Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: January 27, 2023

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | January 27, 2023
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | January 27, 2023
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 Stephen Sanchez, Wrabel, Sylo, nezsa, Daisy Jones & The Six, Mike Rogers, Bilk, joan, little image, Raquel Martins, WESSON, Party Nails & Boy Sim, & VNXI!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup

:: “Evangeline” – Stephen Sanchez ::

Rachel Leong, France

Singer/songwriter Stephen Sanchez steals our hearts with every new release. Transporting us to innocent and nostalgic romance – the kind you can only wish for in the movies – Sanchez dropped “Evangeline,” his first release of the year, earlier this week. The single rings with a comforting familiarity, laced with guitar tones and endearing lyricism reminiscent of music’s golden age.

Refreshing and irresistible, Sanchez’s artistry takes “new retro” a step further — arriving in the modern music scene like a breath of fresh air. This single samples Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey.” and spins a fresh take on a classic. Whisking us away to fantastical romanticism, Sanchez croons “and if you need a minute / honey I’ll give you all my time, all the time.

Accompanied by a stunning visualiser filled with hues of blue and red, the singer songwriter also announces a fall headline show later this year.

:: “Fashion” – Bilk ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

Seeing as bands like Arctic Monkeys have softened up (dramatically!) over the past few years, there’s a prime opening for a new fiery, fast-talking, hard rocking band to rise up and rally us – and Bilk have their hands raised high. Hailing from Essex, UK, the indie-punk trio of Sol Abrahams (guitarist and lead singer), Luke Hare (bassist), and Harry Gray (drummer) have stormed the indie scene over the past five years with their raw energy and unapologetic attitude. Atwood Magazine previously praised the band’s song “Bad News,” taken off their 2021 EP Allow It, as “fresh, feverish, and undeniably fun – a radiant and roaring outpouring of unapologetic pop punk passion.”

The past year has seen Bilk steadily building up to to their self-titled debut album, which is finally set to release in two weeks’ time (on February 10 via Manchester record label Scruff Of The Neck). Out today, the rip-roaring “Fashion” is the record’s fifth and final single – a searing, witty, and in-your-face sonic punch that inspires individuality and encourages us to be ourselves, all while setting the tone for what’s to come. “I like clothes just as much as the next, but I don’t need a magazine to tell me how to dress,” Abrahams sings from the jump, going on to decry the influencer and brand-driven state of the world. “I’m sick of seeing all these influencer girls, ’cause all they do is make people feel worse about themselves. Trying to be someone else is just a waste of who you are.” The song’s chorus is its own form of anarchy as Bilk declare a new kind of fashion: One that embraces uniqueness and originality over trends and mass homogeneous conformity:

no more rules, fashion
no more fitting it
no more head-scratching designs
just me, and that’s all i can be

“’Fashion’ is about not conforming to what’s considered cool or popular and just being yourself, telling anyone who don’t like it to do one,” Bilk’s Sol Abrahams tells Atwood Magazine. “I used to try to put myself in boxes and fit in a lot and I wrote this song when I just said fuck it, I’ve had enough. All I can be is myself.”

Not only are they punks; they’re punks with a cause. Uncompromising and relentless, “Fashion” is a resounding statement of intent, and one that establishes Bilk as a band with attitude, a band with passion, and a band with their fingers on the pulse of the moment. If they’re the voice of the new counter-culture, then count me in. Already on the rise at home and abroad, Bilk are setting up for what longtime fans (like myself) hope will be their breakout year. Pick up their debut upon its release, and catch the band on their album tour throughout the UK this February (more info here).

:: “Should Have Cared” – Nezsa ::

Sophie Severs, Boston, MA

Oh, what Nezsa would give to turn back the hands of time.

Vanessa Adaeze Enoka, AKA Nesza released her first single of 2023 on Jan. 20; a reflective track drenched in wistful longing, entitled “I Should Have Cared.” This rising star croons to the one that got away, reliving past mistakes over and over again as she replays them in her mind. With a steady neo-soul beat providing the soundscape for Nesza’s sultry vocals, the track immerses listeners into a world of somber regret and deep introspection.

