David You - Moon is in Charge
When I think of David You, I think of morning coffee rituals and subdued light filtering through linen drapes. I think of soft summer evenings and sharing a bottle of wine with friends in the park as the sun sets over the trees. I could describe his voice as gentle or angelic, but really it’s the feeling of safety that his music invokes that I find remarkable. Much like the park, it allows a person to forget the busy rush of city streets just outside its perimeter. “Moon is in Charge” is You’s first single since his springtime EP, Beautiful, Like Pyramids, and after retreating home from a busy day it feels right to let the tender whisper of his voice fill the four walls of my room.
The simple arrangement of acoustic guitar and airy vocals makes for intimate lo-fi without any of the posturing. You sings about the repetition of the ocean waves, crashing over and over, and how he’d rather be “just like a small stream that joins a river's flow / knowing where I’ll go,” which is especially poignant in a time where we’d all like a little less chaos and a little more clarity when it comes to the future. Sweeping textures give substance, and You’s signature harmonies layered with the subtle hint of percussion and a shaker here and there complete the halcyon tableau of his songs. So pour yourself a cup of tea, put on your comfiest and give David You a listen.— Shasha Léonard on October 19, 2020
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
Wilby - Bad
“It’s nice to feel happy all the time” is the main refrain from “Bad,” the debut single from indie rock songwriter Wilby. Sincere, emotive and crisp, this track addresses one of our most fundamental human experiences: the pursuit of happiness. According to her Spotify bio Wilby has no issue addressing "the value of tenderness, resilience and mental health." While this is Maria Crawford's first single under the moniker Wilby, it's evident she'll quickly solidify herself as a key player in the Nashville indie rock scene. Her musical style leaves space for her fresh and intricate vocals to take shape in her songs. Be expecting honest, crystal-clear lyricism from this artist. I'm particularly excited to see what this artist creates in the months to come.— Hannah Lupas on October 14, 2020
Chazzy Lake - Fake Friends
Endlessly floating between Brooklyn, NY, and Burlington, VT, Chazzy Lake, a.k.a. Charlie Hill of J Bengoy, has met many a person and admittedly, in the process, been many a person himself. “Fake Friends” is an easygoing, congenial melody making a commentary on the temperaments that people often feign in their interactions with one another. Over the elasticity of a rising and falling, pleasantly folky bassline, Hill’s voice gleams amongst warm-strung riffs. When he sings, “Falling in love and clutching my heart, until I see you cast your line right back where you had found mine,” Hill, with great honesty, presses into the duplicity of connection, as well as the selfishness that, much of the time, lives within attempts to connect. “Fake Friends” is a part of Chazzy Lake’s first full-length LP, Sup, Circumstance, which promises beauty in its likeness. He has been releasing one song each week on Spotify, and the album will be available there in its entirety at the end of October.— Laney Esper on October 14, 2020
Miloe - Winona
Tripping over yourself has never been as sweet as it is in Miloe’s new release "Winona." The tune opens with a simple guitar arpeggio, backed by a programmed drum and expanding to include a fuzzy synth in the chorus. Bobby Kabeya, the force behind Miloe, gives us simple vocals as he sings, "My mind reader [...] My Winona Ryder, I wanna find her." His voice is doubled over and over, like the sonic version of looking at yourself in an endless mirror, versions of your own reflection refracting out into eternity. By creating this trick of the mind, he’s bringing us into the ultimate mind-mess: falling for someone, chasing after them desperately. The song breaks down: "hasn’t rained in so long, pleasant pain when you’re gone," repeats, layering guitar over synth over vocal over drums until a sudden stop. An echo. A breath. Maybe they found each other after all.
Miloe's sophomore EP, Greenhouse, comes out on October 30.— Mikhal Weiner on October 13, 2020
Christian Kuria - Enemy
Almost nine months after the January release of his charming Borderline album, the multifaceted artist Christian Kuria has returned, this time wielding a sonically pleasing new single to start those fall playlists with. “Enemy” flows together and settles into the ears of the listener with ease and cohesion, similarly to the way the song was created. As Kuria shared with vacancy. magazine, “My process is usually pretty meticulous. It often takes me several days or even weeks to complete a song, but it’s really exciting when a tune comes together without a struggle. 'Enemy' was one of those songs; I wrote and produced it in a day. Everything just worked, and I wasn’t afraid to try a new approach stylistically.”
