Pantayo - V V V (They Lie)
The all-women, Filipinx band Pantayo is coming at us strong with the third single off of their self-titled album, "V V V (They Lie)." This track is a power mantra; an iron hymn that begins muttered under the breath and finishes in a scream of fury. This is the song you blast on repeat when you need to pump yourself up. If I had to fight someone, this is the track I would play as I take the gloves off.
While most people seem to fear confrontation more than death itself nowadays, this song stares it straight in the face without blinking. “They lie they will never tell the truth” is repeated over and over as a reminder that you can’t change other people’s bad behavior, but you sure as hell can rise above it. In lieu of a marked evolution, "V V V (They Lie)" stays the course with a steady beat that shoulders the bullshit aside and plows on, unwavering. What do you do when someone insists on lying because they know when it comes to the truth, “it ain’t cute?" You roll your eyes and keep on walking, folks. Karma will take care of the rest.
Pantayo marries kulintang and other traditional instruments from Southeast Asia with modern synth and lo-fi beats to create a genre of their very own. Each of the 3 singles off the album have been very different from each other, and the full album as a whole is only more versatile and exciting. Check out the full record, via Telephone Explosion Records, today wherever you stream.— Shasha Léonard on May 15, 2020
Francesca Blanchard - Happy For You
A warm, wandering guitar leads to Francesca Blanchard’s carefully parsed confessions on "Happy For You," from the singer and songwriter’s upcoming record, Make It Better. That same warmth ignites Blanchard’s white hot unease, born from conflicting feelings about the dissolution of a relationship, as the track treads emotionally wrought territory with a deft sense of purpose. These two words feel swiftly different—a quiet, tempered anger and ambivalent, cheerful instrumental stylings—but cumulatively, these choices illuminate the dynamics at the heart of the circumstance. Blanchard is both intuitively and musically aware of this conflict, and says the song recounts “trying to salvage the remaining pieces of a broken relationship while making as little noise as possible. It's a submission to grief, and there is something so fragile in that.”— Emma Bowers on May 14, 2020
Ela Minus - they told us it was hard, but they were wrong
Ela Minus’s new release, "they told us it was hard, but they were wrong" is an otherworldly escapade into a dancey multiverse of sound. She wastes no time getting under our skin with a persistent beat and a layered vocal echoing over it’s pitched-down mirror image. One can imagine Minus staring into the looking glass, a conjurer spinning planetary magic around her. Ambient sounds swirl around her as she speaks a simple truth: “Everyone told us it’s hard but they were wrong. When you love, you love it all, and nothing is impossible.” The layers grow in energy and complexity, a tapestry of synths swelling and stuttering over a four on the floor kick drum that won’t quit. It’s a tripped out victory dance and an explosive ode to love.— Mikhal Weiner on May 14, 2020
Hala - Somehow
“Somehow,” a standout track from Hala’s Red Herring, is the pure distillation of only the best parts of the rock and roll ethos. It is sunglasses-and-leather-jacket cool, with none of the pretense. Singer-songwriter Ian Ruhala, who plays essentially every instrument on the album, plays the part of your friendly neighborhood Julian Casablancas, delivering a perfectly crafted pop song with a simplicity that feels effortless. Artists like Stef Chura and Anna Burch (for whom Ruhala played guitar on tour), among many others, set a high bar for Detroit’s vibrant indie rock community, but it is a community Hala slides into nicely. Though he retreated to the woods of Washington to record the album, he now broadcasts his Mid-Day Show sporting a sweater and his dulcet voice from his Detroit home, giving guitar lessons and music production tips from a safe distance. In the song’s music video, Ruhala and his ragtag bowling team narrowly defeat the bigger, meaner favorites, but even after all of the bad blood he reaches out to offer a handshake over a game well played. Ruhala is an underdog poised to break out, the hero of whatever story we need.— Daniel Shanker on May 14, 2020
Elah Hale - ITPA
Relationships can be challenging, we know this. A partnership could have a pair of fantastic communicators, and somehow the whole thing can still unravel. Elah Hale, singer/songwriter, model & native New Yorker, at only 20-years-old, has her own story of disconnect to tell on the track “ITPA,” short for “in the party alone.” Apparently, after getting into it with a significant other, Hale went to a party to clear her mind. During the party, she came to certain realizations about the relationship. “You only miss me when you’re by yourself, I’m losing patience,” Hale sings with her tender, silky vocal, sharing a storyline that so many young lovers face. Hale’s cadence is fixed with a sense assurance that might confirm her desire to find a healthier affair. Despite it’s melancholic message, the smooth, alt-pop track is melodic magic that sounds like it could fit right into any party playlist. The beat is churning, steady and provides proper space for atmospheric textures and Hale’s vocal to be the track’s driving force. “I don’t know myself, I just can’t do it,” she sings. Hale’s honesty and lush confidence will get her to where she needs to be, and it’s likely a path that will be her own.— Deanna DiLandro on May 14, 2020
Feng Suave - I’m Warping Here
"I’m Warping Here” by Dutch duo Feng Suave has all the makings of your favorite summer track: retro-soul style, a body-moving groove and references to childhood nostalgia. Don’t let it fool you; the lyrics reveal themes a little heavier and darker than the feel-good vibes let on. On second thought, go ahead and let it fool you. In this song, songwriters Daniel De Jong and Daniel Elvis Schoemaker explore the sinking feeling that your best days are behind you and adulthood is turning out to be a whole lot less glamorous than you once envisioned. One particularly poignant line: “Maybe I'm not ever really home for long enough to stare my own eyes down.” Is it that we’re too busy to take a moment to get to know ourselves, or do we intentionally keep ourselves busy to avoid doing so? Either way, the subject matter and musical production are actually a brilliant pairing. Everyone can relate to this everyday existential dread. It’s a reminder that we’re all in this together, so let’s celebrate being human. Go ahead and turn it up while you swivel your hips in your kitchen or drive with the windows down. Trust me. It feels so good. And I don’t know about you, but I could use a little feel good anthem right about now.— Karyna Micaela on May 13, 2020
