Editor’s Picks 75: thea wang, Victoria Bigelow, Death Cab for Cutie, Lady Blackbird, Say She She, & Pei!

Atwood Magazine's Editor's Picks 75
Atwood Magazine's Editor's Picks 75
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 thea wang, Victoria Bigelow, Death Cab for Cutie, Lady Blackbird, Say She She, & Pei!

Atwood Magazine Editor's Picks 2020 Mic Mitch

 follow EDITOR’S PICKS on Spotify  




“Word on The Street”

thea wang

October heralds the true beginning of fall for me, and nothing screams “autumn” louder than warm and wistful acoustic folk balladry. The final track off thea wang’s recently-released debut album While He Is Still Asleep, “Word on the Street” is quintessential autumnal bliss: A beautiful wash of sweet, tender indie folk complete with delicate harmonies and a radiant, gentle melody that wraps around the ears like a cozy sonic blanket. Yes, it may have been released as a single back in June, but this track hasn’t hit nearly as hard as it does now that the weather has cooled and the leaves are changing colors.

In the morning rain
you’ll find me in the street
head bent towards the wind
all my clothes soaked
I can’t find no refuge
I can’t do this all year
waiting for the streetlights
dry my thoughts
Word on the street says the rain’s gonna stop
Word on the street says you’ll come home
Word on the street says I worry too much
voice in my head says how long – how long

Originally from Norway, wang recently moved to Copenhagen where she currently resides. For her, “Word on The Street” evokes the loneliness she first felt while settling into her new home environment. “I wrote this song after endless days of biking through the rain and wind to school every day,” she tells Atwood Magazine. “…forgetting to put on rain protection, getting soaked, having just moved abroad alone to a new country, trying to get friends, and not being prepared for the fall, sometimes lonely and tired of the grey sky.”

“Then I took some days off and travelled to London to write with my friend Jørgen,” she says,” and it was sunny and nice with and blue skies, and I felt like myself again! The song, melody, and form was made within five minutes while improvising (I actually have a film of when it was made), and then I spent some weeks tweaking the lyrics. When we were going to record it in LA it took some time to figure out how we should arrange it. First I tried with a mandolin, but that didn’t feel right, and we decided to keep the demo guitar recorded in the living room in London because it had a direction and energy that we felt were missing. We recorded some reverse electric guitar and then twisted our heads and didn’t know how to make it live. I then fooled around with my op1 and we found this drony movement that sounded like a car horn. So we used that, and it felt great! I then added some violin in Oslo with my friends Andrea and Håkon, and worked on the final production with my friend Knærten where we added more harms and synths.”

While “Word on The Street” may have slowly come together over time, its organic layers and lilting performance help it to feel like the product of one particularly wet and dreary afternoon in Denmark – just as it is, today, in my home of New York City. Musically and emotionally, thea wang cuts through the rain in a song that shines with a rich and undeniably radiant light. Her harmonies bright, her voice calm, and her words inspiring, the singer/songwriter soothes and stirs on a track that truly is comfort manifest.

The quiet of the evening
when you’re not around me
I can’t get no sleep
I work too much
watching the clouds above
wait for them to break apart
and let the sun shine
just one daa-a-a-a-y
Word on the street says the rain’s gonna stop
Word on the street says you’ll come home
Word on the street says I worry too much
voice in my head says how long – how long



“Oblivion”

Victoria Bigelow

Victoria Bigelow has this uncanny way of channeling her pain into redemption, and nowhere does this ring more true than on her latest breathtaking single. Released September 22 via Tone Tree Music, “Oblivion” aches with intimate intensity, heart-on-sleeve passion, and unabating drive: Like a musical-emotional scar, it bleeds through captivating melodies and haunting vocal lines that send shivers down the spine. “I was dancing around the room in the dark ‘til you wrecked my soul,” Bigelow sings, her lilt soft and (bitter)sweet. “You split me right in two. Now I’m dancing, my head in my hands, ‘cause I met you.” This is the kind of gut-wrenching, soul-stirring songwriting we’ve come to cherish over the past few years as the Phoenix, Arizona-based singer/songwriter introduced herself and established her unique artistic voice.

