Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: May 24, 2024

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | May 24, 2024
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | May 24, 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 Abby Holliday, Johnny Hunter, The National Parks, Heather Mae, Eliza & the Delusionals, MARIS, Raylee Forest, Wila Frank, WhoMadeWho & Blue Hawaii, and Cardinals!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup




:: “The Price” – Abby Holliday ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

One of the biggest life lessons, for me, has been the slow but steady acceptance that everything and everyone I know is temporary and liminal. Just because people come and go from our lives doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate them for who they were to us when they were with us and we knew them best – whether it’s a friendship, a lost love, or someone’s passing.

Clearly, I’m not the only one ruminating on these things, because Abby Holliday’s latest single takes this same thought and turns it into a spellbinding, soul-stirring song. A catchy, cathartic, and churning inner reckoning, “The Price” is aching, emotionally charged indie pop at its finest, and another undeniable “win” from the Cincinnati-bred, Nashville-based singer/songwriter. Independently released May 17, Holliday’s third song of the year (following “Immortal” and “Sleeping Sculpture”) acknowledges the past’s strain on the present, and all our lingering trauma and scars that never fully heal or dissipate: How we can think we’re unequivocally “over” something or someone, only to be thrown right back into the messy metaphorical trenches just by a chance encounter.

A touch on the shoulder
Wow, you look older
I’ve missed out on your adult life
But the fault wasn’t mine right?
The fault wasn’t mine, right
Pretend I didn’t notice you
Right when you walked in
The ball is in your court
And you chose to say hi
And I don’t mind
Really, I don’t mind

Born out of one such experience with a ghost from her past, “The Price” sees Holliday dealing with those raw, visceral emotions in real time, trying to untangle her present self from the person she used to be, all the while acknowledging just how hard it really is to live and let die, so-to-speak. She hits a fever pitch in the song’s irresistible and spirited chorus, dwelling in pools of bright, bold sonics and vulnerable, exposed depths as she comes to realize “it’s not a crime to love somebody and let it die if it needs to die.”

But all at once, I’m met with my past
It’s like I’m looking at the bottom of a looking glass
All at once, I realize
It’s not a crime to love somebody
And let it die
If it needs to die

“‘The Price’ was written shortly after running into someone from my past,” Holliday explains. “It’s easy to look at past relationships and sort of cringe at how you acted at the time. All of the confusing feelings post-break up can just lump into a negative connotation towards it all. Maybe you have regrets. Maybe you’ve tried to lock that part of your life away so deep in your mind that it never resurfaces.”

“‘The Price’ describes the flood of emotions that come with unexpectedly being face-to-face with the person who once knew you so deeply, but knows nothing about you now. I think it’s a beautiful thing when something ends, and you have so much separation from the situation, that you can eventually appreciate it for what it was, and realize ‘it’s not a crime to love somebody and let it die.'”

Just for a moment
I’m a child of our divorce
I’m both parents and the kid
in the middle of the storm

I still stick up for both sides
But the fault wasn’t mine right?
The fault wasn’t mine, right
All at once, I’m met with my past
It’s like I’m looking at the bottom of a looking glass
All at once, I realize
It’s not a crime to love somebody
And let it die
If it needs to die

At once heavy and light, “The Price” proves a hypnotic, mesmerizing force on both the ears and the heart as Abby Holliday spins together her very own anthem of hard-won acceptance. Whatever we’re dealing with or working through, be it a fresh scab or an old wound, it helps to remember that healing is a long and winding road; some days and weeks will inevitably be better than others, and sometimes we may find ourselves back at square one – but there also comes a time where we wake up, and we aren’t bothered anymore; we go about our days and we don’t think about it, and life goes on like it always does.

And if we’re not there tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that, then that’s okay too: “If loving you was a crime, I’m still paying the price,” Holliday sings in her song’s final moments, in bittersweet recognition of how the most turbulent thoughts, memories, and feelings have a nasty habit of sticking around long past their welcome.

A raw rush of sound brought upon by a raw rush of emotion, “The Price” is a lush, cinematic fever dream: An evergreen reminder we’re never alone in what we’re feeling, and that it’s okay to let the past stay in the past.

I can see the shame in your eyes
After all of the push and pull
I’m still tethered to your line and
I’ve got a husband
You’ve got a wife
And the fault wasn’t mine, right?
The fault wasn’t mine
All at once, I’m met with my past
It’s like I’m looking at the bottom of a looking glass
All at once, I realize
It’s not a crime to love somebody
And let it die
(If it needs to die)
If loving you was a crime
I’m still paying the price



:: “Frustration” – Johnny Hunter ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

If you put the name “Johnny Hunter” into Wikipedia, you’ll learn about a once-prominent Australian rugby player from the ‘40s and ‘50s whose career really took off once he made his way up to England and played for the Huddersfield Giants of West Yorkshire.

