Pearla - Forgive Yourself
The most touching moment in Pearla’s breathtaking “Forgive Yourself” comes about halfway through the song, just before the point of no return when the song releases the breaks and builds into a cacophonous finale. Singer Nicole Rodriguez has at this point been asking herself, “Can you forgive yourself?” not just for 90 seconds but likely for her whole life, when an ounce of hope creeps into her voice and she turns the question around. “You can forgive yourself,” she allows, and worlds of possibilities flood through the crack in the sonic doorway. But even in her triumph come tribulations — among the layers and layers piled on over the course of the joyous celebration, discordant drones sounding more like helicopters landing than like anything in a recording studio pull her away from a simple happy ending. But that goes both ways, and in her tribulations, she has found triumph. “Writing it made me feel a thousand times lighter,” she says, and the feeling is mutual.— Daniel Shanker on October 10, 2018
Fake Dad - Glory Days
Nostalgia is a powerful theme in music today. Artists hailing from well-known major labels to the internet’s smallest crevices alike have commonly used it to provide warmth and resonance to their music. But it’s also no secret that modern-day culture has a nostalgia problem. With Hollywood relentlessly pumping out reboots of beloved franchises and the recent obsession of ‘80s culture in music and media, it's easy to feel as though we are a generation without identity; consumers of endlessly recycled material.
On “Glory Days,” Fake Dad take listeners on a trip down memory lane — but it feels closer to a cautionary tale than a fond retelling. Over a woozy synth and distorted bass, Fake Dad remember a simpler time when “we would all dress the same” and were “shallow minds living underneath the gutter.” Although we're practically trained to interpret the words warmly, it's hardly an affectionate look at childhood. Fast forward to today, and we are now “living vicariously through the screen” and “flipping through old photographs.” The song’s sonic landscape constantly shifts underneath — children giggling, pitched down vocals and overblown static are all thrown into the mix to give “Glory Days” a rich and effective texture. It’s a critical take on our nostalgic tendencies without being overly cynical, a promising highlight from an exciting new act.— Sam Reynolds on September 25, 2018
Autumn Days - Ben Rice
Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Ben Rice has perfectly captured what a fall day in New York City feels like as well as the emotions experienced during times of transition with his appropriately named song “Autumn Days.” With warm toned acoustic riffs and a gentle voice, he sings “Oh Dear, I’m getting too tired to run / I’ve seen what life has done / to all these places / familiar faces, they have gone,” speaking to the anxiety felt towards unwanted but inevitable change. With its well-blended acoustic guitar, steady bass lines, gentle keys and vulnerable demeanor, the track resonates with listeners on an emotional level before breaking into a bluesy guitar solo. As the song comes to a close, Rice expressively sings the chorus one more time before coming to an abrupt stop, signaling that change has finally arrived.— Alessandra Rincon on September 24, 2018
Adeline Hotel - Looking for the Same Thing
“Looking for the Same Thing,” the latest track from Brooklyn's Adeline Hotel, pairs the calm, familiar sound of Nick Drake with quiet audacity of Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” whose instruments test the waters as the song progresses before finding their true place in the arrangement. Like the instruments themselves, singer Dan Knishkowy has been “trying hard to figure shit out” on a couch, through a sleepless night, drinking alone and any which way he can. “Everyone I know / Been looking for the same thing,” sings Knishkowy, before acoustic and electric guitars sing out the same solo in their own voices, serving to remind us that we are not quite alone, just living in parallel, experiencing the same solitary confusion at the same time. He doesn’t have any answers, though. He leaves us wanting more, leaving the last chorus unfinished and launching into the song’s most transcendent moment, an instrumental outro forgoing answers for the simple reassurance that it, whatever it is, is alright.— Daniel Shanker on September 24, 2018
Tanukichan - Natural
Hannah Van Loon, stage name Tanukichan, has released her album Sundays, produced and co-written by Chaz Bear of Toro Y Moi. In “Natural” the album's lead single, we see Van Loon working as a shoegaze artist in a way that is exciting both for the genre and the artist herself. The track is replete with dreamy vocals, eery guitar pitches and the crunchy yet cutting beat and amp static that has become familiar within the musical genre of shoegaze. Though lo-fi in its hazy nature, the richness of the guitar and vocals fill the song without pouring over the brim.
