Am I Real?
It's uncommonly easy to underestimate the songs of L.A. D.I.Y. gal Ramona Gonzalez. Her band, Nite Jewel, has aesthetic aims similar to Ariel Pink's—morphing the less-than-impeccably-cool corners of pop radio past into woozy personal statements. But even the addition of ex-Haunted Graffiti member Cole M.G.N., doesn't add a resemblance to that band's manic, hooky eccentricity. As a result, her slow-motion takes on 70s funk, 80s white-guy R&B, and analog synth-pop from foreign shores initially seem incorrigibly wispy and non-committal. But for those willing to marinate in these songs for a bit, to closely regard what could easily float right past, her new EP, Am I Real?, is intriguing. Instrumental detail is sharpened from her previous releases, the vocals more intricately layered. Its existential quandary is imbued with real soul.