Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: March 15, 2024

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | March 15, 2024
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | March 15, 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 Holly Humberstone, 24kGoldn, Ellie Irwin, NOEL, Jodie Nicholson, Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties, The Thing, Alexander Biggs, Amistat, Ha Vay, Hunter Blair Ambrose, Nan Macmillan, Charli XCX, West 22nd, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Grace Corsi, Your Future Ghost, Welt, SMILEZ, Wayland, benches, and Taylor Bickett!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup

:: work in progress – Holly Humberstone ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Aren’t we all works in progress, really? Always growing, ever-changing, never the same from day to day? Holly Humberstone’s latest EP is an ode to the “song” – each of which, inevitably and without fail, starts as a “work in progress” – but it might as well be an homage to our humanity as well.

Through four dramatic, impassioned, and achingly vulnerable songs, the British singer/songwriter breaks off piece after piece of her own raw soul, serving up brutal honesty through spirited sonics and soul-stirring songwriting. These are, in so many ways, the hallmarks of what has come to be her brand: For four years now, the “Holly Humberstone” fans around the world have come to know and love is one who connects, and ostensibly overshares, through unapologetically candid lyrics, utterly cathartic melodies, and spiritually cleansing vocal performances.

It’s an enviable brand, to be sure, and one that shines as bright as ever on work in progress, released today via Polydor / Darkroom / Geffen. Comprised of the previously released, achingly intimate and exposed single “Dive” –  together with songs “Work in Progress,” “Down Swinging,” and “Easy Tiger,” Humberstone’s new release arrives only five months after her critically acclaimed debut album Paint My Bedroom Black, and comes in the midst of her UK headline tour.

In other words, it’s a perfectly-timed reminder to keep the superstar-in-the-making in your ear and on your radar.

“Every song starts as a work in progress. Some stay as demos and ideas, others find new life with more production,” Humberstone says of work in progress. “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.”

“Dive” and focus track “Down Swinging” are easy, lovable favorites, the latter of which swings with a radiant swagger, unapologetic lines about determination, perseverance, and staying power, and the occasional saxophone swell to fill your heart with pure joy.

“I wrote ‘Down Swinging’ around a time when I was feeling pretty low,” Humberstone shares. “I swing between moods pretty heavily from day to day and I guess I started off writing a song about being depressed, which at the chorus turns into something a little more uplifting. I felt like wallowing in self pity and then we wrote the chorus which says ‘I can take it, give me hellfire.’ I constantly need to give myself little reminders like that to push myself through the bad days – not to let my brain win and to not go down without a fight.”

Again, we’re all works in progress. Here’s four songs, each of which is ready to be your personal anthem.

:: “Dog House” – 24kGoldn ::

Connor Muldowney, Philadelphia, PA

Golden Landis Von Jones, 23, is such an exciting young talent. He’s got a rich voice, and has the taste to understand how to use it and layer it. Combine that with proficiency in building dynamic yet catchy melodies and a command of tone, and you have an excellent successor to Kid Cudi’s half rapper half singer/songwriter style. I enjoy every song off of his new album Growing Pains, but “Dog House” is my favorite. I love the subtle guitar flourishes and bass, the use of repetition, and reserved yet vulnerable vocals.

The song sounds like it could play at the end of a film where the main character realizes he isn’t right for someone in a sobering bout of introspection as he drives down an eerily empty road somewhere in California. In a way, it almost feels like a dark mirror to Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California.” This feels like leaving somewhere beautiful. And with lyrics like

superficial is what you are, you are
You the issue, know it, you are, you are
Tell me I ain’t shit, oh, you are, you are
Jealousy’s a b**ch, and you are, you are

This could have easily come across as bitter. And I did often find myself unimpressed with the bitterness of break-up hip hop hits from the likes of Hopsin. Here, however, the understated performance belies not bitterness, just dull acceptance. It’s cold in the dog house.

