Luna Luna - One Thing (feat. The Undercover Dream Lovers)
"One Thing" is a bright, synth-pop break-up song just in time for post-vaccine summer romances. The latest single from Latinx Dallas band Luna Luna features dream-pop artist The Undercover Dream Lovers (a.k.a. Matt Koenig) weaving together what seems to be a tailor-made collaboration. Luna Luna’s previous two records, For Lovers Only and Carousel, are short but sweet, romantic, fun, nostalgic pop delights that just hit the mark—and this new single is no exception. "One Thing" opens with a simple beat followed by the band’s distinct retro, synth-heavy groove, funky enough to have you bopping in the first seconds. By the time the chorus kicks in, you’ll be on your feet singing along to the catchiest chorus line you’ve heard in a while, “You know you got that one thing / one thing…” Koenig's soft, hazy vocals chime in halfway through, adding some contrast to frontman Kavvi’s soulful, delicate but sharp voice. There are many things that make this track memorable, but perhaps what makes "One Thing" stand out is its ultra-satisfying structural simplicity. Sometimes all you need is, in fact, that one thing—and Luna Luna delivers. Photo by Ash Rosas.— Alejandro Veciana on June 16, 2021
Shamir - I Know it's a Good Thing
Follow along this week as singer/songwriter Shamir walks us through notable tracks from his expansive DIY genre-blending discography. Don't miss your chance to meet Shamir in Brooklyn at Full Bloom, our latest food, beverage and music event in collaboration with Strainge Beast Hard Kombucha, on June 25.
"This is my favorite song out of all my early more electronic pop stuff. It's the strongest song at its core that when I play it with my now 3-piece rock band it doesn't feel out of place." — Shamir— on June 15, 2021
The Haunted Youth - Coming Home
After The Haunted Youth’s debut single “Teen Rebel” won Studio Brussel’s talent contest De Nieuwe Lichting, it took Belgium and the world by storm with all kinds of media attention and airplay. Although those rave reviews set high expectations for the band’s newest release, rest assured, “Coming Home" absolutely blew those expectations out of the water. Now, it’s no question that The Haunted Youth has mesmeric dream pop down to the most minute detail.
In “Coming Home,” a heightened production quality only adds to the already decadent haze signature of the band. The song seals the band in a unique position between retro and new age psychedelic pop, a position that makes this song so addictive. It’s the kind of jam you’ll find yourself setting on a loop during those warm summer nights, letting it steal you away into that wistful past and hopeful tomorrow.— Monica Hand on June 15, 2021
Miki Ratsula - second
What does it mean to be loved? To be loved wholly? To be loved for who you are, for the parts of yourself that will never change and the parts that will?
Love can feel unexplainable or unreasonable, even. Doubt and anxiety can turn slight conflicts into unsettling internal attempts to investigate why someone loves you and how they could possibly do that. Amidst the familiar uncertainty of navigating relationships and identity, it’s not hard to believe that love is undeserved. As Miki Ratsula captures in “second,” accepting love can become complicated when it feels impossible to show love to yourself.
Ratsula’s wispy vocals deliver the unease with a gentle demeanor, lyrics gracefully bearing the weight of such a tender message: "After the scars heal you'll change how you feel, overnight." It’s natural to wonder if our partners will be able to withstand the inconstancy of an evolving identity because of our refusal to let go of the idea that their love must be conditional. Instead of looming here, Ratsula challenges the discomfort by learning that their dynamic life is not a burden and working to be uplifted by the love of those around them. Struggling with who you are can make it hard to feel sure of anything, and “second” finds a way to show just how empowering unconditional love can be. Akin to an affirmation, "I just wanna love myself so I can love you better" is Miki Ratsula’s expositional cry to move forward towards a place of pride. Photo by Ashley Osborn.— Jenna Andreozzi on June 11, 2021
Sakura - I Can't Call You Baby
“Say it,” he said in his Oxford blue button-up shirt, khaki pants and white sneakers from the other side of the room. He may as well have been on Mars; he felt that distant to her as she stood her ground on the corresponding side. How could I? she thought to herself, her eyes meeting his, telling him everything he needed to know. “You won’t say it,” he muttered to himself, cast his eyes downwards like he invented shoegaze. “It’s not that I won’t. I can’t,” she said, breaking her own vow of silence, the tears flowing now, the regret palpable now.
Written, produced and performed by Sakura herself (yes, even the backing vocals), Sakura’s “I Can’t Call You Baby” is a strings-heavy ode to resignation from toxicity. Shades of 15-time Grammy award winner Alicia Keys float to the surface around 2:33 when Sakura’s vocals reach new heights. “I hope that you’re on the way / I always say your name before I go to sleep,” Sakura sings, hinting at the possibility who or what the song is about was once a regular in her dreams and still may be welcomed at that. Attraction is such a fickle and flexible thing.— Mustafa Abubaker on June 9, 2021
Nathaniel Paul - Silence
It was the first time you would see my apartment, but it was my last. All set to move out tomorrow. Already moved most of my things out but kept my bed and my pots and pans to make eggplant parmesan for you and me. How could I be so unsure about our future when we were as emotionally close as we we were physically? I thought of the As Tall As Lions song "I’m Kicking Myself." You were quiet as a writer or a painter at work, but your puppy eyes were thunderous as gunfire or rockets. You would stay the night, and we would wake up here together for the one and only time, and we would either lay our heads together once more somewhere else or part ways. My future with you hung in the balance, and yet my past with you sung in Dallas, and my present with you stung in challenge.
