Consider the promise and contradiction of an unpaved road in the back of beyond on a summer day. What seems soft and dreamlike at a distance, swathed in feathery grasses and a soft and hazy summer sky, proves on closer inspection to be deceptively challenging, with the slide of sharp and unforgiving gravel beneath your tires. So too is the music of Goldtop, with the interplay of dreamy synths and fuzzed-out electric guitar intertwining with Kos’s floating, sweet vocals, and all of it riding a subtle but persistent rocky outcropping of anger and melancholy.
Alice Kos hails from Edmonton; Goldtop is a project with her longtime friend and guitar teacher Everett LaRoi, who played on and produced Kos’s 2012 debut album You Missed It All, a gorgeous, broken-hearted paean to love, loss and catastrophic change that bore witness to Kos’s coming-of-age experiences. A couple of years later, as the two found themselves touring with Marvin Etzioni (a member of Thee Holy Brothers, also playing the festival this year), the seeds of Goldtop were planted. Kos describes Goldtop’s first album, You Possess Me, as a mix of “shadowy dream-pop, crunchy distorted rock, and acoustic reverie.” As with travel on gravel roads—in fact, as with life—the combination of the sweet and bitter, the soft and flint-hard, proves an irresistible blend.