Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: April 21, 2023

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | April 21, 2023
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | April 21, 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 bb sway, Foo Fighters, Metallica, Shygirl ft. Erika de Casier, dba James, Olive Klug, Tess Elena, Middle Part ft. Yuno, Bestfriend, Slow Leaves, Hot Mulligan, Dea Doyle, French Horn Rebellion ft. Siné, Carb on Carb, & cudos!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup

:: “Everything You’ve Always Wanted” – bb sway ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

A beautifully tender, sweetly smoldering serenade, bb sway’s first song of the year is absolutely enchanting. Comforting and soothing, “Everything You’ve Always Wanted” is an achingly intimate, gentle ballad dwelling in the depths of love, grief, and growth. The lead single off the Hong Kong born, London-based artist’s upcoming EP How Will I Get There? (out May 26 via 7476) wraps its metaphorical arms around the ears, reassuring us that change is a part of life; that things will be okay in the end, even if that means it’ll be uncomfortable or turbulent for a little while.

I’ve been building
A fantasy for both of us
We can truly be ourselves
And no one is stopping us
And you’re here now for a reason
You’ve finally arrived
Everything you’ve always wanted
Darling, tears in your eyes

“’Everything You’ve Always Wanted’ is about the often bittersweet arrival of some long-awaited, inevitable conclusion,” , bb sway (aka 24-year-old Ash Johnston) explains. “To embrace yourself and your own journey is to love and also to grieve. To grow is to outgrow; we often grieve what we have to leave behind in order to move forward.”

Think of this as a stirring soundtrack to the throes of life. “Everything You’ve Always Wanted” is the music one might hear in the eye of the storm. The wind is spinning all around us, but for a moment, we close our eyes, find our balance, and everything is calm. Having found that renewal, we open our eyes once more, ready for the onslaught to come.

:: “Rescued” – Foo Fighters  ::

Lauren Turner, Reno, NV

After teasing new music on social media, the shredding of the guitar, pounding of drums and Dave Grohl’s screams are back! On April 19, 2023, Foo Fighters released their new single “Rescued.” It’s the first music they have released since the passing of their drummer and rock legend, Taylor Hawkins. Along with the release, they also announced a new album titled, But Here We Are. The album comes out June 2, 2023 on Roswell Records/RCA Records. “A brutally honest and emotionally raw response to everything Foo Fighters endured over the last year, But Here We Are is a testament to the healing powers of music, friendship and family,” their website stated.

It came in a flash
It came out of nowhere
It happened so fast
And then it was over
Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Is this happening now?
Are you feeling what I’m feeling?
This is happening now.

“Rescued” was the perfect return for Foo Fighters. Staying true to their sound and what fans know and love Foo Fighters for, the new single touches upon the changing of time. It tells the story of people dancing on a night out and how they are all, “just waiting to be rescued.” Its raw lyrics compliment the deep thought presented. It’s the introduction to a new yet familiar direction for the band.

Foo Fighters also head back on the road this summer. They’ll be headlining and playing festivals as well as playing their own shows. You can view upcoming live shows through this link.

:: 72 Seasons – Metallica  ::

Adam Davidson, South London

By announcing their first album in seven years with Lux Æterna, a full-throttle, triumphant thrash metal bop, Metallica told the world that they might be getting older, but they certainly are not slowing down. Subsequent singles If Darkness Had A Son and Screaming Suicide confirmed that 72 Seasons was going to be something more straightforward than the rest of their recent catalogue. No messing around this time. You want heavy? Well you got it.

This is an hour and a quarter of pure riffing excitement. Doing away with mid-tempo rock numbers or tear-jerking ballads, Metallica go back to what made them so unstoppable way back when, just four guys in a room, blasting out unapologetically brash tunes with no care for critics. The only difference is that these songs will reverberate around national stadiums rather than low-ceilinged triple-figure capacity rock clubs. The unholy behemoth that is Metallica has been kicked into gear, as the guys head out on a world tour that will end well over a year after this album has been released. It’s so big it transcends the metal genre. 40+ years on from their first album, Metallica are still a global sensation.

