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Active Bird Community ft. Samia - Somewhere
Active Bird Community ft. Samia - Somewhere

Active Bird Community ft. Samia - Somewhere


Active Bird Community sings of absence in “Somewhere” and plays with the same concept musically throughout the song. There are two gut-wrenching, cord-yanking, rug-pulling stops: first when the whole band follows a halting guitar solo into silence and next when a chorus goes small when all signs point to big. The latter leaves singer Andrew Wolfson alone with the reality of the growing distance replacing a once-powerful love. Not just heartache, but also fear of what solitude might mean for him, rattles his voice as he realizes, “It made you want to leave / It made you want to be / Somewhere where I was not.” The definition of one’s existence purely in terms of another’s absence is a powerful one, and Active Bird Community conveys this weight through a wall of frantic distortion. Unlike abrupt stops earlier in the song, the ending is a reminder of just how long the days stretch in the darkest times, teetering at the brink of an ending for nearly a minute after Wolfson’s and SAMIA’s voices have said their goodbyes.

Daniel Shanker on February 6, 2019
Myles Cameron - Yellow

Myles Cameron - Yellow


In his newest release “Yellow,” Myles Cameron details memories of a young love in a dreamy sonic landscape. His voice floats above heavy strings, illustrating Cameron’s vast range both tonally and stylistically. As the second release from his upcoming project Lonely Suburban Blackboy with producer Frankis, “Yellow” marks a continuation of the use of American suburbia motifs and a strong focus on colorful visual cues. However, this piece in particular delineates itself from Cameron’s earlier political works focused on suburban blackness for a moment of respite in boyish summer.

Lizzy Jones on February 5, 2019
Weyes Blood - Andromeda

Weyes Blood - Andromeda


It's not cool to admit you're lonely, sad and looking for something real with someone else in the hellscape of modern dating. But on her new song "Andromeda," Weyes Blood does just this AND makes it sound cool because that's just what she is — cool. Her singular sound is hard to place, with the only fair comparisons being Lana Del Rey meets Karen Carpenter, or Tammy Wynette's backing band meets Mind Games-inspired psych rock. Her lyrics, as always, twinkle with mystic themes, the track's title being inspired by Andromeda Galaxy, the galaxy closest to the Milky Way. The story of her broken heart and the "crazy guy" who she "dares to try" to love her is a tale as old as time, but Weyes Blood asserts the gravity and sincerity of her affections with zeal. Her strong voice croons, "You know that I hate the game/don't wanna waste any more time/you know I been holding out." Tired yet hopeful, "Andromeda" is a song for disheartened romantics holding out for something true "to hold on to."

Jacqueline Zeisloft on February 5, 2019
Toro y Moi ft. WET - Monte Carlo

Toro y Moi ft. WET - Monte Carlo


Outer Peace, the latest studio effort from Chaz Bundick aka Toro y Moi, challenges the listener to consider a dauntless tranquility that transcends themselves and the day-to-day trivialities of existing. Bundick lets the influence of Daft Punk and the house styles of his side project Les Sins seep in, crafting a record that is both dreamy and danceable. On “Monte Carlo,” it seems he may have cycled back around to elements of “chillwave,” heard in the woozy, deep textures on his earlier tracks like “Blessa,” but now refracting the sound through the lens of accessible pop music and lo-fi disco. The vocals, including the high pitched hook from Kelly Zutrau of Wet, are coated with a tasteful amount of autotune, fitting the track into the vein of Migos-style trap as it gliding over tittering drum machine hits, synth waves and echoing howls. In the lyrics, Bundick turns the woes of transportation into a siren song, and quite frankly, a real bop.

Deanna DiLandro on February 5, 2019
Donovan Woods - Go To Her

Donovan Woods - Go To Her


With last year's release of his note-worthy album Both Ways, Nashville/Toronto singer-songwriter Donovan Woods continues to put out music with the same intrinsic quality as the hit record. In "Go To Her," Woods sings out his anxious thoughts and attempts to coax himself into reconciliation with another. Questions and feelings are still left unsettled within the ending of this relationship, making it harder to move on. Still, the reminiscing would not be complete without also remembering what went wrong. Her actions that didn't make sense to the him and the "good mistakes" that he's made all led to a something that is now fragile and broken. Wood's voice is warm and comforting even in the midst of an almost lament. Musically the other star of this song are the strings that continually wax through, filling it with even more emotion and longing. "Go To Her" is Donovan Woods at his finest — while unsure of himself and his wants, there is a confidence in his sound, a sense that when it comes to who he is as a musician there is little left to question.

Dara Bankole on February 4, 2019
Girlpool - What Chaos is Imaginary

Girlpool - What Chaos is Imaginary


The title track on Girlpool’s newest album, “What Chaos is Imaginary,” is a moody and sweeping exploration of uncertainty. The indie duo, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, made the song while living apart, forcing them to change the way they write, record and arrange and igniting a maturity in their sound unlike anything we’ve heard before. The song opens with an 80s-style organ synth that hooks you immediately in a kind of sonic nostalgia. Then Tividad’s vocals drift in, simple and beautiful in their waif-like falsetto. Backed by Tucker’s whispery harmonies and layered over drums reminiscent of a heartbeat, it feels like the pair is guiding you through a dark, unexplored fantasy land. It’s fitting, since thematically, that’s what “What Chaos Is Imaginary” is about: navigating uncharted territory, both physical and emotional and doing so independently. This mood is captured perfectly by the arrangement of the strings, particularly in the bridge. They’re equal parts captivating and spine-chilling, and are the reason this song is one of our favorites from this year so far.

