Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: April 26, 2024

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | April 26, 2024
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | April 26, 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 Isaac Dunbar, Fontaines D.C., Joy Oladokun, Amos Lee, Charm of Finches, Ryan Wright, The Cliffords, Pigeon Club, Eden Rain, HAPPY LANDING, Judith Hill, DIIV, Natalie Shay, Brooke Alexx, Iron & Wine, Alycia Lang, Damon Daunno, & Hovvdy!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup

:: Beep Beep Repeat – Isaac Dunbar ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

To his credit, Isaac Dunbar has always been a “fearless freak” – a singular voice beating to the tune of his own drum, following his heart, trusting his gut, singing loud, proud, and unapologetically – yet on his new EP, the singer/songwriter sounds especially free. It’s as if something clicked within as he entered his twenties, and his world went from reds, greens, and blues, to total technicolor.

Such is the dynamic shift that occurs when one moves to the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps. Dunbar channels New York City’s raw, relentless (and irresistible) energy into Beep Beep Repeat, a bold, in-your-face, and utterly intoxicating record of letting loose, dancing all night, dreaming big dreams, and finding your place in the concrete jungle.

If he can make it here, he can make it anywhere – and if these six songs are any indication, then there truly is no limit to what Isaac Dunbar can do or where he can go.

In Apartment A
We found our fame
Takin’ polaroid pictures
Everybody in frame
Now it’s way too packed
On the fire escape
Let’s go, go out and leave the discotheque in flames
I wanna go to Paris, I wanna go to Spain
I wanna lose my wallet
Then kiss whoever stole it
Apartment A, I want love, no ricochet
Outside my door, yeah, Apartment A
– “Apartment A,” Isaac Dunbar

Released April 26 via RCA Records, Beep Beep Repeat is exhilarating, intense, and – like city that inspired it – absolutely all-consuming. Isaac Dunbar’s first release since 2022’s eight-track Banish the Banshee EP sees the alt-pop artist from Massachusetts truly coming into his own while channeling the spirits of pop trailblazers before him: Bits of Bowie, Mercury, Gaga, and Jagger shine through breathtaking, soul-stirring, and head-turning vocal performances full of glitz, glam, and unfiltered, uncompromising passion. From the fiery beats and party atmosphere of “Apartment A” to the intense, immediate, and emotionally charged power-balladry of “American High,” the cathartic, intimate upheaval of “Backseat Girl” and beyond, Beep Beep Repeat is the product of a soul unleashed.

And Isaac Dunbar is most certainly unleashed.

“The bluntness of New York directly translated to my lyricism,” the singer/songwriter tells Atwood Magazine. “I’m not cloaking my emotions in metaphors. The whole project is influenced by how metropolitan life changed my perspective and unlocked my playful side. When you look out the window and see people laughing, you realize life keeps moving. So, I made a little mantra for this project, ‘Life goes on, so let’s dance. Beep Beep Repeat.’

He continues, “I tried to bring back something you can shake your ass to. When you listen to the album, I hope you dance, have fun, and bask in who you are. On one hand, I’m just a freshly 21-year-old who’s ready to go to bars without using a fake ID. On the other, I’m a fearless freak who commands people to dance.”

We’ll be singing and dancing along to this fearless freak for as long as the night allows. When the music’s this good, you can’t help but keep it on repeat: Beep Beep Repeat is an endless (American) high, and one we’ll be basking in all spring and summer long.

Here we are again
A whole lot of glitter to shake off
A mornin’ to wake up
A stranger to kick out of my bed
Here we are again
His voice drownin’ in at the subway
A new face, I hope he calls my name
Kinda hard to find it
If you ever find it, I bet you won’t
As long as you aren’t your parents, baby
Man enough, lettin’ go
I’m man enough to lose control
And dance all night, dance all night
Far past the earth, have you heard?
I’m man enough to be a party girl
And dance all night, the American high
– “American High,” Isaac Dunbar

:: “Starburster” – Fontaines D.C. ::

Emma Rayder, New York

Starburster - Fontaines D.C.

Fontaines D.C. are one of the latest in a long line of remarkable bands — The Cranberries and U2 to name a few — to hail from Ireland. The band’s fifth album, ROMANCE, a product of their collaboration with producer James Ford (well-known for his work with Alex Turner), is set for release on August 23rd, 2024. “Starburster,” the album’s debut single, is emblematic of the departure from post-punk toward nu-metal that lead singer Grian Chatten and the rest of the band have hinted at in interviews.

