Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: June 7, 2024

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | June 6, 2024
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | June 6, 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 Joe P, Sabrina Carpenter, Glass Animals, Rosalie James & Storefront Church, Brigitte Calls Me Baby, James Blake, Ericka Nicole Malone, Ray LaMontagne, COIN, Aremmic, Timothy Nelson, Remember Summer, Luke La Volpe, Howe Gelb, Kazy Lambist & Nelly Lawson, and Arctic Monkeys!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup

:: “Birthday Baby (The Girl with No Smile)” – Joe P ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

I‘ve become the family photographer, like my mother before me and her mother before her.

It’s not just because I like taking pictures, which I do; whenever there’s a special event, I make sure to document it – capturing it for posterity, so that it lives on not only in our minds, but also in a physical freeze-frame. Life is long and filled with special moments big and small, and I’ve found that we (I) tend to forget most of them; that they all sort of bleed into one another when I’m not looking, especially when they lack a reference.

So I take pictures to remember who I am and who I’ve been. We take pictures to remember who we are.

Joe P’s latest single hits especially hard, bringing with it a trail of happy tears and heartfelt memories. An impassioned, anthemic song of raw humanity and intimate connection, “Birthday Baby (The Girl with No Smile)” aches with the weight of love and loss, time and change. It’s a candid, cathartic reflection on life cycles: The things we pass down from generation to generation, how we hold onto those who came before us, and all the ways we remember those who have gone from our lives.

Well happy birthday baby
Everybody’s here for you
Happy birthday baby
Six candles lighting up the whole room
Outdated kitchen full of smiles
Everyone’s standing around
We take pictures so we remember who we are
25 years from now
And I remember towers coming down
First grade September
I remember wondering “why am I going home now?”
Daddy’s crying, I ask “why” as apples turn to ash
We take pictures so we remember who we are

Released May 31, 2024 via Neon Gold / Atlantic Records, “Birthday Baby (The Girl with No Smile)” aches from the inside out with raw emotion and radiant energy. The latest single off Joe P’s forthcoming debut album Garden State Vampire (out August 23) finds the New Jersey-based multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter deep in a state of reverie, remembrance, and reckoning as he unpacks bits of his own history, family heritage, and the thin veil between life and death. He swaps back and forth between his past and present, reliving life (and reviving loved ones) through old family photos – ultimately spilling the heavy contents of his heart and soul in an impassioned, emotionally charged chorus:

But you curse like your mother
And you act like your father
Your sister called back,
but your brother doesn’t have your number
So you drove by his house
Now he’s got a daughter
and they named her after you
The girl with no smile,
the girl with no smile

“I wrote this song as a result of coming across a lot of old photos in an attic one day,” Joe P (full name Joe Parella) tells Atwood Magazine. “They were photos from the ’90s that my parents took when I was a baby… or in some of them, I wasn’t even born yet. I got a bittersweet feeling while having this realization that, at the time, I wasn’t old enough to be present and really realize who my parents, or who the people that were adults in my life, were.”

“Now that I’m an adult, I can look back and see them for the people they were and for their humanity, and it was just this bittersweet feeling of wishing I could have realized that in the moment… but that’s why we take photos.”

That’s why we take photos. Remembering our past can bring us pain, but it can also haunt us in the sweetest ways. Parella allows himself to dive deep into nostalgia’s wombs as he gets lost in thoughts about what is and what came before, who we are and who came before us. He never explicitly says what happened to the “girl with no smile,” nor does he have to; this song is an ode to her memory, keeping her spirit alive:

You hide your heartbeat
In a box under the bed
But it makes too much noise down there
So you swallow it up instead
Now a pounding headache keeps you awake
As you daydream through the night
We take pictures so we remember who we are
But you curse like your mother
And you act like your father
Your sister called back,
but your brother doesn’t have your number
So you drove by his house
Now he’s got a daughter
and they named her after you
The girl with no smile, the girl with no smile

I lost my mother in 2017, when I was 25 and she was 57. She was the family photographer, always ready to snap a photo with her Canon point-and-shoot camera and, later on, her iPhone. When she died, I assumed that responsibility, taking over that role instinctively and unconsciously – because like her, I want my loved ones to have an archive through which they can return to, remember, and relive the past.

