On June 14th, Bruno Mars released the music video for his single entitled “Treasure“. This catchy tune was penned by a team made up of Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Phredley Brown, and Mars himself. The production side of the track was taken care of by everyone but Brown, a trio often called The Smeezingtons. “Treasure” along with many other of Mars’ newest songs are featured on his newest album, Unorthodox Jukebox.
The music video for “Treasure” was filmed in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 20th, 2013, which happened to be the day after the band’s live performance of the song at the Billboard Music Awards. When the music video was released in June, Mars first made it public from his Twitter account saying,
“Treasure” is described as a funky and retro tune, taking inspiration from older groups like The Jackson 5. Both in the music video and during live performances, Mars and the rest of his band use choreography that was made popular in the 60’s & 70’s. You will also notice the cinematography equipment and techniques they used in the video, allowing it to look like it was filmed 30 to 40 years ago.
I find myself drawn to two musical sectors when I scour the beautifully spacious world of audible interweb art: bands that hit a genre right on the head with a fresh perspective, or artists that create something illustrious by melding multiple genres, techniques, and sounds together. With respect to the latter, let me introduce Baths, or the musical brilliance of Los-Angeles based Will Wiesenfeld. Wiesenfeld uses electronic blips, a variety of instruments, and often staggeringly pained – yet captivating – lyrical content. Baths’ sophomore album, Obsidian was just recently released, redirecting absorbing sounds into a darker vocal station with a slightly poppier presentation. Dangerously dark pop – think Postal Service electro-gaze through the awesome yet demented essence of WHY?.
Are you interested yet?
Despite a slight fixation on morbid themes and questions of mortality, the sounds of Baths will sink gently into your ears and permeate the music-analyzing parts of your brain – in a good way.
The first single from the album, and perhaps the most danceable track, is “Miasma Sky.” This song features calculated techno elements in a somber pop presentation. As one of the most cohesive and structured tracks of the album, Wiesenfeld’s floating, ghostly voice presents persistent painful questions. Throughout this song particularly, especially through the seamless modulation, Wiesenfeld demonstrates his musical ingenuity.
“Ossuary” is a standout track, taking on an aggressive start and easing into a sweet melody with an energetic beat and assured tone. Wiesenfeld sings, ‘Once interred, in turn to turn to bone, fate unseen, kiss the stone. You hope that where you are, that you’re not alone.’ Faintly Pinback-ish and playful, “Ossuary” is one of the faster-paced tracks in this emotional collection.
The story of the track “Incompatible” drips of realism and unfolds as an account of love that doesn’t kindle but instead stews, and tragically fails. The dark temptations of love and the coldness of being used is described lyrically and throughout the layered vocals: ‘Resign and find any other stupid thing to do with my time, I was never poetic and never kind.’ This callous track presents the antithesis of perfect adoration; it is an exemplary integration of beautiful nostalgia and modern experimental musical resonance.
One of the dominant tracks I found stuck in my head was “No Eyes.” This track is powerfully explicit and features a propelling melody. The pre-chorus ‘la la la’ background dictates playful emotions regardless of the lyrics’ sexual demands and rejection of sentimentality: ‘And it is not a matter of if you love it, but it is only a matter of my fix.’ “No Eyes” also includes delicate sounds of clinking glass during the airy bridge before building again with an intense mid-song digital shock sound (it’s hard to explain – listen @ 2:40). The lyrics are dispirited and disturbing, but refreshingly so, like we’re peering into Wiesenfeld’s personal journal of obscure musical art.
This track gets the uber-cool artistry award: “No Past Lives” features a dichotomy of playful staccato piano arcs and deep swirling synth layers. Wiesenfeld sings, ‘Baby be a little less afraid, your shaking’s keeping me awake, heaven is still on the way.’ This unique track may have the most vaguely uplifting lyrics, while presenting a fascinating, puzzling soundscape.
If you can get past the delicately morbid and gauzy sexual lyrics – I highly recommend Baths. An album like this is ultimately incomparable; it’s fascinating in both the musicianship and the landscape of auditory texture that Wiesenfeld creates. Take a moment and give it a listen.
Is it worth your time? Absolutely. For whatever else, Stephen Bruner is one of the finest and most interesting players to emerge from Los Angeles in some time, and one of the few who can truly be said to be bringing virtuosity back into bass.
In April, they paired up with Nelly to release a remix of their hit “Cruise,” and even made a new, revamped music video. However strange it may sound, they’ve charted in the top 20 on the iTunes All-Genre chart since its release.