Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: February 16, 2024

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | February 16, 2024
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | February 16, 2024
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 BAILEN, The Last Dinner Party, Helado Negro, TATYANA, Vampire Weekend, Metz, Holly Humberstone, Maisy Kay, Jordan Maye, Georgia Gets By, Kitty Coen, Diana McGrane, Ellis Bullard, The Chisel, jxne, Blair Lee, Ananya, Alaina Pamela, The National Parks, & Cry Baby!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup

:: “You Would Never Know” – BAILEN ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

It’s been out for only two weeks now, and in that short span, BAILEN’s “You Would Never Know” has become my #1 most-streamed track of the year.

We’re talking north of 200 plays in fourteen days, which means its taken up a solid chunk of my life ever since I first heard it. That’s how much I love this tender, achingly intimate and brutally vulnerable song, which features on the New York City band’s expanded sophomore album, Tired Hearts (Deluxe). An enchanting eruption of inner turmoil and words unspoken, “You Would Never Know” finds siblings Julia, Daniel, and David Bailen spilling bruised hearts through rich, radiant melodies and breathtaking harmonies that send shivers down the spine. It’s a cathartic confessional that fits perfectly within Tired Hearts’ themes of “finding the beauty in all of that struggle,” as Julia poetically put it to me last year.

“The greatest act of love is to take your partner to the airport – even if it breaks your heart,” the band have said of this song. “We wrote ‘You Would Never Know’ with one of our favorite writers, Amy Wadge, so we’re really excited to get to share it!”

Starting mid-story (or really, at the tail-end of the story), the song opens with an homage to the trio’s hometown and the tug of an impending, hard goodbye:

JFK is five more stops away
And there’s five hundred different things that
we won’t have time to say

And there’s a couple over there making out
like they’re begging us to stare

It’s killing me; is it killing you?

As soon as everything’s begun, it starts to breakdown – and BAILEN erupt into an enchanting, vulnerable, and cathartic confessional, their three voices resonating together in beautiful, bone-chilling harmony.

You’ve been saving it for never
Holding it together
But you would never know
I’ve been crying on the subway
Dealing with it my way
I can’t help that it shows
Somewhere underneath your silence
I can see the pain you’re fighting
But you would never know…

Tired Hearts is full of this kind of diaristic songwriting channeled through warm, wondrous sound; it’s one of BAILEN’s best qualities that they can find harness their combined talents and lived experiences to shine a light on life’s dark moments – or rather, to turn emotional pain into musical beauty.

And perhaps that’s why I’m so drawn to this song; “You Would Never Know” is BAILEN at their best, unpacking heartache, self-doubt, longing, and more one second, one step, and one note at a time.

Jumping off the edge without a parachute
Though I’m a million miles away I’ll take that jump too
I helped you pack your bags and I wish I could unpack you
Tearing at the seams ’cause I don’t know what I mean to you
You’ve been saving it for never
Holding it together
But you would never know
I’ve been crying on the subway
Dealing with it my way
I can’t help that it shows
Somewhere underneath your silence
I can see the pain you’re fighting
But you would never know…

:: Prelude to Ecstasy – The Last Dinner Party ::

Nic Nichols, Los Angeles, CA

Perhaps one of the most anticipated indie pop releases since the electrifying debut single “Nothing Matters,” Prelude to Ecstasy is a stunning adhesive to The Last Dinner Party’s foundational baroque-gothic aesthetics. A decadent orchestra of woes and winds, the collection flawlessly satiates their blood-thirsty fans. The album touches on themes of sexuality, generational trauma, and girlhood, and demonstrates the confidence and fluidity of a band that knows its value- of a band that knows it has a lot more left to say.

I am held captive by the ribbon ’round my neck
Each course I chart determined by a wreck
The power in my hips is useless in the dark
What good are red lips when you’re faced with something sharp?
– “Beautiful Boy,” The Last Dinner Party

Most striking about The Last Dinner Party, largely in part due to their shameless showcasing of intention, is their originality; even on the first listen, you can tell there isn’t much that’s quite like it in the current indie-pop landscape. That being said, some influences are distinguishable – Fiona Apple, Queen, ABBA, and Kate Bush, to name a few – but the executions of these notes are far from dull. My standouts are still the singles, “Sinner” and “Nothing Matters,” but the album as a whole successfully paints a portrait around those two vivid shades.