I admittedly got on the Victoria Bigelow bandwagon rather early on; both of her EPs (2020’s To Everyone I’ve Loved Before and 2021’s waves) are personal favorites of mine and were premiered here on the site, and I’ve had nothing but praise to say about her vocal and writing talents over the years. You’d think by now I know what to expect, but Bigelow nevertheless evoked a state of shock the first time I heard “Oblivion.” The lead single off her upcoming project Songs for No One, “Oblivion” finds the artist dwelling in the depths of love, loss, and heartbreak – going through her own inner trials and tribulations, and trying to understand herself in the process. She spills her soul in a heavy-hearted chorus:

That’s just how it goes
When you’re on the road
And you’re searching for someone
To make you think you’re not alone
That’s just how it feels
In pursuit of what’s real
In pursuit of what’s true
Well baby, my knuckles are bloodied for you

“I moved to the desert in 2021 because I was feeling really creatively uninspired,” Bigelow shares. “Nashville was wonderful but it was also really noisy and I just needed to give myself some space and room to really hear myself. I’m sure some people thought I was crazy for leaving, but from a creative standpoint it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I got the Spire app, which really opened me up to a whole new world – instead of having to use my home studio, I could just sit in my room and play things into my phone with a metronome, and stack vocals and see where the life of a song was going early on.”

She continues, “I met Alex Tomkins (he lives in Nashville but I met him after I’d already moved!) ,and we just immediately hit it off and instantly spoke the same language. I sent him some of the iPhone demos I had made – one of them being “Oblivion” – and he started building tracks around that, and then we just kind of went on like that until it felt done, and then my husband Devan Skaggs added on a few instruments and mixed and mastered. It’s been a really fun and freeing experience, and I feel really proud that this is the just the beginning of this new music coming out. This song in particular is about my journey of becoming a young mom and all of the heartache I put myself through when I was young just wanting to feel wanted and seen and validated and how dangerous that cycle is, because you end up realizing that you can’t run away from yourself, and no one can fix you.”

I don’t think that I have ever known peace of mind,” Bigelow sings well into the song. “Skeletons fill my closets to the brim, so I keep it on the move as to not invite them in.” “Oblivion” is a true reckoning of the heart and soul: An open-eyed upheaval of the self that sees Bigelow uncovering “how it feels in pursuit of what’s real“: What it means to be vulnerable with others, and honest with yourself. We break more times than you can count, but we end up stronger and more self-assured in the long run because we know ourselves and we know what it took to get here. Well baby, my knuckles are bloodied for you.

When it comes to emotional wreckage, few artists can capture the bloodbath better than Victoria Bigelow. Truth be told, “Oblivion” is all the proof we need to know just how special her upcoming project will surely be.

Well i took it bad
Like anybody would
When I found out I was too young to know
How to be any good
Told you in a cold sweat
Kicking rocks behind your house
Feeling like I’m fucking crazy
Damn, I’m just a baby
That’s just how it goes
When you’re on the road
And you’re searching for someone
To make you think you’re not alone
That’s just how it feels
In pursuit of what’s real
In pursuit of what’s true
Well baby, my knuckles are bloodied for you



“Pepper”

Death Cab for Cutie

In my interview last week with Dave Depper, I boldly called Asphalt Meadows “one of Death Cab for Cutie’s most cathartic, disruptive, impressively cohesive, and utterly engaging albums to date.” The band’s brand new tenth album is a sonic and emotionally charged triumph brimming with nostalgia, introspection, and intimate moments of connection, and for me, these qualities shine brightest on the deep cut, “Pepper”:

Take a picture to remember this by
You’ll never hold all the details in your mind
Fillin’ your head with superfluous facts
Pushin’ out what you’re never getting back
And all that’s left is a version of the truth
A recollection that is often misconstrued
Sergeant Pepper with the faces of friends
But the names all elude you in the end
Kiss me just this one last time
Tell me that you once were mine

