Duumu (feat. ÊMIA) - Forward
ÊMIA’s feature on Duumu’s latest track released as a part of Monstercat Instinct Vol.2, “Forward,” is powerful in its delicacy. It's the latest in a line of many successful collaborations that the singer/songwriter and producer, Anh Le, has put out under the pseudonym, ÊMIA. Contrasted against the light trapp of Duumu’s style, her airy soprano voice lends a lovely melodic element to this summer-y EDM track. The harmonies are so airtight that it causes the sound to vibrate with energy. “I’m going crazy thinking ‘bout the ways things have could have been between the two of us... I’m going somewhere,” she sings. Then, it’s hard to tell if she says “maybe it’s forward,” or “baby it’s forward,” until the end of the song echoes “I’m moving on.” The frantic nature of the song reflects the struggle with that ambiguity.— Grace Eire on August 28, 2018
Helena Deland - Rise
Of all of the artists we have come to admire this past summer, Helena Deland remains the most mysterious. Deland is a Montreal songstress who has just released, her From the Series of Songs “Altogether Unaccompanied” Vol. I & II. She manages to both confuse and excite us in her lengthy titles and delightfully heartbreaking nature. Deland’s mysteriousness is not exclusively evoked by strange release practices, we are also perplexed by how such a young artist manages to captivate us, song after song, by her lyric driven and alluring indie bedroom-pop.
In “Rise,” we see Deland construct a ballad which cascades into a room, filling the space with a milky fullness. The song is about getting close to a partner just in time to see them leave before truly getting to love them fully. It is a flowing ballad, from beginning to end we fall deeper in love with the artist, leaving us heartbroken by her pain revealed at the end of the song. Deland has created a sweet song that leaves us feeling all too bitter, reminding us of our own heartbreaks and confusions. After all of this however, Deland manages to serenade us into a pleasant, content feeling by the end of the song. Helena Deland captures listeners in her vulnerable authenticity and relatable bittersweetness, leaving us hungry for more from this new and promising artist.— Samantha Weisenthal on August 28, 2018
Zula - New Years
Indie rock's Zula have released a new single, "New Years," and have also announced an album of the same name, coming out later this fall. The Brooklyn quartet is known for experimentation and they have been expanding upon the scope of their sound for the span of their catalog. "New Years" is another perfect example of the group's novelty. The track starts with a new wave organ/synth counterpoint akin to the Talking Heads or maybe Peter Gabriel and subsequently busts out the song's hook, which consists of a discopop-esque dueling guitar riff. While the style of this track would still probably fall under the broad descriptor of "indie rock," the band has a uniqueness that I'd go out on a limb to call "post-chillwave rock." Although the basis of Zula's sound comes from their instinct to innovate, this time around the band credits the seeds of its creativity to the chemistry of the new lineup and a personal recording studio in Queens they had at their disposal. Zula continues to evolve here and their new album will no doubt also include other fresh takes on their already fresh sound. New Years is due out 9/21 via Inflated Records.— Bobby Lewis on August 28, 2018
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
Young Villains - Need
Young Villains, the side project of Colony House’s Parke Cottrell, is introducing itself to the world with “Need.” While Colony House’s brand of raucous indie pop could get the entire bar up and moving the second its first notes leave the jukebox (they even tour with an enormous Colony House marquee one), this first effort from Young Villains, might soundtrack the fading memory of your high school’s last slow dance with a soaring anthem. Guitars shimmer over a larger than life chorus that lends itself to larger than life memories. “Oh don’t say / You’ve got everything you need,” pleads a pining voice, unwilling to accept that someone’s "everything" could somehow omit him. The sparse guitar solo takes its time, savoring each note and letting it linger, knowing all too well that the end is drawing near. And naturally, before long, the curtains close and the blinds are torn open. “The sun came out for you and me / It was all a dream.”— Daniel Shanker on August 27, 2018
Jade Bird - Uh Huh
“She’s got you on your knees like a little boy,”Jade Bird wails with bitter abandon in the chorus of new single, “Uh Huh.” The song does not begin with any intention of revealing the intensity of its chorus, although the aggression introduced by the acoustic guitar persists with additions of pounding kick and Bird’s whip-smart lyrics. “And it’s none of my business / And I don’t want to get involved,” she digresses in the pre-chorus, voice lowering for the pounce.
