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Spirit Goth Best of 2023 ✨


SG55: Coolhand Jax - Proper Fun [Album]

MAY 19, 2023

Coolhand Jax is the solo pop project of Los Angeles-based artist Jake Weissman. Proper Fun is Weissman’s debut full length album, following both his 2020 debut EP No Dreams of Anything and his sophomore EP Superstar Baby - each release has been a dazzling continuation of his 80’s inspired take on lo-fi psychedelic pop.

In Proper Fun, Weissman expands this tenfold, packing to the brim with lush melodies, groovy, yet sturdy basslines, and reverb-drenched vocals. Vivid tracks like “The Matinee” and the larger-than-life, mileLi-a-minute ballad “On the TV,” exploding with bright menageries of color, prove Coolhand Jax’s staggering expansiveness; this is something that is, ironically, even further emphasized when alongside the slower, slightly more whimsical tracks like “Days Go By” and “8th and 84th,” showing Weissmann’s softer side. Ultimately, Proper Fun is an apt title, and a brilliantly ironic one at that; akin to desperately leaning up against a door threatening to burst, it cheekily alludes to the sheer vitality and joy that lies within, should you give in and turn the handle.

SG55: Coolhand Jax - Proper Fun
Listen / Stream - Cassette Tape

SG54: High Sunn - Heavenly Petticoat [Album]

APR 21, 2023

High Sunn is the solo lofi pop project of San Francisco-based artist Justin Cheromiah. His latest album Heavenly Petticoat, released this spring, is a clear continuation of his remarkably balanced dream pop and garage rock discography, described by Cheromiah overall as “a caring and devoting love soundtrack that is wrapped up in a soft fluffy release.” Calling it a soundtrack to love rather than an album is brilliantly apt, given the cinematic quality of these tracks; jangly guitar and deep, thunderous bass, like in the heartsick stunner “her wild mind,” create a stable foundation for Cheromiah’s perfectly hazy vocals, while tracks like “visual love” and opener “angelic beginnings” show a fun, upbeat side, reminiscent of a late spring and early summer’s day. There’s a grittiness here for sure, but it’s softened by a stronger, almost perfumed overlay of patience and honesty.

Ultimately, Heavenly Petticoat is a tribute to love and devotion in a world of cynicism and stoicism, and, more importantly, to those in our lives that constantly prove the former.

SG54: High Sunn - Heavenly Petticoat [Album]
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SG53: Magic Gardening Club - Magic Gardening Club [EP]

FEB 15, 2023

Magic Gardening Club is the psychedelic synth pop project of Spanish musicians Erica Romero Pender, David Alonso, and Cristian Pineda. From the very first track, their recent self-titled debut EP has a sense of striking immediacy, and this unique energy continues well until the last few seconds of the closer. A conscious mix of funky synth, like in the upbeat “Satellite,” nostalgic vocals like in mercurial opener “2 Wrongs,” and strong, potent basslines and percussion like in the celestial “Far Gone,” the EP is a fantastic glimpse into their sound - a mix of various textures to both tease and soothe the palate, a step into an otherworldly atmosphere where anything can grow.

“Far Gone” centers around layers of rhythm guitars and a smooth bassline while being lead by the soft vocals and strong lyrics that represent a theme of moving on by front woman, Pender. The final track, “Easier,” is slower and contemplative, highlighting again dreamy vocals that are accompanied by the lush instrumental.

SG53: Magic Gardening Club - Magic Gardening Club [EP]
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SG52: freddyboy - Hobby [EP]

FEB 03, 2023

Back in 2018, with just a handful of melodies recorded on a thrifted tape machine, Toronto-based musician Freddy Kwon began his solo bedroom pop project freddyboy. This speaks to Kwon’s level of concision, his ability to build and layer an entire world seamlessly within a small space — for instance, in just three tracks, Kwon’s 2021 sophomore EP Vignette002 beautifully solidified his unique multi-textured and maximalist take on lo-fi dream pop, seamlessly expanding on what he introduced in his debut EP Vignette001 exactly one year prior.

Hobby, his dreamy third EP, is another focused preservation and expansion of these ideas in a way that feels even more grounded. From the pensive, wistful vocals in lead single “On and On” to the lithe, crystalline guitar echoes in “This Time,” Hobby is a beauty beginning to end, a gorgeous continuation of the impressive expanse that Kwon has built in so little time. Bright and earnest, each of its five tracks feels like an much-needed escape from the world and its many expectations. 

