Taylor Janzen - Colourblind
Taylor Janzen is as honest as it gets. "Interpersonal" her debut EP out today, depicts a sojourner on a journey of self-exploration that diverges from the way life was approached during her religious childhood. In "Colourblind," Janzen sings of what it's like to live through the darkness of questioning God's intentions and even mental illness surrounded by people who don't seem to get it. Still with heart and unbridled power she sings, "I am bitter but just know this / I will not feel ashamed to exist." This noteworthy declaration reminds us that even if at the moment being alive in equivalent to being stuck, confused or mentally ill, no someone should be robbed of their human dignity. With artists like Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers paving the way, Janzen proves that this era of honest-to-God, women singer-songwriters is just getting started. Taylor Janzen's voices shines with quiet might and is not only to be heard but listened to.— Dara Bankole on August 10, 2018
KAINA - Happy
Allow us to introduce you to rising Chicago singer-songwriter, KAINA. Not only is she making waves in the Windy City, but she's also caught the attention of big names like Jamila Woods who she opened for last year. In her three track EP released early this year, KAINA explores the richness of her sound with three songs that showcase her multi-layered talent. "Happy" is a song that is full of playful instrumentation and background vocals that are reminiscent of old 90s R&B hits. KAINA sings of the emotions she experiences when she's around a special someone and the moments she goes back to in her head when she thinks of their happiness. While the tone of KAINA's voice is smooth and confident, you can't miss the fact that she's singing of a happiness that is the color of blushing cheeks and giddy smiles. There's no doubt about it, KAINA is on our list of artists to watch out for and we're pretty happy about it.— Dara Bankole on July 30, 2018
Bermuda Triangle — Till The End Of Days
A slow-moving scene of a pair of lovers dancing idly in a pale lit bar. A warm picture of a group of friends sitting and singing on a porch while drinking scotch and smoking one too many cigarettes. Bermuda Triangle’s most recent country-gospel ballad, “Till the End of Days,” distinctly evokes settings like these. The Nashville-based trio’s track is a sublime combination of rich, tight harmonies balanced with distinctive vocal timbres and lean, airy acoustic guitar.
Jesse Lafser, who wrote the song, leads the track with an infectious, no-nonsense vocal line that is nothing short of pure magic. The gentle guitar unhurriedly moves forward as Lafser tenderly sings, “Maybe God / Maybe God / Maybe God does exist / Cause the way you look at me on mornings like this.” Brittany Howard (of Alabama Shakes) and Becca Mancari pour into the song in equal measure allowing each of them plenty of time to individually tug on your heartstrings reminding you that sometimes the greatest loves — both romantic and platonic — involve the greatest amount of growth and support. For all you atheists or agnostic leaning dissenters, “Till the End of Days” will incidentally lead you the closest you may have ever been to believing. You might even find yourself praying to a God after your first listen…maybe.— Andrea de Varona on July 27, 2018
Brewster - Kiss Me While I'm Down
When you are hurt by the person you love, it’s a hard fall. As you shatter it can be easy to run back to that love, mistaking artful sadism for the comfort you seek as you begin to pick up the pieces. Mark Bucci, who leads his own bedroom-pop project, Brewster finally strings his pieces back together on the single, “Kiss Me While I’m Down,” the second song on a double cassette single being released through Great Grief, a new NJ label from Matteo DeBenedetti of the band Toy Cars. Drummer, Tom Devinko, supplies the tracks’s delicate dynamics to Bucci’s idiosyncratic guitar and synth melodies, fitting together music that lives on the axis of Wilco’s indie-instrumentation and the tittering electronics of the new Half Waif record. Bucci sings, “I can’t help myself/ I’ll let you twist me around sharing pronouns/ and kiss me while I’m down,” swirling around in his thoughtful guitar space and by the end, in the light, seeming to be emerging as whole.
Wingtip - Pavement
San Fran native, Nick Perloff-Giles's — otherwise known as Wingtip — coastal upbringing has deeply influenced his music. His moderately electro vibes mixed in with an acoustic-pop feel display remnants of his former beach life. "Pavement," the first single to come off of Wingtip's upcoming EP, Ghosts of Youth, captures these sounds. Starting with light synths and a gentle acoustic guitar line, "Pavement" builds as the story it tells unfolds. Tasteful electronic elements also paint it with a sense of character and youth. The nostalgic themes of lost love, getting older and being a little reckless capture the quintessence of growing up. Ultimately, "Pavement" is a song about the good ol' days and the hope that they're not all behind you. Just one listen and chances are you'll be taken back to that one summer that made you want to live forever.— Dara Bankole on July 27, 2018
Hayley Gene Penner - Smaller
Full of honesty and grace, Hayley Gene Penner's brave new single, "Smaller," speaks to the deep desire to be loved and the fear that it may be easier if you were someone else. Honing in on the struggle of body-image, Penner sings, "If I'm smaller and I'm different / Just a little less / Would you love me?" These words cut to the core and find you in a place you know all too well. "Smaller" shines with a quiet boldness. Penner refuses to hide behind metaphors or similes as she sings her truths with such sincerity and vulnerability. Like most toxic thoughts, it's easy to hear the danger in them when you yourself are not thinking them — it's a lot harder to recognize their toxicity when they're in your own head. Smaller" lets you connect with Penner as she sings of her battle with self-image while also allowing you to notice the lack of self-love you may have been showing yourself for longer than you realized.