Interestingly, if you put “Johnny Hunter” into Google instead, the first results you will come across are those of a rock band with a pretty similar background story: They started off in Sydney, Australia, then made the mere 10,000-mile commute over to England, where they got signed and released their first proper album, Want. Now, they are back with a new single, “Frustration,” where they describe how tough times can wind up producing said emotion: “The strings on my hands are pulling me in every direction,” “It’s so degrading to be living life in fiction,” and “The loneliness, the suffering. My eyes see no, see no end to this” are among the lyrics that speak to that much.

Nick Hutt, the lead singer of Johnny Hunter, describes how he came up with these lyrics in two main locations: while out jogging in the hills and while practising piano at the pub where he used to work. After that, he left it up to players from his band and others to steer the song to completion. “Xander [our guitarist] came to the studio with the bassline and I sang over it,” he explains. “Dakota put his rat magic upon it, Mason guitars and Gerry drums, then we sent it off to Jesse from Death From Above 1979 and MSTRKRFT, who turned up the BPM, invited a gospel keys mastermind to help with the chord phrasing in the bridge and made it into the heater you hear today.”



:: “Wild Spirit” – The National Parks ::

Julius Robinson, California

Infectious indie rockers The National Parks explores the search for inner peace as you navigate a route to finding yourself. Oftentimes we feel as if our lives must be perfectly mapped out, but so much is gained by the hunt for direction. Their new single “Wild Spirit” is all about letting go of expectations and following your heart. Through light wistful strings leading to deep pounding drums there is a strong sense of wonderment. You do not always know where life will take you, but sometimes it is okay to sit back and enjoy the ride.

The Provo, UT quartet is made up of members Brady Parks [vocals, guitar], Sydney Macfarlane [vocals, keys], Cam Brannelly [drums], and Megan Parks [violin]. In the bold sound they create, there is a feeling of being fully alive. Just like the song is titled, their wild spirit bursts within this liberating musical project. The National Parks fiercely fuse rock, folk and pop with lyrics and melody that provide hope to all those that feel lost.



:: “Kissing Girls” – Heather Mae ::

Chloe Robinson, California

One of the most courageous things you can do in life is just be your most authentic self. Some people, though, may feel the need to hide the parts of who they are that could be less accepted. Heather Mae knows what it is like to conceal an important part of herself. With her latest single “Kissing Girls” she pulls back the curtain, boldly declaring the woman she has been all along. The heart-pounding piece is a fierce anthem for anyone who has shied away from expressing all of themselves. In revealing her coming out story, she is freed from the binds that held her back. The striking, irresistible rhythm tells that tale as it radiates strength and hope. This passionate track helps others gain the power to do the same.

Mae was raised with a religious upbringing. That guided her to mask her true identity, in fear of letting down the tight-knit group that surrounded her. The singer shares, “growing up in church and the evangelical movement, the only representation of LGBTQ+ people that I was familiar with were the kids who got kicked out for being queer. Even though my first crush was on a girl, I hid the truth of what that meant to protect myself from losing my entire community. This is why visibility is profoundly important to me.”

The visuals showcase her own love as well as other LGBTQ+ couples. Throughout the video we see a shimmery gold backdrop representing the fact that no one can dim your shine. The effervescent and energetic offering reminds us to be who we are and wear it proud. In this she exudes full confidence and it is contagious.



:: “Falling for You” – Eliza & The Delusionals ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

There’s nothing delusional to me about Eliza & the Delusionals’ latest single.  A strong, undeniable contender for my ‘song of the summer,’ “Falling for You” is a spirited, sun-kissed, and love-soaked fever dream ready to send our hearts soaring on the adventure of a lifetime. Released May 21st via Cooking Vinyl, the Australian indie rock band’s intoxicating second song of the year (following March’s “Make It Feel Like the Garden”) arrives alongside news of their forthcoming sophomore album, also entitled Make It Feel Like The Garden and out July 19th.

In the breakdown,
You’ve been coming at me lately
Don’t play it down
If you’ve got something left to say
You can say it now
And I can’t make it up
It’s something that gets me down
Get me down
Playin’ round
And I might let the feeling get out
Play it right
Wanna know what you’re thinking ‘bout
Sitting quiet just to get you to stay around
Will you stay around
Stay around

An exploration of love’s irresistible, euphoric, and often disorienting tendencies, “Falling for You” is the kind of radiant, unapologetic revelry that gets the heart beating, the blood pumping, the toes tapping, and more: “Eyes so wide, hold them tight, and I can’t keep falling,” the band’s frontwoman (and namesake) Eliza Klatt sings in the refrain, putting her full force behind those charged words. “I’m holding tight, but my heart keeps falling, falling in love…

Eyes so wide
Hold them tight
And I can’t keep falling
I – oh I’m holding tight
But my heart keeps falling
Falling in love
I keep falling for you
I don’t want your loving
I’m not in your love song
But my heart keeps
Falling, falling
In love

“‘Falling For You’ captures the delicate balance between resisting love’s allure to maintain independence and succumbing to the captivating pull of infatuation,” Klatt tells Atwood Magazine. “It emerged during our writing sessions in Napa, California, where we set up a DIY studio in a friend’s basement. This track marked a significant departure from our previous sound, as we embraced a more organic, instinctive approach to songwriting, prioritizing emotion and personal connection over what we thought our music ‘should’ sound like. We wanted to embrace writing music that we love and enjoy, no matter what style or genre.”

