Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: April 15, 2022

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | April 15, 2022
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | April 15, 2022
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 Lyn Lapid, Latto, Alms, Sophia Alexa, Meg Smith, Deathcruiser, Home Is Where, 93FEETOFSMOKE, Haley Johnsen, and Michèle Ducray!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup

:: The Outsider EP – Lyn Lapid ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

There’s a simultaneous intimacy and grandeur to Lyn Lapid’s standout multi-track debut: Billed as an EP, her stunningly cinematic The Outsider ought to be considered a mini-album, especially once one takes into account the range, scope, and clarity achieved throughout its eight enchanting tracks. Vulnerable upheavals and confessional outpourings coalesce with coming-of-age lessons and moments of truth as the eighteen-year-old finds her voice in a pool of electric pop-laced passion and alternative wonder. Hints of everyone from Billie Eilish and mxmtoon to Tove Lo, Ellie Goulding, and Dua Lipa filter through Lapid’s invigorating songs, but there’s ultimately no denying the singularity of her music: She’s wasted little time over these past two busy years in carving out a space that is hers and hers alone.

“I would best describe The Outsider as a collection of the different parts of myself that I discovered growing up, and how I learned to accept and set myself apart from the community I grew up in and the people I encountered throughout my life,” Lapid tells Atwood Magazine. “The focus track of the EP, ‘Pager,’ perfectly encapsulates that sort of idea I had, and it’s the one track on the EP where I specifically talk about the kind of community I grew up in. I grew up in an academically rigorous and competitive community where careers in the fine arts were highly stigmatized and discouraged, so you can imagine the kind of reaction I got when I decided not to go to college and pursue a career as a musician; it was kinda awful, and I got a lot of backhanded comments.”

“I knew that music was my true passion ever since I little, and eventually I figured I could never win everyone over with the choice I made for myself,” she continues. “I learned to stick with the people who truly got behind me and cut ties with anyone who didn’t. The other tracks on The Outsider all talk about the different ways I felt like an outsider growing up and how I learned to cut ties with the toxic people in my life and find the ones who continue to support me today. I hope that anyone who listens to The Outsider knows that there will always be a circle of people who will fully accept who you are, and all you gotta do is go out there and find them.”

Whether you’re rocking along to “Pager” or soaking up the feel-good, sun-soaked vibes of “How Did I Ever,” or even dwelling in the drastic depths of “Comatose,” The Outsider has this inimitable way of filling us up and lifting our spirits to great heights. It’s an inspiring, impassioned set that very clearly comes from Lapid’s heart.

“My favorite song off of it is probably ‘Comatose’,” she shares. “It’s kinda hard to explain, but I feel like listening to it makes you feel like you’re floating, and I love when songs do that. Also I surprisingly took a bunch of inspiration from TikTok. There were multiple instances where I saw a video or a comment that I thought would be a cool lyric or idea for a song. ‘Comatose’ and ‘Off Day’ actually came together that way.”

I understand why, from a marketing and even an artistic perspective, The Outsider is being hailed as an extended player and not some kind of shorter long-form piece; it is only 24 minutes long, after all – each of its tracks a tight waterfall of emotionally-charged music that envelops the ears, mind, and soul. It makes sense for Lapid to hold onto the sacred “debut album” title for a few more years. Still, I can’t help but feel like The Outsider does more than your stereotypical, standard debut EP ever could; it’s not a random sampling of Lapid’s best works, but rather a visionary collection of songs that run the gamut in style, sound, and energy; cohesive despite their diversity, they come together over a shared message of perseverance, passion, empathy, and inner strength. It’s devastatingly beautiful and beautifully devastating all at once: A dynamic, captivating mini-album that showcases the very best of 2022’s exceptional artist-to-watch Lyn Lapid.

How’s the air up there?
You’re looking down on what I’m doing
Is it amusing?
Does it seem unfair I’m doing everything but losing?
Must be ego-bruising
We could be here all night with you giving me
Unsolicited advice, overt honesty
Talking is exhausting
If you want, here’s an option
If you got a problem with me
I can hear about it later
You can send it to my pager
Tell me what you think about me
I’ll get back to you later
You’ll be doing me a favor
Send it to my pager

:: “Drag Me” – Alms ::

Sophie Prettyman-Beauchamp, Long Beach, California

Friends and neighbors of LA shoegaze band Cryogeyser, indie rock four-piece Alms are stepping up to the plate and taking a good, hard look in the mirror. Drenched in crashing cymbals, distortion, and subtle synths, their latest single “Drag Me” is a driving journey from self-reckoning to renewed motivation. Singer Roman Zangari describes what the song means to him and his bandmates:

“’Drag Me’ came together in a novel way for us, it was two separate song ideas that we ended up gluing together: the first half being this reflection on what it’s like to feel tethered to your worst qualities or your bad tendencies. It’s about the toxic traits we all possess, those things we can’t stand about ourselves – but we have the hardest time shaking. The second half is hopeful and forward-thinking. It’s about finding comfort in that desire to change and trying to be better for oneself, regardless of how hard it may seem. We tried to reflect that shift in attitude through the instrumentation and overall feeling of the song.”

