Ross Nicol - Faults
From the opening line of “Faults,” Ross Nicol proves to be a wordsmith. With clever wordplay, Nicol laments over a love you want but isn't what you need, “I know my faults down to a fault, but I still love you.” A piano and an acoustic guitar that perfectly blend together line the instrumentation of the song as a stack of Nicol’s vocals sweeps you away. The drums kick in with a punchy chorus that brings the song’s groove to full fruition while the lyrics grapple with the disorienting feeling of not fully understanding what’s happening but not wanting to lose. When Nicol sings, “You need someone else / Someone who would dive in / Lend you their life,” the image of Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” comes to mind as both men come to understand that the person they love needs something they aren’t able to give. Even with just one listen, “Faults” is a song that will leave its mark on you. Photo by Daniel Chaney.— Sofia Soriano on July 14, 2021
Jesse Marchant - Dirty Snow
Swiss-Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jesse Marchant released his sixth studio album Antelope Running, a collection of eleven beautifully written songs. A standout track is “Dirty Snow,” where Marchant’s poignant voice is like a celestial call, binding you to every word he sings. He manages the rare feat of sounding both new and familiar, like the distant attachment you feel to a place from your childhood you no longer visit. With simple and effective instrumentation, the song is a bleeding ballad with heartrending lyricism that fans of bands like The National and Nick Cave will undoubtedly treasure. The distorted guitar that enters in the chorus perfectly captures the song’s themes of isolation and quiet desperation as Marchant pleads, “Please understand me.” Despite the uncertainty in what he wants to say, Matchant leads the song to a hopeful conclusion as he sings, “I hope the dirty snow will melt soon.” Photo by Jen Steele.— Sofia Soriano on July 13, 2021
Grapell - Stranger's Mouth
With countries reopening and summer raging in the northern hemisphere, “Stranger’s Mouth” manages to encapsulate the kaleidoscopic range of emotions of our time. A Swedish duo made up of Emil Erstrand and Nils Nygårdh, Grapell combines confessional lyricism with memorable and danceable instrumentals. With a saxophone riff that immediately hooks you in, the song will undoubtedly make your foot start tapping. The opening line, “Spit out your gum / And stick your tongue into a stranger’s mouth,” is able to contain both the freedom and anxiety of reentering social situations after over a year of isolation. This duality of elation and restlessness that saturates the song reminds us of the vivacity that we only truly experience with other people. An overdriven guitar and the recurring saxophone play off each other in a joyous lead-up to the song’s contemplative bridge, “You broken heart, I hope you know you did it to yourself.” With one last grand chorus, this song will leave you dancing before your tears can dry. Photo by Manne Wahlström.— Sofia Soriano on July 9, 2021
Worry Club - Bleach
Chicago-hailing Chase Walsh, popularly known as Worry Club, waltzes back into the scene with an impactful new release, “Bleach." The song welcomes listeners with a languid guitar that appears to hypnotize into a state of dubious bemusement, setting the tone for this reflective piece. The track attests to growing pains, bringing to life those overwhelming urges to transform one's identity in the midst of undergoing a whirlwind of issues. On the track itself, Walsh shared: “I really wanted to capture the nostalgia associated with a fleeting childhood. The idea of growing up has always scared the shit out of me.” In his plight to unearthing deeply-rooted childish nostalgia, Worry Club manages to create a single capable of tapping into one’s past while taking a contemplative eye to the current reality.— Bianca Brown on July 8, 2021
Just Kingsley - In My Mind
"In My Mind," a track from Just Kingsley's fun debut EP Would You Ever Believe, rides the tide of modern surf rock. It's a colorful, summery track featuring bright guitars and interesting doubled vocals that give the song an especially indie, bedroom rock feel. The intro in this song is probably my favorite part—it bursts forward like a shaken-up Coke bottle, but every verse that leads into the chorus carries that same eclectic energy. This song feels like a pressurized and compacted version of summer, and upon each listen, you'll find something new to love. This track is equal parts loungy, beach rock and bright indie pop. It's a great one to add to your road trip playlists as the summer begins. Roll your windows down and listen to "In My Mind" on your drive home today.— Hannah Lupas on July 7, 2021
godz - kids
A lanky yellow character seems to front the digital project, godz. Aside from the intriguing ambiguity of the project’s identity, their most recent release, “kids,” catches attention by weaving nostalgia into a fresh and modern sound. Appearing across a series of NFTs, their social pages and the music video for this track, the ambiguous yellow figure is on an explorative journey, sometimes dancing, shapeshifting or even swimming. No matter the situation, there’s one thing the yellow figure consistently finds themself facing: a sense of loneliness or being outcasted—distinctly different from those around them. That impression can be found within “kids,” too. After a muted acoustic guitar welcomes in the softly-spoken introductory lyrics, the bass builds into a sonically enveloping chorus that hums, “And the kids / They have it good / Their love is real.” “kids” combines elements of synth-wave and funk with dynamic lo-fi production, making the track is danceable and engaging. And while who the kids are and why our friendly yellow animation feels so different from them is left relatively uncertain, godz is sure to leave their response as accessible as their Instagram bio, signing “some beg to ask the question, does it even matter?” However you’ve arrived in the psychedelic mystery world of godz, “kids” will leave you feeling a little less alone, and with a catchy beat stuck in your head.— Jenna Andreozzi on July 6, 2021
