Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: March 24, 2023

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | March 24, 2023
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | March 24, 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 Wasia Project, Kirsten Izer, Felly, Dance Lessons, Noble Son, EMINZADA, Animals on TV, War Strings, Angel X Star, Alma Mater, Jowell & Randy, Hips, & TRACE!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup

:: “Petals on the Moon” – Wasia Project ::

Sophie Severs, Boston, MA

In today’s world, it’s easier than ever to feel overwhelmed by the incessant pressures of daily life. Living can be hard — especially when you feel as though you are traversing through each day on your own. Siblings Will Gao and Olivia Hardy of Wasia Project have certainly felt bogged down by loneliness as of late, noveling their experiences in their most recent single “Petals on the Moon” on Feb. 10.

Gravity is pulling me / Along and I can’t find a way to understand / Why I’m here again and again,” Hardy questions near the top of the track, delving into her existential dread and desperately waiting for someone to give her the answers to these universal queries. Hardy’s rich vocals come perfectly complemented by the punchy melody, propelling the energetic momentum of the track with every vibrant phrase. “I feel like everybody’s singing out of tune (I feel so blue) / I feel like I can’t help but always be so blue (keep pulling through),” Hardy jauntily sings; the bright instrumentals directly contrasting with the sheer hopelessness of the lyrics.

But fear not — even in the face of darkness, Hardy and Gao insist that there is still hope to be found! The duo recognize the opportunity to find the silver lining as Hardy emphatically sings: “But in the end I know I must keep pulling through / And brace myself for all the hell-like petals on the moon.”

This lilting melody is an earworm that lingers in your ear for hours after the last note sounds; serving as a reminder to persevere in the face of doubt. After all, if petals on the moon serve a beautiful purpose, you absolutely do too.

:: “Nothing” – Kirsten Izer ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

I wanna be tired, I wanna be inspired, I wanna feel something,” Kirsten Izer sings passionately on her achingly raw, emotionally exposed new single. “Do you know what it’s like to do nothing?” Released March 14, “Nothing” is an intimate inner reckoning brought to life in song: A visceral upheaval rendered through a mix of tender and turbulent indie rock. Her first song in three years’ time sees the Los Angeles by-way-of New Jersey singer/songwriter (née Kirsten Spruch) baring all, unleashing her inner demons and a wealth of pent-up emotion in the process.

Here I am, and here I go
I wanna be tired, I am exhausted
But you wouldn’t know
‘Cause you’re out the door
At 8 ‘o’ clock
I wanna be tired, I wanna be inspired
I wanna feel something

Co-produced by Spruch and Greg D Griffith, “Nothing” is the perfect re-introduction to Kirsten Izer, whom Atwood Magazine previously praised for her emotionally potent songwriting. “If poetry can dazzle, then this song has a brilliant hue,” we wrote in premiering her stripped-down single “One Year” back in 2019. “Kirsten Izer has a way of singing directly to our deepest feelings… [she] has a perfect melancholic soundtrack full of emotion and space.” Similarly to how we described that song four years ago, “Nothing” is yet another “unveiled confession of an aching heart” finding Spruch weaving vulnerable lyrics over a soundtrack that transitions from a tender acoustic entrance, to a volatile, overdriven eruption.

“At first glance, ‘Nothing’ is a boredom anthem born out of how low we all felt in 2020,” Spruch tells Atwood Magazine. “But even more than that, it’s about the self-pity and aimlessness that is typically lying beneath boredom. At the time, I had left the job that was my entire identity, so I was picking up a lot of random side gigs to make rent. I worked at a bakery, as a babysitter, wrote brain-shrinking articles for clickbait websites… You name it. All while it felt like everyone around me was earning promotions and celebrating stability. And even beyond our careers, it feels like everyone is busy all the time, making it feel like it’s wrong to sit in stillness.”

Do you know what it’s like to do nothing?
Yeah, do you know what it’s like to do nothing?
Yeah, do you know what it’s like to do nothing?
To have nowhere to go?

