Tag: singles

New Audio: Minneapolis’ Wild Lyre Shares Anthemic “Shelter”

Minneapolis-based indie outfit Wild Lyre — Keith Wyman (vocals, guitar), Art Oxborough (lead guitar), Mike Vasich (keys), Dave Dorman (bass) and Dan Cordell (drums) — released their debut single “Shelter,” along with two other songs earlier this year.

“Shelter” is a deceptively anachronistic jam that sound as though it could have been released in 1967, 1973, 1977, 2017 or — well, earlier this year. Built around some remarkably catchy hooks, “Shelter” displays the band’s ability to pair attention to craft with earnest, lived-in lyricism and performances.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays H2SO4 Return with a Slick Club Banger

Over the past 12-15 minutes or so, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering British electronic outfit and JOVM mainstays H2SO4. Last year was among the busiest years for the British outfit as they released a batch of slickly produced club bangers.

They began the year with “Outsiders (BassBears Mix),” a sleek, Balearic house-like banger built around glistening synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, enormous bass drops and euphoria-inducing hooks paired with sultrily delivered vocal sample fed through a bit of distortion. This one sounds as though it would rock clubs at Ibiza on any given night.

Continuing a rather prolific period for the British outfit, their latest single “Following The Line,” a slick yet accessible deep house banger that wouldn’t sound out of place at Avant Gardner or Ibiza while subtly channeling Tweekend-era The Crystal Method and Come With Us-era The Chemical Brothers.

New Video: Mervyn Shares Brooding and Intense “The Bomb”

After spending years writing and recording pop and rock music, French artist and producer Mervyn made a radical departure in his creative approach with the release of his debut EP Holod, a defiant cry of revolt against war and the unbearable violence of our world. While meshing several different genres and styles, the French producer created an uncompromising sound with a punk rock urgency and ethos.

The EP’s latest single “The Bomb” is a brooding, intense and uneasy bit of industrial electronica built around twitter and woofer rattling thump, dense layers of synth oscillations, eerie screaming, howled vocodered vocals and an eerie Nine Inch NailsCloser“-like coda. “The Bomb” evokes a desperate scream into an indifferent void.

The nightmarish accompanying video features some slickly edited incredibly eerie religious imagery, stock footage of dancers from the 20s and 30s. It’s fittingly creepy.

New Audio: King Tuff Shares Quirky and Breezy “Symphony Of A Man”

Brattleboro-born singer/songwriter and musician Kyle Thomas is the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed indie rock recording project King Tuff. Thomas’ sixth King Tuff album, the SASAMI co-written and co-produced Smalltown Stardust was released earlier this year to critical praise from the likes of The AV Club and Stereogum.

The album is “an album about love and nature and youth,” Thomas explains. The Brattleboro-born artist takes the listener with him on a journey to a place where past and present collide, where he can be a dreamer in love with all that he sees. Images of his youth abound. And as a result, it’s a spiritual, tender and joyous album that might shock and surprise those with only a passing knowledge of his back catalog.

Thomas will be releasing Smalltown Stardust (deluxe dust) on all DSPs on August 18, 2023. The expanded digital-only version of Smalltown Stardust will include the album’s original 11 songs, one previously unreleased song and four different studio version of songs from the album. “For the deluxe version of Smalltown Stardust, I’ve done some digging and found a few alternate versions of songs from the record,” Thomas says. “I often try songs in different ways before I land on the final versions, and these tracks are a good representation of that! Some of these songs were kicking around for years before they finally fell into place. I wrote ‘The Wheel’ all the way back in 2005! Sometimes they just need to stew I suppose. These versions are mid-stew but I think they still taste pretty good!”

To commemorate the upcoming release of Smalltown Stardust (deluxe dust), Thomas and Sub Pop Records shared “Symphony Of A Man,” a previously unreleased single that appears on the deluxe edition. Built around what sounds like glistening Rhodes, a supple and sturdy bass line, swaggering boom bap-like drumming, mischievous bursts of mellotron or crumhorn “Symphony Of A Man” is a quirky song that sounds like it would be perfect in a Wes Anderson film — but while displaying Thomas and SASAMI’s penchant for incredibly catchy hooks.