Metallica are lords of thrash, but their music has always had at least a dash of prog. This sensibility comes out in some of the more exploratory tracks in the 2nd half. Crown Of Barbed Wire is a wandering, brooding masterpiece, while hefty album closer Inamorata finishes 72 Seasons on a characteristically emotional note. No-one’s saying this is the best thing they’ve done, but for the purists, and for the true believers, this album is a grand and brilliant spectacle from the emperors of metal.

:: “Crush” – Shygirl ft. Erika de Casier ::

Julia Dzurillay, New Jersey

Shygirl revamped Nymph with her 2023 album, Nymph_o, complete with Arca on “Unconditional” and the already-released single “Heaven feat. Tinashe.” “Crush” feat. Erika de Casier is a true standout from the collection, with de Casier’s sultry smooth vocals perfectly complimenting Shygirl’s aesthetic.

Visions of early Y2K music videos pop into my head — the blue-hued kind with poorly CGI-ed raindrops falling as the artists look longingly out a window. It sounds like spring, with lyrics conjuring that uniquely pre-relationship desire.

“Hey, I have a crush on you / Mind if I slip inside your head so you miss me too? / Missin’ you, I can’t stop dreamin’ of you,” Shygirl sings in the first verse. Even if this artist is best known for her dance/electronic tracks, whenever she has a moment of genuine reflection and honesty, it’s a breath of fresh air (and definitely more palatable for the general listener).

:: “45” – dba James ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in a bad situation and waited for the world to change, instead of making the change on your end. Is that everybody? It’s easy to get used to the ebbs and flows of everyday life – to accept that things are outside of our control, and while they may not be perfect, there’s not much we can do about them – so we might as well accept this for what it is, and get on with our lives. Thankfully, dba James’ first single of the year reminds us that this mindset is a lie; a fraud and a façade. We do have the ability to make changes for the better, and while it may not be simple, we can’t wait for the world to do it for us. A lo-fi song dreaming of the hi-fi life, “45” is an uplifting, subdued indie rock inspiration. Take back the reigns; it’s quite frankly easier than it looks.

I know the world don’t care, never said I’m gonna wait for it
One foot, one square on the board every step I pay for
Whole key killed
Beta verse in a kiss
Count back from 100
Last 5 on my hand
I glow red
I’m dripping solder
Aging me backwards
Preserve me in water

Released March 23 via IBGYBG, “45” is an achingly visceral outpouring of raw emotion from New York City’s dba James, the (relatively) new musical project of former Bay Faction frontman James McDermott. Since debuting in April of last year, McDermott has released over two EP’s worth of material that explores the highs and lows of the indie rock canon. Songs range from brooding to celebratory, but his songwriting is always intimate and raw. Early highlights have included “Trad Future,” “My World,” “Something Else,” and now “45.”

“’45’ was inspired by the realization that if you want to be truly happy, you have to leave the world behind,” the artist tells Atwood Magazine. “As I was heading to my previous gig as a waiter, the same lyrics and melody kept ringing in my head: ‘I know the world don’t care, never said I’m gonna wait for it.‘ I used to double up my shirts at work just to create a buffer from all the humanity,” he laughs. “I should have been writing songs about all the people I encountered – I’d have an LP by now.”

dba James’ performance is relaxed, yet intense. He holds nothing back in crafting a world into which we can pour our own emotions; a world that can be ours to feel the full spectrum of feeling. “45” is a cathartic eruption, as well as a reminder to do what you need to do to be happy. We only get one life; we might as well live it well.

I know the world don’t care, never said I’m gonna wait for it
One foot, one square on the board every step I pay for
Same shape lips
Same fist in my pocket
True light’s universal
Got so much in common
Status is sovereign
Perspective is sober
Engagements been formal
Let’s smoke when it’s over

:: “Casting Spells” – Olive Klug ::

Minna Abdel-Gawad, Boston, Massachusetts

Filled with the comforting sounds of birds tweeting, delicate acoustic instrumentation and breathy transcendent vocals, Olive Klug has created the perfect track for a crisp spring day. The LA based singer/songwriter is reviving soft folk one comforting plucking pattern at a time.

