Lightning Dust - Material Life
There is a certain wildness and movement in “Material Life” that could awaken dusty bones. The eclectic release by indie-rock duo Lightning Dust, comprised of Amber Webber and Josh Wells, is a commentary on the need for more. There is always this desire in us for something deeper, something more valuable to dig into, giving us the feeling that we cannot and will not belong, that perhaps there is more for us that we have not yet been greeted by. The track begins with a steadiness, and at its midpoint slows down to say, “I’m in a world I don’t belong,” creating relevance within itself to the nature of being.— Laney Esper on September 9, 2020
Angel Olsen - (New Love) Cassette
Angel Olsen’s “(New Love) Cassette” is a gorgeous rumination on the feelings one experiences when starting a new relationship. Her haunting, emotive vocals, drenched in reverb, convey longing in the midst of limerence. “I’m gonna show you love all of the time / Gonna be your breath when you’re out of life / Love / Free / Take / Me,” she sings earnestly. The simple arrangement—the version on the album Whole New Mess is stripped back guitar/voice vs. the lush, full version featured on 2019’s All Mirrors—is striking and heartbreakingly honest. This song is the perfect balance of bittersweet and nostalgic—a tune for anyone missing the dreamy and unraveling emotions that come with falling in love with someone new. Listen wherever you stream. Photo by Kylie Coutts.— Paige Shannon on September 8, 2020
Anjimile - Baby No More
Boston-based singer-songwriter Anjimile reckons with ways their demons have caused hurt to a lover on “Baby No More," a modernized bossa nova tune more harmoniously balanced than the relationship itself. "Scary / What I done and might do," they open, a fragile moment of self-awareness, yet inability to stop themselves from doing more damage. Referring to themselves as "King Heartbreaker," their lightly rasped vocals send a simple message, the only fitting end for a doomed relationship: "I can’t be your baby no more."
For the greater part of 2019, I found myself in the thick of it. Drinking heavily more nights than not and equally as addicted to an emotionally abusive relationship, my sense of self was all but torn to shreds. Much like Anjimile, "I quite literally felt like I was losing my mind, vis-à-vis alcoholism," though it was my close friends whom I hurt the most. While the fresh, upbeat nature of "Baby No More" contrasts some of the darker lyrics, for me, the levity mimics the relief that comes with detaching yourself where you need to; it's that second of clarity, seeking help and coming out better for it. Anjimile's debut record Giver Taker, which will delve further into mental health struggles and coming out as transgender, is due out September 18 via Father/Daughter Records.
Alice Boman - Wake Me Up
After debuting her beautiful and heartbreaking album Dream On in January, Alice Boman is now back with a new single. And like her album debut, her latest track "Wake Me Up" balances light and darkness by contrasting a glowing, ethereal serenity against a deep and dark restlessness. The track builds on repetition: each time she sings “wake me up” she brings you in deeper and deeper into her dream/nightmare. Her heavenly voice is lifted by atmospheric synths that echo some of her Swedish dream-pop compatriots like Anna von Hausswolff or El Perro del Mar. “Tell me it’s a bad dream,” she sings over and over as if trying to comfort herself, “everything will be alright”—but will it? We are left somewhere in between solace and fear. "Wake Me Up" is a mesmerizing track with a beautiful simplicity. It’s hard not to contextualize all new music coming out this summer with our current global predicament but this particular song seems to resonate louder, wishing it’s all just one bad dream we can just wake up from. Photo by Märta Thisner.— Alejandro Veciana on September 8, 2020
Will Butler - Close My Eyes
Arcade Fire’s Will Butler has released the second single off his upcoming solo record, Generations. “Close My Eyes” grapples with the pain and hopelessness that fuel desire for a revolution. This soul-inspired, synth-y cruiser may sound lively, but Butler is shedding some warm lamplight on the reality of racism and collective trauma, and insinuates his need to stay in the backseat as a white male. The line “I’ve got to dance to keep from crying,” nails this sentiment. The chorus is a much needed release, with stacked harmonies to match the upswing.