To her credit, society does seem to instill in us this errant belief that stillness is some kind of sin; that we must always be using our time to further ourselves, to better ourselves, to pursue some kind of ambition or goal. Sitting quietly alone with our thoughts for long stretches of time simply isn’t an option!

Except, it is. “This song is about how even when life is seemingly quiet, your feelings can still scream at you. You can still feel scattered. And usually, at the end of it all, you find yourself in the wings, ready for what you’ve been hoping for through all that silence. The first half of the song is almost like the end of a previous chapter and the second half of the song is the beginning of a new one.”

A cathartic anthem beautifully embroiled in emotional turmoil, “Nothing” marks a brand new era for Kirsten Izer – and we’re ready for it. This song washes over the ears in raw, resonant waves, expelling tension through outpourings of unbridled energy and searing, stunning vocals. Out of “Nothing,” Kirsten Izer has created something: It is its own form of cleansing, of healing, and of inspiration.

:: “Crying in Sunshine” – Felly (ft. Arden Jones) ::

Isabella Le, Garden Grove, CA

Looking on the bright side seems nearly impossible when the world around you shows the opposite, and like most of us, Los Angeles producer-artist Felly has grappled with finding happiness amidst inescapable disorder and chaos. Released March 22, in collaboration with singer-songwriter Arden Jones, Felly’s latest single, “Crying In Sunshine,” explores the inherently paradoxical nature of human existence.

Soaked in sunny melodies and tearful lyrics, “Crying In Sunshine” couldn’t be a more fitting name for Felly’s most recent project — gentle guitar plucking accompanies uptempo beats and bright melodies, as he sings of surrendering to the universe and wholeheartedly embracing life’s unpredictabilities. The artist shares, “It’s funny and fucked up how beautiful and horrible the world is… You can go swimming, but it might have to be in polluted waters. You can live in beautiful LA, but you might be breathing in smog with every breath. I think I’ve learned to look on the bright side of these unfortunate realities, but I wanted to at least recognize them with this song.”

The line between light and dark is so very thin, and Felly teeters it effortlessly in both a sonic and lyrical sense with “Crying In Sunshine.” So long as we bear hope and gratitude in mind, stepping out from the shadows of life won’t be as difficult as it seems.

:: “Good Enough” – Dance Lessons ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

What results from most dance-offs at house parties? Usually, a few laughs, some good cheer, a couple funny Instagram posts, and then back to business. But one  one occasion back in 2019, it actually resulted in the formation of a band musical trio now four years old and going strong– how nifty is that!

Basically, “Tom” and “Ann” were struttin’ their stuff at a party in London back then, and soon realized that not only were they impressed by each others’ moves, but they actually had plenty of common preferences when it came to music. Thus, they reasoned, why not capitalize on all that and get a musical act going?! A third collaborator, “Nat,” signed on as well and thus the trio was born.

They’ve released tracks intermittently over the ensuing few years, most recently “Good Enough” this past week. It’s a lighthearted and breezy bit of chill-pop, which they describe as an ode to “stripping away the layers of superficiality that so often consume us, acknowledging that sometimes all we need is right in front of us.” Hey, that’s the sort of the mentality that allowed the group to get started at that house party back in ‘19, so it makes sense for them to be channeling it lyrically, right?! Plus, they’ve included a floral and frolic music video as a part of this release, which makes it all the more tempting to give it a try. Further evidence that there’s no need to be shy at parties– some great long-term benefits could come from a bit of inhibition-shedding in such a setting!

