Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: May 31, 2024

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | May 31, 2024
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | May 31, 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 London Grammar, Tasha, AWOLNATION & Emily Armstrong, Birdtalker, Olive Louise, Reik, GSoul, Matte Blvck, Been Stellar, Lily Lane, WAASH, & SCHØØL!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup




:: “Kind of Man” – London Grammar ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

As I inch closer to my first trip to London in 18 years, coming up on July 20th, I am conditioning myself for my long-delayed return to town by getting better acquainted with the London music scene. That included going to the freakin’ ROLLING STONES show last night, of course… but since that’s a topic for another post, let me instead save this space to sing the praises of London Grammar, a trio who met while studying at the University of Nottingham about 15 years ago and have spent most of that period based in the city in their name. “London is also so international and multicultural that it actually felt like quite a universal name in a way,” lead singer Hannah Reid explains.

This indie pop group– which also features guitarist Dan Rothman and keyboardist Dominic “Dot” Major– will be putting out their fourth album, The Greatest Love, this September. To promote this album, they have released the advance single, “Kind of Man.” It explores a similar topic as that which the group has addressed in some of their recent releases, namely the nefarious men that they (especially Hannah) have had to deal with during their time in the pro music industry.

“You’re a diamond in a rough… the kind of man to take me not seriously,” Reid sings of said people. But then, just to fight back: “I saw you fading, becoming jadеd. You can’t believe it, lifе’s a challenge.” Revenge is a dish best served in song, it seems– particularly when that song is equipped with beautiful vocals, strong instrumental work, and some catchy na-na-na’s stitched to the end for good measure. For now, let’s enjoy our summer and hope that The Greatest Love maintains that same high standard once it comes out in the fall.



:: “Michigan” – Tasha ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

A glistening Midwestern wall of sound hits the ears as Tasha’s first single of the year – her first single in three years, in fact – gets underway. Released May 15 via Bayonet Records, “Michigan” is a cathartic eruption of sound and feeling, as well as a dynamic reintroduction to the Chicago-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist – who, in addition to her career as a recording artist, currently stars in Sufjan Stevens’ Tony-nominated Broadway musical, Illinoise.

“Michigan” is, in no uncertain terms, an exhilarating, enchanting rush: Produced by Gregory Uhlmann, the track smacks listeners in the face with a cinematic smorgasbord of drums, synth, guitars, and who knows what else; Tasha’s voice is a dreamy, lilting cherry on top of the haze, turning that sweet sonic fury a spellbinding fever dream. She sings of longing and yearning, of slowing down and being present and in the moment with herself, with her thoughts, and with others. “Won’t you sit with me for the afternoon, before the echoes of my heart resume?” she beckons, opening her world up to all those willing to join her; to listen close to her intimate reverie.

Won’t you sit with me for the afternoon
Before the echoes of my heart resume
We’ll smoke a cigarette, watch the day go by
Don’t you feel pretty in this fading light?
Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah

“In October of 2022 I took myself on a writing trip to a friend’s house in Michigan,” Tasha tells Atwood Magazine. “The little dog I shared with my girlfriend at the time had just died, and the trip was both lonely and extremely creatively fulfilling. I wrote this song near the end of that trip, sitting on the deck, facing the trees and the sky, communing with the birds and other small wildlife.”

“This song is about the missing and the return; the reliable comfort of a sunset on a nice day, a friend to sit with, and the shining hope of more comfort to come. Don’t you feel pretty in this fading light?

There’s no denying the ache Tasha feels at the core of “Michigan.” We feel it in her voice; in the wall of sound around her; and in all those spaces in-between, where little breathes and fleeting silences say as much as words themselves. This is her soul’s release; a reckoning within, channeled outward through cinematic music, larger-than-life music. Perhaps in trying to make a song that felt at once big and small, Tasha sought to enshrine the memory of the pup she lost; a life that filled her own with so much love and light.

