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Alternative & Indie - Released August 23, 2019 | Polyvinyl Records

The self-recorded project of California musician Melina Duterte, Jay Som made her label debut in 2016 with Turn Into, a collection of select early songs that drew widespread acclaim from the indie-music press. She followed it a year later with Everybody Works, a varied official debut album that landed on the Billboard Independent Albums chart. Earning increased attention for her textured production and stylized mixes as much as for her intimate writing, she began to find demand as a producer for others (Chastity Belt, Nylon Smile). Where Jay Som improves on the follow-up, Anak Ko, is in overall songcraft and album-length design. Written alone during a week-long retreat in Joshua Tree, the home-recorded album was again engineered, produced, and mixed by Duterte, though, for the first time, she involved guest musicians, including her live band (drummer Zachary Elsasser, bassist Dylan Allard, and guitarist Oliver Pinnell). Other players include Chastity Belt's Annie Truscott, Vagabon's Laetitia Tamko, Boy Scouts' Taylor Vick, and prior duo-EP collaborator Justus Proffit. Though very much of its own time, Anak Ko's frequent, lush '80s influences are most notable on tracks including the Prefab Sprout-inspired "Tenderness" and the infectious "Superbike," a song that doesn't require a press release to identify Cocteau Twins as a model (less conspicuous is co-namecheck Alanis Morissette). Its swirling layers of rhythmic guitar patterns and syncopated drums provide cushiony atmosphere to a soaring vocal line. Duterte's always soft, approachable vocals don't seem to drop out of the song midway through so much as become enveloped by instrumental textures. Elsewhere, the orchestral pop of the Walker Brothers' inspired string arrangements on the elegant "Nighttime Drive" ("So used to feeling numb/Shifting through the nighttime drive/We'll be just fine"). The more experimental title track implies a steady groove as it traverses pensive, warm, ominous, and spacy sections. Later, pedal steel by Nicholas Merz is featured on the contrastingly sleepy, country-inflected closer, "Get Well." Despite these variations, discernable influences, and the involvement of collaborators, the comforting Anak Ko is more unified in tone than prior releases and benefits from its marriage of immersive sound design with consistently engaging songs. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 10, 2017 | Polyvinyl Records

Melina Duterte, who operates under the moniker Jay Som, has experienced a sharp upward trajectory since she drunkenly dropped her debut collection via Bandcamp. Whereas Turn Into was a hastily released random selection of nine songs that were effectively demos (albeit ones that displayed a surprising level of polish and promise given their lo-fi inception), Everybody Works is more like her debut proper. The record's title refers to Duterte's experience of familial cynicism toward her career choice. On the title track she sings: "My folks don't think it's right to be living in a shell," but pleads for understanding, "I'm a good kid/I swear I don't lie/I'll get a job/Turn into one lovely guy." Given the quality of this record, her insistence is likely to be thoroughly vindicated. Everybody Works opens with the dreamy "Lipstick Stains," which suggests a brighter sound than the D.I.Y. production and layered distortion her first collection afforded. Despite containing a multitude of catchy tracks, Turn Into was very much entrenched in lo-fi indie production aesthetics. But songs like "One More Time, Please" prove she isn't afraid to mine her ability to create silky smooth pop. The same can be said of the single "Baybee"; cutesy title aside, its hazily intoxicating chorus is yet another example of how she has pulled her songwriting into sharper focus. The leaps she's made with this recording make the fact that it was made in her bedroom and, bar the mastering, is entirely her own work all the more surprising given the level of nuanced detail on show. That's not to say that Duterte has abandoned her inclinations toward bedroom pop, alt-rock, and shoegaze. "1 Billion Dogs" marries a syrupy-sweet melody with an abrasive wash of crunching guitar riffs, which lead into a warped solo; "Take It" builds into a sonically busy rush before you've had chance to notice; and "(BedHead)" features a dizzying guitar line whose rhythm and tone sounds buckled. Each track contains an array of imaginative touches that subtly add depth to the record. Lyrically, the album is preoccupied with the kind of angst and self-doubt that you might expect from an artist in her early twenties, but the level of humility and tenderness Duterte conjures sidesteps whiny self-obsession. The laid-back delivery of "The Bus Song" belies a tightly crafted pop hook and sharply honest confession: "Take time to figure it out/I'll be the one that sticks around/And I just want you to need me." Sprawling closer "For Light" delves into intimate details and difficult conclusions: "On the small of your back I traced a line to carve/And signed my resignation/I'll break to chew on glass." And all the while her quiet delivery serves to heighten that intimacy. Everybody Works displays huge breadth, which is often disguised by a relaxed pace and its effortless segues between styles. Given what a fine record she had produced here, it's very likely just the beginning for this bright new talent whose youthful angst is contradicted by the confidence present in her compositions. © Bekki Bemrose /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 22, 2016 | Polyvinyl Records

After writing and sharing songs for a number of years under various pseudonyms dating back to middle school, Bay Area multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte released this "collection of finished and unfinished songs" in late 2015. She wrote, performed, recorded, and mixed all the songs on the album herself, which by her account were somewhat randomly selected from about three years of material preceding her 22nd birthday. The collection got a proper release in 2016 when Polyvinyl took notice and also signed on for her official -- written to be an album -- debut to follow. The varied set of lush bedroom pop spans shoegazy and brighter, melodic entries, with most falling in a reflective space in between. The former can be found on tracks like "Drown" and "Ghost." "Ghost" has mumbled midrange vocals that float between more melodic, jangly guitar lines, which pile on top of each other for passing moments of disarray. On the poppier end of the spectrum, "Peach Boy" wrangles multiple guitar effects and filtered vocals into a summery treat that begs for windows down and wind in the hair. Mixing the two is pretty much the rest of the album, though each song is distinct. "Next to Me," for instance, is a catchy swirl of rhythmic hooks and shimmer, while "Unlimited Touch" ambles along a measured bassline and sustained synths as she considers: "I think I need a break/My head sticks out of place/I need to take a walk/I'll sleep when morning comes." Word of mouth and Internet buzz about these tunes led to opening spots on tours for acts including Mitski and Honeyblood while Duterte went to work on her debut for Polyvinyl. Likely to appeal to admirers of similarly discovered lo-fi artists like Alex G and Elvis Depressedly, Turn Into marks Jay Som as an act to watch for fans of the style. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 20, 2020 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 24, 2016 | Fat Possum

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 26, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 1, 2017 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 14, 2018 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 19, 2019 | Polyvinyl Records