When the chorus hits, we’re ready for a release from the initial build-up, but aren’t quite prepared for the slap of Bird rasping those biting lyrics. She gives insight into a past love whose new relationship turns them subservient, detailing the humiliation of this person’s deferential, “toy-like” behavior. She further illustrates by ending the chorus: “She asks you if you love her / And you nod and say / Uh-huh.” It’s a wicked way to end a chorus and illustrate a docile relationship — only saddened (or deepened) by her referencing the fact that now this person is getting what they once gave her. You're gonna want to see Bird sing this out, so be sure to catch the new "Uh Huh" music video as well.— Talullah Ruff on August 27, 2018
The Western Den - Spark, Set Fire
The world may not be familiar with The Western Den just yet, given they only have two songs on the internet so far, but get ready, because we’re putting them on your radar now — they might just become your indie hero. The Western Den is a Boston-based duo comprised of Deni Hlavinka (a pianist from Virginia) and Chris West (a guitarist from Bermuda) who initially met after Hlavinka posted a song idea on a college forum. According to the group, it was history after that, and now they’re gearing up to release their debut full length, A Light Left On. An album highlight is “Spark, Set Fire” — Hlavinka’s voice is buttery on top of lush harmonies and warm production. A listener may prematurely refer to it as folk, but the orchestral instrumentation pushes the boundaries, making it something a bit more complex and mysterious. It's minimalistic yet perfectly fills in all the gaps, rich in texture. The duo’s passion and genuine love for music shines through on this one, and it’s getting us super excited for the full-length, out soon.— Kirsten Spruch on August 24, 2018
The Shacks - Sand Song
The Shacks’ “Sand Song” shuffles into your ears like an innocent, moonlit walk by the water. As the track shimmers with warmth, the ambling beat is sprinkled with synths and cocooned in the bass’s sustain. The verse lulls you into believing that the rest of the song is just as placid, but the aura of the song keeps turning, a feat The Shacks are proficient in performing. The chorus is a touch somber: the key change and heightened instrumentation seem to question the drowsiness of the verses. There is something prophetic about Shannon Wise’s intimate vocals whispering dreams of angels and deserts in your ears. The song seamlessly moves from Doo-wop to inklings of late Beatles, and back again. When listening to The Shacks, you’ll find references to a multitude of early rock artists, but their merit lies in the way they spindle their influences into something whole and youthful.— Talullah Ruff on August 24, 2018
Oso Oso - gb/ol h/nf
Oso Oso aren’t a group to approach things straightforwardly. Case in point: their new track, which breaks the conventions of indie-emo and also sports the confusing title “gb/ol h/nf,” which stands for “goodbye, old love; hello, new friend.” Oso Oso have a skate-park ready sound, complete with quickly-strummed guitars and a laid back yet impactful energy. However, they put a sunny spin on their sound, drawing from the likes of Real Estate and Beach Fossils to add layering and subtlety to their pop-punk basis. “If I serve no use, where will I get my purpose from?” wonders Jade Lilitri, showcasing the group’s lyrical depth that helps them stand out amongst their peers. The acoustic-cum-electric breakdown that commandeers the song’s second half wraps “gb/ol h/nf” in a big warm bow, and kicks off Oso Oso's latest EP in stunning fashion.
Beta Radio - Tongue Tied
While three minutes and seven seconds isn't by any means amongst the shortest songs in the world, it tends to feel that way when you hear a song that leaves you wanting more. Integrating folk and ambience while anchored in its orchestration, "Tongue Tied" is that song. This cinematic first single from Beta Radio sounds as if it should be playing during an important life moment, like seeing the northern lights for the first time or during a first kiss that took way too long to occur. As the song ends, magnificence blares through the horns while the piano and strings gradually build to a beautiful and incandescent exhale. Beta Radio is made up of Benjamin Mabry and Brent Holloman, two longtime collaborators that met at a high school summer camp and bonded over their mutual adoration of Simon & Garfunkel. Fans of Bear's Den and Novo Amor will especially appreciate Beta Radio's musical offerings and should be sure to catch their latest album Ancient Transition out on September 14th.— Dara Bankole on August 23, 2018
Eliza Shaddad - This is My Cue
Lustrously-hued songwriter, Eliza Shaddad’s latest track, “This Is My Cue” feels like riding an extravagant, weather-beaten carousel in the rain. It captures the reckless melodrama of youth and relationships in a cyclical, grounded nature. Like the presence of an old carousel still full of color and magic the song is carried by enchanting, refreshingly minimal production that harkens back to older musical styles while still reflecting younger developments such as heavy vocal processing and spacey, reverb-filled guitar. Shaddad’s voice is sugary and wild and her lyrics are open yet sophisticated. As she lilts, “Nothing ever changes really / Never mind the many things we say,” we are reminded that for better or worse, we don’t really change all that much. As we develop new “faces” throughout our lives, most of the time our hearts remain the same. Sometimes, like for Shaddad, that means being struck with indecision, again and again. Be sure to check out her debut album, Future, dropping on October 26th.— Andrea de Varona on August 23, 2018
The Beths - Future Me Hates Me
The debut album from indie-pop Auckland native band, The Beths, is perfect for playing in the car when in need of a good pick-me-up, providing the perfect screaming-on-the-highway type of mood. The title-track and single off of the album,“Future Me Hates Me,” is not the most optimistic of songs however with relatable self-deprecating content it'll leave you smiling at your own humanistic remorse about the condition of life and relationships. "Future Me Hates Me" is centered around the idea that one is bound to be disappointed by their decisions: that hindsight is 20/20.
