Editor’s Picks 91: Marlene Oak, Aistè, Alaska Reid, Joy Oladokun, Bleach Lab, & BEL!

Atwood Magazine's Editor's Picks 91
Atwood Magazine's Editor's Picks 91
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 Marlene Oak, Aistè, Alaska Reid, Joy Oladokun, Bleach Lab, and BEL!

Atwood Magazine Editor's Picks 2020 Mic Mitch

 follow EDITOR’S PICKS on Spotify

“Big Time”

by Marlene Oak

If “Big Time” is so sweet, then why do I cry every time I listen to it? Marlene Oak’s achingly beautiful first single of the year is an instant classic – at least, it is for me. The kind of song that tugs at the heartstrings, tapping something deep down inside, “Big Time” finds the Swedish singer/songwriter dwelling in life’s little sparks – the everyday things that make us happy, that make each day feel meaningful, and make life feel worthwhile. “I hear you whisper through my dreams love, until the morning brings me down,” Oak sings alongside a gentle, intimate guitar pattern. “They say true love is hard to find now, ‘til it comes knocking on your door.

Big Time - Marlene Oak
Big Time – Marlene Oak

Violins and cellos create an enchanting set of harmonies with the guitar as Oak lifts up into a breathtaking tearjerker of a chorus. With an open heart and outstretched arms, she spills her soul into a moment of unbridled, unapologetic, and uncompromising love:

I am asking for the big time,
no more maybe I don’t know
Come on baby you’re the big time,
So what are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?
Can’t you see we’re good to go

“‘Big Time’ is a song about finding joy in the simplicity of life,” Oak tells Atwood Magazine. “For me, ‘Big Time’ is about realizing what life really is about. As a kid, you’re more connected and present. When you grow up and become an adult there are so many obligations and demands and we often forget to live in the here and now. Writing ‘Big Time’ was also a way for me to find hope and healing when I went through a rough period. I felt lost and a brutal emptiness inside of me, but sometimes things that we find unpleasant help us to grow and evolve. When I sing ‘Big Time’ I feel a strength in me and I hope that listeners can feel it too.”

“It’s a message that I think will resonate with many listeners, especially during these challenging times. I hope that my music can bring a little bit of light and hope into people’s lives.”

Let me take you on a trip now,
Wherever you’d like to go
We could head into the bright lights
Or stay on the open road

Maybe it’s that notion of realizing what really matters most that resonates so much inside; maybe it’s the song’s sense of catharsis and healing through human connection; or maybe it’s Oak’s uninhibited expression of pure love. Whatever the case, “Big Time” has this uncanny way of unlocking our tear ducts and letting it all flow freely. Marlene Oak has tapped into something timeless and everlasting on this special song, and I, for one, will be playing it (and crying profusely) for years and years to come.

I am ready for the big time,
Well by now you oughta know
Come on baby you’re the big time,
So what are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?
Can’t you see we’re good to go
What are you waiting for?
What are you waiting for?
Can’t you see we’re good to go

“You've Got the Feeling”

by Aistè

I wouldn’t be surprised if Aistè ends up turning an entire new generation onto classic soul and R&B music: The East London based, Lithuanian-born artist has a powerhouse voice of pure gold – and the ear to match – and these talents shine bold and bright on her breathtaking new song. Released February 10, 2023, “You’ve Got The Feeling” is the latest single off Aistè’s forthcoming debut album The Theory of Everything, set to release this May. Not only is this track a moving expression of heartache in its purest form, but it’s also a stunning display of self-empowerment: The strength we harness within, in the wake of hardship and emotional scars.

You've Got the Feeling - Aistè
You’ve Got the Feeling – Aistè
abrupt affair, i’m under your feet
what’s that? why here?
you’re all that I need
is that all you wanted from me?
if it is, what it is, then let me leave
oh, yes i know, i’ll be waiting
and you’ll never call again
what a scary end
oh no, but it’s ok, because

Effected pianos soar alongside Aistè’s vocals as she reckons with the smoldering embers of an extinguished flame. No sooner has she set the scene, than she slowly rises, coming to a radiant and emotional climax alongside a bevy of orchestral strings and warm, enchanting vocal harmonies:

you’ve got that feeling
that i don’t wanna know
you’ve got that feeling
oh, oh, oh, oh

It’s a massive f-u: The kind of message you send to someone you truly never want to see again. “I was tripping hard when writing this one,” Aistè tells Atwood Magazine. “The world has beautifully melted around me. The feeling I DO want to know was so blatant to feel. Hence singing, ‘You’ve got the feeling that I don’t want to know’ about someone that would always leave an uncanny aftertaste from our interactions felt freeing. No hard feelings, just an honest and accurate description.”

