“Playing Both Sides” by Dom Rivers (feat. Demon Marcus)

From an instrumental perspective, you could make the argument that Dom Rivers isn’t trying to change the world with his new single “Playing Both Sides,” which features Demon Marcus is a particularly potent guest performance. There’s a conventionality to the way the track plays out, and it could even be said that the hook is revealed to us rather pendulously for the circumstances – however, even with those statements being perfectly right and true, there’s no deeming the tone of this collaboration as anything other than experimental in the best way possible. Rivers and Marcus are locked in a battle to push themselves here, and they wind up creating something powerful enough to make anyone into a fan. 

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The music video for “Playing Both Sides” is profoundly postmodern, featuring no accessible human characters but instead a single rose that travels from one setting to the next, its backdrop determining the mood it’s meant to impart. This concept rips on both the commercial element in alternative music while creating something that I would personally interpret as breathtakingly vulnerable and honest on the part of Rivers. It’s lyrically evocative, but beyond this, there’s a story being told to us from one shot to the next that words could never have presented on their own. 

Hip-hop and alternative ambient, trip-hop and indie pop fans alike should check out what Dom Rivers and Demon Marcus have cooking in their new single and music video “Playing Both Sides” for a few reasons, but chief among them all is the track’s ghost-like grooves and intriguingly artistic visual component. There’s something that these two artists are discovering within themselves that is bleeding directly into this collaboration, and to me, it doesn’t get much more exciting in pop than when independent forces find a sound they can both cultivate in unique ways. 

Zachary Rush