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.
This week’s weekly roundup features music by Jillian Lake, Alus, Duster, Timur, Raye Robinson, Fleur Electra, Gloomie, Lucy Wroe, Local Nomad, Sunsleeper, Vintage Culture & Maxi Jazz!
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:: “XVII” – Jillian Lake ::
Mitch Mosk, New York
Seventeen is an inherently vulnerable age for all of us: That delicate physical and emotional coming-of-age period between our younger teenage years and true young adulthood can be so tumultuous as we try to figure out who we are, who we want to be, and how we can fit into the world at large. Released late last year, Jillian Lake’s song “XVII” is an utterly dazzling and deeply stirring expression not only of that period in life, but also of grief and raw emotional reckoning. The Vancouver indie artist comes into her own with an ethereal and affecting indie pop soundscape, intimate and visceral singing, and vivid lyrics radiating the raw aches within. The music is cinematic, yet insulated: A larger-than-life experience, for a table of one.
only seventeen, a dancing queen
caught up in daydreams but sticking to a plan
good at shutting my mouth, good at keeping my vows
but baby slow down,
forced to grow up too fast it was too much
don’t let it all pile up
then came the wreck that kicked it into my head
i walked through the door
stood beside the mirror
said “what am i even doing here?”
tell me what to do
or tell me where to go
i keep circling the same prairie roads
but i’m trying
“’XVII’ is a song about grief, and finding yourself all messed up in the aftermath just watching the world go on around you,” Lake explains. “A lot of floor-laying, a lot of driving down endless gravel roads, and a lot of shouting into the abyss. When you lose the sense of yourself and even breathing is hard. It’s a song about trying to find your footing again.”
Turmoil doesn’t end at seventeen, nor does it begin there. What Lake manages to capture in her song is a snapshot of emotional volatility at that fragile age. The result is both wistful and wondrous – a serenade we can’t wait to lose ourselves in again and again.
:: “Money Dance” – Alus ::
Josh Weiner, Washington DC
No, money can’t buy love. No, it can’t buy happiness, either. We’ve been repeatedly informed of it all. And yet, there is still some “hmmm, I kinda know whatcha mean” value in hearing a lady sing about how, “I’m in a deep relationship with my bank.” That’s part of the allure of the new single, “Money Dance,” by Los Angeles native pop-R&B singer Alus, but the song has more thematic depth than simply celebrating material wealth.
“It is about women’s economic empowerment and how liberating that can be,” Alus explains. “Women should be celebrating their financial wins and never need to depend on someone to provide for us. ‘Money Dance’ was written from a perspective that says you don’t need to flash your wallet at me to get my attention.”
Alus does have plenty of ways to command our attention, though. These include her sultry vocals (especially when she lures us to “watch me as I do money daaannccee…”); a fine multi-layered melody, featuring some pulsating bass and guitar; and an attractive music video that draws upon Pulp Fiction, Dia de los Muertos, and gangster flicks galore. The goal of such imagery, Alus explains, is to show how women can take on the leadership roles not traditionally assigned to them onscreen. Hopefully, she’ll be able to demonstrate plenty of leadership and command herself in her emerging music career.
:: “Teeth”- Duster ::
Nick Matthopoulos, Chicago
For nearly three decades, Duster has carved a veritable niche for themselves due to their slow, mellow, and hazy sound; something Wikipedia and the music world know as slowcore. But, all things considered that isn’t totally far off, and “Teeth,” from the band’s fourth album, Together, is a great example of Duster’s slow, moody, and consistent songwriting ability. For as low energy as the song is, the band brings a fair amount of movement to the composition: The drums are rhythmic and consistent while the guitar and bass match each other with their relaxed, yet kinetic leads and melody. At nearly five minutes, the composition doesn’t change, it only slightly modulates with moments of accented reverb or delay for impact. Every part of this song, including the low, somewhat gravelly vocals, gives the song a sedated energy. After all this time, Duster doesn’t seem to have missed a glacial, atmospheric beat.
:: “Not a Criminal” – Timur ::
Chloe Robinson, California
Malaysian Swiss pop artist Timur’s debut single “Not a Criminal” explodes with colorful, electro soundscapes and assertive vocals. As she powerfully sings in the chorus, “god give me mercy I’m not a criminal,” you can feel that raw passion bursting through. The video could not be more fitting for a song titled “Not a Criminal”: Opening with a bank robbery and then a high-speed police chase, the visuals are as thrilling as the song itself.
The 25-year-old has possessed a strong love for music ever since she was young. Inspired by musical greats like Rihanna and Beyoncé, her own music exudes a bold innate confidence. Her pumped-up introductory piece empowers others to have that same sense of self-love and assurance. Through uplifting listeners, she is able to create an unshakable connection – not to mention a memorable start.
