Editor’s Picks 102: Birthh, The Mysterines, Angie McMahon, Katelyn Tarver, Katherine Li, & The Japanese House!

Atwood Magazine's Editor's Picks 102
Atwood Magazine's Editor's Picks 102
Atwood Magazine is excited to share our Editor’s Picks column, written and curated by Editor-in-Chief Mitch Mosk. Every week, Mitch will share a collection of songs, albums, and artists who have caught his ears, eyes, and heart. There is so much incredible music out there just waiting to be heard, and all it takes from us is an open mind and a willingness to listen. Through our Editor’s Picks, we hope to shine a light on our own music discoveries and showcase a diverse array of new and recent releases.
This week’s Editor’s Picks features Birthh, The Mysterines, Angie McMahon, Katelyn Tarver, Katherine Li, and The Japanese House!

Atwood Magazine Editor's Picks 2020 Mic Mitch

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“Jello”

by Birthh

The soul-stirring sensation of love manifest in song, Birthh’s “Jello” is a serene soundtrack to intimacy’s enchanting euphoria. The Brooklyn by-way-of Tuscany singer/songwriter channels bits of her Italian heritage into her ever-vulnerable alt-pop artistry as she brings listeners deep into her inner sanctum, and deep into her world. Gentle guitars glisten and glow around Birthh’s (née Alice Bisi) golden voice as she shows us what it means for her to dive “headfirst into a sweeping new crush” – and somewhere along the way, we’re reminded of our own first loves; of the powerful allure of romance; and of how desire can so easily, instantly, and utterly overwhelm our senses.

Moonlanded - Birthh
Moonlanded – Birthh
You must think that I’m dumb when I look into your eyes
I always talk too much, never say enough
But I’ve got dreams that are wider than canyons in the sky
I hope I don’t get crushed under cirrus clouds
My legs feel like Jello
My legs feel like Jello when you’re around
Legs feel like Jello
My legs feel like Jello when you’re around
I could be better, I should be better when you’re around
I could be better, I should be better when you’re around

“You know that wobbly fluttering feeling you get when you’re around someone you like a lot?” Birthh explains in conversation with Atwood Magazine. “Feeling like your heart could burst in and out of your chest at any moment like a Tom and Jerry scene, feeling so silly cause you think about them all the time but you also want them to do their thing in the world. Growing up around dysfunctional relationships as the standard and knowing that you don’t want that for yourself.”

“I want to embrace the love I have and give it back with no strings attached. I’m just happy you exist, crush. The string section in this song is how you make me feel. Feeling like I’m cruising over Italy on a warm sunny day. I want to show you that part of me, I want to show you what it feels like to grow up in a place like Tuscany and to carry it in your heart. That’s how I want to love you. I want to love you the Italian way.”

Breathing in, breathing out I’m just tryina ground my feet
Pacific Ocean deep, eyes like tourmaline
But you say things in my heart ICBMs to my chest
A hundred miles per second
I hope you feel it when my
Legs feel like Jello
My legs feel like Jello when you’re around
Legs feel like Jello
My legs feel like Jello when you’re around
I could be better, I should be better when you’re around
I could be better, I should be better when you’re around

This is unapologetic, sweetly seductive romance: Sun-soaked and lovestruck, “Jello” burns bright as Birthh brings her infatuation to life, spilling her enamored heart and soul in an intimate, dreamy song that aches from the inside out. The lead single off Birthh’s forthcoming third album Moonlanded (due out September 1 via Carosello Records), “Jello” is a breathtaking first look at what the Italian artist has in store for us later this year.

Io mi sento Jello
Io mi sento Jello se sei con me
Mi sento Jello
Io mi sento Jello se sei con me
Mi sento Jello
Io mi sento Jello se sei con me
Mi sento Jello
Io mi sento Jello se sei con me



“Begin Again”

by The Mysterines

My favorite rock band discovery of last year, The Mysterines are a singular and stunning force to be reckoned with – a fact that the Liverpool four-piece made abundantly clear on their critically acclaimed debut album. “An impassioned outpouring of feverish energy and seismic emotion, Reeling roars with raw intensity as The Mysterines capture life’s chaos, upheaval, and inner turmoil with bold flavors, soul-stirring candor, and instantly memorable music,” I wrote in Atwood‘s 2022 Albums of the Year feature, calling the album “an alt-rock triumph” (and if you like how it sounds via streaming, it’s even better on vinyl).

Reeling - The Mysterines
Reeling – The Mysterines

A year and change on from their debut, The Mysterines’ return highlights the depth of their multi-faceted artistry – as well as the unmatched emotionality of frontwoman Lia Metcalfe’s jaw-dropping voice. Released May 30 via Fiction Records, “Begin Again” is a song halfway between our corporeal reality and spirit realm. Its title is by no means literal, and yet this really does feel like a fresh start for the band as they end one climactic chapter in their lives and turn to a new page, ready to keep their story moving.

