Editor’s Picks 84: Vagabon, Quiet Houses, Somebody’s Child, Royel Otis, Florence Arman, & Matt Corby!

Atwood Magazine's Editor's Picks 84
Atwood Magazine's Editor's Picks 84
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 Vagabon, Quiet Houses, Somebody’s Child, Royel Otis, Florence Arman, and Matt Corby!

Atwood Magazine Editor's Picks 2020 Mic Mitch

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by Vagabon

Few experiences compare to the cathartic euphoria we feel when a personal goal is realized; when we accomplish something we set out to achieve, and we know, deep down, just how much it took for us to get there. This undeniable, raw passion is the inspiring bedrock for “Carpenter,” Vagabon’s spirited, freeing first single of the year. Released January 12 via Nonesuch Records and co-produced by Rostam (whose singular production can be heard almost instantaneously), “Carpenter” is a recognition of self-growth. A buoyant bass line and irresistible beat prove the perfect companion for Lætitia Tamko’s voice as she creates a space for celebration and indulgence.

Carpenter - Vagabon
Carpenter – Vagabon
carpenter, lean your body on me once more
lean your body on me once more, leave your body here
i’m not afraid of what everybody wants
you’re what everybody wants,
but i’m not what you would want

“‘Carpenter’ is about that humbling feeling when you desperately want to be knowledgeable, you want to be advanced, you want to be mature, forward thinking, and evolved,” Tamko tells Atwood Magazine. “It’s about being confronted with your limitations. It’s about that A-HA moment, when a lesson from the past finally clicks and you want to run and tell someone who bore witness to the old you, ‘I finally get it now.’”

This song is fun; it’s light and loving. We all deserve to bask in the glow of success, however and wherever we find it. Life is long and celebrations are often few and far between, so take “Carpenter” as an opportunity to smile, dance, and feel good about yourself.

I wasn’t ready to hear you out
I wasn’t ready to shut it down
I wasn’t ready to talk it out
I wasn’t ready to let down
I wasn’t ready to hear you out
I wasn’t ready to move on out
I wasn’t ready for what you were saying
But i’m more ready now
Yeah i’m all ready now

“Hot and Clumsy”

by Quiet Houses

Quiet Houses’ first single of the year (and sixth song overall) is ethereal, enchanting dream pop at its finest: The follow-up to December 2021’s debut EP Big Town, “Hot and Clumsy” aches with raw emotion, desire, connection, and nostalgia all at once as the Scottish bedroom pop duo paint a “tale of love and fast feelings” through a lush, hushed, and heartfelt performance. Unapologetically intimate and equally intense, with hints of shoegaze, math rock, and even some indie folk sprinkled throughout, this song is candy for the ears as well as the heart.

Hot and Clumsy - Quiet Houses
Hot and Clumsy – Quiet Houses

Quiet Houses also waste no time in getting down to business, opening right away with Hannah Elliott’s entrancing vocals dancing over bandmate Jamie Stewart’s pulsing guitars and a fervent, bustling drum beat. “There’s me upstairs at a party, tryna find a room that’s empty, half-hoping that I don’t,” she sings, setting a vivid scene from the outset.

Whisper, pressed up against your dresser
And I can hear the smokers
I can see you wishing that I’d come closer
Make a joke that doesn’t land

The band’s heated sonics perfectly complement the heat in this story, and it all coalesces to create a chorus full of intimacy, urgency, and cathartic release:

And you were taking off your clothes
If you are ready let me know
You were lit up in the glow
I’m feeling hot and clumsy so can we take it slow

It takes a certain level of vulnerability to admit you’re feeling “hot and clumsy” right off the bat, and yet Quiet Houses don’t make it seem all that bad. For them, this song is a big, bold reintroduction after a year away. It showcases their musical growth while capturing who they are as people.

