Editor’s Picks 69: James Bay, Ashe, Djo, Lissy Taylor, Braxton Cook, & MYTBE!

Atwood Magazine's Editors Picks 69
Atwood Magazine's Editors Picks 69
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 James Bay, Ashe, Djo, Lissy Taylor, Braxton Cook & Marquis Hill, & MYTBE!

Atwood Magazine Editor's Picks 2020 Mic Mitch

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“One Life”

James Bay

Forever ain’t forever if we’re not together,” James Bay sings sweetly, his heart plastered on his sleeve. “…I just wanna tell you, without you I don’t know what I’d do. I’ve only got one life, and I want you in it…” The acclaimed British singer/songwriter is responsible for more than a dozen breathtakingly beautiful love songs over the past decade, and with “One Life,” he’s added yet another cinematic confessional to that romantic catalog. The lead single off Bay’s highly anticipated third LP Leap (out July 8 via EMI Records/Republic Records), “One Life” is an achingly intimate release featuring radiantly raw, candid lyrics, uplifting, inspiring melodies, and a charismatic singalong chorus bursting with invigorating passion and electric energy – not to mention a thrilling cascade of oh’s that show Bay to be in his prime not only as a lyricist and songwriter, but also as a singer.

All I wanna be
Is with you, in your arms
In our room, living small in a big house
I’ve been having dreams
Have you had them too?
I see me and you
By the door, rushing in from the rain at the back of the garden
Do you see that too?
Forever ain’t forever if we’re not together
I don’t wanna put a lot of pressure on you
I just wanna tell you, I just wanna tell you
Without you I don’t know what I’d do
I’ve only got one life and I want you in it
(Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)

Tell me that you’ll never let me go
Oh, bury my body or send it down the river
(Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)

I could never do it on my own

“This is a song I wrote about me and Lucy – we first got together at 16 and have been together ever since,” James Bay shares, referencing his longtime partner; the two have been together since well before his career took off, and beyond her being there with him for every step along the way, they also recently welcomed a baby girl into the world. “She’s supported me since day 1. From open mic nights, right through to my biggest shows. It’s been one adventure after another, but now we’re on the biggest one of all: Raising our beautiful daughter, Ada.”

“It’s so sweet, and lovely, and full of love,” he adds, “and it’s supposed to be, but really it’s about the second verse: ‘Sometimes I get sad at the front, at the back in the middle of the happiest moments, ’cause good things can go bad easily.‘ I need that. I need that to anchor me to the ground or else everything’s just floating in the stars, and it’s, with all respect, a little bit meaningless.” For Bay, this love song is especially important because it’s about the love that gives him strength, purpose, and meaning every single day; the love that grounds him and supports him no matter what; the love that’s there for him in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad (and so on and so forth). It’s rooted in reality, which can feel all too brutal at times, but that’s what makes this song so important, so meaningful, and so inescapably vulnerable. Bay’s an open book; he holds nothing back, giving his all as he sings, “Wanna jump, wanna fly, wanna fall, I wanna hit the ground running… Do you wanna marry me?

Sometimes I get sad
At the front, at the back
In the middle of the happiest moments
‘Cause good things can go bad, easily
So I don’t wanna slow down
Wanna jump, wanna fly, wanna fall
I wanna hit the ground running
Do you wanna marry me?
I’ve only got one life and I want you in it
(Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)

Tell me that you’ll never let me go
Oh, bury my body or send it down the river
(Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)

I could never do it on my own

Some love songs are sweet, some love songs are seductive, and some love songs are heartfelt and heavy. “One Life” is all of that and more: A catchy and cathartic love anthem that puts all the cards on the table, inviting us to spill our hearts and soar together with James Bay.

Forever ain’t forever if we’re not together
I don’t wanna put a lot of pressure on you
I just wanna tell you, I just wanna tell you
Without you, I don’t know what I’d do
We only get one try
I don’t wanna miss it
(Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh)

Tell me that you’ll never let me go…
I’ve only got one life
And I want you in it
Tell me that you’ll never let me go



“Angry Woman”

Ashe

It’s not lost on me that “Angry Woman” was released the same week that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade; it makes me want to cry, scream, and shout at the top of my lungs – and perhaps it makes this song that much more urgent, meaningful, and powerful for me, and everyone else who hears it. An anthem of empowerment and liberation, cool confidence and raw emotional release, “Angry Woman” is the latest single off California-based singer/songwriter Ashe’s forthcoming sophomore album Rae, out October 14 via Mom+Pop Music. It’s an explosive rejection of patriarchal attitudes, casual misogyny, and our culture’s continued repression and oppression of women. It’s an unapologetic roar full of fire and fury: The kind of feverish, galvanizing call to action we so dearly need right now.