:: “I Just Want To Wake Up With You” – Helado Negro ::

Julia Dzurillay, New Jersey

Some describe Helado Negro’s sound as electronic, but Phasor feels like the electronic-foward, alternative version of a Jack Jackson album. Sincerity seeps into every song in a way that feels cleansing and, well, easy. A clear highlight is “I Just Want To Wake Up With You,” where the narrator suggests more quiet moments — simple moments, savored with no sense of urgency.

Islands seem lonely now / Float miles to see your face,” the lyrics affirm. “String hearts to hearts, sing now / My voice changes so you know / I’m just a girl, I’m just a boy / I’m just a man, I’m just a woman / I just wanna wake up with you.”

The song’s languid yet persistent beat only emphasizes a thesis too often forgotten by listeners. The little things in life add up to something more meaningful. Sometimes, you just want to wake up next to the person you love.

:: “Hold My Hand” – Tatyana ::

Will Yarbrough, Philadelphia, PA

Women dominated this year’s Grammys, but Tatyana Phillips remembers that boys run the music industry all too well. The last time we heard from the touring harpist, née budding pop star, she was venting about how her decidedly male classmates at Berklee College of Music dismissed her for wearing a crop top.

Now, she’s the one who’s laughing. Sure, the credit gets split with another notable producer, but Tatyana took full control over the production of her new album. While promising, the plushy, heart-shaped synthetics of her debut have been stripped away, reupholstered with rubbery bass, canned handclaps and other hard plastics. Picking out the right KORG plug-ins wasn’t the only way she put her degree to good use, either. Each song was graded on a rubric of truly out-of-the-box criteria: remix potential, the human element, irony and the Internet, effortlessness.

Such a rigorous academic approach to songwriting can spell trouble, even when working in a calculated field like pop music. But “Hold My Hand” is a masterclass in letting the beat build. Synths warp like Tetris blocks over a four-on-the-floor drum pattern that throbs and sweats like the scene at a European nightclub in every Hollywood action flick. Tatyana buzzes amidst the flutter of her electronic harp with all the menace of a bumblebee. “Keep my name out of your mouth baby, I just want to dance”, she warns, ready to suckle or sting.

“Hold My Hand” isn’t heartless, though. It’s Over came together while Tatyana was entangled in the kind of “no strings attached” relationship that took me for a ride in my twenties. “This isn’t love, isn’t love”, she repeats, vocals frying like an overheated robot. It’s a reminder to her, but also, everyone else: she can fill a dance floor all by herself.

:: “Gen-X Cops” – Vampire Weekend ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

My anxiety and all my existential crises feel seen on “Gen-X Cops,” one of two songs Vampire Weekend dropped today in anticipation of their upcoming fifth album, Only God Was Above Us (out April 5 via Columbia Records). With some wicked electric guitar tones and high-brow contemplation courtesy of a a 39-year-old Ezra Koenig, “Gen-X Cops” unravels reflections on generational trauma (or just the narrator’s own angst and worries” with poetic flare:

Blacken the sky and sharpen the axe
Forever cursed to live unrelaxed
We make no bones, a house is not a home
And a home is nowhere we can stay
Dodged the draft, but can’t dodge the war
Forever cursed to live insecure
The curtain drops, a gang of Gen X cops assembles
Trembling before our human nature

Vampire Weekend rise to a fever pitch in a catchy, cathartic, and thought-provoking chorus: “Each generation makes its own apology,” Koenig sings with a certain ominous finality, opening a Pandora’s box of questions with this answer.

It wasn’t built for me
It’s your academy
But in my time, you taught me how to see
Each generation makes its own apology

I’ll be thinking about this line for a long while, to be sure, but compelling lyricism aside, what makes “Gen-X Cops” such a charmer is the raw energy Vampire Weekend have cooked up here. From churning drums and feverish guitars to heated, hot-on-the-mic vocals and beyond, this song feels ruthless and abrasive – it’s raw in a way we’ve never really heard them do before – and that, combined Koenig’s colorful, contemplative, and forever catchy lyricism, has me eagerly awaiting whatever’s to come with this long overdue fifth album!

