Every Friday, Atwood Magazine’s staff share what they’ve been listening to that week – a song, an album, an artist – whatever’s been having an impact on them, in the moment. Here’s this week’s weekly roundup!
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:: A Productive Cough – Titus Andronicus ::
Jimmy Crowley, New York
I’ve been jamming the latest Titus Andronicus record. While the rousing, fast, short punk songs are missed, this record that shows that the pastiche element is part of what always made +@ so enjoyable. Stickles still barks and pleads with an audience that he’s just as much a part of as he is in front of it. Stickles is really something of a singer out-of-time. His energy in covering Bob Dylan’s “(I’m) Like a Rolling Stone” is like Sid Vicious covering “My Way;” on “Above the Bodega,” he channels Mick Jagger. The album also has some of the prettiest +@ songs on it too. “Number One” and “Crass Tattoo” are both significantly softer ballads than someone coming for a reworking of “A More Perfect Union” may scoff at. What they do hold from past Titus Andronicus records is the communal feeling in all of them. These are very much songs to raise a mug of beer to.
:: How To Socialise and Make Friends – Camp Cope ::
Jimmy Crowley, New York
This was supposed to be a really great political album, and it is, but it’s so much more. Georgia Maq does such a great job of tying her own experiences into larger conversations. Whether it’s true pop punk of the title track or exorcising ballads like “Face of God.” Even though they’re a punk band, Maq crafts songs like a folk singer. They’re deceptively simple, but she’s has lyrics that resonate. Her songwriting is at the most bare with the closing song, “I’ve Got You,” a touching tribute to Maq’s father. Kelly Dawn-Hellmrich is the band’s secret weapon, since she plays all the melodies on bass. She can chug out a song like “The Opener” or lay back on something like “Anna.” This band will easily be one of the most spoken about for this year, and here’s hoping they come to the U.S. for a few tours.
:: Woodstock – Portugal. The Man ::
Christine Costello, Limerick, Ireland
Having been recently assaulted by the excessive radio play of Portugal. The Man’s single, “Feel It Still,” I finally got around to checking out the rest of their eighth studio album, Woodstock. It did not disappoint. While the album didn’t quite match the misleading peppiness of its leading single, it delivered instead a fascinating experiment of millenial pop, pushing the genre to its very limits in its search for something obscure. PTM dives confidently outside their comfort zone into a remarkably polished and eccentric album with a sound reminiscent of the Gorillaz earlier releases.
:: “Take Your Time” – Vance Joy ::
Kelly McCafferty, New Orleans
Vance Joy’s sophomore album dropped a few weeks ago and for me, it’s been on repeat ever since. It didn’t take but one listen through to claim a favorite. “Take Your Time” has the energy of hits from the past like “Mess is Mine” and “First Time” while still bringing its own unique twist of pleasantry to the love song. It’s the sweet and romantic notion that once you’ve found the one, you can take your time. Take your time falling in love, take your time enjoying every little moment (even the moments you are apart), take your time with them in this life you’re now, inevitably, going to live together. Musically, the entire song is a build as if it’s taking its time (yes, pun intended) to get to the finish. Verse one begins with true to form pulsing bass drum and steady guitar chords. Soft and angelic harmonies and a snappy snare introduce verse two. It’s not until after the bridge, where everything is broken down, that horns and powerful harmonies are brought in to take it home. Another sweet masterpiece by Mr. Joy. Other notable songs from the album include “I’m With You,” “Alone With Me,” and “Call If You Need Me,” but truly each song has a story to tell, the album is a joy from start to finish. So listen, take your time, and enjoy. – Kelly McCafferty
:: “Happiness Amplified” – Above & Beyond ::
Alex Killian, Foster City, California
Above & Beyond are undoubtedly one of the most iconic trance groups out there. Their latest album, Common Ground, is cinematic and gorgeous, and I’ve been listening to it a lot this week leading up to their show in San Francisco tonight. Specifically, I’ve been really digging “Happiness Amplified,” featuring vocals from Richard Bedford. It’s easily one of my favorite non-singles off the album, and showcases everything so many of us love about A&B. It opens with delicate piano and a romantic verse sung over a rising beat. The lyrics lead into a sort of list describing a specific moment – “This is the love of my life right here / This is the end of my night of fear…” – and then we get the drop. It’s a fairly straightforward song, but I love it because it combines beautiful lyricism and emotion with euphoric beats and quality production. There’s no doubt that’s what A&B does best.