Kali Uchis - angel
Being stuck inside just became a million times more enjoyable with Kali Uchis’s latest TO FEEL ALIVE EP drop. After her 2018 release of Isolation and a few amazing features on other artist’s tracks like Little Dragon and KAYTRANADA, she’s back with sexy, slow songs perfect for sunbathing out your window or thinking about your quarantined lover. “angel” is a gorgeously honied track off of the EP, conjuring up images of swaying around in Kali’s personally made paradise. Like many of her other hits, the sweetness of her voice breathes life and feeling. Her warming vocals embrace you, confessing her desires to her lover and easily hypnotizing her listeners with cool rhymes and weightless rhythm. Some of the sounds in “angel” feel close to her 2015 earlier release Por Vida (like the intro to her track “Speed”), but with even more mastery and layers. Kali continues to grow in artistry while keeping and growing upon her signature sound. Her next highly awaited album is slated for release later this year, and if its anything like the sleek TO FEEL ALIVE EP, we can anticipate the best.— Julie Gentile on May 13, 2020
thanks for coming - intersection
Brooklyn based thanks for coming’s newest (very timely) album, almost named this album"untouched" in reference to not editing the cover photo and also having an unrequited crush on a stranger but then i remembered we're all social isolating right now and it's a little too on the nose even for me is impressive all around. It features the song “intersection," a 3-minute long euphony that serves as a cathartic listen for anyone with a lot on their mind. According to Rachel Brown, the artist behind thanks for coming, this song was written before the height of the crisis we all find ourselves in right now. But there’s something prophetic about their choices in composing this track. Brown’s vocals accompany relatively simple acoustic guitar, but they’ve layered three different vocal tracks atop one another, effecting a sort of self-amplification. Their tone throughout the song feels like a balance of lighthearted humor and serious self-expression that’s somewhat inexplicable in its powerful execution. “Meet me at the intersection / I’ve got so many fucking questions,” they sing, simultaneously with two other statements directed at an unknown subject. While the world is smothered in unknowing, and distance between people, thanks for coming’s “intersection” seeks to know. Perhaps it’s this that makes the song resonate so deeply, in a way that’s hard to pin down.— Ben Burke on May 13, 2020
Big Thief - Love in Mine
There is an earthy and tactile way about Big Thief's music that has always evaded me. There's an elusive nuance to the combination of Adrianne Lenker's timid and iconic vocalizations and the ambitious, lustrous and occasionally bizarre musical choices the band makes. It's what makes them genius and what makes me hard-pressed to listen to their ever-blossoming discography. There's something about them that makes me a smarter and better music listener. "Love in Mine" only exemplifies this quality.
"Love in Mine" is a bonus track off of their most recent full-length record Two Hands, which dropped just months after the release of another 12 track LP: U.F.O.F. Two Hands and U.F.O.F. listen like a narrative pairing. One leads and bleeds into the next. Lenker herself described the two records as "Earth sisters." While both of these albums are true-blue fixtures of Big Thief's personality—featuring sultry instrumentation, chilling vocals and sharp, poetic lyrics—Two Hands is the softer, more unfurling of the two, and "Love in Mine" is a near-perfect extension of that sentiment. Gentle and contemplative, this song manages to feel full and round while boasting only five stanzas of lyricism. It's a longing, sweet sentimental track about leaving a well-worn past behind and pressing on with grace. Perhaps we can hold this song in our hearts as we ramble forward in such a bizarre and difficult period in history. Listen to "Love in Mine" wherever you stream!
Cuddle Magic - What If I
“What if I” is the latest single from Cuddle Magic, and it embraces one of the best acoustic spaces known to humankind: bathrooms. The track, like the rest of the tracks on their upcoming album, was recorded entirely in the band’s bathroom—doubtlessly earning the album its title, “Bath." The result of the unconventional recording space is a warm, intimate sound full of boundless patience and ethereal harmonies. Lyrically, “What If I” is a song that ponders ways to win over a longtime love during a rocky patch; however, it lacks the sting of most bargaining songs. The words are wrapped up in gently strummed chords and uplifting harmonies that fill every ounce of space. There is no room for sadness and desperation— only love and hope for the future. Sink into the cozy magic of Cuddle Magic, and soak in the harmonies until we can all enjoy the sure-to-be-warm Bath on July 3, 2020, via Northern Spy Records.— Allison Hill on May 12, 2020
Joshua Speers - Oh Brother
Joshua Speers explores the downward spiral of a romance in “Oh Brother.” The Delaware native blends crystalline folk-leaning vocals with 80s rock-inspired guitar riffs—creating a sound that lives somewhere between pop and Americana. He balances the darkness of lines like “gravestones in the backyard / all the parts of me that died / losing all the things that make me mine” with a driving beat and dynamic vocals. The song never sits within one space for too long—shifting speed or octaves from verse to pre-chorus to chorus. His desperation feels honorable as he repeats, “I’m killing myself trying to keep this love alive.” Speers further proves he’s able to be raw, honest and dynamic in his third single off of his major-label debut Human Now, which was released on May 8.— Corey Bates on May 12, 2020