Maya Elise & The Good Dream - Going Nowhere
"Going Nowhere" opens with a cute, whimsical riff that delicately catches your attention from across the room. It’s a song drifting through the air at an open mic that makes your thoughts stop in their tracks, ears hanging on what happens next. Warm bass introduces gentle support, leaving plenty of space for the sparkling fantasies painted by Elise’s voice. Meandering through the mundane, the lyrics call out a desire for a grand adventure. Whatever shape it takes doesn’t matter- as long as it’s extravagant and far-flung. Light harmonies fill out the space between reality and the fantastic dream-world the lyrics strive to manifest. As with the best fantasies, the track closes with a momentary reconciliation with reality before taking off into the air again. The track is a sweet taste of what is sure to come with Maya Elise & The Good Dream’s album, Songs for the Breakdown, due this summer. Until then, let the new music video for "Going Nowhere" transport you to Maya Elise's whimsical world. Photo by Bradley Jacob Cox.— Allison Hill on July 2, 2021
S. E. Webster - Bad Thing Comin'
Occasionally, an idea comes to you. It’s not necessarily a good idea, but it’s also not quite bad enough to dismiss it without mulling it over. It calls up a compulsion to indulge in a fun kind of self-destruction. It’s one where, if you play your cards right, there’ll be no real harm done and you’ll gain a fun story to tell. S. E. Webster's "Bad Thing Comin'" is an anthem to those kinds of worldly interactions. Filled with jangly rhythm guitar and tastefully heavy percussion, it’s lighthearted but with a bit too much drive to be called "jaunty." Playful lyrics push and pull with the instrumental backing, creating an attractively sauntering irreverence that you can’t help but tap a toe to. Guitar riffs buck and roll in between verses, getting their own word in edgewise. The track is a vivacious, exciting opener to S. E. Webster’s latest EP, Romance At A Distance, and it’s guaranteed to make you sway in your seat (if not outright get up and move!). Photo by Luke Armitage.— Allison Hill on July 1, 2021
Kala Boti - Shining
With “Shining,” Amsterdam-born and Lancaster-based artist Kala Boti delivers a song perfect for sunbleached summer days. Like the love child of Anderson. Paak and Michael Kiwanuka, Boti’s soulful voice, funk-influenced, treble-heavy guitar riff and a bass groove are a match made in heaven, while the Afrobeat-inspired percussion and the song’s catchy melody are guaranteed to have the track stuck in your head. Paired with the instrumentation’s joyful feeling are lyrics of hope that a loved one will come back once the sun is shining—a line fitting of both heartbreak and hope that captures the feeling of countries opening up post-pandemic. For a musician whose first release was in the second half of 2020, Boti’s production and songwriting skills are like those of a veteran and promise a bright (no pun intended) future. Boti plans to release his latest EP this summer, and you don’t want to miss out on what this talented artist is going to bring.— Sofia Soriano on June 30, 2021
Tiberius b - Tears into the Sun
During lockdown in the UK, Tiberius b’s debut EP, Stains, was born while the London-based artist moved to the Welsh countryside to care for their grandmother. While living there, the singer and producer had an artistic discovery contemplating the loss of relationships, heartbreak, sexuality and isolation. The melodic closing track "Tears into the Sun" captures the loss of near and far relationships throughout time.
Woven through the layers of synth-pop beats and guitar, the artist’s echoing vocals ask the listener questions like "How come we cannot drift away from it?” and "How do we have fun?" The song allows you to feel the heightened complexity of their drifting, emotive questions about those near and far from them. "Tears into the Sun" will certainly leave a lasting, euphoric effect as you reflect on the artists' questions unveiled. Photo by Dexter Lander.
Good Morning TV - Human Comedy
With Beatlesque mellotron synths, chorus-heavy guitars and a punchy, picked bassline, “Human Comedy” is a psychedelic indie rock jam for basking in the sun. Coming from French quartet Good Morning TV's debut album Small Talk, the track lives up to their name, providing a good dose of joy and calm. The song evokes the feeling of being a kid and riding your bike home at sunset, luminous and free. The drums, courtesy of Hugo Dupuis, lay the foundation for the song’s groove with tight fills and slightly open hi-hats. Lead singer Bérénice Deloire’s ethereal vocals elevate the track into a magical reverie, reflecting the chorus lyrics: “You realize suddenly, it’s all smoke and mirrors.” The dream built during the song ends with a solo that begs to be heard live, with the energy of a room packed with sweaty people dancing together. Photo by Antoine Magnien.— Sofia Soriano on June 29, 2021
juno roome - gardens
There's something about juno roome's whole aesthetic that inspires warm feelings of nostalgia. The Brooklyn-based musician uses a dreamy photo of clouds for the background of his website, leaving the visitor with an immediate feeling of familiarity; it almost seems like roome is an old friend from our past, one we may not talk to regularly, but who maintains feeling of closeness through his music.
