Nine songs means nine opportunities to be swept off your feet, as the tunes on’22 v. 075 edition do. It’s another sonic experience to not miss.
A.A. Williams – “Evaporate” (London, England)
RIYL: Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle, Marriages
Two years ago, A.A. Williams released a debut album for the ages with the stark yet symphonic bender, Forever Blue. Unsurprisingly, the LP landed on our 50 Favorite Albums of 2020, and it still gets spun in these parts. The record should have resulted in Williams’ star exploding, but a pandemic prevented her from touring globally to support it. She instead used the time to reinterpret the album’s songs on acro and released a covers record, Songs from Isolation. Williams also started to sketch the tracks for her sophomore full-length, and yesterday she revealed As The Moon Rests‘ lead single, “Evaporate”.
This harrowing, Gothic number is Williams at her most devouring and hypnotic. She is an enchantress, who lures innocent and experienced listeners with her powerful but lush voice. As the portal to her realm temporarily opens, we walk in, tantalized by the dark beauty that surrounds her. As she sings about wanting to “stop the violence in my mind / Everyday I try to just survive”, a sonic tornado of enrapturing, dark, sinister noise emerges. At this point, the portal closes and we are captives inside Williams’ world. We are inside her mind, feeling her torment with every word spoken and every note played. This song is just a microcosm of Williams’ art, of her power.
Sinead O’Brien – “Like Culture” (Limerick, Ireland)
RIYL: Geese, LCD Soundsystem, Gustaf
Those familiar with Sinead O’Brien know what the Irish post-punk poet has a lot to say. The four singles she’s released to date in advance of the release of her debut album, Time Bend and Break The Bower, are lyrical gems. “GIRLKIND”, “Good Times Are Coming”, “Holy Country”, and “Multitudes” should be part of every songwriting syllabus. O’Brien, though, surprises with the LP’s fifth and final release, “Like Culture”, in that she does not talk too much. This is not to say that she is out of ideas or regressing to the pop culture mean. Quite the opposite, actually. She instead uses fewer words to make a powerful point about our world. Did you really expect O’Brien would sing about frivolous things? Of course she won’t.
The hard-hitting art-punk of her previous songs have been set aside for a groovy, catchy, disco-punk approach, and it is awesome. It’s not a full-on dance number but rather one that has us gently twirling under the disco-ball. The rhythms are funky, the chiming guitar is groovy, and O’Brien’s voice and words are typically biting. With a more familiar sonic approach, she sings about how our society has become governed by technology. She cleverly describes how we seek likes and follows on social media and develop relationships without making meaningful, physical contact, and this has only been magnified with a pandemic.
“The bite of sundown bites
Where evenings come and go
Curtain up to curtain call
Night down calls the final call
No one grieves the loss of the day to the night
Until the last of the day and the last of the light
O’Brien’s debut album, Time Bend and Break The Bower, is out this Friday, June 10th on Chess Club Records. Pre-orders and pre-saves are available here and on Bandcamp. It’s going to be one of the year’s very bests.
iamamiwhoami – “Walking on Air” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: I Break Horses, Zola Jesus, Lanterns on the Lake
Speaking about one of 2022’s great album, iamamiwhoami on Friday released Be Here Soon, which is simultaneously gorgeous and vulnerable. More importantly, it is a celebration of a great artist returning after eight years away. It is Jonna Lee’s masterpiece with every song an incredible experience, which includes the LP’s ultimate track, “Walking on Air”.
Most record’s tend to end on a sobering and melancholic note, but this is not Lee’s way. She instead chooses to leave listeners with one more unforgettable moment with the mesmerizing “Walking on Air”. At times, it is heavenly and ethereal, creating the feeling that our souls have been freed and, thus, levitating. Lee’s voice, however, drips with pain, almost agony, as she shares a battle of light and darkness that occurs within her. At one point, she beautifully describes the various factions at play:
“It is a sin, it is a fact
Inside I’m high and hungry
Racing the pulse legs on my back
I play dead and I attack
Sweet and salty lies roses and mallows”
Shortly thereafter, she shares how she is unable to break free despite constant signs of new beginnings.
