Emma Bowers - Jonathan
East coast folk rock singer/songwriter, Emma Bowers released In The Morning her debut EP on August 17. Off of that album is "Jonathan", a quietly powerful tune that speaks to pain that lingers even when your person does not. Bowers is soft and lyrical. Just as she is grasping at the nothingness that is left of her relationship, the listener grasps to hear more. There is an effortless way that Bowers translates her story through simplistic instrumentation and the sweet twang in her voice. New Yorkers can catch Bowers's EP Release Show on September 21 at Pete's Candy Store!— Sophia Theofanos on September 14, 2018
April + VISTA - Own2
April George and Matthew Thompson, the creative duo behind April + VISTA, have released You Are Here, a soul ridden indie R&B album that delivers, song after song. Each of the artists are active in the burgeoning D.C. music scene, with George having credits on GoldLink’s critically-acclaimed 2017 album At What Cost and on Ciscero’s new single, “Function.”Emerging out of an alternative R&B scene, April + Vista offers something that feels deeper. George’s soulful earthy tone paired with Thompson’s instrumental and addictive beats cultivates into a tranquil sound that we can’t help but sink into, finding new pockets of genius on each listen.
“Own2” is an amazing example of the duo’s collaborative chemistry. George comes at the song with a buoyant and sweeping soulfulness, with rich and vibrant harmonies, melodies and ad libs at every turn. This paired with Thompson’s nimble percussion, rich strings and resonating synths create an easiness within the song. The sonic palette is sturdy enough to support George's growls on lines such as, “Oh, you know I ain’t giving up / I’m in it for greatness, that’s the way I am / Just let me break it up / I know I can make it.” Whether this song is about breaking up with someone to find your true self, choosing to work with independent labels or a mixture of the both, the lyrics are just ambiguous enough to be relatable yet intriguing. It is only a matter of time before April + VISTA are no longer residing in the underbelly of alternative R&B, but at the forefront of a movement we have all been holding our breath for.— Samantha Weisenthal on September 7, 2018
Ritual Talk - Something To Look Forward To
With lo-fi glory and swoon-worthy vocals Ritual Talk presents their newest single “Something To Look Forward To.” There's a reason the Brooklyn-based band call their sound “psychedelic indie-rock." The mesmerizing qualities of this song will keep you in the musical world Ritual Talk creates for the entire four minutes and nine seconds it lasts. While guiding us into this musically wonderland, frontman Alex DeSimine introspectively sings of time, aging and his thoughts on it all. True of every great song there’s a lyrical and musical equilibrium here that seamlessly holds it together. Like a fire fully ablaze, “Something To Look Forward To” shines its brightest within its final minute. With horns blaring, shimmering guitars and spirited background vocals the song ends on a sonically high note leaving you reaching for the repeat button without wasting any time. New Yorkers can see Ritual Talk tonight at 9 pm Mercury Lounge, for the rest of the world catch “Something To Look Forward To” on all streaming platforms tomorrow!— Dara Bankole on September 6, 2018
Many Voices Speak - Chances
Many Voices Speak is the moniker of Swedish singer-songwriter Matilda Mård. “Chances” the third and last single off her of new debut album Tank Town, shines with its delicate drive and glittery guitar licks. Both vulnerable and dreamy, this song will remind you of those late-night-thoughts, the ones you’re stuck with while you wish you were sleeping. “How I wish these thoughts of mine will stay away just while I’m lonesome.” Mård sings. "Chances" centers around the feeling of being an outsider and the side effects that come with it: self-doubt, loneliness etc. Nevertheless Mård comes to hopeful realization that there are places or even just one place in this world where she feels like she belongs. She says, “being a misfit is just a sign that you’re too far from the place where you feel at home. It’s been important for me to remember that place always exists somewhere, so the will to change won’t win.” While quiet by nature “Chances” carries with it an idea that dares to be louder than your fears.— Dara Bankole on September 6, 2018
Barrie - Michigan
New kids to NYC's music scene, Barrie drops yet another promising single "Michigan" on the road to the release of their EP Singles. In true 80s nostalgia meets garage dream pop fashion, the collective taunts us with a complex sonic texture, rife with dreamy vocals, understated guitar riffs, catchy drums, and bopping synths. "Dazed and confused / walking over just to talk to you / ...there's nothing left to do but go crazy on you," Barrie confesses in a fairy-like splendor. We never knew a midsummer madness could be so enticing. Barrie's much anticipated October 12 EP release will feature a trio of singles released throughout the year alongside remixes by FattyDL, Shura, and Brother Michael.— Lizzy Jones on September 6, 2018
Orion Sun - Nirvanaaa
Whether she’s flawlessly covering a Frank Ocean tune or stroking our endless need for nostalgia with her classic yet revitalizing originals, singer-producer and multi-instrumentalist, Orion Sun never fails to enchant us. In her recent single, “Nirvanaaa” the Jersey-born, Philly-based artist’s musical magnetism reaches a new high. Sun’s songs are typically conversational and unassuming with relatively minimal production, but in “Nirvanaaa” she takes her blistering openness a step further, peeling yet another layer of skin. Her deep yearning for a sense of stability and belonging, something we all share, spills through her honest lyrics and syrupy, emotive timbre as she fights with demons from the past — “Where am I when you’re not here.” A mellow, almost-but-not-quite defeated talk-singy opening followed by a strong, assertive main vocal melody cultivates the perfect aural analogy for what it feels like once we've made peace with our demons. The endeavor to rid ourselves from the past is perhaps the most human of struggles. Orion Sun has the courage and tenacity to fight that battle in one of the most vulnerable manners of all, through her art.— Andrea de Varona on September 5, 2018
Mitski - Two Slow Dancers
The lyrics for all of the songs on Mitski’s new album To Be A Cowboy are written with such poetic but colloquial tangibility. She’s honest in the way, it seems, only she can be. “Two Slow Dancers” is no exception. She writes with specificity in detail that transports you to wherever she’s describing, physically and emotionally. Opening with the line, “Does it smell like a school gymnasium in here? / It’s funny how they’re all the same.” Immediately, you’re already in the room with her. While other songs on the album make you want to dance your heart out, this one builds gradually from a sparse chord progression on a keyboard. After more sounds flood in following the first chorus, “And the ground has been slowly pulling us back down,” makes you acutely aware of how that swell of sound had lifted you up, too.
