Is Fresno anyone's Spotify Sound Town?
Plus, new music from Belmont Sound System, Matthew Embry, From Flowers to Flies.
While we all know that Spotify kinda sucks (especially for musician trying to make a living), it does have some bells and whistles that make it sort of fun for users.
Spotify Wrapped, for instance, is a nice way to tell which bands or artists you’ve been obsessing over for the past year. And there’s no way to cheat it to make yourself look cooler than you are, so you have to own your love for whatever artists tops that list (which could also be a point of pride, I guess)
Anyway, this year, the company added a new feature that matches users with their “Sound Town.”
That is, the city in which their top artists have over-indexed.
Or, the one place where people are mostly likely to share your musical tastes.
Which was weird for people who matched with San Luis Obispo, a cool place no doubt, but not one people would necessarily associate with being hip on the music scene. According to Time, 0.8% of listeners matched with San Luis, which is a lot of people once you start doing the math.
I’ve yet to see anyone who matched with Fresno and would love to know what that playlist looks like (we could maybe do some guessing? which could be fun?). Spotify said there are more than 1,300 Sound Towns being used, but didn’t provide a list or any other criteria that I could find.
If Fresno is your Sound Town, let me know.
On that note: From time to time I’ll check in on local acts to see how their Spotify streams are doing (something I picked up from the Spanspek guys). Unless someone can correct me, Poor Man’s Poison remains top on the list. The band has 2 million-plus monthly listeners and multiple songs with tens to millions of streams. Its most popular track, “Hell’s Coming with Me,” has more than 100 million streams.
New tracks: Belmont Sound System, From Flowers to Flies, Matthew Embry
Here’s a quick list of some new local releases that are out now or coming soon.
Belmont Sound System — “Autumn Leaves,” backed with “Top Boy”
Belmont Sound System bill itself as Fresno’s one and only traditional reggae outfit. Traditional being the key term here. Without parsing out all of the various tendrils of reggae as it relates to rocksteady/ska and later two-tone/third wave, we can say the band plays (literal) upbeat dance music that is more Desmond Dekker than Bob Marley and more Skatalites than the Specials.
The nine-piece band released its debut single on Saturday, an A side B side that pulls on some heavy nostalgia for any one who was ever part of a “ska” scene in the 80s or 90s.
From Flowers to Flies — “Powerlines”
This is a gnarly track in the best possible way. It builds its groove into a full cacophony of noise (I am basing this off the band’s performance of the track on Great Day). Hints of Fugazi (and maybe Tool? In the vocal arrangement?). Also … I am a fan of baritone saxophones in rock music, apparently.
Matthew Emby — “Live in Time”
Matthew Emby is a prolific musician with experimental tastes, who also happens to dabble in some classic American tunes. His latest album “Live in Time,” is 19 piano- -and-voice-interpretations of songs from Cole Porter, Paul Simon and Tom Waits, along with Harriette Wagner/Dr. Richard Wolk (to throw some locals in the mix).
The album is taking from Embry’s archives, recording during his daily gigs, which is reflected in the production. There’s a hiss of crowd noise that sits below Emby’s piano and singing, though far from distracting, it offers some warmth to the songs.
“This one is for all the peace-bringers everywhere,” Embry says.
“Live in Time” is available on Bandcamp.
That’s it for this week. Remember you can now hear me on the Homegrown Show Sundays at 8 p.m. on New Rock 104.1 FM and follow my other writing at The Fresno Bee. If you have anything you think I need to be looking at or listening to, feel free to let me know: email@example.com