Welcome back, my oldest friend
Are you cursed to depart again?
Your ways and means, eternally obscene
And always looking for obscenity and hatred
It wasn’t built for me
It’s your academy
But in my time, you taught me how to see
Each generation makes its own apology

:: “Entwined (Street Light Buzz)” – Metz ::

Kevin Cost, Austin, TX

As someone privileged enough to witness this band perform during their early days back in 2012, I am so delighted to say that Metz is back, baby! The Canadian punk rock trio announced their fifth studio album, Up on Gravity Hill, with a split single including “Entwined (Street Light Buzz)” and “99.”

Their most recent album, Atlas Vending, was released back in 2020, so it’s comforting to see after a four-year hiatus, they are sticking with their punk rock roots, but you can sense they tapped into their melodic tendencies. The two tracks perfectly blend dizzying riffs and pummeling drums that force your attention. It’s always fast-paced and relentless, but the best part of “Entwined” is when it slows down a bit during the bridge, asking: “Where did you go? Where did you go?” almost giving you a break to catch your breath before crashing back into the chorus.

If they are ever performing in your city, please go. The energy they exude fills the whole room and it is always a great time.

:: “Dive” – Holly Humberstone ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Honey, I’m spiraling,” Holly Humberstone sings, her voice hot on the mic as she begins to unravel in real time. “The web I’m tangled in just isn’t built for two.” Released today, “Dive” is unflinchingly honest, achingly intimate, up-close, and exposed: A big, bold caution sign, only instead of black lettering on a bright yellow triangle, the English singer/songwriter channels her warning into heavy, heated guitar strums and an emotionally charged vocal performance.

The message? Don’t come near me – I might hurt you. Or as Humberstone so poetically sings, “Before I let you in, tread lightly, just tread lightly. I’ve made enough mistakes to fill up the oceans, babe, and when it rains, it pours.”

It’s a candid confessional, and one that brings the audience near as Humberstone sings lyrics so personal, they could very well be torn from her diary. We can feel her bruised heart skip a beat as she sings,

So, if you’re feeling brave
Come on, try me; come on, try me
Cause it’s not like in the movies,
you come over try to fix me
So you thought this would be easy
Honey, where’s the fun in that?
So I’m told, I kill the mood
I only darken every room I’m in
If you can face the facts, go ahead
And baby dive (in), baby, dive..

“I wrote it a few years ago as a kind of warning to a guy to not get involved with me,” Humberstone says of her new single. “I was worried I’d hurt him. Whenever I think about the highs and lows of past and present relationships, it reminds me that life will always be evolving and changing in ways that I can’t predict, and I think that’s ok.”

The lead single off a brand new EP titled Work In Progress (out March 15 via Darkroom / Geffen / Polydor Records), “Dive” is beautifully melodramatic and, in classic Holly Humberstone fashion, absolutely irresistible.

I ruin everything
So, I’ll give you a fair warning
so you’ve got time to run

And If you’re not down, that’s cool
don’t waste my time

‘Cause I’d rather watch real housewives
“You’re such a f***ing liar Camille!”
‘Cause it’s not like in the movies,
you come over try to fix me

So you thought this would be easy
Honey where’s the fun in that?
So I’m told I, kill the mood I
Only darken every room I’m in
If you can face the facts, go ahead
And baby dive (in), baby, dive

“Every song starts as a work in progress,” she explains. “Some stay as demos and ideas, others find new life with more production. But these songs were demos I couldn’t leave behind. I went back through the archives and discovered these lost older versions of myself mixed up with the present version of me.”

“I wanted to release them this year – as I start touring again and since the release of my debut album – as a work in progress for my fans. I’m very much a work in progress, and I think this body of work feels impulsive and more like a stream of consciousness to me.”

It’s been just four months since the release of Humberstone’s debut album, Paint My Bedroom Black – a bold and breathtaking, rejuvenating and empowered alternative record that featured on Atwood Magazine‘s Best Albums of 2023 list, as well as year-end pieces from Rolling Stone, NME, and many more.

