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Oracle Sisters - From Kay's to the Cloisters

Oracle Sisters - From Kay's to the Cloisters


Parisian space-folk trio Oracle Sisters have been dropping chic, glam nuggets since their inception earlier this year. Their heavy-eyed licks and stormy vocals have already drummed up an impressive collection of notable champions in the press world. Comprised of Lewis Lazar, Christopher Willatt and Julia Johanssen, the band employs a stripped-down approach to their productions yet manages to convey a lush and original sound that conjures up the late-night, ephemeral vibes of the Paris underground. Their latest single, "From Kay's to the Cloisters," is Oracle Sisters' most sparse affair to date, indulging their deep love for the Scottish folk tradition. The expansive arrangement allows the group to flex their visceral storytelling muscles, furthering their moody aesthetic with little more than an acoustic guitar and crisp vocal.

Mike Olinger on December 2, 2019
Alara - Bringing You Down

Alara - Bringing You Down


The far-out sounds of indie singer-songwriter Alara are cast in an alluringly rosy glow on “Bringing You Down.” Her second single of the year is a dreamy, 80s-inspired slow jam that feels as glittery and ephemeral as a high school prom. Lovely and emotional, the track is lush with spacey synths, soft, throbbing drums, and Alara’s soothing vocal lulling you through the melody. Evocative of Lana Del Rey, her voice is warm and sensual, and listening to every crooning “ah” feels like you’re falling under a love spell. Because of this, the song feels dreamy even when the lyrics tell a more sobering story: “You were just a child / Life kicked you around / And what you’ve kept inside / Is what’s bringing you down.” Thoughtful and darkly romantic, “Bringing You Down” precedes Alara’s debut EP, Dying is Half the Fun, which will be released early 2020.

Britnee Meiser on November 27, 2019
Soccer Mommy - yellow is the color of her eyes

Soccer Mommy - yellow is the color of her eyes


Soccer Mommy’s second single of 2019, “yellow is the color of her eyes,” masterfully captures the deeply private and lonely experience of realizing you are losing someone. In many ways, Sophie Allison’s performance will be familiar and comforting to fans: in the guitar work you’ll recognize the twangy echoey charm of her special brand of shoegaze-infused Americana, and her lyrics are still sprinkled with memorable, offbeat metaphors (“eyes like clementines,” the “sun feels like yellow”). At the same time, in some ways, this track taps into uncharted emotional territory for Soccer Mommy. Allison says the song came out of “a time when I was on the road constantly and I felt like I was losing time—specifically with my mother.” So, lyrically, there is no time for ephemeral feelings here, like jealousy or the thrill of a crush. Instead, all seven spacious minutes are spent diving deep into the types of feelings we too rarely talk about: the acute discomfort of regret, and the powerlessness of confronting time’s cruel disregard for our human schedules. She even tells us why she needs to open up: “I could lie,” she sings, “but it’s never made me feel good inside.” As listeners, we can benefit from her cathartic outpour too: in it, she not only showcases the impressive emotional maturity of her songwriting in new ways, but also implicitly urges all of us to stop telling “tiny lies” to ourselves about impermanence.

Karl Snyder on November 25, 2019
Tanya Vora - Dusty

Tanya Vora - Dusty


Expansive singer-songwriter and producer Tanya Vora perfectly captures the repressed urgency and unpredictability of falling in love on her new single, “Dusty.” Atmospheric and chill, the track has a groovy melody with a catchy, lo-fi beat, and subtly evokes the kind of desperate physical longing that comes from wanting to know every single part of someone else, but not being sure if they feel the same way. The cool, r&b-inspired arrangement is nostalgic and fresh, emphasizing Vora’s unique and surprising instrumental through her clear, intimate style of production. The track’s tempo embodies love’s inevitable volatility; you think you know where things are headed, and then, out of nowhere, it changes. What begins as a quick, pulsing exploration of intimacy slows down to something moodier and more sensual, and every moment is intoxicating. Vora’s honest lyrics emphasize that feeling: “Lie next to me / Let me feel your love / I’ve been sick of you / I’ve been needing you / And my days have turned to dust.” Ultimately, “Dusty” contains all the excitement and emotion of early love while sparing you the pain of potential heartbreak, because you already know it will never leave you.