Britnee Meiser on February 4, 2019
Lily and Madeleine - Analog Love

Lily and Madeleine - Analog Love


Lily and Madeleine’s single “Analog Love” is angelic and withdrawn, lovesick and calm. Upbeat percussion combines with relaxed strings and clear vocals to convey the duo’s lyrical wish to find a love not fraught within the worries and superficialities of our modern hyper-connected world. Longing to be grounded by their love, the sisters lament “I want an analog love/Something slow and sweet/Give me an analog love/Wanna feel the Earth underneath our feet.” This song combines noises harmoniously to produce an overall sound that is not exceedingly busy or overdone, something that could lull you to sleep or bring you back to life. For those holdouts that wish for relationships not solely defined by text on a screen or like-counters, this ode to old-school love is a beautiful affirmation.

Ben Burke on February 4, 2019
Stella Donnelly - Old Man

Stella Donnelly - Old Man


Aussie Stella Donnelly's single "Old Man" is THE song for the "Me Too" era. This powerful anthem has lyrics as sharp as a knife over a happy sway-back-and-forth easy listening rhythm. Donnelly perfectly captures today's climate in her lyrics, "are you scared of me old man, or are you scared of what I'll do" and our personal favorite, "your personality traits don't count if you put your dick in someone's face." Donnelly is fearlessly taking advantage of her platform to spread a message that is so important. She sings, "you grabbed me with an open hand, the world is grabbing back at you." This song is easy to dance to but can undoubtedly get you ready for a woman's march too. Stella Donnelly's EP is scheduled to release March 8 so keep your eyes peeled!

Kyra Bruce on February 1, 2019
Sure Sure - Warm Animal

Sure Sure - Warm Animal


With a catchy choral hook and a vocal melody you can’t help but sing along to, “Warm Animal” is the perfect indie dance anthem to help you glide through 2019. It’s the first release of the year for LA-based quartet Sure Sure, and it more than lives up to the hype left in the wake of the group’s debut self-titled LP, which they released early last year. The band, who emerged onto the scene in 2016 and drew comparisons to the Talking Heads, records and produces all their music themselves, in their home studio, and are known for favoring experimental synths and unique arrangements. This song is no exception. The bass synth and DIY percussion that open the track make it clear from the start that Sure Sure is back to do what they do best: push the boundaries of indie pop. But “Warm Animal” has an optimism at its core that distinguishes it from anything the group has done before. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll figure out why. Including lines like, “I like the way you say my name babe,” and, “If it feels right, who’s to tell you that it ain’t right,” “Warm Animal” is an unapologetic love song, evoking appropriate warm-and-fuzzy feelings as soon as the chorus hits. This track was pulled from Sure Sure’s upcoming EP, What’s It Like?, expected to drop in May.

Britnee Meiser on February 1, 2019
Shovels & Rope - The Wire

Shovels & Rope - The Wire


Shovels & Rope wobble into “The Wire” with a shaky guitar and a stilted drum beat, a preview of the uncertainty and contrition to come. The song acts as a laundry list of singer Cary Ann Hearst’s mistakes and insecurities — “I’ve been a disappointment from time to time,” “I need everyone to like me,” “I’m no better than I’ll ever be,” etc., etc., etc. When she sings, “There’s nothing I can say but ‘I’m sorry’ now,” her voice faltering ever so slightly off-key, she drops the defense of her guitar-playing as a sign of honesty. But even in this most vulnerable moment, her husband Michael Trent, the other half of Shovels & Rope, is by her side, maintaining that wobbly beat. When she promises that this time will be different, yelling, “I won’t fail you when I walk out on the wire,” Trent’s beat becomes an unstoppable, driving force. Just before the final chorus, we hear the same intro one more time, but this time it’s steadier, more sure of itself and ready to take on the world in a final rallying cry.

Daniel Shanker on February 1, 2019
Cautious Clay - Honest Enough

Cautious Clay - Honest Enough


After a whirlwind year, Cautious Clay hit the ground running in 2019 with the second single from his forthcoming EP, Table of Context. "Honest Enough," produced by Medasin, re-introduces Clay’s unmistakable sound, swirling with new elements like Medasin’s innovative beats and hallmark lo-fi style. Clay’s distinct falsetto takes center stage on this ethereal and pensive track as he echoes the lyrics, “Honest enough/We could play the blame game too/Patience in the words I say” complimented by a heavy R&B backing that drives the feeling home.

Clay remarks, “I feel like it's easy to be 'honest enough' or to not tell the whole truth to someone. You can skate by knowing good and well that things are not stable.” The song focuses on personal relationships and the cycle of drama within them brought about by blaming, avoiding confrontation and staying for too long, — avoiding any more honesty than is necessary to keep things the way they are. With an explosive 2018 behind him, and even more in store for the future, Cautious Clay has a promising year ahead.

Jazzmyne Pearson on January 31, 2019

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