Girl” is a testament to Tobin’s mastery of sound design: He created the sounds of traditional instrumentation in the studio. In a hushed voice, Tobin wonders: “Do you ever feel like something’s severed / Something’s wrong?” But the track rollicks along, just as the world does, problems be damned.
“Sometimes He’s in My Dreams,” Mary Lattimore
While harpist Mary Lattimore has added silvery flourishes to albums by indie wunderkinds like Kurt Vile, Thurston Moore and Sharon Van Etton, her solo work is capable of capturing emotions without a word. For the lead single off Lattimore’s upcoming album, Silver Ladders, shoegaze guitarist Neil Halstead (Slowdive) grounds Lattimore’s ethereal harp with warm loops to create the sensation of seeing someone in a dream — sad and beautiful at once. As Lattimore’s harp leads you gently toward the end of the song, you can feel yourself waking up, the dream fading away, the sensation of it just on the edge of memory.
“Do You Need Me,” Lewis Del Mar
The electro-acoustic indie pop of Lewis Del Mar comes from two people, guitarist Danny Miller and drummer Max Harwood, who met when they were just 9, living in Washington, D.C. They formed Lewis Del Mar (both their fathers are named Lewis) in 2013 after relocating to Rockaway Beach, New York (the Del Mar part), and soon found widespread acclaim for their 2016 self-titled debut. Their upcoming new record, August, sees a continuation of the duo’s propensity for sun-kissed, folk-tinged melodies with Latin-inspired percussion. “Do You Need Me” is a danceable song about being a questionable person. Harwood laments, “I’m a sucker / I’m a lush and a fiend / Nights I wonder / If that’s all I’ll ever be / All my life.”
Multi-instrumentalist Richard Houghton learned to cut vinyl records to put out his own music. His one-of-a-kind pressings — holographic, vivid colors, splatter designs — are as beautiful and varied as his music. Inspired by genre-blending electronic artists like DJ Shadow and Bonobo, Houghton lays traditional instrumentation over found sounds. “I walk around the house and hit pans and boxes and make drum beats that way,” Houghton said in an interview with YouTube channel Vinyl Rewind. Warm and groovy, Houghton’s guitar on “Egyptian Boogie” — off his new album Sailing Through Rainbows of Sound — is reminiscent of the smooth, clean tones guitarist John Frusiante brought to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ songs like “Scar Tissue” via his single-coil pickup Fender Strat.