Britnee Meiser on November 22, 2019
Tennis - Runner

Tennis - Runner


After spending four months off the grid on the Sea of Cortez, Denver pop-duo Tennis have returned with “Runner,” a retro new jam off their upcoming album, SWIMMER, out Valentine’s Day 2020. Born from a guitar riff that was written and recorded in a fisherman’s cove where the musicians had just an acoustic guitar and drum sequencer, “Runner” is the first track Tennis wrote for the new album. Singer Alaina Moore’s sweet soprano voice soars above Patrick Riley’s catchy guitar hooks, synth filled melodies, and prominent drum beats that pulse steadily throughout the song. Congruent with the themes discussed in their 2017 LP Yours Conditionally, this romantic track delves into the disconnect between what Moore feels and what she believes she should be feeling given her faith. She sings, “Every little bead of sweat / Feel it running down my neck / When you look at me like that / Feeling like we can't go back / If I become a pillar of salt / I'll know that it was all my fault.”

Dana Schwartz on November 22, 2019
FKA twigs - sad day

FKA twigs - sad day


In preparation for the release of MAGDALENE, one of the most incredibly heartbreaking albums of the year, FKA twigs provided a final single that would fully encapsulate the tone of the record. Within the second album from the English songstress, “sad day” reveals a sincere insight into the slow end of a relationship. Her tender vocals open the track and continue through a repetitive chorus in which she begs the question to her lover, “Would you make a, make a, make a wish on my love?” What follows is a heavy, glitchy bass drop, produced by Twigs herself along with electronic heavyweights Nicolas Jaar, Benny Blanco, Skrillex, Koreless, Cashmere Cat, and Noah Goldstein. Although twigs continues to coax her loved one to stay, she openly admits that they’d be foolish to do so because of the hurt she’s caused them in the past. Ultimately, within the depths of the song’s dense drumbeats, her lover chooses to run away and twigs is left on her own. FKA twigs brings an immense amount of vulnerability to not only “sad day” but to the entirety of MAGDELENE. The stunning visuals that she continues to pair with her remarkable vocals have elevated her music to its highest form to date.

Shayna Chabrow on November 22, 2019
golda - Wish I Was Someone Else

golda - Wish I Was Someone Else


Elusive and ever-experimenting with sound, singer golda shares a delicate narrative about dissatisfaction with identity and the road to healing on her new single, "Wish I Was Someone Else." The track opens with soft strings that bleed immediately into an exposition about feeling trapped by the past. Lyrics like "hereditary fear" and "side effect of my immigrant family" breathe life and specificity into the song–sharp and personal details that tread heavy on the heart. Confessional feels like a fitting description of what golda is allowing us to experience here. The production balances crisp guitar while also possessing a deeply urgent bassline that carries the track start to finish. Complacency has plagued the singer since she was young–internalizing everything from her surroundings and erasing her ability to make choices for herself. The entire mood of "Wish I Was Someone Else" evokes a feeling of urgency that comes to a crescendo towards the end that lyrically desires for an easy out–to become someone else–but instrumentally feels richly optimistic. The LA-based artist releases her debut EP this November with tracks smooth, introspective, and essential to have on repeat.

