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Purity Ring - peacefall

Purity Ring - peacefall


Amid the hellscape that is 2020, Purity Ring is here to soothe your quarantine blues. The duo teased “peacefall” on Facebook, calling it a song “to keep you company.” After years of radio silence, Purity Ring is on the cusp of releasing their first album in five years (WOMB drops today, April 3rd). Megan James and Corin Roddick from Edmonton, welcome back. The first releases of WOMB (“peacefall,” “stardew,” “pink lightning,” and “i like the devil”) show the duo sticking to what they do best: producing glittering, synth-forward pop that plays with syntax and swims through your ears. These are songs to listen to alone in your bedroom when the insomnia hits. More avant-garde than another eternity (which featured tracks like “push pull” and “heartsigh") early signs suggest WOMB is a return to the Shrines era Purity Ring—albeit with a more refined sound. "peacefall" is a gorgeous tale of finding peace in darkness. Hypnotic vocals by James are supported by backing vocals from Jonna Bjerre, “Ride like a maniac / Into, into the light.”

Corinne Osnos on April 3, 2020
Jordana - Sway

Jordana - Sway


Despite being a vast and difficult to define genre, indie music in the 21st century has occasionally had to battle accusations of pretentiousness and self-seriousness. “Sway,” one of the standout tracks from Kansas-based indie upstart Jordana’s freshly released LP, Classical Notions of Happiness, stands in direct opposition to these claims. The woozy synths and subdued bass playing contrast well with the sharp hi-hats and clean guitar sections; altogether, it feels like a natural accompaniment to Jordana’s demure vocals. Her melody is so effortless that it feels like it could have been a first take, but the delivery is far too polished for that to be the case. The languid pacing of “Sway” meshes perfectly with the hazy, somewhat unstructured atmosphere Jordana carefully crafts throughout the duration. It is more difficult to create a meandering but purposeful piece of mood music than it seems—a track lacking an earworm chorus or real attention-grabbing piece of instrumentation can easily get lost in a modern music scene that is increasingly geared towards those with the shortest attention spans. “Sway” stands in stark opposition to these trends, an engaging piece of music made from a place of personal desire rather than one brought about by external forces, and the result is an effortlessly fun R&B-tinged romp from an artist who is thankfully just getting started.

Alec Bollard on April 3, 2020
Runnner - Ur Name on a Grain of Rice

Runnner - Ur Name on a Grain of Rice


Runnner’s latest release, “Ur Name on a Grain of Rice," is a melancholic but self-aware confessional that sweeps across the part of your chest reserved for heartbreak. This LA-based, seven-member ensemble could have walked straight out of the indie-folk scene of 2009, harkening back to the glory days of Dr.Dog, Iron and Wine, and Death Cab for Cutie’s acoustics. Sloping, winding vocals, reminiscent of Andy Shauf, are stretched over the steady pulse of the drumline and the chirping twang of a banjo. Met with the powerful swell of sax, horns, and vocal harmonies (including Helen from Skullcrusher), the layers build gradually over the length of this mesmerizing five-minute track and culminate in a euphony of textures, the singer repeating almost defiantly “I’m shouting it now, cos I can’t write it down, I’m letting it pour out the sides of my mouth.” With cutting observations like “I can’t stand to be alone, because it’s so easy to ignore me,” there is more than just yearning to the lyrics, there’s humility as well, underlining the all too familiar duality of doubt and desire. “Ur Name on a Grain of Rice” is a lush track that reminds us of the ways love teaches us personal growth; It’s something we want to deserve, but maybe aren’t ready to yet.

Shasha Léonard on April 2, 2020
​Melanie Faye - It's A Moot Point

​Melanie Faye - It's A Moot Point


Melanie Faye charms on "It's A Moot Point," an intimate, new tune whose sickly sweet sound attempts to patch the holes in a flawed love. Her lush vocals shine on the track, driven by a relaxed backbeat as well as the jazz guitar prowess that made Faye viral in 2017 through a cosign from SZA. Contrary to the laid back nature of the song, Faye's lyrics expose her pain, allowing us to ponder exactly what the moot point in the relationship might be. "I hold on foolishly / To the only thing that means everything to me," she laments, suggesting that they had run their course. However, pleading in the chorus with "Give me one more chance babe and your mine now," Faye lands on a more hopeful note. While her Instagram is brimming with videos of guitar and bass riffs, clips of her singing are much less frequent, making the song a pleasant surprise to fans now hoping for more.

Ysabella Monton on April 2, 2020
​David You - Sand

​David You - Sand


David You’s “Sand” is a gentle rumination on the intangible beauty of love. Born and raised in New York, the indie-folk artist layers soft angelic vocals over delicate acoustic fingerpicking and a light twinkle of the piano. The five-minute track is languid in its gratitude as he sings, “I wanna say / I am thankful for your love / you give me hope and trust.” Though the sound is almost mournful, the song is an ode to love and the peace it can bring. It explores the beauty in finding someone with whom you can completely be yourself and feel unashamed. You describes the way love can alter the passage of time singing, “now all the time / passes me like sand / slipping through my hands.” Though we long to hold onto love and happiness forever, it comes and goes at it pleases. “Sand” is the first track off of David You’s newest EP Beautiful, Like Pyramids.