:: “Prince Charming” – Raye Robinson ::
Joe Beer, Surrey, UK
Born and raised in the sunny state of California, dream girl Raye Robinson is providing all the color and fun of the pop classics in her vivacious new track “Prince Charming.” Reminiscent of the production of Taylor Swift and with a healthy dose of female empowerment, Robinson has a strong voice and an eloquence with her words. Full of zesty effects and playful lyrics, the track truly shows off her fun side and is the type of song you want to belt out in the car with your girlfriends.
Robinson’s girl power anthem “Prince Charming” is all about self-love, self-sufficiency and self-trust. Written in the first few months of the pandemic and after the breakdown of a long-term relationship, the track is about celebrating independence and finding confidence in being alone. Re-entering the dating game, Robinson re-established her self-value, knowing exactly what she did and didn’t want in a relationship, and not to settle for anything less. Finding her inner courage, the singer revealed, “I always feel powerful working on and listening to Prince Charming and even though the song is very cute and bubbly, it does make me feel a little bit badass.” The new single is the forth release off the singer’s upcoming EP Crushes & Love Songs and is definitely one to listen out for!
:: “Lucky Penny” – Fleur Electra ::
Mitch Mosk, New York
A beautiful, electrifying debut single, Fleur Electra’s “Lucky Penny” is a dazzling introduction full of warm color, bustling energy, and undeniable charm. The Toronto-based singer/songwriter and producer formally introduced herself last November with this song, and since then has continued to dazzle with a series of tracks that radiate passion and yearn for release, all while sending shivers down the spine.
With cascading synths and a saccharine beat pulsing the path forward, “Lucky Penny” finds Fleur Electra reflecting on themes of emotional growth and our inevitable change, with speckles of nostalgia, longing, and hope adding further layers to her thoughts and observations. Her alluring voice shines with resounding strength; the music’s irresistible focal point, it’s a glowing, bright beacon of intimacy and a captivating vessel of emotion:
I’m getting the hang of knowing my own name
When I’m dreaming
The more that I think about all my yesterdays
I believe them
When you called me up that night
And you said that I don’t need to fight about it
We don’t get along so you make up your friends now
You’ve never met somebody like you
“Visiting my hometown for the first time in a while got me thinking a lot about how much we can change in a short time,” the artist says of her debut. “I began to have glimpses of my childhood as I started writing “Lucky Penny,” the track I am sharing with you now. It’s a story centered around coming of age and the experience of self realization. “Lucky Penny” represents this time where you realize that it’s good to have dreams and ideas of your own, and the importance that plays in becoming independent. It took me some time to figure that out. It’s liberating to finally start to understand what exactly that can look like for myself. I hope this track can bring you back to that feeling of being a kid again. I wanted this song to flow and make it feel like you are following the story of someone really coming into their own.”
With three exhilarating songs released as of April 2022, the future looks exceptionally promising for Fleur Electra. The start of something very special, “Lucky Penny” is an enviable entrance showcasing the breadth and depth of her burgeoning artistry. The artist’s debut album In Technicolor is set to release later this year.
:: “Every Time I Leave” – Gloomie ::
Mitch Mosk, New York
A radiant song of escape and inner reckoning, Gloomie’s “Every Time I Leave” soars with feverish passion and dreamy alternative pop charm. Originally put out last year as the Sydney, Australia-based artist’s second single, the tender and turbulent implosion now serves as the opener to her recently-released debut EP, Storm Chaser (March 25, 2022 via Community Music). Formerly the frontwoman for dream pop band Goodside, Casey Logemann has found a new voice for herself in Gloomie, a captivating solo project that blurs genre, going wherever Logemann decides she wants to go next.
Additional EP songs, including the compelling, controlled explosion “Dilemma,” the sweetly soaring “Storm Chaser,” and the hard-hitting “Cake Was on the Radio,” find Gloomie dwelling in profound emotional depths while enveloping listeners in her charged alternative/indie rock world. Her sound draws similarities to that of artists like Atwood Magazine artist-to-watch girlhouse and Boyish, though with such a strong singing and lyrical voice, Logemann’s project easily stands apart on its own merits. “Every Time I Leave” remains an exemplar of her talents: From that very first churning guitar lick to the first sung line, “It’s a good day to stay in my bed,” Gloomie immerses listeners in the impassioned, intimate depths of her world:
It’s a good day to stay in my bed
Tell myself that I’ll move to Berlin
Maybe L.A. where I’ll be the same
It’s just me and my thoughts and we’re in a race
Honestly I feel like
I can’t breathe
And I try
But every time I leave
It’s still mine
“The song is about trying to physically run away from myself,” the artist tells Atwood Magazine. “I wrote it when I realised that I had been projecting my pain onto external things. It marks a pivotal point in my life and a big step towards healing and personal growth. I hope that in some way it will bring comfort to others. Involving my dog, June, in the visual seemed apt – the song explores mental health themes, and she is the reason I’m okay today. I hope she makes other people smile, too.”
With her debut EP out now, Gloomie promises to fill our worlds not with gloom (as her name suggests), but with deeper, more profound sensations of catharsis, connection, and wonder. She is undoubtedly an artist to put on your radar for this year and those still to come.
