88rising (ft. Joji and NIKI) - La Cienega
“La Cienega”, referring both to a famous street in LA that stretches out from Sunset Blvd and the Spanish term for desert marsh is a clever play on words that explores the pitfalls of the “glamorous” lifestyle many of us daydream about. The vocalists, two established Asian artists, Joji and NIKI, imply that waking up hungover after a rough night of heavy drinking and shenanigans might perhaps get old after a few weeks, months? As per NIKI's experience, it’ll have you singing, “Party’s over / Thank the lord”. “La Cienega” is one of the many bangers off of the international collective and record label, 88rising’s newest, collaborative album, Head in the Clouds.
The song was produced and written by Joji and NIKI, who each supply their own distinctive sound and interpretations of the Hollywood lifestyle, and how to potentially escape it. Joji and NIKI's syrupy vocals are carried by the electro-dance inspired production filled with slightly gritty synths and a subby kick/ trap bass . As the track progresses, it bursts with glitchy samples ranging from buffering computer and telephone noises to what sound like bicycle bells. “La Cienega” paints a sloppy romance, glitter-puke picture that perfectly captures what it might feel like to wake up on a shallow, dry slow-moving body of water or an arid LA sidewalk…— Andrea de Varona on July 31, 2018
KAINA - Happy
Allow us to introduce you to rising Chicago singer-songwriter, KAINA. Not only is she making waves in the Windy City, but she's also caught the attention of big names like Jamila Woods who she opened for last year. In her three track EP released early this year, KAINA explores the richness of her sound with three songs that showcase her multi-layered talent. "Happy" is a song that is full of playful instrumentation and background vocals that are reminiscent of old 90s R&B hits. KAINA sings of the emotions she experiences when she's around a special someone and the moments she goes back to in her head when she thinks of their happiness. While the tone of KAINA's voice is smooth and confident, you can't miss the fact that she's singing of a happiness that is the color of blushing cheeks and giddy smiles. There's no doubt about it, KAINA is on our list of artists to watch out for and we're pretty happy about it.— Dara Bankole on July 30, 2018
Grace Gillespie - Lady Make Believe
Devon, England Grace Gillespie’s ethereal sound isn't what you'd expect from a songwriter raised in a small beach town instead her voice evokes both bucolic folk and urban R&B. Inspired by her father’s record collection and her primary school’s curriculum, Gillespie tried her hand at a number of instruments, ultimately choosing voice and guitar as her primary songwriting tools. Gillespie’s naturalistic lyrics call back to her seaside home, especially now that she’s moved to London. Her songwriting reconciles that contrast; she is inspired by the warm, resonant tones of urban soul vocalists, but her raw acoustic guitar sounds like small-town folk. The melancholic notes of her songs give the listener a twinge of the homesickness she must experience. In particular, “Lady Make Believe” sounds like a nostalgic love song for her England — not the England of bustling London, but the England of her family, the England of her childhood: Devon. Find "Lady Make Believe" on all digital platforms on August 10!— Haley Walker on July 30, 2018
Bermuda Triangle — Till The End Of Days
A slow-moving scene of a pair of lovers dancing idly in a pale lit bar. A warm picture of a group of friends sitting and singing on a porch while drinking scotch and smoking one too many cigarettes. Bermuda Triangle’s most recent country-gospel ballad, “Till the End of Days,” distinctly evokes settings like these. The Nashville-based trio’s track is a sublime combination of rich, tight harmonies balanced with distinctive vocal timbres and lean, airy acoustic guitar.
Jesse Lafser, who wrote the song, leads the track with an infectious, no-nonsense vocal line that is nothing short of pure magic. The gentle guitar unhurriedly moves forward as Lafser tenderly sings, “Maybe God / Maybe God / Maybe God does exist / Cause the way you look at me on mornings like this.” Brittany Howard (of Alabama Shakes) and Becca Mancari pour into the song in equal measure allowing each of them plenty of time to individually tug on your heartstrings reminding you that sometimes the greatest loves — both romantic and platonic — involve the greatest amount of growth and support. For all you atheists or agnostic leaning dissenters, “Till the End of Days” will incidentally lead you the closest you may have ever been to believing. You might even find yourself praying to a God after your first listen…maybe.— Andrea de Varona on July 27, 2018
Brewster - Kiss Me While I'm Down
When you are hurt by the person you love, it’s a hard fall. As you shatter it can be easy to run back to that love, mistaking artful sadism for the comfort you seek as you begin to pick up the pieces. Mark Bucci, who leads his own bedroom-pop project, Brewster finally strings his pieces back together on the single, “Kiss Me While I’m Down,” the second song on a double cassette single being released through Great Grief, a new NJ label from Matteo DeBenedetti of the band Toy Cars. Drummer, Tom Devinko, supplies the tracks’s delicate dynamics to Bucci’s idiosyncratic guitar and synth melodies, fitting together music that lives on the axis of Wilco’s indie-instrumentation and the tittering electronics of the new Half Waif record. Bucci sings, “I can’t help myself/ I’ll let you twist me around sharing pronouns/ and kiss me while I’m down,” swirling around in his thoughtful guitar space and by the end, in the light, seeming to be emerging as whole.