Corey Bates on April 1, 2020
spill tab - Calvaire

spill tab - Calvaire


French-Korean artist Claire Chicha, otherwise known as spill tab, creates mesmerizing electro-pop alongside producer David Marinelli. On their latest single, “Calvaire,” the two deliver an unstoppable bop that is as danceable as it is atmospheric. The vocal is lush and delivered in French, but you don’t have to know French to appreciate this banger. In a teaser for the music video accompanying the song, Chicha mentions “Calvaire represents shitty circumstances that can ruin life. Something overbearing.” This sentiment is relatable now more than ever before, as we isolate ourselves and navigate away from our “normal” lives. As troublesome as our current crisis might be, at least we have “Calvaire” to move us with it’s embellished, percolating beat.

Deanna DiLandro on April 1, 2020
The Marías - Jupiter

The Marías - Jupiter


Hey. Hello...hello? “Jupiter” begins with the ring of a phone call and what sounds like a one-sided conversation. It’s easy to get lost in this track, a gentle wash of strumming and percussion from The Marías. Lead singer María Zardoya’s vocals are spellbinding, as she sings about waking up next to someone you love, bathed in sunlight. She delivers sweet musings in breathy tones, “Maybe the photo’s out of focus, I can’t believe that no one noticed," never raising her voice beyond a few octaves. When you learn the band’s origin story, which begins with drummer Josh Conway approaching Zardoya at a gig in Los Angeles, the harmonies take on a deeper meaning.

Corinne Osnos on April 1, 2020
Yael Naim - She

Yael Naim - She


Scene: the spartan hallways of a music academy, after hours. Distant piano arpeggiations fade into consciousness, floating skyward before dissipating into aging, yellowed, acoustic ceiling tiles. You follow the sound, and at last, crack open the door to a large, nearly empty rehearsal hall, revealing a lone pianist practicing what sounds to be a Liszt piece. A percussive element follows the shape of the melody: the exaggerated clack of piano keys snapping you into reality. Staying grounded is necessary. Yael Naim casts a siren’s spell, tantalizing with her perfect vocal blend of airiness and earthiness. To prevent you from drifting to sleep, a plucky synth part enters, and suddenly you’re catapulted into a magical quest to save Zelda...or something. The production builds, adding a harpsichord, an angelic choir, a small brass section. “She” guides the listener through an orchestral journey of the psyche: the loss of control, the doubting of your own sanity, the questioning of self and the fear of what comes next. Above all the confusion, sunlight streams, blinding as through stained glass in a stately cathedral, bathing you in hope. Naim spins an ethereal dance that twists and turns in and out of darkness and light, serving up a hauntingly appropriate backdrop for these uncertain times.

Karyna Micaela on March 31, 2020
 Alice Phoebe Lou - Witches

Alice Phoebe Lou - Witches


“Witches” from Alice Phoebe Lou is magical. Boldly incessant synth cascades over every word, hypnotizing and enticing. This song weds the cosmic and the terrestrial as Lou’s entrancing vocals cast spells, proclaiming “I'm one of those witches, babe / I'm one of those witches, babe / Just don't try to save me, 'cause / I don't wanna be saved." Listen as this track pulls you in and out of a lovely dream, and makes your body sway in that “golden way." When the things that make us worry are far beyond our control, songs like these are a wonderful gift. We can surrender for a moment to kindly hypnotic music like “Witches” and be at ease.

Ben Burke on March 31, 2020
Chris Rovik - Burning Bridges

Chris Rovik - Burning Bridges


Don’t be surprised if you catch yourself bouncing along to Chris Rovik’s latest single “Burning Bridges” which, despite being a bittersweet farewell to a toxic relationship, makes itself out to be quite the departure from the artist’s last EP, Let Go, which he released around the same time last year. Opting for pop over grunge, this track wastes no time getting started, filtering into focus with an upbeat guitar, a bouncing bassline, and the infectious tongue-click of a wooden block. Rovik ends up with something a little less signature moody-goth-acoustic, and something more Tom Petty-playful. With the instruments maintaining a bubbly momentum, dynamic vocals lead us through the emotional evolution of the song; Rovik begins in the tenderness of a lower register and builds up to the powerful delivery of someone carrying the weight of a relationship he no longer wants to bear. When he repeats “This will be your last” in the chorus over and over, it seems to be more of a reminder to himself than anything else. “Burning Bridges” might be a last goodbye, but with this ending comes the sense of having a weight lifted from your chest, leaving you a little lighter as you dance off into the future.

