Atwood Magazine’s Weekly Roundup: June 28, 2024

Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup | June 28, 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 Olivia Dean, Scott Orr, theMIND, Maggie Andrew, Later., Heather Mae, Sam Palladio, Boy Jr., 悪, and RIP Dunes!
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Atwood Magazine's Weekly Roundup

:: “Time” – Olivia Dean ::

Rachel Leong, France

After a critically-acclaimed debut album, performing on festival stages and wrapping up a largely sold-out tour, Olivia Dean drops her latest, “Time.” Dean excels in thoughtful storytelling, and “Time” is a powerful and vulnerable reflection of — in fact — all the success she’s received of late.

Dean’s honey vocals enter atop jazzy drums and mellow nylon guitar strums, gently waving us into the chorus where explosive drums and distorted guitars dominate the soundscape. She belts, “It’s up to me to spend my time / I gave you yours so give me mine / and in between it’s hard to find / when I’m in and out of time.” “Time” will easily ride the current waves of Dean’s rising success, one she seems to navigate with ease and grace.

:: “Can We Have a Chat?” – Scott Orr ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

Scott Orr’s music is so serene, so calming and peaceful, that for the past four years now, I have listened to his albums on nearly every airplane flight I’ve taken to help relax, soothe my anxiety, and calm my nerves. In fact, ever since I first discovered him in 2018 (shout-out to “A Memory” and the entire Worried Mind album), he has been my go-to artist whenever I need a moment of meditation or tranquility – which, as you one imagine, happens quite often.

The Hamilton, Ontario singer/songwriter and producer’s catalog is already quite vast – he’s been making records since the mid 2000s, and has (on my last count) nine studio albums under his belt – and yet, with every new release comes another world of musical beauty and aural wonder. That rang true for his latest LP Horizon (released exactly a year ago, in June 2023), and it rings true for his brand new single “Can We Have a Chat?” released June 7 by his own Other Songs label.

Never mind, just forget it
I just had a thought
I just think right now
Love is all there is
Now, love is all there is
And I’m okay with that
Just let it come easy

An intimate, soul-stirring dreamscape full of heartfelt emotion and sun-soaked warmth, “Can We Have a Chat?” is a tenderly seductive reverie: Orr sings softly and sweetly over warm, radiant flute riffs, lilting piano, gorgeous chimes, and pulsing percussion, his voice gentle and aching as he captures the raw weight of connection between two minds, two bodies, two hearts, two souls: “I just think right now, love is all there is,” he declares, “and I’m okay with that. Just let it come easy…” It’s a reminder, on one hand, of how delicate love is; how fragile, and how fleeting, that feeling can be. At the same time, Orr basks in its euphoric glow, evoking a sense of awe in both his poetic words (all chosen very carefully) and his enchanting, immersive instrumental work: After the cathartic release of his second chorus, just around the two minute mark, Orr spends the song’s final two minutes filling out a breathtakingly beautiful instrumental wonderland, adding harp and additional percussion to the mix while giving solo time first to the acoustic guitar, and later to a pair of dueling flutes.

Needless to say, “Can We Have a Chat?” is a surefire contender for “most beautiful song of the year,” with a sincere message worth taking to heart: “Just let it come easy.” With sweet words and even sweeter sounds, Scott Orr brings us back to the things that matter most in this world – and ˆ, it’s not about that email you need to send right now, nor is it about winning some argument you’ll have forgotten all about in a month’s time. Love is all there is.

And we’re okay with that.

:: “GINA” – theMIND ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

I always strive to be an independent thinker, meaning I try to block out the noise (ie., everyone else’s opinions) and come to my own conclusions. Given that, perhaps it’s no surprise that I immediately found myself moved by theMIND’s brand new single, “GINA” – a song about seeing people for who they are, and not for the names they get called or the labels folks attached to them. Or maybe I just fell for the song’s intoxicating beat; either way, theMIND will absolutely be soundtracking my July and August, thanks to this sweet n’ summery seduction.

I think you’re just my type
Cold stare and emotions on ice
You hate what the other girls like
And that feels right
It’s something ’bout the mean girls
It’s something ’bout the mean girls
It’s something ’bout the mean girls

“When writing this song, I aimed to encapsulate a profoundly universal experience – the dynamics of ‘mean girls.’ The world imposes these labels, leading women to develop defense mechanisms as a response,” theMIND’s Zarif Wilder tells Atwood Magazine. “Through ‘GINA,’ I wanted to convey that I refuse to be swayed by societal judgments. I acknowledge those external influences and how they shaped your demeanor, but they don’t diminish your worth in my eyes. It’s a testament to your resilience, and I wanna meet you where you are. I want to embrace you. I choose to love you regardless, honoring the hardships of your essence.”

