Mor Mor - Pass the Hours
Seth Nyquist’s ethereal voice and deeply poetic vision are the key driving forces behind the blooming act, MorMor. 2018 was a year of abundant successes for the Toronto based artist. Earlier in the year, he released his genre-defying debut EP titled Heaven’s Only Wishful. In December, he continued to astound us with the release of his dazzling single, “Pass The Hours.” Like the majority of the tracks on his EP, this song sits in that flowery, sunny-filled place that our minds often travel to in an effort to escape the agitation of our daily commutes.
In terms of production, this song goes yet a step further into the genre-bending space that many of MorMor’s other tracks explore. Ambient, subtly arcade-like percussive textures fill the gaps between 90s alt-rock inspired guitar chords, a chunky bassline, and spacey synth pads. The bubbly, dream-pop elements of the song form a striking contrast with the underlying state of melancholy and uncertainty that permeates through the lyrics and vocal melody. Although Nyquist’s troubles are his own, as fellow human beings we can relate to the story of wilted hopefulness that he presents. As he sings, “Who will hold me up? / I wanna touch the sky,” we recognize the feeling of wanting to move forward and reach for our dreams even when we have nothing or no one to help us get there. Days keep passing but we don’t stop trying.— Andrea de Varona on January 14, 2019
Modern Diet - Blue Jeep
Listening to “Blue Jeep” feels like falling under a spell. The song opens with soft, clipped keys over distant white noise, evoking a mood that’s cozy and nostalgic. Then, Bernardo Ochoa's raw vocals further lend themselves to the sound with lyrics that speak to growing up: “Old celebrations have led me back home / back to the suburbs now that I’m grown.” What unfolds is a beautifully arranged and emotionally charged song with a full-band sound, but Ochoa’s vocals, which sound like a dryer Darwin Deez, remain the focal point throughout. He never wavers, and because of that, the song never loses the intimate feel it established at the beginning. “Blue Jeep” is a gut-punch of a song you can listen to again and again, and it’s Modern Diet’s first single in two years. Clearly, it was worth the wait.— Britnee Meiser on January 11, 2019
Gabriel Birnbaum - Stack The Miles
Chekov’s Gun, to the literary types, is a rule dictating that everything mentioned must be mentioned for a reason. It is the basis for foreshadowing, it helps lay out clues in mysteries and it would be paradoxical to think that Gabriel Birnbaum name drops our new favorite literary principle without purpose. “Stack the Miles” meanders meaningfully over its steady but frantic guitar strums. Nearly every syllable contributes in some way to the song’s alliteration or internal rhyme scheme, watching the “rain rearrange” as “water patterns on the window shift like static on TV” (the gold medal, of course, goes to the slant rhyme of “parking lot” and “restaurant,” which gives even Semisonic’s “jacket” and “exit” a run for its money). Even his tongue twister of a band name, Wilder Maker, finds a way to roll off the tongue, clumsily but poetically. As Birnbaum examines patterns on the window and “the roadside graves, a blur of names, go flying by,” we similarly observe his deft wordplay but are powerless to stop its steadfast progression.— Daniel Shanker on January 11, 2019
Evelyn Frances - Home To Me
Brooklyn's Evelyn Frances's whispery and saccharine voice beautifully sweeps across an acoustic bed of guitar and piano in her song "Home To Me." This up and coming artist releases her EP Pentimento today which was inspired by the independent movie with the same name. Frances wrote each song from the characters' perspectives, proving to be a daunting but worthwhile task. Being a classically trained multi-instrumentalist, Frances's own music reflects the impetus of a skilled musician. She remarks that her melodies are largely inspired by the flute, which can be clearly heard in warm tones featured on "Home To Me." As Frances sings of finding home in a person, the exquisite lyricism shape this sentimental tune that plays as soft and effortless as a lullaby. Be sure to catch the rest of Evelyn Frances's EP Pentimento today and her debut album Seed in April!— Dara Bankole on January 11, 2019
Lily & Madeleine - Just Do It
Folk-pop duo Lily & Madeleine's newest single "Just Do It" showcases the sisters in an soft yet anthemic way. From the opening line, "A little less talk a little more acting on it" the song exudes self-empowerment. It's the perfect song for the new year as you strive to make sure your resolutions last longer than January. The mix of pop and the duo's classic harmonic blends gives "Just Do It" a signature sound that's enjoyable and hard to replicate. After four albums the duo feels a special sense of ownership with their upcoming release remarking on how they took charge of the songwriting. With "Just Do It" and "Self-Care" as the lead singles we're excited about what else is in store. Lily & Madeleine's fourth studio album Canterbury Girls is out on February 22 via New West Records.— Dara Bankole on January 10, 2019