“Holly Humberstone’s unique brand of melancholia has never felt more rejuvenating than it does on her debut album,” I wrote at the time. Work in Progress keeps the excitement for the 24-year-old at an all-time high as she plans to bring her music to audiences around the world this year, with massive headline tours scheduled for both Europe (ongoing) and North America (this spring).

Holly, you’ve done it again. We’ll happily take the bait and “dive” in, headfirst, with no regrets.

And I want this to work, but
Babe I’m the worst
Don’t get your hopes up
‘Cause I think I’m cursed
If I pull you closer
And you’re so well rehearsed
You’re saying all the right things
But I think I’m cursed
If I pull you closer
And baby dive (in), baby, dive
Oh, baby dive (in), baby, dive

:: “Sunlight” – Maisy Kay ::

Julius Robinson, California

When one thinks of romance, oftentimes we think of these grand gestures of love. A hotel room filled with rose petals and champagne, a fancy steak dinner…etc. Those things are great, do not get me wrong, but Maisy Kay’s delicate, pop single “Sunlight” shows us that sometimes it is the little acts that make love special. The singer shares, “I wanted to write about the gentle, small things that make love so wonderful. For example, I didn’t drink coffee, but I got a coffee machine so I could make this person coffee in the mornings because I knew they liked it. Something as simple as holding hands in the afternoon became something wondrous, and I think ‘Sunlight’ is the truest love song I have ever written.” Her velvety vocal tone soars seamlessly over piano keys, creating an angelic, enchanting air. This stunning Lana Del Rey-esque offering is the ultimate Valentine’s Day anthem.

Kay is a rising singer taking the pop scene by storm. Having collaborated with legendary names such as Tiësto and Timbaland, her immense talent knows no bounds. Her fan base is ever growing and she shows no signs of stopping, releasing an album later this year. When describing the song she declares, “I wrote about someone I met who felt like sunshine personified.” That statement is also the perfect way to describe her music. Check out the track if you’d like a taste of sunshine yourself.

:: “Hush” – Jordan Maye ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

I’m a Washington, DC native but I’ve spent close to seven of my 31 years living in the Boston area and have no regrets about it. To the contrary, in fact, those seven years have been chock-full of positive memory-making, especially in the live music department. Quite a few of those music-themed memories have involved catching Berklee College of Music performing in multiple venues around town– from jazz players stealing the show at Wally’s Cafe to flutists piping away at the Boston Public Library’s summer concert series. This week, I’ve had yet another rewarding bit of contact with Berklee’s fresh crop of talent by having been pitched the hot new track “Hush” by current student Jordan Maye.

Originally from Atlanta, Maye’s body of formally published work previously consisted of a trio of singles– “Tarot,” “Tuesday,” and “One Year After– and recently graduated to quartet status with the release of “Hush.” The song’s lyrics pay homage to Maye’s experiences in her adopted hometown– “On the bus headed back from Harvard Square, the city lights hide the stars…”– but really are designed to evoke the whole range of trials and tribulations its author has experienced as of late: “mental health challenges, being a full time student at Berklee College of Music, going through the process of transitioning, all while navigating relationships with family, lovers and friends.”

Maye’s prowess in the vocal and guitar-playing department help convey those experiences vividly, and the combined efforts of the Breiner – Daniel on the drums, Eric on the guitars engineering and production – help to make this an impressively hard-hitting early release for the emerging artist. The benefits of being a longtime Boston boy with his ears open to new local music never cease to accumulate, truly.

:: “When All You Can Manage Is A Sigh” – Georgia Gets By ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

When BROODS’ Georgia Nott introduced her solo project last year, I was immediately smitten. Beautifully intimate and achingly raw, Georgia Gets By is the vessel through which Nott channels her heart, her soul, and her innermost angst. It’s the musical equivalent of a diary: That vulnerable space into which you pour your full self, just to get your thoughts and feelings off your chest and out, into the world in some meaningful way.

