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
LPX - My Best
"My Best," the energizing new single from LPX, invites us to let go of the things we cannot control and seek joy in life in spite of it. The solo project of MS MR's Lizzy Plapinger, LPX reframes the notion of pop music into something evocative, vibrant and unflinchingly authentic. “It’s like why am I so scared to discover / That chaos starts and ends with me” finds Plapinger encouraging you to harness your inner madness, to be hyperaware of how whole you are on your own. A raw garage rock spirit invokes that very disorder and permeates her polished package of clever alt-pop, while warped synths and a soaring chorus put sound to the "fight or flight" response, kinetic like the energy on a roller coaster's downhill dive.
Lately, days play out like a broken record. I wake up to a brief moment of thoughtless zen before remembering that I have nowhere to go. There's no office, no show tonight at Trans Pecos, no reason not to stretch out the wear time of this week's t-shirt. "Anxiety's exhausting me, it's a self-made bed," Plapinger sings, before insisting that "it only feels like a threat if I let it." As I've had to re-learn how to take care of myself, I find that my "best" vacillates from manic productivity to being proud that I even made my bed, and that's okay. Written before 2020, the track was never intended to be included on her upcoming record to be released later this year. But, as circumstances change, "My Best" now rises as a fitting anthem rooted in solidarity, Plapinger's way of reminding us she's on our side. Photo by Remy Lagrange.
Porridge Radio - 7 Seconds
Brighton-based Porridge Radio’s latest, “7 Seconds,” is an introspective indie rock tune full of garage-worthy guitars and frontwoman Dana Margolin’s searing voice. The band has a certain knack for making sad, lonely songs sound like a song you’d want to show your parents, and “7 Seconds” is no different. Catchy melodies, driving guitars and danceable choruses all work towards the bait and switch, and all of a sudden you’re crying in the club. This track in particular finds Margolin searching for the end of something that never felt right: “'Cause you can't hear me, you can't hear me / You can't hear a word I'm saying / And you're not here but your body is getting closer every day," she sings. The track swells and then fades as all but a tender guitar and Margolin’s voice are alone as she seemingly whispers into her own ear, “Do you ever think about who you were then and who you are now?” — an attempt to reflect on the past and look forward to what’s ahead.— Jonah Minnihan on October 5, 2020
Tyzo Bloom & Minke - Bedroom
Tyzo Bloom and Minke bring a frenzy of light and color to their latest collaboration. "Bedroom" offers snapshots of early love through all of its confusion and wonder. It takes off with an aquatic synth that fosters an atmosphere for bliss and simultaneously points to the unexplored depths of the partners in question. Emotionally conflicting images are costumed with playful melody as if to honor the speaker's resilience. Minke's delivery is sturdy and unapologetic. Though she longs for another, she maintains an honest relationship with her own needs. The chorus repeatedly pleads, "give me more of you," to encourage the momentum necessary for active commitment. This is a reminder, led by example, that vulnerability is essential to romance.— Daphne Ellis on October 5, 2020
Mackenzie Shrieve - In the Before
When I first heard "In the Before," I didn’t have any words to describe it other than “pretty... just so pretty.” The heart of the song is a gorgeous acoustic guitar melody that’s warm in the same way a cup of coffee is when you’re across the table from somebody you’ve been looking forward to seeing all week. The instant the guitar finishes introducing the melody, Mackenzie Shrieve’s voice jumps in — like the lyrics are announcing thoughts that have been lingering at the tip of her tongue for ages already. Her voice picks up melodic threads from the guitar, weaving and bobbing in a way that feels as unique as it does familiar. Sweetness coats every syllable as you sink deeper into the story. It’s a love story, though the lyrics never mention the word "love" at all. Instead, they narrate the quiet way you start to notice mutual whispers of affection. Lyrics that could almost be for anyone. A slightly lingering step as you pass by their door, wondering if they’re home. Delicate affirmations that your relationship is valued. They always stop short of a dramatic gesture, remaining in the hazy realm of something you only notice because you know each other so well. Each verse welcomes a subtle new instrumental layer that bubbles under the surface. It’s a slow but inevitable build until the song suddenly swells with so much love that it bursts at the seams. Finally expressed and fully reciprocated, the song re-centers to its heart. The acoustic guitar closes the chapter, as lovely as it began, ready for what comes next. "In the Before" is sonic storytelling at its best. It just sounds how love feels.— Allison Hill on October 5, 2020
Norma Tanega - A Street That Rhymes at 6am
My best friend moved back home to Australia last year, and when I miss her I put this song on. She told me once that Norma Tanega’s lyrics seem like things I would say to people I don’t like — she’s a really direct lyricist and the vocal recordings are so beat up and crackly, like she’s carried them around in a suitcase for years. Also. Harmonica. Underrated. — Fenne Lily
Be sure to follow Fenne Lily on Instagram so you can stay up to date on her latest endeavors and tune into The Bathtime Show, where every Wednesday via Instagram Live she broadcasts from her tub with a different musical guest.— Lilly Rothman on October 2, 2020
Okkervil River - Okkervil River R.I.P.
