The Oh Hellos - Grow
In true fashion, The Oh Hellos' new single is one that you’ll want to have on repeat for a while. But while this song falls in line with their typical repetoire of great music, it’s also a new kind of song for them. This anthem urges its listeners to choose growth over stagnancy, bravery over fear and resistance over complacency, but in a different way than most songs. The message in this song makes it a new kind of anthem, one that focuses on the need for inaction instead of action. “If you let it alone it will surely grow.” This song is a passionate call to be still and a recognition of how much strength that actually requires.— Dara Bankole on January 21, 2018
Refs - Boarding It Up
Don't be fooled by REFS' small social followings; this music is the real deal. Brooklyn based Zachary Lipkins' REFS has melded pop with a myriad of textures to create beautiful synth confessionals. He has only released four singles, but a couple have already been featured on HBO's "Girls," The CW's "Riverdale" and MTV's "Scream". This new single builds off of the projects R&B/synth-pop sound with a emotional rawness akin to James Bay. Lipkins' vocal control is not only impressive but incredibly emotive, bubbling all of his feelings into the track so that we too, are filled to the brim. Though we don't know much about REFS, Lipkins' anonymity and short collection makes these releases all the more anticipatory. We can't wait for more.— Natasha Cucullo on January 12, 2018
Lukas Frank - Shame (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
This ultra somber and haunting song co-written by Lukas Frank and Phoebe Bridgers and can be found on the fourth episode of the new Netflix show Godless. With the repeated line "Where is God now?" heard various times throughout it under the grimacing Western sounding guitar tones, it's the perfect fit for a show about outlaws in the Wild West or if you just like really sad music.— Dara Bankole on January 12, 2018
Pale Grey - Seasons
Belgian indie group Pale Grey’s single, “Seasons” off of their new album, Waves is the perfect complement to a quiet fall afternoon. It starts off with a simple beat and some garage-like synths that quickly fill up the track with a feeling of longing. Though it sits at just over two minutes, the song packs an emotional punch with minimal production. It asks the question of whether or not you can go on when the one you love passes away, and in that contemplation is where the song shines.— Nick Arcos on January 10, 2018
Obliques - Instant Pleasure
"Instant Pleasure" by Obliques is a true groove, with a funky bass line working hand-in-hand with the simple but crucial drum beat. The song is somehow laid back and driven at the same time, giving off a feeling of, well, instant pleasure. Starting out simple and building to a cohesive big band sound, this song's lyrics lament the tragedy versus blessing dichotomy of instant gratification. In the chorus, Zach Van Hoozer admits, "I can't remember what I used to do," with background vocals echoing, "every night."— Grace Eire on January 9, 2018
JR JR - Clean Up
Indie favorites JR JR, formerly known as Dale Earnhardt JR JR, have returned to the scene with new music after their self-titled LP back in 2015. The new single, “Clean Up” offers a look at the mind of someone coming to terms with their addictions and indulgences. The duo uses a throbbing bass line, simple plucked guitar and harmonies to illustrate the conflict that happens when one willfully chooses something that is bad for them. “Clean Up” brings JR JR to a more provocative realm, and one that we are excited to see more of in the upcoming album.— Nick Arcos on January 7, 2018
Henry Jamison - The Wilds
Henry Jamison is a storyteller at heart. It may be in his blood — his father, a classical composer, and his mother, an English professor — but Jamison is a writer and artist in his own right, evidenced by his debut album The Wilds (released October 27th). Beyond writing, recording and arranging the album all on his own, Jamison has a special ability to bring each track to life. Take his song, “The Wilds”: it’s instrumentally rich without being overbearing, letting Jamison’s narrative whisk you away. “The Wilds” sounds like an old-time American love story - unassuming and familiar, but nevertheless, still surprising.— Natasha Cucullo on January 7, 2018
Night Flights - Death Rattle
Major and minor chords weave along a path lined by trees bursting with red and orange leaves in Night Flight’s “Death Rattle.”
A breakup song through and through, this track from the London-based 5-piece is perfect for a long, contemplative drive. With winter on its way, the season of ends and cold quiet, this song resists the brutal frost, opting for a brisk fall breeze instead.
While the end of a relationship could feel like the end of the world, there’s the other side of the coin that signals a new and better beginning. “Death Rattle” is that warm fall light, a realization that ending things will lead to a breath of crisp, fresh air into the lungs.
“Don’t go wasting your breath on me… better we find a way out, not dwelling on why,” frames the first verse, followed soon by, “I’m not living anymore, baby give me something more.” Laid back drums and a comfortably simple bassline pad the finger-picked guitar part. “Ooh’s” and soft harmonies complete the folksiness of this bittersweet track that basically says that enough is enough, and it is time to move on.— Grace Eire on October 26, 2017
Bully - Kills to Be Resistant
“‘Cause what I want with you is none of your business,” Alicia Bognanno sings in a soft bedroom voice, layered above a repeating and driven guitar riff in the opening verse of “Kills to Be Resistant.”
This release off of Bully’s sophomore album, Losing, is not hard to identify with. The drums in this song lay down a foundation, perfectly mirroring Bognanno as she ebbs between gentle verses tip-toeing around the topic, and choruses riddled with gravel, grit and the pain that comes with accepting circumstances as they are. With just drums and bass to hold the words, Bognanno confesses, “When I’m alone, I stare at your picture,” a habit with which most of us are all too familiar. When the guitar riff comes back in for the bridge, it’s an embodiment of that cyclical, anxious thought process that’s attached to facing an end to or a shift in a relationship.
“It won’t stop / Do you feel nothing?” she asks in the chorus leading into an outro that matches the built-up frustration in the lyrics with dissonant chords and skillfully-played drum fills.
This is all anyone could have hoped for when anticipating new music from Bully. The sound is full, but nowhere near overly-complicated. Every necessary element is there, coming together to sound so effortless and raw. The only thing more to ask for is a ticket to a live performance.— Grace Eire on October 25, 2017
Moses Sumney - Plastic
Los Angeles genre-bending artist Moses Sumney released his gorgeous and ethereal debut album Aromanticism into the world this September. Sumney has made a big impression on artists like Solange and Sufjan Stevens for good reason. His infusion of soul and folk come together on this album in a way that leaves us begging for more. A prime example of this heavenly blend is found on the third song of the album, “Plastic.” A previous version of the song can be heard on the first season of Issa Rae’s HBO series, Insecure. This new version serves as one of the more simplistic songs on the album, featuring just a fingerpicked electric guitar, a synth and Sumney’s captivating voice. The hook of the song repeats the line “my wings are made of plastic,” each time sung in a slightly different way than it was before, continuing to imbue the phrase with new meaning. This song of vulnerability, self-awareness and secret-spilling is the kind that you can leave on repeat and get lost in for hours.— Dara Bankole on October 22, 2017