An indie singer/songwriter noted for her lush and textured, home-recorded production style as well as her pensive songs, Jay Som is the alias of multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte. She collected early demos and previously shared songs for her first label release, Turn Into, in 2016. Jay Som refined and expanded her stylized sound while continuing to record at home for albums including 2019's Anak Ko. The child of Filipino immigrants, Duterte was born and raised in the California Bay Area. She began writing and sharing music on social media while in middle school, cycling through various monikers over time until she eventually settled on the name Jay Som. It was created with the Wu-Tang Names Generator (the same website that turned Donald Glover into Childish Gambino). As Jay Som, she posted a series of tracks in the early 2010s before issuing a collection of select songs and demos called Turn Into in early 2016. It was co-released on cassette by Wave Dweller and Topshelf Records. Jay Som soon signed with Polyvinyl, which reissued the set in July 2016 as she began work on an official debut. In the meantime, she toured the U.S. and Canada in support of indie artists including Mitski and Peter Bjorn and John. Jay Som's first record to be conceived as an album, the self-produced Everybody Works, arrived in 2017. While it offered an upgrade in clarity, it retained an intimate, bedroom pop sound. Everybody Works spent a week on Billboard's Independent Albums chart. Later in 2017, Duterte moved south to Los Angeles, where she found a kindred spirit in lo-fi singer/songwriter Justus Proffit, and the two began writing together. The collaborative EP Nothing's Changed followed on Polyvinyl in 2018. Jay Som's sophomore full-length, Anak Ko (Filipino for "my child"), arrived on the label in 2019. While written on a solo writing retreat in Joshua Tree and produced, engineered, and mixed by Duterte alone, it was her first solo album to feature guest musicians, including Proffit, Vagabon's Laetitia Tamko, and Chastity Belt's Annie Truscott, among others. ~ Marcy Donelson
11 albums sorted by Most acclaimed
Narrow my search
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
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
News feed Prev. Next
Thu Qobuz | Highwomen: A Most Successful HeistTue Qobuz | Ashley Henry & The Night of The Vinyl HunterMon Qobuz | L'Epee: Live By The Sword, Jive By The Sword?
Sat Qobuz | Lower Dens' Fabulous RevoltWed Qobuz | Center Didn't Hold ...
Tue Qobuz | Sun Rings : The Overview Effect, In MusicMon Qobuz | Wallace Roney Celebrates The Jazz Youth
Fri Qobuz | Robert Randolph's Steely ResolveThu Qobuz | Taylor Swift Gets PoliticalWed Qobuz | Bombay Bicycle Club Is Open For Business