roome's latest single “gardens” evokes multiple elements of those warm and happy memories of yesteryear. From the single's playful photo of a woman posing happily in front of a window perhaps made to look like an old snapshot, to the song's dream-like beat, coupled with roome's soft and almost breathy vocals, “gardens” is like coming back home no matter where you've been, a feeling heightened by roome's repeated and reassuring refrain of "I'll be here."
On the other side of the song's familiarity and warmth perhaps lies the very reason why the song's narrator may need a bit of nostalgic reassurance; Roome also channels a collectively relatable felt sense of anxiety, singing, "I don't want to be inside / I don't want to lose my mind," before pivoting back to a comfortable wistfulness, bringing peace back to the forefront. juno roome's ode to returning to the well-known instead of constantly feeling trapped by the unknown will bring listeners back to basics, with no sense of pretense or apologies. Photo by Ann Feletto.— Taylor Hodgkins on June 24, 2021
Eliza Shaddad - The Man I Admire
Sudanese and Scottish singer/songwriter Eliza Shaddad is building a catalogue of intricate, intelligent rock songs. Her latest single "The Man I Admire" finds her in a dream, standing in a burning home, waiting for this man to "save her from the smoke, but he takes off his shirt instead." The sincere intersection of desiring protection and mutual affirmation from a man, all the while understanding your own legitimacy and ability to protect yourself, is a subject rarely broached in feminine songwriting. Eliza executes this masterfully here. This song is an empathetic peek into the heart of a woman standing in front of a man and asking him to adore her with no caveats. It's true vulnerability, and the lyrics of the first two verses—feeling scared of the dark and being alone in a burning room—illustrate this beautifully. The theme is so succinct and yet totally complete. That's what makes Eliza's poetry so excellent.
Shaddad's first LP, Future, was released in 2018. "The Man I Admire" is one of four singles released this year ahead of her second album The Woman You Want. Pre-order The Woman You Want here, and look out for the UK-based singer on tour this summer. Photo by Flore Diamant.— Hannah Lupas on June 24, 2021
Olivia Kaplan - Ghosts
Through her deeply personal and introspective lyricism, Olivia Kaplan’s songs stick with you. The latest track from her upcoming debut album Tonight Turns to Nothing showcases her talent as both writer and musician. With fuzzed-out guitars and a bass-heavy groove providing the perfect backdrop to Kaplan’s enchanting vocals, “Ghosts” is a track you can dissolve into. The song ponders on an ill-fated relationship and the external factors that affect our loves with the wisdom of hindsight. Both people’s inhibitions are explored in the hook with a heart-rending lyric: “I’ll watch you dance with your ghosts / If you say you love me the most.” The song’s instrumentation follows the dynamics of the story being told, ending with a glitched-out solo and a haunting shadow of regret as Kaplan belts out, “I sit and blame conditions / when I could have loved you if I tried.” Photo by Michelle Simunovic.— Sofia Soriano on June 23, 2021
Talk Bazaar - caught in limbo
There’s a strange and powerful intimacy in Talk Bazaar’s "caught in limbo," the third track of his ambitious debut album oceanic. Talk Bazaar is the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Alex DeSimine, who also fronts the Brooklyn-based indie soul band Ritual Talk. Conceived and written during quarantine, oceanic boasts all the pertinent qualities that we’ve come to know of pandemic-recorded music: it's emotionally self-reflective, deeply introspective and, of course, personal. Even within the confines of his room, Talk Bazaar is not afraid to experiment. "caught in limbo" is extremely detailed and textured. Mixing folky acoustic guitar strums with intricate layers of electronic compositions and loops, the song’s style lands somewhere in between Alex G and Sufjan Stevens. While "caught in limbo" speaks to being stalled in a vulnerable and fragile emotional state, the song’s lyrics are written from the perspective of someone giving advice to another person (or persons), maybe to oneself. Fans of Ritual Talk will recognize DeSimine’s distinct hazy and soulful voice piercing through the song’s opening lines, "Of course you feel under / There's not a lot you can do." Immediately, DeSimine sets a tone of vulnerability. Then, at the end of the third and last verse, he sings, "You both are trying the best you know how," bookending the song with a powerful sense of forgiveness. Despite the devastating occurrences of the past year, whether it’s in the world or in one’s own private life, "caught in limbo" offers some healing. Photo by Sara Laufer.— Alejandro Veciana on June 23, 2021