Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: December 8, 2023

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | December 8, 2023
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | December 8, 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 The Killers, Nicki Minaj, Lydia Luce, Glassio, Bilk, Peter $un, Skram, mercury, Josh Rennie-Hynes, Avice Caro, & Jorge.!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup

:: “Spirit” – The Killers ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

It’s not lost on anyone that The Killers swung hard in the opposite direction following 2021’s Americana and heartland rock-leaning Pressure Machine. It’s probably worth disclaiming up front that Pressure Machine is my personal favorite Killers album, and I’ve tried to actively encourage the band to play more of its songs than they currently do (they played only one track a night off it on their last tour, making an “acoustic moment” out of it). Nevertheless, I’m a Hot Fuss boy at heart, and part of me imagines that the “spirit” referred to in the band’s newest song must refer to the spirit of their 2004 debut album.

There’s a familiar, visceral, and unrelenting new wave-meets-post-punk revival energy flowing through “Spirit,” the brand new song that serves as the final track off The Killers’ second greatest hits album, Rebel Diamonds (released December 8 via Island Records). Culling songs from all seven of the band’s studio albums – with a few extra goodies at the end – Rebel Diamonds has the capacity to spark plenty of debate; for instance, where the hell are “For Reasons Unknown,” “This Is Your Life,” “Miss Atomic Bomb,” “The Rising Tide,” and “Run for Cover”?

What’s not up for debate, for me at least, is the inclusion of this spirited addition to The Killers’ already legendary oeuvre. “Spirit” has the tenacity of twenty-something year olds hungry for more, and its lyrics suggest that the now-forty year old band still feel that same gnawing drive, deep inside, that broke them out of Vegas and onto the global stage some twenty years ago.

Wiped out, sucking on the fumes of a long-gone flame
Can you leverage love? Can you process pain?
It grabs you by the night
My dreams are big and bathing in light
So come on, touch me, I’m a live wire
Wait, don’t cover my eyes
When darkness dampens my sight
My dreams are big and bathing in light

There’s a push and pull in these lines; “Wiped out, sucking on the fumes of a long-gone flame,” Brandon Flowers sings at the top, only to be seemingly revived and reeling by the pre-chorus: “Touch me, I’m a live wire,” he insists, “My dreams are big and bathing in light.” That hazy synth-laced disco-rock reverie we last heard in songs like “Believe Me Natalie” and Midnight Show” rears its head in an insatiable, all-consuming chorus. Charged chants and a perky strut practically beg for audience participation as Flowers sings:

And where does the spirit go?
Is it someplace holy?
Is it holy and free?
I don’t know if it’s true,
but I think that I want it…
I want it to be

I don’t know if this is a more permanent return to “roots,” or if the pendulum swing is meant to simply assuage all the Pressure Machine detractors as The Killers continue to figure out who they are and who they want to be in the 2020s. Quite frankly, whatever decision they ultimately make will be fine with me; they’re fantastic as a new wave-y alternative rock band, and they’re phenomenal as folk rock-leaning storytellers. To say that The Killers’ “Spirit” soars with resounding passion and enchanting energy is merely to reaffirm that, twenty years into their career, they’re still killing it.

Chalk it up to being young,
chalk it up to being dumbed
Down by the creases in the mangled map
Just trying to find the faith to fill the gap
One more time
And I’ll flash God’s image ‘cross the long night
My dreams are big and bathing in light
So come on, touch me, I’m a live wire
This is a lasting fire
And where does the spirit go?
Is it someplace holy?

Is it holy and free?
I don’t know if it’s true,
but I think that I want it…

I want it to be

:: Pink Friday 2 – Nicki Minaj ::

Jaclyn Kelly, Oslo, Norway

After pushing back Pink Friday 2 release early this year to December 8th, also Nicki Minaj’s birthday, fans have been eagerly awaiting for the artist’s first album in five years. Upon release the tracklist revealed features from rap heavyweights including J. Cole, Lil Wayne, Drake, and more. Nicki Minaj has promised fans this trip to her AI created world ‘Gag City’ was going to be well worth the wait.

Upon first listen to the album, I was worried the massive hype around the work would not meet the high expectations set for the Pink Friday 2. Not only does the album exceed expectations, but this could be the best era for Nicki Minaj yet bringing old fans back into the fold and new fans in along for the ride. The production quality, the flow between songs, and lyricism sounds extremely fresh, it is the level expected of a highly experienced multi-hyphenated award winning artist.

