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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:: Rhombithian – Sincere Engineer ::
Jimmy Crowley, New York
Deanna Belos’ debut album has been brought to my attention recently. While I’ve seen Sincere Engineer mentioned sporadically, I really sank my teeth into Rhombithian this week. The songs are often grimy takes on classic pop-punk. A song like “Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7” has the melody and hook of early Green Day; “Candle Wax” has the 60’s rock-fetishism that The Gaslight Anthem does, but the production is much more raw on Sincere Engineer’s LP than either of those band’s albums. Similarly, Belos’ voice is gritty in a way that most vocalists would try to shy away from. She’s melodic and able to deliver a hook, but you can also hear her pouring every facet of her being into her lyrics, which often address depression and loneliness:
I guess I only like things that destroy me
Cause everything else seems so boring
You head for the door
You’re the old familiar hangover
I’m gonna drink myself sick for
:: “Party Up The Street” – Miley Cyrus ft. Swae Lee & Mike WiLL Made-It ::
Nicole Almeida, Philadelphia
Miley is back and she’s back with a vengeance. She is Coming EP is only six songs long, but it’s by far the best, most creative, and identity-defining project Cyrus has released so far. And while I could go on and on about the genius of the whole EP (and maybe I will, stay tuned), I really want to highlight “Party Up The Street”, the fifth song on the EP which, from first listen, grabbed me and has been stuck in my mind for hours. Rather than taking the spotlight in the song, Cyrus allows Swae Lee to be the song’s main character, only joining him almost halfway through the song. “Party Up The Street” celebrates having a good time with your friends, but unlike “Unholy”, which is unapologetic, explosive, and cheeky, “Party Up The Street” is a more cool and contained version of that. Replace the transparency of “I’m a little drunk, I know it/ Imma get high as hell” with the show-not-tell “Party up the street, and you know what happens after dark”, and you get an aloof, seductive, and delicious ode to partying. It’s a song that surely will be played at rooftops and beach parties during the summer just as the sun is coming down, and it gets the party going by teasing how far it can go but allowing you to fill in the blanks. With the predominance of Swae Lee on the track, Cyrus’ artistry is mostly shown through production and instrumentation – the simple beats, repetitive melody, unexpected but welcome string section, and flirty lyrics are all indirectly Cyrus. “Party Up The Street” is easy to look past when listening to She Is Coming, but in its discrete, simple, and dance-able tune lies the mystery and endless possibility of a night out, it seduces you and invites you in, but leaves you at the door, ready to navigate whatever comes next.
:: “bless ur heart – acoustic” – serpentwithfeet ::
Mariel Fechik, Chicago
serpentwithfeet might be made of magic. His music is unlike anything else I’ve ever heard. It’s strange and dark and gothic and sweet and spare and sad and beautiful, and today I was revisiting his last album soil when I noticed a single called soil reprise. Two songs from soil are rendered acoustically here: “bless ur heart” and “messy.” Immediately, my breath stopped when the acoustic “bless ur heart” began, as it sounded just like it did when I saw him close out his show with it at the Empty Bottle in Chicago last summer. Accompanied only by a piano, serpentwithfeet’s beautiful vocal glides across the minimal space. His voice, which always sounds as though he’s swallowed an auto-tune machine (though he hasn’t, he’s just that good), arabesques and tumbles through the simple melody. His vocal runs are straight from 90s R&B, and his music is straight from Jupiter. Or somewhere.
“bless ur heart” is a gorgeous, tender song. In it, he wonders at giving away love letters he’s written to someone, and perhaps the love that goes with them.
When I give these books away will my ink betray me?
Will my stories resist wings
And grow feet and convince men that I’m boasting?
Or will my psalms seek the company of lonely breaths?