“This is the first song Sasami and I wrote when we first started working on the record, about a mysterious, reclusive musician who I won’t name (Chris Weisman),” Thomas explains. “It was half finished and abandoned pretty early on, but I like it just the way it is! Note the crumhorn solo in the outro.”

New Audio: Linka Moja Shares Soulful and Anthemic “Othersider”

Lake Tahoe, CA-born singer/songwriter and musician Linka Moja (pronounced Moya) can trace the origins of her music career to her childhood: From a young age, Moya found solace and self-expression in music, using her lyrics and melodies to navigate the challenges of the world around her. Her work explores and touches upon themes of resilience, love and the complexities of the human experience. Her love of outdoor activities shaped her unique perspective on life — and infused her music with a raw, lived-in authenticity.

The Lake Tahoe-born artist attended Kelly Slater’s surf camp, where she had a serendipitous encounter with Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson. Moja found herself faced with a moment of truth. Unprompted, and with passion and determination, she stepped forward, picked up her guitar and began playing her original songs.

Her passionate performance caught Eddie Vedder’s attention and left an indelible mark on everyone present. The Pearl Jam frontman was so impressed by Moja that he offered her a slot to play at that year’s Ohana Festival. The invitation not only validated her courage and musical prowess, but it also opened quite a few doors for her.

Inspired by Vedder’s belief and encouragement, the Lake Tahoe-born artist wasted no time in channeling her passion into her music and in a whirlwind of creativity, she recorded a live EP Cough Drops in just a few days. The album showcased her distinctive blend of introspective lyrics, emotive vocals and original guitar and bass arrangements, informed by the angst and unease of being a teenager.

Shortly after, she then jumped back into the studio with Oscar Niedhart to work on her full-length debut, Serial Monogamist, which is slated to for release later this summer. But in the meantime, Moja shares EP single “Othersider,” a seamless synthesis of 90s grunge and neo-soul built around the Lake Tahoe-born artist’s sultry powerhouse delivery, fuzzy power chords and some rousingly anthemic hooks.”

Ultimately, what “Othersider” reveals is a superstar in the making — with seemingly effortless talent.

New Audio: Los Angeles’ Mirrorball Shares Dreamy “Red Hot Dust”

Los Angeles-based dream pop duo Mirrorball — singer/songwriter Alexandra Johnstone and multi-instrumentalist and composer Scott Watson — features two local indie scene veterans. Following a successful debut back in 2019 with two songs as part of a singles series released on Dangerbird Records, the duo caught the attention of acclaimed producer Chris Coady.

The duo would meet up with Coady at Sunset Sound to discuss and plan their next recording. And over the next few months, they wound up forging a special bond with the acclaimed producer, which resulted in the duo’s forthcoming EP which will showcase the band’s unique dreamy and nostalgic pop sound.

Mirrorball’s latest single “Red Hot Dust” is a gorgeous and brooding track built around twinkling keys, a subtle yet supple bass line and propulsive drumming paired with Johnstone’s gorgeous and expressive vocal. While sonically bringing a synthesis of Beach House, Scott Walker, and 70s AM rock, the song evokes a woozy yet familiar surviving through the perceived end of the world sensation that we’ve all lived through these last couple of years.

Mirrorball’s Alexandra Johnstone explains that “Red Hot Dust” was written “during difficult times as a way of forcing some light to the surface because I wanted to feel like I could go home again at a time when I could not physically go home.”

New Audio: Nashville’s LOC SLEEPY Shares Swaggering “John Wayne”

LOC SLEEPY is an emerging Nashville-based emcee. His latest track “John Wayne” pairs his dexterous and densely worded bars referencing random pop culture ephemera, including King Kong, Jersey Shore‘s GEICO, The Mighty Ducks, and John Wayne, and street shit with a menacing, yet hook-driven production featuring skittering, tweeter and woofer rattling trap triplets, eerily twinkling keys.