:: “Gun Shy” – Noble Son ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

Buoyant and brooding, “Gun Shy” is a spirited anthem for all of us who might sometimes feel insecure in our own skin; who run from isolation like it’s the devil incarnate; who look at silence like it’s some kind of sin. Released March 17 via AntiFragile Music, Noble Son’s first single of the year is a moody, meandering embrace of the artist’s inner voice – a lush, lo-fi indie rock song with a feel-good melody, a toe-tapping beat, and raw vocals full of light, warmth, and honest, untethered emotion:

I get motion sickness from my phone
Cause I don’t like being alone
(When I don’t like being alone)
I think that I’m getting old
(That’s true, it’s not a lie)
I keep scrolling, but I don’t know why
I’m gun shy, don’t leave me alone
With me alone with me
I’m gun shy, don’t leave me alone
With me alone with me

“‘Gun Shy’ is a song about intrusive thoughts,” Noble Son – AKA Vancouver, BC’s Adam Kirschner – tells Atwood Magazine. “It’s laced with multiple meandering vocals, almost exclusively first take and unwritten. Having loud, scattered internal dialogue is a gift in the creative process, but in everyday life, it fosters complication. Fight, flight or freeze… ‘Gun Shy’ is the latter. When the system is left to its own devices, small decisions can cue self-destruction: ‘I’m Gun Shy…don’t leave me alone with me alone with me.'”

The first tease off Noble Son’s forthcoming third studio album Doom (out August 2023 via AntiFragile Records), “Gun Shy” is a light in the dark: A beacon of connection, comfort, and familiarity, and a reminder that we’ve all been there; we’ve all felt these feelings; and it’s all going to be okay, even if it may not always feel like that in the moment.

(Wake up)
Unable to sleep (yea..right)
Cause I had a fucked up dream (okay)
Where I had to kill a guy
But it was because he was trying to kill me
So I had no choice
What am I supposed to do just let him fuckin-
747, I’m flying, it’s 9/11
but it doesn’t make a difference, does it?
Man, I swear I’ve got a knot in my medulla oblongata
but it doesn’t make a difference, does it?

:: Don’t Tell My Mother – EMINZADA ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

Hailing from Baku City, Azerbaijan, EMINZADA blesses listeners with his debut EP, Don’t Tell My Mother. The six-track release perfectly encapsulates the artist’s journey to date, demonstrating his evolution and reflecting this within his music, both sonically and thematically. The EP takes us through a multitude of genres, starting from indie pop and slowly forming into a darker, more electronic sound. Overall, the EP sends an empowering message of growth, where we end up seeing EMINZADA in a much more confident light, with the artist not afraid to show his true colors, living his most authentic self and doing it totally unapologetically.

The EP includes songs such as “Aries Soulmate,” which delves into his astrological beliefs and how certain star signs can have a huge impact on relationships, both positively and negatively. Throughout the EP, we witness the artist injecting his music with a lot of Middle Eastern elements, paying homage to his heritage and creating a one-of-a-kind sound. “Beautiful Long Hair” is evident of this, with the song built around the Azerbaijani musical scale, Chargah. “Beggar” is a song that most people can relate to at some point in their lives, as EMINZADA highlights the toxicity and manipulation of certain people. Don’t Tell My Mother is an enjoyable listen from start to finish and certain to keep you entertained with EMINZADA’s storytelling lyrics and unique sonic world.

:: “MTV 2095” – Animals on TV ::

Chloe Robinson, California

A fun and futuristic track soaked in synth-infused arrangements paired with gritty rock, Animals on TV unveiled “MTV 2095.” The piece is a playful look at what the world could become. With a similar message to songs like Busted’s “Year 3000” they possess that same quirky humor. Opening the video dressed as cavemen spotting a shiny spaceship, adds to the song’s infectious, comical nature. The title is a nod to “Yours Truly 2095” by Electric Light Orchestra.

Animals on TV create riveting rock anthems that take inspiration from bands like The Strokes and The Clash. Constantly working on perfecting their craft, they won a battle of the bands competition as well as best new act of the year in 2021. That commitment can be heard in every offering, even with more lighthearted ones like this. “MTV 2095” is a colorful must-listen.

:: “Shame” – War Strings ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

The opening track off War Strings’ brand new sophomore album Prelude to Nothing is a feverish and searing introduction to a record full of reckoning, vulnerability, and raw self-expression. Released together with the album on March 23rd, “Shame” is a fuzzy and fervent fever dream – one that is “ungraciously harsh” (to quote the artist himself), but that nonetheless brings us deep into singer/songwriter Andrew Stogel’s world, establishing the themes of addiction, heartbreak, and isolation which will continue to haunt him throughout the following half-hour of introspective musical eruption.

