Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: June 14, 2024

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | June 14, 2024
Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | June 14, 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 hard life, OSKA, Thee Sacred Souls, Picture Parlour, Camille Schmidt, Sly Jr., sister., Yarin Glam, Night Tapes, Soft Launch, Sam Varga, The Stews, Malcolm Todd, greek, Font, Sufjan Stevens, Rebecca Lappa, Brother Valiant, lucidbloom, and Alex Turner!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup

:: “tears” – hard life ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

The band formerly known as easy life returned this week as hard life, and boy, if that doesn’t make you stop and think. Released June 11th via their longtime label home of Island Records, the heartfelt, impassioned, and aptly-titled “tears” arrives eight months after easy life’s final single (“trust exercises”) and the announcement that they were being sued by (infamously litigious) multinational conglomerate easyGroup – owner of easyJet and other easyBlank companies – over their name.

Apparently, nothing can be easy anymore, and now we’re all living in a hard life era. At least the music’s flawless.

It’s a hard life, I can’t lie it’s been a rush, in the hard times, lucky I got friends that I trust,” frontman Murray Matravers declares in the song’s opening verse, singing over a sped-up sample of singer/songwriter Natalie Bergman’s 2021 single “Keep Those Teardrops From Falling” (featured on an EP of the same name). Matravers lends the lawsuit one bar, addressing the situation before taking the high road and moving on. “It was easy in my 20s now I gotta lawyer up, gimme air miles or a fair trial [bleep].” (Note: The bleep used to say “Stelios,” referencing easyGroup’s owner, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who accused easylife of being “brand thieves” in his litigation against them. The group claimed this bar was “disparaging and defamatory” upon the track’s release, and now it’s been censored on streaming services. No hard feelings; only hard life.)

For Matravers and crew, “tears” isn’t just about returning triumphantly and unapologetically, or letting fans know they’re back under a new name; it’s about perseverance in spite of the odds and continuing to pursue their passions, no matter who gets in their way or tries to stop them. Coming in at just two minutes and change, it’s a song of staying power and unbridled, unfiltered, uncompromising self-expression. The Bergman sample, which already lends itself a certain Motown-like nostalgia, adds a further sense of heart-on-sleeve tenderness to the air, making this moment feel especially meaningful in Matravers’ and hard life’s lives.

To my absent friends who never stay in touch
And when we send DM’s they only gather dust
Say my accent’s changed from my native tongue
I drink plant-based milk, it’s a gateway drug
But there’s no use crying over oat milk
Seen artists come and go, I’ve got survivor’s guilt
But I’ll (keep those teardrops from falling)

“I really don’t want people to read too much into the name. I was nervous, because as a white, middle-class man, I haven’t exactly had a hard life. It needs to be appreciated in context, Matravers recently told NME. “The first day that our manager sat us down and said, ‘Guys, there’s some legal action coming and you’re going to have to change your name,’ everyone in the band unambiguously and straight away said, ‘It’s gotta be Hard Life’. That was our initial gut instinct.”

“We were laughing about it and I don’t think any of us were taking it that seriously, but as time progressed we went through a million of other options and we always came back to Hard Life because we thought it was funny. Everyone seemed to resonate with that, and it was the most stereotypical Easy Life thing to do.”

Matravers and bandmates Samuel Hewitt (guitar), Oliver Cassidy (guitar), Lewis Berry (bass), and Jordan Birtles (drums) are known for their good sense of humor; the band even incorporate jokes into their lyrics, and Matravers is appreciated by fans for his witty, tongue-in-cheek style of songwriting. To band and audience alike, easy life’s rebirth as hard life is certainly bittersweet, but the name change works. Will the new music have that much more of an edge? Only time will tell; for now, “tears” is recognition that the group are here to stay, come hell or high water, and they won’t let anyone – or anything – get in their way.

And that’s a pretty powerful sentiment to hear, any day of the week.

If I ever get to see you again
I would never let you go my friend
I would take away the rain
And put a smile upon your face
And I’ll keep those teardrops from falling

:: “Forever Blue” – OSKA ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

Hailing from Austria, singer/songwriter OSKA has just dropped a brand new single “Forever Blue” and it’s certain to soothe your soul. The vibrant song shimmers brightly with resonant guitars, heavenly harmonies and a move-inducing beat, as OSKA serves up the perfect song to accompany those warm summer days.