And now, she herself lives on in my photos and memories. “Someday, when this life’s done, I’ll come back as something you love,” Joe P sings, his dynamic voice hot on the mic in a spirited, climactic breakdown. “I’ll come back as something you can love.” Life isn’t always as long as we expect it to be. “Birthday Baby (The Girl with No Smile)” is, for me, a reminder to cherish those in your present, recognizing that one day, we’ll all be in the past.

I don’t want to know what it feels like
To be the rain in Seattle
I don’t want to know what it feels like
To be the wind in Chicago
And I don’t want to know what it feels like
To be the sunshine in LA
Someday, when this life’s done
I’ll come back as something you love
I’ll come back as something you can love
Well happy birthday baby
Everybody’s here for you
Happy birthday baby,
One candle lighting up the whole room
Outdated kitchen full of smiles
Everyone’s standing around
We take pictures so we remember who we are

:: “Please Please Please” – Sabrina Carpenter ::

Isabella Le, Garden Grove, CA

From playing Coachella to having “Espresso” reach #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and opening for Taylor Swift’s history-making Eras Tour, it’s safe to say that 2024 has been the year of Sabrina Carpenter — and we’re only getting started!

Chasing love while maintaining pride seems impossible when the two exist as mutually exclusive; Carpenter laments but acknowledges this sentiment on her latest single, “Please Please Please.” The second track off her recently announced sixth studio album Short n’ Sweet, sees the singer turning down tempo and caffeine-charge with acoustic guitars and dreamy synthpop influences. However, slower doesn’t always mean staler, as Carpenter’s tongue-in-cheek songwriting and honey-sweet vocals add a sly wit and charm uniquely her own. “Heartbreak is one thing, my ego’s another / I beg you, don’t embarrass me, motherf*er,” she pleads to her real-life and on-screen beau, Saltburn’s Barry Keoghan, as he plays the role of a scrappy and rugged, but tender and loving, criminal. Bridging art with life and confirming speculations of her relationship with Keoghan, Carpenter gives a glimpse into her reality and breaks the fourth wall for an all-too-universal experience.

The major breakthrough (and clear versatility) of the Sabrina Carpenter lends her a well-deserved seat at the table of the newest generations’s it-girls in pop music. So, please, please, please, we want more, more, more!

:: “A Tear in Space (Airlock)” – Glass Animals ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Glass Animals’ latest single is all-consuming, just like its subject matter.

A song about infatuation’s intensity – and the ways in which something that seems so big to us can simultaneously be so small when we zoom out – “A Tear in Space (Airlock)” is a groovy, hypnotic, and deeply provocative fever dream. Following April’s “Creatures in Heaven,” the second tease off the band’s forthcoming fourth LP I Love You So F***ing Much (out July 19 via Republic Records) is a pressure cooker of intense emotion and sound.

Love, do you want love? Do you want lust? Say you don’t know, maybe you just like the control, like it all cold, but I like ya, like ya like you’re drugs,” Dave Bayley sings at the start over gently beating synth chords – a reminder of our own heartbeats. His lyrics paint a vivid portrait of desire, to the point of toxicity: “Sit in my blood, maybe too much, never enough, I am your dog, I’m on your floor, all that you want, but I like ya, like ya like you’re (drugs).” It’s a bold way to begin any conversation, and the passion only builds as Bayley and band members Joe Seaward, Drew MacFarlane, and Edmund Irwin-Singer rise to a cathartic, churning crescendo. It’s a heated, heavy climax – one that aches with the raw weight of unrequited love even as Bayley acknowledges the relative meaninglessness of a tiny teardrop in an airlock, compared to the vast galaxy:

You get all worked up
Loving you, but it’s not enough
Loving you from the airlock of
Your heart, from airlock one
Fear pulls you from my arms
It’s a reckless abandon
One look and it’s all gone
All the air from the bottom of my lungs
Water, running down my face
Water, running different ways
Water, like a billion waves
Water, just a tear in space
Water, running down my face
Water, running different ways
Water, like a billion waves
Water, just a tear in space

“‘A Tear In Space (Airlock)’ explores a love that is all-consuming, forcing you to bend and stretch yourself around the other person to the point where you lose yourself, stretched so thin, squashed so small, you are almost invisible,” Bayley explains. “It is about control and dominance and the pleasure/pain of abandoning yourself to someone else’s desires. It also touches on the wider themes of scale and perspective that the album plays with — after all, what is a tear in space? So small that it is insignificant, and yet so vast to the person shedding it.”