Drinking to death
Scared away, so long
Soft skin memory
Such a bully
It’s just the way it is
Looking at sick white
Ceiling in first light
Last night said things
Wishing I could explain away
I’m just so fucking tired

“The song is about giving in, playing the character. I wrote ‘last night said things, wish that I could explain away,’ after having done and felt just that,” Stogel tells Atwood Magazine. “Between drinking and isolation, the song came together quickly. Escaping shame was so detrimental to myself. I spit it out in this way.”

“Shame” is the visceral, guttural shout before the quiet, aching whisper that follows, in fact quite literally here via the song “Dive.” War Strings lays it all out, inviting us into his dark and stormy world through heavy vocals and an intense, alt-rock soundscape that hits hard, cuts deep, and hooks us in for the volatile ride ahead. From the soaring “Sue” to the cinematic uproar “On My Mind,” Prelude to Nothing has its healthy share of highs and lows, moments of churn and spaces of beauty (the two-minute piano ballad “Amethyst Echoes” is a darling breath of fresh air, and the tender falsetto vocals on “Never Win” are as calm as they are hypnotic) – but as with most records, the opener is inescapable. “Shame” sets the scene, and for all the reasons listed above and more, it’s a song we’ll keep coming back to for reckoning, release, and relief.

Maybe I
Don’t have the right
Atlas of your heart
Kept darkness looming
Behind my hollow eye
No more thorny hours
Empathy, my noose
Things I did and didn’t do
My angel coming in close
Maybe I
I would give my life
Was me all along
One long sleepless night
One more shallow smile

:: “Mercy” – Alma Mater ::

Chloe Robinson, California

It is human nature to focus on ourselves. So often we are so wrapped up in our wants and needs we don’t always remember to show compassion towards others. Just a little bit of kindness goes a long way. Alma Mater’s single “Mercy” is all about showcasing love to the world, which is something we can all use more of. Delicate acoustic guitars glide along dreamy melodies to craft the ideal folk pop ecstasy. The haunting, emotive vocals are utterly captivating.

Dirk Sullivan and Andrew Paul Woodworth are the powerful pair behind Alma Mater. Spending years recording and touring in various projects they are veterans in the music scene. “Mercy” displays that deep passion. The profound piece is the second song off of Alma Mater’s upcoming full-length album.

:: “En La Intimidad” – Jowell & Randy, Nicky Jam ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

In a spur-of-the-moment decision, I’m headed to see Jowell & Randy at the MGM Music Hall in Boston tonight – shout-out to my run club buddy Antonio for the recommendation and invitation! Although I was not previously familiar with them, it turns out that Joel Muñoz Martinez and Randy Ariel Ortiz Acevedo– two natives of San Juan, Puerto Rico– have been performing together as a reggaeton duo for about 20 years. They’ve released five albums during that period, most recently 2020’s Viva el Perreo. It also looks like they may be ready for more, given that they have a new single out entitled “En La Intimidad.”

As is the case with a lot of other Puerto Rican music, the Caribbean slang and dialect is a bit too much for a hispanohablante intermedio como yo to keep up with all the time. Yet I can definitely appreciate the festive atmosphere and constant liveliness that’s been channeled into the music, along with the “Despacito”-style elaboration of their high hopes of scoring with the ladies that evening (“I’m thinking about your beautiful and lovely figure– I’m going crazy, hoping to see and hold you,” the guys quickly establish the tone in the song’s opening moments). Plus, a rambunctious appearance by Nicky Jam, himself of Puerto Rican heritage, makes the track especially worthy of el salón de baile.

Alright, Antonio. Time for me to snap my laptop shut and get on the road. It’s time to enjoy the show at MGM together!