While indie-pop often provides listeners with stuck-in-your-head melodies and words that are too often deemed one-dimensional, The Beths manage to evade this stereotype. The precise vocal layering in conjunction with the guitar and drum-led melodies pair almost perfectly in “Future Me Hates Me.” Additionally, the prechorus gives us a break from intense instrumentals, allowing listeners to connect more deeply with the narrative portrayed throughout the song. This break in instrumentals is one reason that “Future Me Hates Me” is not one of many forgettable pop songs. The Beths are displaying a familiar character and a feeling, one is both yearning for intimacy yet afraid of the consequences. This new album leaves us excited for the future of The Beths and indie-pop as a whole.— Samantha Weisenthal on August 23, 2018
Saintseneca - Ladder to the Sun
Saintseneca’s “Ladder to the Sun” is three minutes of pure, unbridled, overflowing joy. Over a jubilant cacophony of acoustic instrumentation led by a relentless stomping rhythm, frontman Zac Little reassures himself that even if there are problems — and problems there are indeed — they will all be alright in the end. “Don’t you worry if we burn / All the light falls back to earth,” he sings, counting his blessings and looking quite literally on the bright side. A Friday-at-5-o’clock kind of song, “Ladder to the Sun” is a sigh of relief when the end is finally in sight. “No one is more free than us,” Little asserts with the confidence of a man who perhaps never dreamed it could apply to himself, relishing the truth of it. His vocals soar in the chorus as more and more of his friends join the party for a final instrumental release, one that would go on forever if it only could. The holes we dig ourselves into only ever get deeper, but he’ll always have the ladder to climb up out of it to bask in the sunlight for a little while.— Daniel Shanker on August 22, 2018
Conner Youngblood - Los Angeles
Conner Youngblood recently released his second beautiful album, Cheyenne. “Los Angeles,” the second track on the album, paints a picture of a city washed with watercolors that tint it with a longing. The audio scape Conner creates with this song tugs at your skin with the rotundity of the bass drum, the washing waves of synths and strings, the prominent and sharp tambourine, and his own weary voice. There is no chorus in this song, just a handful of verses with only enough consistency leading up to the swell of the outro. The structure is loose and the melody has an improvised feeling to it, but when you look at the whole song as a whole, it achieves the main goal: it makes you feel “stuck inside California” in December.— Grace Eire on August 22, 2018
Teddy Glass - Nights and Weekends
Texas's very own Teddy Glass create music that they refer to as "psychedelic rhythm and blues." While the kids are heading back to school, "Nights and Weekends" is the kind of song that can make the summer last a little longer. Although evocative of carefree warm days, "Nights and Weekends" is really a song about the grind it takes to follow your dreams. "Saving up on your nights and your weekends / for the life that you desperately need. / Saving up your nights and your weekends for the real thing, baby / That kind of thing don't come cheap." are the lines we always get back to proving to be the crux of the song. It's a truth that is easy to relate to, using your free time outside of your 9-5 to pursue what you're passionate about. With the vocal smoothness of Mat Kearney and the chill groove of Real Estate, Teddy Glass has created something that sounds fresh and innovative. We'll be looking forward to their debut LP Nights and Weekends out this Friday.— Dara Bankole on August 21, 2018