Grapell - Stranger's Mouth
With countries reopening and summer raging in the northern hemisphere, “Stranger’s Mouth” manages to encapsulate the kaleidoscopic range of emotions of our time. A Swedish duo made up of Emil Erstrand and Nils Nygårdh, Grapell combines confessional lyricism with memorable and danceable instrumentals. With a saxophone riff that immediately hooks you in, the song will undoubtedly make your foot start tapping. The opening line, “Spit out your gum / And stick your tongue into a stranger’s mouth,” is able to contain both the freedom and anxiety of reentering social situations after over a year of isolation. This duality of elation and restlessness that saturates the song reminds us of the vivacity that we only truly experience with other people. An overdriven guitar and the recurring saxophone play off each other in a joyous lead-up to the song’s contemplative bridge, “You broken heart, I hope you know you did it to yourself.” With one last grand chorus, this song will leave you dancing before your tears can dry. Photo by Manne Wahlström.— Sofia Soriano on July 9, 2021
Worry Club - Bleach
Chicago-hailing Chase Walsh, popularly known as Worry Club, waltzes back into the scene with an impactful new release, “Bleach." The song welcomes listeners with a languid guitar that appears to hypnotize into a state of dubious bemusement, setting the tone for this reflective piece. The track attests to growing pains, bringing to life those overwhelming urges to transform one's identity in the midst of undergoing a whirlwind of issues. On the track itself, Walsh shared: “I really wanted to capture the nostalgia associated with a fleeting childhood. The idea of growing up has always scared the shit out of me.” In his plight to unearthing deeply-rooted childish nostalgia, Worry Club manages to create a single capable of tapping into one’s past while taking a contemplative eye to the current reality.— Bianca Brown on July 8, 2021
Just Kingsley - In My Mind
"In My Mind," a track from Just Kingsley's fun debut EP Would You Ever Believe, rides the tide of modern surf rock. It's a colorful, summery track featuring bright guitars and interesting doubled vocals that give the song an especially indie, bedroom rock feel. The intro in this song is probably my favorite part—it bursts forward like a shaken-up Coke bottle, but every verse that leads into the chorus carries that same eclectic energy. This song feels like a pressurized and compacted version of summer, and upon each listen, you'll find something new to love. This track is equal parts loungy, beach rock and bright indie pop. It's a great one to add to your road trip playlists as the summer begins. Roll your windows down and listen to "In My Mind" on your drive home today.— Hannah Lupas on July 7, 2021
godz - kids
A lanky yellow character seems to front the digital project, godz. Aside from the intriguing ambiguity of the project’s identity, their most recent release, “kids,” catches attention by weaving nostalgia into a fresh and modern sound. Appearing across a series of NFTs, their social pages and the music video for this track, the ambiguous yellow figure is on an explorative journey, sometimes dancing, shapeshifting or even swimming. No matter the situation, there’s one thing the yellow figure consistently finds themself facing: a sense of loneliness or being outcasted—distinctly different from those around them. That impression can be found within “kids,” too. After a muted acoustic guitar welcomes in the softly-spoken introductory lyrics, the bass builds into a sonically enveloping chorus that hums, “And the kids / They have it good / Their love is real.” “kids” combines elements of synth-wave and funk with dynamic lo-fi production, making the track is danceable and engaging. And while who the kids are and why our friendly yellow animation feels so different from them is left relatively uncertain, godz is sure to leave their response as accessible as their Instagram bio, signing “some beg to ask the question, does it even matter?” However you’ve arrived in the psychedelic mystery world of godz, “kids” will leave you feeling a little less alone, and with a catchy beat stuck in your head.— Jenna Andreozzi on July 6, 2021
Maya Elise & The Good Dream - Going Nowhere
"Going Nowhere" opens with a cute, whimsical riff that delicately catches your attention from across the room. It’s a song drifting through the air at an open mic that makes your thoughts stop in their tracks, ears hanging on what happens next. Warm bass introduces gentle support, leaving plenty of space for the sparkling fantasies painted by Elise’s voice. Meandering through the mundane, the lyrics call out a desire for a grand adventure. Whatever shape it takes doesn’t matter- as long as it’s extravagant and far-flung. Light harmonies fill out the space between reality and the fantastic dream-world the lyrics strive to manifest. As with the best fantasies, the track closes with a momentary reconciliation with reality before taking off into the air again. The track is a sweet taste of what is sure to come with Maya Elise & The Good Dream’s album, Songs for the Breakdown, due this summer. Until then, let the new music video for "Going Nowhere" transport you to Maya Elise's whimsical world. Photo by Bradley Jacob Cox.— Allison Hill on July 2, 2021
S. E. Webster - Bad Thing Comin'
Occasionally, an idea comes to you. It’s not necessarily a good idea, but it’s also not quite bad enough to dismiss it without mulling it over. It calls up a compulsion to indulge in a fun kind of self-destruction. It’s one where, if you play your cards right, there’ll be no real harm done and you’ll gain a fun story to tell. S. E. Webster's "Bad Thing Comin'" is an anthem to those kinds of worldly interactions. Filled with jangly rhythm guitar and tastefully heavy percussion, it’s lighthearted but with a bit too much drive to be called "jaunty." Playful lyrics push and pull with the instrumental backing, creating an attractively sauntering irreverence that you can’t help but tap a toe to. Guitar riffs buck and roll in between verses, getting their own word in edgewise. The track is a vivacious, exciting opener to S. E. Webster’s latest EP, Romance At A Distance, and it’s guaranteed to make you sway in your seat (if not outright get up and move!). Photo by Luke Armitage.— Allison Hill on July 1, 2021