:: “Young & Free” – Dermot Kennedy ::
Kelly McCafferty, New Orleans
With the rasp and grit of an early Ed Sheeran and cleverly cadenced lyrics that can’t be compared, Dermot Kennedy’s latest single, “Young & Free” breaks through as the Irish pop-folk ballad you didn’t know you needed. The song passionately takes on young love and how often times it is the strongest, but also the most doomed from the beginning. Kennedy perfectly captures always wondering what could have been while also holding on to that precious feeling of young, passionate, stressful, wild and crazy love – the kind that doesn’t last, and the kind you never want to let go. The strength of his vocals will stay with you long after you listen to “Young & Free.” Give his whole EP a listen, it’s a beautifully written sonically unique EP that gives us a taste of hopefully, a whole lot more to come.
:: “Monument” – Mutemath ::
Sara Santora, Tallahassee, Florida
Up until hearing this song two weeks ago, Mutemath was a band I had heard of but not one I had ever spent much time listening to. I was visiting a friend after a long day, and she was going through stuff in her library that she thought would cheer me up. She had asked if I listened to Mutemath at all, and when I said no, she told me that I’d like them and continued to play this song as loudly as her speakers would allow. She was right. This song was exactly what I needed to hear, and I’ve been listening to it nonstop ever since. It’s cinematic and high energy, and is a reminder of how nice it feels to love someone and want to make things work. Even though I’m not in love right now, this song makes me feel hopeful. It’s fun, and I think it’s something everyone can dance to. -Sara Santora
:: “Pretty Head” – Transviolet ::
Nicole Almeida, Philadelphia
Even though I have a love/hate relationship with pop music, when I find good pop I become obsessed with it. This is absolutely what happened to me when I listened to Transviolet’s song “Pretty Head” off their Kaleidoscopes EP. I first listened to the song because of its music video, directed by Transviolet’s lead singer Sarah McTaggart. Despite it being baby pink and featuring women dressed in very feminine and seemingly delicate attire, is dark and haunting. The song talks about misogyny and sexism, and is a great example of how amazing dark pop can be. I listen to this song all the time, not only because it’s great and makes me want to dance, but because in claiming all of the words used against women on a daily basis, it is incredibly empowering. In the spirit of Women’s History Month, I recommend that everyone listens to it.
:: “She Works Out Too Much” – MGMT ::
Kelly Wynne, Chicago
There’s something fun about a dancey, retro song, and MGMT’s new album stunned listeners with that and more. The opening track, “She Works Out Too Much” is a more than perfect introduction to a standout album, one with a sense of humor and boppy melody to match. The male/female dynamic on “She Works Out Too Much” is entertaining, showing two, very similar views of why a relationship didn’t work out. The concept sounds deep, doesn’t it? Well, listeners are quickly let into the break up secret. If the title didn’t imply it, she worked out too much. And spoiler, he didn’t work out enough. That information is enough to get you into the groove of the song, one with complimentary vocals and high and low dynamics, all crafted comically over a seriously good synthetic melody. From all angles, the song is impressive and will be stuck in your head in no time. The sense of humor that is carried with the message is enough to make it stick, but melodically, the track is impressive beyond MGMT’s commercial-radio past. It’s one for every playlist, especially your workout one!
:: “Loving Is Easy” – Rex Orange County ::
Sara Santora, Tallahassee, Florida
Up until last week I hadn’t heard of Rex Orange County, but now I just can’t seem to get enough. I recently relocated to my hometown — which is a small beach town — which means I get a lovely view of the ocean on my way to and from work each day. “Loving Is Easy” makes the drive better, both in the early morning as the sun is rising as well as the late afternoon as the sun is at its peak. The song is smooth and groovy, and its perfect depiction of falling in love makes it hard not smile along to
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