Simply put, it’s how she gets by. Last October’s five-track debut EP Fish Bird Baby Boy blended the sharp, catchy pop songwriting style she’s refined and finessed over the years with darker, heavier indie rock and indie folk elements. The result is and was breathtaking: A shiver-inducing, cathartic experience processes life’s many facets.

“When All You Can Manage Is a Sigh” continues that trend. Released today via Luminelle Recordings, Nott’s new single is slow, gentle, and aching with an overwhelming emotional weight. The artist sings softly over tender acoustic guitars, her voice warm and full of love and care. It’s a lullaby, of sorts – a soothing song for the weary, broken-hearted. Every word aches as she fills the air with soul-stirring sound:

Like your shadow in the dark
Disappears from your side
Lonely as before the start,
and longer grows the night

When all you can manage is a sigh,
and wonder if it’s worth the high,
and hope they know you tried
Lying in an empty bath
holding on to the past
Long gone but still it lasts,
the reflection that it casts,

When all you can manage is a sigh
and wonder if it’s worth the high

and hope they know you tried

“I wrote this song for a friend a few years ago while they were navigating a divorce,” Nott tells Atwood Magazine. “There are moments you see your loved ones going through things and you know you can’t offer a whole lot of advice. This was my song to her to attempt to be near her while she went through it.”

Writing a song for a loved one is its own form of empathy, and through her art, Nott attempts to express what words alone, perhaps, cannot.

“There are those moments where thinking can’t balance out the feelings… You can rationalize all you want but you are still there, holding that enormous heavy sensation that no words can describe,” she says. “There, on the other side of falling in love, looking around at empty space and wondering whether you can bear to try it all again. This song is a parting gift of some sorts; something to fill the emptiness for a couple of minutes. As Imogen Heap says, ‘there is beauty in the breakdown.’”

“When All You Can Manage Is a Sigh” is the love of presence; it’s the love of saying, “I’m here, and I’ll continue to be here.” It’s cozy and cathartic, despite all those ways in which life can come crashing down around us. And for that reason, I remain in awe of Nott’s burgeoning new solo artistry; I can’t wait to go wherever she goes next.

If you can be grateful, the time passes slowly
To feel it more wholly
To hold it while it dies
Even if all you can manage is a sigh,
and wonder if it’s worth the high,
and hope they know you tried

:: “el paso” – Kitty Coen ::

Frankie Rose, UK

Kitty Coen is a singer/songwriter based in Nashville, Tennessee, who has entered the scene with an attitude-driven pop. Her latest release, a double single consisting of “cadillac” and “el paso,” takes a slightly different direction, which is cinematic and plays with typically Western characteristics. While “cadillac” is filled with drama and encompasses a personage who tries to maintenant their toughness, “el paso” feels intimate and pure. If “cadillac” is a wild night in a West Texas saloon, “el paso” is driving alone into a hazy sunset with mountains in sight and a tear streaming slowly down the cheek.

Alongside the comforting country twang, there’s a whirl of memories and reflections on heartbreak which creates the urge to stare longingly out of the window, wherever you may be. While there is a contrast between these two songs, they both emphasize human qualities: the need to create distance within ourselves (through playing with identity) and the inevitable emotional battle with the sad things that shape us. It’s perhaps this that is the most cinematic quality of the double single. Life is essentially just like a movie.

:: “Can I See Your Lovely?”- Diana McGrane ::

Chloe Robinson, California

What makes a person lovely? Is it the special memories you share with them, the sweet smile on their face, a twinkle in their eye? Diana McGrane’s touching, soft-rock track “Can I See Your Lovely?” pays homage to the memory of someone special and the desire to hold tightly to that profound bond. The wistful folk-fused song washes over us in a wave of penetrating warmth. Her effortless serene soundscapes and vocals put you at ease allowing the listener to see McGrane’s… lovely.

The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter uses music as a deep form of expression. The daughter of a Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Boxing champion and a Mexican poet, singer and guitarist, she comes from a family of high achievers with strong dedication to their craft. Losing a parent is hard on anyone. With all they have given her, it truly affected her life.