Glass Animals hold nothing back as they unpack passion’s raw guts, basking in bold, thick sounds that evoke the fire we’ve all felt in our hearts. “A Tear In Space (Airlock)” is dramatic, immersive, and unrelenting; a pop song with an insatiable beat, just like their chart-topping, record-breaking “Heat Waves,” and yet one that, like so much of Glass Animals’ music, forces its audience to contemplate identity with fresh perspective. We are so big, and yet so small, and in three and a half minutes, the British band capture both sides of that philosophical coin in a song that demands not only our undivided attention, but also our unrelenting movement.

Dance your heart out to your own inferiority, courtesy of Glass Animals!

Ooh, too late, my love
You blew me into star dust
Ooh, but I made it, just
Dangling like a thread from you
I climb into your walls
I’m where the spiders go
I’m here, but you aren’t sure
What are you waiting for?
Stretch me like leather rope
Make me invisible
Shape me into your form
What are you waiting for?
Hostage, so in love
It’s an airless black-chasm
You turn the airlock on
You turn the airlock on
Object disappearance
It’s a true phenomenon
Forget me and I’m gone
I’m slipping, no-no-no-no-no
Water, running down my face
Water, running different ways
Water, like a billion waves
Water, just a tear in space
Water, running down my face
Water, running different ways
Water, like a billion waves
Water, just a tear in space

:: “ISLAND” – Rosalie James ft. Storefront Church ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Shows like MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom illustrate just how difficult raising a kid in your teens can be. Being pretty much a child yourself, you still have a whole heap of growing and maturing to go. This makes parenting that much more difficult. On top of that add depression, anxiety and addiction. Emotive UK singer/songwriter Rosalie James’ new single “ISLAND” is an ode to that challenge. She faced a rocky road raising two children in her late teens and early twenties, but is so much stronger for it. Her soft, impassioned vocals float atop glistening guitar riffs creating a wholly serene landscape. LA-based musical mastermind Storefront Church (Lukas Frank), is featured on the track and his mesmerizing tone complements the piece seamlessly.

The Cornwall, UK native grew up listening to musical icons like The Beatles and The Bangles on her yellow Sony Walkman. She obtained inspiration from ‘80s synth-pop and new wave as well as ‘90s dreampop. Within her stirring work you can hear that lush, retro quality mixed with a modern flair. “ISLAND” is her third single, and possesses that same dreamy sonic. It is easy to get lost in the wistful tapestry and moving message.

:: “We Were Never Alive” – Brigitte Calls Me Baby ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Have you ever felt you were dreamin’ and life was just something that you never could believe in?” Wes Leavins asks in Brigitte Calls Me Baby’s first single of the year. His voice radiates raw energy and achingly intense emotion as he sings hot on the mic, deep in the throes of a familiar existential reckoning. “The travel of night, the tunnel of light, a feeling you were never meant to feel again.” A dramatic, sonic and spiritual upheaval, “We Were Never Alive” is a bold, anthemic return from one of Chicago’s most exciting newcomers – a high-octane eruption that effectively solidifies Brigitte Calls Me Baby’s place as one of 2024’s artists to watch.

And watch them, we absolutely will: The lead single off their forthcoming debut album The Future Is Our Way Out (out August 2 via ATO Records), “We Were Never Alive” is just a prelude – a tease at all that’s to come from the Midwestern indie rockers. The new song is an exhilarating return for the band, who made a massive impact with last year’s debut EP This House Is Made of Corners: In our track-by-track EP feature, Atwood Magazine hailed the record as an “all-hits, no misses introduction… full of seductive, soul-stirring crooning, fervent post-punk passion, and heated indie rock sound.”

