The Jacksonville music scene rewards those who dig in and immerse themselves in the community of talented songwriters and performers just below the surface. We’ve combed through some recent releases from local musicians and found three hidden gems that deserve a spot on your latest playlist, from bedroom pop maestros crafting synthesizer soundscapes to a pair of international collaborations.
Cosmic Link: “Metaphysical”
A new collaboration between UK-based producer Ben Dubuisson, the mastermind behind the long-running hip hop/soul label High Noon Music, and Jacksonville-based vocalist/composer/educator Jay Myztroh, Cosmic Link will release “Metaphysical,” their debut EP on October 21. The album’s first single and title track is a perfect introduction to their sonic universe, where dubby, psychedelic soul production techniques perfectly complement Myztroh expressive vocals and inquisitive lyrics. “Metaphysical” is a song full of provocative questions that inspire reflection in the listener, Myztroh asks puzzlers like “Does your activity produce or consume?” before advising “be mindful how you spend your time here, give it to people and the things that make you grow,” a message we can all get behind. cosmiclink.bandcamp.com
The Jax: “Ich Liebe Dich Madonna”
The Jax is the kind of supergroup that exists mostly online, a border-agnostic work of international collaboration featuring Jacksonville scene luminaries Lena Simon and Glenn Michael Van Dyke from Kairos Creature Club alongside Argentina’s Manu Ducatenzeiler of the post-punk group Las Kellies and Robin Girod from Switzerland-based acts like Komet City and Bandit Voyage. “Ich Liebe Dich Madonna,” the not-quite-title-track off their debut LP, “I’ve Found God in a Madonna!,” translates to “I love you Madonna” and is an ode to Madonna Louise Ciccone herself. Though the track sounds like a Serge Gainsbourg vocalizing distantly over a chilly post-punk track, their devotion to the pop star never seems false or ironic. While little is available in the way of details about The Jax or their future plans as a band, we’re thrilled to have this quirky, danceable collection of jams.
Starlight Zone: “Nightshade”
Jacksonville synthwave artist Starlight Zone’s debut EP, “Nightshade,” dropped earlier this month, a collection of moody, nostalgic tracks that feel of a piece with the wildly influential “Drive” soundtrack and the larger scene that developed around the synth-pop titans at Italians Do It Better. Propulsive, deliberate drum machines pulse relentlessly as walls of synths provide the backdrop for vocalist/instrumentalist/creative mastermind Ella Bryant’s confessional vocals. The EP’s title track closes out the record, it’s the shortest but possibly the most well-executed of the collection, a wistful, dreamy song full of longing and sparkling, expertly programmed synthesizers. Bryant sings, full of regret and heartache, “I’ve been waiting for somebody just to take me away/But I’ve made mistakes and now I’ve got to pay,” a self-aware but despairing closer to a melancholy debut statement from this up-and-coming artist. @starlight_synthwave