I was on an early-on date with someone I really liked, within the first few weeks of seeing each other. They’re at my flat, we’re listening to music and talking and drinking and they put this [Okkervil River] song on. I’d never heard it before and it hit me like a truck. Out of nowhere I started crying, proper crying, from my diaphragm, the way you cry when you’re a kid, whole body shaking. And I couldn’t stop, it wasn’t at all the right move for a date but I couldn’t help it. I still can’t explain why it made me so deeply sad, so suddenly — something about it just made me feel like I was mourning the loss of something I couldn’t define. I have to skip it if it comes on in public, I’m nervous of what’ll happen. — Fenne Lily
According to Dead Oceans, the title for Fenne Lily’s new album, BREACH, was inspired by a conversation she had with her mom about her own birth, wherein she was born upside-down or in breech. In many ways, BREACH acts as a soundtrack for rebirth and self-acceptance, confronting nostalgia and past memories but always with subtle hints of forward motion.— Lilly Rothman on October 2, 2020
The Shins - The Great Divide
The intimate lyrics of this single, co-written and produced by The Shins’ James Mercer, Jon Sortland and Yuuki Matthews, are a beautiful reminder of the notion of interconnectedness. “The Great Divide" was released last week via Mercer’s own label Aural Apothecary and Monotone Records.
Your hand in mine / the great divide
A stitch in time / then we recombine
The way it was / well dust to dust
Has led us here to collide
In every experience—especially in love or love’s longing—there seems to me to be an accordioning slide between the sharp freshness of the current moment and the velveted backlit tunnels of nostalgia. A constant reconstitution of memory, experience and hope into something new. Everywhere we’ve been and everyone we’ve shared our lives’ moments with have brought us to each subsequent spring-green point of "present" — an unbreakable link that exists despite, even, “the great divide.”
You’ve set us wandering
So let me ride through the night
Til love is everything
How we define “the great divide” may change from day to day: our communion with nature in the cycle of life and death, loss or separation of a forced or chosen kind, or shades of all of the above. Regardless, what tends to remain in the end, in starkest relief, is the realization of where love was or where it should have been.— Talia Pinzari on October 2, 2020
Wolf & Moon - Eyes Closed
Electro-folk duo Wolf & Moon offer a drawing of love’s attention span through “Eyes Closed,” their latest single. The racing pulse mentioned in the second half of the track is reflected in its very rhythm, aligning the physicality and musicality of a beating heart from its exposition on. Two voices fall in unison, as if to explain the sensation, through a series of focused, affectionate expressions.
The voices of Stefanie and Dennis compliment one another, calling forth the component of love that exists not in the personal body, but in that of another. Repeated lyrical fragments place great significance on small details (“Your mouth is, your mouth is, your cinnamon”). A collage of reflections like these join the listener to their enchantment.— Daphne Ellis on October 2, 2020
Empty Country - Marian
I remember hearing this [Empty Country track] for the first time in an airport on my way to Oslo with the band. We were sitting in a sushi place with all our instruments taking up too much room and I was feeling self-conscious and wrong, so I pretended to read and put this song on. It was a recommendation and usually I’ll listen to a minute or something and be like, "oh yeah love this, thanks so much," but since the first listen, I’ve played it most days. The perfect meandering intro, into that really satisfying guitar line over purposeful strumming, it reminds me of The Shins or Big Star. And the melody is perfect, that chorus is absolute gold. It’s anthemic but it’s sensitive. Whenever I hear a perfect song like this I wonder what it must’ve felt like to finish writing it and realise, "fuck this is good." — Fenne Lily
London-born, Bristol-raised singer/songwriter Fenne Lily is known for crafting symphonic tracks and lyrics that hover with soft urgency. Her sophomore album, BREACH, was released by indie powerhouse Dead Oceans on September 18.— Lilly Rothman on October 1, 2020
Boy Willows - Fila (with Dylan Minnette)
“Fila,” by Boy Willows with Dylan Minnette, is a two part story. Lulling hums intercept a metallic beat to welcome the first half, told by Landon Fleischman (Boy Willows), who vocalizes life’s cyclical nature in perfect contrast to his linear verse-interlude-verse composition. Fleischman experiments within a pool of genres, yet his work sustains an identity defined by welcoming conversations and gentle deliveries.
Minnette’s voice carries out the rest of the story in bright ripples of disguised panic. This is the actor/musician’s first collaboration with Boy Willows, and their voices are so cohesive that you might think they’re one at first listen. He concludes with an echo of Fleischman’s earlier sentiment, “I just feel like I don’t deserve this life.” The overall weightlessness of the track is effectively sympathetic to those competing feelings of attachment and detachment.— Daphne Ellis on October 1, 2020