SG52: freddyboy - Hobby [EP]
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SG51: GRMLN - Dark Moon [LP]

JAN 04, 2023

 Jangly Guitar-based Dream Pop Album by GRMLN

GRMLN is the solo project of Korean/Japanese artist Yoodoo Park. The American/Australian based musician has released a number of albums over the past decade, the two most recent being his 2021 LP Laughing Shadow and his 2022 LP American Boy; both releases beautifully accomodated soft, echoed, ebuillent acoustic guitar work and patient, passionate narratives about heartache and memory.


However, Park’s 2022 LP Dark Moon proves that he is a jack-of-all-trades (and master of all); as the title suggests, the album is instead on the evocative, contemplative side, with oceanic vocal echo, experimental eects, and heavier reverb than his releases past. Simultaneously delicate and volatile, tracks like the soft, gloomy “New Human” and the eerie, yet exhilarating “Snake” show Park entering an entirely new domain, one that is, seamlessly, of his own awless, meticulous making.

SG51: GRMLN - Dark Moon [LP]
Listen / Stream - Cassette Tape - Instagram

SG50: Orchid Mantis - How Long Will It Take [LP]

NOV 11, 2022

Orchid Mantis Evokes The Coveted Nostalgia Like That Of Old Photographs

Orchid Mantis is the experimental bedroom pop project of Atlanta-based artist Thomas Howard. Since the project’s start in 2014, Howard’s now signature lo-fi sound has gracefully inhabited the space that separates ambient compositional structures and pop songwriting, frequently utilizing obscure samples and unique recording techniques; overall, his sound evokes the coveted nostalgia like that of old photographs and precious, irreplaceable mementos. Howard thoughtfully carves space for narratives detailing - as it says in his bandcamp bio - songs about “forgetting;” in other words, he brilliantly explores the elusive, fleeting natures of memory, time, and place, resulting in immensely earnest works that often feel blissfully surreal in the way they attempt to encapsulate not only abstract emotions, but the way in which these emotions have the tendency to overlap.

How Long Will It Take is Howard’s seventh full length album, primarily about the reality of loss as well as the often lengthy and painful process of letting go. And yet, just like his past discography - most recently, the gorgeous Visitations, there’s still an essence of hope despite the deep wistfulness; throughout, Howard’s vocals, bright and focused, seem to evoke a beam of light piercing through a dense fog. Opener “Time Flows” comments on the idea of falling back into the past: “And it will never be just like/ things have been before / And I could never understand it / I’ve never been the one to close the door.” But Howard has always orchestrated a consistent current that courses through his albums; even tonally opposite tracks, like the upbeat ballad “I Could Live In Sleep” and the slightly somber “You Have My Soul” still very much feel like kindred spirits. “Nothing feels the same / but nothing’s really changed,” he explains in lead single “Lucid Dreams,” the ever-expanding chorus hinting at something like subtle epiphany. Ultimately, the album seems to be an oscillation, looking to the past and future, yes, but aware that he’s hovering somewhere in the ether of the present.

SG50: Orchid Mantis - How Long Will It Take [LP]
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SG49: Soft Pastels - Shutters View [LP]

SEP 22, 2022

Shutters View is a gorgeous expounding of evocation and melancholy

Based in San Francisco, Soft Pastels is a solo project taking inspiration from new wave, cold wave, and dream pop. Shutters View is his first full-length album in just over five years, following the release of his 2017 album No Loss. Flawlessly mixed by Matt Messore (Cathedral Bells, Midi Memory), Shutters View is a gorgeous expounding of evocation and melancholy, continuously oscillating between the act of hearkening back to new/cold wave pasts as well as beckoning towards modern dream pop futures.

Opener “They Run” and closer “Knock on the Door” are both beautifully textured instrumental tracks; the former, dark, mysterious, and the slightest bit somber, eventually merges into the latter, a lush, full expanse of glitchy, metallic synth that seems to carry within it the feelings explored in the previous nine tracks. It’s soon clear, though, that the closer is yet another introduction; there are four literal knocks at the end, a motion that signals something like opportunity despite the suddenness by which it occurs.

SG49: Soft Pastels - Shutters View [LP]
Listen / Stream - Cassette Tape
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