In the “Starburster” music video, the song’s opening drum beats correspond with Chatten kicking a soccer ball through run down streets. The music suddenly cuts, and the song starts over as windmills and pastoral paintings flash across the screen. When the camera cuts back to a now bloodied Chatten, he’s glued to an inhaler as he sings, “It may feel bad.” The inhaler maintains a presence throughout the video, appearing nearly every time the singer takes a sharp breath between disgruntled lines. He shadow boxes, feeds a pig that lives (for reasons unknown) in his bedroom, and robs convenience stores as he bleeds angst through dark verses:

I wanna take the truth without a lens on it
My God given insanity, it depends on it
How I feel? How I feel? How I feel? I wanna keel

The hymn-like interlude – “Hit me for the day / For the light / That you suffered / To come by / Take to my sky / Never wanting / Only wonder” – recalls the sorrowful melodies that abound in the band’s last album, Skinty Fia. It offers respite from chaos before the final refrain leaves listeners in a state of panic, but wanting more:

I’m gon’ hit your business if it’s momentary blissness

:: Cope Live at The Earl – Manchester Orchestra ::

Oliver Crook, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Let me open by saying I don’t like Manchester Orchestra’s 2014 album Cope. Or rather, I don’t think it stands up to anything else in their catalog. It’s (probably) an unfair comparison, as it would be most other band’s best albums, but when you’ve already released Like A Virgin Losing a Child into the world, and are following up Simple Math, it was a let down. It was a good album in a sea of greatness, so I disregard it. But no matter how good Manchester Orchestra are on record, it’s always been their live show that’s shone. And so, when I heard they were releasing a live recording of Cope, I was excited and curious.

It has redeemed the album.

It’s always been a record that went hard, with few slow moments for reflection. It was fast and heavy from the get go, just letting you have it for 45 minutes. Translation: It was written for playing live. Hearing Andy Hull scream, “And we all believed in ghosts, until you walked into the wall,” adds a whole new layer of brilliance to “Top Notch,” while listening to the crowd scream the whole record back to the band is just special. Listening this morning, head banging in my kitchen,I realized that there was never anything wrong with the album, just the setting. It was never meant for a studio, it was supposed to be blasted into adoring faces – and ears – and finally I have that.

Cope still isn’t my favorite—and probably never will be – but this live rendering gives a whole new appreciation for one of America’s most under-appreciated bands.

:: “Questions, Chaos & Faith” – Joy Oladokun ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

A beautiful, deeply spiritual exhale from the soul, Joy Oladokun’s latest single is at once a heartfelt elegy for a friend and a vulnerable reflection on life itself. The Nashville-based singer/songwriter contemplates what it means to be alive – and where we go when we leave here – in “questions, chaos, & faith,” a soul-stirring song that boils our existence – or at least, Oladokun’s philosophy on our existence – down to three pillars: “Nothing is certain, everything changes, we’re spirit and bone marching to the grave,” Oladokun sings, her voice intimate and unwavering. “There are no answers. There are only questions, chaos, and faith…

We will never have all the answers to life’s big questions – why we’re here, what happens to our souls, the existence of a higher power, and so on – but in these four very special minutes, Oladokun seems to make peace with some of her own inner demons, accept that which she cannot change or know, and pay homage to a dearly departed friend. She sings candidly and freely, her diaristic lyrics painting powerful images as her warm acoustic guitar and lush orchestral strings create breathtaking harmonies all around her:

When my friend Casey died
I didn’t drive home for the funeral
I was prostrate, as they say to higher minds
Went to my dorm and cried
because I still believed in heaven
And I was sure I wouldn’t see her when I die
Nothing is certain
Everything changes
We’re spirit and bone marching to the grave
There are no answers
There are only questions, chaos, and faith

“I wrote ‘Questions, Chaos, & Faith’ one day during a two week period in which I told everyone I work with to leave me alone,” Oladokun tells Atwood Magazine. “The past few years of releasing and touring albums have been amazing, but moving that fast hasn’t allowed me much time for reflection. ‘Questions, Chaos, & Faith’ is a result of time spent playing video games, watching documentaries on YouTube, and realizing that I can’t outrun my grief.”