Have you ever felt you were dreamin’
And life was just something
that you never could believe in?
The travel of night
The tunnel of light
A feeling you were never meant to feel again
Standing on the side, you’re walking on the water
The closer that I get, the more I know I wanna
This life could feed a dream, the waves will take you under
If I wake up, I won’t feel this again

Comprised of lead singer Wes Leavins, guitarists Jack Fluegel and Trevor Lynch, bassist Devin Wessels, and drummer Jeremy Benshish, Brigitte Calls Me Baby have exploded onto the scene with grace and vigor. Working with 9x Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton), the band make music that bleeds red with raw urgency and immediacy: Leavins’ powerhouse singing voice is a marvel to behold, yet it’s the way he and his bandmates come together as one tight, tenacious unit that makes each Brigitte Calls Me Baby track both unrelenting and insatiable. “We Were Never Alive” is no exception, opening with a sweaty guitar riff and a cinematic groove that roar and soars with fine-tuned finesse. The lyrics find Leavins and co. wrestling with our inescapable mortality and the seeming futility of life. We try to hold on so tight, but we all loosen our grip eventually:

We werе never alive
Howеver real it seemed, it was just a dream
We don’t go and we never arrived
However real it seemed, it was just a dream
Until the end, it’s you and me
I look to you as long as I have eyes that see
And it’s the end for you and me
I wanna stay forever in the in-between

“Devin wrote the music to that song and I loved how dramatic it felt, so the goal was to match that drama in the lyrics,” Wes Leavins explains. “It became a song about how in the grand scheme of existence, the time we’re alive is so brief and insignificant. At some point, after you’re gone, when everyone who knew you is gone as well, it’s almost as if you never existed at all.”

And yet here we are, lungs breathing, hearts beating, bodies being. We exist, unapologetically and uncompromisingly, here and now – and isn’t that all that should matter? “We Were Never Alive” aches with the weight of life’s fragility, and yet, Brigitte Calls Me Baby capture our own inner strength and staying power through a stunning and undeniably spirited performance.

Here’s to always and forever, even if it sometimes feels like never.

I know a place in your sleep, and my sleep
And two people who are not in love
It’s a deep sleep, no heartbeat
And no return
I’m buried in the city
You’re standing in the water
The people that we were, they won’t be there tomorrow
The things we used to cling were only ours to borrow
I’m hoping that someday this all will end
We were never alive
However real it seemed, it was just a dream
We don’t go and we never arrived
However real it seemed, it was just a dream
Until the end, it’s you and me
I look to you as long as I have eyes that see
And it’s the end for you and me
I wanna stay forever in the in-between

:: “Thrown Around” – James Blake ::

Christine Buckley, Connecticut

James Blake is sort of a magician. That voice – he could really sing anything, and here he’s made an ode to work and success driving us away from our neighbors, our community – literally throwing us around.

That it started as an ambient piece isn’t a surprise – the music pretty much does throw you around on it own. The lyrics come in as he describes philosophers and gurus, possibly as proxies for people who create community, but he has an itch they just can’t scratch.

There’s a gun in the small of my back
An itch you can’t scratch
That Takes me all
Takes me all
Over the world
Gets me thrown around

Blake explained that the track deals with the loneliness and disconnection that can come from focusing too much on success rather than community. He wants the song to bring people together. So let’s up and dance to this catchy, synthy one with Blake’s top line floating through our ears on a hazy star-studded dance floor.

:: “I’m Climbin’” – Ericka Nicole Malone ::

Grace Holtzclaw, Los Angeles, CA

Ericka Nicole Malone recently released her imaginative, transcendent new single “I’m Climbin’” as the leading track to pair with her documentary The Bucketwish. Her documentary is about unearthing new passions when you least expect it. “I’m Climbin’” makes the perfect pair with her documentary as a reverie on trusting your gut and using your intuition to propel you higher than you ever believed possible.

