Life is naturally complex, a combination of good and bad, real and surreal, familiar and foreign. Existence doesn’t place boundaries on experience, and it helps to have artists who recognize that – artists who blend the good and the bad; artists who question the real and surreal; artists who clash the familiar with the foreign. Artists like Everything Is Green.
Everything is Green is the guise and solo project of Northern California-based artist, songwriter and producer Nick Pappageorgas. Musically adventurous and lyrically astute, Pappageorgas uses music as a lens through which to explores life at all angles. Everything Is Green is more than happy music with sad lyrics, or vice versa: It is a realization of the inevitable complexities in every situation. Today, Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Everything Is Green’s debut album, Sweet Teeth, out September 16 via SpaceGang Records.
Listen: Sweet Teeth – Everything Is Green
“We all have something in our lives that we struggle with,” explains Pappageorgas, who has been dealing with a serious lung disease. “While I might be writing about feeling physically sick, someone can easily take that and relate it to their own personal struggles, whether it be illness or depression or love-sickness or whatever… and I really like that.” Music fits all molds, and Sweet Teeth speaks to the individual in a lot of ways.
There’s no better introduction to the weirdness, the humanity, the psychedelia, the variety, and the indie pop perfection of Sweet Teeth than album opener “Made Out.” A diverse instrumental arrangement enhances Nick Pappageorgas’ bright voice as he sings, “Well it was all a game, when you lost your maiden name, a piece of cellophane, it cost your fucking brain.”
At least, that’s what his words sound like. Full of little sonic twists and turns that surely come to Pappageorgas at all times of the day and night, “Made Out” brings together forces of all shapes and sizes to reach impressive depths of meaning and feeling. The darkness of his lyrics, which go on to tell a tale of marital sadness, provide stark contrast to the bubbly surface-level brightness of the music.
There’s a beautiful juxtaposition between self-deprecating lyricism and vibrant, untethered energy that Everything is Green maintains throughout his debut. Bright and exuberant, Sweet Teeth can be appreciated as a happy or a sad album, offering a rainbow of emotions on Everything Is Green’s free-flying psychedelic dreams.
One of the things a dedicated listener learns about “psychedelic” (or “experimental”) music rather quickly is that you have to take the good with the weird: Not everything is going to stick, but there’s always an appreciation for the art, as well as an acknowledgement that no one really knows that’s going to catch until you give it a few listens. Sometimes the weird becomes familiar; sometimes what you think is “normal” comes off as alien.
Watch: “Drip Dry” – Everything Is Green
Everything is Green’s lead single “Drip Dry” is as otherwordly as it is totally normal: An electro-fitted psychedelic pop song, “Drip Dry” is a success of modern music. Its main chord progression comes together through the combined efforts of several different instruments, including a flute, string section, bass synth, and more. An insatiable vocal melody paints an image of obsessive desire that comes off as surprisingly innocent: “I cannot stop thinking about you in the backyard…”
Make no mistake: Wry, colorful, honest and clever, Everything Is Green’s “Drip Dry” is an underground hit in waiting. Its music is catchy, keeping listeners on their feet. Oh, and its music video is equally trippy, a mesmerizing audio-visual endeavor that includes this masterful shot:
Glean from it your own message. The video’s aesthetic mirrors that of the music: Organized chaos is a marvelous thing. Symbolically dense, “Drip Dry” intentionally opens itself to interpretation, giving us an important eye into Everything Is Green’s technicolor world.
After such a rip-roaring aural adventure, “The Spoils” feels like a calming tube ride down a lazy river. Warm and echoey bliss shines through effected guitars and Pappageorgas’ expansive voice, which floats on the song as a cloud does through a sunny day.
“Drug Dealer” sounds like it uses Sublime’s “What I Got” as a backing, but a closer listen uncovers fully original instrumentation. A dip into the lyrics uncovers the new depths in Everything Is Green’s writing: The song questions the validity and morality of drug dealing, arguing both sides. “I understand you need to get rich quick, but I’ve got friends who are dying from this,” sings Pappageorgas. Later on, he assumes an opposite role: “You should try living life like us for once.” The ensuing conversation between the two sides seems to end without resolve – one might try listening to this song high to see it through to resolution.
Sweet Teeth dives into 60’s-era psychedelic heaviness with “Totally Sober,” sporting a reggae beat with a funky pitch-shifted keyboard riff. Through the “Kokomo”-reminiscent haze, Everything Is Green seems to output a stream of consciousness of needs, wants, and should-haves. A peaceful number, “Totally Sober” is accessible and fun – an important moment in an album full of wondrous sights and smells.
We were totally sober when we first made up our minds
Maybe loving each other wasn’t such a waste of time
And we should probably get this right this time
Out of that peace comes something vibrantly twisted. “Dethrey” is three minutes of spacey experimental melodies, driven by a sawtooth wave, a watery keyboard synth, and what sounds like vocoder-processed singing (at one point we hear “you’ve got a sweet tooth to feed your indulgence”). In case you’re unfamiliar with sawtooth waves, they have a bite to them. The combination of the watery, marimba-like keys with the sawtooth wave allows the song to come off lighter than it otherwise might; listeners may recall Pink Floyd’s musical exploration in the 70’s, pre-Dark Side of the Moon.
Like an oasis in the desert, out of “Dethrey” comes the relaxed “Parasite.” Pappageorgas croons atop a peaceful, breezy soundscape that emphasizes the warmth in his voice. Dark words flow freely:
I’ve come to know that I am just a leach
A lonely parasite
That theme of darkness atop light comes back again and again, reminding us of the ying and yang in life: No good comes without bad, and likewise no bad comes without good. A word to the wise: Nothing in this world is free.
One of Everything Is Green’s most poetic and introspective moments comes on “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” a hypnotic story layered in harmonious sounds. Clipped vocal “aahs” are engineered to provide prominent instrumentation and rhythmic backing, a successful, upfront display of the artist’s skills in the production department. This song is complex: Its music is bashful and playful, while its lyrics are troubled and complex.
Sweet Teeth rises and falls from nothing on the aptly-named “Closer,” a lilting vocals-driven song with light backing. What a perfect way to end a record: Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, Pappageorgas invites us one last time into his humble world. “I’ve been looking for you,” he sings, “I know it sounds crazy, but you’re all that shines through. In this old coastal town where we’re all the same hue of blue, I don’t think I show through.”
In photos you stand with no smile on your face
It just proves you calmly and shows you have grace
There’s no need for feathers or neon guard
‘Cause you are a spark in the dark
The music begins to swell on the utterance of “dark,” growing into a colosseum of sound before subsiding in peace.
Everything Is Green incorporates plenty of discussion-worthy dramatic, thematic, experimental and musicolyrical content on Sweet Teeth. Perhaps the most impressive accomplishments of this album lie in the artist’s ability to embed human emotions in non-human elements. Behind every explosion of swirling psychedelic color, there lie raw emotions and real (or seemingly real) experiences. Below the surface of the music, there lies authenticity. The inability for music to be any one shade reflects Everything Is Green’s determination to be knowledgeable and keep an open mind. To know that there are complexities in everything, and to accept that, is more of a human achievement than it is a musical one, but the idea lies at the heart of Sweet Teeth.
Sweet Tooth is remarkably impressive. Everything Is Green is able to dive into real feelings on extraordinarily personal subjects without overtly exposing his vulnerable humanness, and that’s an incredible achievement for a debut record. A brave new world emerges in Everything Is Green’s debut Sweet Teeth: Blending human and emotional realities within a musical dream, Everything Is Green crafts a world we can’t wait to indulge in time and time again.