Jocelyn Mackenzie - Love Begets Love
After the passing of her dear friend, Pam, Jocelyn Mackenzie sought out to write a song to Pam's grieving husband. "Love Begets Love" is the beautiful product of Mackenzie's efforts, a song about the consistent readiness and availability of love. As if an echo of Pam's heart, Mackenzie spreads a personal and universal message about how love can grow and foster in the midst of hardships. Mackenzie's voice has healing elements in and of itself, but it reaches to new levels when accompanied by the colorful background vocals which in a way sound like a united band of caring friends reaching out to a loved one in a time of need. While the pain of loss will never be truly erased, this song is a reminder that there truly is consolation and hope in love. "Love Begets Love" is featured on a compilation album dedicated to Pam's memory called Songs for Pam which can be found on Burst and Bloom Records's bandcamp. New Yorkers, be sure to see Jocelyn Mackenzie during her residency at C'mon Everybody in Brooklyn on August 11, September 16, and October 13!— Dara Bankole on August 6, 2018
Hayley Gene Penner - Smaller
Full of honesty and grace, Hayley Gene Penner's brave new single, "Smaller," speaks to the deep desire to be loved and the fear that it may be easier if you were someone else. Honing in on the struggle of body-image, Penner sings, "If I'm smaller and I'm different / Just a little less / Would you love me?" These words cut to the core and find you in a place you know all too well. "Smaller" shines with a quiet boldness. Penner refuses to hide behind metaphors or similes as she sings her truths with such sincerity and vulnerability. Like most toxic thoughts, it's easy to hear the danger in them when you yourself are not thinking them — it's a lot harder to recognize their toxicity when they're in your own head. Smaller" lets you connect with Penner as she sings of her battle with self-image while also allowing you to notice the lack of self-love you may have been showing yourself for longer than you realized.
Joyce Manor - Million Dollars to Kill Me
Joyce Manor know how to pack a punch into a bit-sized box. New single “Million Dollars to Kill Me” recalls the late-90s midwestern emo scene with its guitar crunch and tongue-in-cheek title. “And one day you will realize / You are nothing, nothing without her / You’re an asshole from the bar,” frontman Barry Johnson spits out. The track’s full-blooded, all-American guitar riff is fist-pumping-ly anthemic, while the drums borrow from pop-punk’s propensity for cymbal crashes. Rarely has a track felt so simultaneously venomous and fun.— Michael O'Neill on July 26, 2018
the king heat ensemble - Give or take
More often than not, when a band has a killer, memorable name their music does not live up to it, but once in a while, there are exceptions. The fresh, folk-inspired UK group, the king heat ensemble is one of those special cases. The track, “Give or take,” off their most recent EP epitomizes what it means to make a blanket-genre like acoustic-folk sound original and refreshing all while maintaining its organic nature. “Give or take” begins with bouncy, steel-string guitar picking as the lead singer briskly introduces himself 7-seconds in with a stirring yet understated vocal delivery. His voice is a tamed hybrid of James Taylor and Conor Oberst, which adds an alternative stroke to an otherwise heavily bluegrass inspired landscape. He sings, “Everybody here knows when you’ve got to stop to start again,” with a red-yellow tone, a warmness, and positivity that is speckled with patches of tanginess. The king heat ensemble is giving you an encouraging pat on the back, while sternly whispering, “start again.”
Lola Kirke - Monster
Lola Kirke’s velvet vocals are the distinctive shine to all her songs, and “Monster” is no exception. “Waves break when they want to / guess I should take a cue,” she sings, her voice undulating like the waves she mentions. When her voice peaks with layered harmonies, the blend creates what can be described as "ear-gratification." The stark drums, flanging guitar and warmth of the rolling bass give the song an welcoming easy-listening familiarity. Kirke’s style is reminiscent of pop-tinged folk with shades of country, à la Sheryl Crow by way of The Indigo Girls.