McGrane reveals, “The imagery in the song creates an illusion that love is connected to everything, from the ‘sunshine on my window’ to the ‘colors of a rainbow.’ Later, after the loss of a parent, the song again seemed to provide comfort for the pain, proving that “Can I See Your Lovely?” serves as a symbol of faith for those that need it and the belief that you may once again see the wonder of someone’s eyes.”

::  Honky Tonk Ain’t Noise Pollution – Ellis Bullard ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

Country, honky tonk artist Ellis Bullard recently released the aptly titled new album, Honky Tonk Ain’t Noise Pollution. The ten-track record features an array of influences that Bullard and his musical ensemble have picked up along the way, with the songwriter admitting how his bandmates are more like brothers. With the lyrics touching on life events and experiences that have brought him to where he is today, Honky Tonk Ain’t Noise Pollution is an album built on blood, sweat and tears.

The artist shares, “It’s country as cornbread but totally has some rock n roll in there. We’re calling it a “Honk n Roll” record. We’re in the clubs, dance halls and theatres alike and folks are really digging our sound and what we bring to a stage. This record was so much fun to make, we know yall are gonna enjoy it.”

Be sure to catch Ellis Bullard at SXSW this year because his sound is something that demands to be heard live.

:: “Bloodsucker” – The Chisel ::

Connor Muldowney, Washington, DC

For all I try to lay out the melodic achievements and lyrical mastery of the songs I recommend, sometimes a song just hits within the first few seconds. You can listen to the first ten seconds of the song “Bloodsucker” off of punk band The Chisel’s latest album What a F***ing Nightmare, with its one billion mile an hour guitar riff, frantic drums, snarling vocals and lyrics that sound slurred out of the mouth of a British football fan after an Arsenal F.C. loss, and imagine instantly who the song appeals to and why. I adore the slidedown at the beginning, where guitarist Luke Younger seems intent on all out torturing a string, and I love how arrogant and almost obnoxious the vocals are, and I love that at 2:16 the song achieves everything it wants to with impressive efficiency.

It’s hilarious to boot. With lyrics like:

I’ve had a bad day, and you’re making it worse
In any other situation I could converse
I know I haven’t seen you since you don’t know when
Can’t believe that you’re telling me this story again

this song makes it so easy to imagine the character the narrator speaks of. Personally, I am imagining Colin Robinson, the infamous “energy vampire” from the hit show What We Do In the Shadows who feeds off of not blood but just the act in and of itself of being exhausting.

This is what I love about punk music. Not that punk music cannot be challenging, complex or even introspective, but more so that the simple hits smack listeners with the precision and explosive power of missiles with infrared homing. Behind the facade of simplicity that props up songs like this lies incredible attention to the art of upholding the palpable energy required to even pull off something this aggression and land. There is no impotence to the creative expression at play here with The Chisel’s latest album. With music like this, there is nowhere to hide, it’s some of the most potent form of expression there is. “Bloodsucker” really, really, really scratches that itch for me.

:: “Utah” – jxne ::

Chloe Robinson, California

It’s never easy to lose someone you love. Whether it is death or a person is just no longer in your life, the transition is definitely tough. Jxne’s passionate release “Utah ” focuses on the intense hurt felt when someone close to him moved away. Indicative of musical talents like Post Malone and The Kid LAROI, there is something completely captivating about his emotive, indie-pop sound. Listeners can hear that utter sadness his voice exudes and are instantly drawn in. The simplistic landscape of the bare acoustic guitar allows his aching vocals to shine.

The 20-year-old artist takes influence from greats such as Harry Styles and The Weeknd, but is always dabbling in different sonics. Growing up in Staten Island, NY, in high school he and his friends were known to do a bit of free styling. That experimentation has led him to the unique quality he puts out today. “Utah” is one that will for sure have you in your feels.

:: “Grow” – Blair Lee ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

There’s an ease and instant warmth to Blair Lee’s latest single: A wistful, dusty daydream, “Grow” sees the Toronto singer/songwriter dwelling deep in her own wondrous depths as she thinks fondly about her younger self – a bright eyed aspiring artist with dreams of making songs for others to hear, to cherish, and to make their own.

