Noon Pacific

Once a week at roughly 12pm Pacific Standard Time on Monday, a gentleman by the name of Clark Dinnison releases a mixtape of 10 carefully curated songs that are making big waves on his radar. This is Noon Pacific.

Noon Pacific // 190

  • “Summertime” by Latir (Aaron London remix) — This song fades in over the course of about 15 seconds worth of wave noises, which I’m feeling a little torn about. Most prominent is the synth organ, but its backed by a solid R&B drumline and augmented by some smooth jazz sax. About a third of the way through, the song shifts from that jazzy vibe to a distinct ‘80s slow jam one, and 50 seconds after that it shifts ago to a smoky club jazz thing, complete with upright bass. Unlike other songs that mash distinctly different sounds together, this one works.
  • “Nautical Things” by Katmaz — After an intro of sparse piano and sporadically-popular-in-pop-style vocals (very James Blunt), a little mandolin kicks in. Unexpected. Even more unexpected was when, at about 1:20, it starts to shift from its mushy pop vibe to a distinctly rock one. The drums pick up the pace, vocals increase in intensity, and we’re bathed in unearthly atmospheric guitar. It returns to its roots, plus a delightfully awkward horn, for the outro.
  • “Deluca” by Ruby Empress — This one opens on a gorgeous, aqueous guitar riff before the rest of the instrumentation pops in. From there, the track maintains a steady indie rock meets electronic meets funk vibe. The vocals start off with a slightly strained falsetto with just enough low notes thrown in to keep interesting. The instrumentation is lush, especially as the surprisingly big outro gets underway. A really strong track.
  • “Magic” by Dead Ceremony — This cut is pretty pure California electronica (at least so far as my admittedly biased East Coast mind is concerned). Rich middle-range vocals groove along, sandwiched between a quickly paced plunky bassline and a series of synth, notably one that’s somewhere between a vibraphone and a squelch. But then we get to about the 2 minute mark — the song explodes and takes on a personality that both conflicts with and perfectly suits what came before. I’m not even going to try to describe what it sounds like, just go listen to it.
  • “Closer” by MΛJIK — There’s a lot of sounds that go on in this song, but it’s the vocals that, far and away, steal the show. They’re not at all what one would expect, for one thing — I was waiting for some falsetto R&B style stuff, but here they’re a thick, dusky, almost-but-not-quite raspy sound, a beautiful deepness. Every time the singer opens his mouth, the rest of the song fades into obscurity.
  • “Call Me” by Other Earth — I don’t really know what to make of this song, even after a number of repeated listens. The vocals — primary female ones echoed, note for note, by heavily distorted male ones — seem to be at odds with the overall rhythm of the song, particularly during the verses. I simultaneously love and hate it. Musically this cut is pretty… average. It’s filled with perfectly nice programmed drums and perfectly atmospheric synth, but it’s all stuff I’ve heard time and time again.
  • “Same Faces” by Jordan Mackampa — For the third time this playlist, I’m most struck by to vocals. Here, they’re refreshingly raw and unpolished. Pure, almost, would be a good word. They’re backed beautifully, if minimalistically, by rambling rockabilly-meets-blues drums, beautifully melodic guitar and bass, some piano chords. This track embodies the less is more ethos — even when it picks up in the chorus, it still skips the temptation to go overboard.
  • “Feel4U” by Sunni (Colón) — This song is very much an ‘80s era smooth hip hop/R&B sort of thing. The bass is huge and grumbly, the guitar is funk-inflected, there’s a bit of jazz flute floating about. It’s very ‘80s, but in some indescribable way it’s also very modern. It’s confusing, I guess is what I’m trying to say.
  • “Airy Canary” by Violet Sands — I really wanted to like a tune called “Airy Canary” and at first the quirky percussion and almost-8-bit synths had me going, but then the rest of the instrumentation kicked in. It’s another very ‘80s sounding song. Everything is very well executed — especially the vocals, which are perhaps the best part of the track — but it’s just been done so so so many times before.
  • “Eventually” by Wingtip — This is a really nice example of electronica with a mind toward indie rock. (I guess the kids call that “synthpop,” and the even younger kids call it “indietronica.”) To my ears its very much in the vein of a Phoenix or a Passion Pit. Its sound is bold and rich, without being overwhelming. The synths fall into a killer trancey groove that the guitars chirp along happily underneath.

Stand Outs: I liked a lot about this playlist, but some of the tracks made a real impression. Just the whole vibe of Ruby Empress’ “Deluca” was super pleasant, that electronic sound with touches of indie rock and funk. Dead Ceremony’s “Magic” was a steady grooving track but that out-of-left-field escalation really elevated it from “good” to “excellent.” Finally, Jordan Mackampa’s “Same Faces” is a stunning, beautiful example of how less can be more.

Let Downs: Both well put together songs, both “Feel4U” by Sunni (Colón) and “Airy Canary” by Violet Sands share a distinct ‘80s vibe that, at the risk of sounding snotty as hell, I’m just kind of over.

Verdict: Noon Pacific // 190 was a very strong, very enjoyable mixtape. There were a few surprises, a few songs that got very big very quickly in very interesting ways. There was a notable indie rock influence, which shifted the whole tone of the list in a fun way. And even the “let downs” weren’t let downs so much as they were just not quite my scene.

Noon Pacific, a labor of love, is updated with a new 10-track mixtape every week. Sign up here — it’s totally free, and you’ll get an email notification every Monday when the new tape goes live.

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