Julie Gentile on November 21, 2019
​The Districts - Hey Jo

​The Districts - Hey Jo


The Districts can easily be seen as a welcome addition to the trend of Philadelphia indie rockers who play a little more noisily than their Brooklyn or LA contemporaries. They’re in good company with bands like Hop Along and Restorations, who shout over as many as three guitars at a time but use a brighter emotional palette than anger alone. “Hey Jo,” the first single from their upcoming album You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere, is a more delicate song, more coming-of-age than teenage angst. Singer Rob Grote explores his falsetto as he confronts bucked expectations, asking a friend, “How’s Los Angeles? Have you seen any stars? Does the sunshine get old?” Those opening questions are symbolic of the larger confusion within the song of, as Grote explains, “relationships unfurling amidst the dysphoria of the modern world.” “We are all imperfect products of the natural world,” he continues, “and more specifically, products of our own mind.” You can almost hear the strain in his voice, not accustomed to singing so high, so quietly or so tenderly, as he addresses his own internal struggles and tries “to be something more perfect, gentle, and beautiful.”

Daniel Shanker on November 21, 2019
Adam Melchor - I Choose You

Adam Melchor - I Choose You


LA-based singer-songwriter Adam Melchor’s “I Choose You” proclaims an all-encompassing love. The song is an off-kilter, technicolor daydream for your ears—full of raucous voices. It wobbles through perfectly depicting the absent-mindedness that can accompany the obsession of new love as Melchor sings, “used to always say I was good with people’s names / now I’ve forgotten everyone’s and you’re to blame.” Produced by Ethan Gruska, Andrew Sarlo, and John Debold, the track is layered with elaborate sounds that never drown out Melchor’s sweetly melodic voice. Both the production and lyrics are a celebration of the knot in your stomach you feel when you like someone so much you can barely breathe or think whenever you're around them. Melchor leans into the idea that love is a game of chance, and finding your one person is as much luck as it is anything else, “I choose you / out of billions of people / we got it down to two.” ”I Choose You” rounds out a busy year for Melchor—having released his sophomore EP Plan On You in the spring followed by the single “Joyride” this fall.

Corinne Bates on November 20, 2019
Frances Quinlan - Rare Thing

Frances Quinlan - Rare Thing


Frances Quinlan is such a singular force—in her lyricism, in her guitar playing, and of course in her voice—that Hop Along’s identity and sound are inseparable from hers. The group even started as her solo project until she was eventually joined by her brother, drummer Mark Quinlan, and now a full band. The evolution of the band’s sound from then to now is astonishing, though not totally unforeseeable. Elements of a track like 2012’s “Laments” hint at the beauty of 2018’s “Prior Things” or the infectious groove of the same album’s “Somewhere A Judge.” But Quinlan now returns to her solo roots, releasing “Rare Thing” as the first single from her upcoming true debut solo album, Likewise, due out in January. And it should come as no surprise that the song is, without a doubt, a Frances Quinlan song in every way one might expect. Every member of Hop Along played on the track, and guitarist Joe Reinhart was heavily involved in its production. “Working with Joe on this made me able to better see that the guitar is just one vehicle,” Quinlan said of the alternative sound palette, “There are so many others to explore.” True to form, Quinlan sings about a microscopic moment, a dream about her niece, and follows her train of thought through her unmistakable brand of snarling poetry, managing to “stay small by making giants out of strangers,” before reaching her cathartic conclusion: “I have to stop myself and admit I am happy.”

Daniel Shanker on November 18, 2019
Chris Rovik - Dama

Chris Rovik - Dama


Chris Rovik’s newest single “Dama” burns slow and steady with the grief of a future that will never come to fruition. The Brooklyn-based artist chronicles the swirl of thoughts that accompany the end of a relationship with lyrics that are devastating in their specificity, “keep me tucked away somewhere deep inside / take the child’s name that I gave to you when you were mine.” The production is heavy, dark and full without becoming burdensome. The persistent drums and driving bassline from collaborators Jonny G and Moah respectively are grounding in their consistency—allowing the rest of the track to flow in and around while still staying cohesive. The use of harmonic vocal layering creates a disorienting effect that feels like walking through a thick fog. “Dama” stays true to the droning alt-rock sound that Rovik cultivated in his debut EP Let Go, which he released earlier this year.