What caught my immediate attention was this: “John Wayne” is rooted in the energy of an emerging artist, who seems ready to take over the entire world, one emcee battle, one bar, one hook at a time if he had to.

Chicago-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Elijah Montez is the frontman and creative mastermind behind the rising psych pop project Daydream Review. After relocating from Austin to Chicago, Montez and Daydream Review began catching the attention of Chicago’s leading tastemakers and beyond with the release of 2020’s “Blossom” and 2021’s retro-tinged, self-titled debut EP.

Last summer, the Chicago-based artist released two tracks, an A-side “Sensory Deprivation” and a B-side “Dream Sequence #29,” as a palette cleanser to his Daydream Review self-titled debut EP — and a teaser of new material. That material quickly established Montez as one of Chicago’s most buzz-worthy new artists. Adding to a growing profile, he supported that material with a lot of time touring with a backing band featuring Kaitlyn Murphy (backing vocals and auxiliary percussion) and a rotating group of friends. 

Slated for an April 7, 2023 release through Side Hustle Records, Daydream Review’s 13-song full-length debut Leisure reportedly sees Montez aiming to expand upon the layered sonic world he has created — and continuing to push the boundaries of modern psych pop with dynamic production and reflective, existential lyricism. “Leisure is about the ever-present tension between the desire for free time, for personal enjoyment and leisure, and the demands that capitalistic society places on those desires, and how it restricts the ability to enjoy that free time,” Montez explains. ” Your job and work, to me, seem to be consistent specters that haunt your ability to enjoy your free time, knowing that those demands are always awaiting you when your free time comes to an end.”

That uneasy balancing act between work and free time informed much of the album’s creation and its themes. “Leisure,” Montez adds “as a concept, became something almost otherworldly and that much more desirable, something you dream about when you have so much time funneled into work, and the repetitive act of balancing those two ends up being something almost hypnotic, and I tried to channel all of that into the sonic qualities of the album.”

So far I’ve written about two singles:

  • Have You Found What You’re Looking For,” a mellow slow-burn centered around painterly, shogeazer-inspired textures created by glistening, delay and reverb pedaled guitars, fluttering synth arpeggios and paired with a trippy groove and Montez’s ethereal delivery. The song sees its narrator asking himself — and in turn, his listener — if they’ve actually found what they’ve been looking for, with the tacit understanding that they may never actually find it anyway. 
  • No Eternity,” another slow-burn centered around lush, glistening and wobbling synth arpeggios, a mix of blown-out beats and live drumming paired with Montez’s plaintive cooing and his penchant for well-placed, razor-sharp hooks. While sonically, “No Eternity” brings Currents-era Tame Impala to mind, Montez explains that lyrically, the song is inspired and informed by current events:  “Lyrically, it may be the closest to a song specifically about COVID–not the pandemic itself, but between the BLM protests in Summer 2020 and this change a lot of people have had to the nature of work, I had a hard time thinking of how things would look on the other side of it, and trying to make sense of the future when the only context you have is the past,” Montez says.

Leisure‘s third and latest single, album title track “Leisure” continues a remarkable run of slow-burning material but this time, rooted in a Quiet Storm-meets-Tame Impala-like groove paired with twinkling keys and Montez’s breathy falsetto cooing. But despite the late night-like groove, the song evokes — and expresses — a world-weary exhaustion and frustration that feels all too familiar.

“This song is about the absolute compression of your soul and destruction of your time that work culture and capitalism has made commonplace. There’s an uncertainty that it creates in terms of how you view your life, and how you’ll look back on it, how you can take care of yourself and your loved ones.” “Sonically,” he continues, “it has elements of psychedelic soul, so there’s a groove in it, but I think the arrangement communicates the exhaustion that’s baked into the lyrics.”

