Editor’s Picks 52: The Killers, Keir, Indoor Fins, FACESOUL, Oh Wonder, & fanclubwallet

Atwood Magazine Editor's Picks 52
Atwood Magazine Editor's Picks 52
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 The Killers, Keir, Indoor Fins, FACESOUL, Oh Wonder, and fanclubwallet!

Atwood Magazine Editor's Picks 2020 Mic Mitch

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“Pressure Machine”

The Killers

This very quickly became my favorite song of last year, and it’s inching its way ever higher. The title track off The Killers’ breathtaking seventh studio album might be appreciated as the record’s thesis statement: Passionate and poignant, “Pressure Machine” is a beautifully devastating reckoning with disenchantment and disillusionment around the American Dream: A tale of growing older together, and growing apart in the process. “Hope’ll set your eyes agleam, like four feet dangling in the stream,” Brandon Flowers sings at the start of this heartfelt ballad. “But the Kingdom of God, it’s a pressure machine. Every step, gotta keep it clean.” Ever since I first heard those lines, the imagery of the “pressure machine” slowly wearing us down and tearing us apart has deeply resonated with me, as someone who never wanted to live a cookie-cutter 9-to-5 life – quite possible for fear of this exact scenario playing out.

Nevertheless, The Killers develop these emotions and this story into something truly and utterly magnificent.

Hope’ll set your eyes agleam, like four feet dangling in the stream
The kingdom of God, it’s a pressure machine – every step, gotta keep it clean
A mattress on a hardwood floor. Who could ever ask for more?
I’ll get up and cut the grass. Ain’t nothing wrong with working class
 I don’t remember the last time you asked how I was
Don’t you feel the time slipping away?
It ain’t funny at all
It’s gonna break your heart one day

Love is hard work, and time makes fools of us all. Somewhere along the way, you run the risk that one (or both) of you stops trying; that you lose that spark and live your lives simply going through the motions – at least, that’s the plot of this bittersweet, tearjerker storyline. “I don’t remember the last time you asked how I was,” Flowers sings, going in and out of an achingly sweet falsetto. “Don’t you feel the time slipping away?

Keep the debt cloud off the kids
Only sunshine on their lids
Jimmy Cricket and Power Wheels
And memories of Happy Meals
Sometimes I look at the stars
I think about how small we are
Sweating it out in the pressure machine
Good ’til the last drop
Why don’t you say little things?
Butterflies don’t just dance on a string
It feels like you clipped all their wings
And every year goes by faster than the one before

The Killers bring to life a litany of intense, intimate feelings throughout their song’s stirring five-minute run. You try to have that picturesque white picket fence life – a wife and kids, a steady job – only to find that things don’t shake out the way you expected them to: That this life isn’t all you (or your spouse) wanted it to be. The spark slowly fades; the fire in your eyes turns to smoldering embers, and one day you find it’s died out altogether. “Life’ll grow you a big red rose, then rip it from beneath your nose – and run it through the pressure machine, and spit you out a name tag memory.”

The Killers’ Pressure Machine spotlights tales of loss and tragedy, depression and disenchantment, nostalgia and longing – ultimately comprising the band’s most visceral and vulnerable exploration of small town life. Its title track is easily one of its best – not to mention one of The Killers’ most emotional, gutting songs ever made. “Butterflies don’t just dance on a string… It feels like you clipped all their wings, and every year goes by faster than the one before.”

We had that treadmill now for months
I think she might’ve used it once
If I shut my mouth and keep the peace
She’ll cook my eggs in bacon grease
Life’ll grow you a big red rose
Then rip it from beneath your nose
And run it through the pressure machine
And spit you out a name tag memory



“Boys Will Be Girls”

Keir

I don’t exactly remember how or when I first discovered Keir, but I feel head over heels when I heard “Boys Will Be Girls” and I’ve never looked back. Quite possibly a staple of my listening diet for every week of the past six months, this dynamic, unapologetic anthem rises with passion and soars with inner strength. It’s a beautiful breaking-down of gender norms, masculine tropes, and inner bias, all set to a stunningly radiant soundtrack with charged beats, buoyant melodies, and a spirited vocal performance that will leave you shivering.

