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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.



Yuno - Moodie EP Music Album Reviews

Yuno - Moodie EP Music Album Reviews
The multi-talented Floridian musician flaunts his 2000s indie and emo influences on a debut EP of perky pop that chronicles a post-breakup transformation.

Yuno Moodie literally makes pop music in his bedroom, but “bedroom pop” doesn’t quite cover his range. The Florida native’s influences (which he’s never been reticent to shout out) are a mixed bag of 2000s indie and emo gems, encompassing AFI, Regina Spektor, Animal Collective, Flight of the Conchords, and many more. And the new Sub Pop signee doesn’t just write, perform, record, and engineer all of his music—he creates all of the accompanying visuals, from album art to music videos.

His debut, Moodie, comes in the form of a breakup record. Although it is Yuno’s surname, the EP's title also suggests the spectrum of vivid emotions and dynamic instrumentation contained within its six songs. Moving on can be a process, and Moodie explores the varying degrees of acceptance, anger, and misery that ordeal entails. Yuno illuminates how the end of a relationship can create a disjointed sense of self. As painful and intense as the experience of putting oneself back together in the aftermath of heartbreak can be, it can also serve as a catalyst for reflection and growth. In Yuno’s case, the breakup turns out to be an impetus for self-discovery and innovation.

Opening track “Amber” captures the sense of chaos that immediately follows a big breakup, interspersed with glimpses of future clarity and relief. It begins with a recording of Yuno preaching strength and love in Jamaican patois. His childlike nasal vocals are manipulated and filtered, as though rescued from an old warped tape from his parents’ home island. But the words themselves suggest an older and wiser version of Yuno giving his younger self a pep talk: “You must look inna di mirror, bust through the exterior, and be the superior.” In the chorus, however, he can’t help but rifle through memories saturated in melancholy. “Please call for help, I need to hear an ambulance,” he begs, amid muffled yelling and yelps that mimic the sound of a siren. The song’s vibe remains pleasant even as Yuno succumbs to hysteria, brightened by clinking glass and a hopscotching ballpark-organ riff. It’s a complementary lead-in to the defiant “No Going Back,” solidifying his resolve to resist the bittersweet memories that keep infiltrating his mind.

The EP’s standout is “So Slow,” an exercise in catharsis and self-actualization buoyed by bright, balmy sounds. As clanking chimes swim around a hopping bassline, Yuno sounds as though he’s yelling into a cave (a vocal effect he employs with less success on the fierce, Sleigh Bells-style preceding track, “Why For”). “Still I have to wait for relief/I’ll be OK eventually,” he shouts, with an urgency that captures the psychological intensity of his healing process. A testament of growth, “So Slow” also recognizes that change doesn’t happen all at once. “For the ones who move fast/Time heals so slow/But soon you’ll move past,” Yuno assures the listener—and himself.

Moodie is about facing the unknown and feeling lost in your own life, and in that sense, it’s more than just a breakup record. Beginning with uncertainty and ending with a newfound understanding of personal strength, its narrative of self-discovery also suggests the process of an artist developing his creative identity. In the jovial pep talk from “Amber,” Yuno concludes, “Yah haffi be somebody you are proud to be.” He both portrays and achieves this transformation on his first EP, in a triumphant combination of vulnerable, emotionally complex lyricism and perky pop.

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