Hey baby, why don’t you smile? You got such a pretty face
(I know, I know, I know)
I’m only here for a while, I want more than a taste
(I know, I know, I know)
I’m about to set my world on fire (oh, oh, oh well)
I smashed my glass on the bar, guess I got carried away
Oh well, you told me:
Nobody likes an angry woman
I always say the things I shouldn’t
Oh, what a shame my tongue’s not tied
You can do whatever you want
I’ll do whatever I like

“‘Angry Woman’ is my ‘enough is enough’ record,” Ashe shares. “There’s always been this sense that as a woman in this world I’ve needed to ‘behave’ and ‘play nice,’ cutting off all this power and confidence that as women we should be demonstrating on a daily basis. ‘Angry Woman,’ in many ways, is about being fed up with abuse of power and that it sometimes takes a little righteous anger to make a change. Especially in today’s climate, I want to see women getting a little angry, because we should be.”

Following on the heels of the groovy “Another Man’s Jeans” and the emphatic power-ballad “Hope You’re Not Happy,” “Angry Woman” sees Ashe rise in a triumphant and bold fashion. Sonically and emotionally charged, she roars forward with unfiltered strength until she and her surrounding instruments erupt in a dramatic and inspiring finale: “You can do whatever you want, I’ll do whatever I like!” It’s the ultimate release of all that built-up tension and energy, unleashed in a vivid and undeniably cathartic explosion of pure, uninhibited passion.

Clearly born from well worn rage, “Angry Woman” is an inspiring rallying cry.

Thank you very much for the let-down
Used to want your love but it ran out
Used to give a fuck but I don’t now
But I don’t now, but I don’t now
You can do whatever you want
I’ll do whatever I like



“Change”

Djo

I‘ve been moving and grooving to Djo’s irresistible new single since my very first listen. There’s no question about Joe Keery’s acting talents, but at this point, I am probably as big a fan of Joe Keery the Stranger Things star (for the unacquainted, he plays Steve Harrington) as I am of Djo, Joe Keery’s artist moniker. 2019’s debut album Twenty Twenty was an inspired introduction to Djo, but there’s something utterly alluring and captivating about “Change“: Equal parts dynamic and smoldering, Keery’s first song since 2020 is a feverish psych rock release that moves us inside and out.

In a conversation, but my mind is out the back door
Watching this unfold like I’m floating right above it
Jake is on his phone and I admit that I don’t love it
I just said that when my friends moved here, I’d interact more
Who am I to judge? I just detach, that might be harder
Harder not to tell you, man, what’s really going on
In our conversation and I’m looking right down on it
Then you pull my body back and whisper in my ear

Thick bass notes rip into the ear canal as hypnotic synths dazzle and cool drums keep a steady, forward pulse. Keery’s voice soars, dreamy and impassioned all at once as he reckons with who he is in certain company vs who he is all by himself, or with others. “Change” is a complex song with plenty of emotions and reflections to unpack – from the opening scene where his “mind is out the back door,” to the moment of truth in the pre-chorus where he seems to find sanctuary: “A passing glance, I see in your eyes the man that I could be…”

It’s easy to see it all with you, it might be right there
Something’s happening to me
A passing glance I see
In your eyes
The man that I could be
Change
For a minute in the sunlight
Change
At the mention of a conflict
I change
When the jacket doesn’t fit right
Change
When you know it isn’t perfect

Furiously funky and exceptionally dynamic, “Change” feels like an inner reckoning turned outward, unleashed on unsuspecting ears and hearts. Keery lets us have it, dwelling in his depths and exploring his own “change” in the moment as it happens. “For a minute in the sunlight… At the mention of a conflict… When the jacket doesn’t fit right… When you know it isn’t perfect.” There’s something quite beautiful and vulnerable about these lines. They are an admission, on some level, of imperfection; a recognition that we become who we need to be, depending on what a given situation calls for. We can’t be everything at once, but we can change. Is that good? Is that bad? Is it authentic, or are we putting on different masks in assuming those roles? All this and more, Keery invites us to explore on Djo’s seductive and cinematic new song.

DL909 at altitude
My mind ain’t on it (On it)
Knocking on the door, entire years I locked away
But I can recollect a memory that I have forgotten
Cut your ties, believed your lies, your final accolade
But every mistake I’ve ever made
Has led me right here
It’s easy to refuse to change
Year after year
Something’s happening to me
A change that I can see
I thought that change was bad
But you have changed my mind
And put my heart at ease
I don’t know what will be
Something’s happening to me
A passing glance I see (Just let go)
In your eyes, the man that I could be



“Young”

Lissy Taylor

A freeing outpouring of cathartic energy, Lissy Taylor’s first single of the year is a visceral and welcome release in more ways than one. The British singer/songwriter basks in the limitless throes of possibility and potential in “Young,” an expressive song that, in her words, “embodies escapism, hope, and untamed energy.”

Get up drive away, escape the mundane.
Watching your dreams from afar.
Get into my car.
Watch the colours, we accelerate.
Watch your whole life slide away.
Raise your hand, wave goodbye.
Don’t miss it honey there’s no need to cry.
‘Cause we are young.
Scream from the top of our lungs.
Let the moment melt on your tongue.
Cuz we are young, we are are young.

“When I wrote ‘Young’ I wanted to write something that was uplifting and honest,” Taylor explains. “I always write from my personal experience. From moving to America in my teens to performing live or more recently learning to surf, my association with youth is largely memories of facing my fears. Always going towards a challenge has massively shaped who I am considering I was originally very shy before I got into music.”