With every release, Alms allows listeners to know them on a deeper level, but as “Drag Me” especially indicates, they’re finding and stepping into themselves, too. Watch the music video to see sweat fly and some fancy DDR footwork.

:: “All I Ever Wanted” – 93FEETOFSMOKE ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

“We had 24 hrs to shoot & edit this mv so we went in2 the forest in oregon n filmed this hope u like it =)” is what’s written on the YouTube video description for “All I Ever Wanted” by young singer Marciel Bauer, otherwise known as 93FEETOFSMOKE. His hopes have been fulfilled, at least from this corner– given my family ties to Oregon, I enjoyed seeing the landscape of the Pacific Northwest woodlands and good old Mt. Hood in this clip. Moreover, I can appreciate the “let’s do what we can on a limited budget”  free spirit that allowed for this video to take shape. Cheers to that, Marciel.

Of course, it’s not just the video that drew my interest, but the song itself. It’s the latest release from 93FEETOFSMOKE, who grew up in Richmond, VA and now is based out in Oregon. He’s consumed a wide range of alt-rock, hip-hop, emo and trap throughout his life, and has been stringing together bits and pieces of all of those genres throughout his roughly six years in the game. “My music is the intersection of skateboarding, fashion, the Crunk-era, and pop punk,” he says. “It’s all uncut and unfiltered.”

“All I Ever Wanted” is the latest song of his to put that claim to the test. Over an acoustic instrumental, with a few electric guitar strings thrown in for good measure, 93FEETOFSMOKE bemoans how rough things have been lately, especially when it comes to the ladies. “Was it something that I said?” he hollers. “Coz I would take it all back if you came back again… real life ain’t quite how it seems in your mind.” Whether or not he gets this romantic situation sorted out, a talented young fellow like this guy certainly deserves to have things work out music-career-wise.

:: “Wake Me Up When My 20’s End” – Meg Smith ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

Roaring and aching, dramatic and honestly all-too on point, Meg Smith’s first release of 2021 feels both exhilarating and a little poignant as I listen to it through 29-year-old ears. “Wake Me Up When My 20’s End” is kind of a middle-finger-in-the-air to our turbulent twenties: A time of tremendous growth and self-discovery, connection and celebration, marred of course by the cold, unforgiving realities of independent young adult life:

Bar None on the east side
Praying that my credit card won’t decline
With a guy i don’t like
But i’ll probably go home with him tonight
Walking home with heels in my hands
Said tonight would be different but it’s how it always ends
My roommates throwing up over 10 cheap beers
Is this every night for the next 10 years
Wake me up when twenties end
When got real friends and real money to spend
Cause when I’m thirty i won’t have to pretend
Wake me up, wake me when my twenties end

Hailing from Los Angeles and now living in Brooklyn, singer/songwriter Meg Smith has the distinction of being the winner of BMI’s first inaugural Charlie Feldman award for emerging talent. A 2021 graduate from the Clive Davis Institute at NYU, Smith released her debut single on March 13, 2020; undeterred by the pandemic-induced lockdowns and isolation that followed shortly thereafter, she has actively soldiered on over the past two years, releasing her debut EP American in Paris in September 2020 and a smattering of singles in the year and a half since then.

Smith’s wit, her warmth, and her undeniable charisma shine like rays of sunlight filtering through her latest single. “I think a lot of people romanticize their 20s, especially in New York,” the artist tells Atwood Magazine. “You think you’re going to live in an amazing apartment, and have dinner parties all the time, and have lots of fun being single and dating around. Like Sex and the City. But then reality hits, and you’re working part time jobs to support your art, living in an apartment that’s falling apart, and going on the same bad date night after night. It’s a really stressful period of life.”

“The book ‘The Defining Decade’ by Meg Jay really helped me understand how difficult being in your 20s can be. I feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions, and I didn’t know any songs that explored that. That’s how ‘Wake Me Up When My 20’s End’ was created.”

Sure it’s coming in mid-April, but what a way to start a new year off. “Wake Me Up When My 20’s End” is fiery and fierce, infectiously catchy (can we still use the word infectious to describe music?) and altogether charming. Smith is clearly putting her best foot forward, and the result is an Avril-meets-Paramore radiant singalong we can shout out loud at the top of our lungs.