:: “Julianne” – Ellie Irwin ::

Sophie Severs, Boston, MA

Life is exponentially better when you have someone to walk through it with — at least, Boston-based singer-songwriter Ellie Irwin thinks so.

Her track “Julianne,” (released Friday, March 1) is a celebration of love; an expression of the unadulterated soul-encompassing joy that comes hand in hand with meaningful companionship. As the first single off of her upcoming debut record, there is no better way to begin the release cycle than with an outpouring of gratitude for this life’s most precious friendships.

“I wrote this song as an ode to the kind of friendship you don’t have to question,” shares Irwin. “It’s for the friends that never say ‘I told you so,’ even though they would have every right to do so. This song has allowed me to especially reflect on the women in my life I have found sisters in.”

I need you now to know / You’re keeping me afloat / What did I do to deserve / You’re a gift to the world / Got an angel to hold in my hand / My sweet Julianne,” Irwin sings over sweeping fiddle lines and spry banjo plucking.

Irwin taps into the deep sentimentality that many of us try to keep under wraps in our day-to-day lives. She boldly declares her devotion toward Julianne, this person who has unabashedly been her rock throughout this lifetime.

Hopefully one day we can all find our own Juliannes, but until then Irwin is happy to share a piece of her own “Julianne.”

:: Headed North – NOEL ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

Sweden and its 10 million people may represent under 1% of the world population, but they’ve definitely represented a substantially greater percentage of all of the musicians I’ve ever covered for Atwood (I just reviewed Eternal Sunshine, for instance, which is as much Max Martin’s creation as it is Ariana Grande’s). It’s an impressively prolific country when it comes to music-making, and it’s nice to see a bright young talent NOEL do his part to contribute to that status with the release of his debut EP, Headed North (which practically everybody on Earth has to do to reach his home nation, hehe).

The 21-year-old Stockholm native has been honing his craft for a couple of years now, and currently deems himself ready to officially transition to the game. “I started writing songs together with others a little over two years ago, without any real concept or deeper thought behind it,” he explains. “Eventually, I found that the songs over time started to find their place and became a coming-of-age story that I’m excited to finally share.”

Part of that story includes some sad moments, unfortunately, but they do provide the fodder for lead single “Hurt Somebody,” which begins as a gentle piano ballad and then transitions to a soaring bass-heavy beat. The track, which NOEL penned alongside his countrymen Joel Gunnarsson and Fredrik Lundström, “‘plays into the cliché, yet very true saying ‘hurt people hurt people….’ For me, it describes a feeling of numbness and desperation.” NOEL explains that “there was a period in my life where I carried around unresolved hurt, which ended up affecting people around me who didn’t deserve it.”

In the wise words of Britney Spears, “this song’s my sorry.” Headed North represents “my first and, in many ways, my introduction into music and songwriting,” and NOEL is off to a fine and mature start in that respect.

:: “Another Frequency” – Jodie Nicholson ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

You only say it when you have to; you only say it ’cause I do,” Jodie Nicholson sings, her heart heavy and her intimate voice pained. “I don’t know why it’s taking so long. Dancing to a different song.” A gut-wrenching requiem for a love gone sour, “Another Frequency” aches with regret, despondency, and words unsaid.

Pulling off your drive
Sitting in reverse
Trying to decide if staying or going’s worse
Did you have to wait
Wait so long
To notice our mistake
To know we got it wrong?

“‘Another Frequency’ is about not knowing whether to leave a relationship or not, feeling like you and the other person are on totally different pages and finding solace in solo-drives in your car to unravel the situation,” Nicholson explains. “Sam Griffiths [of The Howl & The Hum] and I wrote it in summer 2021 at The Howl & The Hum’s studio in York.”

“Production-wise this one stumped me for a long time and it wasn’t until a week before heading into the studio that it finally started to come together. Sam joined me one afternoon at Blank Studios. We spent time shaping the track with bass and as soon as he sang on it, the whole track came to life. It was like the last piece of the puzzle had finally been added. My favourite part of the recording process, as well as Sam adding his parts, was experimenting with a radio I found on a shelf in Blank and using sections of me flicking through the channels to book-end the track. It feels like a sonic reflection of overthinking.”

