Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: January 24, 2020

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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:: “Moonracer” – Tommi Waring ::

Ben Beamish, Brisbane, Australia

If the name sounds familiar to you, it’s because Tommi Waring is the great-grandson of musician and TV Personality, Fred Waring. Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, Tommi has been relentlessly pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, relocating from his home in Miami to the vibrant, creative epicentre of London where he has been honing his skills to become a prolific songwriter.

Ultimately landing in Soho Sonic Studios, the same music studio that has seen the likes of Idris Elba, Diplo & Lethal Bizzle pass through its halls, Tommi has channeled his creative energy into the latest work: “Moonracer,” which is equal parts funk, soul and electronica with an irresistible groove that’s hard to argue with. Leaning on retro influences, the track makes use of the once-popular ‘fade-in, fade-out’ technique, a tactic which gives it a feeling of being infinite and existing beyond just the duration of the song itself. It’s these little production details that sets Tommi’s music apart from the other offerings these days as his background and musical awareness comes into play, no doubt preparing him for an exciting 2020.

:: “Earthworm” – TANDM ::

Earthworm - TANDM

Mitch Mosk, New York

After debuting in 2018 and releasing two back-to-back EPs last year, indie pop duo TANDM today released their first single of 2020 – and it is a jam! A fiercely proud song about the band’s steadfast dedication to their craft, “Earthworm” is cute indie pop with just the right amount of garage rock spunk; it’s edging toward lo-fi, but in a charming DIY way that lends every raw guitar riff and lilting vocal inflection that much more of an authentic, we-made-this-at-home feeling.

I wish I could read your thoughts
and you could read mine
maybe then you’d know
what’s really driving me wild
I wish I could tel you something
that’s worth your time
But then again we’d just
pretend that it’s not your style

I had never heard of Toronto’s TANDM before today, and now I can’t wait to dive into their Reflections EPs this weekend. The duo of vocalist/guitarist Maxine Beck-Sinderby and Thomas Franklin, TANDM met in high school, and spent years honing their sound before ever releasing a single song. Such care and dedication are immediately evident in “Earthworm,” whose effortless balance of tension and release shows a refined act well on their way to underground notoriety.

If I were in Ontario right now, I’d be cheering on TANDM as new hometown heroes: As they tell us quite clearly in “Earthworm,” they’re not going anywhere but up.

:: “Love I Can’t Ruin” – Nia Wyn ::

Robin Fulton, Brighton, UK

They say that trends are cyclical, and in the case of music, ideas are often recycled for that ‘fresh but familiar’ charm that’s all the more appealing to their audience. Rarely do you come across an artist that not only has their own distinctive modern character, but also dutifully pays homage to the sounds that set them on that path. The genre neo-soul is very much part of the modern zeitgeist nowadays, where soul is salubriously diluted into other genres, but what about nu-soul?

The fascinating start to nu-soul artist Nia Wyn’s story is that she spent her sequestered in a small town by the sea in the northern Wales, but she’s made it work for her; honing her craft, fuelled by an unrelenting urge to create and her efforts are now reaching across the UK and internationally with her magnanimous music. Latest single ‘Love I Can’t Ruin’ is brutally honest, and flickers between decades of soul’s interpolations, held together by her voice that is a true tonic for the soul, pun fully intended.

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:: “Love Me Back” – Brittany Campbell ::

Mariel Fechik, Chicago

Brittany Campbell’s latest single begins woozily: a quiet guitar plays a strange chromatic progression as Campbell sings, “You know I feel insane, what was last night about?” Her voice is an airy, hypnotizing whisper, singing about a party gone wrong, a night half remembered, a flirtation gone amiss. The song continues almost entirely on the same hazy progression, the beauty being its slow burn build. On the second verse, a quiet click begins to back Campbell’s vocals, the tension mounting slowly into when the beat drops in. Here, Campbell begins layering harmonies as she continues to tell the story of the night, her repeated refrain the quiet plea, “Love me back.” 

I love when an artist perfectly captures the mood of the lyrics in the instrumentation of the song. “Love Me Back” feels like that type of party: low lights and muted colors, the beat of music pounding somewhere in the background, intoxication, all your focus on that certain someone’s face. This is perhaps due to Campbell’s experience as a musical theatre actress – where else are you more required to feel every action through music? The song has echoes of Moses Sumney, Erykah Badu, and The Internet, and sits in that perfect vein of alt-R&B that warms you up on cold winter days. 

:: “Everything Has Changed” – Best Coast ::

Francesca Rose, Montreal, Canada

Best Coast are super easy to listen to, something that’s been consistent since the duo’s debut album, 2010’s Crazy For You. It’s true that all their songs kind of blur together, all radiating the hazy summery vibe of resting with tanned stomach on sand after a casual afternoon’s surfing session. To listen for too long in one go can get repetitive but there are times when it makes satisfying background music, flowing like waves and taking you forward through whatever you may be doing (essay writing, maybe, on a dreary winter’s day).

