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
Why Bonnie - Stereo
Hailing from Austin, Texas bedroom-pop band Why Bonnie is back with their new EP "Nightgown." The third track, "Stereo," captures the essence and charm of the five-piece band. Front-woman, Blair Howerton's voice carries on subdued and consistent while it lies on a bed of warm synths and an electric guitar making the song itself a blanket of comfort. Nevertheless, a pleasant yet unexpected shift comes as if to throw off the blanket and expose the unkempt sheets underneath. Howerton jumps the octave introducing a new type of emotion to the mix. As it builds, passive becomes active, apathy becomes caring, all heard and felt within high notes and louder dynamics. The song ends similarly to how it began, emulating just how natural it is to fall back into our composure after a moment of frenzied vulnerability and clarity.— Dara Bankole on July 17, 2018
Yvonne Hercules - Roving
Sometimes we all need a moment to pause and breathe. A minute to recalibrate and separate from our fast-moving, tech-heavy bubbles. Yvonne Hercules' latest track, "Roving" will immerse you in that safe, meditative space. The London-based singer-songwriter's buttery, wholesome voice stirs you on a spiritual level. Beyond its undeniable emotional capacity, the song also carries a deep political message in the most tranquil way. It's often so difficult to marry calmness and passion, but Hercules voices her stance on police brutality and the mistreatment of minority groups in a fervent, purely collected manner. Silky, wave-like guitar riffs float lightly above sweeping, saccharine harmonies as she sings out, "And we fall down / The shots ring out / The shots ring out." Hercules' experimental folk is sure to leave a permanent mark on the hearts and ears of music fans around the globe.— Andrea de Varona on July 17, 2018
Sophie Meiers — Something About You
You know the kind of old-timey, vibey music that normally plays behind the "falling in love" montage in indie romantic dramas like 500 Days of Summer or Blue Valentine? The kind of song that was rediscovered on a cassette tape at the artist manager's estate sale decades after it was recorded? Now picture that song enveloped in warm, saturated, lo-fi production and the vocals of Erykah Badu and Nai Palm's lovechild, and you have singer-songwriter/producer, Sophie Meiers' latest track, "Something About You."
The 18-year-old, who also goes by the producer alias, "GUTTERGIRL", is unafraid to speak openly about her feelings. An air of delicate, heartfelt nostalgia consistently permeates her genre-bending work. "Something About You" captures the ways in which she manages to remain unapologetically herself through her inventive use of background harmonies paired with layers of watery, atmospheric tones and bouncy, Nintendo-inspired synths. Sophie Meiers is a young, surefire artist who has and will continue to push the limits of what it means to be a lo-fi, bedroom musician. Be sure to look out for her debut solo EP coming out later this year!— Andrea de Varona on July 16, 2018
John The Martyr - Cross The Line
We’ve all heard the tired cliché, “Age is just a number.” Still many of us find it difficult to overlook notions of age when it comes to seeking out new music. What if those notions were challenged enough to change the way we perceive age and just how old someone can be to rock and roll? The emerging neo-Motown powered band, John The Martyr embody exactly what it sounds like to push these boundaries.