You only say it when you have to
You only say it ’cause I do
And we sit in the car with the radio on
and you change it to a different song
Another frequency

Released February 29 via Quiet Crown / Absolute, “Another Frequency” is the lead single off Jodie Nicholson’s forthcoming sophomore album Safe Hands (out May 10). The track marks a sonic and lyrical evolution for the British singer/songwriter and producer, who released her debut full-length album, Golden Hour, in 2019. A hazy of emotionally charged atmospheric indie folk, “Another Frequency” hits hard and hurts from end to end, ensuring we feel the weight of the world as it comes crashing down around the artist. It’s an undeniably stellar, hypnotic moment of musical magic, and an evocative, exhilarating look at what’s to come!

When I close my eyes
I can almost see
Just a shadow of you staring back at me
And now the music’s ‘Blue’, playing on repeat
And yet I know thе words, I now know what she means
You only say it when you have to
You only say it ’cause I do
And we sit in the car with the full beam on,
how’d the radio get so high?
You only say it when you have to
You only say it ’cause I do
I don’t know why it’s taking so long
Dancing to a different song
You’re on another frequency…

:: “Alone at St. Luke’s” – Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties ::

Jimmy Crowley, New York

The third single from the upcoming Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties’ album In Lieu of Flowers (which drops on April 12)is a rollicking drinking tune. The latest installment in Aaron’s story by The Wonder Years vocalist Dan Campbell finds Aaron and his band hitting the road in the U.K. and reveling in the highs and lows of international touring. From the raising glasses and “burning out like true romantics” to the “mouse shit on the carpet” in a shady motel, most of “Alone at St. Luke’s” feels celebratory, basking in the excitement of experiencing new places and raising drinks along the way.

Still, the song takes a turn when the band gets sick with COVID, and Aaron is forced to play the rest of the shows by himself. Inspired by Campbell and the band’s real life experience where all the members of the band (except for him) started testing positive on a U.K. The song goes from a fast paced, pub-friendly sing-along to a solo stripped down moment of just Aaron singing the song’s refrain. While the lyrics are almost the same, the sentiment goes from celebratory to lonely. “I’ve been thinking as long as I’m still here/I might as well be drinking,” he sings over an arpeggiated acoustic guitar. Landing right at the center of the album, it sets up an emotional next act for Aaron.

:: “Right Where You Need To Be” – The Thing ::

Miles Campbell, Washington, DC

If there exists a reality in which the Energizer Bunny fancied indie rock, The Thing would undeniably be the top of all the options for that enthusiastically charismatic pink soul.

Hear me out. The four-man Brooklyn based indie rock band (ring any bells?) masterfully ignite the essence of gritty rock-and-roll with enthralling base-lines – best displayed within the first few seconds of “Right Where You Need To Be” – grungy garage guitar phrases and intricate drum solos, all the while overlaid with gravelly vocals inducing the realities of existential angst meets pent up restlessness.

“Right Where You Need To Be” is a product from the band’s first record Here’s the Thing, released in 2023; but the group’s been busy, releasing their second record The Thing Is just a few months ago in February 2024. Completely DIY and recorded in-house, both projects represent the trials and tribulations of being a young band in New York City, teeming with the built-up restlessness that unequivocally arises from the grind of a fresh band trying to establish themselves.

I had the pleasure of seeing the spirited fire of The Thing live on stage. Without giving too much away (they’re currently on tour and worth a go) I was thoroughly astonished by their effortlessly cohesive performance, demonstrated through – you guessed it – a remarkable amount of energy and charisma on stage, not to mention a 3 minute drum solo that left those in attendance speechless.

The young, hungry, DIY rock and roll dream is rejuvenated and alive, and The Thing are in the driver’s seat – with the energizer bunny riding shotgun.