And damn, does “Begin Again” move, groove, and take us to tremendous heights. Smoldering electric and acoustic guitars coalesce on a song that fuses the raw, cool indie rock of the band’s debut with a bit of sun-soaked Western warmth. It may all be in my head, but perhaps that California feelin’ is intentional after all, as the song explores the boundary between our physical existence and the world beyond – and the Golden State is home to much of the mysticism and occult that have seeped into both American and British cultures over the past half-century.

Begin Again - The Mysterines
Begin Again – The Mysterines
Here begins the fire,
Roll back your eyes in,
Watch it burn, burn, the wires.
As the nerves are splitting thin,
Twist your skull to face the sun,
It is a dream that you are in.
There goes Saturn turning,
On a broken wheel,
But wait, the signs begin again,
The signs they begin again.

“Written during a full moon in a barn in the West Country, ‘Begin Again’ felt like finding a key to the spirit realm the evening it arrived,” The Mysterines’ Lia Metcalf tells Atwood Magazine. “It felt to me at the time I wrote it that I was embarking on a surreal journey of self dissolution, perhaps it will have the same impact on the listener…. Think of the first verse as a set of instructions, and see how far reality stretches.”

For how far does this stretch,
The clock it stops and starts again,
As you swallow stars made out of lead.
The mirror begins to shriek,
“Why am I you no longer me?”,
Listen! For the thing you fear is singing,
It’s singing.
There goes Saturn breaking,
Off a turning wheel,
But wait, the signs begin again,
The signs they begin again,
I swear that they’ll begin again,
The signs, they begin again

Metcalf’s voice roars and soars, an emotionally-charged wrecking ball radiating over searing guitars and relentless drums. “Begin Again” is an intensely heated eruption for the band, and it arrived shortly before The Mysterines join Arctic Monkeys on their stadium tour this summer.

“We cannot wait to get started on the stadium tour with Arctic Monkeys – it feels surreal to be supporting them, having grown up listening to all those brilliant albums,” the band shares. “Straight after the tour we’re planning to get into the studio to record our second LP (well, a couple of days off first). Nearly finished writing the album now, and we should be playing a couple of new ones on the tour. Excited to get recording again.”

The Mysterines are proving themselves to be as tenacious and as unabating as their music. Here’s to them beginning again, and to all those planning to roll back your eyes, twist your skulls to face the sun, and step into the spirit world… I wish you good luck.

There goes Saturn screaming,
Off it’s breaking wheel,
But wait,
The signs begin again,
The signs they begin again.



“Saturn Returning”

by Angie McMahon

Rings of cosmic energy come down from the celestial realm as Angie McMahon returns after three long years. The Melbourne-based singer/songwriter (and former Atwood Editor’s Pick) wraps us in intimate waves of self-love an ethereal indie folk on “Saturn Returning,”a beautifully breathtaking, soul-stirring song of self-love and surrender.

Saturn Returning - Angie McMahon
Saturn Returning – Angie McMahon
Baby, I forgive ya
Angel in the mirror
Here we are now
That you quit being a quitter
For nothing more
And nothing bigger
Than letting this jaw go loose
For the flow of the river, the river
I’m gonna be everything she couldn’t hold
I’m gonna dance every day till I’m old

Achingly raw and redemptive, “Saturn Returning” references an astrological phenomenon often employed in horoscopes where Saturn returns “to the degree and sign that it was at the time that you were born,” per Oprah Daily. This occurs every 27 to 29 years, making Saturn a cosmic entryway of sorts into adulthood (and, as writer By Elena Nicolaou so eloquently puts it, “the cosmic exit out of your current situation and into something more beautiful”).

Yes, we can call it a rebirth for Angie McMahon – one of my personal favorite artists, whose debut album Salt and subsequent EP Piano Salt house some of the most inspiring music made over the past decade. “Saturn Returning” can easily be added to that list, highlighting McMahon’s talents not only as a lyricist and a vocalist, but as a weaver of worlds: She builds a soft and tender introduction into an cinematic, cathartic climax, energizing and invigorating the senses as she undergoes her own visceral inner reckoning:

I’m gonna love every inch of this body
The limbs that are writing each day of this story
I’m gonna surrender my keys to the universe
Please, always catch me the way that you caught me
I’m gonna let Saturn returning distort me
Just wanna be wide awake when I’m forty

“Your Saturn Return is like a teacher, and this song is a conversation with myself through a time of significant endings and beginnings, where compassion and hope have been the best antidote to my own mental health struggles,” McMahon tells Atwood Magazine. “The biggest lesson I’ve had in this chapter of my life is the value of a gentle and loving relationship with myself, no matter what. When I went for a walk and listened to it I started crying, feeling like a choir of hopeful voices could see me struggling and they had my back. I realised I’d been writing the song I needed to hear.”