“I have a strong attachment to this song and hope that both our existing fans and new listeners will find their own meaning in its lyrics, weaving them into the fabric of their own stories,” she adds. “‘Falling For You’ was a personal favorite from the get-go for me; there’s just something about the driving beat and the soaring melodies that I love. We knew we wanted to experiment with saxophone for this record, and this song felt like the perfect track for that. I think there is so much emotion to it, and it’s such a beautiful part of the song. To me, lyrically it’s about not wanting to fall down the rabbit hole of falling in love, but you just can’t help it.”

Dynamic, dramatic, and beautifully all-consuming, “Falling for You” captures the weightlessness, the warmth, and the raw wonder of love as it hits us in real time. It’s a reminder at how simultaneously magical and confounding feeling it is, to find oneself so fully wrapped up in someone else; to be, literally and metaphorically, knocked off our feet. And in four minutes’ time, it’s safe to say that Eliza & The Delusionals do the same with their audience, knocking the wind right out of us as they deliver an uplifting, infectiously catchy ode to infatuation’s intensity.

Face down
Got me thinking it’s something
I’ll feel bad about
Baby you’re a dream I wanna forget about
I know you’re screaming
But I’m just hearing no sound
No sound, no sound
Love, I don’t feel the same
But your love keeps talking
I don’t wanna feel your pain
But my heart keeps talking



:: “Julia Roberts” – MARIS ::

Julius Robinson, California

We all seek validation from others. Whether it is a partner, parent or friend, we long to feel accepted and seen. MARIS’ upbeat, shimmering track “Julia Roberts” details the pursuit of male approval despite being a queer woman. Lyrics include, “If I was prettier or smarter/ if I worked a little harder/ would he want me/ would he see me/ would he save me from the streets,” In the famous Julia Roberts flick “Pretty Woman” she is rescued from her life of street walking by Edward a character played by Richard Gere. It is then she finally feels seen. MARIS deeply desires to be understood in the same way he understands her.

The Los Angeles-based artist expresses an honest vulnerability that truly resonates with listeners. She narrates her experiences as a queer woman through her distinct style of infectious, punchy pop. “Julia Roberts” is another animated anthem with the same passion and heart. It’s a song sure to be stuck in your head. Not just because of its catchy sound, but also its relatable message.



:: My World – Raylee Forest ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Experimental pop artist Raylee Forest welcomes the listener into a dark and enchanting landscape that is highly compelling. Her cutting five-track body of work My World, delivers a unique sonic experience taking you to another time and place. The elevated offering opens with “Fly,” a soaring piece that will have anyone longing for take off. She is letting go of all that pushes her down and it is utterly powerful. “Fortune Teller” comes to life with wet, glistening synths and vibrant yet moody vocals. It is a bold track that narrates the need for answers within crushing uncertainty. Many of us can relate to the intense yearning to foresee our futures. The eccentric EP ends with the delicate “Dreamwalk.” Forest’s haunting high-pitched vocals evoke a feeling of floating and it is easy to get lost in that feathery intoxication.

The Chinese/American singer crafts a sinister, emotive quality that some have said, “is perfect for the villains in a Disney movie.” Her detailed storytelling sung with a piercing, fiery tone makes for music with a powerful impact. This project puts that enticing drama on display. As we hang on her every word, we are wrapped around her finger begging for more.



:: “Light of the Moon” – Wila Frank ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Tender, gentle, and aching, Wila Frank’s first song of the year is an intimate, cathartic confessional: A song for heartfelt ruminations in the heat of the day and in the middle of the night, when the “Light of the Moon” fills our eyes and hearts with a sense of wonder and connection to something greater than ourselves. Over a warm acoustic guitar pattern and lush, enchanting orchestral flourishes, Frank delivers a poetic reflection on love and belonging, vulnerability and trust. “I know that I’ll always be afraid, but I’m gonna love you anyway,” she sings in the first chorus, further acknowledging, “I know that I’ll always be alone, but you feel like my home.”