Unapologetic and impassioned, “You’ve Got the Feeling” is a soul-stirring anthem of raw empowerment. It’s cinematic and grand, elegant and sweet; an emotional and musical victory for Aistè that inspires and uplifts listeners, just as writing it surely inspired and uplifted the artist herself. It’s an all-too familiar story we know all-too well, but this ending is happy, because we’re out; we’re free – and that, in itself, is worth celebrating. If you’ve had to cut ties in order to live a better life, this song will surely resonate deep down inside.

“Back to This”

by Alaska Reid

Back to This” is admittedly brand new, and yet it hits the ears with black-and-white hues and sepia tones. Alaska Reid’s first single in nearly two years is enchantingly dreamy and dripping in soul-stirring nostalgia – the kind that feels wondrous and hits close to home, even if it’s for a time we’ve never known and a place we’ve never been. If one of the magics of music is that it’s transportive, then consider us fully transported.

Disenchanter - Alaska Reid
Disenchanter – Alaska Reid
Outside the cosmic club
Seeing rain in your eyes tonight
Do you feel caged in under this big sky
Wrapped in you and the mountains
Yeah I’ve imagined it a thousand times
Running through these dreams
I want to go back to this
Come with me
Can’t live if we don’t take chances

Released March 7, 2023 via Luminelle Recordings, “Back to This” is the head-turning lead single taken off Alaska Reid’s forthcoming debut album Disenchanter, out July 14th. It’s light, yet heavy; relaxed, yet intense – a perfect marriage of what on paper might seem like opposites, but in practice, feel more like kindred spirits on the same path. The Montana / Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has always long been one for dwelling in a pseudo-dark and moody indie rock world; in premiering her debut EP Big Bunny in 2020, I praised Reid for creating a “raw, hauntingly vulnerable, and emotionally cathartic listening experience for all,” further declaring her one of our generation’s finest artists.

I stand by my words; Big Bunny remains a stunningly visceral and beautifully intimate reckoning, and if “Back to This” is any sign of what’s to come (and I’m sure it is), then Disenchanter promises to be yet another musical masterpiece. Ethereal and atmospheric, observational and reflective, the new song is something of a daydream come to life that finds Reid half-singing, half-breathing her words against a brooding backdrop of glistening guitars, shimmering synths, and cool percussion.

Reid explains how the song came from a hike in the Absaroka-Beartooth, Wilderness, where she saw a group of forest service workers on a break: “It was late summer and they looked happy and dusty,” she recalls. “It was like a painted reverie from a classical painting. I fantasize about other people’s lives, other people’s professions, and writing is a way I can approximate what it must be like to be someone else. So this song is about stumbling upon a scene in someone else’s life and wanting to be a part of it, but it’s also about wondering if I ever seemed as cool or as worthy as those smokejumpers did. I also had this idea of looking back at a photo and wondering why, at the time, I did not feel like the version of myself looking back in the photo.”

Fantasy and reality blend into one as Reid weaves a world of action, emotion, and intent for these characters. “Will you and I be as beautiful years later in this sweaty photograph?” she sings, “As they looked to me that day in the forest, with my head in the slipstream, my heart beating fast.” Like reading your favorite novel, Alaska Reid’s poetry and prose are hypnotic, mesmerizing, and forever welcoming.

Her landscape – the landscape of “Back to This” – is one we can come back to not only for entertainment, but also for comfort and catharsis. It’s an instantly familiar and warm space – immersive, indulgent, intimate, and intoxicating – and therein lies the genius of Alaska Reid. “Running through these dreams, I want to go back to this. “Come with me,” she beckons us closer. “I can’t live if we don’t take chances.”

Take a chance on this song and on Alaska Reid, truly one of our generation’s best.

In the moss around the creek
I saw some smoke jumpers all in their twenties
Dust in their hair, sun on their skin,
Kiss away the boredom till the fires begin
Will you and I be as beautiful years later
in this sweaty photograph

As they looked to me that day in the forest
With my head in the slipstream
My heart beating fast
Running through these dreams
I want to go back to this
Come with me
I can’t live if we don’t take chances


by Joy Oladokun

Joy Oladokun was a personal favorite long before the major label record deals, the headline tours, the features and collaborations – and if she wasn’t already the voice of a generation then (I would argue she already was), she’s definitely stepping into that role now. The Nashville-based singer/songwriter has always had a way of not only bringing listeners intimately close to her and her world, but also building bridges that connect with something deep inside every one of us. That singular talent has only grown stronger over recent years, and it’s shining brighter than ever these days as she ramps up anticipation for her forthcoming third full-length album, Proof of Life (out April 28 via Republic Records / EMI Records UK).