Drive to Michigan, spend some time alone
Make good friends with the horses down the road
Oh I wish our dog was here with me
But I know he’s barking loudly somewhere warm and free
I can’t help but want him in our arms
But the ones we lose always return
(in the end)
Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah

 



:: “Jump Sit Stand March” – AWOLNATION ft. Emily Armstrong ::

Christine Buckley, Connecticut

I’m a broken record about AWOLNATION, but Aaron Bruno is among the cruelly underrated musical geniuses of our time, in this critic’s humble-ass opinion anyway. His California influence and love of alt-surf-rock gives him some outrageous songwriting chops–his melodies make me just sigh in reverence every time–and on the other hand, his unparalleled scream is so, so satisfying, especially because he, like any good superhero, knows how to this surreal power sparingly.

On this track Bruno is joined by fellow expert screamer Erin Armstrong of Dead Sara, and it’s one fab collab. Her lyrics are some of the most potent in this rhythmic, piano-backed banger that echoes the beat and piano backing of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” – “Don’t kill the messenger, I speak what I see.”  The introduction, though, primes us for a mental gobsmack:

Mob mentality is overrated
Individuals are melting on the pavement 
Aaaaaah, I need a new party to express how I see things
But today no one’s sure
so we’ll see what tonight brings. 

It’s got a catchy, flowy, melodic chorus, a percussive chant, and synthy, robot-y chaos under those freaking great screams. Just ear candy all around, not to mention spot-on social commentary: I, too, Aaron, would like a new party to break the rigid mold into which our political system forces us. “Jump Sit Stand March” comes to us with the long-awaited reveal of his upcoming album’s tracklist and release date. The Phantom Five arrives on Aug. 30.



:: “Life’s a Trip” – Birdtalker ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Plenty of people will surely come after me for this, but not since I first heard Billy Joel have I been so absolutely moved – to tears, I might add – by a piano ballad. Life really is a trip, and on their latest single of the year, Nashville’s Birdtalker capture the beauty, the wonder, the heartache, and the absolute absurdity of this wild, crazy ride. Released May 16 via Tone Tree Music, “Life’s a Trip” sees Zack Green gently, dramatically, and definitively pouring his heavy heart out in song. He tugs at the heartstrings, all in an attempt to make sense of this thing called “life” (electric word, life, someone once said). It’s a journey we’re all on together, separately, and yet Green’s words – and his breathtaking performance – are a great unifier:

Do you need a light to come on
Has empty night been on your breath
without a song, f
or a while
Are your stage clothes getting worn
Been playing roles that you are not for far too long
And you’re at the end of the show
Of the stories you’ve bought and you’ve sold
Do you need a breeze to linger
A simple word or touch that lets
you know you’re here,
and alive
Lost in the haze that you made
In dizzy dreams where truth
and lies all look the same

But it feels so real

“It’s always hard to quantify emotions and content like this, but I wrote ‘Life’s a Trip’ as a love song to a friend who was in the throes of depression,” Green tells Atwood Magazine. “It’s an offering of empathy and an acknowledgment of the absurdity and beauty of being alive. It came from a desire to validate how difficult it is just to exist in the world, let alone come in to alignment with yourself and environment. It felt necessary as a way for me to process my experience holding space/being present for him during a really confronting and devastating season of isolation and self reflection.”

Birdtalker reach an emotional climax in the song’s devastating chorus:

We’re falling and flying
While we’re living and dying
We’re losing and finding
While we’re laughing and crying
And we don’t know how we got here
Life’s a trip

The words are simple, yet seductive and profound. How do you capture what it means to be alive? By looking at it from both ends; the good and the bad, the euphoria and the depression, the big and the small – because that’s what this journey is: A collection of everything we are and everything we’ve ever been. Life is long, hard, and the world we find ourselves living in is unapologetic – you have to work hard to survive – but there’s an endless array of beauty to be found, if you know how and where to look.

Have you been afraid to go out
And show the world the parts
that you could do without

What if your cracks are glowing
And through them shine a world
that you would not believe

Until you take a look
We’re falling and flying
While we’re living and dying
We’re losing and finding
While we’re laughing and crying
And we don’t know how we got here
Life’s a trip

“Life’s a Trip” is a soul-stirring, achingly emotional guiding light; a beacon, reminding all of us how great it is to be alive, to be here, now, soaking in the fullness of existence.