In their follow-up debut, “Cross The Line” the bands three instrumentalists, Kyle Ridley, Dustin DiSalvo, and Chris Hines — all in their mid-20s — paint us a refreshing blues-rock landscape colored with warm, staccato vintage keys, bouncy drum fills, blistering horns, and buttery synthesizers. All of which is stroked with the heart-quaking vocal hues of 70-year-old Harlem soul singer, Bill Hudson. The track seethes with the spirit of old-fashioned R&B while honoring a tone of innovation that sets John The Martyr apart from other soul-inspired groups. Sure, a 70 year old man belting with the power and personality of a 25-year-old is more than enough to make them stand out, but they take it a step further. This hodgepodge of R&B, funk revivalist proves that, even though times are changing, good music is good music. Sometimes we just have to “Cross The Line” between old and new to find something with character, something like John The Martyr.— Andrea de Varona on July 13, 2018
Far Caspian - Let's Go Outside
Now that the NYC heat wave has passed, the title of this song doesn't sound like such a bad idea. UK indie-rockers, Far Caspian's latest single "Let's Go Outside" takes you somewhere before you even hear a single word. In a similar fashion to bands like Real Estate, somehow within a guitar lick lies the imagery of trees-lined streets and a cruise at golden hour. Frontman Joel Johnston’s voice is full care-free ease and a lo-fi sound that creates the perfect summertime vibe. While Far Caspian first started as a Joel's one-man project in his college dorm room, the band has grown into the four-man piece it is today, ready to release their first EP later this year on indie label Dance to the Radio. Although infused with shimmer and sun, Joel tells how "Let's Go Outside" really came from the darkness of the depression he dealt with when moving from Ireland to London. It's universal and also deeply personal, finding hope for life to look better than what you currently see. With a track like this, Joel just might be able to cajole you to follow his lead and enjoy life outside of your four walls and ac unit.— Dara Bankole on July 12, 2018
The Lulls - Goodnight America
Somehow while splitting their days between both NYC and LA, The Lulls have found the time to share their new single “Goodnight America.” The track’s intro opens with shimmering guitars paired with a cruising beat that takes listeners to a place that feels like a sunny, California afternoon. The vocals are subdued and contrast well with the bright instrumentals throughout the song. The final moments of this indie tune are intriguing as it builds and fades away while repeating the chorus creating almost a sunset effect. While catchy, this song doesn't shy away from poignant lyrics, “Everybody hurts / everybody cries / the American experience / is never asking why.” the chorus says. If you're still crafting your indie summer playlist "“Goodnight America” will make the perfect addition.— Alessandra Rincon on July 12, 2018
Benjamin Lazar Davis - Choosing Sides
You may not know Benjamin Lazar Davis yet, but you love his friends. Between collaborating with Lake Street Dive’s Bridget Kearney and joining Okkervil River in their newest lineup switch, Davis recorded a solo album brilliant in its own right. An anthem for the modern era in a long line of eras more divisive than the last, “Choosing Sides” has Davis questioning the meaning of the “pointless dance” we perform when we are too afraid to say what we mean or be who we are. The minimal picking of an acoustic guitar is joined by an array of ethereal hums, just as simple relationships are muddled by the complications of everyday life. This song is a serene look into a rare moment of clarity as it finally dawns on him that fighting the same fight to the same end does not make it a worthy cause. Nothing spells resolve like a key change, and, by the end of the song, Davis is done, even if it means disconnecting entirely.— Daniel Shanker on July 11, 2018
Sister Kit - No Fun
Abby Clark of the lo-fi indie trio, Sister Kit, speaks directly to a lost lover on the group’s first single, “No Fun,” taking you with her through her realizations that she missed an opportunity at love because of her own fear. Woozy guitar strums play over a warm bass line as she sings, “I know it’s a little late / but I think I left too soon ‘cause I was afraid / of loving you.” The song floats along with the weight of that heartache and melancholic tones that recall bands like Mazzy Star. Clark’s powerful croons crescendo as the song nears its end, washing over the mix with a final, thoughtful reminder to the lover she left that living with the regret, “hasn’t been fun.”
Bantug - Shapes
Nashville dream pop artist Bantug recently released "Shapes," her single off her latest EP Red. Full of edge and empowerment "Shapes" speaks to the people we become by accident, "we all fall into shapes we didn't mean to." With a concept that feels so fresh yet universal, Bantug has left us very impressed. Amanda Bantug's dream pop tunes are honest and transparent yet light and euphoric and fans of the Now, Now and The Japanese House are sure to appreciate her sound. Be sure to check out her latest EP to hear more from this up-and-comer!
Johanna Samuels - Supposed To Say
With a voice that sounds more timeless than trendy, Johanna Samuels sings of the difference between what you feel and what you say. "Supposed to Say" is Johanna's first single off of her EP "Have A Good One" set to release this summer. Opening with a line like, "Was I suppose to say 'It was nice to see you today,' cause it was hell for me." Johanna lets us know from the get-go exactly what she's about. While parts of this song are in the form of a narrative, giving us a glimpse into this specific storyline, other lines like "I might not know then who to be, but consider me up off my knees." are confessional and unearthing thoughts that Johanna executes with dignified grace. Mellow and subtle in nature, the instrumentation of this song work as a frame to showcase Johanna's voice, but not without experimental and alluring moments of its own. One listen to "Supposed to Say" will make you remember Johanna Samuels' name and not forget it any time soon.— Dara Bankole on July 3, 2018