:: “pocket protector” – Alexander Biggs ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Listening to Alexander Biggs’ “pocket protector” is the closest I’ve felt to being serenaded by an actual diary entry in a long, long time. The Australian singer/songwriter delivers a candid, soul-stirring stream-of-consciousness that, in its intimacy and ever-growing intensity, captures life’s ebbs and flows – all that goes on around us, and all that goes on within.

No one around to say that I know better
Got bags in my pockets like pocket protectors
I guess you could say that I’m
dressed for the weather
Hit all of the parties I want to
Inside I am happy, at peace, I’ve transcended
I’m loved and I love,
never need to pretend
But I’ve still got time to be sad for my publicist
Ashes to ashes and exes to exes

“‘Pocket Protector’ is about the pull of two different lifestyles,” Biggs tells Atwood Magazine. “Of wanting to live life fully and intensely. This selfish frame of mind of wanting that hedonistic experience and I guess feeling that I couldn’t have that in the relationship I was in, but at the same time wanting to choose love; that I’d always choose love over novel experiences.”

“I kind of make fun of myself and that train of thought, the immature, self-involved yearning to be a “true, tragic artist.” I roll my eyes at the artifice of those lifestyles, but I also see a piece of myself yearning for that from time to time.”

Gently atmospheric and brutally honest, “pocket protector” opens as a lilting, lush serenade of piano and vocals. Its character does not change much over three and a half minutes, yet by the end – as Biggs begs his love once more “please don’t go” – a slow burn of gradually increasing energy and tension spills out, and the weight crashes down both on him and on us. We don’t necessarily feel life’s changes as they’re happening to us in real-time; that’s what often what reflection is for. In so many ways, “Pocket Protector” feels like an emotional derailment; the narrator’s life slowly, steadily goes off the rails, and he doesn’t fully realize it (or, perhaps, accept it) until it’s too late, and the crash has come.

I’d wake up without you, cold unfulfilled
I was miserable then, I am miserable still
I always needed you, I always will
More f***ed up on love than on all of the pills
But I’m begging you, please don’t go
I’m begging you please don’t go

:: a moment in the sun – Amistat ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

Based in Germany, twins Josef and Jan Prasil form the musical moniker, Amistat. Known for their stunning, storytelling, alternative folk music, the brothers transport you to their intimate world with their new EP, a moment in the sun. The six-track release gives us a glimpse into their personal lives, as they share vulnerable moments, not afraid to speak about the struggles they’ve faced throughout the years.

Jan shares, “The new EP is about the struggles with personal life, private life, and mental health that my brother and I have been going through over the last two years. We’re showing everyone it’s totally normal to struggle, but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. On social media, you only paint an amazing picture of the great times. However, life isn’t always that way. We’re acknowledging every aspect of existence—and still enjoying it.”

A favorite off the EP, is “still believe,” a soothing anthem which showcases the brother’s silky harmonies, a plucky guitar line and warm, organic instrumentation. Their feel-good sound is reminiscent of Mumford & Sons with a bold brass section that shines through jangly guitars and foot-stomping percussion.

:: “Ophelia”- Ha Vay ::

Grace Holtzclaw, Los Angeles, CA

Ha Vay is an artist who blends contemplative lyrical daydreams with her sharp outlook on life. Her songwriting is transportive. To listen to Ha Vay is to take in her philosophies which draw influence from a wild array of storytellers who have preceded her. Weaving mythology and folklore into her own dynamic narrative ripe with echoes of voices we know by the names of Stevie Nicks, Jim Morrison, and Lana Del Rey, Ha Vay taps into a vein that is completely her own.

Her latest single “Ophelia” is full of whimsical harmonies, dreamlike echoes of piano, and iridescent acoustic riffs. Paired with a bewitching music video that strikes a poignant nerve of childlike curiosity, “Ophelia” is a haunting reverie on feminine wonder.