Written after spending the day with her childhood friend, OSKA shares more about the conception of the song explaining, “It felt like being children again; playing, goofing around, snoozing off in the car; not a worry in the world. This song is about reflecting on tough situations and realizations, like childhood ending. It’s also about friendship and the beauty of having people in your life who can make you feel at peace by something as simple as listening to music together.”

OSKA’s sweet vocals emit a pure and innocent quality, as her comforting words remind us to look for the silver-linings in life and all the small things that help make our days a little brighter. “Forever Blue” is the antidote for when you’re down in the dumps and feeling like you need a pick-me-up.

:: “Easier Said Than Done” – Thee Sacred Souls ::

Marc Maleri, Connecticut

I’ve had a few Thee Sacred Souls songs come across Spotify playlists over the past couple years and they never fail to pull me into a trance. The exposure I’ve had to the R&B San Diego trio’s discography sounds equal parts modern and old-timey, and “Easier Said Than Done” is no exception. Lead singer Josh Lane has a voice smooth as silk, with bassist Sal Samano and drummer Alex Garcia delivering the band’s characteristically warm instrumentals.

A part of the track’s beauty is in the simplicity with which the lyrics are approached.  “Easier Said Than Done” contemplates the complexities of love. From the inability to properly express feelings to trusting your heart, Thee Sacred Souls remind listeners of the undeniable and all too relatable truth that love, while worth it, is not without its baggage. From their 2022 self-titled album, “Easier Said Than Done” feels like cruising down a highway during a summer sunset; it is full of soul, light, and charm.

:: Face in the Picture – Picture Parlour ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

London-based indie rock band (and Atwood artist-to-watch) Picture Parlour debuted to considerable fanfare last summer. Eleven months later, the four-piece of Katherine Parlour (vocals and guitar), Ella Risi (guitar), Sian Lynch (bass), and Michael Nash (drums) have released their long-awaited, heavily-anticipated debut EP – tripling the amount of music they had available overnight. A beautifully cinematic, breathtakingly dramatic affair, Face in the Picture roars, smolders, and soars as the group light a fire both around us and within us, imploring audiences to join them on a hard-hitting journey of reckoning, reflection, redemption.

For Parlour and her bandmates, this record serves as their foundation – the “musical roots” they will always fall back on in the coming years. Everyone needs a starting point – a place from which to grow – and as she explains, these four songs served, quite literally, as Picture Parlour’s building blocks. “We needed to share the songs on this EP to honour those very first tunes we made together way back when,” she explains. “It didn’t feel right to leave them out of the Picture Parlour history books. The EP is a capsule of who we were when we met and what jamming together in those early days ignited. Our dream for this EP was to make a body of work that spanned across and screamed power, emotion, grit and intensity to preface what’s to come in our musical world. We hope that all four tracks ignite the full spectrum of emotion in our listeners, just as they did for us when creating and even still now when we play them together.”

Running for a total of twelve minutes, Face in the Picture is best listened to in one full sitting, as each song highlights another aspect of the group’s raw talents and burgeoning artistry. Title track and EP opener “Face in the Picture” is as charged and churning as it is catchy and cathartic – a fever dream of epic proportions, meant to flood our ears, upend our hearts, and dazzle our souls. “Dial Up” comes to the fore with a raw, unrelenting vigor, thanks in large part to Lynch and Nash’s high-intensity rhythm section. “Ronnie” is as cinematic as it is intense – a vivid display of the band’s storytelling capacity. “Moon Tonic,” the first song Picture Parlour ever made together, is a heavy, sweaty, seductive rush that aches from the inside out, demanding audiences’ undivided attention as it ebbs and flows through furious highs and feverish lows.

In-your-face and uncompromising, Picture Parlour’s debut EP sets them up for success by capturing their “day one.” It’s hard to imagine where a band with this much talent and potential will go from here, but then again, it’s not that hard: The world is their oyster, and we’ll be following them along with bated breath, all the while spinning these four new tunes for as long as we can.

:: “Your Game” – Camille Schmidt ::

Chloe Robinson, California

It can be frustrating to realize we have been taken advantage of. No one likes to feel as if they are just being used. We typically want to blame the other person and tell them to go to hell, but we don’t often think about our role in this as well. Camille Schmidt explores getting screwed over by a girl she had a thing for and how she allowed this injustice to occur in her latest single “Your Game.”  Her lush, soothing vocals float over infectious drumbeats. You can hear that raw pain and sadness in her vocals juxtaposed by the fast-paced instrumentation. The combination works seamlessly.