Corinne Bates on November 18, 2019
Del Water Gap - To Philly

Del Water Gap - To Philly


Awash in softness, “To Philly” by Del Water Gap begins with gentle guitar strums, emotional vocals and simple, heartache-y lyrics. The simplicity is overwhelming, evoking so much while saying so little. "To Philly" sounds like a memory; lyric by lyric, pluck by pluck, the vocals melt together to tell a story of love, loss and something bittersweet. Though they start similarly, the single and music video diverge in sound; the track itself picks up, while the video stays soft and slow. As the drumbeat introduces itself, the song gains momentum and carries on with energy, before slowly coming to a close. The video, on the other hand, stays low throughout in a lovely way. The acoustic is strummed slower and the vocals are sung softer, as the music emerges with an aura of tenderness and intimacy. Strung together with snippets of footage, the home video layers the fleeting moments of life over the subtlety of the track, creating something altogether beautiful. Bask in the gorgeous croons of Del Water Gap at The Wild Honey Pie’s next NY dinner party, happening November 19 at Le Fanfare, and keep your ears open for his newest EP, Alive from Fresno out November 22 via Terrible Records.

Caroline Peacock on November 15, 2019
No Vacation and Okey Dokey - Really Truly

No Vacation and Okey Dokey - Really Truly


After touring together this summer, Brooklyn’s No Vacation and Nashville’s Okey Dokey return with a collaborative shoegaze track called “Really Truly.” After Sab Mai (No Vacation) sets the stage over a sleepy bass-anchored groove, Aaron Martin (Okey Dokey) hooks you with his falsetto delivery of what turns out to be the track’s mantra: Now that everything’s faded, you figured it out. As the two groups continue to dip deeper into the groove they’ve built together, a call and response eventually leads into what sounds like the hypnotizing feeling of sitting in a 3 am subway train. Zooming beneath the East River on the way back to Brooklyn, the guitar riffs bring you in and out of a half-sleep. Lines from the tunnel lights flash at a steady 70 bpm. What a relief: the night went well. And in that timeless moment, the thing that’s been bugging you all week—you realize you figured it out.

Karl Snyder on November 15, 2019
All We Are - L Is For Lose

All We Are - L Is For Lose


Many beloved bands, from The Staves to The Wombats, have their roots in the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, a school founded by none other than Paul McCartney. Musicians from Norway, Ireland and Brazil met at the renowned institution to form All We Are, returning with their newest single, “L Is For Lose.” The track is described best by the director of its music video, Jack Whitely, who said that he “imagined a hot Miami night where the band plays characters caught up in an 80s crime love triangle, before the funk drops and they settle their differences on the dancefloor.” That seedy underbelly of a Tarantino universe meets tongue-in-cheek goofiness in the video, but also the sounds of the song itself. The backbone is an effortlessly funky groove, but All We Are takes painstaking efforts to scuff up that sheen with wordless yells and a test broadcast vocal breakdown, something The Flaming Lips might do to an Electric Guest beat.

Daniel Shanker on November 15, 2019
Jessi Blue - Frank Said

Jessi Blue - Frank Said


Dreamy and introspective, “Frank Said” is a catchy new track from LA-based singer/songwriter Jessi Blue off their debut album, Lips Do What Hands Do. With cool, lo-fi production and a mellow, head-bopping beat, the song feels like a cozy midnight hangout around a crackling fire. It opens with a raw, reverberating piano melody over a groovy bassline, evoking a sort of melancholy intimacy that feels at once familiar and long-lost. When the unique arrangement expands, it conjures up bedroom vibes through soft, ethereal vocals and a muffled drum pad, a chill, fresh style of synth-pop reminiscent of artists like Billie Eilish. Jessi Blue’s thoughtful lyricism adds another layer of depth; with lines like “I’m so f*cking lonely but I did it to myself,” they are relentlessly relatable in their honesty. Dynamic and resonant, “Frank Said” will get stuck in your head, and you’ll love every minute of it.

Britnee Meiser on November 14, 2019

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