CHAI - Donuts Mind If I Do
Everyone loves a good donut. Similarly, everyone loves (or should love) Japanese quartet CHAI. Their latest single, “Donuts Mind If I Do” is a sugar-sweet love song sprinkled with charming harmonies and sticky synths. The track opens up with a dreamy guitar that lays the foundation for the rest of the poppy ballad. The happy-go-lucky feel that you find in most CHAI songs is still very much here, but they trade in the punkiness of their 2019 project PUNK for a lighter, brighter synth-pop sound. Throughout the track, the band keeps you guessing whether the love is for a special someone or literally donuts. Honestly, it's probably both. “Hello, hello, would you like any donuts, sugar? / (Love for...) / Everybody fall in love with something, sometime, somehow,” coos lead singer, Mana. In a time where everything seems to be going the wrong way, it’s nice to indulge in something as delectable as “Donuts Mind If I Do.”— Jonah Minnihan on October 14, 2020
Stilljill - Waterslides
With its jewel-toned melodies and seamless harmonies, "Waterslides," the newest track from eclectic LA-based womxn-powered group Stilljill, gleams like a rose quartz in the sun. The track’s shimmering synth tones, jangly guitar interludes and addictive rhythms (courtesy of Jill Parker) beautifully complement Alex Stills’ self-harmonizations, which continuously hover throughout the piece with subtle urgency. While “Waterslides” certainly features elements of power-pop and contemporary rock, it is intentionally subversive: featuring gorgeous flecks of modern psychedelia and hints of pink static, it ultimately resists finite classification, as tracks of its impressive caliber often do.
“Waterslides” is the title track of the Stilljill's debut EP which is centered on the fluidity of the feminine experience and its intersection with the world at large. Photo by Abbey Sowick and Robert Perez.— Lilly Rothman on October 8, 2020
Worry Club - Work Out
Chicago-based Chase Walsh, also known as Worry Club, reflects on the swirling uncertainty of a relationship in his new single, “Work Out.” Introduced with a moody, languid guitar, Walsh speculates there's a dissonance with the lyrics, “You don’t really think that this is gonna work out.” Following the creeping doubt and regret, the track treads its way into its own consumption articulated through an orbital of strobing synths. Walsh delivers searing assurances to temporary bliss that seep into a lasting fluctuation of emotion. “Work Out” perfectly translates these resonant fractures in momentary relationships — reeling from initial passivity toward wavering confusion.— Katya Myasnikova on October 8, 2020
Nana Adjoa - Who Do We Look To Now
“Who Do We Look To Now” is excellently composed and lyrically profound. Within this track, Amsterdam-based singer-songwriter Nana Adjoa contemplates self-identity while living in world where hope and inspiration are in scarce supply. This track teems with gorgeous symphonics, infusing non-traditional instruments like xylophones, pipe organs and violins into a jazz-infused pop medium. Adjoa sings with gentle conviction, guiding her listeners though poetic musings and heartaches. “Who Do We Look To Now” is just one of the many contemplative tracks featured on her newly released debut album, Big Dreaming Ants. Photo by Latoya Van Der Meeren.— Lilly Rothman on October 7, 2020
Field Medic - i will not mourn who i was that has gone away
We don’t often hear many folk artists like Field Medic. An often aestheticized genre, folk has at times suffered the tired superficialities that came along with the "indie folk" denomination popularized in the mid-2000s: a trend that birthed some genuine game-changers but has since sort of worn out and become something of a caricature or costume, something to put on — like a cardigan sweater. Thankfully, there are artists like Bay Area singer-songwriter Kevin Patrick Sullivan whose musical project, Field Medic, recovers the awkward honesty and loneliness of everyday life, a quality I think belongs to the American folk tradition. Essentially, a tradition that says everyday people have a story to tell, that there is beauty in the ordinary and deep complexity in the quotidian. His single ‘i will not mourn who i was that has gone away’ is part of Field Medic’s latest mixtape-like album Floral Prince and shows Sullivan’s freestyle songwriting at its best. “Somewhere deep inside my memory / There’s a kid with a neck so slender / Capsized and ten years later / His arms are tattooed, he looks like a sailor” — the song is a ceaseless Dylanesque stream of consciousness. Melancholic and introspective, the lyrics are sung howling over the mix of humming background noise and accosting guitar strums.