Kelsey Bulkin - Samsara
Evocative of the unique ebb and flow of the sea, Kelsey Bulkin’s newest release, “Samsara” sits squarely within a genre all its own — Beach R&B. Formerly half of the Oakland duo Made in Heights, Bulkin’s solo career has taken off to an exceptional start. Her youthful vocals coupled with vocal distortion elements and bass-y foundations make her music undeniably hers. "Samsara," the Sanskrit word meaning wandering, or more specifically the cycle of rebirth and life inevitable to all living things, explores the inevitability of change, attachment and moving on. Brilliantly poignant, the verse ”Irreverent as an ocean” builds and crests before crashing into the chorus “Hailing on the horizon / I'm hanging on to your island / Cuz I'm lost / Don't give up on me now.” On writing the song, Bulkin says, “Looking back at my own heartbreaks and framing them as attachments to the inevitability of change instead of as true loss has been eye-opening and also a riddle I’m trying to solve. How can we ever be completely detached and still survive here?” And what a riddle it is.— Jazzmyne Pearson on January 9, 2019
The Wild Reeds - Lose My Mind
Just months after releasing a three-song EP recorded live, directly to tape, on a Tascam Portastudio, The Wild Reeds are back with a lush new single, “Lose My Mind,” from their new album due out in March. Upon releasing the New Ways to Die EP in late 2018, the band made it clear that the lo-fi sound was not a departure, nor an explicit return to their acoustic folk roots, but rather an experiment, a small step in a long musical journey. The Wild Reeds have been evolving with each release, largely due to the disparate input of the three singer-songwriters fronting the band, Kinsey Lee, Mackenzie Howe and Sharon Silva.
“Lose My Mind” is an ode to the one person close enough to give perspective through highs and lows, steeped in the psychedelic stutter of Dan Auerbach’s fantasies and filled out by harmonies akin to those of Lucius or tourmates The Lone Bellow. The rhythm section, affectionately nicknamed the Nicks of Time for their shared name and steady beat, plays with empty space, giving the impression of great heights during the verse until the harmonies of Howe and Silva swoop in to firmly anchor the song. “You believed in me / When it would have been so easy to leave,” sings Lee, who wrote the song and takes charge of its melody, grounded by the support of her bandmates’ harmonies and the care of a close friend.— Daniel Shanker on January 8, 2019
Tiny Ruins - School of Design
"School of Design" is the latest single from the New Zealand based group, Tiny Ruins. Frontwoman, Hollie Fullbrook is more than a musician, she is a storyteller. Fullbrook's voice is gentle and soothing. The vivid lyrics describe a place that is supposed to evoke distinct thought and creativity. But the institution itself is a very controlled uniform space, "Everything was white / And all the clocks were well designed / All ticking in time." The guitar is captivating and gives the song the motion it needs to progress in contrast to Fullbrook's subdued vocals. Look out for the full album, Olympic Girls on February 1!— Sophia Theofanos on January 8, 2019
Skylar Gudasz - Play Nice
Spirited singer/songwriter, Skylar Gudasz shares “Play Nice,” a breezy single that serves as a pointed, unbuttoned rebuttal to the commonalities of toxic masculinity. Gudasz doesn’t waste any time getting into how men's misconceptions of women have effected her, singing lines like, “I ain’t no silent doll and I ain't that sweet.” Her soaring and controlled vocal is pungent and placed in a vintage radio-esque delay that echos for your attention. The song is a PSA, that rightfully scrutinizes the belief that women can’t stray from “social norms,” all while immersed in an folk-rock bop.
The production on "Play Nice" paints an energetic soundscape, incorporating synth and glittery electronics, a few elements absent from her debut release, Oleander. “When I wrote it I was feeling a lot of rage at the idea that, as a woman, you have to play nice and smile and go along with certain things as sort of a survival mechanism,” Gudasz said of the song. “I hope when people listen they come away with the feeling that it’s okay to be angry.”— Deanna DiLandro on January 7, 2019
Miss Grit - Talk Talk
Margaret Sohn is a NYU electrical engineering student by day and Miss Grit by night. In a highly saturated indie music scene, Miss Grit's first single "Talk Talk" proves that we should all be paying attention to her. From the first taste of her music, the influences of St. Vincent and Wilco's Nels Cline run deep. What we love the most is that there is something very personal and reflective about the lyrics combined with an instinctively groovy and danceable instrumental. We can't wait for what comes next for Miss Grit. Her debut EP Talk, Talk premieres January 11.— Sophia Theofanos on January 7, 2019