“This song is special to me, not only because it honors an old friend, but because I challenged myself to write and produce it alone. I wanted to make sure that every word and sound came from my heart. The process was therapeutic. I hope listening to it is as well.”

I bought a zombie game
I only play it in the daylight
I’m evolving, but I’m still a bit afraid
Scared of the end of days
Sometimes I swear I see them coming
But everyone around me’s still running the race
Nothing is certain
Everything changes
We’re spirit and bone marching to the grave
There are no answers
There are only questions, chaos, and faith

“questions, chaos, & faith” is a powerfully cathartic release, and one that brings us closer than ever to Oladokun as she dips her toes, and then dives headfirst into life’s deeper waters. This song itself does not see her directly wrestling with God or religion, but one can imagine the long road she took to get where she is now. This song is in a way the aftermath of some very heavy reflections – a spiritually intense journey Oladokun had to take on her own.

“I don’t know what I believe about the after life,” she posted last week. “I do know that in this life Casey Hayes made a desert town feel like a garden and an outcast feel like they belonged.”

With only questions, chaos, and faith, there is no guarantee that Oladokun will ever see her friend again. This song, then, is a permanent and lasting tribute to that special light in her life – and as much as it helped Oladokun to write it, now that it’s out, it can be just as healing and helpful to those grieving their own loved ones.

Because ultimately, “questions, chaos & faith” reminds us that we don’t have all the answers, and we don’t know what’s going on in this life. We can either accept those truths and try to live our best lives, or… well, I don’t want to consider the alternative.

Thank you, Joy Oladokun, for this tender, touching song.

I have traveled all the world looking for songs and girls and God
Cut my teeth and bruised my chin
Learned to own up when I’m wrong
I have loved and lost and found another way to carry on
It don’t make much sense right now
It might not make sense when I’m gone
Nothing is certain
Everything changes
We’re spirit and bone marching to the grave
There are no answers
There are only questions, chaos, and faith

:: “Hold On Tight” – Amos Lee ::

Christine Buckley, Connecticut

Amos Lee could sing a microwave repair manual and I’d buy it without hesitation. This underappreciated vocal prodigy’s first two albums were so successful that he’s since been less in the limelight in recent years. But we hear the old singer-songwriter hand in hand with a modern new one – namely, one embracing electric and synth bass – in this new track, “Hold On Tight.”

The song has his usual sparse lyricism, simple chords and straightforward arrangement – which always showcases his bright yet buttery vocal timbre. This one’s about family, which perhaps Lee, like many of us approaching middle age, is learning to lean on and appreciate more. The Philadelphia-born artist is unafraid to express serious feeling, and this track’s in line with that fearlessness. The lyrics give us the simple but stirring image of a person at war with themselves, remembering who they can reach out for when they need it most.

You bend your will
Deep inside your soul your soldiers
Looking for a kill
Flag fly away like a dollar bill
Time is just a hobo and it won’t stay still
It never will
All we have is each other
All we have in this dying light
All we have is each other
Hold on tight

Amos Lee’s North American tour kicks off May 7, including a sold-out September show at Red Rocks. “Hold On Tight” is the first single from his forthcoming album, Transmissions, dropping on Lee’s label Hoagiemouth Records August 9.

:: “If You Know Me” – Charm of Finches ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Indie pop sister duo Charm of Finches have been known to craft music with a highly enchanting aura. “If You Know Me” is a stirring, melancholic piece with that same magic. Their warm vocals wash over a delicate backdrop and listeners are captivated straight away by the serene track. As the two softly sing of navigating communication in a partnership it is easy to feel like you can relate.

The Australian pair construct intimate music that is haunting and raw such as “Clean Cut” and “Middle Of Your Mess”. “If You Know Me” is equally as bewitching. The folk-fused single is off of the new album Marlinchen In The Snow and features vocals from Sam Bentley of The Paper Kites.

:: “Quarter Life Crisis” – Ryan Wright ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

Virginia based artist Ryan Wright has formulated a sound that is both edgy and irresistibly catchy. Through a dynamic fusion of genres, her latest single “Quarter Life Crisis” sees the artist bridging the gap between grunge and bubblegum pop. Featuring raw, distorted guitar riffs reminiscent of ’90s grunge with catchy hooks and playful melodies characteristic of bubblegum pop, the track is both nostalgic and intriguingly uncharted. Wright explains how influences from female artists like Mitski, Momma, Veruca Salt, and Blondshell have contributed to the song’s unique blend of rebellious attitude and infectious pop sensibility.