“Around the time we started writing the song I was learning lots of math rock style riffs,” Jamie Stewart tells Atwood Magazine. “I had a few riffs of my own but didn’t feel they would work in our music until I paired one of them with the drum loop that plays throughout Hot and Clumsy. The loop comes from this drum machine app called FunkBox which I read about in an Aaron Dessner interview. I took this idea to Hannah and we wrote the rest of the tune that week. We loved the awkward energy of the music and wrote the lyrics around that. The song is about the nervous excitement of being young and liking someone at a party. We wanted it to celebrate the awkwardness of being vulnerable with someone, and embrace the moments we are all embarrassed about.”

Dizzy, I think this bed is spinning
And I can feel you breathing
How are we supposed to know?
Awkward, feeling kinda nauseous
But I think I love this
But quick we better leave before the party ends
So find your clothes and make the bed
And you were taking off your clothes
If you are ready let me know
You were lit up in the glow
I’m feeling hot and clumsy so can we take it slow

Hailing from Edinburgh and now based in Manchester, Quiet Houses are gearing up to release their sophomore EP Since July later this year. As utterly seductive as it is simply stunning, “Hot and Clumsy” is the perfect segue into their second act – the kind of hard-hitting, dizzying, dazzling song that guarantees we’ll be listening to this EP upon its release.

“I Need Ya”

by Somebody's Child

I simply can’t listen to this song without smiling a big ole stinkin’ grin: From its rip-roaring beat to Cian Godfrey’s explosive, searing vocals, “I Need Ya” is an instant classic, not to mention an exhilarating addition to Somebody’s Child’s already bustling catalog. The Irish indie rocker holds nothing back as he whips himself into a frenzy, throwing himself into a kinetic fray as he delivers a breathtaking, feverish ode to our youth – a quality that goes beyond time and bones, and speaks to a headspace and a mentality: Youth is, in so many respects, a state of mind.

I Need Ya - Somebody's Child
I Need Ya – Somebody’s Child
When I was young, I wanted to be the best
Not just somebody else who would die
It was just on my mind
Not joking the whole time
But then I met you
I could no longer search
‘Cause I had found it was just meant to be
I’m not lying, you see
‘Cause I need ya!
‘Cause I need ya!

Following last year’s exciting successive stream of “We Could Start A War,” “Sell Out,” and “Broken Record,” “I Need Ya” is the fourth single off Somebody’s Child’s forthcoming self-titled debut album, out February 3 via Frenchkiss Records – and per Godfrey, this song set the tone for the overall record in more ways than one.

“This was one of the first songs that defined the sound and pace of the album,” he explains. “Some of this album can be boiled down back to my chronic fear of growing older. To me this track in particular is a gentle reminder to stay young for as long as you can.”

There’s no denying the relentless passion and churning energy driving “I Need Ya” onward and upward. Godfrey pours himself into this song and into this ephemeral guiding light – the spirit of fading youth that gets farther from our grasp with every passing day. Can we hold onto it if we only try hard enough? Can we deny time itself and stay young forever?

Probably not, but we’ll sing our hearts out trying.

“I Need Ya” was succeeded this week with Somebody’s Child‘s fifth single “Hold Me Like You Wanna,” a heartfelt and sweeping power-ballad that calls to mind the likes of James Bay and Joshua Tree-era U2. It’s yet another fantastic tease at what’s to come for one of Dublin’s most exciting indie rock/pop acts of the past few years.

And I when danced, I wanted to be free
I wanted to be me
I wanted to believe
In someone that meant something somewhere
I guess I mean I’m happy, I swear
When we were together, we would laugh and cry
We weren’t just tearing apart
We weren’t just tearing apart
‘Cause I need ya
‘Cause I need ya
‘Cause I need ya
‘Cause I need ya

“I Wanna Dance With You”

by Royel Otis

I Wanna Dance With You” is pure, unbridled, upbeat ecstasy: A smile-inducing rock n’ roller full of sprightly, dreamy guitars, charming lyrics, and an insanely catchy hook ready to brighten even the dreariest of days. The latest single off Royel Otis’ forthcoming third EP Sofa Kings is “sunny alt-pop” at its finest: The Sydney, Australia-based duo of childhood friends Otis Pavlovic and Royel Maddell invite their audience to join them in the heat of the moment as they throw caution to the wind, put their hearts on their sleeves, and say how they really feel.