“Natural” may be suggestive of basement recording sessions and lyrics written in a night time splendor, yet the technical clarity allows the work to surpass bedroom pop, lo-fi and even shoegaze bands of the past. With a general lack of specificity in the sound, lyrics and sentiments throughout the work “Natural” is a genre all of its own. The layering in the music, as well as the lyrics, (“It's natural sunlight / Grey fades to white lie / Kiss you tonight”) create an atmospheric and almost ungraspable track. However, the distorted vocals and humming sound of the song do not leave us perplexed, but rather intrigued. “Natural” is a song to dig into, piece by piece, a feast of noise and texture that leaves us hungry for more from this promising new artist.— Samantha Weisenthal on September 21, 2018
Cigarettes After Sex - Sesame Syrup
Alternative, dream-pop band, Cigarettes After Sex recently released "Sesame Syrup," a song that delicately captures the kind of self-loathing, reckless behavior many of us experience well throughout our 20s. Just when we thought they had done enough by swooning us with yet another daydreamy track they sprinkled it with a little something extra — a song title with a brilliantly subtle analogy. The process of making sesame syrup requires more attention and care than some may think. Similarly, sometimes we enter certain relationships without realizing how much time and effort is actually required to take care of that person while continuing to take care of ourselves. Whether we take our partner’s mental and emotional state for granted or we don’t realize how much help we needed ourselves — like making sesame syrup if we don’t watch the seeds closely enough as they heat up on the skillet we can spoil the process by allowing them to turn black. Like the majority of their songs, the track is a chill listen filled with soft, melancholy guitar tones and wispy slightly ethereal melodies. "Sesame Syrup" is a must add to any and all September sadness/fall playlists.— Andrea de Varona on September 21, 2018
Tomberlin - Any Other Way
In “Any Other Way,” the opening track to the album At Weddings, we see Tomberlin deconstructing her faith in God, in her relationship, and at times in herself. This sentiment is of course vulnerable, an artistic move that could be perceived as too downtrodden, however Tomberlin’s sweeping voice and simplistic guitar allows the themes she remarks on to pierce the sweetness of the song. The economic nature of her lyrics allow for bits of humor to cut through the melodrama, with lines such as, “Feeling bad for saying / Oh my god / No I'm not kidding / Gave me a sudden feeling / That I didn't have a place,” feeling goofy rather than disorienting.
At Weddings addresses Tomberlin loss of faith after having grown up in an intensely Baptist household, filling the song with an intimacy that feels tender rather than overly personal. “Any Other Way,” distills the feelings off of the album, how the guitar highlights rather than suffocates her soft and floating voice, how her lyrics provide a simple statement when discussing highly complex thoughts and experiences. Her sound is quiet yet intense, a dynamic that seems increasingly difficult for artists to achieve. Although the music is soft, her songs hit hard, leaving us emotional yet not overwhelmed, a cleansing that feels important in the wake of the topics Tomberlin so masterfully addresses.— Samantha Weisenthal on September 20, 2018
Bad Bad Hats - Nothing Gets Me High
If you're not onto Bad Bad Hats yet, allow us to introduce you. Putting out one of the best albums of the year, this Minneapolis indie rock band knows how to give you a collection of versatile songs while keeping true to their sound. "Nothing Gets Me High" shows the band in its element. As frontwoman Kerry Alexander sings of the recurrence of an old love and her high tolerance to emotions there is a nonchalant spunk to her storytelling. From the start, the sonic entrance and guitar reverbs take you to where she is as she searches for him "in the basement show."
Alexander intentional digs into the parallels of love and drugs often seen in music. Still "Nothing Gets Me High" has a new approach to this theme as Alexander equates her struggle to have romantic feelings to being unable to get high. Both clever and relatable her apathy after a failed relationship carries weight. When love comes through the door again its met with skepticism instead of the whimsy the seventeen-year-old version of yourself once greeted it with. Now older and bit more calloused, Alexander is not willing to be anything less than "the best thing that ever happened to you." Make sure to check out the rest of Lightning Round and to see what all the buzz is about!— Dara Bankole on September 19, 2018
Henry Nowhere - Not Going Back
Henry Nowhere, a solo artist better known for his band Day Wave, has released his new EP “Not Going Back.” On this project, Henry lingers between reality and day dream, with relatable sentiments about over analyzing one's position, considering their happiness in where they are. On “Not Going Back,” Henry provides us his take on lo-fi dream pop, a genre that has become popular because of bands such as Beach House and Tame Impala. “Not Going Back's” sound matches its narrative. With hazy vocals that pull away with every line, a guitar that seems to be only partially there and a fast paced yet sweet drum, the work feels as though it exists both where it is and where it’s going. Henry says of the song, “For me music serves the purpose of giving the listener that sort of carefree getaway in a 3 minute bite-size form.” “Not Going Back” is a slice of escapism, and a piece that has left us feeling at ease and filled with hope.— Samantha Weisenthal on September 19, 2018
NEIL FRANCES - Took A While
NEIL FRANCES has that breezy type of sound that makes the perfect music to transition from one season to the next. “Took A While” off of their most recent EP drop of the same name, gears us up for those crips fall breezes and cool autumnal air. Looking introspectively at the way we compare love to games, the band decides to move against the tide and sidesteps the notion, disregarding the game and perfection entirely. While we may come to these realizations through chaos (“I'm never in control/ ‘Cos in my head I'm so confused”), it strikes a chord all the same. See NEIL FRANCES live at our first ever LA dinner party November 4!— Natasha Cucullo on September 18, 2018
Lala lala - Destroyer
Lala lala, Chicago artist Lillie West’s band, has released their lead single "Destroyer," an introduction to their upcoming album The Lamb, out in September from Hardly Art records. The album comes out of West’s recent personal chaos: a home break in, a loss of several close friends, the decision to become sober after suffering from addiction. The arrangement of the album, the blending of post punk with dream pop, includes synths, drums, guitars and the saxophone, providing listeners with the sound of learning how to balance. In this way, West has allowed us to peer into how she is creating a new space in her life, balancing the complex sounds throughout the work to create a singular and joyous sound. This, paired with the thought-provoking and poignant lyrics that make up the work, has allowed Lala lala to create an album that is not only healing for the artist, but also for anyone who listens. The narrative of the song is about West going back and forth between dealing and accepting blame for the chaos in her life. Whether our destroyers are addiction, the people around us or at times ourselves, the work leaves us feeling clean and ready to take it all on, headphones in ears and song on repeat.— Samantha Weisenthal on September 18, 2018