Speaking of the story behind the track, Wright shares, “‘Quarter Life Crisis’ is the very essence of what it feels like to be in your early 20s to mid thirties. Although the age gap is vast, the feelings are mutual because in reality it’s not easy to become an independent adult. The song nurtures the very real feelings of the fear of becoming an adult and falling further and further away from youth. The song has a bit of longing that still clings to the urge to act young and dumb like you did as a teenager, but you’re stuck in your twenties feeling like your life is maturing way faster than you are. Quarter Life Crisis is the anthem for the trials and tribulations of aging.”

“Quarter Life Crisis” showcases painfully relatable lyrics, as Wright’s honesty cuts deep. Singing, “My shrink put me on new antidepressants, she says I’m having a quarter life crisis. I’m starting to hate all my favorite vices, oh god I’m having a quarter life crisis,” we’re reminded of the stark reality of growing older and navigating true adulthood.

:: “Feels Like a Man” – The Cliffords ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

As much as I hate gender stereotypes and the fact that certain gendered phrases carry this and that meaning, I also can’t deny the weight and sheer impact of Iona Lynch’s voice as she belts, “You know that you made me feel like a man.” Shivers run down the spine and my hair stands on end as she hits this heated emotional climax, and the more times I listen to The Cliffords’ latest single, the more I come to understand that it isn’t about so-called “masculinity” or “manliness,” but rather, about finding your fearlessness; coming into your own being with the love, support, and encouragement of those around you.

Oh she had so much power
In the palm of her hand
She led me up Patrick’s hill
Said let’s leave the liars land
All those old time singers
Care for nothing but poetry
She said darling when you make it
Will you sing one for me
And you know that you made me feel like man
Like a man, like a man
Like a man, like a man

Originally released in March and featured on The Cliffords’ brand new debut EP Strawberry Scented (independent, April 12, 2024), “Feels Like a Man” is an emotionally charged three-minute slow-burn: A soft, stirring serenade ultimately erupts in glorious, roaring musical flames as the Irish indie rock quintet led by Iona Lynch pay homage to all the powerful, strong, and inspiring women in Lynch’s life.

“‘Feels Like a Man’ is a love letter to the female relationships I’ve experienced in my life, both platonic and romantic,” the frontwoman tells Atwood Magazine. “The ‘man’ referenced in the song is really more of a metaphor for power or confidence – the power to be who you want without a fear of consequences. The song is set in our hometown of Cork, referencing the iconic Patrick’s hill, as well as Shandon steeple in the lyric “liar’s land,” as it is often referred to as “the four liars.” I wrote the song after meeting and spending a lot of time with a girl who seemed to be fearless and unapologetically herself. Spending time with her allowed me to feel the same. The song also touches on themes of self-doubt and seasonal depression.”

“‘Feels Like a Man’ is one of our favourite songs that we’ve written to date,” she adds. “It’s very emotionally driven and the music reflects that. We’ve found that people at our shows love singing along to it, which is really special for a ballad in the middle of a rock show.”

That energy and emotion Lynch and her bandmates (Daniel Ryan, Harry Menton, Locon O’Toole, and Gavin Dawkins) bring to this song is utterly irresistible: They build and build to a spectacular fever pitch, ultimately letting their cathartic release wash over and through us – and as we sit in the afterglow of that visceral eruption, we feel a newfound sense of freedom; as if somehow, in singing about her own liberation and empowerment, Lynch and The Cliffords have facilitated our own deeper release.

So she’ll hibernate in winter
I’ll smile again in June
I’ll give up smoking cigarettes
Start praying to the moon, oh
Pulling dusty tarot cards
Begging her to change
Out of everyone in the world
I beg you stay the same
You know that you made me feel like a man
Like a man, like a man
Like a man

:: “Ancient History” – Pigeon Club ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

I like Fiona Apple, but I know she’s known to take crazy long intervals between each of her albums. Since nary a word has come from her since 2020’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters, it seems like that trend remains the norm. For those of us who may be itching to hear more of Apple’s sound, maybe the best course of action to take in the meantime is to check out the work that some of her go-to producers have been up to with other clients lately.