:: “Next to Me” – Hunter Blair Ambrose ::

Chloe Robinson, California

They say love comes when you least expect it. Hunter Blair Ambrose’s new fierce power ballad “Next to Me” is all about diving headfirst into unsuspecting love. The radiant synth-pop piece stunningly expresses taking chances and surrendering yourself to fully falling. Her velvety vocals envelop listeners in thick warmth. We are here for that intoxicating sensation.

The Indianapolis, IN native is a bold, pop singer creating tracks that ooze with raw passion. Inspired by top-charting artists like Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa, she embodies that same shimmering confidence, but with a unique quality all her own. “Next to Me” depicts that same daring style. The single will leave you with the desire to have someone next to you.

:: “Mad Sometimes” – Nan Macmillan ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

It’s so direct, so unapologetic, and so… real. “I don’t know why, but you make me mad sometimes,” Nan MacMillan sings. The opening track off the Brooklyn artist’s debut album is an emotional unshackling: Impassioned, emphatic, candid, and unfiltered, “Mad Sometimes” captures a kind of honesty we so rarely share outwardly. It’s visceral and vulnerable – a letter to an ex, spelling everything out with crystal clarity and poetic grace.

I don’t know why, but you make me mad sometimes
Something like you’re too kind for anyone’s own good
I don’t know, maybe I don’t trust
Anyone that pure
You must be holding something back

“I started writing ‘Mad Sometimes’ when I was back home with my family for the weekend in Virginia,” MacMillan recalls. “I had just moved to NYC a month before, and had an encounter with my ex that just made me mad. I couldn’t say why, but our conversation just irked me. I wanted to let loose in this song, to say things exactly as they were. I don’t often let myself feel angry, but it’s an important thing to allow yourself to feel from time to time. So I tried to let it all go when writing this song, and this is what came out.”

On your birthday you went to see the band
I showed you when times were hard
They helped me get back on track
And I don’t know, but it makes me mad
That you’re seeing them without me
You wouldn’t have gone two years back
And I knew that it’d be harder on you
To be the one thing I chose to leave behind, honey
Keep holding yourself tight with all the things
You told me, I agreed, you thought would make it better

“Mad Sometimes” is a charming, cathartic indie rock confessional – making it the perfect introduction to Nan Macmillan and an ideal starting place for her debut album, From Both Eyes (out now). Angsty and blunt, gritty and heartfelt, this song has a little bit of everything – and perhaps best of all, it’s a reminder to own your emotions and say how you feel, when you feel it. Stop holding back and holding in. Be bold, be brave, and be true to yourself.

Turning into someone else
Forgetting to explain myself
I did not plan, would not expect
You ever really understand
The fear of losing you did not outweigh
The truth which bit me in my back

:: “Von dutch” – Charli XCX ::

Jada Moore, Virginia

Coming off the high of having an immensely popular single for one of last year’s most raved about movies (Barbie), Charli XCX is back with her first single of the year, “Von dutch.” This comes right on the heels of her own announcement regarding her upcoming sixth studio album Brat, expected sometime this summer. Excited fans and spectators alike got the chance to have a sneak peak listen last month at an exclusive set party in Bushwick.

“Von dutch” plays into the familiar club-like bangers that had a big presence within the clubs in the ‘90s and 2000s. With an eclectic mix of beats and Charli’s stunning vocals, it instantly transports one back to what that golden era of clubbing must have felt like.

If “Von dutch” is anything to go by, then Brat is likely to have even more fun and edgy songs!

:: “Let Down” – West 22nd ::

Julius Robinson, California

We all have habits that are hard to break. Some of these tendencies have been ingrained in us for years. West 22nd’s latest release “Let Down” explores our self-destructive nature and the desire to escape that vicious cycle. Showcasing gritty electric guitars, steady drums and emotive vocal tone, the alt-rock track cuts deep. The piece includes reflective lyrics such as “I know this time is not the end, I just wanna remember how to forget.” Listeners connect with the message of removing toxic behaviors yet understanding it is not as easy as it seems.