Birdtalker were already high up on my list of up-and-coming indie folk bands; back in 2021, I gushed about their self-titled sophomore album, calling it a “radiant and refreshing folk rock outpouring brimming with heart, passion, and purpose” and a record that is “as beautiful as it is irresistibly evocative.”

With this song, it’s safe to say they’ve made it to the top of my list.

I know you’ve been calling out
and no one seems to answer
But it isn’t the end, my friend
It’s sound and it’s silence
It’s the rain on the violets
It’s narrow and winding
It’s black and blinding
We’re falling and flying
While we’re living and dying
Losing and finding
While we’re laughing and crying
and we don’t know how long
got we’ve got here

Life’s a trip



:: “No Medicine”- Olive Louise ::

Chloe Robinson, California

ASometimes it is hard to know our purpose and when life feels impossible it is difficult to understand how things just move on. This existential theme is the center of Olive Louise’s poignant yet gorgeous new chamber pop single “No Medicine.” The lush, cinematic and timeless piece enthralls with Olive Louise’s velvety vocals singing infectious hooks. The lyrics, sad and introspective, evoke a sense of longing and a bewildering confusion at the perils of life, perfectly complementing the wistful musical arrangement.

“No Medicine” is shared with creative visuals directed by Olive Louise and Safonkina. The music video was filmed in Upstate New York, predominantly in Albergo Allegria, a Victorian bed and breakfast nestled in the Catskills by Windham Mountains. The visuals showcase Olive in a variety of unique scenes where she ignores the insanity going all around her, including her luggage catching on fire and her dining room being completely upheaved. These scenes are metaphors for people who wear blinders in life, ignoring what is wrong with society. In the end though, this denial and avoidance catches up with them just as it does for Olive Louise in the video.

Olive Louise is a transformative creator who has the unique ability to craft timeless tunes that resonate deeply with listeners. Her music often blurs genres with elements of folk, pop, and even classical intertwined. With a powerful voice and a deep sense of relatability Olive Louise is one to watch.



:: “No Molestar” – Reik ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

In English, the Spanish phrase “no molestar” translates to “do not bother,” but consider me enthusiastically bothered. The final single off the Mexican pop band Reik’s recently-released seventh studio album is a smile-inducing wave of sun-soaked warmth and wonder: A dreamy reverie ready to wraps its arms around us and send us flying toward the sky. Released May 10 via Sony Music México, the thirteen-track Panorama stays true to its name as a colorful, kaleidoscopic listening experience complete with seductive singalongs, soaring anthems, and tender ballads that gently tug at the heartstrings. The album’s second track, “No Molestar” is a song celebrating the intimate moments spent together, alone, with the one we love. With sweet n’ sultry dance beats and lush melodies recalling everyone from Earth, Wind & Fire to Harry Styles, Reik ensure plenty of swoons as they pour their love out in song

Verte despertar con la vista al mar
Que en la puerta diga “No molestar”
Escucharte decir en voz alta
Que uh, uh-uh-uh
Luego de pedir de desayunar
Poner en repeat ese mismo plan
Un domingo contigo, me encanta
(translation)
See you wake up with the view of the sea
Say “do not disturb” on the door
Hear you say out loud, what?
After ordering breakfast
Put that same plan on repeat
A Sunday with you, I love it

“‘No Molestar’ just happened while we were looking for a different sound in the album,” Julio Ramírez Eguía – who performs in Reik together with Jesús Alberto Navarro Rosas and Gilberto Marín Espinoza – tells Atwood Magazine. “We came up with the chords for what is now the chorus and immediately started vibing, dancing and singing some melodies. We felt a great old school / Bruno Mars vibe, and we focused on writing lyrics that made you feel good.”

“The lyrics talk about wanting to be in a hotel ordering room service and enjoying time with a special person, literally hanging the “do not disturb” sign on the door. It really was a magical moment in the studio. We literally have videos of all of us in the studio dancing non stop to this track. We also like the ending of the song, which gives a ‘Michelle’ by The Beatles vibe, because we love The Beatles and really felt like adding a special part which would resemble our musical influences.”

All told, “No Molestar” is sublime, summery perfection. Whether you’re basking in the sun or underneath the covers, take a minute with Reik to appreciate the sheer beauty of intimate connection.