Kala Boti - Shining
With “Shining,” Amsterdam-born and Lancaster-based artist Kala Boti delivers a song perfect for sunbleached summer days. Like the love child of Anderson. Paak and Michael Kiwanuka, Boti’s soulful voice, funk-influenced, treble-heavy guitar riff and a bass groove are a match made in heaven, while the Afrobeat-inspired percussion and the song’s catchy melody are guaranteed to have the track stuck in your head. Paired with the instrumentation’s joyful feeling are lyrics of hope that a loved one will come back once the sun is shining—a line fitting of both heartbreak and hope that captures the feeling of countries opening up post-pandemic. For a musician whose first release was in the second half of 2020, Boti’s production and songwriting skills are like those of a veteran and promise a bright (no pun intended) future. Boti plans to release his latest EP this summer, and you don’t want to miss out on what this talented artist is going to bring.— Sofia Soriano on June 30, 2021
Tiberius b - Tears into the Sun
During lockdown in the UK, Tiberius b’s debut EP, Stains, was born while the London-based artist moved to the Welsh countryside to care for their grandmother. While living there, the singer and producer had an artistic discovery contemplating the loss of relationships, heartbreak, sexuality and isolation. The melodic closing track "Tears into the Sun" captures the loss of near and far relationships throughout time.
Woven through the layers of synth-pop beats and guitar, the artist’s echoing vocals ask the listener questions like "How come we cannot drift away from it?” and "How do we have fun?" The song allows you to feel the heightened complexity of their drifting, emotive questions about those near and far from them. "Tears into the Sun" will certainly leave a lasting, euphoric effect as you reflect on the artists' questions unveiled. Photo by Dexter Lander.
Good Morning TV - Human Comedy
With Beatlesque mellotron synths, chorus-heavy guitars and a punchy, picked bassline, “Human Comedy” is a psychedelic indie rock jam for basking in the sun. Coming from French quartet Good Morning TV's debut album Small Talk, the track lives up to their name, providing a good dose of joy and calm. The song evokes the feeling of being a kid and riding your bike home at sunset, luminous and free. The drums, courtesy of Hugo Dupuis, lay the foundation for the song’s groove with tight fills and slightly open hi-hats. Lead singer Bérénice Deloire’s ethereal vocals elevate the track into a magical reverie, reflecting the chorus lyrics: “You realize suddenly, it’s all smoke and mirrors.” The dream built during the song ends with a solo that begs to be heard live, with the energy of a room packed with sweaty people dancing together. Photo by Antoine Magnien.— Sofia Soriano on June 29, 2021
juno roome - gardens
There's something about juno roome's whole aesthetic that inspires warm feelings of nostalgia. The Brooklyn-based musician uses a dreamy photo of clouds for the background of his website, leaving the visitor with an immediate feeling of familiarity; it almost seems like roome is an old friend from our past, one we may not talk to regularly, but who maintains feeling of closeness through his music.
roome's latest single “gardens” evokes multiple elements of those warm and happy memories of yesteryear. From the single's playful photo of a woman posing happily in front of a window perhaps made to look like an old snapshot, to the song's dream-like beat, coupled with roome's soft and almost breathy vocals, “gardens” is like coming back home no matter where you've been, a feeling heightened by roome's repeated and reassuring refrain of "I'll be here."
On the other side of the song's familiarity and warmth perhaps lies the very reason why the song's narrator may need a bit of nostalgic reassurance; Roome also channels a collectively relatable felt sense of anxiety, singing, "I don't want to be inside / I don't want to lose my mind," before pivoting back to a comfortable wistfulness, bringing peace back to the forefront. juno roome's ode to returning to the well-known instead of constantly feeling trapped by the unknown will bring listeners back to basics, with no sense of pretense or apologies. Photo by Ann Feletto.— Taylor Hodgkins on June 24, 2021
Eliza Shaddad - The Man I Admire
Sudanese and Scottish singer/songwriter Eliza Shaddad is building a catalogue of intricate, intelligent rock songs. Her latest single "The Man I Admire" finds her in a dream, standing in a burning home, waiting for this man to "save her from the smoke, but he takes off his shirt instead." The sincere intersection of desiring protection and mutual affirmation from a man, all the while understanding your own legitimacy and ability to protect yourself, is a subject rarely broached in feminine songwriting. Eliza executes this masterfully here. This song is an empathetic peek into the heart of a woman standing in front of a man and asking him to adore her with no caveats. It's true vulnerability, and the lyrics of the first two verses—feeling scared of the dark and being alone in a burning room—illustrate this beautifully. The theme is so succinct and yet totally complete. That's what makes Eliza's poetry so excellent.
Shaddad's first LP, Future, was released in 2018. "The Man I Admire" is one of four singles released this year ahead of her second album The Woman You Want. Pre-order The Woman You Want here, and look out for the UK-based singer on tour this summer. Photo by Flore Diamant.— Hannah Lupas on June 24, 2021