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Thanya Iyer - Please Don't Hold Me Hostage for Who I Am, Who I Was
Thanya Iyer - Please Don't Hold Me Hostage for Who I Am, Who I Was

Thanya Iyer - Please Don't Hold Me Hostage for Who I Am, Who I Was


Refreshing and whimsical, “Please Don’t Hold Me Hostage for Who I Am, Who I Was” opens a festival of worldly sounds, complete with folksy flutes and acoustic percussion. Thanya Iyer’s voice sounds at once youthful and wise as she cheerfully delivers a straightforward message: You control your own life, you can choose to heal. She repeats the message, this time making it personal: “I take it in my own time / I make the choice to get better / Please don’t hold me hostage for who I am, for who I was.” She goes on to say “I could be a dancer,” a suggestion that it’s never too late to pursue a dream, regardless of the past. The bridge section introduces a musical departure, in which Iyer repeatedly declares, “I know in life there are highs and lows,” the bassline closely following her vocal melody, a stark contrast to the airy counterpoint of the verses. A breakdown follows, the music growing darker as the meter slows. Edgy synth and almost robotic rhythmic vocalizations grow in intensity until the tension releases and light breaks through, ushering a return to the original groove. Iyer repeats her original message: a reminder that we all have the power to guide ourselves out of darkness.

Karyna Micaela on July 27, 2020
Your Grandparents - So Damn Fly

Your Grandparents - So Damn Fly


LA-based hip-hop trio, Your Grandparents know we all need to slow down the mood a bit. A calendar year has passed since they released their first EP So Cold, and so much has happened in the world since then. Now more than ever, Your Grandparents are here to lift our spirits with their lusciously smooth new single "So Damn Fly."

This song is a crisp and ethereal nod to the soulful tracks from yesterday. "So Damn Fly" evokes the old, familiar sense of warmth of a vinyl record spinning at a chill session—much like the cover photo of the group hanging out in a basement illuminated by the light from a vintage lamp that your (excuse the reference) grandparents might've owned.

"So Damn Fly" reels you in with its ability to weave between a track perfect for background play and then abruptly snaps you back into consciousness with a rap section over the song's bridge: "Be as coldhearted as you please / All the causes can't be common / Contemplate on your beliefs / Seeking confirmation and conversations about killed dreams." Suddenly you're in the middle of a discussion about the damning elements of our current cultural landscape. There's nothing better than a little reprieve these days, just as long as we're all still paying attention. Photo by xoxohadas

Taylor Hodgkins on July 24, 2020
Will Butler - Surrender

Will Butler - Surrender


Will Butler’s “Surrender” begins with the stomp-clap vigor of a Lumineers song. But shortly after you hear Butler’s soaring falsetto, you might recognize something else as the jangling piano and percussion kick in: the heart-and-soul of beloved indie-darling Arcade Fire. It’s no coincidence, as Butler is a core member of the group, and his influence on Arcade Fire’s sound palpably shines through his solo work. “Surrender” is the lead single off of Butler’s upcoming album, Generations, coming September 25 via Merge Records. Disguised as a catchy summer sing-a-long, it finds Butler lyrically lamenting about lost love’s grip on his mind. Still, the anthem can easily be applied to anything we are craving release from—or rather, that from which we acknowledge we may never find release, and learn to be at peace with. It reminds me of a poem I jotted down last year:

color me

dying flowers.

here i sit with all 

my crumpled faith 

in renewal, hands wilting

with withering desire. but 

still i chase the sun and water 

hope down to the root, still

i surrender to it; this

insatiable wild

within me.

Jessie Nicole on July 24, 2020
The Lazy Eyes - Cheesy Love Song

The Lazy Eyes - Cheesy Love Song


"Cheesy Love Song” is the musical equivalent of a lazy river tube ride. The track’s relaxed dulcet current is beautifully calm, yet mystically compelling, guiding the listener through an ambient soundscape and leaving them in still water.