Self-described as “freak folk”, Field Medic first released his line of lo-fi, bedroom-recorded folk music in 2013, continuing a long tradition of such artists, from Nick Drake to Daniel Johnston to Phil Elverum (The Microphones, Mount Eerie), to his contemporaries like Alex G, Told Slant or Florist.— Alejandro Veciana on October 7, 2020
Eric Gabriel - Tara Street
I have a tendency to live in my memories. When I miss someone who’s no longer in my life or I want to relive a really good day, I’ll put myself back in a specific scenario, letting the emotions that I felt then wash over me, taking me out of my current reality. There are certain songs that provoke that same process, even if it doesn’t generate a specific scene, but only the lingering embers of an emotion. “Tara Street” by Eric Gabriel reignites those embers, making you feel less alone in the journey of finding yourself. Sonically, “Tara Street” sounds like a combination of the erratic yet cohesive production choices of The 1975, mixed with the poetic vulnerability of Sufjan Stevens.
The track starts with a very light and airy synth with the hum of background vocals, before Gabriel’s voice comes into play. As the song continues the instrumentation becomes more complex, as saxophone, piano and bass are introduced. His arrangement of synthetic and natural instruments will leave you grasping onto old parts of yourself, as you slowly start to morph into someone new. The chorus lets us in on Gabriel’s inner turmoil surrounding that process, as he sings, “I’m losing my way / With each step that I take / 'Cause I’m following bells and whistles / That fade in the wind, and turn into nothing / Again and again.” As the song progresses the instrumentation heightens, with the addition of new synths, percussion and both electric and acoustic guitar, just as an inner monologue might when you feel off-balance within yourself. Though lyrically he seems to be spinning out, his meticulous choices in both the instrumental arrangement, as well as in his vocal control, create a beautiful contrast. While music allows us to live in our memories, it also provides space for us to simultaneously create new ones. With “Tara Street,” Gabriel succeeds in fostering an environment for that growth to occur.— Sloan Pecchia on October 7, 2020
Young Summer - If the World Falls to Pieces
Young Summer’s “If the World Falls to Pieces” starts off slow and methodical with singer-songwriter Bobbie Allen’s honeyed voice melting over a gentle piano. It’s atmospheric and sparse without feeling like it is lacking anything. “Now we have nothing left to lose / things look beautiful if you forget what they can do,” the Nashville-by-way-of-DC artist croons genuinely. The song feels like it belongs in an old music box with a worn porcelain ballerina twirling along to the twinkling of keys and the gentle swell of strings. Allen’s voice is heartfelt without being dramatic as she sings, “If the world falls to pieces / at least I’ll be with you.” There is a definite balance between technicality and artistry. It is a sweet and gentle love song with an undertone of understanding that love cannot fix everything, but it can make the hard parts more bearable. Photo by Stephen Fanok.— Corey Bates on October 7, 2020
Daniela Andrade - Nothing Much Has Changed, I Don't Feel The Same
Daniela Andrade is probably best known for her covers. From her tender, lingering acoustic version of "La Vie En Rose" to her punchy and affecting take on "Crazy in Love," Andrade has garnered a following of faithful fans who adore her unmistakable vocals and her overtly romantic songwriting style. But recently, the initially more reserved Honduran-Canadian artist has been sharpening her pop-synth skills, introducing more lo-fi, Latin and jazz influences into her discography.
