Cape Francis - Home
It’s 2020 and by now there is an undeniable Cape Francis sound, a careful simplicity around musical arrangements that allows for big cinematic feeling without ever broaching the realm of dramatic. “Home” is this year’s third single from Kevin Olken Henthorn’s solo project, and it slides easily into place. With the signature finger-picked electric guitar and soft horns lent by The Westerlies, the gentle heartbeat of percussion keeps every element grounded while we, the listeners, are transported to somewhere a little calmer, more reflective of the past and future.
The winds of change are blowing and I’m reminded of the age-old allegory about the two trees weathering a storm, the story that councils us to bend, not break when faced with adversity. "Home" follows a similar idea, acknowledging what can’t be fought and that sometimes it’s best to let yourself be led down the path the universe has chosen for you, regardless if that path is hard and full of unknowns. We’ve all heard it before, it’s about the journey, not the destination, and sometimes that’s how the notion of ‘home’ can be defined as well. Pierced by lyrics like, “Standing out like a lightning rod / still aflame by the burns I’ve got,” it’s important to be mindful that we’re all grappling with our own trauma, and each of us is carrying our own baggage until we get to a place where we can finally put it down.
After many years on the east coast, Cape Francis will become an LA-based project by the beginning of September 2020.— Shasha Léonard on August 26, 2020
HELENA DELAND - SOMEONE NEW
“Someone New” is Helena Deland’s commentary on the rhythm of the self and the infringing desire to find oneself reflected in the eyes of others. The slow-rising track stands as the title track of her first LP, which was recorded over the lapse of two years and can be expected in full come October.
There is a sort of elemental component to lending oneself to another person; to be seen in their eyes and to be rid of all control of the presentation of the self is an experience that carries its own celestial weight. In lending the image of the self to the hands of someone outside of the self, there is the opportunity for transformation, but not a solitudinous change; a reflection which absorbs an image of a person and transfigures it accordingly, in turn giving a lover a new image of themself.
In “Someone New” Helena Deland inspects the tendency that many have to seek out validation in the hearth of another. The fullness of her voice weaves through oscillating paces:
“If things go my way
I'll stay in this room
Where again I want to lay
Kissing someone new
Who tells me
So that I too
Can feel like someone new.”— Laney Esper on August 17, 2020
Babeheaven - Cassette Beat
Babeheaven’s single “Cassette Beat” will be featured on their debut album Home for Now, out November 6. It’s a blissed-out ramble through a field of trip-hop on a cloudy winter’s day. Nancy Andersen’s voice is an icy river, cool and steady, and I can’t help but imagine that somewhere Imogen Heap and Dido both look up and smile every time I press play on Babeheaven’s music. Even within Babeheaven’s sonic world, “Cassette Beat” has a particularly cinematic sensibility about it. Is the track setting the scene for a post-break-up montage with shots of West London? Or does it accompany a victorious breakthrough panoramic of the English countryside? The slow, bittersweet hit of each snare allows for either in equal measure. In the chorus, Andersen sings, “Behind the cloud there’s a blue sky.” But as for how long the clouds will stick around today—that depends what chapter of your story you’re on.— Karl Snyder on August 14, 2020
Slow Dress - Butterfly
Slow Dress is the Boston-based duo of Katie Solomon and Bredon Jones. Together they craft contemplative indie-folk songs. Their latest single, “Butterfly,” promises a life saturated with feeling. It is a commitment to experience everything fully, no matter how uncomfortable. “I don’t want to follow their feet. I want bare toes even in the snow and the sleet,” Solomon sings, dedicating herself to the necessary discomfort that comes with open awareness. Better frostbitten than oblivious, she insists. In a statement accompanying the release of “Butterfly,” the band wrote, “...it’s about watching people, especially those with money and privilege, close their hearts and minds to what is happening in the world.” The song illuminates the possibilities that emerge when we turn our focus outward. The butterfly in question isn’t taking flight; its body is fixed to the kitchen wall, like a pressed flower in a frame. “Admire,” Solomon urges, and for a moment, you pause to do just that. “Butterfly” is available for purchase and streaming, with half of all proceeds going to National Bail Out, Black & Pink, and mutual aid funds.— Siena Ballotta Garman on August 14, 2020
Bon Iver - AUATC
In “AUATC (Ate Up All Their Cake),” Bon Iver’s crew is rolling deep: the voices of Bruce Springstein, Jenny Lewis, Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak), and Elsa Jensen meld together with Justin Vernon’s helium-ed vocals into a buzzing confection of a track. A commentary on capitalism, its lyric “shed a little light” also winks at James Taylor’s 1991 civil rights song.