Singles from Pink Friday 2 include “Last Time I Saw You,” “Red Ruby da Sleeze,” and “Super Freaky Girl.” Jaclyn’s-Don’t-Skip from the new album are: “Let Me Calm Down (feat. J. Cole),” “Barbie Dangerous,” and “FTCU.” Whether you are an old fan or a new fan, this no skip multi-genre album has something for everyone here.

:: “Saline” – Lydia Luce ::

Kelly McCafferty, New Orleans

I’ve had “Saline” by Lydia Luce on repeat this week. With dynamic production and buttery smooth vocals, Luce takes us on a journey with “Saline.”

In her words, “It’s about my relationship with my husband. We had a rocky start to our relationship and through couples therapy and our own therapy we’ve been learning to be in a healthy relationship. This song is a promise to him and myself that I am here to continue to put in the work.”

Luce’s lyricism is raw and intentional, while her production is dynamic and precise. I’ve loved discovering this artist and look forward to hearing what she does next.

:: “Will You Still Come Back Tomorrow?”- Glassio ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Will You Still Come Back Tomorrow?” is a dreamy track by Glassio sure to have you enchanted. The serene single stunningly details a promise to change through feathery harmonies and warm, wistful backdrops. Glassio joined forces with Rodes Rollins and Bristol alt bedroom pop duo Mumble Tide on this mesmerizing tale of deep longing.

Glassio, a project from Irish-Persian musician Sam Rad, crafts melodic music that is delicate yet also daring. Atwood Magazine has featured his songs such as “A Friend Like You” and “Magazines.” Each piece portrays his captivating falsetto atop pensive sonics. This offering emits that same radiant, reflective nature.

:: “RNR” – Bilk ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Not since Oasis ’95 have I heard a band so unapologetically proclaim themselves rock n’ roll stars – and pull it off! Atwood Magazine artist to watch Bilk already won me over earlier this year with their self-titled debut album (released this past February), proving themselves one of indie rock’s 2020s torch-bearers with an unapologetic punk attitude, catchy licks, and cathartic singalongs.

“RNR” is the icing on cake: A reminder, now, as the year closes, that Bilk are not to be forgotten in 2024.

“Say what you’ll say, I’m a rock n’ roll star today.

A massive f-you to complacency and naysayers alike, “RNR” (released November 17 via Scruff of the Neck Records) sees Bilk flashing big, bold energy, going all-in on their passion. “It’s about living your life as a rock and roll star. Even if you ain’t one, it’s about going out and believing you are,” lead singer and guitarist Sol Abrahams tells Atwood Magazine. “Living life your way, walking with a strut in your step, believing in yourself and what you’re about and not giving a fuck what people have to say about it.”

So say what you say I’m a rock and roll star today
And we’re all living way too fast
Don’t know where we’re going but we know where we are
So I ain’t gonna just sit here and dream my life away
I’m a rock and roll star today

Bilk have always strut to the tune of their own drums. They make music – with an edge – that uplifts, invigorates, and inspires. To that end, “RNR” is unapologetically them, but more to the point, it’s an infectious singalong that shines bright, with the kind of heat that’ll warm up a whole room in the cold winter months ahead.

:: “My Favorite Drug” – Peter $un ::

Josh Weiner, Washington, DC

Throughout U.S. history, many have moved from the East Coast out to California in the hopes of finding gold. Not everyone has succeeded… but Peter $un certainly has! As a recording artist, you know for sure you’ve struck gold when no fewer than four different record producers approach you, asking to make a remix of the song you’ve just produced.

That is the service with which “My Favorite Drug” by this Richmond, VA native and current Los Angeles, CA resident has been serviced. To keep things local, two of these new versions are crafted by Jae Murphy and Uncle Kizzy, who share Peter $un’s home state. To branch out internationally, the other two come from the creative minds of British beatmakers Blinkie and Karen Nyame. With these four remixes plus the original stitched together on the same EP, it’s great to hear “My Favorite Drug” reimagined in many different ways in a row– fast, slow, loud, soft, and various instruments thrown in for experiment’s sake.