One track that that fits that billing to a T is “Ancient History,” in which beatmakers John Would and Amy Wood– both of whom have turned in work to Apple previously, including on Fetch the Bolt Cutters– produce an appealing blend of guitars, drums, and other instruments and serve it up to Wayne Whittaker, a Los Angeles-based musician who performs under the moniker of Pigeon Club.

The song is said to “[examine] life, loss, and the ever-quickening pace of time”– basically, it’s about appreciating the precious people in your life while they’re still around, and dishes out advice to that effect such as “Stop and say hello to our nearly dear departed” and “Have some fun before it’s all done and we’re all ancient history.” The two real-life inspirations for this tale were Whittaker’s grandmother (“she was in her early 90s when I moved to LA and I knew that realistically I only had a handful of opportunities to see her again,” he says) as well as his high school friend, Pat, who sadly passed away last year (“He taught me so much about life and friendship and music – all within the small window of time that high school offers”).

This meaningful subject matter ultimately serves as the basis for a moving track, and it’ll be nice to see Pigeon Club take that candid songwriting further– with a little help from John & Amy, along with whatever other producer talents he can secure– on his upcoming sophomore album, Another Year in the Minors.

:: “Great Nothing” – Eden Rain ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

I never liked Taylor Swift trying (successfully) to co-opt the phrase “this is why we can’t have nice things” – now when you try to type it into Google, her song and its lyrics very strategically appear first – and yet, I genuinely don’t mind when Eden Rain does arguably the same thing to a much older saying: If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

Of course, Rain does it far more tactfully. The Yorkshire native’s second song of the year does, in fact, dwell in the wreckage of once-blossoming relationships hoisted by their own petard, brought to an end thanks to (unnecessary) intrusions that complicated a once-simple thing to the point of extinction. Independently released April 25, “Great Nothing” is a candid, heartfelt, and intimate exhale of sorrow and frustration; of entanglements that should never have been, and whose finer details are overshadowed by a familiar, yet nonetheless gut-wrenching pattern. Rain’s voice is hypnotic and hot on the microphone as she half-sings, half-raps a tragedy as old as time:

Looking half a stranger
In the puddles on the pavement
Run the tightrope, flirt with strangers
No man’s land is where I’m safer
I’ve been in this game for ages
Never noticed you were playing
Making rules up as you go
Why couldn’t you just keep it hidden?
If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it
When you wanted more, I didn’t
Now we won’t ever find
our way back to where we were

The great nothing, great nothing

For Rain, this song really is a non-lovers’ lament.

“I wrote ‘Great Nothing’ about the rise and fall of a frienduationship – which is a word I’ve (maybe?) made up to describe the experience of a friend confess feelings for you and everything gets all weird and messy and tangly,” she tells Atwood Magazine. “I feel like when Conway and I wrote this song it was like putting all my frustrations of every friendship that went off-piste or person I had liked that hadn’t liked me back, or had but at the wrong time, into a meat grinder and out came ‘Great Nothing.’”

“It’s like the opposite of a great love, it’s the mourning of the potential of a relationship and the confusion and the angst to put everything back where it was… and all the sinking feelings that come with it.”

Kicking stones at car doors
Walking home and feeling nauseous
But I didn’t see it coming.
Couldn’t you down from jumping?
Both feet first, I never wanted
All we had to turn so toxic
Twisting words from every promise
Ruined us by being honest
If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it
When you wanted more, I didn’t
Now we won’t ever find
our way back to where we were
The great nothing, great nothing

I remember having crushes on friends in middle and high school; those teenage years were fraught with unwanted, yet undeniable feelings – and I can confidently, sadly say that, in nearly every instance when I confided my feelings, nothing good came out of it; the friendship either fizzled, or got brutally awkward for a long stretch, and in all instances, things were never quite the same. Each one became another “great nothing” in a long list of “great nothings”; we moved on with our lives, and a once special, cherished relationship faded into obscurity. The old adage really fits perfectly to these frienduationships; if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Why did I have to open my big mouth? Why couldn’t I be happy with what we already had – what we already shared? Rain’s words are the exasperated cry of a heart that’s lost too many to this painful pattern. “Great Nothing” is her great melancholic upheaval – an impassioned plea to break the chain and let things take their natural course.