Raw, inspiring, wide-eyed and open-hearted, “Saturn Returning” highlights the magic, the beauty, and the absolute wonder in our world.

Crying to the heavens
Find me in the present
Baby, I forgive ya
Angel in the mirror
Flow of the river
Flow of the river
Flow of the river
Flow of the river



“Starting to Scare Me”

by Katelyn Tarver

Who among us has never buried something deep down inside, avoiding or ignoring a problem altogether rather than confronting it head-on and trying to fix things in the moment? We’re all human, which inevitably means we’re all guilty of this – so we can all just as easily relate to everything Katelyn Tarver expresses in her new single. “I throw gas on the fire cause I don’t wanna change,” the LA-based singer/songwriter sings, her voice a soft, emotionally-charged beacon of energy. “I just keep choosing the pain.” A visceral, cathartic fever dream, “Starting to Scare Me” aches with intense emotion as Tarver reckons with her darker impulses in broad daylight.

Starting To Scare Me - Katelyn Tarver
Starting To Scare Me – Katelyn Tarver
There’s a girl on the internet and she drives me insane
I should probably look into it but I’d rather complain
I throw gas on the fire cause I don’t wanna change
I just keep choosing the pain
There’s a crack in my windshield I probably won’t ever fix
I been breaking my neck so I can see around it
And I know I know better but i’m stubborn as shit
I’m just a sucker for it

“This song is about indulging in self-destructive behavior, because it’s easier than doing the work of looking underneath it to try and figure out what’s causing it in the first place,” Katelyn Tarver tells Atwood Magazine. “I’ve spent a lot of time running from my darker impulses, pushing them down, pretending they’re not there… this song is about shining a spotlight on them and kind of liking the feeling even though it… well… uh… scares me.”

We feel that intensity come out in spades as Tarver reaches the track’s a radiant chorus, her inner tension boiling over and raining down through an increasingly expressive and volatile performance.

I keep digging myself deeper
I’m not mad about it either
Maybe I should care
Maybe I should stop
But the more I wear it the more I like
How it feels on me
Have I lost my mind
I’m still me but barely
I’m starting to scare me

Tarver has been no stranger to gut-wrenchingly vulnerable songwriting throughout her decade-long music career, often leaning in to share the deepest parts of her humanity – even when they might reveal something less than perfect. Her long-awaited 2021 debut album Subject to Change found her navigating themes of change, triumph, loss, and resilience: “Inner turmoil slowly gives way to inner strength (and hopefully some inner peace) as Tarver dwells in and grows from the throes of life,” Atwood Magazine wrote in a feature at the time.

“Starting to Scare Me” is only Tarver’s second song since that album’s release a year and a half ago (following April’s introspective single “What Makes a Life Good?”), and comes alongside three exciting announcements: Her signing to Nettwerk Music Group, her forthcoming sophomore album duo out in early 2024, and her first headlining tour starting September 6th in San Francisco. The 21-date trek will culminate on October 6th in Los Angeles.

I live in a city where everybody’s a critic
I guess that it’s made me a little too analytical
I’m picking apart the things I actually like
‘Cause I wish they were mine

For all those slightly perturbed, put off, or even a little excited by their darker sides, “Starting to Scare Me” is an enchanting indulgence we can come back to time and again for a catchy, cathartic singalong.

I’m self destructive
I wish I wasn’t
I’d rip out my heart to feel it
Cause feeling something’s
Better than nothing
Even if it kills me
Maybe I should care
Maybe I should stop
But the more I wear it the more I like
How it feels on me
Like I’m tearing down walls I built carefully
I’m starting to scare me



“I Just Wanna Know”

by Katherine Li

The dreaded “label conversation” has honestly never sounded quite as catchy as it does when Katherine Li sings about it. The Canadian artist’s second single of the year hits its stride as she drops all pretense and sings, point blank, hot on the mic, “I just wanna know what we are: Is this something, or are we just friends who make out in your car?” Her voice soars over searing synths, and thus “I Just Wanna Know” becomes the shout-out-loud anthem every romantic caught in an abstract, amorphous “situationship” deserves.