The passionate 5-piece’s upbringings span from Georgia to California. Their bold music details fresh starts and shedding emotional baggage. Seamlessly blending rock and folk, together they craft spirited songs that resonate with fans. Their intense vulnerability seeps through in each offering. In “Let Down” the band is equally raw and open. We love to see that organic honesty bleed through.

:: “Red Future” – Snotty Nose Rez Kids ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

I just spent winter break in Canada and made sure to fill my time up there with plenty of outdoor sports (eg. skiing, hiking and ice skating), but I also reserved a full day in Quebec City for some sightseeing. Doing so gave me exposure to the creative side of the Canadian indigenous community (mainly through the collection of Inuit artwork at the Musée des Beaux Arts) as well as the current hip-hop scene in Canada (thanks to an exhibit on said matter down the block at the Musée de la Civilization).

Given that recent experience, the time was ripe for me to tune in to a track that gave me exposure to both of those items– the creative side of the Canadian indigenous community and the current hip-hop scene in Canada– all at once! Such a track was none other than “Red Future,” a product of rap duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids and singers Electric Fields. Both acts hail from the Haisla Nation of British Columbia and have channeled their indigenous identities throughout their prolific years of music-making.

“Red Future” represents yet another homage to their First Nations heritage (the equivalent term of “Native Americans” here in the U.S.). While Electric Fields chant the chorus in the native Haisla language– Nynutu ngali, Wanti munula wira nyinama– Darren “Young D” Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce (known collectively as the Snotty Nose Red Kidz) deliver blistering raps that are lined with shout-outs to their native communities. (ex.: “Future ancestors, my people so beautiful, dis movement bin real, front lines to the studio”). A slice of energetic hip-hop always goes down well, and when mixed with some indigenous flavoring, it becomes particularly irresistible. Thanks for bringing me back to Canada in my mind, guys!

:: “One by One” – Grace Corsi ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

One by one, by one, pull the thorns out of my heart. One by one, by one, pull the thorns out… you can’t come back together til you fall apart.” Seattle singer/songwriter Grace Corsi wastes no time in getting down to business on her debut album. “One by One,” the first track off the beautifully aching Downriver, is a cathartic and comforting deep-dive into the self, complete with confessional, poetic, heart-on-sleeve lyrics and warm, gently dramatic melodies.

It’s a breathtaking performance through and through, and one that sets the scene not just for Corsi’s full length record, but for all that’s to come in her career. With as strong a start as this, there’s no telling how high she’ll fly.

“‘One by One’ is about getting your hands bloody to pull out the splinters so you can heal; it’s painful but it’s full of hope, the core belief that things can be better,” Corsi shares. “It’s about planting seeds and nurturing them into something beautiful, even when you can’t yet imagine what they will become.”

“I wrote ‘One by One’ as a message to myself before I believed it. It’s amazing to see the song take on a life of its own in this different phase of my life, on the other side of that struggle, when I am finally holding more compassion and care for my child self. I hope others can find inspiration in this song to embrace the mess and trust in their own capacity to heal and grow. Or… just enjoy the moody bass clarinet and bubbling guitars that devolve into chaos and resemble, whole, for a gentle set-down.”

As the opening track off Downriver, “One by One” lays the foundations for a record on which Corsi pours her soul out with stunning fragility and finesse.

Downriver is a collection of letters to my past and future selves,” she explains. “It’s full of inner conflict while also brimming with self-compassion, curiosity and wonder about the world. While the songs might seem opposing — old and new, contemplative and angsty, sensitive and brash — they represent the big feelings that can hit us all at once. The songs embrace the messy, beautiful complexity of life on this little planet, the multiplicity in us all.”

There’s so much to love about this record, and it all starts with “One by One,” a cinematic song that demands our undivided attention as its author dives boldly into the depths of her lived, real, and raw experience.