“Enemy” is a harmonious sensory experience of its own, carrying colorful guitar riffs, a dreamy soundscape and a celestial vocal palette that will uplift listeners into the clouds. The alternative R&B track spoils us with its excellent production, just like that of his well-loved renditions of contemporary music on YouTube. Yet Kuria is an artist whose own music and sound is ever-growing and will therefore be everlasting.— Bianca Brown on October 13, 2020
Ritual Talk - relate2
Ritual Talk’s newest offering “relate2” has a soft and soothing groove that builds to a gentle fullness in the last third. “You want someone to relate to / you got more than that coming 'round,” Alex DeSimine repeats with layered vocals over a bright but sparse guitar, before it’s joined by laid-back and gentle drums. The Brooklyn-based indie psych-soul band slowly layers synths and vocals to create a landscape of sound that feels thick and almost tangible like a morning fog. It never breaks out or builds to a climax. Instead, it explores every inch of its pocket, leaving no space untouched by the end. The simplicity of the repeated two-line chorus keeps the track grounded, allowing for expansion sonically while the verses take the message of yearning for connection a little deeper. But maybe you don’t need other people to find the wholeness you desire; as the last line of the second verse suggests, “you want love and you want safety / shouldn’t that start inside?”— Corey Bates on October 13, 2020
Tuesday Faust - Grace
What happens when the present painfully collides with the future you imagined? It’s a question that Portland-based artist Tuesday Faust explores on her latest single, "Grace." Launching with a clanging train bell, the track establishes itself as an incredibly vivid storybook of a song. The lyrical narrative begins at the end of another story, with the opening line, “when she walked away, the train came.” The way it’s phrased, it almost sounds like she chose to walk away, and that somehow caused the train to arrive. Or perhaps it was a random coincidence of timing. Either way, one thing appeared as the other disappeared. Throughout the rest of the song, the narrator tries to reconcile the two and bring them back into the same space, even as she chooses to get onboard the train that carries her away. A synthetic whistle reminiscent of Thomas the Tank Engine begins to punctuate the end of phrases as soon as the figurative train arrives. The ironically tuneful whistle juxtaposed against viscerally visual, serious lyrics makes the story feel both dreamlike and achingly real. At the tail end of the track, the texture shifts to something minor and vaguely modal, resolving somewhere unexpected and open-ended. Charmingly existential, "Grace" straddles the line between literal and metaphorical, and takes up space in the back of your brain for days.— Allison Hill on October 13, 2020
Xavier Omär - Like I Feel (feat. Mereba)
Every day contemporary music makes an ascension towards a production-led apex. The introduction of new stylistic approaches and advances to music has given artists and producers the ability to breach parameters of seemingly set genres, redefining music entirely while establishing a more creative and inclusive industry. Yet in all the good that comes with new means and styles of production, there are two sides to this coin, and many have argued that modern music production is oversaturated and is beginning to replace artist originality.
Dazzling the world with both top-notch production and sublime artistry, Xavier Omär and Mereba give music fanatics the perfect middle ground in their latest collaboration, “Like I Feel.” The track deciphers the internal musings of a pair of not-really-friends in order to answer the ultimate question, “Do you feel about me how I feel about you?” Vocally, the song stretches to planes outside of this one, with both artists gracefully re-intertwining soul into contemporary R&B with each stirring verse topping a bass and drum-heavy beat. “Like I Feel” is the presumptive eleventh track on Omär’s forthcoming album, if You Feel, preluded by “So Much More” and “All Our Time” featuring Jae Stephens.
The San Antonio R&B/soul artist is much known for his passionate track “Blind Man,” a track sporting 61 million Spotify streams and counting. Whether you’ve been rocking with Omär since his 2016 album, The Everlasting Wave, or happily discovering him from this new story-like track, the everlasting soul and passion in each of his songs will be enough to keep you satiated until the new album drops. Photo by ReeL HuMn / Brandon Lavender.— Bianca Brown on October 9, 2020
Tim Atlas - Cold Shoulder
Tim Atlas stays true to his DIY roots on “Cold Shoulder,” a lo-fi tune that questions what vulnerability is worth. Penned, produced and mixed entirely by Atlas, the single teases his upcoming third EP, which will be his first as a fresh signing to Nettwerk Records. The R&B-saturated pop track blends ever-so-slightly dissonant chords with an animated beat as Atlas comes to terms with the end of something ambiguous, perhaps not worth calling a relationship, that was doomed from the start. “Drinking in the basement / Sinking in my own self doubt” has Atlas asking himself if he was the fool all along for leaving himself unguarded, if a shoulder to lean on was really so much to ask. For me, I’ve all but forgotten how to talk to people this year, much less forge intimate connections in an already vulnerable state. I see myself “scroll the web just to feel closer” all the time, and feel Atlas’ regret in letting someone in. It's barely a whisper, the way Atlas distorts his voice to confess: “I wish you'd call just to say hi to me." “Cold Shoulder” perfectly encapsulates the ennui and introspection that so characterizes bedroom pop.— Ysabella Monton on October 9, 2020
Couch Prints - Faces
Couch Prints is back with an electric anthem for those with recurring dreams and love spells. Songwriters Brandon Tong and Jake Truax have found an honest way to embody the perseverance that true love (even inexplicable love) can inspire without abandoning the celebration of inner strength that pales every other question and concern. The audience will undergo a resurrection with lead singer, Jayanna Roberts. Angelic tones and instrumental drones dawn an awakening that builds as if the song is slowly fighting to stand vertebra by vertebra. Eventually, Roberts charges forth to meet her fate. "I'm getting so familiar," she laments, with extraordinary confidence. "Faces" is an unconditionally loving friend to those who have chosen to follow their hearts, in spite of what the past has warned against. Photo by Wade Schaul.— Daphne Ellis on October 9, 2020