“Hope is reborn and promise dies
And you demand your ending
But who are you, you got no right
I imagine and you ride
And in between the lines I lose my control”
Sharon Silva – “Scorekeeper” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Faye Webster, Julia Jacklin, Wild Reeds
One of the first bands we covered many moons ago were Wild Reeds, who blew us away with their dreamy and widescreen approach to indie folk. More than two years have passed, however, since the quintet have shared any new music. Part of the reason is that since the pandemic’s onset the three principal singers and songwriters have pursued solo projects. MacKenzie Howe composes music as Pet Dress while Kinsey Lee is also known as Dr. Kinsey. Sharon Silva, meanwhile, is using her own name, and she released her debut solo single, “Spitting Image”, last summer. Yesterday, she shared her second song, which is what one would expect from a great American singer-songwriter.
“Scorekeeper” is a dreamy and evocative piece of folk-rock. It combines the endearing modesty of Faye Webster with the poetic, lyrical power of Julia Jacklin. Silva’s delightful voice seems to skip over each drum beat, bass strum, guitar riff, and glistening piano key as if they are rocks in a stream and offer her a path to safer ground. She, however, must first traverse choppy waters, which she brilliantly articulates on the song. Silva shares how her mind is racing and filled with an assortment of thoughts – whether to say goodbye to someone, how to make amends with a separated friend, and when to take a step forward. Just as it seems she might just lock herself in the closet, the instruments and Silva’s voice rise and reach a gorgeous climax. This represents the long-awaited epiphany, where Silva realises it is time for her to take control.
And here’s hoping Silva indeed has assumed the steering wheel to her career and that more music will be coming from her.
Girl Time – “Yours” (San Diego, USA)
RIYL: Slow Pulp, Dehd, Florist
While siblings Michaela and Ian Vachuska only have a few songs to their Girl Time project, many of them have been pretty great. This includes “Pretend” and “Remember”, which made us take notice of the pair’s talents. With each release, the better they get and the more we become immersed into their sonic wonderland, which happens to be their bedrooms. They yet again invite us to sit next to them on their Sealy Posturepedic with “Yours”.
Similar to the previous two songs, “Yours” is sadscore perfected. It is reminiscent of the endearing sounds of the ’90s when bands like Red House Painters stole the hearts and minds of college students across North America and Europe. The Vachuskas achieve this without any special bells or whistles. All they have at their disposal are guitars, drums, bass, keys, and their fabulous harmonies. They also have the ability to write songs that appeal to music fans of all ages. In this case, they sing about whether two broken hearts can be mended – either together or on their own.
I’m tethered why would I go back to
Those days but I’m worried
I might repeat the same
The same, same, same mistakes
Should we try to make it up
I don’t wanna listen
Yeah we did the same thing once
Is it any different?”
MisterWives – “Easy” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: BROODS, Lawrence, Grouplove
Yeah, we know that MisterWives released “Easy” at the end of May, and it has been in our queue since that time. We’re not exactly sure why it took us so long to share it, but better late than never, right? Actually we know why we waited for this moment – we really could use a song that lifts our spirits and makes us believe that better days are indeed ahead.
“Easy” represents what makes Mandy Lee (vocals), Etienne Bowler (percussion), William Hehir (bass), Marc Campbell (guitar), and Mike Murphy (saxophone, keys, synth) a favorite of the festival circuit. It is a booming and uplifting electro-pop banger made to get people dancing and in a state of euphoria. More importantly, it’s intended to make us stop feeling sorry for ourselves, get us on our feet, and encourage us to run. To run forward and grab hold of the next opportunity. As Lee shares:
“I’m getting too good at goodbyes
I’m not afraid when I’m alone
I spent a summer with no friends
I’m doing better on my own
Or better than I would be doing before
I’m not crying my eyes out on the bathroom floor
Not pointing the finger, not cursing your name
I’m not hung up on everything I could have change”
The words, though, that will stick long with us: “It gets easier but it’s not easy”. We need to remind ourselves of this everyday.
This catchy number is out on Photo Finish Records.