The Brooklyn-based songwriter concocts a dreamy sound that is simply mesmerizing. This stunning single is off of her debut EP Good Person unveiled June 2nd. She collaborated with producer Phil Weinrobe on the six-track body of work. His unconventional method to recording led to wholly honest songs. He had told Schmidt not to share any songs with the band beforehand. She played whatever piece felt right in the moment and the band began experimenting from there. You can truly sense that bold authenticity in “Your Game.”

:: “vampires” – Sly Jr. ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

There’s nothing like a good blood-sucking indie rock anthem to really get the juices (both literal and otherwise) flowing. Released on June 7, “vampires” aches with the heavy weight of raw vulnerability, visceral emotions, and invisible (but not forgotten) scars. Landon Jacobs’ fifth song as Sly Jr. sees the Sir Sly frontman reckoning with past haunts, confronting the demons that have previously held him back from living fully in the moment, and exercising his (relatively) newfound sobriety as a means of overcoming, or maybe coming to terms, with that past.

His words send shivers down the spine as he paints a powerful, poignant self-portrait:

like vampires, they suck me dry
i told you, i’ve lived a thousand lives
so wrap me in threads of little light
i’m fading, remember that night…
my face plastered on the television
i felt so alive, i was barely living
scrape me off the floor
when come the morning time
i can’t face the morning light…

Without filters (metaphorical and literal), it’s a hard-hitting image that speaks to a soul’s fleeting consciousness; to a body going through motions, there… but not there. How does any of us know if we’re really living, and making the most of this gift of life we’ve been given? Perhaps we must all endure some sort of reckoning – an acknowledgement of what clearly isn’t living, to a degree – in order to full appreciate what it means to fully exist in the moment. I always refer back to the words Be Here Now – a simple phrase, and one I first learned from Oasis – but now when I pull myself into the present, I’ll also be thinking of Sly Jr. and this song.

Because the first time I listened to “vampires,” I listened to it fifteen times. And no, no tape decks were jammed; Jacobs has a way of emoting both tenderness and turmoil in the same shiver-inducing breath, and while every one of his Sly Jr. songs has hit hard in its own way, “vampires” feels especially vulnerable, particularly aching, and undeniably human.

“This song is me looking back on some of the highs of my career and how much more alive I feel now that I’m sober,” Jacobs shares. “I wish I was able to be more present back then, but I’m not gonna beat myself up about it.” Stay tuned for more to come as Jacobs continues to tease out his solo project, all of which is set to come together as a studio album later this year!

:: “Colorado” – sister. ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

There’s something delicately dazzling about sister.’s latest single – as there (admittedly) has been about most of their songs. Released June 4 via Mtn Laurel Recording Co., “Colorado” is a delicate fever dream; a song of stillness and saturation, of deep yearning and big feelings exercised to their fullest. It’s an exploration of fragility; of losing oneself in the belly of love, and all the dizziness, the butterflies, and the emotional vertigo that tends to accompany infatuation. The New York City-based indie trio of of Hannah Pruzinsky, Ceci Sturman, and James Chrisman craft a cathartic kaleidoscope of sound and feeling, drenching us in beautiful music as they unpack a moment of aching, weightless wonder:

You drive to Colorado and I get emotional
and I’m relatively fine despite these changes
despite what I’m going through
I keep going through
tendency to slip right through
God I wish I knew

“We wrote ‘Colorado’ together,” sister. tell Atwood Magazine. “Hannah started with the chords and the line ‘you drive to Colorado and I get emotional,‘ and we built it all from there. The idea sprawled from the kind of spiraling out that can take over in the early days of a new relationship where so much is still unsaid and inaccessible.”

“Similarly to putting up a front that you’re okay and not over-thinking something, we wanted the song to initially feel gentle, hiding those feelings of circling uncertainty in the drawn out instrumental sections within layered acoustic guitars, a piano spilling over, glitches in a system. The softness never quite breaks, until it erupts in the outro, when we spiral three vocals around the phrase: ‘Despite what you thought you knew. I’m in your corner.  I get emotional.'”

