Every Friday, Atwood Magazine’s staff share what they’ve been listening to that week – a song, an album, an artist – whatever’s been having an impact on them, in the moment. Here’s this week’s weekly roundup!
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:: “Now That I Found You / No Drug Like Me” – Carly Rae Jepsen ::
Anthony Kozlowski, Los Angeles
While most of you were busy giving “thank u, next” its billionth stream this week, pop music’s most underrated queen dropped a double dose of electric sugar. Fans got a taste of what’s next from the “Call Me Maybe” singer when she released “Party of One” last year, but for the Cult of Carly (a real thing, mind you, of which I’m a card-carrying member) one is never enough.
At first listen, opener “Now That I Found You” seems bent on continuing the path laid down by her 2015 gem E●MO●TION. It’s a hit list of what she does best – vocal loops, chunky synths, and an irresistible earnestness. If E●MO●TION was the climb, this is the plunge into sparkling blue. In it we hear an unrestrained profession of love. It’s the honeymoon period of a relationship with all its butterflies and dopamine fireworks.
But that’s only one side of the coin. The yang to this bubbly yin, B-side “No Drug Like Me,” takes a hard left from what fans of her radio hits have come to expect. Where “NTIFY” is heart-on-the-sleeve young love, this is a power ballad focused on the fear of jumping headfirst into it. It’s deeper and murkier than standard issue Carly, but ultimately more rewarding. At its core, the slow jam hook isn’t just about flirtation, it’s also a warning label of sorts.
When your mouth is running dry
Keep head high, hold on, baby
You ain’t tried no drug like me.
Taken together, these tracks are a hearty appetizer for her upcoming album. Here’s hoping the pop world will gobble them up this time around.
:: – – Jetty Bones ::
Jimmy Crowley, New York
Jetty Bones has been one of my more anticipated releases since the tailend of 2017. Lead vocalist and sole member Kelc Galluzo’s voice really soars, and even though their Old Women and Crucial States EPs were pop-punk albums, – is a much more visceral and boundary-stretching EP, which sees her incorporating more emo and post-punk. Galluzo’s voice isn’t necessarily one you’d pin for this subtle EP, but it has enough punchy parts that really allow her to show off her voice. “The Part:” is one of the heavier hitting moments on the release, as Galluzo frankly discusses a breakup and how a relationship is toxic and breaking up is hard. The outro, which includes remixed Siri responses, is probably one of the more compelling moments, as it shows how sometimes abuse and depression are hard but repetitive, making us feel robotic often. “(Jogging)” captures a similar feeling in a more restrained track, where it shows how some of us just throw ourselves into exercise. The opening lines of “To Know You” really feed my own preoccupation with mortality:
I wish I could be there
When your brain stops working
~ excuse me while I have a breakdown on the train ~
The best track though is the opener, “better.” It accurately encompasses everything I love about this release, from the powerhouse vocals and emotional lyrics to the more emo instrumentals and Galluzo’s rapping:
It’s pretty easy keeping quiet
When your mouth’s still shut by someone else’s violence
And the only thing worse than the noise was silence
‘Cause then you never know what’ll happen next
If you’re lucky, it’s nothing
If you’re not, I’ll call it sex
But that was just to make himself feel better
It’s a really powerful depiction of an abusive relationship, but it also provides hope to get out of it in moments, because it shows the first step to solving any problem is admitting there is one.
:: Ulfilas’ Alphabet – Sundara Karma ::
Ditta Demeter, Cambridge, UK
Reading foursome Sundara Karma’s new album only dropped about 11 hours ago, but I’m already on my fifth listen. Granted, that could be purely the result of my incredibly obsessive personality, but let me assure you this is not at all the case. The band, previously criticized for their “basic” indie rock sound and lack of ambition in exploring other genres, took a massive leap of faith and rebuilt their image entirely. Every song on the sophomore record radiates with this overwhelming sense of novelty and the idea of rebirth, symbolized also by the early spring release date (1 March). Ulfilas’ Alphabet feels like a long but joyful journey home, tied in with frontman Oscar Pollock’s personal adventure towards finding himself; both culminate in my personal favorite track (thus far), the intimate, warm and upbeat anthem “Home (There Was Never Any Reason To Feel So Alone)”, an intriguing mix of infectious retro pop and the band’s signature indie beats. What an incredible way to start the new season!