"Nothing Much Has Changed, I Don't Feel The Same" is the intro track on her newest EP of the same name. This track introduces a fresh layer of textures and sounds for Andrade, diversifying her as a musician and making her an instantly more interesting player in the indie singer-songwriter game. This most recent release follows her 2019 LP Tamale, where we see Andrade addressing a level of sensuality and introspection we hadn't seen as clearly in her previous work. Regardless of the tonal change, Andrade is securing herself as a mature and sincere songwriter and performer. "Nothing Much Has Changed, I Don't Feel The Same" is a great intro to a short and enjoyable pop/ambient EP that runs just over 11 minutes long. Give the record a listen wherever you stream.— Hannah Lupas on October 6, 2020
Philip Brooks - I'm So In Love With All Of My Friends
Brighton-based Philip Brooks' latest track, “i’m so in love with all of my friends,” is a sleepless midnight reverie, a scribbled but still-unsent letter written on a napkin, an aching contradiction. It’s coming home to yourself and your true feelings; a knowing that sometimes, even when we want to stay in the same place, our hearts say that it’s time for us to go. Over light keys and syncopated drums, Brooks alternates between a conversation with themself and a conversation with someone they want to bring with them to their next destination. The chorus hits like a gut-punch as shimmering synths kick in and drive Brooks’ words; they touch on a feeling that has been familiar to many of us during this year of unusual isolation, singing “I’m so in love with all of my friends / But I feel like there’s nobody left.” The loneliness is suspended in a dreamlike mix of analog and electronic sounds, recalling the flair of alt-pop groups like Valley, girl in red and Nightly. It is from this medium that Brooks urges us to recognize that there’s two sides to every coin. Are you receiving the same kind of love you give to others, and would you even want your kind of love in return? You feel alone, but are you, really—or is that person you're dreaming of a phone call away? Brooks' track reminds us there’s always a new adventure waiting, in the people and places around us, should we choose to pick up the phone.— Heddy Edwards on October 6, 2020
Nature TV - Solid Door
Nature TV is a rock quartet from Southern England. Solo, Josh, Guy and Zal are the main ingredients in this ensemble, and the energetic gloom of their latest jam, "Solid Door," nods organically to their new wave British company.
Guy's voice brings a heaviness that lasts well after the song is over. Somehow, he illuminates the echoing, mournful groove while simultaneously inciting dark, emotional gravity. The rich contrasts in this style of production are a rare event. It's as if they've reimagined psychedelia to integrate the darkness of our own generation with that of generations past. Here, the "Solid Door" in question seems an intentionally ironic ambassador for set boundaries. Doors have a funny way of opening, closing, and opening again.— Daphne Ellis on October 6, 2020
Channel 1 - The Breaks
Cute. Charming. A bit whimsical. Saturday morning cartoons and eating cereal. All of these associations come to mind when listening to Channel 1’s upbeat key groove “The Breaks.” The track opens with a quick flitting drum machine rimshot and quickly launches itself into earworm territory. Grooving bass conjures memories of being ten years old and absolutely having a ball digging ambient online game music as deep into the psyche of your parents as your own. Densely layered with sparkly synth timbres and vocal effects that sound like teleporting through a tunnel, it’s an adventure complete with its own sound effects. It’s so infused with humor and catchy riffs that the lyric center of the song remains somewhat elusive. Until, that is, you do some mild internet detective work and pull up the lyrics on Bandcamp. Despite the somewhat goofy exoskeleton, the core of the song is about being alone, and the juxtaposition of extreme discomfort and extreme relief that comes with it. Through our lives, we’re constantly constructing and reconstructing our self-concept. Who we are and what we do are critical pillars of that self-definition. It’s generally a good thing, and relatively accurate. However, it’s also easy to get wrapped into a cloak of definitions of who you are in relation to other people. Who you’re trying to be like, who you’re not trying to be like, who you’re in a relationship with, who you’re related to on your father’s side. What you do for living, what you do for fun, what your favorite kind of music is. It goes on and on. It can be pretty comfortable and easy to spit out to strangers at parties. However, when one of those things goes missing or changes? It’s an unwelcome dose of exposure that leaves you feeling vulnerable. But a break like that also allows you the opportunity to remake yourself in the image of a fresh canvas, ready to create something new.— Allison Hill on October 6, 2020