High Spirits – Magenta Moody Pairs Favorite Morning Substances on ‘Coffee and Reefer’

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Magenta Moody, right, and James Miller bring a rock feel to the alternate version of “Coffee and Reefer.” Photo – Dominic Smalls

For Magenta Moody, each day starts with a chill morning routine.

The Roseville EDM-dream pop artist combines java and Mary Jane to soothe the senses and calm the mind on her latest carefree, reggae-inspired single, “Coffee and Reefer.”

“I love to make a nice cup of hazelnut coffee, pack a raw cone and head to my balcony to start my day. I have a beautiful balcony, and the trees are so dense that you can’t see the surrounding neighbors or anything for that matter,” said Mercedes Jefferson, aka Magenta Moody.

“It’s just trees, sunlight and a couple of very vocal birdies. Coffee picks me up and warms my soul while smoking soothes my nerves and clears my mind, so the combination is magical.”

Moody quickly creates a magical three-minute “Coffee and Reefer” escape for listeners as stormy beats, jingling tambourine, placid synths, light hand claps and breezy bass seep into the body and mind.

She shares, “I know I’ve been really sketchy/Bad decisions seem so tempting/I’m just you, and you’re my best me/You’re my best me/I’d like to meet ya/Coffee and reefer/Hot like a fever/I’d like to meet ya.”

“The song is meant to be a light, feel-good song, and I want people to start their day on a bright and chill note. I wrote ‘Coffee and Reefer’ on the aforementioned balcony, of course. Besides my car, it’s my favorite place to write,” Jefferson said.

Moody also released an alternate version of “Coffee and Reefer,” which features guitarist James Miller playing thoughtful, deep-tone electric strums alongside her echoey vocals.

“I was looking for a guitarist to a do a show with me, and James responded to an inquiry I posted. We’ve been jamming ever since. As we practiced in my living room, I showed him my version of the song,” Jefferson said.

“His interpretation of the song that he played in response to hearing it was so beautiful. He asked if I had recorded yet and insisted on being part of it. I think he adds a groovy, yet alternative vibe, and his instrumentation fits perfectly with the lyrics.”

Moody recorded both versions of the track at Parallel Sounds Studio in Sterling Heights with engineer Tony Boguth. The original version features production by SYBLYNG and mixing by Mark Ringold Jr., aka Krypto Divine, while the alternate version is mixed and mastered by Boguth.

With both versions of “Coffee and Reefer” out, Moody wants to record a video with a “That ‘70s Show” concept and feel.

“It could be some friends and me sitting in a circle getting a smoke session in like they do in every episode. I’d love to work with Joe Hendo again or Tiffadelic Media to make the vision come to life. They both are great with creative direction and execution,” she said.

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Dream Theater – Weekend Lovers Creates Psychotropic Realm on Vibrant ‘Baby’ Video

Weekend Lovers delightfully brings the vivid, hallucinogenic dream world of REM sleep to life.

The Tucson, Arizona dream pop-post rock collective unveils a kaleidoscopic collage of masked fashionable friends, trippy desert adventures and vintage landline phones on their latest video for “Baby.”

“I wanted a nonlinear narrative, and the song is told in bites as a tale of emotions. I think our brains also remember things not necessarily in order, and I wanted some of the best visuals I took over the course of some time,” said Marta DeLeon, Weekend Lovers’ vocalist-bassist.

“It’s basically a day in the life of my life in Tucson, and the city is one of the characters too representing the southwest and its beauty. Thrift and dollar store finds and the Halloween section at Target brought the fantasy mood and props to help my cast be funny or interpretive.”

As the video’s director, DeLeon intricately stitched together a series of brief psychedelic vignettes through a Videoleap app on her iPhone. Together, those colorful scenes created the carefree, experimental world depicted in “Baby” along with additional footage from Luke Ralston.

“I carry my iPhone everywhere, so there were more opportunities to shoot things I’d run into daily in my life that might be cool little visuals. Videoleap is a more developed aka Instagram venture with abilities like timing, speed, filters and mixers that allowed me to overlay the double exposure you see,” she said.

“That really helped me pull together all the 2-second to 4-second videos I was strewing together and gave the overall video some seamless pace and movement. I already had some random quirky storyboard images, and I love movies and write lyrics cinematically.”

DeLeon also recruited a fun cast of bandmates and friends to reside within her psychotropic realm. Along with Jungle Jazzy and Laura Eliason, Weekend Lovers’ Brandon Douglas (keys, guitars, backup vocals), Danny Perez (guitar) and Gabriela Lisk (drums, guitars) join DeLeon throughout “Baby.”

“I can’t really say the song wouldn’t soar as well or hit as much without Gaby Lisk or Danny Perez. I wrote the song with this Portishead bassline and vocal phrasing, but Gaby’s hard joyous drum downbeat propelled the opening ‘ooh-ahhs.’ Danny’s guitar is a creepy, crawling beauty, but then his smacking, slinky strumming hits you in the face,” said DeLeon, who’s inspired by shadows and murals in Tucson’s Barrio Viejo neighborhood.

“My engineer Matt Rendon came up with the backup vocals, which give the chorus its tension musically and emotional necessary angst. They were all open to my preconceived ideas with the props or locations. Some moments were just great mistakes.”

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Made to Heal – The Stratton Playlist December 2020 Edition Provides Soothing Escape

As the year (thankfully) comes to a close, we reflect on the strength, grit and willpower that slowly got us through. Together, we relied on new soothing, hopeful tracks that provided a welcome escape from the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation, political rifts, grief and loss.