:: “Mess” – Noah Kahan ::
Mitch Mosk, New York
There’s no word we millennials love using to describe ourselves more than “mess.” We’re a mess, we’re a mess: We must confess… Growing up on the frontiers of a brave new world that no one fully grasps, with limitless potential and stars in our eyes. It’s the setup to a perfect storm: We’re all the main characters of our own drama. How could we not fall for a song that so completely summarizes the tragedy of our twenties?
22-year-old singer/songwriter Noah Kahan introduced his debut album today with the worn and weary “Mess,” a heart-on-sleeve plea that aches with nostalgia, love, and remorse as the young artist struggles to figure himself out.
If I could give this all back
I would be home in the morning
I’d wake up in a cold swing
Take a flight back to the city I was born in
And I would wipe myself clean
Of what I knew was unimportant
I’d want typical things
I’d try to fit back into all my old clothing
And I would prove myself wrong
That all along the problem was me
With all my bitterness gone
Happy, I’d be
Armed with his golden voice and the finest acoustic and electric guitars, Noah Kahan has set himself apart over the past few years as a truly magnificent, head-turning entity. Last January, his five-song EP Hurt Somebody reminded all of us that “great songwriters make great songs.” This year, I expect he’ll do the very same again with debut album, and I can’t wait to discover the surprises this promising talent has up his sleeve. Signed to Republic Records, Noah Kahan’s biggest challenge is to be himself while facing overwhelming pressure to succeed: After all, Republic’s motto is that they “break new artists,” and Kahan’s finding himself closer and closer to the top of that breaking list.
In spite of such looming weight, Kahan’s releases consistently feel fresh, exciting, and different. “Mess” is his first offering in 2019, finding him singing softly atop mellow guitar work. By the time he hits the chorus, a full band has joined in and he’s howling away, losing himself as he croons about all he’ll do to right himself if it will help him feel whole again:
I’ll move back home forever
I’ll feed the dogs and I’ll put all
My pieces back together where they belong
And I’ll say I’m a mess, I’m a mess
Oh god, I’m a mess
And I’ll take 89 to Boston
See my love and I’ll help her
Set up her new apartment
And we’ll get drunk and she’ll say
Shit, you’re a mess, you’re a mess
Good god, you’re a mess
Oh, you’re a mess, you’re a mess
“Mess” is a song of struggle; of conflicted identities and figuring one’s own life out. It’s Kahan’s deeply personal cry as the artist finds himself torn between two worlds: His home life, and music. “And there’s still weight on my back, I just try to ignore it. I guess the stage was my mask; I forgot the way I looked before I wore it.” Out of this pain, Noah Kahan creates for listeners a cathartic basin for us to fill with our weeps and woes. We’re all at some point in the day or week; this song might very well save you from yourself.
:: “Fools” – Drugdealer ::
Nick Baron, New York
Drugdealer’s Michael Collins is probably the least talented guy in his own band, and he’d probably be the first to tell you that. That is not to say that he doesn’t have the imagination to keep up with his songwriters-in-arms like Mac DeMarco, Natalie Mering of Weyes Blood, and Ariel Pink, but his ego doesn’t impede him from enlisting the help of more technically skilled musicians. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned here: Talent is cheap; you’re better off with good friends.
Drugdealer is less of a band than it is a happy hour gathering of like-minded artists, and they all happen to have a deep affection for 1960s and ’70s pysch-pop. His latest single “Fools,” a tender, wistful homage to that era, is the product of Collins’ collaborative spirit, featuring the wonderfully talented Josh Da Costa, TOPS’ Jackson MacIntosh, Danny Garcia, Michael Long, and Benjamin Schwab. Although “Fools” lacks the personality of his older songs like “Suddenly” and “Sea of Nothing,” the pure shock value of new Drugdealer is enough to get me hyped for his upcoming album, Raw Honey, which comes out April 19th.