I met a girl it seemed like she was from another land
She had a voice that was so quiet it could cut through sand
Taking me down
We walked around the city until it was getting dark
I kept on dreaming bout the people who have come and gone
Where do they go

Released in June 2021 via Vertigo Berlin / Universal Music GmbH, “Boys Will Be Girls” is Berlin-based singer/songwriter Keir’s third offering from last year, following the smoldering cinematic outpouring “Paranoid” and the tender Fenne Lily duet “leave a light on” (which I covered here). Finessed and feverish, “Boys Will Be Girls” is a tempest filled with raw energy and emotion. The song quickly rises from tight, tempered verses to a sun-soaked, vibrant chorus. We can feel Keir letting loose as he shines, and invites the world to shine with him:

The kids don’t lie
There’s nothing on the radio
Jesus saves us all now at the of the world
And Boys will be girls
The Drugs are cursed
‘Cos everybody i know hurts
Peace on earth wherever you can get it cos
Boys will be girls

It’s an anthem of strength; of acceptance; of self-love. It’s a rallying cry to wearing our hearts on our sleeves and embrace who we are: To be our true selves through and through. “Sometimes, it feels like we are a definite thing,” Keir shared upon the song’s release. “For example, if you’re a boy there are so many ideas attached to that. Really though, who you are should just be who you are surely? It’s fun to shape-shift, I think; it definitely makes you more free, in a way.”

Free. Free to be who and what we want to be. Free to live the way we want to live. Free to love who we want to love. “Boys Will Be Girls” transcends its lyrics and its moment to represent something far greater than any one story could ever tell. It’s a powerfully evocative song with a timeless message and a melody so catchy that you’ll find yourself humming it all year long. Bravo, Keir; bravo!

I met a boy who didn’t know he was so beautiful
He doesn’t know it yet but someday he could have it all
Look at him go
He walked around the city until it was getting dark
And kept on dreaming ’bout the people who have come and gone
I never said that it wouldn’t hurt to be alone
in a lonesome world
and they’re calling out for innocence
calling out for innocence again
The kids don’t lie
Theres nothing on the radio
Jesus saves us all now at the of the world
And Boys will be girls
The Drugs are cursed
Cos everybody i know hurts
Peace on earth wherever you can get it cos
Boys will be girls



“ANTIDOTE”

Indoor Fins

As a huge fan of Perth singer/songwriter Timothy Nelson, I was a shoe-in to fall for his seductive pop-and-dance heavy alter-ego, Indoor Fins. And yes, his music does get those endorphins going. A rush of cool funk erupts into effervescent, bubbly euphoria in “ANTIDOTE,” the artist’s first single of 2021 (and ultimately, the title track off October’s Antidote EP). Already an Atwood Magazine artist-to-watch, Nelson channels his grooviest synths and glitziest beats into a moment of desire, longing, and ecstasy. The verses are suave and sentimental, and the chorus is a hypnotic overhaul of feeling and layered, harmony-laced sound:

Who made the rule tellin’ me how to feel
Whenever you’re concerned?
Eighteen years, nothing’s changed, my dear
Ever since you returned
What could you want with me this time?
I already gave every ounce of love I had to give
I tried to run away, but I keep looking for signs
Crawling back for more
Holding your feet to the fire
Girl, it’s madness, and I’m asking for an antidote
Caught up in my worst desire
Girl, it’s madness, and I’m asking for an antidote

For Nelson, this song is about connection, a dash of romance, and self-discovery: Indulging in some of those more savory feelings, whilst we learn more about ourselves.”[It’s] about this person who might’ve been in your life a long time ago, and after many years they turn up again, and all of a sudden it feels like you’re still the same person you were back in the day,” he explains. “They have this effect on you that you never actually grew out of, and it all comes flooding back when you see them again. It was an incredibly fun song to make…I’m a sucker for a good shuffle beat, although you have to be careful where you apply those I’ve found. This felt like the right song to do it.”

“ANTIDOTE” has been a go-to song of mine for many months now. True to its name, the song is an emotional elixir ready to brighten the day and lighten the spirit. Indoor Fins tapped into something very special here, and came out with a true winner. For even more mesmeric goodness, I highly recommend giving his full Antidote EP a listen.



“All I Need”

FACESOUL

All I need is hope when it gets hard. All I need is meanin’ through the dark.” FACESOUL’s third song (following two COLORS performances), “All I Need” is technically the Somalian artist’s debut track – and what a way to formally introduce yourself to the world. Released in late September 2021, “All I Need” is an achingly tender, heart-in-hand moment of sweet, stirring surrender. A warm layer of vocal harmonies acts as a kind of foundation upon which FACESOUL reflects on his values and goals in life, digging deep down to his core in the process:

Said that it gets easier; that we grow with time
And that we search for meanin’ in the hopes of gettin’ it right
And I swear that I’ve been tryin’, mh
But it ain’t been enough, oh no
I’m searchin’ for some meanin’, mh-mh, mh
For the road it gets tough
Gets real tough
All I need is hope when it gets hard
All I need is meanin’ through the dark
All I need is somethin’ to light the spark
All I need is reason to restart
Give me one more reason to restart
And have hope again

“’All I Need’ is honestly a process of rebirth for me,” FACESOUL tells Atwood Magazine. “It’s a process of reconnecting back to what really matters. It’s the turning point in the project for myself. That’s when darkness starts to really shift in the music, and a process of empowerment takes place. For me it’s more about remembering the tools of balance, remembering that which gives you hope, and remembering that there is something worthwhile, you know.”