I Wanna Dance With You - Royel Otis
I Wanna Dance With You – Royel Otis
Can you tell by the way I fall down
Can you tell by the way I’m callin’out
That I go through all this so I can talk to you
And after all that I could not see it through
I want to dance with you

“‘I Wanna Dance With You’ is inspired by needing the confidence to do or say something on your mind,” the duo tell Atwood Magazine. “So you drink to get the courage and fumble through the experience. It’s all good. Maybe it played out in an endearing way.”

“Hopefully listeners take away a dump truck of courage,” they add. “Never be scared to add a little paprika!” It’s certainly hard to not feel invincible – like there’s a world of possibility at our fingertips, and all we have to do is go out and grab it – with such a feel-good song ringing in the ears. With its peppy beat and soaring vocals, “I Wanna Dance With You” is sublime, carrying with it the surreal bliss of a sunny morning.

As far as the band are concerned, “I Wanna Dance With You” is an ideal introduction to all those just discovering them for the very first time. “Jangly, hyperactive guitars with a sensitive half time waltz perfectly captures who Royel Otis is.”

And there you have it. Maybe this song isn’t “upbeat ecstasy”; instead, let’s call it sonic courage. Either way, Royel Otis have us hooked, and I will be eagerly awaiting their third album. Arriving on the heels of 2021’s Campus and 2022’s Bar & Grill, the seven-track Sofa Kings claims to be a “progressive step forward” for the duo, and one that “promises to continue captivating fans with visceral stories atop blissful guitar-fuzzed haze.” I’ll take it. Let your worries go and just dance around the room to this radiant, enthusiastic romp of a song.

Should’ve known by the way
I’m throwing down for you
Should’ve known by the way
I’m looking out
That I don’t know myself
Banging over you
That I don’t know myself
Hangin’ it over you
I want to dance with you…
But I don’t know myself
Banging over you
But I don’t know myself
Hangin’ over you
I wanna dance with you

“Hello Florence, How Are You?”

by Florence Arman

My heart breaks for Austrian singer/songwriter Florence Arman, and yours will surely break too after listening to her latest song. Independently released on January 6th, “Hello Florence, How Are You?” is an achingly intimate, gut-wrenching ballad all about the things left unsaid. It’s a song of a soul wracked with guilt; of feeling far away from the ones we love; of hurting on the inside, but not know who to tell or how to say it out loud.

It’s also exceptionally beautiful, written in a classic pop style reminiscent of greats like Paul McCartney and Elton John. Despite its slow cadence and stripped down performance, “Hello Florence, How Are You?” promises to get caught in your head, on repeat.

Hello Florence, How Are You? - Florence Arman
Hello Florence, How Are You? – Florence Arman

Arman starts her song at the surface. “I’m such a lucky girl; I’m travelling the world,” she sings atop soft, gentle piano chords. “And working hard means singing loud and staying up late.” Slowly, she peels back the layers of her life. “What else could I wish for?” she asks to no one in particular, expressing content with her life of travel, writing, performance, catching up with friends, drinking “fourteen cups of tea” a day, and “vapidly smiling at the air with the occasional thought.”

Already, we can start to sense a certain turmoil bubbling underneath. The closest Arman gets to resolution comes in her poignant, tender, and heartrending chorus – a confessional point in the song that betrays the painful emotions she’s addressing (or rather, avoiding):

Hello Florence, how are you?’
They ask me every time
I always say I’ve never been so happy in my life
Then drink up quickly and say ‘I’m busy
I really must leave, but let’s keep in touch please’
But I don’t call ‘cause some things are just too hard to talk about

“This is a bit silly, but I wrote this whole song about not wanting to write about something and avoiding the subject entirely,” Arman tells Atwood Magazine. “When I wrote this song I was going through a really difficult time, but didn’t really feel like talking about it or even writing about it. And although this song is essentially about nothing, it is so excruciatingly personal to the point where it feels quite odd to share.  One of the reasons was that my life is so full and I’m so grateful that I didn’t really want to share how bad things actually were, but I also wanted to ignore it as much as possible. So I ended up writing a song about not talking about it.”

