Joseph Salazar: “The Main Sequence”

Here we are, y’all. It’s the final Song of the Day for 2023. We’ll be off starting tomorrow through New Year’s Day but picking up with some promising new music on Tuesday, January 2nd. With that piece of business out of the way, today we’re wrapping up the year with just one more premiere.

It comes courtesy of Austin songwriter Joseph Salazar, who on top of composing for short films and video games like the acclaimed Halo Infinite, has also carried his weight in the Live Music Capital with projects like Technicolor Hearts, The Cosmic Hour, Eternal Time & Space, and previous Song of the Day feature Dream 2 Dream. In a solo setting, Joseph Salazar’s proficiency on synthesizers, drum programming, and DAW production has been heard on the hypnotic instrumentals he’s sporadically shared since 2016. Listening through those selections, really hints at why Salazar’s style is a perfect fit for soundtracks; in light of an infinity-obsessed ethos that seeds rolling arrangements, Salazar’s chords and melodies remain unbusy without being idle; instead they provide plenty of space to occupy with thoughts, be they about blasting aliens, reflecting on life, or just making breakfast and preparing for your day.

Well with the clock quickly ticking away on 2023, this morning Joseph Salazar turned in his sole single of the year and first since last September’s “By This River”. While “The Main Sequence” sports the same kind of tones we’ve come to expect from Salazar, the inclusion of Megafauna guitarist Dani Neff and Dream 2 Dream bassist Mando Lopez really uplift it into a multi-chef-blessed baton-toss of winter recuperation. So let the kick drum complement your heartbeat, the bass replace your pulse, the synth’s mod wheel bend your senses, and the effects-swept guitar guide you through this climbing three-and-a-half-minute meditation.

Hot Mustard: “The End of Time”

We’ve been talking a lot about our upcoming SXSW Showcase next week at Scholz Garden, with a lineup that’s already got mouths watering. And on top of that, if you’re like me, perusing Scholz’ gasthaus-style menu is guaranteed to put mustard on the mind. But today we’re not talking about Dijon, Bavarian, or the plain yellow kind; instead we’re giving you a scoop of Hot Mustard straight outta Johns Island, South Carolina. Instrumentalist-producers Jack Powell and Nick Carusos have spent much of their 2020s scraping the must out of their jam sessions and bottling the best remain bits into a satisfying spread of retro funk-soul and golden-era hip-hop. Their crunchy, lyric-less high-contrast soundscapes and cinematic chord choices make for an especially transportive tang in Hot Mustard, who served their first full buffet in 2021 with Mother Sauce. But just like a variety flight of increasingly spicy flavors, Hot Mustard is only destined to get hotter, right? For their fittingly-titled follow-up Seconds, Hot Mustard have taken the Until the Quiet Comes-era Flying Lotus route. By opening up their minimalist arrangements to new instruments and more collaborators (such as Antibalas trumpeter Jordan McLean and TV on the Radio trombonist “Smoota” Smith), Hot Mustard has incorporated plenty of new, pungent spices into the mix. Sure, there are fewer explicit references to condiment preferences in the song titles, but the trade-off is much more emotional songwriting over more complex structures. “The End of Time” is a perfect example of that. Inspired by the passing of a beloved canine friend, the addition of singer Alanna Royale, albeit briefly, adds a ton of weight to an already gorgeous track. Bonus points for its music video, which continues Hot Mustard’s brilliantly absurd legacy of collage-based animated visuals. It’s sure to keep you sated ’til Seconds comes out on March 31st.

Moon Medallion: “New age let-down”

When you listen to the vast majority of bands, you tend to hear the same things: drums, bass, guitar, and of course…vocals. But considering that vocals are often just the icing on the cake, an extra level of garnish for a balanced dish, does making accessible music really require the use of a vocalist? Short answer: no. Just look towards the Austin trio Moon Medallion, who got started in 2020 in search of a lead singer. When they couldn’t find a perfect fit, Moon Medallion nixed the idea and revamped their song structures into strictly instrumentals. Since then they’ve flaunted a nocturnal talisman of punk, shoegaze, surf, post-hardcore, and the more experimental aspects of psychedelia. Last year they enchanted listeners with a string of standalone singles and a Southwestern US tour, and more recently Moon Medallion captured the waxing lunar cycle with a Beck-inspired garage-punk masterpiece, “New age let-down”. Moon Medallion’s far from waning, with more material on the way, a live performance May 21st at Indian Roller, and a West Coast tour in June.

Stephan Moccio: “Winter Waltz (The Music Box Version)”

Here we are at the final Song of the Day for 2021 and with just one week away until Christmas Eve, this one’s an extra sentimental seasonal pick. It comes from the mind of L.A.’s Stephan Moccio, who, outside of a successful solo career has some seriously impressive co-writing credits: “Wrecking Ball” from Miley Cyrus, the title track from Celine Dion’s A New Day Has Come, and The Weeknd’s “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Gray)”, on which he also played the pivotal piano parts. This Ontario-born Grammy-and-Oscar-nominee’s had a pretty busy year, releasing his serials Vol. 4 through Vol. 6 (all compiled together on THE ARCHIVES) alongside a breathtaking full-length, Lionheart. But with an almost unquenchable sense of ambition, Moccio’s managed to squeeze out just one more masterpiece in 2021. Less a remix and more a spiritual companion to one of his originals off last year’s Winter Poems, “Winter Waltz (The Music Box Version)” will warm you with its incandescent chords and whisk you away from any Christmastime anxiety. Song of the Day returns Monday, January 3rd.