“Would it be all right / To be the light that comes on at night / I wouldn’t burn too bright / Just enough so you might get home.” These lyrics are the most substantial of the song, alluding to the root of her insecurity: can she be strong enough to carry the weight of herself, and still be strong enough for someone else. “Monster” is the first single off of Kirke’s debut album Heart Head West, which will be released August 10th.— Talullah Ruff on July 25, 2018
Gold Star - Baby Face
Los Angeles’ Gold Star combines disparate influences, from Americana to Britpop to Classic Rock into a surprisingly familiar sound on new single "Baby Face." The verse oozes Old West cool, something that might have come from the guitar of Turn Blue era Dan Auerbach or AM era Alex Turner, before launching into a fully Beatles-inspired chorus, complete with swirling Wurlitzer chords and reverb-laden double-tracked vocals. “Baby Face” is a song you may as well have heard the day you were born, greeting you with a loving epithet, but given a modern spin by an obviously devoted student of music. Contradictions are at the core of this song, at once retro and refreshing, then cocky but unsure. “I’m still not certain what it takes,” croons singer Marlon Rabenreither, “Are you in / Are you out?” Even the instrumentation takes two sides, as the smooth guitar’s conversation with the thumping bass forms the backbone of the song’s hook, introducing us to the song and leading us out with no answers.— Daniel Shanker on July 24, 2018
The Punch Brothers - All Ashore
We've been a big fan of The Punch Brothers ever since their 2012 release, Who’s Feeling Young Now? From the very beginning of “Movement and Location,” it was nearly impossible to not fall head-over-heels in love with frontman/mandolin wizard Chris Thile’s soft storytelling and stunning arrangements. Now the group is back with more of what reeled us in in the first place with their new single “All Ashore.” Starting with an intricate, nearly 2 minute-long intro, Thile’s delicate yet firm vocal settles into a melody and keeps the listener intrigued throughout the next 5 minutes. His mandolin keeps rhythm as other string instruments weave in and out. It’s not a song you’ll hear on top 40 radio anytime soon — it’s complex, dynamic, and plot-driven — but that’s why it’s such a treat. “All Ashore” is the title track off of the band’s new, self-produced album out now via Nonesuch Records. They’re currently on tour in support of the record, find dates here.— Kirsten Spruch on July 24, 2018
Michl - Tell Her
Rising Los Angeles artist Michl has revealed a stunning rework of Lauryn Hill’s “Tell Him” with his new summer love song “Tell Her.” This synth-heavy version is an emotional ballad featuring a gorgeous balance of organs, stripped back guitar and smooth vocals that pay homage to the original but still manages to be unique. The authenticity in Michl’s voice matches the emotional honesty of the lyrics, “I’ll never be jealous and I won’t be too proud / ‘cause love is not boastful / No and love is not loud / just tell her I need her.” This song is full of themes of hope and promise and reminds listeners that despite the ups and downs of relationships, “everything is gonna be alright.”— Alessandra Rincon on July 23, 2018
Margot - Tired
London dream-pop outfit Margot creates the kind of masterful, floating soundscapes one would expect from seasoned veterans of the genre. Perfect for a rainy London afternoon, “Tired” is the hazy daydream of someone unable to keep up with the pace of change in his life. “Get off your phone and tell me how you feel,” he pleads, wading through the sea of swirling guitars in an attempt to make any sort of meaningful, lasting connection, but not even the support of a string section can save him now. He has been rejected, he has been shut out and he is terrified to admit that time races only forwards. Things are looking up though. As the song fades out, the future uncertain, he has traded his relentless pessimism — “You’ve grown...I just don’t know you anymore” — for something a little more understanding and hopeful — “You’ve grown / and so should I / We’ll work it out eventually.”— Daniel Shanker on July 23, 2018
Ole Kirkeng - Reminds Me Of You
Singer-songwriter Ole Kirkeng is reminiscent of a young Bob Dylan, using only his guitar and harmonica as accompaniment to his emotionally raw lyrics. Growing up in Norway, he now resides in Brooklyn after finishing school at Berklee College of Music. His latest track “Reminds Me of You,” features Kirkeng’s smooth yet heartfelt vocals alongside the melodic and thoughtful notes of his acoustic guitar. With lyrics, “Even though you’re not here/ It’s like you’re still around,” Kirkeng gives poignant memories of not being able to be with the one you love.
Reflective of an old soul, his tracks resemble an artist you would find performing acoustically in a 1970s cafe somewhere in the Village. Combining his folk style with a modern flare, Ole Kirkeng covers the rewarding yet challenging aspects of being in a relationship while also sounding like a folk classic. Be sure to follow Ole Kirkeng on social media to stay up to date on his upcoming shows!— Madison Hetterly on July 23, 2018
High Hazels - Days Of No One
If you’re still on the hunt for that perfect summer song to blast in the car with the windows down, look no further. Earlier this year, UK band High Hazels released the perfect indie rock anthem, “Days Of No One,” and it’s inspiring us to hit the beach immediately (not that we need a big push to take a beach trip though). It features surfy guitars, a stompy kick and snare and fuzzy yet soft vocals that are guaranteed to warm your heart on an even warmer day. It’s a glistening track that feels so fresh yet at the same time, has a nostalgic flare to it which offers a sense of comfort. The band recently shared that they’re getting ready to head back in the studio — we’ll be right here waiting.— Kirsten Spruch on July 20, 2018