:: “Manifesto”- Michèle Ducray ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Daring dark pop artist Michèle Ducray unveils her single entitled “Manifesto.” The penetrating piece is a haunting pop horror story laced with elevated EDM beats. The video has equally as eerie vibes. A terrifying tale of a serial killer chasing a victim, you soon discover not everything is as it seems. The unique visual depiction will have you on the edge with every twist and turn.

The New Zealand based singer is known to concoct mysterious fantasy worlds through her rich, seductive quality. Being raised in South Africa and China that upbringing has helped to diversify Ducray’s sound. Now she’s dropped some eccentric releases that showcases her genre-defying style. This new compelling track will leave listeners completely intoxicated.

:: 777 – Latto ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

I’ve been cruisin’ through the streets of Boston a lot lately and one of my go-to radio stations has been HOT 96.9 – “#1 for Throwbacks & The Best New Hip Hop And R&B.” Although the station tends to lean more towards “throwbacks” than “new,” one song that I have heard proudly representing that latter category many times over lately has been “Big Energy” by Atlanta rapper Latto. It’s an infectious number full of stinging lyrical boasts, along with a lighthearted melodic chorus (“Got that big, big, energy…”) that makes it all go down more easily. Plus, “Big Energy” joins the formidable ranks of songs that have sampled “Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club over the years. Perhaps the most famous of those, “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey, has just recently been mashed-up in a remix with “Big Energy,” courtesy of DJ Khaled!

On top of its lead single making waves (up to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 lately), it’s also worth checking out the rest of the corresponding album, 777. Latto makes a formidable entrance on the opening and title track: “I’m a rap bitch checker, top five stepper, Clayton County repper, red hot pepper, ain’t a bitch better, I’m a gold medal.” Those MC boasts are supported plenty of times over the ensuing dozen tracks, on which Latto continues to rap up a storm, while also doing some pleasant singing as well (that balance seems to be à la mode amongst lady MC’s these days). 777 also brings forth plenty of A-list as well: the trifecta rapping amongst Latto, Lil Wayne, and Childish Gambino on “Sunshine” is perhaps the moment on which this collaborative formula is most effectively enacted.

There’s plenty of competition for the Queen of Hip-Hop these days– but before you think Megan Thee Stallion has galloped off with the crown, lend Latto an ear. She’ll be sure to be making a solid case for herself in the coming future.

:: “Buried Alive” – Sophia Alexa ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

There’s a beautiful sense of weight and vulnerability permeating Sophia Alexa’s intensely intimate unveiling, “Buried Alive.” Taken off her recently released debut EP Groundwork (out April 8), the track is a stunningly fragile emotional unraveling on a small, yet seismic scale. The California-born, London-based singer/songwriter comes into her own through an uncompromisingly up-close and personal indie pop ballad that wrestles with time’s fleeting nature and our innate longing to cling to the people, places, and things that mean the most to us.

It’s a song of transience; a song of urgency and need; of acceptance and learning to let go. Musically, “Buried Alive” feels a bit like a dream; meanwhile, Alexa’s poetic and vivid lyrics are grounded, lucid, and delicately profound:

I got a cardboard box with half of my life
Picking up loose strings that I can’t leave behind
Oh, they’re holding my emotions
I told my dad I’ll never get a tattoo
But I want something that I’ll never remove
Or be broken, or get stolen

“I wrote ‘Buried Alive’ at a time when I had become a bit of a hoarder, and I’d hold on to everything, down to pamphlets from a doctor’s office to every journal I’ve written in,” Alexa tells Atwood Magazine.  “It was a strange sentimental attachment to everything I owned. I wondered why people, including me, attach themselves to things, and it’s more than materialism, it’s having something permanent. The title came from this tv show called ‘Buried Alive’ about hoarders and in a way I related to them trying to fill some void or emotion with possessions.”

“My EP Groundwork has quite a literal meaning as the title represents me laying the foundation of my journey as an artist,” she adds. “It includes all the years, experiences, and pain wrapped up in a few songs. I like to think of it as the beginning of who I am as a songwriter and an end to a chapter of who I was. each song allowed me to process a certain experience in the most honest and vulnerable way. I love to think of my songs as a moment in time, and this EP has allowed me to relive special and difficult moments in my life.”

“Buried Alive” is an ideal gateway into Sophia Alexa’s world: Since debuting in late 2021, the singer/songwriter has already garnered hundreds of thousands of global streams thanks to her standout voice, alluring songwriting, and impeccable production. Groundwork sees all these elements coming together naturally; the songs “House of Cards,” “Hit and Run,” and “Kids” join “Buried Alive” in offering a first, but nonetheless powerful (and endlessly enthralling) glimpse at a young, burgeoning artistry coming into its own. Alexa’s tender, impassioned indie pop sound is reminiscent of Phoebe Bridgers, Holly Humberstone, and girlhouse, and yet we can already feel her carving her own path and blazing her own trail. She is more than certainly one to watch.

