Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: December 15, 2023

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | December 15, 2023
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | December 15, 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 Samara Joy, Laufey, Lil Dicky, Kid Prexy, Kai Whiston, GAUCI, MELLOW, Evalyn, Wild Nothing, The Internet, & Brandon De La Cruz!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup



:: “Warm in December” – Samara Joy ::

Julia Dzurillay, New Jersey

Jazz in winter just radiates a cozy, comforting feeling. I’ve been a massive fan of Samara Joy since her Best New Artist Grammy win last year. A Christmas collection feels like a natural fit for her velvety vocals and “Warm in December,” particularly, is a festive introduction to the holiday season.

This song feels like it should be pressed on vinyl, playing softly in the background alongside a crackling fire. It’s all the best aspects of vintage Christmas classics with modern, heartfelt lyrics performed by Joy. “I’ll keep you warm in December,” she sings in the first verse. “Warm when the cold breezes blow, my arms so lovin’, a kind of oven to melt the sleet and snow.



:: “The Christmas Waltz” – Laufey ::

Jada Moore,

It’s that time of year when the changing leaves have all fallen to the ground and began to dissipate and in their place, fresh fallen snow begins to fall. Lights are being strung, baubles hanged, cookies baked, and holiday music is being played.

Frosted window panes
Candles gleaming inside
Painted candy canes on the tree
Santa’s on his way
He’s filled his sleigh with things
Things for you and for me
It’s that time of year
When the world falls in love
Every song you hear seems to say
“Merry Christmas
May your New Year dreams come true”
And this song of mine
In three-quarter time
Wishes you and yours the same thing too

Released last year, Laufey’s version of “The Christmas Waltz” already feels like a new classic. A cello leads the charge as sleigh bells join the accompaniment laying the foundation for the singer’s dreamy alto. Her rich voice evokes the all too familiar warmth of the holidays as she reminisces about the things that make this time of the year truly special. The addition of a children’s choir pairs beautifully with her voice, adding another layer to the song. Together they capture the feelings of joy the holiday not only brought to us as children, but that same child-like joy the holidays continues to bring to us.



:: “Mr. McAdams” – Lil Dicky ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

There’s nothing really December-ish, holiday-themed, or wintry about “Mr. McAdams,” but I can’t just sit around here and ignore the first Lil Dicky drop in years! Released today via Dirty Burd (his own label), Lil Dicky’s serenade to Rachel McAdams – a salient theme in the third season of his FXX show, Dave – is charming, smooth, silly, and fun. Dave Burd is in his element as he seamlessly combines rap and comedy into one smile-inducing ode to (married) Canadian actress, Rachel McAdams:

Rachel, let me be your Mr. McAdams
Rachel, they gon’ call me Mr. McAdams
I’ll take your name girl, facts
It’s insanely farfetched
I ain’t playing, why you think I’ve been rapping?
To be Mr. McAdams, say yes
Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, don’t lie
You think I’m f*ing sick
You think I lost my shit
You think I’m weird AF
But that endearing freckle upon your chin is too much
I got a freckle on my face too
I know you’ve dated Taylor Kitsch (Huh)
And I know you’ve seen Ryan Gosling’s dick (Skrrt)
Oh, girl, I don’t know it all, girl
I just wanna take you to a ball, have a ball girl

“Mr. McAdams” is the lead single off Lil Dicky’s long-awaited sophomore album PENITH, out January 19, 2024. The follow-up to his 2015 debut album Professional Rapper promises to combine songs and ideas previously heard on Dave the show with at least a few surprises – all delivered, of course, with that charismatic, classic Burdian humor, sharp wit, and top-notch flow. If “Mr. McAdams” is any indication of what awaits us in PENITH, the New Year truly couldn’t come quick enough.



:: “I Think That You’re Pretty” – Kid Prexy ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

As a Washington, DC native, I have a soft spot for performers from our friendly Beltway neighbor, Baltimore. Regardless of my regional preferences, Kid Prexy– who was born in Baltimore and now lives in Oklahoma– would have won my favor, since it’s clear that we have one talented 16-year-old budding rock singer on our hands here.