Uplifting, rewarding bits of indie folk, country-pop, folk rock, psych rock, shiny lo-fi soul, reggae, dreamy pop, chill hip-hop and experimental art rock demonstrate the courageous creative and emotional spirit we all share heading into 2021.

The latest edition of The Stratton Playlist provides an introspective sonic path for healing, reflection and growth. Featured musical healers and friends include Lily Milo, Meredith Shock, Mark Jewett, The Soods, Dani Darling, Joss Jaffe, Ava Panza, Blaksmith, Dirt Room and more.

Thank you for everyone who supported The Stratton Setlist in 2020. It’s an honor to feature you and the share wonderful music you create today and tomorrow. Interested in becoming part of The Stratton Playlist on Spotify? Send your submissions to strattonsetlist@yahoo.com. All artists and genres welcome.

False Note – Joss Jaffe Uncovers Empty Political ‘Promises’ with Mykal Rose

Joss Jaffe unearths political fallacies on “Promises,” with reggae legend Mykal Rose. Photo – Kim Jae Yoon

For Joss Jaffe, today’s global political climate runs rampant with false promises.

The Oakland, California world music singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist shares this widely held notion in his latest reggae-infused single, “Promises,” with Mykal Rose.

“Ultimately, I think politics is always divisive. Peter Tosh would call it ‘politricks.’ But yes, this period in time has been especially unprecedented. Although I do not call out Trump by name in this song and take the approach of an old-school reggae song, where we speak in metaphors and allegory stories, clearly it references the cascade of lies and falsehoods that seem to never end,” Jaffe said.

“However, yes, the song also speaks to the timeless, and sadly, seemingly ever relevant problems this poor type of leadership brings, and it’s not just limited to the U.S.”

Throughout “Promises,” Jaffe and Rose quickly unstitch the increasing fallacies Trump and other controversial political figures continually weave into society’s fraying fabric. Vibrant horns, thumping drums, bouncy bass, breezy synths, spirited organ and peppy electric guitar seamlessly undo each tumultuous thread.

Rose eagerly chants, “Promises are a comfort to a fool/All they wanna give is promises/We know the golden rule/Yet they wanna use you like a footstool.” In response, Jaffe soulfully sings, “Step on you to reach that goal/And cast you aside when you played your role/Promises that keep on saying/But then you look at them and see they’d never change.”

“My vision for this song is something that’s uplifting and triumphant over adversity. Something that rises above the current moment, however difficult it is, and gets back in touch with the universal consciousness,” Jaffe said.

With honest, reflective lyrics and a hypnotic reggae sway, Jaffe and Rose triumph with “Promises” as a fitting theme song for our turbulent political and social times. The track serves as the duo’s second dynamic collaboration since the divine, glistening “Elohim” with Shimshai in 2015 for Jaffe’s Dub Mantra Sangha album.

“Mykal Rose has always been one of my longtime heroes of reggae music. We have a mutual friend named Siah who is his guitar player and produces some of his songs. Mykal is a true legend; rocksteady in the studio and always pushing everyone to capture their best possible take. It was a true blessing,” Jaffe said.

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Sonic Potion – New Drinking Mercury Album Drenches Listeners in Soothing Folky Dream Pop

Drinking Mercury will host an album release show Saturday at The Robin Theatre in Lansing.

Editor’s Note: Fans can now pre-order Drinking Mercury’s self-titled album on vinyl with a bonus download of alternate mixes, live recordings and demos. 

It only takes one swig of Drinking Mercury’s new self-titled album to feel warm and dreamy on an overcast November day.

In this case, the Lansing indie rock quartet’s newest album functions as a sonic potion drenching listeners in soothing waves of vibrant folk-influenced dream pop.

“We knew that was the kind of record we wanted to make. Michael Boyes and I had done a lot of acoustic shows together, or rather where he played acoustic and I played electric,” said Tommy McCord, Drinking Mercury’s guitarist and vocalist, about the band’s latest release out today via GTG Records.

“We had focused on embracing that sort of finger style-like folky guitar playing and bringing that in with more textural and psychedelic stuff. From there, it was a matter of filling in the arrangements, but we all knew we wanted to have the vocals be really prominent and arranged on the album.”

Soaring vocal harmonies intertwined with slow, thumping drumbeats, driving basslines and gentle acoustic and electric guitars abound on the band’s striking follow-up to 2011’s alt-folk debut, “Orcades.”

Recording Drinking Mercury, Split Album with The Soods

To create the album’s laid-back feel, McCord invited longtime friends and bandmates Boyes (guitar, vocals), Timmy Rodriguez (bass, keys, vocals) and Kevin Adams (drums) to his family’s 60-year-old rustic cabin in Bitely last July to record new material.

“It’s like the cliché of getting back to nature to write your masterpiece. My grandpa and some other guys built this cabin in the early ‘50s, so I’ve been going there my whole life. I had thought in a daydream it would be cool to record an album up here,” said McCord, who co-formed Drinking Mercury nearly 20 years ago with Adams while growing up in Ionia.

“It’s not like it’s a big acoustically awesome space. It’s just a pretty simple cabin, but it’s in a beautiful area, and the atmosphere is really relaxed, and your cell phone doesn’t work there, and there’s no internet.”

Continue reading “Sonic Potion – New Drinking Mercury Album Drenches Listeners in Soothing Folky Dream Pop”