Give me something nice to look at
I will look forever
Give me something nice to look at
Nice to look at, nice to look at
Give me somewhere I can dream
I will dream forever
Give me somewhere I can dream
I can dream, I can dream
And I’ll follow the light of the moon
I hope I don’t make it too soon
I know that I’ll always be alone
But you feel like my home
You feel like my home

“I wrote ‘Light of the Moon’ in my bedroom where dreams and fears feel the closest, sometimes so close it’s like they’re caving in,” the Nashville-based singer/songwriter shares. “The things we desire in this life can feel so overwhelming or even contradictory at times, but we have to accept those things that mystify us and keep moving forward.”

“‘Light of the Moon’ is a sort of prayer of mine to follow what’s good and true, even when I’m scared. To love wholly while accepting the knowledge that nothing lasts forever. All the darkness in the world can be balanced by the courage to love.”

Give me something I can hold
I’ll hold it forever
Give me something I can hold
I can hold, I can hold
Give me something I can love
I’ll love it forever
Give me something I can love
I can love, I can love

A reminder to trust in ourselves and love unconditionally, “Light of the Moon” reflects on the beacons around us and the guiding light within. It’s a beautiful, breathtaking acceptance of life’s fragility, and one whose message is sure to resonate long after the music’s over.

And I’ll follow the light of the moon
I hope I don’t make it too soon
I know that I’ll always be afraid
But I’m gonna love you anyway
I know that I’ll always be alone
But you feel like my home
You feel like my home



:: “Kiss Me Hard” – WhoMadeWho & Blue Hawaii ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

With the weather warming up – not to mention the fact that my school just hosted Hawaii Day, with floral necklaces aplenty floating around the building – it seems fitting to be tuning into a band with a name like Blue Hawaii. The duo aren’t from where you might suspect – Montreal, Quebec is where they hail from – but hey, I’ll be headed in that direction in about a month’s time for the Festival International de Jazz, so I might as well get better acquainted with that city’s current music scene, right?

On the real though, “Kiss Me Hard,” the duo’s new collaboration with Danish experimental pop group WhoMadeWho is a lush and pleasant one, which I suppose is to be expected of just about any product that comes out the Caribbean. In this case, WhoMadeWho first conceived the melody while on tour in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. They shared the track with Blue Hawaii, who helped finalize the sound, including by contributing a vocal performance. The resulting EDM track tells the optimistic tale of “two girls in love, starting a new life where they can shine,” according to Raphaelle “Ra” Standell-Preston of Blue Hawaii. “Shining” is definitely something that her group and WhoMadeWho have been able to achieve upon joining forces on this vibrant new track.



:: “Nineteen” – Cardinals ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

The final single off Cardinals’ forthcoming debut EP, “Nineteen” is a fiery, feverish, and rip-roaring eruption of tantalizing “indie sleaze”: In under two minutes’ time, the Irish sextet establish themselves as unapologetic firebrands here to energize, enthrall, and provoke, leaving a beautiful, breathtaking mess in their wake. The vocals are freshly searing, the guitars loud and raucous, the drums heavy and hungry, all of which combine to make one youthful, sweaty storm.

If there’s one thing
I wouldn’t do
It’s take off my skin
For you
If tomorrow you’re still here
Well: doo doo doo
Come on… You’re only 19
Come on… You’re only evergreen
Come on… I’ll show you, you’ll see
Come on… You’re only 19

“‘Nineteen’ came from a desire to write a song that was shorter than two minutes,” Cardinals’ guitarist and lead vocalist Euan Manning tells Atwood Magazine. “I had been listening to lots of Buddy Holly, he’s got some great short songs. It was written very quickly in a practice session and was about four minutes originally so we whittled it down. The lyrics were the first thing that came to mind, usually I’d go home and do re-writes but I liked them, they were simple.”

“[It] came together quickly, it was mostly written in a practice session,” he adds. “Every track on the EP was recorded live, we wanted to capture the immediacy of playing as a band. Mistakes and improvisation were left in, it makes it all a bit more vulnerable and we feel that shouldn’t be shied away from. We hope listeners take what they can and what they want from the single. We wouldn’t ask them to take anything else. That would be selfish.”

Released May 13 via So Young Records, “Nineteen” aches with unrelenting overdrive as Cardinals bask in the heat of the moment. Fuzzy sonics and those raging fires within combine for a dynamic, enthralling experience that, despite its short run time, makes a lasting first impression. While they certainly call to mind indie rock forebears like The Vaccines and The Strokes, the Cork-based band stand out with their own exciting fire and fury – and for those keen to hear more from them, you’re in luck. Cardinals’ self-titled debut EP is out June 7, and will combine “Nineteen” and recent singles “Roseland” and “Unreal” with three previously unreleased tracks for an exhilarating, hopefully definitive introduction to one of Ireland’s most promising new up-and-comers.

If there’s one thing
I wouldn’t do
It’s take off my skin
For you
If tomorrow you’re still here
Well: doo doo doo



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:: Weekly Roundup ::

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