At 2:22, "AUATC: is likely just a snack—following Bon Iver’s release of "PDLIF" in April, speculation hints at the possibility of a forthcoming 5th album of acronym-based titles.
Available via Jagjaguwar, the track was released with an accompanying statement including its full cast of credits and a call for listeners to support five organizations “working tirelessly to foster a world that celebrates our humanity on a local, national, and global level.” Also, be sure to watch the music video featuring exuberant movement and dance from Randall Riley.— Talia Pinzari on August 14, 2020
Fake Dad - Summer Hill
Emulating a Sylvan Esso style vocalization on this track, Fake Dad serves up a summer's end song with their latest single "Summer Hill." Dreamy, ethereal guitar ushers along the psychedelic and surrealist lyricism of this easy-going, vibey tune. "Summer Hill" is about living in the moment. It's an observational tune about the quick passage of time.
The musicality, similar to the track's themes, is taking its time. It's gentle, plodding and intentionally placed. Andrea de Varona's vocals here sound exceptionally striking. In an effort to live in a headspace that appreciates daily beauty instead of wishing the day away, "Summer Hill" is a great reminder to stop and smell the roses (through your mask, of course).
Check out this new single from Fake Dad and listen to the rest of their tunes wherever you stream!— Hannah Lupas on August 13, 2020
BOYLIFE - BOSTON
“thank u love u”— that’s all boylife, aka LA artist Ryan Yoo, wrote when he released his newest single.
“boston” has a nostalgic kind of texture, like the intimate grit of an old mixtape. It gives body to that stickiness we’ve all experienced from a song when it transports us back to a very specific time and place—a person, a scent, a state of emotion, a certain cast of streetlight. I’ve lived in Boston, but the magic of this song is that “Boston” can represent any place where you’ve dreamed in or dreamt of. With soft organ and reflective gospel-like call and response, it offers a reminder that the relationships and experiences we have in these places shape us for better or worse. For that, we can appreciate them, grow, and also let go with a simple “thank u love u.”— Talia Pinzari on August 13, 2020
Jadu Heart - Burning Hour
Evolution is a natural part of being a musician, and tracking the evolution of an act from their first release through the rest of their career is one of the most rewarding aspects of following an artist. Some artists hop between genre and sounds as they see fit, incorporating new elements as a means to progress their sound or diversify their fanbase; others opt to take their initial approach and refine it, working within their existing soundscape to find new angles and methods with which to improve their art. When it comes to British dream-pop duo Jadu Heart, it seems that they have opted for the latter. “Burning Hour"—the sixth single from the duo’s forthcoming sophomore effort Hyper Romance, out September 25—traffics in the same ethereal vocals and jangly guitars as a majority of tracks from their debut album, Melt Away. However, there are clear signs of artistic development on display throughout the track; the songwriting is more direct, there’s less hesitation to be loud to get a thematic point across, and the duo’s voices seem more complementary to one another than ever before. The end result is one of the most addictive singles yet from the duo and one that will keep expectations high ahead of the album’s release next month.— Alec Bollard on August 13, 2020
Lomelda - It's Infinite