Healing from a past relationship is often an uphill climb, but when it comes to Nesza, it looks effortless. And though this singer-songwriter might dream about turning back the hands of time to give this relationship another try, she still doubts her ability to fix everything as she questions: “What I felt then / What I’m feeling / If you knew, would anything change?” Perhaps the answer to this query lies in Nesza’s upcoming debut album, To All the Heartbreakers, coming in the first quarter of 2023. But until those lessons reveal themselves, let Nesza’s “I Should Have Cared” act as a timely reminder to stay grounded in the present moment.

:: “Regret Me” – Daisy Jones and The Six ::

Minna Abdel-Gawad, Boston, Massachusetts

Straight from the pages to the big screen, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is being adapted into a Prime TV series, releasing March 3. Based on groovy, volatile and effervescent rock bands of the 70s, Daisy Jones & The Six is supposed to emulate everything we love from ’70s rock, bright guitar tones, rich vocal performances and killer guitar solos.

Produced and written by Blake Mills, “Regret Me” achieved it all. From the moment the vampy bass line kicks in to the moment the instrumentation cuts out as we hear a sultry voice ring out “Go ahead and regret me but I’m beating you to it, dude” this track blew me away. The song is powerful, punchy and groovy, it’s one to dance to, scream along to and truly listen to.

Musicians such as Phoebe Bridgers, Madison Cunningham, Marcus Mumford and Jackson Browne are set to be working on the Daisy Jones & The Six soundtrack, bringing to life the beloved story and explosive ’70s rock energy. Even if you are not a fan of the novel I highly recommend giving this track a listen, the production is effortlessly retro and the lyrics incredibly catchy.

:: “Get High” – Mike Rogers ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

From the very first second of “Get High,” you know it’s going to be a banger! Indie dance trio Mike Rogers started this year on a high (excuse the pun) with their big, bold and anthemic new single. This is the track you play to start the party. With a steady beat, colorful synths and intoxicating melody, the Amsterdam band have created a track which perfectly captures the feeling of a psychedelic trip.

The band share, “Mister tambourine man (a dealer) is speaking. He is convincing someone to trust him to take the drugs and experience how it will all unfold. It will be an adventure worthwhile.” Taking listeners on a memorable journey is what the band are all about. In fact, the new single is off of their upcoming album, Live Out Loud, which highlights living unapologetically yourself. Roger expresses, “We encourage listeners to ask questions out loud. To share your uncertainties out loud. To say, I don’t know, yet I care. To forgive out loud. To live out loud.”

:: “happier” – Wrabel ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

Wrabel has always known how to get us sloppy sad and teary-eyed, and his latest single is yet another win for the waterworks. Released today via his own Big Gay Records / Nettwerk Music Group, “happier” is a heartrending and bittersweet pop power-ballad capturing the raw intensity of happiness, love, and leaving. It’s a song about inner growth and self-discovery; of how we never stop learning new things about ourselves, and that sometimes it takes climbing a (metaphorical, emotional) mountain in order to get to a better place. His chorus aches with his trademark intimate, candid, and conversational vulnerability:

Always letting you go, why’s it always goes slow
Never thought I’d be happier but what do I know
Know a little more now, got over you somehow
Never thought I’d be happier but look at me happier

“I’m so used to writing about unrequited love, break-ups, the break up,” the singer/songwriter explains. “But I wanted something that just states what was and what is. Being happier isn’t always easy. It’s complicated. But it’s a beautiful realization to have with yourself. This song is a marker of that.”

Life is so much more complicated than your average Top 40 song would lead you to believe – and to his credit, Wrabel has penned tons of hits over the years, both for others (like P!nk and Kesha) and for himself. “happier” finds him plunging into his own depths once more, but rather than cleaning up the madness within, he’s leaving it a little dirty; keeping it messy – a reflection of real life. “Happier” hurts like the best of his songs, but it’s also the start of something very special: A new era in both his artistry and his songwriting. Wrabel will be releasing a new EP, chapter of me, on April 21.

Now the rain is just the rain, and the pain is just the pain
And a long drive is a long drive, I’m alright, I’m okay
Used to get anxious, red mad
Lonely and miserable, you put me through that
Always letting you go, why’s it always goes slow
Never thought I’d be happier but what do I know
Know a little more now, got over you somehow
Never thought I’d be happier but look at me happier
Look at me happier

:: “Nervous”- joan ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Do you ever remember as a kid writing the name over and over in your school note book of your childhood crush? Whether it is a celebrity or that popular guy/girl in school most of us have experienced those deep infatuations. Alt-pop duo joan’s radiant release “nervous” has all those nostalgic lovesick feels. Smooth vocals soar over beaming backdrops and listeners are instantly sucked into this infectious piece. The video emits a retro psychedelic air fitting seamlessly with the song’s elevated vibrancy.