Beyond finding that hard-to-master balance of substance and instant memorability on the first try, FACESOUL offers something of a unique artistry: He doesn’t use any instruments in his songs, meaning all of the sounds we hear in this and all of his other songs are of his voice. His goal is to “show the power of the human voice (sound and intonation), and how healing it can be and how it allows for humans to connect with each other.” That certainly resonates true on “All I Need,” as it does throughout his recently-released debut album YSRA (October 13, 2021). Whether you need escape or catharsis, FACESOUL is a much-needed balm for the soul.



“22 Break”

Oh Wonder

Oh Wonder’s fourth studio album arrived as a surprise in late September, sending shockwaves through the hearts of all who listened: A beautifully cathartic and poignantly hopeful breakup album (released just a month after the pair’s wedding this August), 22 Break finds Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West reckoning through their deepest feelings together on their most intimate, cinematic, and emotional release to date. Brutally honest and achingly vulnerable, 22 Break‘s songs are full of pain and passion as the duo abandon all pretense, drop their guard, and work through their problems: From the softly bittersweet “Baby” and the radiant, dazzling title track, to the enchanting, smoldering “Don’t Let the Neighbourhood Hear” and the driving “Rollercoaster Baby,” Oh Wonder do what they’ve always done best: Marrying melody with substance, irresistibly catchy music with deeply meaningful lyrics.

I don’t like to fight
I told you once, and here’s the twice
Your words like spider bites
On my chest burning red
Oh, I’ma give up, hold my hands up
Wave a white flag, say I fucked up
My bad, that was my bad
I’ma give up, hold my hands up
Wave a white flag, say I fucked up
My bad, that was my bad

Considering it’s a song that deals with love’s dissolution, I feel funny talking about how hard and fast I fell for “22 Break,” but I did. Oh Wonder’s trademark vulnerability hits an all-time peak on this emphatic outpouring as they explore, with stirring depth and transparency, the fracture in their own relationship. I throw the word “raw” around quite a lot, but this song is the embodiment of it: Raw, yet finessed; sweet, yet so deeply poignant. To top it off, “22 Break” is unrelentingly catchy, with a cinematic, energetic chorus full of warm colors and rich, intoxicating musical flavors.

But it takes two to break a heart, two to break
It takes two to break a heart, to break a heart

Aside from the raw, cathartic energy rippling through its every moment, perhaps the most powerful aspect of this stunning album is the fact that this is a record Oh Wonder so clearly needed to make, rather than one they wanted to make. Its lyrics come naturally from a life lived together; it’s the story of their connection, in all its wondrous ups and downs, highs and lows – and the title track, acting like a little thesis statement, captures the turmoil and the passion, the angst and the anguish, all at once. 22 Break is heart-wrenchingly honest and captivatingly beautiful – an exceptional album worth returning to time and again. I recommend giving the full album a listen if, like me, you can’t help but love this song.



“Car Crash in G Major”

fanclubwallet

I discovered fanclubwallet’s “Car Crash in G Major” in December – a little late, consider its September 2020 release – and was immediately smitten by the song’s warmth and purity: Low-key sonics, hushed vocals, and sweet poetry coalesce in a beautiful marriage that feels welcoming and familiar, like you’re listening to a friend’s demo tape together with them for the very first time, every time. The artist moniker for Ottawa-based Hannah Judge, fanclubwallet debuted in March 2020 and, despite an untimely start (we all know what happened that month), has quickly amassed a repertoire that breathes with a wondrous, multifaceted light. Judge describes her style as “writing emo s*** that doesn’t sound emo,” and certainly “Car Crash in G Major” lives up to that as the relatively buoyant tale of an ill-fated relationship.

I was driving when the airbag popped and knocked sense into me
I was crying when the shrapnel hit and cut out part of me
You were lying when the cop asked you about me
The car’s on fire
With you inside
And who’s to say what it means
Now your mom she is going to therapy
And your dad says you’re a disappointment to me
I was drunk when I crawled out of the wreck and screamed
The car’s on fire
With you inside
And that’s okay with me

“Car Crash in G Major” ended up being the lead single and opening track off fanclubwallet’s debut EP Hurt Is Boring, released last May. A cathartic collection of catchy, unassuming pop/rock, this is, to me, what “indie music” has always been about: Sharing our truest, most unadulterated selves. It’s unfiltered, honest, and deeply irresistible all at the same time. I admit to being late to the party with this song, but I’m honored to hop on the bandwagon now: Truth be told, I’ve still got this tune on repeat.



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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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