Bird Fight - Traffic Lights
Crafted from an analog of songs originally written over a decade ago, Bird Fight has dropped a five-track EP called Hugshake. It's a vibrant and experimental collection of intelligent production and intricate vocalization. Using household, commonplace items for varied instrumentation and percussion, the producer and vocalist duo of John Katona and Christian Ohly make music that feels progressive and kinetic. "Traffic Lights" in particular possesses an ethereal and haunted energy. It's a delicate embodiment of their self-proclaimed genre "folktronica;" The song's movement and sound have a more pronounced electronica element, while the subject and tone contain folk sentiments. This track is a lover's lament that frustratingly pleads with its subject to reciprocate the speaker's efforts in the relationship. Hugshake dropped on February 12. Give it a listen wherever you stream!— Hannah Lupas on February 16, 2021
Tim Atlas - Peace At Last (feat. Honeywhip)
Turbulent times call for self-discovery on "Peace At Last," the first 2021 single from California-bred Tim Atlas. Syrupy-sweet vocals soar over fine-tuned retro production while LA-based duo honeywhip lend their lo-fi sensibility to the track, laced with new wave synths and a bouncing bassline. On a blind listen, "Peace At Last" is a joyful exploration of personal identity when Atlas sings, "Just trying to be myself / But who is that?" to open the song's chorus. But these lines run deeper than that, as Atlas alludes to the events, perceptions and external pressures that have shaped us in the year 2020. We wonder if we'll ever see the end—to COVID, to senseless systemic violence on the Black community, to collective political anxiety— and the future is daunting. While many of us have fought for distractions and felt forced to stay productive, "burning the candle at both ends," Atlas insists that it's always possible to come out stronger. "Taking [my mind] apart to the first draft" is an invitation to start over, and "Peace At Last" is Atlas' reminder that we are more than the pains we've endured. Photo by Tim Atlas.— Ysabella Monton on February 12, 2021
GOLDEN - Eye (Air Volee Remix)
A tale of two boroughs. Harlem-based producer Air Volee and Brooklyn-based indie artist GOLDEN pen a bright story with "Eye." While the original version carried a more airy sound, the inclusion of Air Volee brings a fresh retro pop flare to a track where we're taken into a new tier of self-reflection. Both artists are distinct in style but balance each other well. There’s a sense of levity one can feel with the heavy percussion that defies space, capturing motion into a song that pleases the ear and sends an almost chilling sensation through the veins. There’s a saying that eyes are the gateway to the soul. With this track, that element plays out to make one discover a moment within that they weren’t even aware of, that there’s no authenticity in themselves. The question of "who am I living for and as," essentially. It’s a personal moment for GOLDEN, almost written as an autobiography, and Air Volee amplifies all the right focal points of her narrative. Photo by Kevin Condon.— Bianca Brutus on February 12, 2021
Katy Kirby - Portals
Right off the bat, Texas-based Katy Kirby’s wit gleams through on her new single, “Portals." The track begins with some ambient synth, quiet bell-sounds and the clarity of Kirby’s voice wringing out irony: “I’m an alternate universe in Target lingerie." Soft pawing at the piano throughout the song creates a gentle effect, which draws out the thematic elements of weaving through questions of two people walking away from one another and what that might mean for the individual. Kirby ponders whether separation will strengthen the two, and if they reunite, will they recall their original purpose for one another? Not to be “boxes, doors, or borders," but to be “portals.” Clothed in prickled strings, matched with the warmth of Kirby’s powerful voice, this track contains a flickering hope against the odds of separation. Photo by Jackie Lee Young.— Laney Esper on February 11, 2021
Nana Yamato - Fantasy
In Nana Yamato’s debut album, Before Sunrise, there’s a distinct feeling of late-night brooding and lonely streets—likely because the album was conceived in late-night sessions as Yamato escaped the day’s frustrations of an adult living and studying alone in Tokyo. The song “Fantasy” is no exception as it delves into the imagination of the 20-year-old law student, taking the listener on an intimate foray into Yamato’s own experience with otherness and self-discovery. Growing up feeling as though she didn’t fit the normal idea of a young girl in Japan, Yamato uses her creative ability to highlight the search for an escape. Throughout the song, she utilizes both English and Japanese lyrics paired with sonic progressions to grab your attention and make you feel the emotions and angst that inspired her into music. With daydream-like movement and sharp chords, the song keeps you caught in a trance, bobbing along to the beat and thinking of your own fantasies and dreams rather than whatever reality you may be avoiding. Photo by Nana Yamato.— Monica Hand on February 11, 2021
Juan Wauters - Real feat. Mac DeMarco
With his natural homegrown charm, Uruguay-born Juan Wauters releases yet another true-to-life track, this time including none other than, indie-crowd favorite, Mac DeMarco. While all of his music feels honest, this one is especially mimetic as it is a part of a collection of songs that will appear on his upcoming album Real Life Situations, due to be released on April 30. This track begins with the simplicity and clarity of Wauters’ voice above the delicate finger-picking of an acoustic guitar, drifting along timelessly, allowing for almost a minute to pass until the energy changes. What was once an intimate, delightful drawl transforms into a foreshadowing of the atmosphere of the rest of the song, which includes a commentary on the selfishness of people and what they will do to get their own, all wrapped up in sunny California sound. Photo by Laura-Lynn Petrick.— Laney Esper on February 10, 2021
Worry Club - Money
The prospect of rejection, love and intimacy hang in the balance of Worry Club's latest single, "Money." Nuanced and lovely, "Money" stands out as a softer, more vulnerable sounding single compared to his other work. Worry Club manages to write bouncy, yet subtle, indie pop singles with punchy lyricism and vocalization like a Midwest emo band, but the musicality of a Cali bedroom pop artist.