The lead single off theMIND’s forthcoming third studio album Dancing While Crying in The Middle of Nowhere (out later this summer), “GINA” is a sunny, smile-inducing enchantment: Gently dreamy melodies and an irresistible, free-flowing dance beat consume the ears while the artist’s endearing words stir the heart. A collaboration with fellow Chicagoans Mamii and prodxvzn, the track proves a perfect soundtrack to all those hot, sunny days ahead – and if it’s any indication as to what his upcoming record might sound like, it’s safe to say we’ll all be celebrating a very theMINDful summer.

:: DAY JOB – Maggie Andrew ::

Josh Weiner, Washington DC

After a couple days of trekking through the wilderness of Quebec (complete with an encounter with a black bear and her cubs!), I have just arrived in Montreal and am now diving head-first into the International Jazz Festival. Given that much, the time is definitely right for discovering some new music from rising Canadian artists. The festival itself has allowed me to achieve that much (for instance, I caught Montreal’s own Dee Holt rocking in her native city last night), but I decided to continue that process through Atwood by picking up a pitch from Maggie Andrew, who hails from only two provinces away in Nova Scotia.

DAY JOB, her debut EP, features plenty of abrasive content– any album that begins with the lyrical passage, “I just quit my day job. F* working at a Save-On. Told my ex that it’s over, then I flew to California,” has to do so to some extent, right? – but Maggie Andrew also makes room for her more sensitive and introspective side. Song titles like “Hurt Myself” and “Come Clean” hint to all that, and those songs’ lyrics make those hints grow stronger.

“I didn’t mean to cause a big scene when I fell from the pedestal,” Andrew sings on the former. “Now, there’s blood on the cobblestone. Do you think that’s how far I’d go?” Throw some electric guitar, indie pop synths, and a dash of hip-hop into the mix, and DAY JOB covers an impressive amount of sonic and lyrical territory in the space of a mere 21 minutes and eight songs. “I’m constantly evolving, and I’m never going to be bound to one sound or idea,” the singer has stated. Given how thoroughly she’s already proven that statement with just one EP, it’ll be remarkable to see just how much she’ll have lived it up once she’s got even more projects to her name soon enough.

:: “Baby, Come Over Tonight” – Later. ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

The heat of the moment comes alive in Later.’s second song of the year as the French quartet make a space for intimate connection and emotional kindling. Released in early June, “Baby, Come Over Tonight” is a familiar (albeit longform) message brought to life with soul-stirring music: Following February’s standalone single “Cold Touch” and last year’s debut album Walking On the Line, the Parisian band put their hearts “out there” while evoking a moment of raw vulnerability that so many of us know all too well. “I wanna lay by your side all night, feel the subtle touch of your body on mine,” their lead singer croons, holding back nothing as he and his band mates dwell in the vibey, visceral longing of late, lonely nights.

For Later., this song is all about desire and sensuality; it’s an attempt to “prolong the warm summer evenings with your loved one,” made all the more intoxicating thanks to their instrumental choices: The effected synth, those funky guitar licks, the heavy bass, and more all add up to one sweet summery seduction.

Middle of the night I feel so free
Thinking about the way it used to be
And I don’t know
If you want to stay
Make me feel good when I feel unsafe
Cause I put my face up high in the middle
I wanna lay by your side
All night feel the subtle
Touch of your body on mine
Up high in the middle
I wanna be by your side
One way us to settle
Baby come over tonight…

“This song is an invitation,” Later. tell Atwood Magazine. “It’s about this moment when you’re alone late at night and you wonder if you should send the text. It might be a mistake but you decide to let go and follow your desire. It was very important for us to release this song before the summer because we associate it with the heat and freedom of a long summer night.”

“The video is like an old memory that you can go back to and remember the feeling of being carefree and enjoy these special moments. We like the idea of being spontaneous with our music. Making music allows us to go to that place where we can let go and reconnect with our passion; we wish to convey this feeling to the people listening to us. Lyrically, our biggest inspirations could be Jim Morrison, Ian Curtis, or Lou Reed – artists who tend to blend poems into songs. Relating to your personal experience of the world and aiming for something universal. We all have a huge admiration for Blood Orange, and we could really see a collaboration work with him… If we’re allowed to dream some more, maybe Lana del Rey, because there’s no other voice like hers. To finish a feat with Jungle, to make people dance.”