:: “UFOF” – Big Thief ::
Mariel Fechik, Chicago
Man, oh man, this band does things to me. After the release of Capacity, Big Thief quietly but quickly became one of my favorite bands. Everything about them, from their hazy, vintage sound to their big happy family vibe, makes me feel very warm and fuzzy inside. I have gazed lovingly up at Adrianne Lenker from the front row of Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, and I can attest to the fact that they are just as good, if not better, live.
The new single off their forthcoming album (!!!), “UFOF,” is a fuzzy, dreamlike song. The title track is about aliens and the laws of attraction and bad dreams and love, and I don’t even really have the words for it yet – other than that it’s a song only they could make. Lenker’s whispery, imperfect voice is gauze-like over spiky bed of guitars and drums, almost buried in the mix. Their idiosyncratic writing style is in full force here, with odd chord progressions and a slightly abnormal song structure. To say I’m excited for this next album cycle is a comical understatement, so I’ll leave it at this for now: if you’re not familiar yet, listen to their whole discography, cry, repeat.
:: The Jungle Is The Only Way Out – Mereba ::
Coco Rich, Boston
Mereba, folk-soul/contemporary R&B, LA-based artist, released her long-awaited album, The Jungle Is The Only Way Out, two days ago on February 27th. Since her self-released EP in 2013, Room for Living, Mereba’s fanbase has only grown. My twitter feed has been blowing up with “don’t sleep on Mereba!!” and “how come I just discovered Mereba now?!?” tweets. It’s exciting to see her getting the recognition she deserves. A whole new wave of fans have been turned on to Mereba through the handful of powerful singles she’s dropped over the last couple years. Her musicality is a force— she’s a singer, songwriter and producer (she produced or co-produced 12 of the 13 tracks on this new album). The Jungle Is The Only Way Out highlights the complexities and prowess of Mereba as an artist— one whose music communicates raw emotion and nuanced reflections. “Sandstorm” features J.I.D, an artist whose mind-blowing lyricism rivals Mereba’s sharp, perceptive lyrical moves. The album has another feature, by 6LACK, and comprises two previously released tracks, “Planet U” and “Black Truck— extended version”. Dive into this beautiful project and begin your journey here:
:: “Without a Blush” – Hatchie ::
Abby Jones, Brooklyn
If ‘90s-pop-diva-with-an-edge sounds like something that’d be up your alley, Hatchie’s your girl. The Aussie newcomer, real name Harriette Pilbeam, already has an impressive resume built; she previously opened for Snail Mail and Alvvays, and will be hitting the road with Girlpool this year. Hatchie’s debut album, Keepsake, is due out this summer, and the singer/songwriter has just shared its first track: “Without a Blush.”
“Without a Blush” is just as celestial and dreamy as any Hatchie cut, but it’s arguably her strongest one to date. Pilbeam — also an experienced bassist—lets her four-string skills soar during the verses, providing a reverby foundation for all the melodic percussion and “ah-ah-ah”s that make the song feel like you’re being transported into the bedroom of your tween years, boombox on full blast.
:: 1993 – Manila Killa ::
Alex Killian, San Francisco
I’ve been a pretty big fan of Manila Killa since I first discovered his Nest HQ MiniMix on SoundCloud. His seamless transitions were what really hooked me, and his original tracks since then have been just as satisfying. All that to say I was super excited to see he was dropping a debut EP, and I’ve been having a blast listening to 1993. The title track is a bright, euphoric plunge into the collection, encapsulating Manila Killa’s sound effortlessly. The rest of the EP is just as fresh and fun, with plenty of warmth to go around. I definitely need to dive in further, but I’m elated to have new Manila Killa tunes, and just in time for spring!
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