I’ve been listening to a good amount of Blink-182 lately, especially since their new album just came out, and that has conditioned me for the kind of old-school pop-punk that “I Think That You’re Pretty” represents. Indeed, the track’s engineer, Kevin “Thrasher” Gruft, has collaborated with Blink-182 previously, not to mention Avril Lavigne, Machine Gun Kelly and more.

On top of its appealing rock soundscape, the lyrics are down-to-earth fare that come from the heart of a high school student. “I wrote this song to express the feeling you get when you see someone that you’re instantly attracted to and can’t stop thinking about them,” Kid Prexy explains. “I think it turned out really sick and having my drum teacher, Josh Henry, from my School of Rock days perform with me was a lot of fun!” Now, that same fun is something that listeners everywhere can share in.



:: XUL2 – Kai Whiston ::

Jake Fewx, Washington, D.C.

November saw the release of XUL2, the second installment in an EP series from British electronic musician Kai Whiston. I first heard Whiston as a member of Gloo, a wonky supergroup featuring singer BABii, and zany genius Iglooghost 2019, delivered he bold, abstract, and dynamic XYZ back in 2019. Since then, Kai Whiston has sustained a steady catalogue of dark, colorful EDM music with tasteful flairs of hyperpop and UK Bass. This new EP doesn’t deliver much different and, I’m happy to report, it sounds great!

XUL2 contains an impressive amount of variety in the short 15 minute runtime. The opening track “SWEETTRACK” is a soft dance cut containing a catchy guitar riff and some somber mumbled vocals which are immersive and very catchy. “TWINTWIN” maintains the soft mood before an entrance of distorted grunge guitar is matched with some sick double bass drum patterns create a harrowing feeling of despair. Interlude track “XUL” sounds like it may be sampling from or drawing from the same source as the late, great SOPHIE’s “Ponyboy” a perfect segue for the futuristic, digital “DERPROZESS” which sounds like a track playing at a SOHO club filled to the brim with slick, classy AI powered robots. The subtle spoken word vocals on the final track give a strong hint of “Demon Days” era Gorillaz, ramping the energy down to give a nice conclusion to the project.



:: “BRAT” – GAUCI ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Charged and churning, “BRAT” is so much more than raw attitude alone: It’s angsty aughts alternative wrapped in a glitzy and grungy package. It’s The Killers’ Hot Fuss given the 2020 treatment. GAUCI’s second and final single of the year roars to life with a glistening, glossy sheen and a sprightly, spunky pep in its step as the Sydney-based “disco-pop” trio erupt with flare and a fiery edge.

Meet up in the afternoon
You talk a lot of shit for a pretty nice dude
I hate the way you wear your hat when we’re inside
When you take it off will I know what you’re really like?
Talk about me to your friends
You actually said you want me to meet them
Unexpectedly that’s always on my mind
Guess there must be something about me you really like?

“‘BRAT’ came about pretty quickly; we were working on finishing up some other things and kind of stumbled into this idea,” GAUCI tell Atwood Magazine. “The barebones of the track came together in only a couple of hours, and from there we knew we were onto something. Felix had this crazy idea to add this electronic breakdown instead of a more traditional bridge, and he really went nuts on the production here, with some huge 808s and dirty synth arps. It’s such a huge contrast from the rest of the track, tying into the work on our previous releases like ‘Irritating’ and ‘Back 2 When.'”

“As for the approach to guitars, we kept it pretty simple with mostly overdriven power chords, but David let loose on that iconic lead riff, drenched in those throwback memories of The Strokes meets My Bloody Valentine. Antonia’s soaring vocals behind it all really tie the whole track together, and everything just ended up working out perfectly.”

You know I think about it all the time
The feeling of your skin so close to mine
Though there were no words between us
You made me feel I was enough
You know I think about it all
About it all the time

Released in late August, “BRAT” is beautifully brash and unapologetic: A dreamy, dramatic indie rock anthem that sends shivers down the spine, all but ensuring we pay special attention to GAUCI in 2024 and beyond!