Shasha Léonard on March 31, 2020
Hinds - Come Back And Love Me <3

Hinds - Come Back And Love Me <3


Delicate and flirty, Hinds’ latest release “Come Back And Love Me <3” puts visions of swaying with a lover in your head. It’s refreshing and sweet to hear at a moment when things feel uncertain and scary. Listen to it while laying in the grass with your eyes closed; move your arms to the tune. The 4-piece band based in Madrid, Spain never fail to turn a song into a theatrical experience, as if you are watching a plot unfold on stage. In the chorus, their lyrics switch back and forth between English and Spanish. The contrast is lovely with smooth transitions between the two languages. "Come back and love me / Vente y te dejo ganar (Come and I’ll let you win) / Come back and love me / Es que odio esta manera de jugar (It’s just that I hate this way of playing).” The mix of pretty vocals and soothing guitar strums make this track one to ring in the new season.

Bailee Penski on March 30, 2020
​mxmtoon - Quiet Motions

​mxmtoon - Quiet Motions


mxmtoon’s “Quiet Motions” is lovely to listen to. Cars and footsteps are met by warm and shimmering acoustics. The soundscape is calm as mxmtoon asks “Isn’t it nice to be all by yourself?” This track poetically encapsulates feelings familiar to many young people. It calmly details the simple pleasures of living alone: the “quiet motions." In a time where many of us are stuck at home, we could learn from this song to appreciate the quiet motions of our lives. Whatever home may look like for you, give this track a listen while you find the quiet motions in your own life. Meditative in a beautifully modern way, "Quiet Motions" fades away to a peaceful end, and leaves us thinking the same thing mxmtoon asks earlier: “Isn’t it nice? Isn’t it nice?”

Ben Burke on March 30, 2020
Ackerman - Surf King

Ackerman - Surf King


What began as a self-described “bedroom project” from frontman Jordan McAfee-Hahn has turned into a bi-coastal musical collaboration between friends producing some of the freshest indie pop since Grizzly Bear. Ackerman,which consists of McAfee-Hahn, Bernardo Ochoa, and Matti Dunietz, is known for its beachy, retro vibes. The group's latest release “Surf King” doesn’t stray from that arrow. In 2018, the Brooklyn-based band was in the middle of producing its EP when McAfee-Hahn set out on a new adventure. “When I moved to Los Angeles, I thought I’d be closer to the beach / When I moved to Los Angeles, I thought I’d be a surfing king.” The lyrics are tinged with humor but based on real experiences (likely McAfee-Hahn’s) that play out like a bad case of Instagram vs. Reality. The soul-sucking traffic from LAX, the pollution and smog blocking the view of the mountains and sun, and a beach that remains to be seen only on a map leads our narrator to profess he “doesn’t know what [he] is doing.” Described by McAfee-Hahn as “a love song for a city that’s tough to be broke in,” the song drips with equal parts adoration and frustration. The city, like the ocean, takes you in and spits you back out when you’re least expecting it.

Corinne Osnos on March 30, 2020
SASAMI - Mess

SASAMI - Mess


After a jam-packed year of releasing her self-titled album and touring across the country, SASAMI begins 2020 with her dark new single “Mess.” The track is an edgy departure from the soft, sensitive sound that permeated many of her releases in 2019, and perhaps sets a new tone for what's next for the LA-based singer-songwriter in the coming months. “Mess” begins with a moody bassline accompanied by SASAMI’s dejected lyricism; "I’m just trying to get paid and I’m already high now," which, as the song continues, is a phrase that is continuously bookended by a biting guitar riff that intensifies with each repetition. Though “Mess” is grungy, it never becomes unwieldy; each eruption of noise alternates between neat melodies. Though SASAMI flawlessly captures the feeling of losing control, the track itself never does; portraying intense emotion while staying musically grounded. Her single couldn’t have come at a more fitting cultural moment, and hopefully within the unpredictability, we, too, can maintain a modicum of control in the mess.

Brittany Cortez on March 27, 2020
Porches - Patience

Porches - Patience


Porches, NY-based, singer-songwriter Aaron Maine's indie project, returns with his fourth album Ricky Music. “Patience” opens the album and could be best described as a synth-pop dream. The song makes you feel as though you are listening to a hopeful love poem. The intimate sound is built by stripped guitar, minimal piano chords and echoing vocals. There is a sort of begging nature to the track and you can hear the pleading in Maine’s voice to have this relationship work out even if everything in life is rooting against it. It’s truthful and raw songs like this that truly connect with me at this time where things are so uncertain. I have been able to hear this song live a few times already and that is because Maine is currently on a virtual tour. Porches has found a way to connect with his audience by holding an Instagram Live each night he was supposed to be on tour. He takes song requests and even has special guests join him “on stage." Catch him on the next night of the tour live from his Instagram.

Megan Beck on March 27, 2020

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