To all the great somethings that could have been but never were, here is your beautiful ballad: Following March’s confessional “Closer,” the heartrending “Great Nothing” once again sees Eden Rain singing her heart out, unapologetic (ok, a little apologetic) and in her element while holding absolutely nothing back. It’s aching through and through, yet we can’t help but sing along.

I’ll always miss the way it was
Why couldn’t you just keep it hidden?
If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it
When you wanted more, I didn’t
Now we won’t ever find
our way back to where we were
The great nothing, great nothing
The great nothing, great nothing

:: Hovvdy – Hovvdy ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York


:: “Let Me Out” – HAPPY LANDING ::

Julius Robinson, California

A majority of us know the 1983 Naked Eyes hit, “Always Something There To Remind Me.” Well, indie rock / folk group HAPPY LANDING’s song “Let Me Out” conveys a similar sentiment. The poignant track details a narrative of being unable to shake the memories of a past relationship. Mesmerizing vocals float over intricate guitar riffs to create a deeply addictive track.

They reveal, “The interstate is just one big circle around Nashville, so I thought it would be cool to create a scene where basically you’re stuck in this loop, going around and around and around, and all you want to do is escape this place because all the things you used to love about it are all blurring together into memories of this one person/relationship.”

The band consists of Matty Hendley (lead vocals, guitar), Keegan Christensen (vocals, keys), Jacob Christensen (drums), Andrew Gardner (fiddle, vocals), and WIlson Moyer (bass/guitar, vocals). Together they boldly make way for a new wave of folk music sticking true to their roots. They have toured with greats such as The Head and The Heart and Judah & the Lion. HAPPY LANDING are definitely one to keep your eye on.

:: “Black Widow” – Judith Hill ::

Christine Buckley, Connecticut

Black Widow killed MJ and Prince.” It doesn’t get more direct than these lyrics from Judith Hill’s epic song “Black Widow,” the title an insult that’s been flung viciously at the soul singer by internet trolls and conspiracy theorists since her close mentors – first Michael Jackson, then Prince – passed away.

Now Hill has turned that hate and its ensuing trauma into fodder for her long-awaited album, Letters From A Black Widow. There’s nothing subtle about this R&B-hip-hop mashup: Hill’s smooth, always incredible soul croon draws us directly into her intense grief before she arrests us with visuals:

I walk on stringy legs with a scarlet letter on my back
It makes me shudder, it’s so grotesque
I broke the mirrors because I can’t trust them no more
But maybe the image is only in my head
Unzip my skin and I’m as soft as baby human
Crack the exoskeleton and you’ll find I’m flesh and bone
I built these four walls to protect me from the world
Or maybe it’s the other way around

Let’s hope her haters are duly smacked down. Her new album Letters From a Black Widow is out today via Regime Music Group.

:: “Frog in Boiling Water” – DIIV ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

I’ve always enjoyed DIIV’s music from the sidelines, but their fourth album Frog in Boiling Water is bringing me out of my shell and into the game – starting with its fuzzy, fervent title track. A “snapshot from a world collapsing under its own weight,” “Frog in Boiling Water” is a sludgy alternative rock song built on inner and outer tension. Released April 23rd via Fantasy Records, it’s our present-day reality made to seem like a dystopian nightmare, because America in 2024 is a dystopian nightmare. “Burn the books, don’t you see? History begins right now with you and me…

All collapse in the sun
The hammer and the dance
Forever having fun
“burn the books, don’t you see?
history begins
Right now with you and me”
Wasted all the commons
a looted golden calf
Ivory towers and ivory crosses
my livelihood is rotting in your hand, man

We should all feel a little uneasy when listening to this song, because we are all frogs on our way to the boiling pot of water.

“A cascade of atrocities wash over a population seemingly too stunned and powerless to act,” DIIV say of their new single. “Wealth is extracted and people suffer…”

The future came
and everything’s known
There’s nothing left to say
Show’s over, take me home
Far away, distant lands
See the world
You can see the world
With a big gun in your hand
Wasted all the commons
a looted golden calf
Ivory towers and ivory crosses
My livelihood is rotting in your hand, man

The fourth single off DIIV’s fast-approaching fourth album (out May 24), “Frog in Boiling Water” is a heavy, sweaty, reverb- and overdrive-fueled mirror held up to society. It’s not a warning of what’s to come; it’s a wake-up call.