Following last year’s singles “Keeping the Light On” and “Sweet Symphony” (ft. Chris Stapleton) (as well as a slew of other singles that won’t make the album’s standard track list, but will show up in its deluxe version), the achingly raw “Changes” arrived last week alongside more album details and confirmed global tour dates supporting John Mayer, The Teskey Brothers, and Noah Kahan – most of which are already sold out.

Proof of Life - Joy Oladokun
Proof of Life – Joy Oladokun

A gorgeous, glistening song built around a few tender acoustic guitars, softly smoldering horns, and Oladokun’s golden, emotionally charged voice, “Changes” is at once wistful and hopeful: A heart-on-sleeve confessional that feels more cathartic than it does embroiled. “I hate change, but I’ve come of age, think I’m finally finding my way,” Oladokun proclaims at the start, her words resonating with profound warmth and sincerity. “Danced with chaos, every occasion, looks me up every day. Even when I’m tired and low there is gold in this river that is carrying me home.” Here she leans inward for meaning and strength to guide her in her worst moments; in spite of the world’s often unbearable weight, she’s always got a reason to persevere and carry on; to seek the light in the darkness – a notion she further explores in the song’s second verse, where she drops this poignant, breathtaking rhetorical question: “What it’s like to hope again and again, knowing that heartache’s gonna be there ’til the end?

For all its soul-stirring, tear-jerking wonder, “Changes” is a comforting song of staying power, belief in oneself, and belief in one’s causes. Oladokun hits her high in a catchy and cathartic singalong chorus that aches as it shines:

Newspaper says the world’s on fire
People yelling and the water’s rising
It’s easy to feel kinda anxious
Yeah, we’ve thought it was the end of time
We’re still holding on and we’re still trying
Life’s always been a little dangerous
But I don’t wanna stay the samе, so
I’m tryna keep up with the changes
I’m tryna keep up with the changеs

This world will eat you up and spit you out if you’re not careful. It’s far easier to get lost than it is to be found, but that’s also why a song like this, that nakedly recognizes just how hard life can be, can resonate so deeply for so many people. Oladokun calls Proof of Life a collection of “helpful anthems,” and “Changes” is the proof-point of that statement. “I hope this resonates with anybody who feels normal and needs a little musical boost to get through the day,” she adds. “I’m average. I do this job because I love what I do. I put so much care, craft, and intention into it. I’m making music to live to.”

She sings not just for herself, but for all of us. A beautifully raw song of strength and self-determination, “Changes” is an anthem for the every day – and Joy Oladokun is, without a doubt, the voice of a generation.

Was a baby during the L.A. riots
And I’ve seen cities burn again
Cried for the innocent a thousand times
And people still don’t understand
What it’s like to hope again and again knowing
That heartache’s gonna be there ’til the end
Newspaper says the world’s on fire
People yelling and the water’s rising
It’s easy to feel kinda anxious
Yeah, we’ve thought it was the end of time
We’re still holding on and we’re still trying
Life’s always been a little dangerous
But I don’t wanna stay the same, so
I’m tryna keep up with the changes


by Bleach Lab

London’s Bleach Lab have been our dreamcatcher for quite some time now, captivating on a musical and emotional level through visceral dream-pop that never fails to cut into our human core. Following last fall’s “hauntingly beautiful, nostalgic, and brutally raw third EP ‘If You Only Feel It Once” (to quote myself), the band have returned with yet another spellbinding seduction with a rich blue-violet hue: Released March 8 via Nettwerk Music Group, “Indigo” is a moody, brooding, and deeply introspective reflection on relationships and romances.

Indigo - Bleach Lab
Indigo – Bleach Lab

“This track is about a toxic relationship which took a long time to break from, and the idea of them reappearing constantly adding to a vicious cycle of them trying to convince you they’re sorry or things will be better,” bassist Josh Longman shares. “This time it’s over and no coming back, although it still hurts.”

“I started writing this with the chorus first and without a track for it in mind at the time,” he continues. “I liked the idea of an ‘80s movie where there’s a man trying to apologise and get his girl back by playing music out of a boombox while she sits on the window ledge. I thought it’s funny that it’s romanticised in film but it would never happen in real life. So I tried to play on that a bit and relate it to repetition and how it would look like if it happened today.”