Nathaniel Paul’s “Silence” is the type of song born out of an unexplainable uncertainty; a bizarre and hard-to-shake emotion. The song calls back to the chillwave sounds pioneered by Toro y Moi, but has its own modern influx of drum and synth work. Play this one at the beach and drink coffee to it.— Mustafa Abubaker on June 8, 2021
Kaley Rutledge - Tough Enough
After some years of releasing music under the sobriquet of “De Joie," which translates to “of joy” in the French language, Kaley Rutledge has made the embraved decision to attach her new releases to her given name. Under her own name, Rutledge releases an unapologetically true-to-self anthem by the name of “Tough Enough." This track is a reckoning of self, coming from a place of knowing that the vulnerability we are offered as people, to share our stories, is the most sacred and important aspect of living. “Tough Enough” is a product of the recounting of a relationship that didn’t work out and the thought process of coming to that fatal realization: “I don’t want it that badly / To change a thing about myself that I quite like." Everything about the track wriggles with release of a past thing and circles back to the self, where healing happens and good can grow. Photo by Mindy Dunlap.— Laney Esper on June 4, 2021
Luna Li - Alone But Not Lonely
Scoring the arrival of Hot Girl/Gay/They Summer, “Alone But Not Lonely” is the latest release from Toronto-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Luna Li. The tune glimmers with hints of nostalgia; a gliding synthesizer introduces the helplessly funky groove as Li begins to recite her self-care mantra. The beat becomes infectious—I can’t avoid shaking my head along to the euphonic confidence of her lyrical affirmations. Focus is then swept away from the melody by a commanding guitar solo that brings a sense of power and knowingness to the playful track. The magnetic bassline and layered harmonies compliment her signature angelic-pop sound, allowing Li to jump back into the choral groove with even more energy than before. Despite its brevity, just 102 conclusive seconds, “Alone But Not Lonely” has me turning up the volume when it comes on because every single moment feels present. If you’re taking time this summer to cultivate inner power, I suggest putting on Luna Li’s dreamy discography and trying not to worry about the rest. Photo by Felice Trinidad.— Jenna Andreozzi on June 2, 2021
SHIMA - Fade Out
Tokyo-based producer, singer and engineer SHIMA has just released “Fade Out,” a track filled with those same enchanting textures and beats that have earned her much credence in such a small amount of time. Shortly after SHIMA graduated from the University of Miami Frost School of Music in 2019, she left her job as a software engineer to pursue her passion full time, and her ability to mesh beats and delicate but striking lyrics is hard to leave unnoticed. “Fade Out,” like many of her songs, uses a mix of English and Japanese all perfectly balanced and sung in a way that excites the mind and soul. “Fade Out” allows the waves of lyrics to cascade through the textured beat, making it the kind of song you want to get lost in, to let yourself fade into the surging tide of sonic prose on a rainy day. Photo by Yuri Horie.— Monica Hand on May 28, 2021
Jelani Aryeh - From These Heights
As we’re continuing the strife to uncover a new “normal,” we can’t help but settle in the uncertainty that these past few years have left us floating within. So much has happened and so much has changed all from behind the confines of the four walls that we call home. For the moments when the sky feels like it's falling and you need someplace to plant your feet, the San Diego-raised artist Jelani Aryeh offers his latest drop, “From These Heights."
Uniquely its own entity, "From These Heights" both separates itself from modern music and sows new roots for the music of the future in a quick 3-minute go. Aryeh reorients early 2000s indie rock to suit our time of need. Featuring existential lyricism and that good ole’ stripped-down garage band sound, this gem channels the energy of music in the past to invoke worldwide change for the future.
Aryeh began crafting this track during the pandemic, at the height of civil unrest, sharing on his Instagram: “I made this song with Alex Craig of Slaters last May...George Floyd had just been murdered, and the riots were just starting to take place. It felt like there was so much chaos + uncertainty in the air and it seemed like everywhere you’d turn there was something threatening your livelihood. It was like everyone was trapped in a box of mayhem with no exit. I know that's still the case for a lot of you and many others around the globe. At the least, I hope this song can ease your feelings and give you somewhere to settle yourself. Even if that’s for 3 minutes.”
The young Black and Filipino artist has been making wide strides in the industry since 2018, with his track "Daunt" catching fire in the hearts and ears of alternative indie lovers. Aryeh is a trailblazing creative, never ceasing to hone his craft or personal growth, both of which evolve with each new release. “From These Heights '' is the third single from his forthcoming debut album I’ve Got Some Living To Do and merely a preview of the young artist’s musical dexterity and effortless ability to transform hearts and minds. See for yourself. Photo by Zamar Velez.— Bianca Brown on May 27, 2021
Soccer Mommy - Wide Open Spaces (The Chicks Cover)
Indie darling Soccer Mommy dropped a cover of The Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces" on May 14. Because of Soccer Mommy's melancholy rock sound, a cover of a country hit from the 90s took me by surprise. The "circle the drain" singer reminds the world that she hails from Nashville and is no stranger to country tunes as she naturally dons her metaphorical cowboy hat and clicks into this country melody. The arrangement is fun and original, and it's strangely refreshing to hear her refined, soft vocal on a song originally sung by country powerhouse—and blueprint—Natalie Maine. According to Instagram, Soccer Mommy recorded this cover a few years ago. Definitely better late than never, and I hope this means we could be getting more nostalgic country covers from the indie queen sometime soon. Photo by Brian Ziff.— Hannah Lupas on May 26, 2021