Their first release since last year’s debut album Abundance (which Atwood Magazine called a “breathtaking exercise in human connection and vulnerability”), “Colorado” finds sister. in their element as they bring listeners deep into a warm, wistful, and truly stunning world of their own design – one that sends shivers down the spine, inspiring us to consider the ways in which we lose ourselves to others, be it to love, or some other force – and how we find our way back.

You’re carsick at the rest stop,
pacing, inhaling fumes

You say you’re in my corner, you swear
you promise too
Aren’t you so scared of changing the way
we thought this would go on?
Despite what you thought you knew
I’m in your corner
I get emotional

:: assisted memories – Night Tapes ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

Writing about assisted memories, the new EP by British group Night Tapes, is consistent with my goal for the week of covering artists from places I’m about to be visiting during the just-now-starting summer vacation. It’ll also help me get better acquainted with the current music scene in London, which I’m about to go visit again for the first time in 18 long years. But most of all – it gives me the chance to spend 25 minutes immersed inside the magical musical minds of this fabulous trio, which consists of Max Doohan, Sam Richards and lead singer Iiris Vesik.

From the very first track on assisted memories, entitled “drifting,” that’s exactly what’ll happen – you’ll drift away into the melodious universe of this group, where Vesik’s captivating high-pitched vocals and the guys’ hypnotic dream-pop-influenced production are sure to cast their spell on you. The remaining six songs – including the trip-hop-influenced “easy time to be alive” and the dreamy “loner” – maintain this effect quite well. “I’m just a simple person doing simple person things” Vesik insists on “projections,” but it truly takes more than the average person’s musical skill set to pull off such a wondrous new record as this one. Hopefully, a full-length album won’t be too far behind, so that we can spend even more time immersed in this fabulous musical world that Night Tapes have introduced us to on assisted memories.

:: “BLIND” – Yarin Glam ::

Joe Beer, Surrey, UK

R&B pop artist Yarin Glam flaunts her artistic evolution with her new single “BLIND.” While staying true to her signature style, the Los Angeles based artist has ramped things up a level, blending celestial vocals with sultry instrumentation and a brooding beat that emits an almost eerie atmosphere to the track.

With her songwriting often touching on very real and raw themes, Glam shares, “BLIND is about the people who I thought were my friends but tried to influence me in a negative way and I was too naive to see at the time. I think everyone can interpret this song differently and take it to their own place.” Sometimes it’s easier to just plod through life putting up with things that don’t always feel right to us, but Glam is here to encourage us to rip off our blindfolds and stand up for ourselves.

The hypnotizing “BLIND” hints towards what is yet to come from the songwriter. Setting the bar high, we’re excited for the next installments of Yarin Glam’s new and improved sonic adventure.

:: “Piano Hands” – Soft Launch ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Hailed as a song “for people deep in thought and deep in debt,” Soft Launch’s second-ever single feels like a grand opening – the beginning of something incredibly exciting and special. Released June 4 via Parlophone, “Piano Hands” surprises and delights throughout its three-and-a-half-minute run. It’s a euphoric power-pop reverie; a psychedelic sun-kissed daydream; a fun, free-spirited piano ballad-turned-feverish indie rock anthem complete with glistening, graceful keyboard scales, rich, radiant vocal harmonies (including some breathtaking falsetto work), a smorgasbord of funky bass and drum work, and a smoldering, sweltering guitar solo that hits so hard, it brings the song to a cathartic (and unexpectedly abrupt) conclusion.

No it ain’t forever don’t you get me wrong,
Hiding in my basement,
Got the Jetsons on,
If it was another day I’d sing along,
I’ll go back to chasing,
Once the evening comes.
Silent feelings,
Babe it’s just a lesser evil,
Time has got a wicked way of getting even,
All the things that eat me up,
They spit me out hole.

“‘Piano Hands’ was written in an old cow milking shed in the south of England in summer 2022,” the London-based band tells Atwood Magazine. “After staying up to see the sunrise (presumably writing poems and eating biscuits) we wrote the song itself, and finished the biscuits. The rest of the recording happened near a different milking shed in Drumlish in the depths of Ireland (presumably catholic milk).”

I’ve been doing all of my bits,
I’ve been taking care of my shit,
I’ve been doing my taxes,
I’ve been going out of my way,
I’ve been getting 5 a day,
I’ve been sorting my plastics.