He imagines taking these journals filled with “love documents” underground to a small creature, “And what was once a whisper will become a deep rumbling sound.” In his imaginings, the love he’s carried inside him will grow huge. “How can I restrict what’s given me life?” And yet, each chorus is small – a whispered reminder to himself:
Ooh, child bless your heart, keep a tender heart
I’ll keep a tender heart
When I saw him do this live, he had the audience join him on the swelling “hearts.” It became a crowd of people being tender together, and I left with tears of joy streaming down my face. The acoustic version brought that feeling back this morning.
:: “On We Jam” – Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac ::
Ben Niesen, France
I’ve been wildin’ the last four weeks, to put it lightly. You probably only saw one article with my name on it for all of May and between three panic attacks and an intercontinental move back to the States, I’m still beyond myself that I hadn’t written more. Mighta helped, putting all these inanities big and small, like sleeping in until whenever because you don’t want a new day to start obsessing limited suitcase space with a tetris box brain, debating what goes and what is left behind (I really wanted that ice tray, man), cursing yourself over folly purchases and cussing out a zipper that. Just. Won’t. Zip. And then coming to the dark personal conclusion that your fucked up packjob is a metaphor for your compartmentally fucked up mind. What you need in those situations is one hour, some Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac Live In Boston (volumes one, two and three), a whiskey sour, perhaps a joint (if no one else is home, of course) and some deep, deep, DEEP breaths. And barring everything but the DEEP breaths, I was shit out of luck. See, I wasn’t thinking at first, hadn’t put two and two together and realised I was missing some good blues jams and some old Fleetwood Mac has gotta do–and so I college tried the rest: no successful Spotify searches here–just a Stevie Nicks-led Live in Boston and a Vol. 3 remastered from 1998. That just wouldn’t do, so I resumed my worsening spasms–I was all right in the end–but the napkin-printed Plan A had failed without much effort (YouTube, for the luvogod!) and I never thought to write down a Plan B. All told, a mental memorandum was made: “listen to Live in Boston, Vol 1-3 in the States, wise guy, you got all three vinyl versions at home for chrissakes!” So for the past week, more than any artist I’ve been walking up and down these three discs, on a mission to find out why people talk in reverence of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and thus far I’ve three notes:
- Peter Green’s tone
- Danny Kirwan’s vibrato
- Both at the same time
Those two alone would elevate any mediocre band to supporting act material, so everything else from the eponymous Fleetwood-McVie rhythm section (hence Fleetwood Mac) to Jeremy Spencer throwing in rhythm licks is just gravy, baby. It’s all inherent to a Delta understanding that the British bands of the early explosion were too cute, too prim, too proper to adequately describe in any way but musically and even then, the songs were short–cathartic, sure!–but too short.What I needed was a penchant for lounging, expansive musical cues and references to standards, whatever you’re feeling, the jam band blues are meant to milk it not for all the time they want, but for all the time they can. And having listened to Volumes 1-3, whoever compiled the cuts could have done with some trimmers (Who needs two versions of “Rattlesnake Shake,” I mean really?! Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac may play both versions solid, but the Grateful Dead they are not). Still, I do have my recommendations: Vol. 1 for the curious Charlies out there, Vol. 2 for the Peter Green Fleetwood Mac fans still hanging tough, and Vol. 3 for the blues maniacs. And not to my own surprise, I’m a maniac.
:: “pH” – Shibo ft. Nick Dorian ::
James Meadows, Philadelphia
Mid-song switch-ups are so utterly intoxicating. Just when your body locks into a particular beat and you are nonchalantly nodding your head in synch… BOOM…. the rhythm changes so quickly that it makes M. Night Shyamalan movie twists seem like predictable drab. Or at least, that was the case for me when listening to the song “pH” by Shibo, the moniker for beat-wunderkind Eric Shiboski. The song starts out the hypnotic oscillations of synthesizers and vocals, as if it was plucked straight out of the movie TRON, then suddenly you are plunged into Funkytown. The vocals of Nick Dorian, an eight-piece fusion musical collective from Los Angeles, rain down with such delicious seduction that you’ll bust a move on the spot – or in my case, do a spit-take in the middle of a café.
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