I Just Wanna Know - Katherine Li
I Just Wanna Know – Katherine Li
Why’d you put your arm around me like I’m yours
Don’t start ‘cause I can’t be the only one who’s wanting more
And maybe it’s an only now thing
Maybe I’m just overthinking
Maybe when tomorrow comes I’ll know that I was wrong
I just wanna know what we are
Is this something or are we just
Friends who make out in your car
Every Friday night
We could end this before it starts
But I can’t lie I don’t really wanna
Just wanna know what we are

“‘I Just Wanna Know’ explores the world of the dreaded ‘what are we?’ conversation between people who are definitely more than ‘just friends,'” Li tells Atwood Magazine. “Pulling from emotions like confusion, desperation, and a little bit of anger, this song perfectly encapsulates the overthinking we all go through at the start of a new relationship.”

Let’s be clear: That conversation doesn’t get easier just because there’s a song about it. It’s actually one of the most important conversations any relationship will ever have – the potential turning point that transitions a fling into forever after (you never know!) – and as such, it’s always going to be understandably intense. Li doesn’t sugarcoat this fact; instead, she leans into that weight, pouring world of passion into an important moment of intimacy and connection:

Why’d you promise me forever if that’s not what you mean?
False hope show me if I’m just going crazy
I just wanna know what you think
Hope it’s not just me who wants this
Can you tell that I’ve been waiting for this for so long
I just wanna know what we are
Is this something or are we just
Friends who make out in your car
Every Friday night
We could end this before it starts
But I can’t lie I don’t really wanna
Just wanna know what we are

As irresistibly catchy as it is unavoidably relatable, “I Just Wanna Know” hits hard in all the right ways, ensuring not only that we come back to this song for repeat listens, but that we pay special attention to Katherine Li from here on out.

I just wanna know what we are
Is this something or are we just
Friends who make out in your car
Every Friday night
We could end this before it starts
But I can’t lie I don’t really wanna
Just wanna know what we are
Love me, love me not
Tell me exactly just how you’re sorry
Sorry now, what are you so sorry ‘bout
Is it how you never liked me that way
And I knew it from that first day
Maybe it was all my mistake
Should I be sorry



“Sunshine Baby”

by The Japanese House

The Japanese House’s Amber Bain has been one of my favorite artists (and vocalists) for quite some time, but something about “Sunshine Baby” just hit me differently – deeper – and no, it has nothing to do with the presence of The 1975’s vocalist, Matty Healy. Achingly ambient and radiating with a warm, gentle glow, the third single taken off The Japanese House’s forthcoming sophomore album In the End It Always Does (out June 30 via Dirty Hit) is a dreamy and lush indulgence of heartrending melancholia.

I don’t know what’s right anymore,” Bain relents in her song’s chorus. “I don’t wanna fight anymore. Sitting in the back seat driving with my sunshine baby, well I’ve gone a little crazy, surely someone’s gonna save me now…” It’s a poignant admission, an intimate surrender, and a cathartic release all in one.

In The End It Always Does - The Japanese House
In The End It Always Does – The Japanese House
I wanna be a part of it
I want to sing along
The feeling when the wind screen
wipers line up with the song

Perform my stupid rituals
Everything is cyclical
hold on to this feeling
’cause you won’t feel it for long

You won’t feel it for long
I don’t know what’s right anymore
I don’t wanna fight anymore
Sitting in the back seat driving with my sunshine baby
well I’ve gone a little crazy
surely someone’s gonna save me now

“Sunshine Baby is my nickname for my dog, and my ex and I always used to lay on the beach together being sunshine babies,” Bain explains. “The chorus is kind of a submission to the end of our relationship, but singing it in a positive light. There’s a transience in every part of a relationship, and in the circle of everything it comes back around.”

The heart wants what it wants, even if it can’t have it – and as she finds herself in the throes of bittersweet nostalgia, The Japanese House does what she’s always done best by bringing us into the room next to her, to feel what she feels as intensely and immediately, as she experiences a flood of emotions in real time. Thanks to a heavy, pulsing beat, a deluge of radiant vocal harmonies, and Amber Bain’s own breathtakingly emotive delivery, “Sunshine Baby” aches in all the right (and maybe some of the wrong) ways; moody, brooding, and beautiful, it’s an enveloping soundtrack to that act of embracing our scars and our ghosts, and dwelling in the comfort of our past even when it hurts us to do so.

I miss my dog and I miss falling in love
I miss the feeling that you get
when someone fits just like a glove

I can’t help but question
Maybe this just isn’t helping
To be putting off the end
cause in the end, it always does
In the end it always does
I don’t know what’s right anymore
I don’t wanna fight anymore
Sitting in the back seat driving with my sunshine baby
well I’ve gone a little crazy surely someone’s gonna save me
now we’re right where we were
I don’t wanna fight with her
Sitting by the seafront
Lying with my sunshine baby
Well I’ve gone a little crazy
surely someone’s gonna save me now



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Editor’s Picks

Atwood Magazine Editor's Picks 2020 Mic Mitch

 follow EDITOR’S PICKS on Spotify



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