The world is ending. Maybe. When things first started to fall apart back in March, i believed that more fully than i do now. But as i am on the seventh month of working from home, not seeing people, isolating from my family, not being able to engage in regular relaxation activities (no concerts! ugh!), and just general uncertainty ... well, let's just say that this pandemic has made me look differently at some of the promos i receive.
I'll just go ahead and say it: to my regular mix of droning post-rock and thundering doom metal i have started listening to ... girl pop. Not to say that i have started downloading Taylor Swift records, but we get a lot of promos featuring young(ish) women who are in the early stages of some sort of musical career. In the past, i sort of skipped over these with my limited listening time, but sitting at home with streaming suddenly open (i work for a utility company and cannot stream media at work due to IT security reasons) i started listening to these promos. Why not? I got nothing but time now.
And, well, as in most things, there is good and bad. I know itís not very metal/punk/indie rock of me to listen to slickly produced pop music made by young women, but you know what: there is some catchy songwriting happening.
Case in point: mxmtoon. She writes her name with no capitalization, something which gives a compulsive eye twitch to my old copy editing self, but whatever. Mxmtoon is the stage name of a girl named Maia, who was born at the tail end of the last century. Teenagers! Not capitalizing things appropriately. UGH!
Mxmtoon makes slickly produced pop music with a prominent female voice. The emphasis is on production and singing. As a "processed guitar noise" kind of guy, i find this music to be sort of the inoffensive background music of this era. As such, well, it's not as bad as Christopher Cross... (And yes gentle reader, i lived through the era where Christopher Cross's bland light pop was in the background everywhere... Shudder. I still get nightmares...)
But Maia does a really good job here. She has a pretty voice, which is the centerpiece of the music, and she pairs this with light strummed ukulele (her instrument, apparently) and some nice non frantic beats. She has been at this since before she graduated from high school, which is pretty precocious.
This is her second EP, i suppose, and she has some singles out too. But she has also released tunes straight onto YouTube, so her early work kind of defies the conventions of "release" that this site is sort of based on. No matter.
She kicks off the Dawn EP with a stupidly catchy little song called Fever Dream that has worked its way into my consciousness such that i have on occasion found myself humming it randomly.
Used to You has a nice skipping beat and a tinkling keyboard bit. As the song ramps up, the beat clatters and happily.
Maia sings at her highest pitch on Lessons, where the choruses are almost in falsetto. The beats and sounds pulsing behind her seem the most stereotypical of all the tunes on this record.
There is a picked guitar on Quiet Motions that makes this song sound more like contemporary female folk music, a genre I have not explored much. This is not bad.
She goes into hip-hop with 1, 2. She sings over a loping beat and there are background singers faintly in the background. Catchy.
No Faker starts with a laugh and then her strumming the ukulele Ö And I swear that every time I hear this, it is the same opening riff as Jeff Mangum played on Holland, 1945. (One of you readers who can do mashups of songs -- make one that combines those tunes!) This is very catchy, a happy little songs that bounces along and gets stuck in your head.
And then the EP ends with the very earnest Almost Home where she sings about heartbreak and being alone. It's pretty, though, with a tinge of sadness.
After listening to this EP several times, the general thematic content of the music is: how do you draw the line between over and under communicating with the people you love. She examines this idea from several different sides, and it is interesting to me to see her explore one idea so completely.
So this is not the most innovative music out there. It feels very much "of this time". That said, Maia has some interesting ideas, a nice voice, and can write a catchy tune.