Filled with wistful harmonies, hypnotic percussion, and pulsating bass lines, “I’m Climbin’” finds its own groove of R&B meets neo-soul. Malone sings, “A million moments transcend to one / Each step I’m climbin’, I’m overcome.” Produced by Printz Board, the Grammy award winning co-writer of “Where is the Love?” by the Black Eyed Peas, “I’m Climbin’” possesses that same domino effect of positivity. Ericka Nicole Malone shines as a dynamic vocalist who feeds off the confident lyrics at play.

Revealing more on her single, Malone confides, “I penned ‘I’m Climbin’’ as a lead song on the soundtrack to The Bucketwish because I want people to remember who they are and to keep climbing up the stairs of life to different levels no matter how hard it gets.”

Ericka Nicole Malone is the recipient of a NAACP award for her work. She’s a talented filmmaker, songwriter, and musician who uses her work to inspire creativity in others.

:: “Step Into Your Power” – Ray LaMontagne ::

Christine Buckley, Connecticut

Grammy winner Ray LaMontagne has released a gosh darned groove here. We’re back in Trouble territory, where that Grammy came from, and the simple joy of this song brings this reviewer back 20 years (will he do something for the album’s anniversary in the fall?). That it could be that easy: just go on, Step Into Your Power.  It’s so easygoing and uplifting, yet smooth and relaxing, it could be a sleep story–Ray, maybe you should give Calm a call. Lyrics like these will definitely give me happy dreams:

If you want it
You can have it
All you gotta do
Is reach right out and grab it
Step on up
Step into your power
Step on up
Step into your power, child.

It’s the newborn brother of “You Are The Best Thing,” and we ain’t mad: the soul vocals, the backing choir, the blues beat. And just a twinge of that ’70s guitar and cowbell. LaMontagne’s upcoming album, “Long Way Home,” will be released on August 16 through his independent label, Liula Records.

:: “Strawberry Jam” – COIN ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

I think there’s something I’m running from, or is it just who I am?” Chase Lawrence sings, running back to us. Lost in thought, COIN’s first song in two years’ time (since 2022’s fourth album Uncanny Valley) feels unfiltered, honest, and exposed. Released June 7th, “Strawberry Jam” is a deep dive into identity and connection, desire and humility. It’s heartfelt and candid, sweet and soaring – an exhilarating rush of passion and intimate energy that seems to effortlessly capture the heart of the COIN project, and all that Lawrence, Joe Memmel, and Ryan Winnen have been chasing for over a decade.

I think there’s something I’m running from
Or is it just who I am?
I leave you there in a parking lot
Do it again and again
I told you I would come back for you
And bring you strawberry jam
You said “you fell in love with
a pretty mouth, it’ll chew you up

It’ll spit you out”
She likes me better when I’m taking my time
Fire burning at both ends
Don’t want another perfect goodbye
She likes it better, oh, she likes it better with my
Head down, lately
Mindless talking in the backseat
In circles, playing eighteen
God only knows what you see in me

“After finishing our last album, we didn’t write a song for about a year,” Lawrence tells Atwood Magazine. “We took a step back and took a closer look at where we’ve been, who we are, and what we’re still doing here.”

“For the last 36 months, we’ve been unraveling at that truth…. together. Through the unraveling, we found some simplicity. Through the simplicity, we discovered a deeper love for music and understanding of each other. Tracked live in RCA Studio A, it’s 3 friends trying their best to be open, honest, and a little less afraid.”

I lost my head in a burning room
I found your keys in my coat
We fell in love in a parachute
But I set off like a rolling stone
And I apologize to you, and I apologize for that
I’m calling in the Air Force
And you’re waving like a flag
I turn around and right when I’m walking away
She said it right to my face

Like a diary entry no one was supposed to read “Strawberry Jam” feels unfiltered. It’s a conversation between friends; a reflection to the self on who we are, and who we might like to be. But more than anything, it’s a catchy, cathartic expression of care. COIN’s three members together build a sweet, seductive, sun-kissed song that shines with an infectious inner light, luring us in as those good feelings wash all over us.