“Everything Has Changed”, released last Friday (17th January) is a preview of what’s to come from their new album, Always Tomorrow. It’s distinctively Best Coast but with noticeable Joan Jett “I Love Rock n Roll” chord arrangement. 

I used to cry myself to sleep
Reading all the names they called me
Used to say that I was lazy
The lazy, crazy baby
Did they think
That maybe I was in on it?
Did they think?
No, of course they didn’t
Everything has changed
I like it this way
Everything has changed
I’d like for it to stay

In the song, Bethany Cosentino draws light on personal negativity experienced in the past and how, over the years, her mindset has changed. It fits into the theme of the album which is said to address this story and how she’s still learning to figure things out. The sunshine (as expected) is not going anywhere. 

:: “(Don’t Let the Dragon) Draag On” – King Krule ::

Adrian Vargas, Seattle

King Krule’s Archy Marshall has always excelled at creating hypnotic soundscapes, all of which are elevated by his unique vocal flair that intoxicates with each word sung. On his latest track, “(Don’t Let The Dragon) Draag On,” Marshall does exactly that. The track carries a celestial quality to it with its sparse tempo and groove. This melody complements the track’s theme of mental illness, Marshall crooning on the difficulties of living with these thoughts on and the path to better oneself.  “Self-medicate. ‘And how did you get this low?’ That’s what the illness spoke, for every word they had to say, better off just leaving me this way,” he croons, haunting listeners with his personal stories.

The track acted as the artist’s latest album announcement as well, titled Man Alive!. It’s a dark track, something accentuated even further by its music video, but one that I can’t help but repeat. Man Alive! releases February 21, and I’m excited to see how King Krule will mesmerize this time around.

:: No Requests – Stretch & Bobbito + the M19s Band ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

Stretch & Bobbito totally made my evening when I went out to their electrifying album release party at the Kennedy Center last Friday. And since music always sounds even better after you’ve heard a great live rendition of it, I’ve been fully immersed for much of this past week in the new record they performed in full that evening: No Requests

These DJ radio hosts spent much of the 1990’s granting early airplay to a wide range of future hip-hop stars, including Eminem, Jay-Z, the Notorious B.I.G. and the Wu-Tang Clan. A generation later, it’s an up-and-coming band called the M19s that Stretch & Bobbito are busy promoting. The group is named for the former crosstown bus that connected Upper East and Upper West Side Manhattan, and the metaphor is apt: the M19s play all sorts of different instruments and covers a wide variety of genres, turning this record into a multicultural delight. The interpolations of the classic reggae number “Festival Song (Bam Bam)” are as tender-sounding as can be. And the greatest moment of Friday’s show– when Latina singer Mireya Ramos belted some dazzling Spanish-language lyrics, then burst out playing a violin with just as much mastery– is also a stunner on the accompanying track, “The Mexican.” Hats off to Stretch & Bobbito for staying as true as ever to the art of embracing unheralded musical talent. 

:: “Me & You Together Song” – The 1975 ::

Caitlin Ison, Southern California

In preparation for the release of their fourth album Notes on a Conditional Form, The 1975 released the single “Me & You Together Song” this month. I’ve been loving the singles they’ve released so far, and although it’s not my favorite out of the three (excluding the intro single,”The 1975″), I like it for what it is. It’s vastly different from “People,”–the punk rock anthem for millennials–as the song highlights the “better” side of unrequited love… if there is one. I can see two unequal parts–the more obvious and consuming one, the pain of not having your feelings reciprocated, and the other–daydreaming and thinking about what could be.

I can remember when we met
Because she didn’t have a top on (A top on)
I improvised a little bit
She said my references were spot on (Spot on)
“Can I take you for a drink?”
She said, “Oh God, I’ll have to think
Because we’re mates, it doesn’t feel right” (Feel right)
And I said, “It’s cool, ” and “I was messing” but it’s true
Yeah, it’s you, you’re the one that makes me feel right

The opening of the song seems to sum up the feeling of being in love with someone and knowing every detail, every stage of your relationship–even the smallest things. The things you didn’t think you’d ever notice about someone. Although the entire song seems to be a cry into the world about how strong these feelings are, there is a glimpse of sadness and I think it’s perfectly woven into the song. 

Oh, it’s okay, lots of people think I’m gay
But we’re friends, so it’s cool, why would it not be? (Not be)

In the grand scheme of things, unrequited love sucks and I would never wish upon anyone, but it’s more common than we want and I think this song takes a slightly different take. I’m eager to know what the rest of Notes on a Conditional Form sounds like, and the other subjects they decide to tackle, whether that’s love or politics.

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