We don’t need to know the specifics to feel Arman’s hurt; she conveys everything we need to know in the poetic words she sings, as well as in all the empty spaces. It’s a profound weight; her sadness and isolation hang heavy in the air as her golden voice elegantly rises and falls, softly soaring over a truly breathtaking arrangement full of rich strings and compelling harmonies.

So yes, maybe this song is about nothing, or maybe it’s about everything we don’t say; all the words we choke back. Whatever caused her this tremendous, intense grief, we wish Florence Arman a better year ahead, and can only thank her for bringing to life through song this feeling so many of us know all too well. “Hello Florence, How Are You” is taken off Arman’s forthcoming sophomore EP, set for release this spring via AWAL.

And every day I’ll be inventing a new tune
So I don’t have to think about not singing it with you
And out the window of the hospital we’ll see
There are so many other beautiful things we could feel
‘Hello Florence, how are you?’
You ask me every time
I always say I’ve never been so happy in my life
Then hug you gently and say ‘I’m busy
I really must leave, but please let’s keep in touch’
But I never call ‘cause some things are just too hard to talk about


by Matt Corby

A soulful and spellbinding serenade, Matt Corby’s first song of the year is without a doubt deserving of its evocative title. Released January 12th, “Reelin’” is the smoldering second single off the Australian singer/songwriter’s forthcoming third album Everything’s Fine, out March 24 via Communion Records. Moody and brooding in the best of ways, it’s an invitation to take a step back and pause; to close your eyes and let your mind wander.

Following last November’s bustling, heated lead single “Problems,” “Reelin'” is a subtle and stirring expression for and from the heart, finding Corby reckoning with a relationship’s communication breakdowns. “How far is too far gone with no resentment?⁣ I want a chance to come back when I get restless⁣,” he sings at the start. “You are the centerpiece that can’t be measured⁣; there’s nothing in between all of its treasure⁣.” A world of warmth and wonder rises around his voice as he builds out this story, explaining his frustrations and the unwavering, unyielding desire for connection and understanding.

Everything’s Fine - Matt Corby
Everything’s Fine – Matt Corby
I complicate the feeling⁣
We don’t believe the same thing⁣
I know you know if we do give in, we’d just be lying⁣
You underrate the small things⁣
We fail to heed the warning⁣
I know you know we don’t give in⁣
⁣Wind me up till I’m reeling⁣
Tone it down, slow the feeling⁣
Settle in for the healing⁣
How far is too far?⁣
Wind me up till I’m reeling⁣
Tone it down, slow the feeling⁣
Settle in for the healing⁣
How far is too far gone?⁣

“Reelin’ was one of the first songs we wrote with Nat Dunn joining us,” Corby tells Atwood Magazine. “Nat is an incredible writer. She co-wrote most of the record with me and Chris [Collins]. She has a way of listening to what I’m feeling and trying to say and just delivering these killer lines. So frequently I was blown away by her insight and ability to know what I was saying. I love working with her. The song itself is a simple one. It’s a super important song for me on this record. Just me, Nat, and Chris in a room. Simple and understated.”

Simple, understated, and utterly intoxicating, “Reelin'” pulls us deep into the throes of Corby’s moody mind. Its fire is soft, but even the softest fire burns – and without a doubt, I’ll be taking this song, and its healthy punch of emotions, with me as the year gets underway.

If we eliminate our core expressions⁣
Do we just kiss goodbye all good intentions?⁣
Just let that resonate, make no exceptions⁣
How long till we give up left undefended?⁣

Wind me up till I’m reeling⁣
Tone it down, slow the feeling⁣
Settle in for the healing⁣
How far is too far?⁣
Wind me up till I’m reeling⁣
Tone it down, slow the feeling⁣
Settle in for the healing⁣
How far is too far gone?⁣

— — — —

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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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