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Ackerman - Surf King
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
Elizabeth Woolf - Goodbye Old Friend

Elizabeth Woolf - Goodbye Old Friend


Sometimes a goodbye feels great; sometimes it just feels awful. But a real goodbye with someone you had a deep relationship with is bound to feel more complicated, more in-between. On “Goodbye Old Friend,” the first single from Elizabeth Woolf’s upcoming debut album, she explores one of these more nuanced kinds of goodbye. On paper, the lyrics tell us that this parting of ways is for the best and was probably even a long time coming; but from the beginning a melancholic tinge in the guitar whispers shades of disappointment nonetheless. Woolf’s smooth, smoky vocals and joyful vocal runs, which quickly evoke the setting of a jazz lounge, add to the dramatic arc of the track as well. While at the start she seems to have completely acquiesced to the whims of the universe as she sings, “Time is slipping from our fingers this time,” by the end of the song every instrument, including her voice, is bursting with bold agency, as we witness her claim this goodbye as what it really is: a self-empowered and hopeful choice. And you get the feeling it might lead to something better down the road.

Karl Snyder on March 23, 2020
Dizzy - Sunflower

Dizzy - Sunflower


In the “About” section on their Facebook page, the Canadian band Dizzy declares: “We write sad dream pop.” While their latest single, “Sunflower,” is literally about dreaming, it sounds more like a savory-sweet escape from reality than a tearful tragedy. Swathed in amber rays of late afternoon sun, the delightfully nostalgic track conjures flashes of those deliciously restless teenage years. Katie Munshaw’s lulling vocals paired with Alex Spencer’s ethereal guitar parts recall late 90s-era female-fronted indie-pop bands such as Sixpence None the Richer and The Corrs. Charlie Spencer’s synth work keeps the production feeling modern while maintaining the “dream pop” genre. “Sunflower” pairs well with writing in one’s diary and longing for social contact with peers.

Karyna Micaela on March 20, 2020
Allie X feat. Mitski - Susie Save Your Love

Allie X feat. Mitski - Susie Save Your Love


We all know a Susie: The friend with the toxic boyfriend you wish you could just shake and let them know they deserve better. Canadian songstress Allie X describes this exact sentiment on her new song “Susie Save Your Love." The track features an elusive songwriting credit and vocal from Mitski, who has been on a break from releasing and touring music since 2018. The swaying vocals and 80s synth undertones bring to life a story that cuts close to those who have watched someone they love stay in an unhappy relationship when they have people all around them that truly love them. X continues to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community as this song works as a personal narrative of loving a woman, whether that be as a friend or something more. The song comes off of X’s latest album release Cape God. She is currently working on rescheduling her North American tour.

Megan Beck on March 20, 2020
Ada Lea - Woman, Here

Ada Lea - Woman, Here


Coming straight out of a Western dream, Ada Lea is back with a thoughtful new single. The lyricism immediately fills with humanity. Sung from the heart, it’s authentic, and still finds a way to balance itself with levity. Lea's raw vocals allow so much emotion to show through. The band remains steady, a reliable guitar plucking through a chord progression, stable drums making a subtle entrance around the chorus. A chorus, moving due to its repetition. Her vocals stand strong in acceptance, pulled on by a high harmony that feels less sure, calling out in disappointment and pain. The guitar riff is the loosest piece of the song, some wandering relief from the tough chorus. Verse two builds emotion, with Lea finding more strength in her independence. A confidence that allows her to explore new melodies, adding so much color to the second chorus. As “I’ve got my mind, and that’s all I need” breaks through, Lea has embraced her own message completely. It’s time to move forward, and she’s got all she needs to do it. The Montreal-based artist is set to release an EP later this month.

Max Himelhoch on March 20, 2020
Elah Hale - one star rating

Elah Hale - one star rating


After a set of fantastic 2019 releases, Elah Hale brings us their first single of the year, and not a moment too soon. "One star rating" feels like a step forward for Hale, delivering an impressive vocal performance over some stunning pop production. A song full of heartbreak and what-if’s gets off to a fast start with the intro holding a hazy urgency. When Hale starts singing, the situation is clear, as they sing “I swear I / could be the one you wanted”, with a calm presence—you can feel the yearning. As the chorus hits, more synths arrive and pick up the entire narrative, from the tough reality of the verse, to the bright optimism of another chance. The instrumental break before the second verse is a brief moment of beautiful chaos. Expertly arranged to make disparate elements fit perfectly. Further into the new verse, Hale adds subtle harmonies that add heft to lyrics that speak negatively of themselves, pulling away quickly to leave honest and tough lyrics sitting more vulnerable, all alone. A sparse yet breathtaking bridge shows off just how good Hale is, both singing and writing. It leads the listeners to a stripped chorus, finding a new energy before shifting back into gear and cruising out. This young NYC artist has offered nothing but gems, and "one star rating" continues the trend.

