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
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
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