Comprised of Ben Limmer, Josh McClorey, Henry Pearce, Conor Price, and Ben Quinn, Soft Launch are arguably “brand new” to the online music world, and yet a slew of early shows – all before they’d released a single song – have made them one of the UK’s buzziest artists; one of “your favorite band’s favorite bands,” especially if your favorite artists are folks like CMAT or Declan McKenna. Showing themselves to be as adept on record as they (reportedly) are in person, Soft Launch finally released their debut single “Cartwheels” in early April – instantly proving the hype right. “Cartwheels” is a dazzling, dynamic outpouring of spirited energy that by and large feels true to its name, catapulting over our ears in a flurry of powerful bass, drum, and guitar playing. The song has already amassed over 400,000 streams on Spotify in its first two months, displaying just how impactful a Soft Launch can be – especially when it’s done right.

“Piano Hands” is a worthy follow-up to “Cartwheels,” and one that further highlights Soft Launch’s exhilarating multi-faceted artistry, as well as its members’ individual talents. It’s a catchy, funky, vibey rush, and one that will surely further cement this young, extremely promising band as one-to-watch.

I’ve been landing somersaults on the lawn,
Beaches gaining numbers,
Summer’s staying strong,
Oh its just a matter of keeping on,
I’ll go back to basics,
Once the feeling’s gone.
Silent feelings,
Babe it’s just a lesser evil,
Time has got a wicked way of getting even,
All the things that eat me up,
They spit me out hole.

:: Shadow Work – Sam Varga ::

Julius Robinson, California

Shadow Work can be defined as “a type of psychotherapy that involves exploring and integrating the unconscious parts of the psyche, or ‘shadow self,’ that people often hide or reject.” Many do shadow work to mend trauma, anger or resentment. This practice can be a great way to learn more about yourself and help us heal. Sam Varga’s album entitled Shadow Work provides that same type of catharsis we all need. Fusing elements of punk, folk, and country the unique body or work is deeply intoxicating.

The album opens with “Never Better.” His angst-filled vocals soar over a country/rock background featuring sliding guitar and pounding drums. The emotionally stirring track details a common occurrence of humanity. Oftentimes we hide behind a smile though there is an intense pain lingering inside. This song is all about not wanting to burden others so we mask how we truly feel. “Alive” is the ultimate “f* it” anthem. His passionate tone sings of the crazy shit-storm his life has become. It is like the expression goes… “if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.” The final piece “Live Up To It” starts off slow and breaks out in a spirited, fast-paced sonic. He sings of still being a work in progress and to grant him some grace. We all can relate to that idea of trying to better ourselves, but having a ways to go.

The Kentucky native’s songwriting possesses a sarcastic wit that draws in listeners. Varga’s music dives into past and present wounds and attempts to repair them. As a kid he grew up submerged in the emo scene. Shadow Work has that same expressive quality and yearning to rebuild. You get so much out of every release and are left to ponder your own life.

:: “Earrings” – Malcolm Todd ::

Mariam Bagdady, Los Angeles, CA

This is no regular heartbreak song.

It’s a testament to that pestering feeling of doubt, regret, and the constant questioning of “what if” that leads to that complete and utter strangeness between two people. Alternative artist Malcolm Todd breaks down the fourth wall and defies all odds when it comes to understanding one’s own feelings in his track “Earrings” off his latest album Sweet Boy. In what can be described as a lyrically creative endeavor into the mind, built by warm, rhythmic guitar runs and melodic vocals that layer on each other, the song is electrifying in its own right – a summer passage meant to be danced to in one’s room on full blast. Inspired by creatives such as Tyler The Creator and Steve Lacy, Todd plays on the puzzling roots of finding love and losing it in his own emotionally provoking metalepsis. He is telling his own story – revealing his own sense of understanding of it – all while creating the perfect musical experience for all who listen.

:: “SOMEDAY” – greek ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Discovering greek’s latest single (together with his pre-existing repertoire) this week served as a much-needed reminder that, no matter how much great music I think I know, there are tons of incredibly gifted, noteworthy artists out there; that the “pool” of talent is really more like an ocean, and I’ll never stop finding new favorites – some of whom, like greek, will come with years’ worth of material to explore. The moniker for Virginia-born vocalist, songwriter, and producer Michael Davie, greek exists in the ethereal intersection of hip-hop and singer/songwriterdom; his songs, dating back to March 2020’s “it means the most,” are all worlds unto themselves – each one its own singular universe in which greek unveils the innermost parts of his soul, unpacking life and all the grit and grime that comes with it.