Max Himelhoch on March 19, 2020
Yazmin Lacey - Morning Matters

Yazmin Lacey - Morning Matters


Yazmin Lacey is a neo-soul, jazz artist from the UK, but her song "Morning Matters" would just as easily be heard in a daytime venue/coffee shop in New Orleans as it would be in a coffee shop in the UK. The track starts with an inviting trumpet solo, ushering in the backing beat of the song. "Morning Matters" is soothing, a keen demonstration of Lacey's ability to capture the feeling of waking up with gratitude. She gives us a sense of empowerment and control, which is a rare yet coveted feeling especially in the current state of our world. Lacey's new EP Morning Matters is set to release on March 27 so get excited for more remarkable, feel-good music from this inspiring artist.

Ian Lutz on March 19, 2020
Forever Honey - Christian

Forever Honey - Christian


The BK-based group Forever Honey recently released their sunny, delightfully nostalgic debut single "Christian." The track jumps right into an entrancing, layered vocal section with synthy guitars accompanying the lead singer. As it progresses, "Christian" explores a coming of age relationship that is carefree but ultimately emotional unstable—from getting only surface-level TLC, "Well you warm my hands," to getting too drunk and not getting any sleep, "Will you hold my hair back? / Don't wanna leave / While you try to fight it." The song is a promising, captivating first release from the group which consists of 4 members: Liv Price, Aida Mekonnen, Steve Vannelli and Jack McLoughlin. Forever Honey, self-proclaimed lovers of late 80s pop, are releasing their first EP titled Pre-Mortem High on April 24. We can't wait to hear more from this group and we're sure you'll be feeling the same after checking out their debut track.

Ian Lutz on March 19, 2020
Bleach Day - bbs in the grass

Bleach Day - bbs in the grass


Need some soothing psychedelia for these chaotic times? Enter Bleach Day, the Vermont-based project of Vinny Marksohn and Louie Kiley, who have worked tirelessly over the past few years to develop their immersive, lo-fi pop sound. Their sophomore LP, as if always, is the product of a two-year studio binge, and the track that brings the record to its inevitable end is “bbs in the grass.” The full album itself is mentioned by the band as a “series of musical movements erupting into existence” and its closing song certainly encompasses this feeling. Upon pressing play, a wave of piano, thick bass and driving percussion come in a burst of energy akin to the sun coming out from behind the clouds for the first time in a long while—all of this combined with a distorted vocal calls to the kind of textures found in the music of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Vinyl Williams. That being said, Bleach Day takes on a momentum of their own. Towards the end of the track, there is a tasty breakdown that filters in twinkling Wurlitzer and panning cymbals, all of which highlight the atmospheric nature of Bleach Day’s aesthetic. "Bbs in the grass” could make a great score to one’s best reflective periods during a time of great change and bring you a celebratory comfort in the fact that things begin again.

Deanna DiLandro on March 18, 2020
DRAMA - Forever and a Day

DRAMA - Forever and a Day


Producer Na'el Shehade and singer Via Rosa are the creative forces behind DRAMA. The Chicago-based duo contrast upbeat, trance-like pop music with anxiety-ridden lyrics that explore the underbelly of romantic love: “We’ll never know forever if you leave me now / You wouldn't stay, you wouldn't stay.” On “Forever and a Day,” DRAMA reminds us that forever is both subjective and ephemeral. It depends on circumstance, mood and a host of other factors beyond our control. Dangling modifiers and trailing vocals amplify the feeling that...well, anything could happen next. Rosa is a poet, and the song’s last stanza (and perhaps the song as a whole) nods to Edgar Allen Poe’s A Dream Within a Dream, in which the narrator contemplates the fleeting nature of time. Forever is made up, after all.

Corinne Osnos on March 17, 2020
​Oracle Sisters - Asc. Scorpio

​Oracle Sisters - Asc. Scorpio


Oracle Sisters credit the inspiration for their newest track “Asc. Scorpio '' to their guitarist Lewis Lazar, who conceived of the song after being stung by a scorpion in Jamaica. This experience served merely as a jumping-off point for the band’s future releases, all of which will take on the complex associations we have to our memories within an uncertain international moment. “Asc. Scorpio” captures this intention expertly, combining a dreamy and laid back sound with lyrics that are fearful at times, nostalgic at others. “Asc Scorpio” montages youthful and idyllic images of the past—a child in a crib in a rocking chair—with painful images of the global present—an elephant in hunger, a power grid and thunder. “Asc. Scorpio” does not explicitly speculate what the future holds, but perhaps suggests that in any cultural moment, pain is punctuated with joy, and the joy is what we attempt to hang on to. Ultimately, Oracle Sisters prove that many meditations can come from a warm, Jamaican beach day that is interrupted by a sting.

Brittany Cortez on March 17, 2020

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