While the members of The Lazy Eyes hail from Sydney, Australia, their sound is clearly reminiscent of 70s psychedelia, and Americana legends like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and The Doors. “Cheesy Love Song” also plays heavily on the ‘rock-opera’ influences that were present during the American Counterculture Movement. (With the orchestral harmonious feature on the track, I cannot help but think of Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical.) The song’s intentionally dramatic lyrics “Maybe you’d love me / if I told you how I felt," and mellifluous piano rifts make this track a true work art—with an ironic, yet fitting title.

Lilly Rothman on July 24, 2020
Kate Teague - The Temporary

Kate Teague - The Temporary


On her new single “The Temporary," Kate Teague deals with impactful changes, self-doubt, and uncertainty. The first offering since her 2019 debut EP has the singer-songwriter somewhat diverting from her folksy foundation to an experimental, dreamy lane with the new addition of synths and drum loops. A task that she began after exploring some new influences, “I wrote this song when I first started to listen to a lot of experimental artists like Colleen and Jenny Hval.” Lyrically though, Teague doesn’t abandon her heartfelt and honest sensibility. She takes aim at the questions: where is truly the best place for me and what is next? Her clear-cut, rich vocals coast along as she proclaims, “Sink into my couch and think about a place I'd rather be / But would it mother me / And will I ever feel exactly where I ought to be.” The instrumentation circles around her and acts as a reliable companion as she ponders what’s to follow.

Her concerns for what else might be out there and if she is sitting at the end of the line speak to this exact, poignant moment—where she isn’t alone in the slightest. Maybe now is the time to take stock of what might actually be the correct direction for each of us. Maybe then we'll feel more alive and able when life actively resumes. The single is out now via Muscle Beach Records.

Meredith Vance on July 24, 2020
Ivy Sole - Bittersweet

Ivy Sole - Bittersweet


When times are tough, it’s usually comforting to find the good mixed with the bad. Depending on your beliefs, you might hold faith in the idea that there is seldom a path to joy that does not wind through suffering first. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger," right? Happiness and suffering seem, at times, so irreparably intertwined that sometimes it’s hard to notice when “paying your dues” is the wrong call. Ivy Sole’s “Bittersweet” reminds us that joy comes out of being honest and relentless about what you want. Jazzy chords, smooth bass, and Sole’s even smoother voice paint an image of liberation that is invigorating and intoxicating. “I don’t want it if it’s bittersweet; I don’t want it if it ain’t for me." It’s a not-so-subtle rebellion against settling for prepackaged joy with a fit you constantly have to rationalize. More than anything, Sole leaves us with the message that meaningful change shouldn’t be conditional on giving yourself up as a martyr. Everyone deserves the freedom to say “this is not good enough for me” without being forced into a lopsided compromise that’s really just the bare minimum of concessions to stop you from walking away. Whether it’s a significant other or society as a whole—you deserve better. You deserve “sweet without the bitter (and) sun with no rain."

Allison Hill on July 23, 2020
Zoe Polanski - The Willows

Zoe Polanski - The Willows


There is more than one way that “The Willows” feels like a dream. Zoe Polanski’s vocals are feathered and distant, like an invisible angel delivering strange and important news. Her beautiful lyrics are cryptic and lack a followable storyline; instead, curious metaphorical images like horses running “across an endless ocean” weave in and out of magical realist memories (“I was a sparrow; I flew there like an arrow”) and create a feeling, breathing tapestry. Polanski and her team manage to create this immersive world, convincingly real while you’re in it but hard to explain in waking life, without much more than bass, synths, and a simple beat. Overall, the track is a testament to the powerful combination of patience and clear creative vision. Her debut full-length, Violent Flowers, was released on July 17. It's full of dreamy worlds like the one in “The Willows,” and you can listen to it now on Bandcamp and other streaming platforms.