Funny how we can become the person we once so desperately longed to be, without consciously realizing it. Life is linear, so it takes a real pause to step back and reflect on where we once were and where we are today, who we once were and who we’ve become. In “Grow,” Lee thinks back on life’s twists and turns – all those times she thought she was off course, or something didn’t go as planned – and ultimately comes to the conclusion that she’s right where she wants to be:

Walking down the alley, taking it slow
Keeping off the pavement, far from the road
Feels a little different, now that you know
Had you done it any other way,
Nothing woulda been the same
Funny little thing, this change
That’s where I got lost
I took it too far and I fell off
‘N I could not recall where I was trying to go
Now all I do is row
Make my wish, then I let it go
‘Cause if hope’s a seed I’m sure she’s bound to grow

“I was thinking about Riverside, the neighbourhood I lived in when I first moved to Toronto, imagining the long walks I used to take when I was just starting to record music,” Lee tells Atwood Magazine. “I’d cut through the alleyways behind the houses and daydream about where my life was going. I was inspired – I really believed in myself and hoped I could pave my own way in songwriting.”

When I stop for a second, take a look around me
Well I’m right exactly where I wanna be
Through all the plummet pitfalls, it somehow turned out right
And what I thought were hurdles were just bats in my head
And I was on the right track but didn’t know it yet
So if you need someone just tuck under my wing

Lee debuted in late 2019, and has already made quite a name for herself over the past four years. Her debut EP The Puppy Game garnered considerable praise upon its release in 2022, and she’s now set to release her sophomore extended player, LIMBO, in mid-March. “Grow” is the fourth single off Lee’s new EP, and joins previously released songs “Same Place, “Fold,” and “Underdog” in capturing the musical and emotional depth of her burgeoning, beautiful artistry.

That’s where I got lost
I took it too far and I fell off
‘N I could not recall where I was trying to go
Now all I do is row
Make my wish, then I let it go
‘Cause if hope’s a seed I’m sure she’s bound to grow

:: “Macy Gray” – Ananya ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

My parents are currently spending the year in London and I’m about to go visit them in July, which will mark my first time in London in 18 years (18 years? 18 years!) To gear up for my trip there, I am making an effort to familiarize myself with the current musical scene in London, which needless to say has evolved quite a bit over the time since I saw any part of the city other than Heathrow Airport. One artist who has just helped me to achieve that objective is Ananya, a Zimbabwean singer currently living in the Big Smoke, and who has recently published a debut EP entitled i woke up one night.

Macy Gray” has recently been released as a single from that project. Over a soulful bit of piano-playing (Ananya’s longtime go-to instrument), the lead artist pays tribute to one of her great artistic inspirations for whom the song is named– most of all in the chorus line, distinctly inspired by Ms. Gray’s 1999 hit, “I Try.” The main body of the lyrics, in her words, “weaves her personal heartbreak with universal experiences of nostalgia and bittersweet reflection, transforming vulnerability into a source of unwavering strength.”

It all comes together impressively well. I’m going to have to keep my eyes and ears plenty open for more high-quality new British hits of this nature once I finally make my long-awaited return to England in a few months’ time!

:: “Feel You Here”- Alaina Pamela ::

Lauren Hicks, Mesa, Arizona

Alaina Pamela collaborates with husband Michael Kim-Sheng with her latest release “Feel You Here” which navigates the feelings of ending a relationship. Alaina has a smooth tone which is expressed through raw and rich vocals. Michael’s musical experience adds in a versatile and digitized production. The couple works together through the instrumentation of the voice with complementing synth-like beats.

The chorus climaxes into a beautiful mix of Pamela and her husband’s talents alike. Pamela expresses bittersweet lyrics singing about how she’s severed ties but she still feels the presence of the person. She sings: “But I feel you here, silently here/You’re next to me, I can feel it/Right by my side, you’ve never left/I feel you here.” With production that adapts greatly to Pamela’s voice and songwriting–the duo presents the piece wonderfully. Here’s to happy listening!

:: “Timber!” – The National Parks ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Utah’s The National Parks continue to be a source of bright, uplifting and inspiring light. The folk-pop band’s new single is an unbridled ode to love, and yes, the Valentine’s release is 100% intentional: Released on the 13th, “Timber!” is so heartwarmingly sappy, that the title itself is a nod to “falling” in love.