While they’re dreaming big (as is their right), “Baby Come Over Tonight” is a relatively smaller, more specific dream: To be spending some quality time with another. To fill an empty bed. To deny loneliness and bring another body and soul into your purview. We’ve all been there, and we all know what it’s like to ask that question, and then have to wait (impatiently) for an answer. It’s funny to think a song all about satisfaction now should come from a band called Later., but truly, this group have found a home in the heat of the moment – and we can all benefit from the emotionally nuanced music they’re making.

:: “All I Wanna Do” – Heather Mae ::

Chloe Robinson, California

Singer/songwriter and activist Heather Mae’s alluring alt-pop piece “All I Wanna Do” is a powerful anthem for anyone who has been afraid to fully express themselves. Oftentimes we are fed a certain narrative that makes us think we should act one way when really we are holding back who we are truly meant to be. This bubbly, bouncy track was inspired by the story in the Bible about Naomi and Ruth. Ruth possesses a strong loyalty to Naomi, boldly stating, “where you go, I will go”. Many lesbians view this as a biblical example of female love. Growing up in a religious atmosphere though, your mind can be skewed to one direction of thinking. Mae admits, “Despite my early crushes and kisses with girls, I thought I was straight because I also liked boys. Those ‘Naomis’ in my life were just friends in my eyes. ‘All I Wanna Do’ celebrates those hidden sapphic connections, honoring the love that was always there, even when we couldn’t fully see it.”

The Nashville-based artist exudes a courageous vulnerable intimacy in every song. Her listeners are deeply drawn to that fierce freedom. She reveals her heart and soul unapologetically and it is an inspiration to queer and straight alike. Her previous releases “Kissing Girls” and “Ash & Smoke” show that open side of herself. “All I Wanna Do” is also a no-holds-barred single, and we are captivated by that daring display.

:: “Meanwhile in London” – Sam Palladio ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

An achingly intimate, cinematic reverie, the lead single off Sam Palladio’s upcoming debut album is the perfect reintroduction. Best known for portraying Gunnar Scott on the ABC (and later CMT) television series Nashville, Palladio is a Cornish singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with a heart (and voice) of gold – and the songwriting talent to match. While he’s released a smattering of songs over the years, 2024 represents a rebirth of sorts as he strikes out as an independent artist, hoping to make a name for himself through music that hits hard and leaves a lasting mark on the ears and the soul.

Needless to say, “Meanwhile in London” is an enviable start to any musical conversation. Released June 14 via Battery Rocks, the song builds from soft, contemplative beginnings into a spirited, stunning rush of hot sound and hearty, driving rhythms. It’s part-reckoning and part-daydream, with Palladio’s smokey, emotive voice shining a warm light on everything it touches.

Back in the city where I’m from
Still an hour til it’s dawn
I’m walking the streets
I can’t find my way back home
Are you waiting in the line
That spot at Hollywood and Vine
Half a world away
5 thousand miles don’t change it
You’re still there kicking up star dust
‘Cause you said love isn’t always enough

“I wanted to make a record opener that spoke to who I am,” Palladio explains. “This is my experience of being a British guy who spent a long period in the States and fell in love. I was traveling so much, missing home and wondering what that person was doing and getting all those intrusive thoughts.” He hits a fever pitch in the song’s captivating, cathartic chorus:

Meanwhile in London
I’m listening to the rain outside

Wondering what you did last night
I can’t stop the movie
Somewhere in California
Someone else got their hands upon ya
Green eyes in a gold summer
Meanwhile in London

Even the name of Palladio’s debut album sends shivers down the spine: The Perfect Summer’s Day, Before We Lost The Light is out September 13, 2024, and promises to put our hearts into overdrive as the artist himself dwells in moments of passion, longing, and raw human connection. To that end, “Meanwhile in London” seems the perfect way to kickstart the conversation, and a fantastic insight into a “new” artist ready to break from his past and blaze a new trail all on his own. If the full album is anything like this single, Sam Palladio may very well become a household name faster than he thinks.