She likes me better when I’m taking my time
Fire burning at both ends
Don’t want another perfect goodbye
She likes it better, oh, she likes it better with my
Head down, lately
Mindless talking in the backseat
In circles, playing eighteen
God only knows what you see in me
And I apologize to you
Then I apologize for that
And I’m sleeping at the airport
And you’re slipping out the back
And I turn around and right when I’m walking away
She said it, she said it, she said, she said
Why you leaving me?
Why you leaving me?

:: “Echoes of Love” – Aremmic ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

(More than) Sometimes, after a busy day of working with a bunch of energetic eighth graders, a bit of soothing piano-based music is just what I need to properly regain my composure. So it’s great that this afternoon, following another such day, I’m able to access “Echoes of Love,” a heartfelt single by Nigerian singer Aremmic, who currently resides in Dallas, Texas.

Aremmic is crazily talented in both the vocal and piano-playing departments– you’ve got some competition, Alicia Keys!– and pours each of these sets of skills into “Echoes of Love,” a gospel ballad full of sincere pledges of devotion. “Would you open your mind, maybe give my love a chance?” he asks. “If I was to beg you, I’ll tell you that you’re precious. Leave the ninety nine for you– that’s what I’ll do.” Anyone who sings lines like those must be a genuine enough guy, and coupled with the tremendous musicality he has on display here, one can easily recognize that Aremmic deserves to be honored for both his personal and artistic virtues.

:: “Greenmount Hill” – Timothy Nelson ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Back in 2020, if you asked me who my favorite “artist discovery” was, I’d have told you about a singer/songwriter named Timothy Nelson. Hailing from Perth, the Australian artist – who also records electro-funk fusion music under the name Indoor Fins (get it?) – blends folk and classic pop sensibilities together with a deft, delicate touch. Songs like “Biding Time” and “Summer They Say” won me over to the point where Nelson became both an Atwood Editor’s Pick and Artist to Watch, sharing space with the likes of Tate McRae, Remi Wolf, Katy Kirby, Claud, Dreamer Boy, and plenty more notable names.

Nelson released a few songs here and there over the past few years, but for the most part, he remained out of the spotlight. I now know that to mean he himself was biding time, working tirelessly on the songs that would ultimately comprise his long-awaited sophomore studio album – a record that finally saw its first glimmer of light this week! Released June 5, “Greenmount Hill” is the breathtakingly beautiful lead single off Debaser Tapes, the highly-anticipated follow-up to 2016’s debut LP Words Like Young – and a stunning return from an artist I’ve been patiently watching for four years now. A touching song about time and place, memory and meaning, “Greenmount Hill” is a heartfelt reflection that likely means more to Nelson than it ever could to a listener, mainly because he filled it to the brim with personal memories and moments from his own past – the one he lived, and the one he lived vicariously through:

Greenmount Hill
Is a direct line to the place where
You would always feel at home
And though I never lived there
I can recall when I would drive
Out here every other Sunday
And the dogs who’d lose their minds
As you pulled into the driveway
Now it’s hard to fight the urge shed a tear
when I’m passing through…
Oh, Greenmount Hill
Is a short walk from the Marloo
With that old theatre stage
Upon which I saw you
And when you came down to the city
I had one foot in the suburbs
And another in your room
But our friends knew we were lovers
Now it’s still hard to fight the urge to never learn
From my own mistakes and live with disregard
When we always tried to run
From ourselves at every turn
I guess I lost the will to stay here in the dark

“For me this is a song about how you can associate a whole suburb or area with a very specific period in your life. You might find yourself passing through town again at some point and of course all these memories just come flooding back at once,” Nelson tells Atwood Magazine. “It was actually hard to finish… I had written maybe half of it, years ago… and when I was putting songs together for the album, Andy (Lawson, producer) said this one had become one of his favourites. I sort of, almost reluctantly went back there in mind and dug deep to finish it.”

“I haven’t written anything this vulnerable in a while… I mean, I used to write a lot of songs like this, I guess, but over time I sort of veered into more fictional storytelling, taking true stories and joining together into something a little bit made up, maybe as a way to protect myself more than anything. It’s been a while since I’ve dropped my guard in that sense, and just been this completely straight up in a song.”