The twosome based out of Little Rock, Arkansas creates inviting, pop music that is fun and upbeat. “nervous” is off of their upcoming ten track album superglue exploring the transcendent shift into fatherhood. The pair are also prepping for their nationwide tour in May.

:: “OUT OF MY MIND” – little image ::

Isabella Le, Garden Grove, CA

Everybody’s all strung out,” but that’s far from the case for Dallas-based alt-pop trio little image; the passion project of Jackson Simmons (vocals/guitar), Brandon Walters (bass/synth), and Troy Bruner (drums), little image are stepping into the spotlight in 2023, and they are well on their way to stealing the show.

From three friends who shared the passion for listening to music to a team that shares the passion for creating it, the band’s most recent single, “OUT OF MY MIND” is a witty, gritty pop anthem that delves into love, romantic, platonic, or otherwise. Released January 20th via Hollywood Records, “OUT OF MY MIND” shows little image at their most fantastical, fun, and fresh. Emotionally and energetically charged with thumping basslines and driving guitar riffs tinged with electronica, the track is superbly laced with irresistible confidence and swagger.

With the release of “OUT OF MY MIND” also came the announcement of little image’s long-awaited debut album, SELF-TITLED, set for launch on May 12, 2023. Finding time for self reflection and extra fine-tuning in the solitude of 2020, little image have at last perfected their debut– if what’s to come is anything like “OUT OF MY MIND” or previously released tracks, May 12th simply can’t come any sooner.

:: blanket – Sylo ::

Rachel Leong, France

Sylo’s EP, blanket, is this — lush, dopamine-filled soundscapes and soft melodies that creep into your listening space – quietly, and then all at once. Aptly titled, the 7-track project feels like a security blanket amidst tumultuous reality. Released just earlier this month, the project marks a growth for the Korean-Canadian artist. blanket chronicles the latest phase of his life, introducing brand new tracks alongside fan favorites previously heard from his catalog.

Firmly rooted within the alt-R&B renaissance, Sylo has cited creating with intention. Rich production presents itself in sparse moments throughout these tracks, highlighting the thoughtful attention to detail. On his EP release, Sylo said, “blanket is synonymous with the divine feminine. Unconditional love to be cradled in, where all is forgiven. This project taught me to just sit and surrender.”

Along with the EP, Sylo put together a vlog-style diary, letting us into the deeply vulnerable process of what it meant to get to know himself and his artistry. Titled how I overcame myself, watch it here.

:: “Mountains” – Raquel Martins ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

Raquel Martins’ first single of the year is a woozy, groovy, hypnotic wonderland. The UK singer/songwriter creates a smoldering, soothing environment on the alt-soul seduction “Mountains,” her first single of the year and the second track off her upcoming sophomore EP, Empty Flower (out February 17 via Bridge the Gap).

I tried to move a mountain
I tried to feel the calming
Yes I tried, yes I tried
I would do it twice just to find
You can’t even see
All these things we leave behind
Always find a way inside
Told you this a million times

A deep inner reckoning, “Mountains” sees Martin deep in a psychological and philosophical reflection, exploring her relationship with her psyche, her emotions, and herself. Diving in, she reflects on her actions, her inactions, and the consequences of both. “‘Mountains’ is a very intimate track that reflects upon human emotions and how everyone has a choice to either suppress or deal with them, in the knowledge that if you choose to suppress them, they will likely manifest in other ways and alter the way you perceive things,” she explains. “It’s also about learning how to accept yourself with all your sides while you are still in the process of healing.”

“Musically, I was obsessed at the time with heavily distorted filtered drums and  layering them up with percussion, so I wanted these elements to drive the groove  of the track in a sort of hypnotic way and be its main elements. I also wanted the arrangement to feel like a “mountain” when it came to tension building with the production.”

Delving into themes of self-love and self-acceptance, Martins holds nothing back whilst creating an ambient alt-soul experience that washes over the ears and the heart alike. Between her softly alluring voice, the jazzy guitar at her side, and the graceful, tempered trumpets that sizzle and roar in the background, “Mountains” is utterly enchanting: A world we’ll be coming back to time and again, losing ourselves just to find ourselves again.