Klug is an innate narrative songwriter bringing listeners on a vivid journey through their childhood and through into the struggles of their adolescence. Listening to this track feels like catching up with a childhood best friend as they recount the tidbits from your childhood with Klug airly singing the opening lyrics:

You told me there were fairies in the backyard so I whispered
Every time the tulips grew
You told me there’s a bowling alley underneath the mess hall
So I listened close for all the strikes you threw
You told me you had magic powers to take away my hiccups
I still wonder how it worked every time

The songwriter heartily embraces the small joys and mundane magic you feel in early childhood in this track whilst simultaneously acknowledging how distant they are from those fantasies. Klug takes a joyful, optimistic approach to confronting their own coming-of-age sharing in the chorus:

Some of this magic has faded
But don’t you dare call me jaded
Because I’m sitting the front seat
Crank the music, blast the heat
Because I’m casting spells on my life left and right

If you need a soundtrack for quiet contemplation or introspective early summer walks Klug’s music is the perfect niche for you.

:: “PLACES” – Bestfriend ::

Sophie Severs, Boston, MA

In this life, we are constantly in flux, moving in and out of transitory phases — everything eventually fades away. Dynamic duo, Bestfriend bring us a heartfelt ode to leaving things behind with their newest track, “PLACES” released today (April 21) along with the band’s sophomore EP, places i’ve left.

Bestfriend is Stacy Kim (vocals/instrumentals) and Kaelan Geoffrey (vocals/production), a duo who have a special knack for penning hazy, indie daydreams. “PLACES,” in particular, brings listeners into a mindset filled with nostalgia; the duo take time to reflect upon their pasts, expressing gratitude for the lessons they learned and simultaneously looking toward the future.

All the houses that i’ve slept in / All the places, secrets kept in / fade away / fade away,” Kim sings, recognizing that most things in this life are temporary — and are even more beautiful because of their fleeting nature.

“We wanted ‘PLACES’ to sound like […] being at the beginning of something new, while still being held by a comfortable kind of familiarity,” Kim and Geoffrey share on the track. `

Well-suited for late night drives down the highway, or for nostalgia-filled nights in, “PLACES” feels as though it is meant for the opening credits of a coming-of-age movie. Comforting in its overarching theme of closure, the track proves that even if nothing lasts forever, the small things in this life are always worth it because of the emotions and memories they carry with them.

:: “American Band” – Slow Leaves ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

Slow Leaves’ new song is instantly warm, welcoming, and wondrous – even if there’s so much more there than meets the eye. Released April 12 via Birthday Cake Records, “American Band” is a gentle giant of soothing indie folk sound reckoning with the realities of being a touring artist. That lifestyle isn’t as glamorous as we may think it is, and in four beautifully tender minutes, Winnipeg-based singer/songwriter Grant Davidson (aka Slow Leaves) dispels the myth and the mystery – all while leaving us in a state of pleasant enchantment:

I wanna be in an American band
See the bright lights shining from the back of the van
And we’ll keep on rolling just as long as we can, all right, all right
Another picture to remember you by
Cause it all goes down in the blink of an eye
So you can keep on sleeping in the passenger side, I’ll drive, I’ll drive
Ooh daydream, Ooh save me
Dreaming with eyes wide open
I don’t know where I’m going
I’ll just put my soul in, then tear it wide open
Here’s to the art of hoping
Wish it was you I was holding
I’ll just put my toes in
Will we ever see the ocean?

“There’s a glittered mythology about being in a band on the road,” Davidson tells Atwood Magazine. “For me, on every tour at some point I feel the weight of an existential pressure to justify why I’m not somewhere else doing something more reasonable. I know reality is always grittier than the dream but like most things worth doing, the allure I suppose is in moments that break you just enough to feel saved.”

“I wanna see the ocean; tell my baby I’m coming back home instead,” Davidson sings toward his song’s end, pain pouring out of his voice. “I want my own sweet bed.” It’s such a simple ask, but such a tall order given the circumstances. We all want a piece of that American dream, “but without selling out, if you know what I mean.”

The lead single off Slow Leaves’ forthcoming album Meantime, “American Band” is a glistening, golden folk dream – one that, as it turns out, explores a situation that feels much more like a waking nightmare. All the narrator wants is to be home, but his job keeps him away from the people and things that he loves. That push-and-pull between pursuing music full-time and finding fulfillment through family and a full home life is familiar to all touring artists, and one that may never be fully resolved.