:: “Window Pane (Pretty Lil Thing)” – GSoul ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

At my first-ever “MFA Late Nite” in Boston earlier this month, I got to catch the museum’s ongoing exhibit Hallyu! The Korean Wave. It was a fascinating haven for All Things Korea– Psy’s pink-and-black coat from the “Gangnam Style” video, a reconstructed set from Parasite, some hot new outfits from the latest Korean fashion shows, you name it! On the heels of that experience, it definitely made sense for me to seek out some fresh K-Pop tracks, and I’m very happy with one that I encountered: “Window Pane (Pretty Lil Thing)” by GSoul.

The 35-year-old singer from South Korea has been around the industry for about 10 years, having released his debut EP, Coming Home, back in 2015. Heaps of additional tracks have followed, but this one makes a bold experimental stride into R&B territory, resulting in a much more mellow atmosphere than that which party-ready K-Pop usually lends itself to. “Come see the world from my window pane, Come see the world from my view for a change,” he implores his love interest, who goes by the Michael Jackson-evoking nickname of “Pretty Lil Thing.” He promises her that she can “Best believe we going viral.” With the vocal talent on display here, “Window Pane (Pretty Lil Thing)” may well allow him to fulfill said promise.



:: “I Do” – Lily Lane  ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

Taking a leap from her dark pop princess era and delving into the world of romantic pop soul, East Coast artist Lily Lane unveils her brand new single “I Do.” Not only does the track mark the beginning of a new direction for Lane, but it also marks a huge milestone in the songwriter’s life, as she documents her own love story and her emotions leading up to her wedding. The beautifully vulnerable song touches on the whirlwind of emotions you experience during this exciting and sometimes overwhelming time of your life, with Lane revealing her concerns of having to speak in front of people. She shares, “I was anxious about the idea of speaking in front of people at the wedding, I’m much better at singing and performing than I am at public speaking.” So instead, she decided to do what she does best and put everything she wanted to say to her new fiancé in a heart-wrenching song.

Sonically, “I Do” echoes with a raw edge, allowing every inch of her emotion to shine through. Lane’s powerful vocals soar over simple instrumentation, accompanied by layered harmonies that add a celestial flair. “I Do” is the perfect song for all the lovers who need a helping hand when it comes to expressing their emotions.



:: “Pumpkin” – Been Stellar ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

An upcoming interview with Been Stellar confirms that this song is named thusly because of its similarity to some of our favorite Smashing Pumpkins tunes; but tribute or not, “Pumpkin” is a phenomenal, achingly emotive look at the New York City indie rock band’s softer side. The latest single off their upcoming debut album Scream from New York, NY (out June 21 via Dirty Hit) is more warm whisper than feverish scream, and just as well: Every concert (and every band) needs a moment of respite and repose in the setlist, and while this track is by no means “light,” it does scratch an itch.

I found it easier
To taste the wine
And I’ll try it again
What’s another time?
And I saw you walking in
All I could see
I love it when you look both ways
To cross the street

“This song is somewhat of a sonic departure for us — it’s definitely more subdued,” lead singer Sam Slocum tells Atwood Magazine. “There was a point when we weren’t totally sure it would make it onto the album because of that. It had existed in many forms, but it wasn’t until the last month leading up to recording when each part fell into place. Oddly, the lyrics remained the same from the very beginning. They stemmed from a visual I had: An apartment light shining through its windows out onto a street at night. I imagined the people inside the apartment crossing back and forth in front of the window. From there, the lyrics I wrote formed a vignette of the people in the apartment, sharing a space together. I described several shared, intimate moments from my own life – I wanted to get as specific as I could.”

Upon its release, Slocum expanded on the emotions behind “Pumpkin,” noting how it’s “about people growing closer together and further apart.” His cryptic, yet hyper-focused lyrics observe, in essence, the ebb and flow of life.

The song hits its stride in a cathartic release of the band’s demons: “We’re killing time, I know what it’s like. It doesn’t matter who it’s up to now,” Slocum sings, raw emotions pouring out of his voice as he and the band trudge forward, dwelling in the heat of life’s depths with an invigorating rallying cry. “In and out, our ordinary house.