It’s funny how mornings are the most subject to routine. When I wake up, one of the first things I do is take my dog outside. The backyard is always shaded in the mornings, so we play a few rounds of fetch. My pup bounds after his beloved orange ball with so much single-minded joy that it blesses the rest of the day. That’s how "It’s Infinite" by Lomelda feels. The first two-thirds or so of the song weave metaphor, quantifiers, and disqualifiers together in lyrics that draw longing out of your heart. For a little while, you look at joy like a foreign object. Something compelling that you don’t quite understand or half-remember from a dream. You wish you knew what it feels like, to feel like that. Acoustic guitar and keys gently tug your hand towards sunshine and adventure, but your feet stay stuck where they are. Around 2 minutes in, drums come in, your entire soul thaws, and you remember. Life is an art of creation. Joy without reservations feels like grass on your feet and sunshine on your back. How could you ever forget? It feels like chasing after a ball, only to return, and then experience the joy of a chase all over again. You’re not happy because you feel like you should be, but just because you are. It’s as innate as your name, and you know exactly how it feels. It’s infinite, and rediscovery is inevitable no matter how long it appears to go missing.— Allison Hill on August 12, 2020
Deep Sea Diver - Lights Out
In the middle of the 2000s—which are also, despite my best efforts, referred to by some as the “noughties”—there was a brilliant onslaught of guitar-driven indie rock records that changed the direction of indie music for the remainder of the decade. To me, the guitar in the earliest albums by bands like Bloc Party, Wolf Parade, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Rilo Kiley feels uniquely, transcendently energizing. To me, it sounds like using an X-acto knife on a beam of sunlight, like sprinting through a suburban street at midnight. Probably partly because I spent the years 2004–2006 in an emotionally heightened state called “adolescence,” but also partly because that generation of indie rock guitarists tapped into something special, I have spent the last decade missing that sound very much.
Or I should say, I just realized how much I have missed that sound. When you see a good friend for the first time in years, you often miss them even more right after you see them than you did before. That’s what happened when I first heard “Lights Out,” Deep Sea Diver’s first single from their upcoming album, Impossible Weight. Bandleader Jessica Dobson’s guitar work on this track not only provides an immaculate tribute to a forgotten corner of indie rock—it also aptly brings that sonic era into a comfortable relationship with the genre-flexible sensibility of indie music in 2020. About two and a half minutes in, the relentless gallop of Peter Mansen’s drums falls away for a shocking 30-second dream-pop interlude, which, after filling time like a glittering balloon, explodes into the song’s final cathartic guitar solo. Meanwhile, Jessica’s vocals throughout the track act as its emotional barometer, shadowing the mood and providing whatever is appropriate, from an indignant shout to a carefree croon and everywhere in between. Overall, “Lights Out” sounds a (far from silent) alarm that Impossible Weight will be a force to reckon with in October.— Karl Snyder on August 12, 2020
Cults - No Risk
“No Risk," the recent single from Cults, is a tribute to brave beginnings, and a testament to the power of dynamic manipulations. Through their expert instrumental arrangement, the band is able to communicate three unique interpretations of the same set of lyrics and take the listener on a complete journey. The first time through the chorus, the vocal is accompanied only by a piano. When the singer opens with the line “no risk, no believing or leading,” there is a hint of doubt; like she’s not yet fully convinced of the sentiment, and needs to say it out loud in order to believe. The second time through a driving drum beat bursts in, and it feels like the journey has officially begun; risks have been taken and there’s no going back now. The final iteration mirrors the first, just vocal and piano. It feels like the protagonist is taking a moment to glance backward, both reflecting on how far they’ve come and recognizing the doubts that still persist.
To close out the song the drums return in all their inspirational fervor, and the singer delivers repetitions of the title, “no risk.” Here, the song acknowledges that stepping into the unknown will always be frightening, but reminds us that such is the cost of new experiences which often prove to be worth the risk.— Emerson Obus on August 12, 2020