“I believe that being young is more than just age; it’s a mindset,” she adds. “Giving yourself the freedom to change your mind and go after what you want. Not getting caught up in stress of yesterday and tomorrow instead being in the moment. Do the unexpected. Do things that scare you. Be daring, brave, and bold.”

“Young” is about embracing life’s full spectrum of experience and emotion; of being present and in the moment, taking risks, trying new things, and keeping an open mind. These are all a natural, inherent part of our youth, but we don’t necessarily need to lose that unbridled sense of wonder as we age. In capturing the feeling of being “Young” in song, Lissy Taylor gives us all an everlasting reminder – not to mention a rallying cry – of this singular state. Wherever and whoever you are, we can all scream from the top of our lungs and let the moment melt on our tongues.

Believe what I say.
Pick a dream and have faith.
Sometimes its brave to run away.
Things can change in a day.



“The Same”

Braxton Cook, Marquis Hill

Stunningly smooth and achingly soulful, Braxton Cook’s first single of the year is a smoldering love song dripping in sultry, hushed harmonies, hypnotic beats, and soaring, seductive trumpet blows. Featuring Chicago-based trumpet player, composer, and band leader Marquis Hill, “The Same” washes over the ears with an irresistible heat and unquenchable thirst. Intimacy, desire, and connection coalesce as Cook – a Juilliard-trained saxophonist, singer, songwriter, and jazz prodigy from Washington, DC – evokes the unseen, but ever-present nuances of real love; the kind we actually experience in our daily lives, not the one fed to us in fairytales and marketing ads.

We’re not the same
It’s not so easy being this way
Not one complaint
Yet you love me either way
Because your love,
your love remains the same

“I attempted to go deeper than the hackneyed tropes that we typically see in loves songs,” Braxton shares. “Harmonically and compositionally, the song utilizes half-diminished chords, which signifies light and dark, ups and downs, and the struggles and flow of any normal, loving relationship. This tune is about how my partner and I are very different people in so many ways. We have learned to love each other for those differences and really, have a deeper understanding of each other. The little differences make things interesting and keeps our relationship fresh. Even ten years in, we are still discovering new things about each other.”

“The Same” is moody and enveloping, with Cook’s emotional vocals glowing over a radiant smorgasbord of warm harmonies, a tight, dynamic rhythm section (listen close for some truly thrilling bass riffs), his own dazzling saxophone work, and Hill’s searing trumpet solo. All told, Cook’s first release in over two years’ time is an irresistible jazz-R&B fusion full of stirring energy and feeling. Stay tuned for more from Cook as he preps a new EP, out this fall via Nettwerk Music Group.

My selfish ways
Obsessions unexplained
1 sword 2 blades
Yet you love me either way
Because your love
Your love remains the same



“moody”

MYTBE

Achingly tender and stirring, “moody” is the kind of gorgeous, gentle song that puts a spell on a room full of people: A bittersweet serenade spills forth from MYTBE’s heart and soul as she creates a fragile moment of unfiltered vulnerability and self-reflection, diving into her depths and tugging at our own heartstrings in the process. Independently released in late May, the followup to last year’s debut EP spill out (a fitting name for a record so full of intimate feeling) finds the South London singer/songwriter dwelling in emotion’s raw deep end. A soft guitar leads what she describes as a lo-fi waltz as MYTBE captures “the intensity, ecstasy, and desperation of new love.”

i don’t mind it when you call me moody
i’m okay to be your bitter girl
you won’t catch me sweating over small stuff
i just wan’t to be loved, un-judged
try to pick a fight and i’ll turn over
if it means you’ll be the bigger spoon
call me out and tell me i’m unstable
as long as it’s true

“I was sat with my guitar one evening and the whole song spilled out in a matter of hours,” MYTBE shares. “There was a beauty in the immediacy of it all, a vulnerability in my unedited stream-of-consciousness, which I was keen to preserve and nurture when it came to recording and releasing. ‘moody’ is about the human instinct of wanting to be loved, no matter the circumstance. Craving another’s affection; be it right or wrong. Ignoring all sense and your better judgement, to instead bask in the rose-tinted euphoria of new romance. I wrote this song about a recent brief romance, one which both parties both knew wasn’t going to last forever. Although the end was in sight, I still found myself drunk on affection and willing to overlook the red flags. Inspired by these feelings of blindsidedness, I was keen to capture the foolish notion of loving carelessly.”

“To me, the video is a perfect encapsulation of the song’s intent; reveling in the messy high’s and lows of new romance. Loving desperately and foolishly, even when we know it’s not with Mr/Mrs right.”

it’s no use, I’m still blue, moody blue
call me darling, you know i’m starving for ‘us’

“moody” is as disarming a listen as it likely was cathartic, if not a little frightening, to create. The artist holds nothing back in her lyrics or her vocal performance, surrendering her full self in a song that never sees the resolve its narrator so desperately longs for: “real love,” she cries into the abyss. “… it’s too much.

undertow and overflowing with love
real love, it’s too much



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Editor’s Picks

Atwood Magazine Editor's Picks 2020 Mic Mitch

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