Hidden Gems: Cults, Crash Kings, Forest Swords, XYZR_KX, Here Lies Yonder

In this monthly feature, guest contributor RJ Kozain (2020k) shares with us the latest sonic finds that have made themselves at home on his playlists — treasures perhaps not easily stumbled upon.  Look for our monthly round-up of favourites on 2020k, Northern Lights and feel free to suggest your treasures on Twitter or Facebook.

Hidden Gems is an infrasound series on this blog wherein I present to you my own random musical finds that I will subjectively pack into one combined blog entry. These gem entries are presented in hopes that these songs make their way from my playlist to yours. The majority of these releases are songs that’ve been dug up by surprise, that have taken me whole, and refused to let me go. It’s in promotion of music and the joy it brings.

Any genre, any timeframe, any artist.

I encourage you to follow these artists in whichever way you find convenient. I’ve placed their profiles here through embedding the featured song. While you’re at it, follow me through my own musical endeavors over at my official website; updated fairly recently with new unearthed (and recognized) projects, as well as original material, located here.

00. “Always Etcetera” by Wet Eyes (Featuring 2020k)

Wet Eyes has become a close friend and peer. After giving him some vocal tracks of mine for some extra Auger-oriented engineering on them, he asked me if it would be okay for him to fiddle around with the layers. Of course, I’d say yes and as a result, the song “Always Etcetera” came about. Free download. Enjoy – from both of us.

01. “High Road” by Cults

“But I should’ve took the high road, now it’s such a long way back. Instead I took the low road, I figured out it’s something you can’t take back. I should’ve took the high road, now my days have all turned black, instead I took the low road, and figured out it’s something that we both lack.” 

Cults became a duo on my radar after watching their outstanding performance as an opening act for Passion Pit during their summer tour [click here for that review]. Glittered in screens projected onto the stage, including Brian Oblivion, Madeline Follin, and touring members themselves, the act powered through a quick set that covered practically the entirety of their small body of work. The two are at it again, with their follow up release entitled Static due out October 15th. “High Road” may have debuted as this piece was being written, but its continuation of the band’s nostalgic vibe on this song demonstrates a growth in the band that makes the repeat button on “High Road” being pressed like it was the lifeline to keeping this cult alive. Brilliant talent.  

02. “Mountain Man” by Crash Kings


This little doozy charted #1 on the Billboard Alternative Tracks, as well as peaked at #54 on the Canadian Hot 100. It’s catchy feel-good pop/rock from the talented Beliveau brothers and past drummer Jason Morris that strictly oozes the rays of summer glory. In fact, in the chorus, Tony Beliveau proclaims that he’s “sippin’ on some sunshine” while a female antagonist is drunk by the daytime. A quick look at the lyrics shows multiple meanings from toxic relationships, to drugs, and alternative interpretations, but regardless of it’s undertones, “Mountain Man” leaves an optimistic sucker-punch reminiscent of Jack White and Jamiroquai, while remaining astoundingly original. [Click here for 2020k’s review of the co-headlining Nico Vega/Crash Kings tour date in Pittsburgh, PA last month. Includes a bonus story called “Forever on the Y-List” about the trials and tribulations on getting into the show.]

03. “The Weight Of Gold” by Forest Swords

After asking my Twitter followers to recommend me anything, @tiggsSLAYCLAN recommended that I check out Warp Records signed Forest Swords. Being a fan of the label itself, a click was a no-brainer. The result is a drone filled, guitar laden track with warped (no pun intended) vocals and a neat downtempo, almost reggae vibe that recalls Thievery Corporation, if they were thrown into a distorted & feedback-effected world. The end, only drums and distorted sample sound bring in the song as a whole, giving it a completely completed conclusion (redundancy intended).

04. “Alternator” by XYZR_KX

Chicago based XYZR_KX (pronounced ‘scissor kicks’), who is made up of an individual by the name of Jon Monteverde, crafts electronic music in layers that are difficult to believe until it hits your ear drums. Electro at times, pop influenced in sound, but “Alternator” turns the ambient world on it’s head by incorporating lush layers of melodies amongst the electronic bloops. Stereo panned rhythms bring the track together and by the time the song kicks in at the minute mark, it’s clear this cross-genre artist, who’s received praise by NPR News, Giant Robot, and elsewhere, deserves the acclaim.

05. “Blackout” by Here Lies Yonder

Self-described in conversation with Here Lies Yonder member Jarrod Clark, “‘Blackout’ is kind of a proffetic song based on a collapsing world economy, but also has a spot of light in the bridge saying that its all cool because the old construct of the mind and ego is falling as well.” Based in Yonder, Texas, these six brothers pull together organic influences, earning a “gypsy blues-rock” label that’s embraced by the bunch. Apparently, if you like their Facebook page they’ll send you a free copy of their EP being released in October. Sounds like a good deal…click to like!

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One thought on “Hidden Gems: Cults, Crash Kings, Forest Swords, XYZR_KX, Here Lies Yonder

  1. Pingback: Cults Announce “Static” – Due Out October 15th, 2013 & Take the Exquisite “High Road” | 2020k

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