That said, if greek’s latest releases are any indication, the artist is undergoing a massive musical transformation – one that is sure to drive his name straight into the mainstream. Following 2023’s songs “VIRGINIA CREEPER” and “THERE FOR YOU,” the dazzling “SOMEDAY” arrived this Thursday as the third impassioned single off greek’s forthcoming sophomore album ACCELERATOR (out June 28). Sun-soaked funk and achingly tender neo-soul coalesce in a brooding heart’s upheaval as greek sings and sing-raps a poignant ode to lost love: greek “Somedays it’s hard to realize you’re always easy on my mind,” confesses, a hot mess inside and out.

Tell me now
Come be free
Life goes on, for you and me
Take my hand and fly away
We’ll find love Someday

“This is one of my favorite songs I’ve made to date,” greek tells Atwood Magazine. “I think it’s a clear representation of the hours I’ve put into producing, and my journey to becoming a stronger songwriter. ‘SOMEDAY’ was inspired by something very real going on in my life at the time, but ultimately it’s a song about being in love with somebody that you can’t have.”

In a nod to greek’s unique artistry, “SOMEDAY” follows its own structural pattern, shirking the traditional verse-chorus for something more exciting and impactful. He hits a feverish crescendo in the song’s final minute, breaking out in a dazzling eruption of heavy, aching passion as he pleads, “Take me Higher… take me Higher…” over and over again, drums pulsing and fuzzy guitars swirling around his sweaty falsetto voice.

It’s the kind of emotional release we all need, after a painful low, to get the weight off our chests and maybe – just maybe – start fresh. Needless to say, I’ll be eagerly anticipating greek’s second studio album, as I have no doubt the companions to “SOMEDAY” will be just as all-consuming as this immensely powerful song.

:: “Goodbye Evergreen” – Sufjan Stevens ::

Frederick Bloy, London, England

Sufjan Stevens has long been a paragon of vulnerable and raw folk music. This identity is never more realised than when he tackles two of life’s most enduring themes on a personal level – love, and grief. “Goodbye Evergreen” combines the two, resulting in an opener for his 2023 album Javelin that sets the tone for a poignant and almost relentlessly intimate album.

The track opens with its title; “Goodbye Evergreen, you know I love you,” indicating the untimely end of something once deemed to be immortal. Stevens’ voice somehow quivers even more than usual, perhaps under the emotional strain of a release dedicated to “the light of [his] life… Evans Richardson,” as posted to the musician’s Instagram on the 6th October 2023, Javelin’s release day.

Stevens cries out, “deliver me from this poison pain,” before a cacophony of alpine synths flood the song, with echoing ‘Goodbye Evergreen’s speaking to a sense of desperation, and destitution in the face of the unavoidable tide of grief – of the reality of suddenly living without someone. Trademark chamber arrangements of woodwinds join, sketching the outline of a harmonic progression that fades, unsolved, undefeated, but weakening all the same. When an artist conjugates something universal into art, for their own comfort and the comfort of others, it is a brave task and one that I am repeatedly enamored by. Javelin and “Goodbye Evergreen” will be music that will surely help listeners for years to come. I hope they have helped Sufjan Stevens too.

:: “Underneath Me” – Rebecca Lappa ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

The last week of the school year is here! And that means… lots of last-minute grading and cleanup (ugh). But more positively, it also means I can start shifting my focus towards the summer holidays! In that spirit, I’m going to dedicate my two Weekly Roundup entries to artists who hail from places that I am planning to visit throughout the summer. For instance, I am about to spend a week in Canada later this month, where I plan to get some solid outdoor activities in and then enjoy the massive jazz festival in Montreal. To prepare for that trip up north, I’m listening to some new music from Canada – albeit from the other side of the country – courtesy of Edmonton native Rebecca Lappa.

I’ve previously been exposed to Rebecca through covering her last EP, Tales of a Taurus, for Atwood last year, and it’s great to rediscover her through her latest single, “Underneath Me.” Lappa has previously sung about the joys of being united with a loved one– especially in “Blue Lips,” the very first song of hers that I ever heard– but now she’s taking a markedly different approach with a new single that she describes as being “about missing someone who is far away, wanting to feel their touch, and longing for the separation to be over.”