Meet up in the afternoon
You talk a lot of shit for a pretty nice dude
I hate the way you wear your hat when we’re inside
When you take it off will I know what you’re really like?
Talk about me to your friends
You actually said you want me to meet them
Unexpectedly that’s always on my mind
Guess there must be something about me you really like?
You know I think about it all the time
The feeling of your skin so close to mine
Though there were no words between us
You made me feel I was enough
You know I think about it all
About it all the time



:: “Sometimes” – MELLOW ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

MELLOW’s debut single is anything but: The Belgium-based indie rock newcomers pack warmth, charm, and raw emotion into four minutes of angsty, achey alt-rock passion on “Sometimes,” released November 24 via Mellow Hill Records. Moody grooves and heated vocals combine in a soaring and sweltering reverie – one dwelling in life’s inevitable ups and downs – as MELLOW deliver an introduction perfect for late night drives.

Sometimes when I’m alone
I start dreaming of you
Then we start up the car and we drive into the dark
and we know we wouldn’t be home soon
Sometimes when I come home
I hope you’ll be there too
Then we light up the dark from a kiss ’til a spark
oh I know this is all too good to be true

“We like to create songs that aren’t always overwhelmingly joyful or disheartening,” MELLOW drummer Jordy Vanhentenrijk tells Atwood Magazine. Together with his bandmates Jolan Renson (lead vocals and bass guitar), Joris Somers (guitar), and Willem Claesen (synths), Vanhentenrijk creates a cinematic moment of cathartic connection on their very first single.

“As our bandname suggests, we would like our songs to stay in the gray zone between those feelings,” he explains. “‘Sometimes’ felt lyrics- and sound-wise like a perfect fit, so this is the main reason why we chose it to be our debut single. Our plan was to mimic the relatable journey of life’s ups and downs in this song as it embodies those moments when life’s kindness meets unexpected nut-kicks. Everybody copes with these feelings , so we do hope we can reach a wide audience with this in mind.”

“Sometimes” may dwell in those unexpected nut-kicks, but the only kicking we feel from MELLOW is that of the bass drum. We can’t wait to hear what else this band will have to offer in the months and years to come.



:: “Nightmare” – Evalyn  ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

The Nightmare Before Christmas, indeed. Over a by-turn calm and menacing EDM beat, indie-electronic singer Evalyn “crafts a story of toxic love that feels too good to give up.” In a manner lyrically reminiscent of Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams,” Evalyn informs her partner that, “If it’s a nightmare I’m gonna be right there, ‘cause with you, it’s all a dream.”

In a season that’s typically full of syrupy-sweet holiday music, having something that’s much more lyrically and thematically challenging and somber is a welcome alternative. There’s even more to engage in now that Evalyn’s 2018 debut album, Salvation, has been repackaged as a deluxe edition, featuring several new songs, “Nightmare” among them.



:: “Dial Tone” – Wild Nothing ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Yes, “cinematic” and “dreamy” are longtime buzzwords for Wild Nothing’s music, but they hold so true for everything about, well, Hold. Jack Tatum’s fifth album under the Wild Nothing moniker – the first he self-produced record since his 2010 debut – is a dynamic indie rock reverie full of warmth and light, blending bold sonics with radiant vocal performances full of passion and an intimately infectious energy.

Written as Tatum became a parent during the pandemic, Hold is an album full of soul-searching and existential introspection. “Bringing new life into the world drastically changes how you define yourself and what your purpose is,” he shares. “Before, I wrapped up so much of myself in my music and all of it, the writing, the traveling. That was really who I thought I was. The double whammy of having a kid and not being able to do that anymore—it exposed a lot about what is important to me. It made me understand much better why people gravitate to divine beliefs or why it feels so good to attempt to have an answer.”

