Michael Nau - On Ice
Since stepping out from behind his former projects, Cotton Jones and Page France, Michael Nau has released his first full solo album, Michael Nau & The Mighty Thread. Nau has proven himself to be a deeply satisfying songwriter with a leaning towards melodic pop rock and country-esque soulful folk. With his song “On Ice,” Nau shows off his a mastery of the ear worm with the hook, “Doesn’t matter if we turn on the light / Baby let’s turn on the light” cascading throughout much of the song. The song is as groovy as it is considerate, with melancholic lines such as, “I wasn’t dreaming about anything / But was afraid that I might”, breaking their way through the shimmering nature of the song. This beautifully phrased world-weariness is set to a sound reminiscent of Neil Young and Mac Demarco’s brain child.
"On Ice" is a nod to what rock music can be: catchy, soft, poignant, apt, relatable, and so much more. The backbone of the work consists of a simple chord progression played on a Wurlitzer, stripped down lyrics with a catchy chorus, and a voice that so aptly captures the best voices of pop-rock from the past, with the most kind voices of indie-rock today. “On Ice” shows us that Michael Nau's penchant for soothing ballads will only continue with the influx of solo work we so desperately hope he continues to make.— Samantha Weisenthal on August 27, 2018
Spooky Cool - Old Hair Mine
Although Lucy Dacus believes Richmond band Spooky Cool should be renamed “Stupid Good,” the band currently has the perfect name to describe their haunting indie pop vibe. The newest single “Old Hair Mine” off their upcoming debut EP “Every Thing Ever” is full of nostalgic lyrics and vocal harmonies mixed with the instrumentations dis-harmonization and a constantly changing rhythmic backdrop. The product is an entertaining, intricate piece that feels timeless and futuristic. At the end of the song, the vocalists question over and over again “is anything real?” Not sure about that, but we'll keep wondering as we listen to this song.— Kathryn Brooks on August 2, 2018
Odetta Hartman - You You
With a highly anticipated new record on the way, Odetta Hartman releases her last single off of the album. "You You" is the epitome of short and sweet, showcasing Hartman in all her old school charm but with a feel-good twist. While an Odetta Hartman track is usually embedded with experimental and genre-bending sounds, "You You" finds its strength in its sweet simplicity. Opening up with a hard-hitting electric guitar, Hartman's voice is a contrast of sorts with it's quiet strength and colorful timbre which remains the centerpiece of the song. "You You" is the kind of love song that doesn't feel crowded with frivolous emotions but rather heart and soul. "I want to run / to edge of the earth with you / it's perfect with you," Hartman repeats in the chorus, giving us a glimpse of her desire for an adventurous romance thats more about togetherness and less about the frills. Catch Old Rockhounds Never Die out on August 10!— Dara Bankole on August 1, 2018
88rising (ft. Joji and NIKI) - La Cienega
“La Cienega”, referring both to a famous street in LA that stretches out from Sunset Blvd and the Spanish term for desert marsh is a clever play on words that explores the pitfalls of the “glamorous” lifestyle many of us daydream about. The vocalists, two established Asian artists, Joji and NIKI, imply that waking up hungover after a rough night of heavy drinking and shenanigans might perhaps get old after a few weeks, months? As per NIKI's experience, it’ll have you singing, “Party’s over / Thank the lord”. “La Cienega” is one of the many bangers off of the international collective and record label, 88rising’s newest, collaborative album, Head in the Clouds.