The song’s lyrics support that description well – “I need you to come home now/Running with my arms out/We’ve spent way too long just making love over the phone now…” goes the chorus – and Lappa’s ever-impressive vocal abilities and synthy indie pop production round off the track quite well. Plus, as with several of her previous releases, this one comes with a music video that presents the gorgeous Canadian landscape in all its scenic glory. I might be physically confined to Quebec during my upcoming trip to Canada, but I appreciate that Rebecca Lappa has given me access to faraway Alberta as well, in her own special way.

:: “Natalie’s Song” – Font ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Font’s latest single is exactly what I mean when I talk about a song feeling like a fever dream: Urgent and unrelenting, intense and impassioned, “Natalie’s Song” is simultaneously messy, tight, turbulent, and raw. It’s a pressure cooker ready to go off; a sonic upheaval ready to be the soundtrack to our emotional eruptions. Released June 12th via Acrophase Records, the band’s second single of the year (and their fourth career song release) is a captivating kinetic rush – and one that finds the Austin-based indie quintet coming to life with a fire in their guts.

Having introduced themselves to the world just two years ago, and staying relatively under the radar until earlier this year, Font are easily one of the live music capital’s best-kept secrets – but not for long. The band of Thom Waddill (guitar/synth/vocals), Jack Owens (drums), Anthony Laurence (guitar/synth/sampler), Logan Wagner (percussion/sampler), and Roman Parnell (bass/synth) describe their music as dance-punk, incorporating elements of indie rock, new wave, post-punk, art-punk, alt-pop, and more into an artistry that is (admittedly) still revealing itself to us in real time. Through last month’s single “Hey Kekulé” and “Natalie’s Song,” Font showcase the breadth and depth of their identity – one that is at once expansive and eccentric, experimental and “radically vulnerable,” as they like to say. Both of these songs, together with earlier tracks “Sentence I” and “It,” will feature on the band’s upcoming debut album, Strange Burden (out July 12th via Acrophase Records).

Thanks to “Natalie’s Song,” I am officially hooked on this band. “The lyrics, delivered as though the voice were another drum, are inspired partially by L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry, partially by the fleeting apprehension of major historical change in fragments, warps, gaps, dreams,” Font tell Atwood Magazine. “It was an early experiment in automatic writing and collage, which have become staples of Thom’s lyric-writing process.”

Heated yet cool, dramatic yet sleek, Font’s latest release is utterly uncompromising: An invigorating, visceral fever dream that has me hooked on this band.

:: “So Much More to You” – The Stews ::

Julius Robinson, California

Have you ever wondered why a seemingly ideal relationship falls apart? The Stews stew over that concept in their latest single “So Much More to You.” Combining light organic arrangements with a gritty tone, the track is authentic and raw. When a partnership comes to a close many of us long to return to that initial spark. We all wonder if we can ever get that back. The piece perfectly portrays that desire.

The indie-rock outfit provides listeners with vocals that deliver an ample amount of passion and heart. That paired with their intimate lyrics create the dream musical listen. This single has the same emotional depth. “So Much More to You” is off of their upcoming album Chicken Fight out July 12th. The Stews are releasing new music for the first time since 2022 and we are here for this delightful comeback.

:: “C’est La Vie“- Brother Valiant ::

Chloe Robinson, California

They say love is all about compromise. Sometimes we need to make adjustments in order to please those we truly care about. Sometimes though we attempt big changes only to find ourselves reverting back to our old ways. Brother Valiant’s song “C’est La Vie” is a narration of exactly that. The warm and wistful piece delivers a certain enchantment that is utterly captivating. We are hanging on his every word.

AJ Amsterdam is the brainchild behind the alternative folk-pop project. His pensive pieces exhibit a bold sense of adventure. Brother Valiant’s sonic tells the unique story of roaming through nature yet also being surrounded by the bustle of a big city. His masterful lyrics and euphoric vocals make his music the perfect tranquil paradise.

:: “Signals in the Skies” – lucidbloom ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

An enchanting dream pop anthem full of passion and grit, tenacity and resolve, “Signals in the Skies” is an earnest, heartfelt ode to the human spirit: An intimate, achingly intense song born out of angst, urgency, and tension – the heat of the moment, when thoughts fly out the window and instinct takes over our bodies and minds. The fourth track (and final single) off lucidbloom’s recently-released debut EP Calamity (May 17) is a catchy, cathartic exhale from our deepest, innermost depths.