Only the best songwriter could get away with such terrific corn, and Brady Parks is certainly one of the best in my book. The band’s longtime frontman and primary songwriter sings about perspective, balance, contentment, gratitude, and learning to let go as he reflects on all the ways his own love has impacted his life for the better:

Late at night we drive canyon roads
Our wild hearts run like wanderin’ souls
You make me wanna live in each moment
And stop worrying and hurrying to get where I’m going
Slow down my mind, just enjoy the ride
Lately I’ve been feeling a little uprooted
Is it alright with you if I don’t know what I’m doing
You push me to the unknown
Said it’s beautiful to just let go
So honey I’m all in
Timber I’m fallin’

As Parks describes, this track really is his “all in” moment.

“‘Timber!’ is a song about letting go of the things in life that hold us back from moving forward,” he tells Atwood Magazine. “That can be a scary and difficult process, but when you get to navigate the unknown with someone you love it becomes part of a great adventure. Over the last year, I’ve learned that it’s okay to trust fall, rely on relationships through uncertainty, and live more in the present moment. I think love is such an essential part of our journey through this life and I’ve been amazed at how deep, real love can be an anchor.”

We’ve been through hell and high water
But it’s a new day, a different page and we’re the authors
We belong in the wind, wild and free
Letting go of everything holding me

“Timber!” is a welcome addition to The National Parks’ extensive oeuvre, and a darling, smile-inducing love song that reminds us just how amazing love truly is. Look no further than that line in the first verse: “You make me wanna live in each moment, and stop worrying and hurrying to get where I’m going.” When we’re with our love, it doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing, because we’re already right where we belong.

If nothing else, I hope this song inspires a few listeners to remind their loved ones just how special they are, and how much their love truly means. Love is a gift we too often take for granted, but art like this reminds us just how much it matters.

:: “One Thing” – Cry Baby ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

I have to admit, I still laugh a little to myself every time I think about (or see) Cry Baby’s band name; it truly is the gift that keeps on giving, and in more ways than one – because after the chuckling stops, the awe sets in. Alternative angst, emotional vulnerability, and irresistible refrains are just a few of the tricks these Brooklynites have up their musical sleeves, and the band bring all three qualities (and much more) to the table with “One Thing,” the third single off their upcoming debut EP.

Whatever we do
Wherever we go, I feel alone
When I’m with you I just sit through
All the plans you made for me
Yeah, you take them when you leave

Independently released February 6, “One Thing” follows last year’s singles “Pretend” and “Hollister” and sees Cry Baby airing frustrations “of feeling alone in a relationship surrounded by noise,” as bassist Joey Haines explains. The song’s intoxicating, enchanting chorus finds singer Alex Carlson playing vocal acrobatics as all that unresolved tension comes to an aching fever pitch:

And it’s always
One thing, then it’s two things
Never quite sure til you get more
And it’s one thing, then it’s two things
Back and forth, back to your door
And it’s all my fault
This time I’ll take the blame
Let’s call it off
Finally feel the same

“‘One Thing’ is one of my favorite Cry Baby songs to date,” Joey Haines shares. “Vocally each section always catches me within the first line. I really feel the yearning in that first verse before we hit into the chorus. Live we always get to scream ‘ONE THING…TWO THINGS,’ which gets me hyped every time. I am a sucker for any song that contains a bunch of heavy, glitchy elements yet still remains a sing-along pop song in the end.”

Why don’t you say it
Say all the things you think of me
Nothing is changing, can’t explain it
When you say you’re gonna leave
Then you come right back for me

Indelibly inspired by the ‘90s yet undeniably of the here and now, Cry Baby are one of the most exciting bands coming out of Brooklyn today, and “One Thing” is one more reason to hop on the bandwagon nice and early. As catchy as it is angsty, the new single has us hooked as we eagerly anticipate the group’s debut EP this spring. And while the name definitely still inspires a little laughter, I know deep down that Cry Baby may one day become my favorite band – so really, what does that say about me?

— — — —

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