:: “Jolene” – Angel X Star ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

Brother and sister duo, ANGEL X STAR have just released their new single “Jolene,” and you would be correct in thinking that it’s a fun play on Dolly Parton’s 1974 hit song. An unlikely song to pay tribute to from a duo that predominantly creates music in the Afro pop, R&B world, but ANGEL X STAR wanted to take the 70’s hit and tell the story from a different angle. They share, “We took the vision and the hurt from that song and related it to our own heartbreak.” Giving “Jolene” a total revamp, they form a unique sonic soundscape, with a pounding beat, colorful, melodic synths and soaring harmonies providing a fresh atmosphere.

The UK based duo are sonically reminiscent of artists such as Brandy, Aaliyah, Tems and Rema. Originally a trio with their other sister, the siblings would perform at church and other local events throughout their youth. Tragically their sister passed away, but both Angel and Star wanted to continue what they had started together and honor her legacy, dedicating their music and their journey to her life.

:: “photograph” – Hips ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

A dazzling dance pop song with a euphoric energy and the sweet beat to match, Hips’ “photograph” is an instant mover and shaker. The Swedish group’s first single in four years is an effervescent ecstasy; taking cues from both ’80s and noughties pop, “photograph” hits home with a heavy pulse, synth-soaked choruses, and intimate, hot-on-the-mic vocals that bring us up-close and personal with the narrator.

Quite frankly, this song could pass for an *NSYNC or Backstreet Boys B-side – and I swear that’s a compliment!

There you are in a bar up in Beverly
Looking stunning from head to toe
Why don’t you come over so we can be privately?
‘Cause we shouldn’t have to be alone
Then you hit me with a steamy surprise
You’re on your way, here’s something meanwhile
Like a pedal of a rose on my eye
Look so soft I almost started crying

““photograph” was written while listening to unhealthy amount of the romanticisms of Drake,” Hips explain. “It’s about that moment of anticipation before meeting up with a current flirt and the excitement leading up to that. Sonically we were listening to a copious amounts of The 1975 and The Weeknd while producing. We loved how their productions mix live elements with synthesizers and digital programming while always having a great song as the base layer. You can always mute everything except the vocal and main chords in their music and the song would still hold up. That’s what we were going for and continue to work towards with our material.”

It’s a concept so simple and instantly understood, channeled into a space of uncompromising revelry. Who hasn’t wanted to make one special moment last a lifetime? Hips expand a fleeting second – a passing glance – into two and a half minutes of intimacy and desire.

Your photograph screaming so loud
Baby won’t ya tell me how
You look so good hitting those angles
I can’t handle
Your photograph banging in my head
Camera flashing silhouettе
You look so good hitting those angles
I can’t handle

:: “Stomachache” – TRACE ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

TRACE’s new single is the kind of visceral self-expression that makes our hearts beat faster and our insides churn. Achingly intimate and brutally honest, “Stomachache” is the glistening indie pop upheaval of a heart and soul exposed. The artist’s warm, irresistible vocals glow against a buoyant, bustling backdrop as she shares her innermost self in a diary-like confessional that says all the things we too often leave unsaid:

I’ll be having a good day
Until I think I see your face
Has anyone seen valet?
I just wanna get to your place.
Been holding my dumb phone
Double checking where it went wrong
It’s impolite to not respond
A cold hard hit for my very first one

“‘Stomachache’ was written in both fury and relief,” the LA-based artist explains. “It’s the premiere track off of my upcoming EP because it’s consequently the last song I wrote and the end of a new feeling I felt when I started pouring into this project. This song is not completely about heartbreak, but more so about the less deserving kind of pain. It’s the ache of knowing someone was never worth it and the pedestal we can often create around a person or really anything, when in reality, they’re someone we don’t really know because of the persona they present — and because of the deep and delusional faith we might hold.”

“This song is knowing we deserve love, the real kind. And that sometimes it takes a messy, stomachache-ridden ride to get to that a place where we can honestly say how it is and in turn, how we feel.”

Ultimately, “Stomachache” is a reclamation; an empowering anthem we can turn to for inner strength, a healthy dose of self-love, and an instant dance party.

I need somebody I could love too
I need somebody I could love tonight
Just anybody to forget you
Somebody, somebody,
some body who could put me right

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