Spacemoth – “Waves Come Crashing” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Austra, Still Corners, Nite Jewel
Maryam Qudus may not be a household name, but she’s emerged as one of the most influential individuals in indie music. Behind the scenes as a producer, engineer, and songwriter, she’s worked with Toro y Moi, Sadie Dupuis (a.k.a. Sad13), tUnE-yArDs, Thao Nguyen (of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down), SASAMI, and Alanis Morissette. The Afghan-American is also a talented artist, which began some eight years ago through Doe Eye. Qudus, however, has retired that project and replaced it with a new one, Spacemoth, which she introduced last summer. Instead of eye-popping dream-pop, Qudus has adopted traits of those she’s worked with over the years and created a sound that is widescreen yet immediate, full of texture yet accessible. In other words, her music is an adventure, and this is evidenced on “Waves Come Crashing”.
Whether the vessel of your choosing is a luxury yacht, a cruise liner, a dhow, or a surfboard, the single feels very much like a trip at high tide. Psychedelic tones, alt-pop textures, and art-rock rhythms coalesce on this weaving and cresting track. It is filled with moments of refreshing wonder and aural delights. Even when the song goes a little turbulent at its apex, we feel secure within Qudus’ whirlpool despite the fears that may lurk in the water.
“In a dream
It was just you and me
Nothing could ever tear our love apart but these fears
They have taken our years
A broken image printed in my mind
Oh, when the waves come crashing I will beg for the sea to take me first”
TOLEDO – “L-Train” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Wild Pink, Sam Evian, Sun June
Daniel Alvarez and Jordan Dunn-Pilz define contradiction, and we say this as compliment. As TOLEDO, they create shimmering and often heart-tugging alt-pop. Their music, as such, seem to represent good times. Listen beyond the sweet melodies and hear their lyrics, and a whole different side to their art emerges. Take, for instance, “Funday Sunday” from their 2021 EP, Jockeys of Love, which was about alcoholism. Like the old adage says: never judge a book by its cover. The duo once again conjure their contradictory magic on “L-Train”.
This swimmingly embracing number is made for campfires and long evenings residing on the porch with friends and loved ones. The touches of the banjo, the light pattering of the drums, and the stirring harmonies are all sounds we associate with the warming of the days, and we just want to wrap ourselves within the song. But we reconsider this very thought once we hear what Alvarez and Dunn-Pilz have to say. They share how one man’s self-destructive behavior – addiction, constant late nights, and passing out – nearly ends everything. This song is his realization that he must change before it’s too late.
“Each morning I wake up
The shape of release still far from my doorbell
and I don’t wanna do this anymore
I wanna know me better
It’s a warning sign
Spinning neon on the gray line
There’s the feeling unstable again
A pattern that I’m falling in”
We, however, have no problem with TOLEDO falling into the pattern of delivering the unexpected. This terrific single is out on Grand Jury Music.
Wet – “I’m Not Her” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: deryk, Cigarettes After Sex, Anna of the North
One of the very first bands we covered was Wet. At the time, Wet was a trio, and they had just released their self-titled debut EP. We came across them mostly be accident, as they had opened for TORRES at the now-abolished Glasslands. The night, though, was one to remember. Over the next nine years, Kelly Zutrau has turned her project into a DIY success story, dropping cool chillwave, sultry alt-R&B, and dreamy alt-pop. Regardless of the approach, Wet’s music is characterized by great immediacy and sincerity, which are repeated on “I’m Not Her”.
With just a piano, some ambient noise, and the occasional wail of a guitar, Zutrau has turned immediacy into a crushing affair. “I’m Not Her” is stunning tenfold. While the song is beautifully melancholic, it will have hearts racing and chests swelling due to the subtle instrumentation and Zutrau’s gorgeous voice. Her words, too, are crushing, as she shares how she is but a footnote in another person’s life.
“Was I always such a bore?
Oh I wish I could convince myself
That I was more than just here to help
You get over someone else
But that was never me
I’m not her
You must be mistaken
Oh, I’m not her
I guess my place was taken
Before I was ever faced with
This lonely man
I call my baby”
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