:: “Bullying Myself” – Boy Jr. ::

Chloe Robinson, California

They say sometimes we are our own harshest critics. We tell ourselves things like we are not smart enough, we are not doing good enough, everybody hates us and so on. LGBTQ+ alt pop artist and influencer Boy Jr. examines the need to continuously beat ourselves up in their latest single “Bullying Myself.” They know what it is like to pick on yourself and are sick and tired of the constant inner harassment. They reveal, “This is a song to listen to when you are fed up with how mean you’ve been treating yourself. I find myself repeating a lot of the same unkind thoughts when I’m going through something, but if anyone ever said these things to me or a friend, I’d be pissed! So instead of letting it rot on the inside, I’m airing it out and releasing it outside.” The shiny upbeat synth arrangements contrast this feeling of intense dread and self-doubt.

Ariel Allen-Lubman is the talented musical force behind songwriting/production project Boy Jr. They craft witty, innovative releases with vulnerable topics we all can connect to. Their unique style of spirited indie pop-rock is utterly magnetizing. This has gained them a viral Internet presence. As they prepare to unleash their full-length album, I Love Getting Dumped, they continue to perfect their adept artistry and explore gender and influencership. “Bullying Myself” is another skillful piece reminding us to pause those internal punches.

:: “American U” – RIP Dunes ::

Mitch Mosk, Beacon, New York

There’s something ethereally enchanting about RIP Dunes’ latest single; something pulling me into the spellbinding world he’s building, even if I can’t quite put my finger on everything awaiting me there. Released May 31, “American U” is a contemplative, synthy reverie here to soundtrack moments of tension and turbulence. It’s a song of reconnection and revitalization; of self-discovery and triumph. The indie artist (formerly of Caveman) throws ready-to-burn logs on the metaphorical inner fire, turning embers into roaring vessels of heat and kinetic energy as he opens up his own inner sanctum:

Dead on the wall
Ever I wanted to feel it
Never before
Then I decided I need it
Keep them around
They’ve forgiven you
Keep them around
They believe in you

“I got the idea for this song early on and recorded a couple different versions, but it always kind of seemed unfinished,” RIP Dunes’ Matthew Iwanusa tells Atwood Magazine. “I thought the lyrics were uplifting, but the song itself did not match that. Then I decided to add the synth bass and drum machine instead of real drums and bass, and finally the song felt like it matched the lyrics’ energy.”

Dead on the wall
Ever I wanted to feel it
Never before
Then I decided I need it
Keep them around
They’ve forgiven you
Keep them around
They believe in you

“American U” arrives just a few months after RIP Dunes’ self-titled debut album, itself a multi-faceted introduction to Iwanusa’s burgeoning artistry. Both the new single and the full-length album are worth the listen, highlight RIP Dunes’ ability to craft cinematic landscapes full of charming energy and charged sound.

You say I wouldn’t ever
Be given up given up
No way I would’ve ever
Have given up giving up
Dead on the wall
Ever I wanted to feel it
Never before
Then I decided I need it
Keep them around
They’ve forgiven you
Keep them around
They believe in you

:: 永眠 – 悪 [Evil] ::

Frederick Bloy, London, England

The genre ‘deathdream’ is an elusive one, existing in the annals of the most esoteric of conversations held on online forums. A founding father of the vaporwave/dark ambient subgenre, 暗い自然 (Dark Nature) is quoted as describing deathdream in the article ‘The Internet’s Darkest Music Genre’, published by Vapor95: ‘deathdream is not about the sound, it’s about the aesthetics surrounding the music… Deathdream albums have stories attached to them. Sometimes the story is obvious and sometimes it’s a complete mystery, but deathdream needs a narrative of some sort in order for it to work well.’

永眠 is, arguably, one of the more abstruse deathdream releases. But it bears all the hallmarks of a polished deathdream release. Samples stop and start, glitching, jumping, cackling at the listener for endeavouring to survive, let alone partake of its existence. This is a calling card of the most accomplished deathdream – it is music that never invited you, so does not entertain you like an audience. It exists exclusively in its own realm – we just happen to have caught it in passing, or to have shown up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Vocal recordings are twisted and modulated, pitches stretched into inarticulate howls that writhe above low, desolate drones. Fragments of speech are momentarily audible, as ghosts damned to be forgotten.

There is no easy way out. Garish tones billow, rattling out what feels like a hopeless, fatal conclusion. The artwork, the impenetrable title, the collage of disorienting horrors 永眠 contains, all coalesce into masterful deathdream. You have broken down in an abandoned village you do not recognise, and there is no one to help you. The skies are tenebrous, and you swear you can hear whispers on the wind. You spend the night, eventually sleeping in your car, but your dreams are ruptured by skittish nightmares, and faces and voices you swear you can recognise… but not quite…

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