Still, what an absolutely stunning song.

:: “Gans Media Retro Games” – Hot Mulligan ::

Isabella Le, Garden Grove, CA

Pain and heartbreak don’t always feel (or sound) mournful and downtrodden, and this isn’t a new concept to Michigan post-pop punk four-piece Hot Mulligan. Channeling feelings of hopelessness, despair, and angst into a headbanging, limb-swinging, finger-pointing smash in their latest single, “Gans Media Retro Games,” they stand on the middle ground between cathartic and catatonic.

Intricate guitar riffs and infectious drum beats juxtapose destructive, deprecating lyrics and Tades Sanville’s emotive belting. Sonically and personally, Hot Mulligan were never ones to wallow in pervasive sadness or gloom, and the silly music video for “Gans Media Retro Games,” themed after a vintage wrestling ring, highlights their knack for comedy and shows where they shine best. “This song is about only seeing what I’m doing wrong,” says Sanville. “Seems like I drink and lose touch between what I’m saying and what I mean. Musically, this song has a cool little balancing act between distortion and that kinda ghost-y lead that I’m stoked about. It doesn’t really sound like something we’ve done before.”

The second single off their forthcoming album, Why Would I Watch, “Gans Media Retro Games” further piques anticipation for what Hot Mulligan have in store on May 12. With appearances at Sad Summer Fest and When We Were Young following an ongoing European tour, the Michigan band is wholeheartedly embracing emo in the 2020s, and they’re not turning away from it anytime soon.

:: Fire Escape – Tess Elena ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

New York indie pop artist Tess Elena has just released her debut EP, Fire Escape. The four-track release showcases the artist’s love for infusing her sound with jazz-tinged melodies and folk elements to create something that pulls listeners in. The EP touches on the New Yorkers life in the big apple, where after traveling around Thailand and spending time away, she came home with a new found love and fondness for the city who made her who she is today. The relatable EP sees Elena going through everyday life experiences, from dating, relationships, desires and everything in between. Packed with real and raw lyrics, the EP is both powerful and playful, as she finds a way to speak about harder hitting topics through a lighthearted lens.

The four tracks cover a lot of ground both thematically, but also sonically. From catchy, to gritty Elena displays her impressive musicianship, as she collides sonic worlds. There is truly something for everyone on Fire Escape.

:: “Over You” – Dea Doyle ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

British artist Dea Doyle finds some inner strength in her new single “Over You.” The London based singer/songwriter speaks of digging deep to find the courage to walk away from something, or someone in the new track as she shares, “I wrote this song at a time in my life where I felt liberated, thinking if I can get over someone I once loved then maybe I’ll never need anyone ever again. At the very end of the song I do flip the idea on its head and question whether I truly am over them, but on a whole it’s about feeling emotionally detached and regaining my independence.”

With elements of the likes of Carole King and Haim shining through her sound, “Over You” is pretty simplistic sonically. Stripped to its raw materials, Doyle’s strong vocals take center stage, accompanied by a gritty, clashing guitar and drums. Hoping to encourage listeners to also be unapologetic in themselves, there are no unnecessary embellishments within this track, as the Brit shouts her message loud and clear.

:: “Chinatown” – Middle Part ft. Yuno ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Middle Part’s luminous indie pop track “Chinatown,” featuring Yuno, is the perfect sonic paradise. Focusing on the stresses that arise from big city life, its dreamy arrangements combined with powerful punk vocals signify that need for an escape. “I’ve been thinking we should probably get away / I’m over everything and never really thinking straight / But don’t you worry I know that we’ll find a way.” Those lyrics resonate with so many as we all at times long for a break from the chaos.

Brooklyn-based duo Middle Part creates mesmerizing music drenched in synth soundscapes. Their tracks evoke an air of nostalgia as his style pays homage to ‘90s and early millennium alternative bands. Middle Part’s sound fused with Yuno’s intensely bold vocals make this a true standout piece.