Karl Snyder on July 23, 2020
Haley Blais - On a Weekend

Haley Blais - On a Weekend


Pressing into a dual-toned reflection of solitude, Haley Blais croons over effervescent sun-showers of synth on her new single "On a Weekend." With her drifting, alluring sound, Blais gives her voice to the delicate, yet matter-of-fact sentiment of “holding [her] own hand on a weekend." While the track’s origins were born out of the hearth of social anxiety, it has taken on a new meaning as we are asked to only clasp the hands attached to our own bodies. While isolation has its disadvantages, it also acts as a breeding ground to take yourself to the movies, to hold your own hand, and to nourish your own soul. Photo by Lindsay Elliott

Laney Esper on July 23, 2020
Joya Mooi - Bitter Parts

Joya Mooi - Bitter Parts


Joya Mooi can’t stop creating. Fresh off her album The Ease of Others released last September, Mooi delivers her second single of the year, "Bitter Parts." A beautiful new offering, a song that moves with urgency. Moments of insight and stunning lyricism dot the path to and from the chorus. One that shows Mooi reckoning with herself, facing the truths she might have been avoiding before. The verses spotlight moments where that reckoning proves necessary. Articulated more explicitly in the video, this self-reflection becomes an endless pursuit—looking in the mirror, finding strength in her vulnerability. The production is fantastic. A deep synth-bass provides a growling foundation, while the drums give it a harsh, relentless feel. It’s all tied together by Mooi’s vocals—with a calming warmth, she makes this tough introspection feel so easy. The bridge is a standout moment, the swirling synths and gentle harmonies working perfectly together to prove Mooi’s mastery. Infinitely repeatable, this dark but dreamy tune just feels good.

Max Himelhoch on July 22, 2020
ekay - Vacant

ekay - Vacant


Leaning into a time of disarray, Dubai-based neo-soul artist ekay has crafted a transcendental realm in her latest release, “Vacant." Before quarantine went into full effect, ekay traveled to LA and stayed for several months—during which the track was crafted. Describing “Vacant” as “what I wish I heard someone say during quarantine,” she ruminates in the unfamiliarity, seeking a muse, someone to “show me something true.” Conserving our collective sanity are "temporary highs," which "keep contradicting conditioned minds"—as circumstances have forced us to face the fallacy of present societal structure. The expectation to constantly be creating in this "free time" despite our anxiety is not lost on us, but ekay challenges that notion; "Production on maybe / Delays on save me," she worries, before resolving, "I mean, I should sleep." On the song, she says, "During this time where change is inevitable, I wanted to help find lightness in the new normal." "Vacant" finds peace in the tension between restlessness and inspiration drawn from accepting that you're lost in the here and now.

Ysabella Monton on July 22, 2020
St. South - RED

St. South - RED


Our minds have the ability to run rampant, to think about hundreds of different things in the amount of time it takes to open a bottle of water, take a sip, and put the cap back on. St. South encapsulates this sensation in her song “RED.” Starting with what sounds like someone taking a drink of water, the songwriter, singer, and producer delves into her inner monologue. Her airy vocals accompany synths that sound like the musical equivalent of skipping rocks on a river. This is in direct juxtaposition to sharp percussion and lyrics that detail the reasons she no longer wants to be with her partner. While at times it sounds like St. South could be singing directly to this person, upon closer inspection it sounds as though “RED” is a reminder to herself that she deserves better. The repetition of the line, “I’ve got things to do / Things to do today,” affirms that. Whether she uses it as a mantra for self-discipline or as a casual reminder to push through the hurt she may be feeling, it leaves the listener to reflect on their own priorities. As someone whose brain is always racing at a hundred miles a minute, I found comfort in St. South’s ability to conceptualize the feeling that accompanies knowing that your relationship is unhealthy and your priorities are not aligned. Photo by Liam Gillie

Sloan Pecchia on July 22, 2020

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