Nelson channels these raw, intimate emotions and autobiographical lyrics into a tender moment of sun-kissed warmth and wonder; his voice rises to an achingly sweet high in a chorus that immediately calls to mind acts from the ’70s. Thick, radiant vocal harmonies dazzle the ears and enchant the heart as Nelson dwells in a space of earnest reckoning and reflection:

Who runs the show? Who’s in the know?
Who feels the earth with every turn?
Over time I’d come realise
there was so much more to learn

How can I muster up the courage
to move on, give me a clue

and throw away every bittersweet memento
that I’ve kept of me and you

“It feels quite uncomfortable to sing, to be completely honest,” Nelson says of his first single in over a year’s time. “It’s about a period of my life that has long been over for many, many years, and it’s so raw as well… but that’s probably why it was worth seeing through and putting it on the record; I just needed Andy to point that out to me, or else I might’ve buried it forever.”

Up on green mount hill
Was a hell I’d never quit
Til I gave myself permission
That at least I can admit
Well you told me once or twice
It was cruel how I kept calling
Always playing with your mind
And so much was left unspoken
Neither one one of us would know
If we ever had the chance to go back
Would it all end up the same?
And though I never met your father
You would say you wished I had
Well I wonder now how much that might’ve changed?
Oh, Greenmount Hill.

Timothy Nelson captured my heart in 2020, and he’s done it all over again in 2024. We’re all a bit older, maybe even a little wiser, haunted by our ghosts, some new, some old… but he’s still got the same knack for tasteful melody and soul-stirring harmony that led me to him in the first place. “Greenmount Hill” is a special song both for its emotional and musical content; Nelson crafts a soothing, moving folk-pop reverie of where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going as he looks back on the now-distant past, takes stock of his life, and faces forward once more.

Because we all have to keep living, keep moving, keep going; you can cherish your memories with all your might, but the present is calling, and we’d best answer.

:: “Wrecking Ball” – Remember Summer ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

Remember Summer are a duo consisting of Northern Irish Paddy Conn and English Angelina Dove. Together, the two form a musical project that delivers iridescent dream pop anthems, soaked in nostalgia and enchantment. Their latest work of art is their cover of Miley Cyrus’ hit song “Wrecking Ball.” Transforming the song into something almost unrecognizable from its original, the new folk cover features ’80s-esque synths, ethereal vocals and punchy percussion. It’s hard to top anything that Miley Cyrus produces, but Remember Summer have certainly offered a fresh perspective to the track, which is equally addictive and unique.

Sharing the reason behind covering the track, Dove explains, “Metaphorically spot on; I think I’m an ‘exploding doormat’ personality type. A really long fuse, but once it’s lit…Wrecking Ball resonated with me, I feel like I’ve been there. The explosions, the disappointment, indifference even.”

We hope to hear a lot more from Remember Summer this year, whether it be more covers or originals.

:: “Landslide” – Luke La Volpe ::

Christine Buckley, Connecticut

It’s such a relief that this is not a cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic – although Luke La Volpe could smash that as well – because this boy’s got the pipes of what I can only call a male LP coiled up with Johnny Cash and a teeny bit of that other Scots guy, Lewis Capaldi.

La Volpe’s music is just all dark, glorious beauty: true authentic blues, incredibly low notes, seedy lounge keyboards, and in this one a build to some smashing cymbals and a satisfying roar of a chorus:

I’ve been watching from the outside
Hiding from that real life
I’m been talking to my dark side
He told me I’m alright.
And how can I escape
Living in this landslide?

This reviewer has been following this hidden gem since (virtually) he won the Breakthrough Act at the Scottish Music Awards in 2020. Do yourself a favor and go check out his other absolute chillers, “Dead Man’s Blues” and “Terribly Beautiful,” both on his Terribly Beautiful EP, and the more recent “Freakwave.” You won’t regret it.

:: Mustang – Kazy Lambist ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

We are soooo close to the end of the school year! And that means it’s time to set our sights on Summer 2024. One of the major events I have coming up this summer will be a trip to France with my family in July/August, and I’m getting prepared for it in part by listening to a lot of French music! Well, truth be told, I listen to a lot of French music anyways– I’m a major fan of the language and culture of my one-time pays de résidence – but since I’m about to check back in there, I’m definitely open to lending an oreille to some current French musicians.