:: Same World – Lucy Wroe ::
Joe Beer, Surrey, UK
The jazz-soaked sound of Lucy Wroe is nothing less than pure bliss. Drenched in rich silky vocals, toe-tapping percussion and a smooth funk bassline, her music is the type that articulates unacknowledged feelings and soothes the soul all at the same time.
Born in Winchester, the singer/songwriter took her first steps into music at just 10 years old, learning to play the guitar. Realising that music was embedded in her bones, when the time came she packed up and relocated to London to study, before releasing her debut single in 2020. Feeling a surge of productivity during the pandemic and using writing to avoid studying for a while, Wroe penned the first song and title track of her latest EP, Same World. Narrating love from the flicker of butterflies at the beginning, all the way through to the acknowledgement that the relationship wasn’t meant to be, the EP is an exploration of the all-encompassing emotions of lust, love and longing that we all feel from time to time, with the artist explaining, “Since I can remember, I’ve had this strange yearning really deep inside me like a well that I can’t fill, and over the years I’ve just pushed it further down. It regularly surfaces through my lyrics which is why this EP has focused on making a very special and deep connection, then realising that it just isn’t what you need.”
:: Stranger in My Hometown – Local Nomad ::
Chloe Robinson, California
During the pandemic we were forced to cope with a new normal. New York is known as the city that never sleeps, and it was an eerie feeling seeing such a bustling metropolis so empty. Local Nomad’s Stranger in My Hometown is a moody, intoxicating five-track release. Focusing on the melancholy sadness that can come with change, he details how little he recognized the place he is from. The singer reveals, “It is a combination of new and old songs I wrote during the pandemic. I was in the process of leaving New York at the time and felt like a stranger because everything I loved about NY had changed and most of the people I grew up with had left.”
Mike Desmond’s indie/alt project, Local Nomad has made a name for himself for his smooth vocals and strong storytelling. Each song off his EP showcases that same soulful tone and detailed lyricism, and his delicate tracks emit a deep nostalgic feel, drawing listeners in. With warmth reminiscent of bands like Foster The People, his music feels fresh yet familiar.
:: “Commotion” – Vintage Culture & Maxi Jazz ::
Josh Weiner, Washington DC
“Time to cause a commotion,” British rapper Maxi Jazz announces. He and Brazilian DJ Vintage Culture deliver on that promise to the fullest extent. The thing is, this is the kind of commotion that’s a total blast to get immersed in. As a longtime member of the London-based electronic band Faithless, Maxi Jazz evidently knows the tricks of the EDM trade, allowing him to collaborate seamlessly with this younger member of the game, Mr. V.C.
In a genre where lyrics sometimes get eschewed entirely, this electronica track stands out with its skewering Zeitgeist commentary of the global landscape in 2022, a place defined by “plastic polluting the ocean” and far too much time wasted “[kicking] around intellectual litter” on social media. It’s a far-reaching concept, but the man born Maxwell Fraser insists it all came to him quite naturally. “The words took 20 minutes to write,” he says. “They poured out of me like a tap. And they come from a place of love, not fear…. Like most people, I’m more than a little concerned over the future for generations to come.”
Lukas Rafael Ruiz Hespanhol – who’s been producing and remixing EDM tracks since the early 2010’s– appreciates the chance to have worked with an artist who is as dependable as that to churn out new material. “The lyrical wizardry of Maxi Jazz has been an inspiration for many years,” he says. “Few artists can create such a vivid lyrical picture and simultaneously put these words to melody as Maxi. It is an honor to work with this legend on our new track ‘Commotion.’”
:: “In the Clouds” – Sunsleeper ::
Mitch Mosk, New York
The latest offering from Salt Lake City’s Sunsleeper, “In the Clouds” is an indie rock outpouring rife with dreamy warmth and an inescapable yearning for release. Heavy drums and throttling guitars fill the airwaves as the band pour their hearts into a song of reflection and disconnect. Those of us who found ourselves cut off from loved ones at some point during the past two years can relate to the sense of detachment reflected in vocalist Jeffery Mudgett’s emotional lyrics:
This year hasn’t humbled you
And nothing will
I’m trying to remember all the reasons I should care
A year spent cutting ties and losing friends
The rain flushed out pieces of old muses
Gray clouds haven’t moved in a few days
stuck in your old ways
Why don’t you laugh like the old days
Hoping that the weather can still change
“I have a tendency of getting stuck in my head, recounting all the things I wish were different,” Mudgett shares. “Due to the nature of the pandemic and the civil unrest of 2020, many people’s true colors bubbled to the surface. I found myself longing for simpler times a lot while processing the stark shift in many of my relationships during that timeframe. This song recounts the realization that many people I held in high esteem in my life ended up not being the people I thought they were, including myself.”
We can long for simpler times, but there’s no going back – and that’s ultimately what “In the Clouds” wrestles with: The fact that we have to learn to live in the world as it is now, not as it was.
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