:: “Versace Eros” – French Horn Rebellion & Siné ::

Chloe Robinson, California

The ideal upbeat, vibrant release perfect for spring, French Horn Rebellion and colorful pop singer Siné unveil “Versace Eros.” Inspired by the intoxicating perfume, it shines with funk-fused backdrops and glowing, flowery vocals. The punchy piece is all about a top-secret romance soaked in passion and sultry desire. The playfulness of the track paired with Siné’s warm vocals creates a highly alluring anthem. Robert PM of French Horn Rebellion reveals, “The song is about a secret undercover relationship between Siné and the character from this Versace Eros ad. I know… super random, but we were running through the internet and just thought the ad was so over the top!”

Brothers Robert and David PM of French Horn Rebellion are seasoned in the industry making music for over 10 years. They have created a diverse and multi-dimensional sound that is highly intoxicating. Siné is a Danish artist with a bold, energizing style. With French Horn Rebellion’s eccentric flair and her striking soul, it is the optimum pairing.

:: “Grounded” – Carb on Carb ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

I’m hiding, I’m grounded, becoming completely unhinged,” Carb on Carb’s Nicole Gaffney sings on the band’s achingly raw, emotionally heated new single. The lead single off the New Zealand emo duo’s forthcoming third album, “Grounded” (released March 31) is a pandemic-born upheaval reckoning with inertia. “Been in this waiting room for two years, I’m hyper aware,” she declares in an exasperated state, halfway between acceptance and rejection. “Clean the wax out of my ears, a constant fear of forced settlementI’m out of practice more than I care to admit.”

It’s been a few years now since the large-scale global lockdowns of 2020 closed down vast parts of the world, forcing us all into our homes and keeping us from the people and things we loved. “Grounded” speaks to that universal experience, but it’s so much more than that: The band of Gaffney (vocals, guitar) and James Stuteley (drums) channel a wealth of familiar frustrations into an indie rock reckoning with setbacks and upsets. “I’ll drive in a circle round the edges of this town, stuck in a city I’ve given up on,” Gaffney sings at both ends of “Grounded,” caught between a state of acquiescence and refusal to give up on improving her present situation.

I’m hiding, I’m grounded
Becoming coompletely unhinged
left alone with my own thoughts
Nothings fine I’m torn
Waiting to feel the cold
And wishing for the storm
forced settlement, I never meant
To let the quiet in
Develop habits, I’m out of practice
more than I care to admit

“Written deep in COVID hibernation, ‘Grounded’ is about feeling like your life is on pause, but not knowing if you are ready for it not to be,” Gaffney tells Atwood Magazine. “Like, can I even be the person I was before? At the same time, it’s about shaking that off and leaving doubt behind.”

Don’t we always want to be moving forward? Carb on Carb pose an interesting question as a torrent of turbulent emotion rains down. There’s safety in staying still, but it’s not a comfortable place to dwell. Angsty in every way, “Grounded” is a provocative return for the kiwi band, and one that heralds great things to come from their third LP!

:: “impulsive” – cudos ::

Mitch Mosk, New York

cudos’ second single of the year is three straight minutes of propulsive fun: Independently released today, “impulsive” is a woozy, groovy, and lightly psych-soaked wonderland of catchy indie pop sound. The upstate New York duo of Alex Puchalski and Daniel Piper delve into the adverse implications of impulsive behavior on a song that aches for order in a state of chaos and unpredictability:

you haven’t thought about it
you’re acting like an animal
i wish you heard how you sounded
yeah you’re looking like you lost control
you take a right on the wrong street
but you’re never gonna take the fall
and i’ve been here in the backseat
buckle up before we lose control
you’re so damn impulsive!
you’re driving me insane
i wonder if you get tired
sleeping in the bed you made

“‘impulsive’ is a wonky electronic pop song with hard hitting synths, ear catching rhythms, and a catchy hook,” the duo tell Atwood Magazine. “It’s also one of the more personal songs we’ve put out. It’s about being in a relationship with someone who can’t control themselves and always seems to make irrational, impulsive decisions. At the time this was something we were dealing with in our own lives, and writing this was our way of coping with the situation.”

Despite the difficult nature of its inspiration, “impulsive” is a moody, brooding bop: The song glows with a snappy pulse that proves as immersive as it is intoxicating. Kudos to cudos for delivering such an emotionally expressive enchantment.

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