Gibbard looks in both directions at once here, his earnest vocals aching with intent alongside the steady pulse of the band’s guitar and piano accompaniment. The past is ever-present inside of us, but those meaningful moments and memories we cherish are forever getting farther and farther away from us; we only move in one direction, after all. “Pepper” recognizes this poignant truth, and rather than reject it or try to find a futile workaround, Gibbard leans into acceptance, embracing a meaningful moment for what it is here and now: “Kiss me just this one last time,” he sings in a stunningly tender chorus. “Tell me that you once were mine.” Is he singing to the ghosts of the past, or to someone with him presently? Either way, by tomorrow they’ll be gone – a ghost all the same. We don’t get to hold onto anyone or anything forever; haunting and heartfelt, “Pepper” reminds us to share our love today, because this is ultimately all we have.

Take a picture to remember me by
To show everybody who you left behind
The near miss that almost shot you out the blue
And I was a city you were only passing through
And all that’s left is a version of events
Favorably framed for the sake of self-defense
We barely notice as the pages disappear
Floating off into another year
Kiss me just this one last time
Tell me that you once were mine
Kiss me just this one last time
Show me that your love was mine



“Feel It Comin”

Lady Blackbird

An electric current ripples throughout Lady Blackbird’s new single: It’s the sensation of experiencing history in the making, appreciating our own growth and transformation, and recognizing the passage of time and its impact on us all. Released September 21 via BMG, “Feel It Comin” is a cinematic and resounding anthem of and for progress: An inspiring song that channels the heat, the warmth, the soul, and the spirit of Motown’s best years – but this isn’t Motown; it’s Black Acid Soul.

Black Acid Soul Deluxe, to be exact; arriving a little over a year after her debut album’s release, “Feel It Comin” heralds a forthcoming new addition that highlights Lady Blackbird’s talents as a cinematic songwriter and jaw-dropping vocalist. Since first introducing her Lady Blackbird project in May of 2020, Los Angeles artist Marley Munroe has gone on to receive critical acclaim from both sides of the pond, garnering millions of global streams with devastating jazz-tinged R&B songs like “Five Feet Tall” and “It’ll Never Happen Again” – both of which capture an inescapably intimate and deeply raw pain. Black Acid Soul is a one-of-a-kind seduction, and its deluxe version sees Lady Blackbird already evolving beyond the smokey, 1 AM lounge vibes of her initial offering.

Like in every great fable
There’s a moment
when we all must learn to crawl
And when life has turned the table
Before we rise we know
we all must take the fall
And this moment ain’t no different
Times are changing
like the clock up on the wall
Your wealth can come from
just a dime
It ain’t broke I feel it comin’
Don’t we all

“Feel It Comin” is spiritual awakening; a visceral outcry; a scorching celebration of how far we’ve come and a call to action for how far we still must go. Produced by Chris Seefried and Bad Sounds with additional production by Zach Witness and mixed by Guy Massey, Lady Blackbird’s latest might also be her greatest piece of songwriting yet: Her vocals soar triumphant atop shuffling drums and vibrant orchestral swells:

I feel it comin’
like the dawning of the day
Straight through to midnight
While we dance the night away
A great big expression
Happy on my face
I feel it comin’
Like the drawing of the day

“It’s a rags to righteous story of how in this life before we can fly, we all must learn to crawl,” Lady Blackbird shares. “It’s also a story of how world views have changed and continue to change towards sexuality and gender identity. In the midst of a movement working towards acceptance and inclusivity for everyone, I hope this song will dance you through the psychedelic night! As a member of the LGBTQIA community there is power in joy and marking the wins.”

One can’t help be moved by Lady Blackbird’s emotional storytelling and her expressive vocal performance. The song’s second verse is a particularly powerful moment of reckoning, recognizing where we are in the 2020s, compared to where our society was just a mere decade or two ago.

Momma told me ‘bout a baby
Baby grew up in another kinda world
Alway felt like such a lady
Momma said,
“Son you ain’t born to be a girl”
And this moment ain’t no different
Times are changing like the clock up on the wall
The world is changing all the time
It ain’t broke I feel it comin’
Don’t we all

Progress is real, but we must keep fighting because our work is far from over. In recording and releasing this song, Lady Blackbird has lent her voice to millions of the voiceless – both of generations past, and those still struggling to live freely and safely today. Here’s to hoping “Feel It Comin” makes its way to those who need to hear it most.