So wake up, before it’s too late.

:: “All The Time” – Natalie Shay ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

British singer/songwriter Natalie Shay dazzles again with her latest single, “All The Time.” With her unwavering talents never failing to shine bright, the light-hearted and candid track narrates the inner-thoughts of a fan girl. As she dreams about her crush, she fantasizes about meeting this teenage icon and all the things she would say and do.

Shay admits, “It was the person that I believe my entire ‘type’ was formed around during adolescence. All The Time is a song following the frustration of knowing you’d work so well together after so many years, if only they could ‘see you,’ and how nobody else has ever compared to them. They are ‘the one.’ No questions asked.”

“All The Time” emits a rapid, dynamic energy, accompanied by luminous guitars and celestial vocals. Providing another addictive song to add to our playlists, Natalie Shay will always be an artist at the forefront of our radar, as she continues to captivate audiences.

:: Light Verse – Iron & Wine ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

“Let’s play right into the hands of a wonderful life,” Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam sings at one point on his seventh studio album. It’s a sweet, seductive moment of unbridled celebration and revelry; the folk singer/songwriter sounds freer than he’s ever sounded before on Light Verse, shining his own inner light out on all who care to take some time and listen to what he has to say.

And this time around, it feels like Beam is basking in the beauty of life itself. Released April 26 via Sub Pop, Light Verse is an undeniable, uplifting bright spot in Iron & Wine’s ever-expanding oeuvre. Its gentle tracks are as colorful as they are multifaceted, with repeat listens almost always guaranteeing some new aural discovery. Self-produced by Beam and featuring a host of talented friends from in and around Los Angeles, Light Verse is homegrown, unassuming, and equally bold.

“Fashioned as an album that should be taken as a whole, it sounds lovingly handmade and self-assured as a secret handshake,” Bean poetically shared upon the album’s release. “Track by track, it’s equal parts elegy, kaleidoscope, truth, and dare.”

Personal highlights thus far include the album opener (and lead single) “You Never Know,” the dreamy, expansive, and smile-inducing “Anyone’s Game,” the softly smoldering “Taken by Surprise,” and the glistening, spirited “Sweet Talk” – but even these are early opinions, subject to change with the wind. What Beam has achieved on this record is remarkable; whether through individual songs or more than likely as a whole, Light Verse is sure to be a companion to many of my life moments ahead as I bathe myself in Iron & Wine’s warm, dulcet glow.

:: “Hot Like You” – Brooke Alexx ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

It’s gonna be May (thanks for the inadvertent reminder, JT!) real soon, and since that happens to be AAPI Heritage Month, it’s worth lending an ear to some emerging artists from that region around this time of year. Enter Brooke Alexx, a young singer from New Jersey of Japanese heritage who writes pop songs infused with high-octane rock energy– it turns out she’s got skills on the guitar as well as in the vocal department. In addition to accompanying NYC pop/rock band the Nicotine Dolls on tour (and another one with Florida group Arrows in Action coming up this summer), Brooke has been busy delivering new singles throughout the past few months, the latest out the gate being “Hot Like You.”

“You’re hot in the turn-heads-all-day, make-jaws-drop way,”she sings, in honor of none other than… her sisters! Yes, she’s had various boy troubles here and there, as documented on tracks such as “Girlfriend” and “All My Exes’ Moms.” This time around, though, she’s instead singing the praises of her hermanas, “who turn heads when they walk into any room!” And, just so we’re clear, being “hot like you” can be achieved in many forms– appearance, personality, and so on. “Being hot is a mindset, so go out and do whatever makes you feel hot!” Alexx urges. Sound advice fosho.

:: “Time Machine” – Damon Daunno ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Do you ever get a burst of nostalgia for the past? We have all had that feeling at times. Whether it is driving by a previous home or catching up with an old friend, we reminisce on the past. Indie pop artist Damon Daunno’s debut single “Time Machine” is all about holding on to memories of what once was, while crafting an idealized image of the future. His smooth vocals atop mellow Hawaiian style sonics evoke a dreamlike atmosphere that is paradise encapsulated. Instantly we are whisked away.

