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BARNES | photo courtesy of artist

Over the course of just a few years, Barney Cortez’s life has shifted quite dramatically. Serving as former front-man of the bold and psych-ish 2010-born Philly band, Nicos Gun, Cortez then moved to LA, formed another band called The Rituals, and called the West Coast home for three years — street performing, and joining even more projects (Minka, The Rich Mystics) along the way. But soon enough, Philly’s scene and talent beckoned Cortez back home, where he stripped his music of glam and took on a new role as a singer-songwriter. Now, Cortez is reinventing himself once more, as a more rocking, roots-y version of his solo work. So, Philly, without further ado, today we introduce you to BARNES, and his first single / video, “Dream Within A Dream.”

With influences ranging from Prince to Warren Zevon to the Pixies‘ frontman’s alter ego, Frank Black, BARNES’ sound is indeed eclectic, but nevertheless true to himself. Cortez shares, “This project is different from Nicos Gun because I can write what I feel instead of hiding behind personas and feel pressured to make high energy music.” Stating that  “Dream Within A Dream” deals with the pain of losing someone, and “piecing together the memories of the past,” Cortez confronts this matter with a raw and gritty kind of upbeat sound (those beats in question care of Philly drumming legend Chuck Treece).

True to his shifting, nuanced personas, the video for the single is a dreamlike sleepwalk on a Delaware River dock where unique characters pop in and out without question. Filmed by John Welsh, the video conveys this rapid fluidity with a one-shot take. “I’ve always wanted to do a music video that has that live quality but also keep it interesting and unexpected throughout,” says Cortez. Some of the perfectly casual encounters in this dream dock stroll include accepting flowers from a ninja-dressed man, having a stare down with a Batman-masked, dagger-holding doctor, and getting his blood pressure checked by a beret-topped elder as a sword-wielding fellow behind him has a photoshoot. 

All of which occurs in a very dream-like manner, where the weirdness is accepted. “There’s constant movement going on but it happens in a surreal, dreamlike way,” comments Cortez. He adds, “An interaction with different characters in the video happens the way that events shift dramatically in a dream world.” And shift they do, as the dream spins it’s drama to a brighter note in the end. Smashing a guitar solo on an inflatable guitar, Cortez instantly calls color and clarity back into his world. He wins a trophy, and is lauded by all. Applause ensues.

Though no Philly dates are currently on the horizon, be on the lookout for those as well as more tracks from BARNES’ upcoming album, Music Accessory. Listen to the tune below, and explore more at his Bandcamp page.

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