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Mountain Lions - In The Valley
Mountain Lions - In The Valley

Mountain Lions - In The Valley


Steven Diaz’s solo project, Mountain Lions, is melodic introspection set in Appalachia. The Chapel Hill-based recording artist spent three years touring with Cleveland's The Lighthouse and the Whaler before launching his songwriting career. The debut Mountain Lions record juxtaposes Southern metropolitan life — the “Valley” — with the intellectual freedom provided by the mountains. For five years following his The Lighthouse and the Whaler departure, Diaz made trips to the Appalachian foothills, escaping the mentally stultifying Chapel Hill. There, he arranged and composed self-reflective Folk, which he aptly titled “Mountain Lions”. 

“In The Valley” melds the Protestant harmonic traditions of peoples who initially settled Appalachia with 21st-century textures, creating a soundscape that is both timeless and innovative. Like the folklore of millennia before, “In The Valley” uses symbols from the natural world to convey sentiments about the human experience — in this case, the georgic images call for the listener to slow down, reflect, and find peace in being alone. 

Haley Walker on August 7, 2018
Jocelyn Mackenzie - Love Begets Love

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
Wild Pink - Lake Erie

Wild Pink - Lake Erie


Wild Pink’s “Lake Erie” is full of all sorts of meaningfully mundane details one has no choice but to notice while growing up in a small town. “Your body looks impossibly small when you hang your head and cry / Meanwhile people on Tumblr unpack neuroses,” singer John Ross observes. He is unable to shake the tiny details once so familiar to him — a particular intersection or the smell on a rainy day. It is as much a song about leaving as it is a song about home. “You thought you’d never get out,” Ross reminisces in the chorus before finally flipping to the first person to marvel at his own growth. The song has an Americana sound tied more to the road than to any particular place. A wistful pedal steel guitar pines over the old days on top of a rhythm section as unrelentingly steady as the passage of time, declaring that there is no going back.

Daniel Shanker on August 6, 2018
Mitski - Nobody

Mitski - Nobody


Mitski Miyawaki has become an unstoppable influence in the evolution of the “bedroom pop" branch of indie rock. 2014's Bury Me At Makeout Creek and 2016's Puberty 2 were both widely acclaimed successes and have helped pave the way for the Soccer Mommys and Snail Mails of the world. Back again with her fifth solo LP, her upward trajectory isn't showing any signs of letting up. Mitski has developed from indie rock minimalist to "the most advanced American songwriter," as Iggy Pop describes her, and "Nobody" is a prime example of this continued growth. The song has a curiously upbeat feel, divergent from most of Mitski's catalog. It features disco/funk guitar playing akin to Nile Rodgers's technique or "Lovefool" by The Cardigans and a chorus with uplifting key changes — quite a juxtaposition for a song written during a bat of isolation and intense loneliness in a foreign country. Her new album, Be the Cowboy, is out August 17 via Dead Oceans.

Bobby Lewis on August 6, 2018
Ceramic Animal - Better Off

Ceramic Animal - Better Off


“Better Off,” the third track off of Ceramic Animal’s sophomore album The Horse, flies in strong with a distorted guitar riff, but it soon levels out as it makes a smooth landing into the melancholy groove. The melody never wanders too far off the beaten path, but that path is heavily trodden for a reason. It’s incredibly satisfying to let the vocals wander along, submitting to the inevitable revelation, “What can I do? / I’m better off with you.” The bass line weaves in and out of the lead guitar’s thread, creating a blanket of optimistic aura throughout the whole song. The Philly band certainly lives up to their self-proclaimed “swagadellic rock” style with this mesmerizing track. Catch The Horse out today on all music platforms! 

Grace Eire on August 3, 2018
Emmalee - Beach Weather

Emmalee - Beach Weather


Emmalee Martinez evokes the rural air of her childhood in Houston, Alabama in breakout EP “Take Me As I Am.” As fond as she is of her pastoral hometown, Martinez was compelled to move elsewhere. Fellow Houstoners were all too content with their quotidian lives, and Martinez, inspired by songwriters like Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, wanted to explore the emotional implications of her insular upbringing. In order to do so, she needed to leave. The now Birmingham-based songwriter first moved to Florence, AL, where a series of relationship experiences foddered “Take Me As I Am.”

 “Beach Weather,” in particular, captures the bliss of a long-distance relationship’s gap being temporarily bridged; the narrator meets her lover at the beach and wonders if what she’s feeling will last when the two are apart once again. Though her worldview has widened and her narration matured, Martinez stays true to her roots. Seeing herself as a “disciple,” the songwriter lives a humble life colored by artistic expression and devotion to God. “Take Me As I Am” is her first endeavor into sharing the deep love she feels with the world, and with it, that powerful vulnerability characteristic of canonical 21st-century female musicians.

Haley Walker on August 3, 2018
Spooky Cool - Old Hair Mine

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
The Hollow Ends - The Low

The Hollow Ends - The Low


Old school folk mixed with socially relevant lyrics is what makes The Hollow Ends stand out amongst the rest. Saint Louis based vocalist and songwriter Zachary Schwartz uses his dynamic and enthralling voice alongside harmonicas and a kick drum to put you in a folk trance you won’t want to leave. Kicking off their debut album, Bears in Mind, is “The Low.” The Hollow Ends beautifully and artistically master the folk genre with alternative twists throughout the song while giving it a simultaneous rock feel. The lyrics describe “I was dying to know / about the day we lost our soul,” which give more thought into what it means to be alive and the souls that we inhabit. Building crescendos of harmonies, “The Low” will have you clapping to the beat while being hit with lyrics that will make you think about what exactly it means to be alive. Be sure to follow The Hollow Ends on social media and check out their latest album Bears in Mind out now!

Madison Hetterly on August 2, 2018
Odetta Hartman - You You

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
Meg Myers - Some People

Meg Myers - Some People


Meg Myers’s “Some People” renders an emotionally volatile relationship. She quotes Neil Young’s “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” with the line, “Is it better to burn out than to fade away.” This immediately gives the listener the idea of an all-consuming relationship that isn’t sustainable. Her voice is breathy but succinct, as she dances back and forth between the subject’s struggles and her own. The violins create a vibrant shift with their pizzicato movements in the verses. When she reaches the chorus, her voice blares out with the desperation of her lyrics. “Some people stay / and some people break / and some people change / sometimes,” are the centerpiece lyrics of the song, demonstrating Myers’s examination of herself and her "destroyer." Although not as hard-hitting as other songs on Myers’s album, “Some People” reaches heights in its power-ballad structure and succeeds in keeping with the album’s overall intensity. Meg Myers’s second album Take Me To The Disco is out now.

Talullah Ruff on August 1, 2018
88rising (ft. Joji and NIKI) - La Cienega

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

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