Daunno may be new in the indie scene, but is a true Broadway veteran. He’s garnered numerous awards and nominations, including Tonys, Grammys, Drama Desks and Lortels. He’s also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with big talents like Chris Thiele, Cecile Mclorin and Emily King. Now he courageously steps out to share his own music with the world.

:: “My Kind” – Alycia Lang ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

I’ve had Alycia Lang’s February single “Bad Luck Bad Habit” on repeat for months now, so naturally I jumped at the first opportunity to hear her next release – and it did not disappoint. “My Kind” is feverish and visceral, impassioned and raw, unrelenting and all-consuming and utterly unapologetic. Overdriven guitars churn and emphatic drums around the singer/songwriter’s impassioned voice as she reckons with a messy, turbulent, stress-inducing relationship – the kind that drives you mad, and yet you can’t untangle yourself, either because you’re too deep in it, or you simply don’t want to.

You, you make me mad as hell, you made me lose myself,” the artist emphatically asserts, her voice soaring and searing as she spills her guts in song. “You made me start all over and abuse my power, watch it burn…

“My Kind” is a song of raw unabating heat, and the fire rages within Durham, North Carolina’s Alycia Lang.

I stayed awake til the morning waiting for you but I don’t mind
I make the same mistakes as anybody who ignores the warning signs
You made me mad as hell
You made me lose myself
You made me start all over
And abuse my power
Watch it burn
Teach you the things I’ve learned
Like I’m last one of my kind

Released April 23, 2024 via Mtn Laurel Recording Co., “My Kind” is the second single taken off Lang’s forthcoming debut album, Speak the Word to Hear the Sound (out on June 14).

“‘My Kind’ is the first song I wrote on the record, before I even knew I was writing one,” Lang tells Atwood Magazine. “It embraces a radical honesty that in some ways allowed for the rest of the songs to come forth. This one in particular is about leaning into justified anger while also having the composure to keep it together in the name of the greater good. In the studio we joked that the song is about feminine rage (which is so often suppressed or repressed in the name of composure), but I think it’s really an expression of a relatively universal desire to make a mess sometimes and get away with it, instead of having to be the one to hold things together.”

“My friend Jenn Wasner originally heard ‘My Kind’ when I was making a demo of the song for fun with our mutual friend Madeline Kenney. Jenn came in after hearing the song through the wall and played bass on that early iteration, so it was cool to bring it full circle a year later by co-producing it with her. We recorded over a couple of magical days at Montrose Recording, just the two of us (with drive-bys from our friends Alan and Pinson on guitar and drums), and Adrian Olsen engineering; making music by day and conversation over home-made meals by night.”

“This whole record was written in almost complete isolation (strangely, pre-covid) during a period where songwriting was my only focus, and frankly, a life-raft after a tidal wave of change. I wrote the songs with no regard for genre or where they might fit into the larger sonic landscape, just a desire for them to exist and express complex emotions in a way that felt right. So when they did finally leave the room they were written in, it was amazing to have this collection of songs welcomed, validated, and supported by so many of my favorite musicians — and to see them transform into fully dressed versions of themselves via the talents of those people. Even so, these songs feel like they belong first and foremost to themselves, and to the heart of the matter contained in each of them.”

You are the same as anybody waiting somewhere for a rallying cry
I faked my way into this party
Now I’m leaving and I don’t know why
Going south on the interstate
You cut me off to try
to tell me how to throw my weight
I’ll disappoint you but in any case
There must be something
in this mess that we make
You you make me mad as hell
I wanna lose myself
I wanna start all over
And abuse my power
Watch it burn
Teach you the things I learn
Like I’m the last one of my kind
Oh you make me mad as hell
I wanna lose myself
I wanna start all over
And abuse my power
Watch you burn
Forget the things I learn
Like I’m the last one of my kind

It’s all too easy to fall in love with “My Kind”: Alycia Lang holds absolutely nothing back in this spectacular show of force, laying her all on the line and coming into her own with inspiring passion and verve. Even the track’s softer, more vulnerable ending is irresistible, as Lang adds a gentle coda to the story – as if to confirm that everything did, in fact, come to an eventual, painful ending.

You’re spinning words around me
And they come on easy
The say nothing at all
I found you out as you were leaving
Screaming shouting
Oh wow how we all must fall

— — — —

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