The record’s third (and final) single “Dial Tone” is an instant standout on the new collection, bringing the best aspects of Tatum’s musicality into one enchanting, effervescent outpouring of longing and desire:

Bored in the backseat
Refreshing my feed for the hundredth time
Oh dear
I’m all caffeine and blood like syrup
My focus fades away
I don’t need to know
Everything you’ve been up to
I just need to hear
You tell me “I want you”

“This is really the simplest song on the record,” Tatum shares. “It can feel really good to have a song that just pokes at something so base and relatable. I think I’m at a phase of life now where my views on romantic love are really defined and shaped by a more complicated set of circumstances. Time changes relationships and adding a family dynamic changes them even more, but there’s something comforting about stripping everything back down to this basic level of wanting someone and missing someone. It’s a song about being away from the person you love, which in my case usually means I’m on tour, and how these minor jealousies that bubble up can sometimes fuel your desire for that person even more.”‘

Love, love is a cloudy word
Whenever you’re away
Kissing the dial tone
In your dreams I always leave you
Nothing could kill me more
I don’t need to know
Everything you’ve been up to
I just need to hear
You tell me “I want you”

The name “Dial Tone” evokes a sense of distance and disconnect – not only because the advent of cell phones has made dial tones so rare, but really because they mean you’re inherently away from someone – in this case, far apart from the love in your life. Wild Nothing’s song stays true to that symbolism, evoking nostalgia and yearning, lingering heartache and the hope and promise of a future reunion. “Dial Tone” sends shivers down the spine, immersing our ears and hearts in the warmth that our bodies are missing tonight.



:: “Come Together” – The Internet ::

Kate Millar, New York City

The days are darkening, the winter torpor is settling heavy on our limbs – it’s time to re-experience music’s lethargy-breaking power with a throwback song by The Internet. With its infectious groove, polyrhythmic clapping, and smooth vocals, “Come Together” pulses with a funk vitality that will have you dancing around the living room. Effortless and nonchalant, with a loose improvisational feel, the airy distant vocals question, “What we gon’ do?” before building to an irresistible climax, repeating, “They gon’ get us to come together”. The groove works on two levels – an urgent 2018 descendant of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”, calling for unity and justice, as well as a pure celebration of the liberating power of coming together with those you love.



:: “I Love You Babe” – Brandon De La Cruz ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

I utter these four words on a daily basis, but hearing them sung so softly and passionately by Portland singer/songwriter Brandon De La Cruz sends shivers down the spine. A cover of the Michael Hurley song of the same name, “I Love You Babe” doesn’t feel like an adaptation – and it certainly doesn’t feel like a remake; rather, it feels like De La Cruz is wrenching words from his soul to his mouth, singing words of love in the gentle, dramatic dark.

I love you babe but I don’t know why, and when I see you I’ll be so happy I’ll cry.” The words are simple, but the delivery is sublime. Evoking the likes of Iron & Wine and Bright Eyes, De La Cruz delivers a soul-stirring, shiver-inducing ballad with his heart plastered to his sleeve.

I love you babe
but I don’t know why
and when I see you
I’ll be so happy I’ll cry
It was early in the morning
and I didn’t have nothing to do
Well the fields they were green
and the sky it was blue
Seen a tiger ‘neath a willow tree
ringing a dinner bell too

“When I was in Portland, I started working at this cafe called Sweedeedee, which is named after one of [Michael Hurley’s] songs, and was in the same building as Mississippi Records, which is a label that put out a lot of his music,” De La Cruz explains. “I started working at the cafe not knowing who he was, and I worked there for 4-5 years, and he’d come in a couple times a month. I just knew him as this quiet old man that people had a lot of reverence for. After getting to know him a bit, his records grew on me. Eventually, I worked at the label in the store room and got to know him more. I just dove deeper learning about him. It was around the pandemic when I had lots of time, so I decided I’d record like 20 covers of different songs of his. I was just learning them for fun, and I wanted to share them with him because I knew he’d get a kick out of it.”

“When I started working on my record, that song in particular, I just knew I loved it. It’s so little known, and I love the way it feels when I sing it. You know how there’s certain songs, you can’t really explain why, but they make you feel so good to sing? That one hit me in that way, and so I made a lot of different versions of it, and decided on this one for the record.”

I love you babe
but I don’t know why
and when I see you
I’ll be so happy I’ll cry
Well sometimes I wonder what am I ever gonna do
Gonna live out my life until the very last day is through
So let the sun keep on rising and the moon keep on rising too

Love is beautiful, but it’s equally brutal. “I Love You Babe” conveys both of these truths in one achingly tender and turbulent song.xxx

I love you babe
but I don’t know why
and when I see you
I’ll be so happy I’ll cry



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:: Weekly Roundup ::

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