Where’d you feel it first?
What made it clear?
What made it fine?
Did you hear the other night
I checked the door
And hit the light
We’re killing time
I know what it’s like
It doesn’t matter who it’s up to now
In and out, our ordinary house

“Pumpkin” is Been Stellar’s heavy, hearty slow-burn; a sonically and emotionally charged power-ballad that invites all of us to join the band in their dramatic, albeit brooding, reverie. Impassioned, unapologetic, and alt-rock to the bone, this track – together with recent releases “Sweet,” “All in One,” and “Passing Judgment” – further cements Been Stellar as New York City’s latest indie rock torchbearers. Already a longtime Atwood favorite and one of our artists-to-watch, the five-piece of Sam Slocum (vocals), Skyler Knapp (guitar), Laila Wayans (drums), Nando Dale (guitar), and Nico Brunstein (bass) are sure to turn heads upon Scream from New York, NY‘s release.

We bought the house to live in
Where we pass the time
And I’ll say it again and again:
You know what it feels, yeah, like to lie
We watch the screen again
Then we wash the clothes
This is something I’ve been
meaning to understand

And try to know
Did you have my other name?
Or was it taken at some point?
It was mine to pick it up-
I call it hearts and go alone
We’re killing time
I know what it’s like
It doesn’t matter who it’s up to now
In and out, our ordinary house
Waiting on the people to come outside…



:: “Pupula Duplex” – Matte Blvck ::

Chloe Robinson, California

San Diego trio Matte Blvck are known for their intoxicating musical moments and invigorating live performances. The proud LatinX band return with a gritty and ferocious single “Pupula Duplex.” The track is an electrifying journey that effortlessly blends elements of darkwave, synth-pop, trance and electronica. A pulsating bassline and meditative lyrics transport the listener to a dystopian world. The song’s lyrics are haunting, highlighting the idea of someone with a “God Complex.” That person says they are “the truth in disguise,” showing how superior they think they are and the power they believe they hold.

Matte Blvck began sharing music in 2020 and has since released a plethora of singles and an album to boot. The band formed from a longtime deep friendship between members Alex Gonzales, Daniel Corrales, and Bidi Cobra. The trio are known for creating a sonic landscape that is both immersive and evocative, pushing the boundaries of electronic music.



:: “Frozen” – WAASH ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

John Hughes would have been proud to add WAASH’s latest single to any one of his movies. With a feverish beat, smoldering synth work, impassioned, emotionally charged vocals, and a spirited, glistening guitar solo, “Frozen” comes alive with a white-hot, fiery fervor. The fourth single off WAASH’s forthcoming self-titled debut album (date TBD via Light Organ Records) is boldly cinematic and achingly urgent: A dramatic display of musicality, heartache, and circumstance that instantly and effectively sets Vancouver singer/songwriter Andrew Bishop’s pop music project apart.

Yes, you’ll feel a nostalgic pull from WAASH’s ’80s post-punk / dance pop / new wave-inspired sonic color palette, yet there’s no denying the refreshing immediacy of a track like “Frozen”: It hits, and keeps on hitting, throughout its three-and-a-half minute run.

Nothing left to talk about.
Oh how you’ve changed.
Even though I’ve heard it all
there’s so much left to say.

Holding on to feel the past;
oh I know you’ve tried.

If we did it all again it only be a lie.

“‘Frozen’ was the last track written for the record. Not only was it the last song written, it took many shapes and forms along the way,” says WAASH’s Andrew Bishop, who co-wrote the song with Courtney Ewan Hancock, his longtime partner in pop-rock outfit, Twin River.

“Initially, I left the demo pretty stripped down, planning on building it up in the studio. Sometimes you just want to save some of that magic for the moment. James Younger immediately had ideas that would transform the song into what it is today. James had initially tracked electric bass, but we thought it would be fun to try a sequenced synthesiser. As soon as that synth bass was on the track, we knew we were on the right path. I took the song home over the weekend and couldn’t stop working on it. When I returned to the studio the following Monday, the track had taken shape and was ready for vocals. Courtney came down to the studio and we began writing lyrics and tracking vocals. The last few pieces came together quickly, leaving us with one of my favourite tracks on the album.”