Texas-born singer/songwriter and musician Katy Rea left Texas 12 years ago for the promise and opportunity of New York. Rea auditioned for several television parts and stage plays, occasionally earning a role in someone else’s story, basking momentarily in the flickering glow of rare, unsteady and infrequent success. However, songwriting was her true love and solace, and for her, the only way she could reliably self-soothe. 

For years, she floated around the city as if in a daze and found herself drawn to those, who couldn’t love well. After closing bar shifts, she’d return home to write and strum along to the voices and sirens outside, often lulling herself to sleep. 

One day during a rehearsal, Rea’s drummer and friend Joshua Jaeger, audibly observed that she’d be happier without her habits, but warned that it would take courage to overcome them. She knew in her heart that Jaeger had been right, so two weeks before recording her full-length debut The Urge That Saves You, Rea quit drinking. 

Slated for a November 11, 2022 release, The Urge That Saves You was recorded at Figure 8 Recording entirely live, including main vocals, all in one go. It was during the album’s recording sessions that Rea realized, for the first time with complete certainty that making music was exactly what she needed — and should — be doing. 

Sonically, the album is reportedly hook-driven empath rock that splits off into cinematic, dark psychedelia in a seamless and effortless fashion. Her backing band, which features members, who have played with Angel OlsenFleet FoxesWidowspeak and a lengthy list of others play with a touching restraint and makes for a collection of Rea calls “premonitions, prayer and warnings.”

The album’s songs reflect Rea’s life journey in a way that’s not exactly autobiographical and isn’t always obvious. As a songwriter, Rea prefers to use characters and metaphors in her stories. But they’re rooted in a gritty, psychological realism that feels novelistic. 

During quarantine, the Texas-born, New York-based artist took it upon herself to learn how to engineer and mix her own album after an inspiring phone call with musician and producer Sam Evian, who urged to make the work her own in every way that she could. She spent countless hours at Phil Weinrobe’s Rivington 66 overdubbing and mixing. Learning to mix wasn’t without difficulty. At times, Rea felt like she was learning a different language. Luckily, she had engineers like Spencer Murphy, Andrew Forman and others around to answer questions and help along the way. 

The post-production process was just as rewarding as the recording sessions because Rea succeeded in making the album sound exactly how she wanted it to, while also proving to herself that she was more than capable of taking the reins. So it’s understandable that Rea celebrates the album’s completion with a well-earned pride. She’s also inspired to continue engineering and producing future albums on her own. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about “Lord Try,” a song that evokes the seemingly inescapable and lingering ghosts of regrets, old selves, bad memories of bad people and bad places, centered around a lush and expansive arrangement and Rea’s gorgeous vocal.

“Happiness,” The Urge That Saves You”s latest single is a shimmering and seamless synthesis of elements of classic Nashville country, troubadour pop, and shoegazer textures paired with Rea’s gorgeous vocal, expressing aching yearning. The song is an urgent plea for a rare, hard-won inner peace and security; the sort that comes as a result of digging out of old habits, bad thinking, trauma and your own bullshit.

“When I was writing ‘Happiness’ I was looking for a kind home within myself. I was one of these people who gave tender guidance to friends but couldn’t follow my own advice,” Rea explains. “I had the idea that living as a songwriter was inherently chaotic, a constant battle with sadness, and mysterious rendezvous. I realized this mindset was built on fear and false heroes; you can only read so much Rimbaud before thinking maybe there’s a healthier way. I realized finding self respect had to do with taking actions that really reflected my values. I began to reroute, to organize, and finally made a plan to record. Getting the songs out of my room was the thing that saved me. Making The Urge that Saves You gave me personal agency and a peace that I had never known. It taught me that my fear of not being good enough really didn’t matter; I’d survive it through doing, through making, through collaborating and slowly the fear would quiet to almost nothing. When I listen to ‘Happiness’ I can hear her digging out of an old and cruel system of belief. ‘If you could know war may be coming from the inside, if you could know love may be hollowed out before her, before him.’ This song is about taking responsibility. And In a way it was a kind of premonition, the message came before I knew what I needed to be happy but now it is very clear.”