One of them is Kazy Lambist, who – like multiple artists I’ve previously discovered through Atwood; Tony Romera, for instance – has provided me a valuable window into the considerable modern-day electronica movement in France. The four-pack of new singles Monsieur Lambist put out last month – all packaged together under the title “Mustang,” and to be featured on his upcoming LO, Moda – collectively offer some lively and colorful electropop. Kazy layers his own vocals atop his production, with his French accent distinguishing him from the guest singers that appear on each track. Together, they explore a variety of themes: “Cinémed” is inspired by the Mediterranean movie festival in his hometown of Montpellier, while “Nirvana” pays homage to the quest to maintain that famous Buddhist state of serenity.

Verdict: À découvrir! 🙂

:: Weathering Some Piano – Howe Gelb ::

Will Yarbrough, Philadelphia, PA

For such a creature of habit, Howe Gelb sure is unpredictable.

Since 1985, hardly a single year has passed without at least one new album from the indie troubadour, though what they’ll sound like is anybody’s guess — especially his. Between Giant Sand, his two other bands, numerous one-off side projects and the whopping 29 LPs that bear his own moniker, Gelb has sifted from alt-country (or, as he calls it “erosion rock”) to flamenco, secular gospel and four scattered volumes of loosely-themed piano standards.

His latest entry was informed by the cloud formations over Barrio Viejo, an old Mexican neighbourhood in the heart of Tucson. It was here, upon moving to the Arizona desert, where a teenage Gelb found his muse after The Great Flood of ’72 destroyed his childhood home in Northeast PA. As far as backstory goes, that’s about all you’re going to get out of Weathering Some Piano. While a generous interview, Gelb presents himself like a sphinx, answering in riddles or the odd antiquated turn of phrase. His many influences still loom large over the cultural imagination — Dylan, Waits, Neil Young, T. Sphere Monk — but he takes after them only in his refusal to stick between the lines. He only made this album under one condition. In order to walk past his piano, first, he had to sit down and play.

What happened next was left as far beyond Gelb’s control as the happenings outside his window. Unless it’s in the context of brutal death metal, jazzy improvisation is not my bag. Listening to someone fumble through a dim and musty horn solo feels like I’m taking a test that I didn’t study for. Weathering Some Piano goes much easier on the ol’ noggin. You could put this album on shuffle while washing dishes and let its supple, unadorned melodies simply massage away your daily stressors. But Gelb is too darn inquisitive to let his proceedings fully fade into the background. The notes are free to accumulate in the thin air, but he’s always turning them over in hopes of finding where the light hits.

The album’s opening number and pseudo title track sets off like the sodden detective in a film noir. After three minutes of wandering a lonesome beat, Gelb stops dead in his tracks before picking up on the trail. His left hand still plods along, but the right possesses such a spring in its step that the closing run practically twirls right off the page. “Weathered” ends without any ceremony, let alone much of a warning. Maybe he just remembered to check the oven. Or maybe, at 67 years young, Howe Gelb knows better than to chase the magic for too long.

:: Humbug – Arctic Monkeys ::

Oliver Crook, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Upon its release, Humbug was a somewhat conflicting album. Calmer than the Arctic Monkeys’ first two records, and somewhat lacking in the killer hooks they were known for, it felt like a departure. Its quality was undoubtable, but it didn’t feel like the Sheffield boys we’d previously fallen in love with.

But fortunately for me, I sit here today in a post-AM world. Knowing the beauty and perfection that is that masterpiece, Humbug makes a lot more sense. It’s the sound of a band jerking the wheel hard at an intersection, gunning for a destination only they can see. The soulful and charming “Cornerstone,” the endlessly catchy “Secret Door,” and the criminally underrated opener “My Propeller” stand up on their own, regardless of context. But as with anything, context is everything: Humbug, and its follow-up — the aptly named Suck It and See — capture the essence and tone of what would become AM.

Reliving these albums today is a lot of fun. It’s not Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, but more than ten years on, that feels ok. It’s a solid album by a great band, and that’s enough.

— — — —

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