At the heart of “Frozen” is a resounding sense of longing for, and the bittersweet loss of, a once-bright and burning flame. “Now we are broken, now we don’t care,” Bishop and Hancock sing together in a heavy, heated chorus. “And even if we did, the things we lost were never really there.” The haunts of our past never really go away; not fully, anyway:

Now we are broken, now we don’t care.
And even if we did, the things we lost were never really there.
Now we are frozen, looking back on what we know,
I could never see myself and still I know I want it.

Whether you’re a fan of Brat Pack movies, John Hughes soundtracks, ’80s musical aesthetics in general, or getting caught up in your own intimate, inner emotional whirlwind, “Frozen” is sure to warm all ears and thaw all hearts with its irresistible charm and churn. Stay tuned for more to come from WAASH – and if you can’t wait for his upcoming full length, fear not: Despite having only introduced the project in October, Bishop has quickly amassed a sizable set of songs, thanks to last year’s five-track EP and this year’s steady stream of singles.

Needless to say, his song may be “Frozen,” but WAASH is on fire.

Terrified to let it go; still we can’t go on
pretending that’s it you and I when it’s really me alone.

Even if we kept it all buried in the past.
You think we’d still remember this
as something meant to last?



:: “N.S.M.L.Y.D” – SCHØØL ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

There’s no greater rush than discovering my next favorite band, and that’s exactly what happened this month. Nothing satisfies me like SCHØØL’s debut single, a fiery indie rock song full of lush overdrive, hypnotic melodies, and vocals dripping with raw attitude. Released May 30 via Géographie, “N.S.M.L.Y.D” – which stands for, you guessed it, nothing satisfies me like you do – is Brit Pop-inflected indie sleaze at its finest: Instantly reminiscent of Blur and Oasis, The Strokes and (curiously enough) Smashing Pumpkins, France’s SCHØØL introduce themselves with an instantly all-consuming fever dream: The kind of seductive, smoldering sonic fire that comes once in a generation.

No matter you know the destination

I just want to go wherever you go

No need to speak, no communication

I already know, I already know
I like every books I’ve read about you, yeah

I like every words I’ve read about you, yeah
Nothing satisfies me like you do
Nothing satisfies me like you do

“I always was fascinated by Liquido’s track ‘Narcotic’ – the synth riff is the kind of riff that sounds like an old phone ringtone and gets glued inside your head for days, so naturally I wanted to make my own ‘Narcotic,’” SCHØØL’s frontman Francis Mallari (also of Parisian post-punk band Rendez-Vous) tells Atwood Magazine. With Erica Ashleson (Special Friend, Dog Park) on bass, Jack Moase (Liquid Face) on guitar, and Alex Battez (Marble Arch) on drums, SCHØØL hit hard from the start, all but demanding our undivided attention and ensuring a slew of devoted fans from day one. This is the band all four dreamed of as teenagers; they cites ’90s shoegaze bands such as Swirlies and Drop Nineteens as their inspiration, and certainly stay faithful to those north stars while charting their own course through the alternative/indie music multiverse.

Nothing satisfies me like you do
Nothing satisfies me like you do
No one and nothing…
Satisfies me now
Like you do

One of the year’s best debut singles thus far, “N.S.M.L.Y.D” is dramatic, dynamic, unapologetic, and atop all else, hungry. Sweaty guitars and bright keyboards create a powerful sonic landscape into which we fall headfirst, ready to bask and bathe in SCHØØL’s sweltering sound.

The band’s music video, filmed by Ludovic Azémar on an old miniDV camcorder with a fisheye lens, is charmingly old-school, meant to evoke a sense of innocence and nostalgia for teenage outings. It’s an exciting introduction that tugs at the heart and soul in all the right ways, and it further cements the four-piece – together with their first-ever single – as a new, indisputable favorite.



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ELIZA & THE DELUSIONALS’ SUN-KISSED, LOVE-SOAKED “FALLING FOR YOU” TEASES A BOLD NEW ERA AHEAD OF THEIR SOPHOMORE ALBUM

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