New York Music Daily

Love's the Only Engine of Survival

An Unintentionally Prophetic Protest Song

Christine LaRocca‘s icily synthy trip-hop single The New Normal – streaming at Soundcloud – turned out to be infinitely more prophetic than the Los Angeles singer ever could have wanted. She wrote it before the lockdown, not realizing that the sinister phrase “new normal” was introduced to the world at a conference sponsored by big pharma corporation Merck in 2004. In LaRocca’s own words:

“Corporations have been invading our privacy by digging into thoughts. They are learning our habits without our consent and selling our data to the highest bidder without asking you if it is okay. Social media has effected the mental health of our society and has also become a way to quickly spread lies and rumors. Artificial intelligence and robots are replacing human beings. My phone rang over 70 times in a 24 hour window when I decided to research health care. People are denying climate change. The common denominator? Money. Technology has made so many incredible things possible, yet not without a cost. At what point do we draw the line?”

Smartly Crafted, Anthemic, Beatlesque Art-Rock From Laura Mihalka

Laura Mihalka‘s moody keyboard ballads draw a straight line back to the Beatles as well as Pink Floyd and ELO. She also plays cello on her new album Feels Electric, streaming at Spotify. Producer Jesse Siebenberg plays the David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Nick Mason instrumental roles, filling in the sound with a symphonic understatement.

The album opens with Falling Apart, a gospel-tinted piano ballad with some unexpectedly creepy chromatics and a big, bombastic, Floydian guitar interlude that Mihalka follows with a gorgeously neoromantic solo of her own. The title track begins more enigmatic and hypnotic before she shifts it into elegant late Beatles territory.

Mihalka sticks with the Fab Four influence in Stumble Upon, a steady, swaying, Lennonesque number. She switches to electric piano for Pineapple Man, an Elliott Smith-ish trip-hop song with more than a hint of Indian music at the end. Then she goes back to the grand piano and adds spare cello accents to Forgiven: it’s her Great Gig in the Sky.

David Levita contributes flangey 70s guitar to Out for the Night, an aptly wafting nocturne. Mihalka goes straight back to the Beatles for Paradise, goo goo ga joob. Lennon meets Lucinda Williams – more or less – in Battleground. Then Mihalka strips things down to a simple early 90s pop sound with Sacred Sky, Siebenberg raising the energy with a crackling solo.

“We could all use you right now,” she intones in the elegaic ballad She’s Everything. She closes the album with Looking Back, adrift in wafting orchestration and twinkling, Hawaiian-flavored steel guitar. Beyond Mihalka’s stoic, impassive vocals, this could be a first-class Jeff Lynne orchestral pop production from the late 70s. That good.