There’s a constant ringing in my ears
Could it be your voice
There’s a tension up in the atmosphere
Do I have a choice?
Everytime you say it’ll be alright
I can’t help but switch to the otherside
How can I survive when we’re running blind
I’m borderline

And oh, how hard it hits. lucidbloom, who hail from Australia’s Blue Mountains, describe “Signals in the Skies” as a reflection of the chaos of modern life and the constant struggle between resignation and resistance. “The song explores the feeling of rising tensions, from within a lucid dream state, where reality feels distorted, and every decision carries urgency,” frontwoman and bassist Katrina Noorbergen tells Atwood Magazine. “The lyrics behind ‘Signals in the Skies’ are about that sense of paranoia (telling yourself it’s going to be ok, but then really feeling the sense that nothing is ok!), and the tension of these unknowing and moody lyrics are strongly juxtaposed with a dreamy and uplifting pop chorus.”

“We have joked that we’re playing with this kind of ‘APOPALYPTIC’ genre – pop music that talks about the end of the world. The chorus lyric, ‘I’ll know to pull the trigger,’ is posing a question in regards to the choices we are faced with when things go downhill very rapidly. Do we fight, or do we give up? My sister, who weaves her vocals in and around mine, and I are complete opposites in this sense. Come the zombie apocalypse, she’ll have hidden supplies and scavenged makeshift weaponry, ready to defend herself. While I have shrugged my shoulders and thought ‘not for me thanks – I’m out!’ This duality is interwoven throughout the song and video, and these are the choices we see over and over again, and are entertained by in popular culture, TV, books and films, during these calamitous ‘end of days’ scenarios.”

When the sky goes up in flames
In the darkest of our days
I’ll know to pull the trigger

Reminiscent of timeless artists like Fleetwood Mac and The Cranberries, while simultaneously breathing fresh life into pop music’s dreamiest subgenre, lucidbloom are not to be ignored in 2024’s dizzying array of talented newcomers. Their debut EP may be named Calamity, but it is an indisputable triumph of emotional performance and evocative songwriting.

“Our debut EP, Calamity, is named after track 5, the first lucidbloom song ever written,” Noorbergen shares. “At the time of writing this material, we faced multiple situations (as were many) in the Blue Mountains that were classified as Natural Disasters, impacting our daily lives. The songs emerged within and between evacuations from bushfires, skies full of smoke and ash, disintegrating roads, landslips and flooded bridges, and successive pandemic lockdowns. References to natural forces and a sense of foreboding danger and tension are threaded throughout the songs, but also musings on loneliness, human connections and how beauty and light creep into dark places.”

“The surreal quality of living through these times is reflected in the lyrics in most songs – we’re in a lucid dream state, things feel unpredictable and nonsensical and there’s a looming paranoia at play. Musically, we’re also playing with organic instrumentation that builds, peaks and subsides. The energy of live instruments is key to capturing the right sensations and playing with dynamics throughout the EP and reflects how it feels to ride the waves of uncertainty and unforeseeable futures. Visually, we work with a lighting artist, SIRCUIT, and they bring tangible layers of colour, smoke and movement that enhance the layering of instrumentation and vocal harmonies.”

Pay close attention to this special band, and don’t sleep on “Signals in the Skies”: Next time you need to be energized, look no further than lucidbloom.

There’s a blending up of the sounds in here
Whirlwinds in my eyes
And the clouds descend til we disappear
Signals in the Skies

:: Submarine – Alex Turner ::

Oliver Crook, Halifax, Nova Scotia

I recently watched Submarine for the first time. If you haven’t, go now and watch it. It’s a moving, beautiful coming-of-age love story that is so relatable, so heart warming and genuinely funny. Why bring this up on a music website? Because the soundtrack, by Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and an acoustic guitar, stands amongst his best work.

It’s slow and pondering, his distinctive voice stirring with an emotion befitting the lyrics and the movie. But even if you haven’t seen the movie (and seriously, if not why are you still reading?!), the EP stands up on its own. “Glass in the Park” is acoustic angst done to perfection, while “Hiding Tonight” is worryingly relatable.

But the album shines completely when taken as a whole: It feels like you’re sat across from Turner, as he plays these songs just for you. So pause everything and go watch Submarine. NOW!

— — — —

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