I tried to move a mountain
I tried but you keep falling
Oh no
Yes I tried
One more time
Nearly lost my mind
Still can’t find
You don’t want to see
All these things we leave behind
Always find their way inside
Told you this a million times
You’ve been fooled by your love
Told you this a million times

:: “Made Me Happy” – WESSON  ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

British four-piece band WESSON recently dropped their new single “Made Me Happy.” With an intro which is reminiscent of The Beatles, the track takes multiple twists and turns, with elements of bands such as Green Day and Oasis entering their way into the fold.

“Made Me Happy” speaks about looking back on your life, through an older, wiser lens and reassessing if your actions would still be the same today. Ultimately, the band decides that the most important thing in life is putting yourself first and doing what makes you happy. This song is a mood booster, as you instantly find yourself singing along to the catchy lyrics. With a driving guitar-led melody, upbeat percussion and layered harmonies, WESSON delivers a song which radiates authenticity.

:: “Like U”- Party Nails ft. Boy Sim ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Radiant punchy pop artist Party Nails along with Boy Sim unleash a dance pop bop “Like U”. The track is soaked in glittery, seductive soundscapes pairing seamlessly with her passionate vocal tone. The best reinforcement is from those that truly have your best interests at heart. That love and support is felt so deeply within the piece’s glowing warmth. Boy Sim’s colorful charismatic flair combines nicely with Party Nail’s earnest, energetic quality.

Elana Carroll aka Party Nails is swiftly becoming a force in the indie-pop scene. Her sound has been compared to popular artists such as Madonna yet she possesses a style all her own. In her songs she exudes an emotive, openness that attracts fans. This offering has that same raw, fiery fervor.

:: “Liars” – VNXI ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

VNXI’s debut single is achingly dramatic and delightfully dynamic: An emotional upheaval that captures the difficulty of intimacy and vulnerability, in what is ostensibly an incredibly intimate and vulnerable song. Independently released January 20th, “Liars” rises from a soft, pained acoustic ballad into a charming, churning rock song rife with hot electric guitar riffs and hard-hitting drum beats. Atop everything soars vocalist/acoustic guitarist Kurtis Wade Murphy’s voice, a rousing beacon of light and passion. Through bellowing baritones and sweet falsettos, he demands listeners’ attention, ensuring we stay hooked through his band’s three-and-a-half minute introduction.

We go out to the untrained eye
we’re no different than the loving kind
But we are liars, no not the ugly kind
We keep secrets that stay on our minds
If there is something
For you to do by all means follow through
And don’t you worry about me, don’t you worry about me
It’s the reason we kept our distance and
If there is something
For you to do by all means follow through
And don’t you worry about me,
if this is meant to be, there’s no point in worrying

“I think we live in a time when it’s really difficult to be honest about how we feel about each other,” Murphy says of VNXI’s debut. “There seems to be a collective vulnerability to let yourself be open and honest with that. ‘Liars’ is about how hard it can feel to be the first person in a relationship to say how much the other means to you. Lying in a relationship seems to always be told from the unfaithful point of view, but I think just as many people if not more are scared to be vulnerable and will lie about how much they are in love to protect themselves.”

Their song’s chorus is a moment of reckoning, and one that offers a twist on the old childhood phrase: Liar, liar, heart’s on fire.

Oh, we kissed and swore we’d never fall in love
Though we won’t admit it, we’re afraid to be alone
What happened to the hearts that got encased in stone?
Oh when I look in your eyes I see liars
With hearts on fire

Comprised of Murphy, Noely Musgrave [bass, synth], Andy L’Estrange [lead guitar, keys], and Leo Cassandro [drums], VNXI make what they call “cinematic rock uplifted by pop ambition, soundtrack-worthy sonic architecture, and good old-fashioned hometown authenticity.” “Liars” is an expansive and sweeping best foot forward – a showstopping lightning rod of emotion that promises to quickly elevate this fresh-faced Irish band.

“We just want people to connect with the music,” Murphy adds. “Music saved us in a lot of ways and has added so much value to our lives that we want our music to do the same thing for others.”

We are young
So there’s plenty to remind us
now’s not the time to find someone

We are strong, strong willed and stubborn
since the day we were born

We are fires
Who’s to say that we won’t burn to be light?
I keep you warm to day life

“Liars” is just the beginning for VNXI, and candidly we can’t wait to hear what this band’s got in store.

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