:: “PRITTY“- Your Future Ghost ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Often times we are sucked in by our passion for someone. We can be so captivated by a person we are blinded by the lust. Your Future Ghost’s daring dance party banger “PRITTY” explores being fully infatuated and the things we tolerate due to that overwhelming emotion. The upbeat, energizing vocals atop a grungy backdrop make for a thrilling track that is highly infectious. Kate Voegele of the project shares, “PRITTY” is about being a little unhinged but also irresistible. You’re self-aware enough to know you’re kind of a mess, but you also not sorry about it because you’re a God damned blast to have around. It’s kind of about just knowing that the weirdest thing about you is probably also the coolest thing about you, and not being afraid to celebrate that even if it makes some people mad or uncomfortable.”

Your Future Ghost is a synth pop/rock duo made up of musician and actress Kate Voegele and songwriter, producer, composer and actor Michael Grubbs. The two first met on set, acting in the popular CW hit TV series One Tree Hill. Their strong friendship and deep respect for each other’s musical craft results in tightly fused releases. “PRITTY” is another explosive track that you will not get out of your head.

:: “Easy” – Welt ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Welt’s fifth career single is a cry out into the darkness – or is it into a mirror? Released earlier this year, “Easy” is a reckoning with oneself dwelling in that timeless question: Is it me? We’ve all been there – and we’ve all asked it – but seldom do we take time to truly dwell in what it means.

Thankfully, Welt did some of that heavy lifting for us, and in “Easy,” painful thoughts and aching emotions rise to a fever pitch as she dwells apologetically.

“I have a tendency to develop feelings for people when it’s not mutual on their part, and they develop feelings for me when I don’t have them for them,” she explains. “It’s frustrating and painful. I had a conversation with my mom who said, ‘I just want you to find someone where it’s easy.’ And those words stuck with me. Why is love always so complicated? Is it because of the people I meet or because I am never satisfied with it myself? ‘Easy’ is a song written from that place of self-criticism, that maybe it’s just simply never easy with me.”

A stunning alt-pop artist out of Stockholm, Sweden, Welt is as magnificent a songwriter as she is a vocalist; her performance on “Easy” is anything but easy, and yet she glides over the octaves with effortless grace and spirited passion, ensuring we pay special attention to her output from here on out.

With her debut EP set to release later this year, Welt is on track for an exciting 2024 – one that may very well solidify her standing as one of Scandinavia’s most promising pop voices!

:: “Self Sabotage” – SMILEZ ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

Los Angeles based artist SMILEZ has collaborated with producer Digital Nas on his latest single, “Self Sabotage.” Digital Nas, who is known for his work with Kanye West and Playboi Carti, puts a fresh and edgy stamp on SMILEZ’s already unique hip-hop meets punk rock sound, resulting in an intensely fierce track. “Self Sabotage” sees SMILEZ openly admit to some of his unhealthier traits, with the musician sharing, “I found myself reflecting a lot and saw that I had a tendency to self sabotage and wanted to explore that.”

The electrifying track features aggressive instrumentation, mirroring the idea of SMILEZ’s self-sabotaging behavior. Accompanied by energetic drums, and a whirlwind of adrenaline-fueled electronic elements, “Self Sabotage” delivers an overall explosive atmosphere.

:: “Waters”- Wayland ::

Julius Robinson, California

Joshua Tree is one of the world’s most stunning locations. That majestic landscape was what inspired Wayland’s track “Waters.” Through raspy vocals and gravelly guitars, you can feel that desert vibe. Narrating a memorable encounter out in nature, the inspiration for the single arose from a local party they attended there. Lead singer Mitch Arnold reveals, “something changed inside of me that night, watching her pour a drink next to the sunset. ‘Waters’ is about capturing those moments that stay with you forever.”

The radiant duo Wayland are West Michigan natives rising in the Country-Rock scene. The twosome have relentlessly played all across the nation, reserving three hundred days each year to tour. That fierce dedication comes across in their songs, making each release so powerful. It is no wonder their fans have gained the name “Wayland Warriors.”