Mitski’s voice is incredibly powerful in its versatility (she’s also vulnerable, but in a way that lets you know that she’s still the one in charge). Adding more support for the lyrics “To think that we could stay the same,” she salts a little anger onto this otherwise somber or nostalgic song. Coming back down for “We’re two slow dancers / last ones out,” we’re left right back where we started — caught off guard by that school gymnasium scent.— Grace Eire on September 5, 2018
Tasha - Kind of Love
Musician, poet, and activist Tasha waxes poetic in her latest dreamy synth pop single "Kind of Love." Her optimistic lyricisms, euphonic backup vocals, and airy guitar riffs make us feel like all is right with the world, or could be. Through love, Tasha finds sanctuary in our current tenuous political climate as she sings, "stillness in a world on fire / and bodies without hurt." The Chicago native deems her music "bed jams," inviting her listeners to let go of anxiety and tension and to float along with her in magical respite. This intimate breath of romanticism and hope transports us to a far away land while remaining in the familiar arms of a lover. We're kind of in love with Tasha and patiently awaiting her debut album Alone at Last, to be released October 26th.— Lizzy Jones on September 5, 2018
Death Cab for Cutie - 60 & Punk
Ben Gibbard, now inarguably a stalwart of the indie rock institution (despite what his doubtful songwriting persona might suggest), wraps up Death Cab For Cutie’s newest album, Thank You For Today, with its most emotionally difficult moment, shaking his head in wonder at what happened to the man someone once was. “There’s nothing funny about just slipping away / It’s nothing funny how you’re spending your days / But you’re laughing like a kid at a carnival,” he sings, but what the image of the child happily frolicking doesn’t show are the parents who know that they’ll inevitably be cleaning up the mess and dealing with the aftermath when the sugar high ends. Though once one of Gibbard’s idols, this unnamed subject has fallen from grace through actions bearing little regard for their consequences, leaving everyone else exhausted. That exhaustion can be felt viscerally in the almost discordant opening piano notes or the lag of the drums in the chorus.
The new album was shrouded in uncertainty for some, as it is the first true Death Cab album recorded without guitarist Chris Walla, but Gibbard appeared wholly thrilled to put it out into the world. More significant than the personnel change in the band was a personal one Gibbard himself underwent. Kintsugi, their previous album, documented a rocky divorce that took place in the public eye. But Ben Gibbard is now — wait for it — happy. Gibbard has eagerly awaited middle age, proclaiming 15 years ago, “I can’t wait to go grey.” And this song, demonstrates that he will grow old with the maturity of the lessons that each of the tragedies in his songs has taught him. “There’s nothing elegant in being a drunk / It’s nothing righteous being 60 and a punk,” he sighs, going one step beyond the classic advice not to meet your heroes. Don’t become your heroes.
Gold Star - Dani’s In Love
Gold Star’s sun kissed track “Dani’s In Love” is blissful love song that serves as a tribute to his girlfriend Dani who “saved his life” during a time ridden with personal strife. The singer’s driving Americana, power-pop track pulls at the heart strings with its guitar and piano-led layering. With optimistic lyrics like, “You said no more to sadness / no more running with runaways / Now I cannot explain it / man I can’t find my probably’s” and “And that night / that I realized / what can I say / You saved my life /I said ‘I’m fallin in love.’ / Heard that Dani’s in love,” convey the hope and lack of worries that the singer, Marlon Rabenreither, now has for his future and the strength and love he feels towards his significant other. With its Ryan Adams, Tom Petty-esque sound and hopeful lyrics, “Dani’s In Love” is a track that reminds listeners that instead of staying stagnant in the strife we may feel, run towards the people who love you.— Alessandra Rincon on September 4, 2018
Arc Iris - $GNMS
Experimental pop trio Arc Iris gifted fans with their new ambitious and sci-fi theme single “$GNMS” of their upcoming record Icon of Ego. Although the original version of the track from their debut album contained a more loose and folky feel, this version drips with a new found electronic complexity. Over the course of the six minute track, the group take listeners on a musical journey that lyrically dives into the questions of human existence, desire, and greed, all while accompanied with delicate keyboard playing, dramatic synthesizers, percussions, and with lead singer Josie Adams’ sharp and sawing voice. “$GNMS” is an art pop masterpiece that takes chances and comes out a winner by all means.— Alessandra Rincon on August 31, 2018