Guitars shimmer and drums slap a heavy beat as “Indigo” gets into groove, with vocalist Jenna Kyle adding the cherry on top through her fragile, intimate singing. “I picture you when you’re leaving, a memory for my safe keeping” she utters, her voice a soft and stirring breath in the wind. “There’s something to be said about all that we went through.”

You add to my pain
With words I said, when breathing in your name
The worst thing that you could do was lead me back to you
Why throw stone in my glass home
With a message on a pebble, you let me know
You’re outside with a speaker on your phone
You play a song
Why throw stone in my glass home
With a message on a pebble, you let me know
You’re outside with a speaker on your phone
You play a song that I don’t know

Bleach Lab have always been the kind of band to push themselves and their sound forward, and “Indigo” is no exception; the song feels like another evolution in their short, but meaningful history, uncovering new energies and emotions as they build out a lush, evocative world of sound. As Kyle sings of the sky turning indigo, she’s accompanied by orchestral strings – a first, I believe, for the band – as well as thumping drums that feel at once anxious and immediate.

“The sky turning indigo I always saw as a visual representation of a colour that shows a lot of emotion,” Longman says. “To create indigo, you use blue and red, and both colours collide in the sky. I feel emotions of these colours on their own can show anger, calm, warning, serenity, sadness all combining.”

“Indigo” is wondrous, enchanting, immersive, and magical. It’s Bleach Lab at their very best. The longtime Atwood Magazine artist-to-watch has long known how to dazzle, but here they sizzle and sway as well, resulting in a one-of-a-kind, dream-come-to-life experience that proves as cathartic as it is catchy. With what we can only hope to be an album coming soon, Bleach Lab are already well on their way to making 2023 their year!

“Are You Okay?”

by BEL

Bel Whelan’s first song of the year is a spirited, cinematic reverie ready for sweet singalongs, intimate one-on-ones, and hazy mid-week daydreams. Released February 24, “Are You Okay?” finds BEL connecting with a friend on matters of the heart. “I was on the phone, I was feeling so alone, she was talking ’bout her brand new man,” she sings over a buoyant, bustling groove. “I don’t wanna brag, he’s the best I ever had, I said maybe I don’t understand…

No sooner has the scene been set, than Bel bursts into a radiant chorus full of dynamic color and cathartic release. It’s a captivating, lush, loving cacophony – one fueled by tenderness toward a friend, and the juxtaposition of being on the inside looking out, and being on the outside, looking in.

Are You Okay? - BEL
Are You Okay? – BEL
No amount of talking…
No amount of talking could
Got a couple tables for the weekend
Bring a new boy and a few friends
I said I’m okay I don’t need that
Are you okay
Are you okay, okay
A la la la la, are you okay?
Are you okay, okay?
A la la la la, are you okay?
Are you okay, okay?

“I wrote this song for a friend of mine going through a rough patch with her new partner,” Whelan tells Atwood Magazine. “I had a lot of fun making it with Sean Silverman (Beach Weather). It’s a vulnerable song, but I like that at first listen you can’t really tell because it’s layered with this uptempo, fun production. I was coming from a place of love, making sure my friend was being true to herself, and questioning if her partner was the best person for her. I’m also asking myself if I’m okay…okay with being alone when it seems like everyone around me has someone. I would say that my new music explores a lot about being alone vs dating – the positives and negatives of both.”

“Are You Okay?” has plenty for listeners to uncover on repeat listens, but one thing that stands out from the start is the experience of being asked, are you okay? twenty times in less than three minutes; it’s mesmerizing! BEL seamlessly maintains the intimacy and intensity of this question, all while transforming it into a soothing, soaring mantra we can’t help but spill ourselves into, singing alongside her in a sort of emotionally driven fever dream. Sure, it’s eerie – but it’s comforting in the very best of ways.

Truth be told, “Are You Okay?” is a gorgeous indie pop anthem – the kind of infectious, catchy eruption I’ll likely be returning to for years to come. It’s always more fun when the happy songs are secretly onions full of zest and tasty layers, isn’t it?

You look so lovely, buy you flowers
I gotta feeling that it’s going South
But take it with a grain of salt
Just wanna know
He makes you happy
That’s all
A la la la la are you okay?
Are you okay, okay?

— — — —

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
Interview: NYC’s Beau Return to Set the Night on Fire with Indie Rock Anthem “Dance with Me”
A pulsing, expressive indie rock indulgence, Beau's "Dance with Me" is a...
Read More