Da, da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da
Filling my bags till I can’t walk
Breaking my back to fill this void
Starting to bring me down like
Da, da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da
I’m filling my bags till I can’t talk
Holding my past until I fall
Starting to bring me down like

:: “names” – Home Is Where ::

Sophie Prettyman-Beauchamp, Long Beach, California

Today, Floridian emos Home Is Where release their split EP dissection lessons with Texan rockers Record Setter, courtesy of Top Shelf and Father/Daughter Records. Their sneak peek of what’s to come and heaviest song to date, “names” is a rallying cry for trans solidarity, protection, and liberation. Frontwoman Brandon MacDonald shrieks, “You were beautiful, you were my sister! You are beautiful, you are my sister!” as she simultaneously grieves the harrowing loss that trans and nonbinary communities contend with, and empowers her fellow trans comrades in their womanhood. Her manifesto calls for the arming of trans women, and she declares, “This is literal: dismantle what makes trans girls live in fear. Fuck you.” Home Is Where continues the tradition of trans-fronted, political hardcore music in the same vein as now-defunct punk band G.L.O.S.S., and they’re not backing down by any means of the phrase.

:: “Higher” – Haley Johnsen ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Haley Johnsen’s new single is sure to lift you ‘higher’ with its lush, ethereal air. Aptly titled as such, the song gently drifts you away with its warm vocals and delicate instrumentation. A narration of growing and changing as a person, you really get that sense she has transcended to a greater place. “Higher” is all about fighting everyday to better yourself no matter how big your dreams maybe. This is the perfect piece for anyone struggling to find that inner acceptance and love. The video fittingly gels with the song’s wistful sound, showcasing angelic psychedelic vibes. Its trippy kaleidoscopic imagery adds a powerful element to an already compelling track.

Born in Oregon, Johnsen is known for her seamless genre-fusing style. Inspired by musical talents such as Grace Potter and Brandi Carlile, she possesses that same expressive, tender tone. Her reflective lyrics and sweeping voice creates music that provides the ultimate listening experience. You’ll want to play “Higher” over and over again.

:: “Life Number Two” – Deathcruiser, Lydia Luce ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

Everything’s alright but we’re not all okay,” sings a heart-in-hand Adam Roth on his new project’s debut. Known to most as the frontman for Swedish-American alternative rock band Grizfolk, Adam Roth has embarked on a second act through Deathcruiser, a country-tinged singer/songwriter solo project that calls to mind the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Gregory Alan Isakov. More Nashville or Austin than Los Angeles, New York or Stockholm, Deathcruiser’s debut is a forlorn country-folk ballad replete with tender acoustic guitars, pedal steel, warm violins, and hearty vocal harmonies courtesy of Nashville-based Americana singer/songwriter Lydia Luce.

An achingly honest confessional with the self, “Life Number Two” is the lead single off Roth’s forthcoming five-track The Deathcruiser EP, billed as “a collection about death that’s meant to inspire life.” Themes of regret and loss, hope and rediscovery instantly hit the ears as a weary narrator bemoans the life he’s lived, but not the life he still has.

Tired of living the self-righteous way
Everything’s alright but we’re not all okay
Get myself out of where I can’t stay
Oh God, help me get out the way
I found God in a cigarette
A blanket of lies to cover my head
I just can’t run from the things that I’ve said
Oh God, help me and heaven forbid
Don’t give up on yourself
and I won’t give up on you
Kiss the ground ‘cause I’m living
Life number two

“‘Life Number Two’ is a journey of rebirth through acceptance,” Roth explains. “Walking away from a life of destructive behaviors toward a path of hope. The song is a celebration of the resiliency of the human spirit.”

Poignant perseverance has long been a theme in country and folk music at large, and certainly there’s more than enough of that to go around: Every generation, nay every person, needs to fall in order to get back up again. “Life Number Two” is more than a far cry from Grizfolk’s acclaimed catalog – it’s sonically antithetical to tracks like “Bob Marley,” “Waking Up the Giants,” “In My Arms,” and “Bounty on My Head.” Still, the passion (and raw talent) that carried Roth and his bandmates to greatness throughout the past decade continues to resonate in Deathcruiser, all but ensuring we join the artist on the next chapter of his journey.

When you’re too proud to hang it up
You know it’s no good but you can’t get enough
And it’s never too late to be true
The only way past it is through
So don’t give on yourself
I won’t give up on you
Kiss the ground ‘cause we’re living
Life number two

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