“Prism”

Say She She

Lush and layered, Say She She’s “Prism” is a beautifully hypnotizing enchantment. The title track off the New York band’s forthcoming debut album Prism (out October 7th via Colemine’s Karma Chief Records) stuns with soaked, stacked vocal harmonies and a feverish pulse that marches forward with passion and purpose. Psychedelic and soulful, dazzling and immersive, Say She She hit all the right notes and then some, standing out from their contemporaries with an uncompromisingly unique “discodelic soul” sound: An ever-changing blend of funk, disco, pop, dance music, and so much more.

The band’s three female leads – Piya Malik, Sabrina Mileo Cunningham, and Nya Gazelle Brown – make up the raw core of this seven-piece outfit, their voices swimming elegantly through sonic haze and melodious sunlight alike. They coalesce on “Prism” to create a definitively psychedelic and mesmerizing experience:

Visions of you through the prism of me
The things that we’ve seen collide
Patterns in mind merge into sight
Watching the scene rewind
Out of our minds running for miles
Isn’t it nice once in a while?
Out of our minds running for miles
Isn’t it nice once in a while?

Say She She’s members say this song was inspired by none other than the surrounding natural world. “We were inspired by the psychedelic elements of nature,” they tell Atwood Magazine. “We take delight in breathing in its vibrancy and cultivating its magic medicine that bring you closer to a state of presence, acceptance and peace… That’s what we want the sound of our song to do for you… take you to a place where you are carefree.”

Needless to say, I find myself whisked into another world through Say She She’s music. “Prism” stays true to its namesake in the way it deconstructs our worldview, only to offer new perspectives through vibrant, multifaceted sound.



“Count to 10”

Pei

A lush and wondrous world of warm melody and bright colors, Pei’s “Count to 10” is beautifully disarming – a moment of musical bliss and inspired self-reflection. The artist’s third song (and the final single taken off his forthcoming debut album) sees Pei, aka Joji Malani, ex-guitarist of Gang of Youths, coming into his own with a buoyant soundscape reminiscent of summer’s carefree charm: That reverie and revelry we get simply from basking under the smile-inducing sun.

“I love talking about this song because it’s a great example of what a good producer does,” Pei shares. “Tim [Fitz, of Middle Kids] listens to the whole album and he’s like, ‘There’s something missing both sonically and in terms of your identity,’ I was like, ‘What the hell are you talking about?‘ He’s like, ‘Mate, who’s your favourite artist?‘ and I said some modern favourites. There was nothing that sat in the realm of people I admire and respect… there was nothing that had that chill, soul vibe. He was right, but I couldn’t hear anything. He picked the tempo, played the beat and I laid down the bass line. It showed that he cared. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”

And out came this soul-soaked song, with its background whistles and shuffling beat creating an inviting, welcoming atmosphere for all who yearn to dwell in a real-life dream. More a celebration than it is an escape, “Count to 10” isn’t just sweet; it’s sweltering. Out October 10 via Broth Records, Pei’s debut album Pei’s Pageant promises to uplift and inspire through music that enriches our immediate experience. Whether we’re grooving to the upbeat pulse of “Honest” or dancing along to the richly radiant “Themesong,” Pei has shown he has a special gift for wooing the ears and the heart at once. “Count to 10” is perhaps the best example of that talent put to work so far, but we’ve got no doubt that there’s much more magic to come from Malani’s exhilarating new project.



— — — —

Atwood Magazine logo

Connect to us on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine

Editor’s Picks

Atwood Magazine Editor's Picks 2020 Mic Mitch

 follow EDITOR’S PICKS on Spotify  


More from Mitch Mosk

Premiere: The Cordial Sins Explode Against the System in “Sick of the Hype”

A garage rock explosion of restless energies, The Cordial Sins' "Sick of the...
Read More