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 // 201
- “Stop Us” by SIYYU — This track is basically a distillation of every pop rock song on the radio right now — it’s got the synths, it’s got the piano, it’s got the acoustic guitar, it’s got the shout-chanted backing vocals, it’s got the inspirational “we’re all so great” vocals. The only thing it hasn’t got is a heart or soul of its own. It’s a great play-on-a-drive summer track, but don’t expect it to be anything more than that.
- “Postcards” by Equal feat. Sam Island — Atmospheric synths to lead, followed by fingerpicked guitar any folkie would enjoy. Soft vocals with a strong, if not vast, range. The song builds, adding both synth and acoustic elements. It crescendos beautifully, but perhaps a bit early — the tail-end of the song, plateaud, drags a little.
- “Badman” by D/C — I don’t know what to call this other than a straight-up soul/gospel ballad. It puts me in mind, almost, of Blind Boys of Alabama. Piano, bass, sparse percussion augmented by hand claps — this, plus the vocals (rich, sultry lead and gorgeous “oh-oh” chanting backing), are pretty much all there is to this song. And honestly anything else would only hurt it.
- “Little Higher” by Terace feat. Xavier Dunn — In a complete 180 from the previous, this cut is a straight-up EDM dance tune. Unwavering four-to-the-floor bass drum, minimal lyrics (aside from a few lines right at the top and again about midway, the majority of the lyrics are “left a little higher” repeated throughout the tune altered by various effects), programmed drums heavy on the hi-hat action. Pretty much your standard fare — well-executed, but unspecial.
- “Alison (Elvis Costello cover)” by POP ETC — And here we have a cover of Elvis Costello’s 1977 classic “Alison.” Acoustic guitar and vocals only (well, some bass in the chorus, as well), it’s a fine song, if a bit Jack Johnsonesque. My thought on covers is this: if you’re going to cover a tune, especially a classic, you have to really make it special, honor the song while propelling it into a new genre or time. This cover doesn’t really do that: it just sort of is.
- “We Want Love” by Snacks — This is an interesting tune. A little EDM, a little ‘80s pop, a little funk, a little soul. Shakers, synth, more synth, wood blocks. It’s an interesting mix of things but, like Kakou’s contribution last week, never really goes anywhere.
- “Real” by Henrietta — While this song is dominated by the vocals (and rightly so — they’re bold and luscious), the sexy slightly-off-kilter jazzy drums and squelchy synths make prominent appearances, too. It’s just a sultry, grooving tune.
- “Love Me Blind” by Bondax — Vocals from the ‘80s (very like Michael Jackson at times), piano phrasing very much the same, with turn of the century EDM programmed drums, and modern electronics. Nothing is bad, and you’ll find yourself bobbing along to the tune — but when you get to the end you’ll find it made precisely no impression.
- “Suddenly” by Drugdealer feat. Weyes Blood — While a number of tunes on this mixtape played around with sounds from the ‘80s, this track is straight up ‘70s disco-type pop rock. It’s light, airy, funky, and just cheesy enough to illicit a self-indulgent smile (as opposed to pained grimace).
- “Paradise Gold” by Savoir Adore — I don’t know how else to describe this song but as pop. It’s electronic heavy, almost experimental in ways. It’s got chanty backing lyrics straight out of an inspirational pop rock tune. It’s got a decidedly EDM-inflected programmed drum line. It’s the vocals that really do it — I can only call them boyband-ish. It’s nice, but not much more than that.
Stand Outs: By the time we got into the second half of this playlist, I was starting to worry. D/C’s “Badman” was a gorgeous tune, but my interest wasn’t piqued again until “Real” by Henrietta, a completely different but also completely gorgeous tune. Drugdealer feat. Weyes Blood rounded us out, with their very well executed (if slightly kitschy) ‘70s disco pop tune.
Let Downs: There were a lot of tunes this week that failed to meet their promise, were good but kind of standard, or over-relied on recycled sounds. Still, they mostly faded into the background — there was nothing I’m comfortable branding as a true, proper “let down.”
Verdict: Noon Pacific // 201 was lackluster, especially following 200 last week, which best exemplified my favorite aspects of this playlist. Nothing was horrible, so that’s something, but there was a lot of largely unimpressive middle ground type stuff.
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.