Worry Club is the moniker of Chicago-based indie musician Chase Walsh. Walsh integrates dreamy synth-pop guitar and muted percussion into gritty and unflinching lyricism. He looks depression and heartbreak dead in the face with his poetry, packaging these difficult subjects into truly gorgeous songs.
"Money" is Worry Club's first single of 2021. Give it a listen wherever you stream! Photo by Lars Juveland.— Hannah Lupas on February 10, 2021
unusual demont - Pine
Pining after someone who may never be yours could never be a lost art. There's something addictive and almost romantic about a push-and-pull dynamic, the sense of wanting what you can't have, but the willingness to fight for it anyway. Unusual Demont's newest single "Pine" captures this essence over a smooth bassline and clean, '90s-tinged production. While idly approaching themes of envy and infidelity, Demont keeps the song bouncy and breezy in contrast, while emphasizing the longing in true R&B fashion. The title conjures a deep, woodsy hue "because green is the color of envy," as Demont explained in a statement, but also plays on the yearning when he hums, "For tonight / I'll pine for you." "Pine" follows his first single "Amber," fitting the theme of his forthcoming project Hues that will surely transport listeners to a world of his own creation, built on a foundation of rich colors and heavy, but groovy moods. Photo by cravingavino.— Ysabella Monton on February 9, 2021
Blue Canopy - Motovun
Bright and welcoming melodies intertwine with inquisitive and gentle lyrics of longing, creating a compelling recollection of imminent change within Blue Canopy’s first release of 2021, “Motovun." Following their mid-2020 debut release, Mild Anxiety, the project took the new year by storm with their atmospheric synth-filled single that examines the sheer inevitability of personal expansion, as well as the bittersweet awareness that comes along with letting go. Off of Sleep While You Can, their coming EP set to release this March, “Motovun” is brimming with dynamic energy built by lyrics that ponder the feelings of transition and evolution of identity. The project is led by Portland-based multi-instrumentalist Alex Schiff, who was formerly a keyboardist and co-writer for Brooklyn-based indie band Modern Rivals. Blue Canopy’s upcoming release is said to explore the often unspoken anxieties that accompany having a child, and the ways that can relate to one’s perception of self; “Motovun” is no exception. The single captures transformation, wonder, change and the creative process, building anticipation for the rest of Blue Canopy’s intrinsic and explorative sophomore release. Photo by Bea Helman.— Jenna Andreozzi on February 9, 2021
Gallant - Comeback.
Sometimes genres enter into a feedback loop. When an artist proves that a formula or sound works, it's not uncommon for that artist’s sound to permeate throughout their peers’ work. The beauty of Gallant is that he has always existed outside this cycle, and this endearing individuality shines through brighter than ever on his newest single, “Comeback.” Stylistically, Gallant and longtime producer STINT return to the hallowed acoustic-guitar-driven grounds of aughts R&B while integrating some more contemporary drum & bass elements, creating a sound that pays homage to the genre’s forefathers while still striving to push it forward. The most remarkable aspect of Gallant’s music, however, remains the lyricism; armed with a vast vocabulary and an unparalleled penchant for imaginative metaphors, Gallant’s pained pleas for a lover to come back to him sound fresh, despite being one of the most well-worn topics in music. If this single is a fair barometer for what’s to come, expect the forthcoming Neptune EP to be one of the best R&B releases of the year. Photo by Sasha Samsonova.— Alec Bollard on February 8, 2021
Sun June - Bad with time
The latest from Austin-based indie group Sun June is an anthemic offering from their new record, Somewhere. Gradually building over its three-minute run, “Bad with time” continues the band’s streak of somber, lingering tunes to beautiful effect.
The track evokes Yeah Yeah Yeahs—appropriate, considering another cut-off of Somewhere borrows its name from Yeahs’ singer Karen O. A sparse opening and booming drums recall the iconic “Maps,” but the song never loses its identity as being distinctly Sun June. Singer Laura Colwell’s lyrics fill the song with imagery of the desert and southwest, crooning “You’re too cool for LA” over the song’s chorus as twin guitars tangle and build into the conclusion.
The band has described the record as a “prom record,” encapsulating the highs and lows of rushing love. With “Bad with time,” the album opener, the band gets right to the point, setting the tone with a gentle, swaying tune fit for a drive at dusk across the desert, or perhaps someday, pandemic-pending, an actual prom. Photo by Jade Skye Hammer.— Pablo Nukaya-Petralia on February 8, 2021