Wingtip - Pavement
San Fran native, Nick Perloff-Giles's — otherwise known as Wingtip — coastal upbringing has deeply influenced his music. His moderately electro vibes mixed in with an acoustic-pop feel display remnants of his former beach life. "Pavement," the first single to come off of Wingtip's upcoming EP, Ghosts of Youth, captures these sounds. Starting with light synths and a gentle acoustic guitar line, "Pavement" builds as the story it tells unfolds. Tasteful electronic elements also paint it with a sense of character and youth. The nostalgic themes of lost love, getting older and being a little reckless capture the quintessence of growing up. Ultimately, "Pavement" is a song about the good ol' days and the hope that they're not all behind you. Just one listen and chances are you'll be taken back to that one summer that made you want to live forever.— Dara Bankole on July 27, 2018
Hayley Gene Penner - Smaller
Full of honesty and grace, Hayley Gene Penner's brave new single, "Smaller," speaks to the deep desire to be loved and the fear that it may be easier if you were someone else. Honing in on the struggle of body-image, Penner sings, "If I'm smaller and I'm different / Just a little less / Would you love me?" These words cut to the core and find you in a place you know all too well. "Smaller" shines with a quiet boldness. Penner refuses to hide behind metaphors or similes as she sings her truths with such sincerity and vulnerability. Like most toxic thoughts, it's easy to hear the danger in them when you yourself are not thinking them — it's a lot harder to recognize their toxicity when they're in your own head. Smaller" lets you connect with Penner as she sings of her battle with self-image while also allowing you to notice the lack of self-love you may have been showing yourself for longer than you realized.
Joyce Manor - Million Dollars to Kill Me
Joyce Manor know how to pack a punch into a bit-sized box. New single “Million Dollars to Kill Me” recalls the late-90s midwestern emo scene with its guitar crunch and tongue-in-cheek title. “And one day you will realize / You are nothing, nothing without her / You’re an asshole from the bar,” frontman Barry Johnson spits out. The track’s full-blooded, all-American guitar riff is fist-pumping-ly anthemic, while the drums borrow from pop-punk’s propensity for cymbal crashes. Rarely has a track felt so simultaneously venomous and fun.— Michael O'Neill on July 26, 2018
the king heat ensemble - Give or take
More often than not, when a band has a killer, memorable name their music does not live up to it, but once in a while, there are exceptions. The fresh, folk-inspired UK group, the king heat ensemble is one of those special cases. The track, “Give or take,” off their most recent EP epitomizes what it means to make a blanket-genre like acoustic-folk sound original and refreshing all while maintaining its organic nature. “Give or take” begins with bouncy, steel-string guitar picking as the lead singer briskly introduces himself 7-seconds in with a stirring yet understated vocal delivery. His voice is a tamed hybrid of James Taylor and Conor Oberst, which adds an alternative stroke to an otherwise heavily bluegrass inspired landscape. He sings, “Everybody here knows when you’ve got to stop to start again,” with a red-yellow tone, a warmness, and positivity that is speckled with patches of tanginess. The king heat ensemble is giving you an encouraging pat on the back, while sternly whispering, “start again.”
Post Precious - Crown
Post Precious— who derives their name from the other definition of precious, meaning pretentious — are devoted to making music authentically. Alex Winston and MS MR’s Max Hershenow are no strangers to the creatively stultifying effects of being signed to bigger labels; with too much pressure from the industry, it’s hard to experiment. When the long-time friends moved from New York to Los Angeles, they decided to team up to reap the benefits of not being signed to major labels and exercise their creative freedom. Hershenow, now the housemate of Charli XCX, was undoubtedly inspired by the sounds of female-fronted electropop acts in the creation of Post Precious.
The new duo is decidedly less dark than MS MR’S, as is evident in “Crown,” a lighthearted track about settling into a long-term relationship and resigning one’s authority. Their sound nods to groups like CHVRCHES and Purity Ring with its layered synth texture and Winston's high, breathy vocals. Yet, they maintain a unique identity with the interesting harmonies and introspective lyrics they employ. Though they may be inspired by higher-profile artists, Post Precious are anything but, as their name implies, precious.— Haley Walker on July 25, 2018
Lola Kirke - Monster
Lola Kirke’s velvet vocals are the distinctive shine to all her songs, and “Monster” is no exception. “Waves break when they want to / guess I should take a cue,” she sings, her voice undulating like the waves she mentions. When her voice peaks with layered harmonies, the blend creates what can be described as "ear-gratification." The stark drums, flanging guitar and warmth of the rolling bass give the song an welcoming easy-listening familiarity. Kirke’s style is reminiscent of pop-tinged folk with shades of country, à la Sheryl Crow by way of The Indigo Girls.
“Would it be all right / To be the light that comes on at night / I wouldn’t burn too bright / Just enough so you might get home.” These lyrics are the most substantial of the song, alluding to the root of her insecurity: can she be strong enough to carry the weight of herself, and still be strong enough for someone else. “Monster” is the first single off of Kirke’s debut album Heart Head West, which will be released August 10th.— Talullah Ruff on July 25, 2018