“It’s really fire to see various producers’ perspectives on ‘MY FAVORITE DRUG,” says Peter $un, known affectionately to his peers as Sonny. “Sonically, the different energies are amazing and I feel like they’re all perfect for whatever mood you’re in at that moment. Blinkie’s mix sets the tone for my upbeat energy, while Uncle Kizzy’s slower, intimate mix can be a vibe with your lady friend or man in quieter moments.” Whatever the occasion may be, it’s a pleasure to see all of these creative talents each make a collective step further via their own personal approach to “My Favorite Drug.”

:: “Serendripity” – SKRAM ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

Exuding positivity and self-empowerment, SKRAM are the musical sensation hailing from New Zealand. Determined to spread their feel-good sound and elevate spirits around the world, the band unveil their new single, “Serendripity.” A song that encompasses everything they stand for, this anthem reinforces the significance of embracing your own self-image and intrinsic value.

Frontman Henry Ashby shares, “The first time I put bright sparkly blue eyeliner on I had a war with myself, loving the way I looked but also being terrified of how others would judge me as a man wearing makeup. As I started to put myself out there more and explore my feminine side, I found I became more confident with my chaotic style, and I began to feel more comfortable actually expressing myself. Serendripity is a call out to people to help others feel like they can be whoever they want to be and wear anything they think is cool, even if it’s insane.”

“Serendripity” features whimsical lyrics, electrifying guitars and lively percussion. Their powerful and passionate sound dances vibrantly across epic pop soundscapes with an indie/rock edge. SKRAM are the epitome of owning your uniqueness and we’re here for it!

:: “Woolgathering” – mercury ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Shivers shoot down the spine as “Woolgathering” builds from a soft whisper to a bloodcurdling shout. The latest single from Nashville-based band mercury – their second this year – is unrelenting, unapologetic, and irresistible: A breathtaking cinematic alt-rock upheaval with just a hint of heartland charm. It’s like Wolf Alice had a child with Lucero (or Big Thief met Pale Waves), and out popped this band that aches from the inside out while hitting our ears and hearts with a seismic, soul-stirring force.

Frontperson Maddie Kerr is a striking figure, and the driving force behind not only this song, but also this stunning, sonically all-consuming enterprise. “I wrote “Woolgathering” about being stuck in a place where I’m anxiously waiting around for things to happen,” Kerr tells Atwood Magazine. “I often get in my head and worry about worst case scenarios. It’s my small reminder to be calm and try to have a sound mind when life gets hard and confusing. To surrender to what we don’t know.”

“It’s about calming myself down and trying not to overthink things when they feel okay.”

I gather the wool
From my, from my, from my
From from my house
I gather the drool
From my, from my, from my
From from my mouth
While I’m overthinking
Just because you feel like home
While I’m overthinking
Just because I’m not used to being alone

Anxiety, it turns out, can be one helluva drug. In this instance, those restless feelings and relentless thoughts drove Kerr to write a song that is at once restless and relentless – and as a result, utterly electrifying. It may not feel good to have those feelings bottled up inside, but speaking from experience, letting them out is utter rapture.

Hearing them channeled through such a stunning alt-rock canvas is just as good. For an introduction to who mercury have been in the past, look no further than this Bandcamp link right here. For a peak at who they’re going to be, give “Woolgather” your undivided attention and let your ears and soul be consumed.

:: “Holidaze” – Josh Rennie-Hynes ::

Josh Weiner, Washington, DC

It’s holiday season, which means radios are going to be clogged with “White Christmas,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Last Christmas,” and all of the other Christmastime staples, right up until the New Year and beyond. In the highly unlikely event that you ever get tired of those old holiday tunes (never in a million years, of course… but hey, maybe it could happen!), it might be worth shaking things up a bit and giving a new-fashioned holiday themed single a try. To that extent, 173 years after “Jingle Bells” first jollily entered the arena, another December-ready song – “Holidaze” by Josh Rennie-Hynes – is worth making room for on your holiday playlist as well.

‘Tis the season to be not so jolly as the Australian native currently residing in Nashville laments how “I used to care more about the holidays when I was young” before the Real World intervened and left him down in the dumps. It’s an innovative spin on the usually holly-jolly fare that the melodies typically associated with this season represent, and the acoustic/electric beat fabricated by both Rennie-Hynes and his creative ally Dylan Pace-Rodriguez helps this one stand out in the Christmas music pantheon.