:: “Naive” – benches ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

The guitars rage and drums roar on benches’ first single in over a year. Released in late February, “Naive” is a heavy-hitting indie rock fever dream: A caustic, cathartic, and all-consuming eruption of inner tension channeled into sweltering, cinematic sound.

“‘Naive’ at its core, is ugly and uncomfortable,” frontman Anson Kelley explains. “It plays between jagged-edged truths and defensive deception. Somewhere between hollow promises and mistakes laid-bare. ‘Naive’ loves to feign sincerity. It lies to itself sometimes, while pacing back and forth, on edge. Drifting forward cautiously in unease. It doesn’t want to expose its many secrets. It doesn’t want to look itself in the mirror, but would rather bury itself far within a hardened exterior.”

“The words are obscured in effects to hide the details. The musical landscape attempts to place you in a world where every wrong turn takes the steering wheel, and doubt waves from every corner, eventually throwing you through the windshield in slow motion down into a sinkhole as life as you know it begins to collapse. This dramatization is necessary to highlight the complexities of a flawed perspective (and make me look even more pretentious but hey whaddya gonna do it’s how I write). ‘Naive’ has that sinking feeling that you may happen upon after unexpectedly unearthing an ugly realization. And it tries to play it cool in the midst of it all.”

“‘Naive’ is a song that was created suddenly and out of the blue,” he continues. “It wasn’t until much later after its recording that we discovered its hidden qualities and intentions. Every instrument lends itself to the beautifully haunting scenery that takes and changes shape as the song undergoes its three-act play. It’s a song we’re very excited to put forward and share as a part of a new era of benches music that, after lots of trial and error, has finally begun to blossom. We hope that regardless of our own intentions with it, that anyone may be able to find their own morsels of meaning and enjoyment out of it. But also if you line up the chorus to that scene in 2005’s Zathura where they first open the front door to reveal they’re in space, it’s really funny and fitting. So at least there’s that.”

Despite all the angst and fervor brought to life in these four fiery minutes, benches still manage to bring out the Southern California sun – shining with a spectacular, undeniable warmth.

:: “I Like Mondays” – Taylor Bickett ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

“I am perfect, if by perfect, you mean totally flawed.” Released on March 1st, Taylor Bickett’s first single of the year reads like the most cathartic diary entry – or a very fascinating dating profile. Full of achingly vulnerable, emotionally charged reflections on life, “I Like Mondays” find the American singer/songwriter actively working on herself while simultaneously endeavoring to capture a snapshot of her world as it is, here and now.

It’s a bittersweet, gentle song about letting go, just a little bit; relenting to the powers that be and allowing yourself to not be in control all the time.

I like New Year’s, I like Mondays
I like firsts of the month
Notebook paper, wet cement
The moment’s never been touched
I like knowing that there’s something
That I haven’t messed up
‘Cause I will, and I do
And I’m supposed to
I am perfect, if by perfect
You mean totally flawed
I am wrestling with the presence
Of an all-knowing God
I drink caffeine even though
I always said I would not
So I’m weak, or a fool
But I’m supposed to be
That’s me

“I wrote ‘I Like Mondays’ about my battle with perfectionism,” Bickett shares. “It’s about the insane pressure that I have found myself putting on each new week, month, or year to be the one in which I no longer make mistakes and do everything perfectly.”

“These feelings came to a head when I realized that New Year’s Day 2024 fell on a Monday. I wrote and posted a snippet of the song on social media just in the hopes of making a few people feel seen. I was shocked to see how much it resonated, which led me to finish and record the song in just a matter of weeks. The song is, at its core, an affirmation that we all deserve grace; that beautiful things can come our way if we just relinquish control, if we loosen our grip, if we surrender to the universe.”

She probably wouldn’t get along with Garfield, but Taylor Bickett is alright in our book. As radiant as it is raw, “I Like Mondays” is charming, churning, and a truly beautiful look at one person’s unfiltered humanity.

— — — —

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