Butler’s jangly ballad digs into some Motown and also nods at early 2000’s indie-pop. These inspirations, as we know, generate a heart-swell that Butler knew was important to lend—leaving the listener feeling heavy with the reminder of today’s realities, but also appreciative of what we have to get us through. The rest of Generations drops on September 25, where more of these themes are sure to emerge. Photo by Will Butler.— Alex Stills on September 8, 2020
girl in red - rue
girl in red's new single "rue" is a haunting, emotional track, obviously inspired by the HBO show Euphoria both sonically and lyrically. From the start, the pounding drums and reverb-drenched instrumentals recall the dark nights and neon dreamscapes depicted in the series. The lyrics describe a relationship in which her mental health issues have made things hard on her partner, taking a toll on the relationship—similar to the dynamic between Rue and Jules shown in Euphoria. She describes crippling depression in the lines, "I hate the way my brain is wired / Can't trust my mind, it's such a liar / Believe me when I say / I can't carry the weight." Despite her struggles, though, it becomes obvious throughout the song that she wants desperately to save the relationship, repeating "I will make it work" in the bridge like a mantra, almost as if her saying it enough times will make it come true. "rue" is an emotionally impactful, atmospheric track with a booming, catchy chorus that will not be leaving your mind anytime soon. Listen to "rue" wherever you stream. Photo by Isak Jenssen.— Paige Shannon on September 4, 2020
Lupin - May
Ahead of the release of his first solo project under the name of Lupin, Hippo Campus's vocalist and guitarist Jake Luppen presents track "May". The single is a delightfully chaotic introduction to him as Lupin, even for the fans who were already used to him as Jake. An honest reflection on his relationship at the time, May's lyrics might remind you of the feeling of the passage of time this year: "It lasted longer than you had expected / (Oh May) But shorter than I thought it'd be." The daze of the energetic beat or the heightened vocals only corroborates the idea of ever-so-reluctantly letting go of a connection with someone. While his writing on Hippo Campus had the mixed energy of a crew of artists, Lupin's self titled debut album is set to be a deeper dive into him as a whole—his story, his ups and downs, his most profound fears, the mark he is leaving in the world. The album's release is set for October 9.— Giulia Santana on September 4, 2020
Miles Mackenzie - West Coast Gold
Miles Mackenzie’s debut single, “West Coast Gold,” is a quarantine-released song for all the summers-that-could-be, or the ones that have been warmly tucked into memory; summers where we are safe and free to sprint, barefoot in the sand, toward towering teal waves. Sunshine emanates from the track within the first few seconds, luring in the listener with soft-sparkling chimes and visions of an ocean breeze as a 1970s-inspired bassline comes into frame. Bending surf-rock guitar riffs pair seamlessly with Mackenzie’s soaring falsetto and catchy background vocals that will have you singing “ba-ba-ba” after first listen. Entirely self-performed and mixed, Mackenzie’s debut could sit comfortably in the same indie-folk groove as artists like Dr. Dog, Fruit Bats, and Father John Misty. But on the bridge and drum breakdown, one can just as easily identify an undeniably classic influence, akin to legends like The Beatles and The Kinks. This golden formula tells us that, while the long days of summer may be fleeting, it’s clear that Mackenzie is just getting started. Photo by Alec Basse.— Heddy Edwards on September 4, 2020
Aladean Kheroufi - Good
Aladean Kheroufi’s track “Good” off of his latest EP Beauty Beyond Grief is aptly named. It is just that: good. Very good, in fact. The Algerian-Canadian singer/songwriter brings many different vibes to life in his soft and groovy style. Impeccable rhythm and lo-fi vocals build a retro aura about his work, an aesthetic reflected in his EP cover art that evokes indie records of the 60s and 70s. One could simply leave Kheroufi’s track on repeat and let the cool sounds wash over them as one play fades easily into the next. As he builds a beautiful synthesis of instruments that flow past each other with ease, his talent shines through every word he sings. Photo by K. Chrapko.— Ben Burke on September 4, 2020
Claire Rosinkranz - Backyard Boy
Up-and-comer Claire Rosinkranz is cutting her teeth in the indie-pop scene by the best means possible: virally trending on TikTok. If your guilty pleasure is perusing the popular app, then you've definitely heard "Backyard Boy": a sweet, sun-soaked summer track that you'll want to stream again and again. The track is an ode to budding love and embodies the euphoria, nervousness and all-around excitement of meeting someone new. While Rosinkranz is still developing her discography, her small EP, Beverly Hills Boyfriend, is a great introduction to her spunky, light pop sound and a great launch pad for what is sure to be a promising career. Check out "Backyard Boy" wherever you stream, or just listen up the next time you're on your FYP.— Hannah Lupas on September 3, 2020
Neil Frances - Tuesday
It almost goes without saying the concept of time in the year of our lord 2020 has all but completely disappeared, and while the concept of stalled time is present in Neil Frances' track "Tuesday," the feeling is more on the side of timelessness. "Tuesday" begins with a jolt, propelling the listener outside of their personal 2020-inspired brain fog, right back into the beloved club scene of the 1990s. Crashing cymbals carry the song, inviting the listener to engage in a light and fun chair-swivel dance, but inside the listener's head, they're grooving contently in an era where it was not only safe to go out on a Tuesday, it was common not to give the idea a second thought.
The Los Angeles duo seem "in" on the idea of creating a timeless throwback anthem where the listener spends the quickest three and a half minutes on a hip-shaking journey into yesteryear. They invite us to forget everything which may be ailing us, with the opening lyrics "There's no good or bad with what we have / don't you know?" It's clear the feeling on the agenda for "Tuesday" is nothing short of good one; the duo's music video for the track exclusively features dogs riding in the car with their heads blissfully hanging out the window, a sweet and calming backdrop for a song which details the collective confusion over the lost sense of time, but frequently reminds us it is built on the ever-present reminder there is still positivity in the world.— Taylor Hodgkins on September 3, 2020