Plus, “Holidaze” helps cap off a memorable year for Rennie-Hynes, one which also saw the release of his new album Light/Shade, which explores “the dichotomy we all experience as human beings, the light and shade that all of us contain inside of ourselves.” If all goes well, Rennie-Hynes will continue stay creatively prolific in the new year and have his spirits brightened by the time Holiday Season 2024 rolls around.

:: “At the End of the Day” – Avice Caro ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

There’s a dreamy melancholia about Avice Caro’s second single of the year. Released November 28 via Nice Swan Records, “At The End Of The Day (It’s The End Of The Day)” is a brooding, introspective ballad about surrendering to others’ whims and wills, rather than letting your own heart and mind be your guide.

You see all of our days are outdone now
And there’s nothing more I can say
Are you dreaming of home now?
Are you dreaming of away?
That’s all I can say
At the end of the day
It’s the end of the day
When all’s said and done
All has been said and done

As heartbreaking and gut-wrenching as her lyrics and message are, the London-based artist’s music is breathtakingly beautiful.

“The song is about surrendering yourself to the passing of time and coming to terms with all the decisions you’ve made in the past and how they impact your current situation,”  Caro tells Atwood Magazine. “It’s a sonic representation of nostalgia. I wanted the song to feel like it was floating in your mind like a memory of a past love and past life where you were happy and free. Clem did a wonderful job on the strings. They give it a real sense of being atop a cloud which is how I feel when I think about how fleeting everything is. It’s not that I want time to stop, I just wish it were easier to love and to live without being subject to all these external pressures and forces.”

She quotes T.S Eliot: “Time present and time past. Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present.

Described as poetic “ethereal folk,” Avice Caro’s art is sonically tender but emotionally turbulence. There’s this longing for peace, tranquility, and serenity in her song, but she can’t get there while she’s in conflict with herself. Overcoming that need to bend for others is a lesson learned over years, and we feel the weight of that longterm goal hang heavily on the soul throughout “At the End of the Day.” It’s a painful song, but one that nevertheless yearns to be played on repeat.

:: “Ruckus” – Jorge. ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Talk about staying true to your song’s name in the best way possible – what you see is exactly what you get with “Ruckus,” a searing, dramatic, and unapologetic fever dream that hits hard and leaves an undeniable lasting mark. The third career single from West London rapper Jorge. is gritty and raw, with an industrial, hard rock-styled production supporting his fiery, in-your-face delivery:

Yeah, false promises
Made to myself tryna get a grip
Wishes in the well, flick a penny in
Middle finger to the world I been better since
But I swear they still coming
Coming for conscience
Thoughts of the imposter
Leave me with nothing but a trip to the doctor
Lord of the ring like a southpaw boxer
Talking to myself tryna declog cluster
Pray the lord forgive me and my default muster
Back to the beginning I’ve got names on my roster
Crosses in the box on my Didier Drogba
Finish what I’m on
(Wait, wait let me finish)

There’s a darkness running throughout “Ruckus”; that unseen presence that can consume a wary soul, if we’re not careful. In what we’ll call the song’s refrain, Jorge. admits to feeling the weight of these shadows pressing down on him: “Voices in my head, I got all these voices in my head,” he sing-speaks in a momentary reprieve from the madness.

“‘Ruckus’ came at the end of a pretty dark time where I felt myself getting stuck in my head quite a lot,” he tells Atwood Magazine. “I was conflicted with having very extroverted / flamboyant lyrics, but also realising later that those same lyrics were not really representative of who I am, more who I thought I should be. So the songs I was writing at the time were just not fitting how I was feeling, and ‘Ruckus’ is the byproduct of a very emotion filled studio session. Getting it all out!”

One thing we can all surely agree on is the tremendous cathartic exhale of this cleansing track. Two and a half minutes of emotionally charged upheaval leave Jorge. exhausted and listeners enthralled, eager to hear where the young London rapper will go next. With only three songs released on DSPs so far (the other two being this past August’s “SAME SH*T” and 2021’s brooding “Arlo Parks”), Jorge. is still just getting started, his story as of yet unwritten (or un-rapped, if you will). “Ruckus” is the churning output of an artist full of raw promise – one I hope to hear much more from in 2024.

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