Joyce Manor - Million Dollars to Kill Me
Joyce Manor know how to pack a punch into a bit-sized box. New single “Million Dollars to Kill Me” recalls the late-90s midwestern emo scene with its guitar crunch and tongue-in-cheek title. “And one day you will realize / You are nothing, nothing without her / You’re an asshole from the bar,” frontman Barry Johnson spits out. The track’s full-blooded, all-American guitar riff is fist-pumping-ly anthemic, while the drums borrow from pop-punk’s propensity for cymbal crashes. Rarely has a track felt so simultaneously venomous and fun.— Michael O'Neill on July 26, 2018
the king heat ensemble - Give or take
More often than not, when a band has a killer, memorable name their music does not live up to it, but once in a while, there are exceptions. The fresh, folk-inspired UK group, the king heat ensemble is one of those special cases. The track, “Give or take,” off their most recent EP epitomizes what it means to make a blanket-genre like acoustic-folk sound original and refreshing all while maintaining its organic nature. “Give or take” begins with bouncy, steel-string guitar picking as the lead singer briskly introduces himself 7-seconds in with a stirring yet understated vocal delivery. His voice is a tamed hybrid of James Taylor and Conor Oberst, which adds an alternative stroke to an otherwise heavily bluegrass inspired landscape. He sings, “Everybody here knows when you’ve got to stop to start again,” with a red-yellow tone, a warmness, and positivity that is speckled with patches of tanginess. The king heat ensemble is giving you an encouraging pat on the back, while sternly whispering, “start again.”
Gold Star - Baby Face
Los Angeles’ Gold Star combines disparate influences, from Americana to Britpop to Classic Rock into a surprisingly familiar sound on new single "Baby Face." The verse oozes Old West cool, something that might have come from the guitar of Turn Blue era Dan Auerbach or AM era Alex Turner, before launching into a fully Beatles-inspired chorus, complete with swirling Wurlitzer chords and reverb-laden double-tracked vocals. “Baby Face” is a song you may as well have heard the day you were born, greeting you with a loving epithet, but given a modern spin by an obviously devoted student of music. Contradictions are at the core of this song, at once retro and refreshing, then cocky but unsure. “I’m still not certain what it takes,” croons singer Marlon Rabenreither, “Are you in / Are you out?” Even the instrumentation takes two sides, as the smooth guitar’s conversation with the thumping bass forms the backbone of the song’s hook, introducing us to the song and leading us out with no answers.— Daniel Shanker on July 24, 2018
Michl - Tell Her
Rising Los Angeles artist Michl has revealed a stunning rework of Lauryn Hill’s “Tell Him” with his new summer love song “Tell Her.” This synth-heavy version is an emotional ballad featuring a gorgeous balance of organs, stripped back guitar and smooth vocals that pay homage to the original but still manages to be unique. The authenticity in Michl’s voice matches the emotional honesty of the lyrics, “I’ll never be jealous and I won’t be too proud / ‘cause love is not boastful / No and love is not loud / just tell her I need her.” This song is full of themes of hope and promise and reminds listeners that despite the ups and downs of relationships, “everything is gonna be alright.”— Alessandra Rincon on July 23, 2018
Margot - Tired
London dream-pop outfit Margot creates the kind of masterful, floating soundscapes one would expect from seasoned veterans of the genre. Perfect for a rainy London afternoon, “Tired” is the hazy daydream of someone unable to keep up with the pace of change in his life. “Get off your phone and tell me how you feel,” he pleads, wading through the sea of swirling guitars in an attempt to make any sort of meaningful, lasting connection, but not even the support of a string section can save him now. He has been rejected, he has been shut out and he is terrified to admit that time races only forwards. Things are looking up though. As the song fades out, the future uncertain, he has traded his relentless pessimism — “You’ve grown...I just don’t know you anymore” — for something a little more understanding and hopeful — “You’ve grown / and so should I / We’ll work it out eventually.”— Daniel Shanker on July 23, 2018