The song was produced and written by Joji and NIKI, who each supply their own distinctive sound and interpretations of the Hollywood lifestyle, and how to potentially escape it. Joji and NIKI's syrupy vocals are carried by the electro-dance inspired production filled with slightly gritty synths and a subby kick/ trap bass . As the track progresses, it bursts with glitchy samples ranging from buffering computer and telephone noises to what sound like bicycle bells. “La Cienega” paints a sloppy romance, glitter-puke picture that perfectly captures what it might feel like to wake up on a shallow, dry slow-moving body of water or an arid LA sidewalk…— Andrea de Varona on July 31, 2018
KAINA - Happy
Allow us to introduce you to rising Chicago singer-songwriter, KAINA. Not only is she making waves in the Windy City, but she's also caught the attention of big names like Jamila Woods who she opened for last year. In her three track EP released early this year, KAINA explores the richness of her sound with three songs that showcase her multi-layered talent. "Happy" is a song that is full of playful instrumentation and background vocals that are reminiscent of old 90s R&B hits. KAINA sings of the emotions she experiences when she's around a special someone and the moments she goes back to in her head when she thinks of their happiness. While the tone of KAINA's voice is smooth and confident, you can't miss the fact that she's singing of a happiness that is the color of blushing cheeks and giddy smiles. There's no doubt about it, KAINA is on our list of artists to watch out for and we're pretty happy about it.— Dara Bankole on July 30, 2018
Bermuda Triangle — Till The End Of Days
A slow-moving scene of a pair of lovers dancing idly in a pale lit bar. A warm picture of a group of friends sitting and singing on a porch while drinking scotch and smoking one too many cigarettes. Bermuda Triangle’s most recent country-gospel ballad, “Till the End of Days,” distinctly evokes settings like these. The Nashville-based trio’s track is a sublime combination of rich, tight harmonies balanced with distinctive vocal timbres and lean, airy acoustic guitar.
Jesse Lafser, who wrote the song, leads the track with an infectious, no-nonsense vocal line that is nothing short of pure magic. The gentle guitar unhurriedly moves forward as Lafser tenderly sings, “Maybe God / Maybe God / Maybe God does exist / Cause the way you look at me on mornings like this.” Brittany Howard (of Alabama Shakes) and Becca Mancari pour into the song in equal measure allowing each of them plenty of time to individually tug on your heartstrings reminding you that sometimes the greatest loves — both romantic and platonic — involve the greatest amount of growth and support. For all you atheists or agnostic leaning dissenters, “Till the End of Days” will incidentally lead you the closest you may have ever been to believing. You might even find yourself praying to a God after your first listen…maybe.— Andrea de Varona on July 27, 2018
Brewster - Kiss Me While I'm Down
When you are hurt by the person you love, it’s a hard fall. As you shatter it can be easy to run back to that love, mistaking artful sadism for the comfort you seek as you begin to pick up the pieces. Mark Bucci, who leads his own bedroom-pop project, Brewster finally strings his pieces back together on the single, “Kiss Me While I’m Down,” the second song on a double cassette single being released through Great Grief, a new NJ label from Matteo DeBenedetti of the band Toy Cars. Drummer, Tom Devinko, supplies the tracks’s delicate dynamics to Bucci’s idiosyncratic guitar and synth melodies, fitting together music that lives on the axis of Wilco’s indie-instrumentation and the tittering electronics of the new Half Waif record. Bucci sings, “I can’t help myself/ I’ll let you twist me around sharing pronouns/ and kiss me while I’m down,” swirling around in his thoughtful guitar space and by the end, in the light, seeming to be emerging as whole.
Wingtip - Pavement
San Fran native, Nick Perloff-Giles's — otherwise known as Wingtip — coastal upbringing has deeply influenced his music. His moderately electro vibes mixed in with an acoustic-pop feel display remnants of his former beach life. "Pavement," the first single to come off of Wingtip's upcoming EP, Ghosts of Youth, captures these sounds. Starting with light synths and a gentle acoustic guitar line, "Pavement" builds as the story it tells unfolds. Tasteful electronic elements also paint it with a sense of character and youth. The nostalgic themes of lost love, getting older and being a little reckless capture the quintessence of growing up. Ultimately, "Pavement" is a song about the good ol' days and the hope that they're not all behind you. Just one listen and chances are you'll be taken back to that one summer that made you want to live forever.— Dara Bankole on July 27, 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.
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.”
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