Here’s a link to the playlist. The play buttons embedded here will play 30-second clips if you’re not logged into Spotify in your browser, which is probably the best way to listen to the tracks while reading this article.
Hi! I hope you’re having a good time. Here’s a little time capsule of new (to me) music this month.
shame — Human, for a Minute
Off Drunk Tank Pink, released January 15, 2021
shame’s Drunk Tank Pink is an immense, spectacular record, but “Human, for a Minute” really stands out to me. It’s an incredibly dynamic track, with shifting, emotional tones. The ever-present bass lays the foundation for some excellent vocal takes, and a landscape of guitars add to other ethereal layering to round out the song.
Death Of Heather — Living Slow Disaster
Off Death of Heather, released November 14, 2020
Death of Heather’s self-titled record has a very Slowdive feel to it; it’s a perfect, spacey shoegaze, but it still brings something new and delightful to the genre. The whole record stands together as a cohesive work, but “Living Slow Disaster” stands out to me as my favorite track.
Tourists — Align
Off Another State, released November 20, 2020
“Align” is a mysterious and punchy track, with radical guitars and a booming vocal performance. Every part of this song just bleeds a cool atmosphere, especially the way the verse and the chorus interplay. And I can’t avoid mentioning the incredible layered synth that spikes in the chorus but flows through the latter verses, cradling the song into an incredibly energetic space.
Kiwi jr. — Undecided Voters
Off Cooler Returns, released January 22, 2021
It feels like I just wrote about Kiwi jr., which I suppose makes sense, because I wrote about them exactly a year ago, and time doesn’t make sense anymore.
Kiwi jr. are back with another rip-rolling record, and I’d be very happy if they continue this one-album-a-year trend!
“Undecided Voters” seems to me to be the most energetic track off this album, though it’s certainly elbowing with others on the album to see which will come across as the most fun and the most catchy.
This chorus, especially, is belt-worthy: it’s so catchy. It’s seeming more and more clear to me that Kiwi jr. have their formula for churning out the hits, and it’s clearly working for them.
Trace Mountains — Lost in the Country
Off Lost in the Country, released April 10, 2020
I cannot put my finger on what this Trace Mountains track reminds me of. It kind of feels like what you’d get if you mixed Emperor X with … I don’t know, Pinegrove?
Anyway, I’m not doing this song justice. It’s a sad one, slightly jangly, with cool guitars and engaging lyrics.
Sarah Chernoff — Remains of the Way
off Transitions, released April 2, 2021
I had had the release of Sarah Chernoff’s new record marked on my calendar for a long time, and I was literally counting down the days. Do You Feel OK? by Superhumanoids is one of my top-five favorite albums of all time — and, while I write this, it’s the album with the highest number of scrobbles on my last.fm account! I’m immensely saddened that the project seems to be permanently sidelined.
Transitions is more of a collection of ballads. You can hear a bit of Chernoff’s time with electronic music in the instrumentation of most of the tracks — particularly this one — but the only carry-over, really, is Chernoff’s vocals.
This is an extremely good song, with just the right notes to give off a tragic, cinematic vibe. I almost feel like I wasn’t fair to the record, because I expected more Superhumanoids, and this is something completely different.
Moontype — About You
Off Bodies of Water, released April 2, 2021
Man, this is a fantastic record. “About You” is so good; every piece just works together so well. It just goes so fast, and every time I think the next part couldn’t bring more energy, they find a way.
It’s just such a smart song, but it doesn’t come across sounding as difficult as it must have been to put together. The perfectly catchy vocals, flawlessly delivered by McCarthy, mirror the guitar, bass, and drums in delightful ways all over the place. Even when this song’s on in the background, I feel like I’m in front of a cork board, drawing lines in my head between each moment. It seriously gives me chills.
Don’t miss this album — I recommend you check out the slightly slower “Ferry” next.
Katy Kirby — Traffic!
Off Cool Dry Place, released February 19, 2021
This is a sweet, lovely song. Effects which shift in and out over Kirby’s voice are a perfect foil to the way the track shifts in and out of moments of driving energy. It’s like every note or percussive element is a pin in the tumbler of the song, with space specially crafted for it, but Kirby’s vocals are clearly the key that lines it all up. There’s a whole lot going on here, and I think that’s what makes its atmosphere both dramatic and super catchy.
That part where everything drops out and we get an organ and a choir is clearly slightly at odds with some guitars which are shredding all on their lonesome, but it’s all tied together in such a great way.
Lake Turner — Videosphere
Off Videosphere, released October 23, 2020
This is a really lovely, spacey electronic track. It’s incredibly ambient, and went straight onto my “electronic music to work to” playlist as soon as I heard it. If you let the song grip you, you’ll find a heart-wrenching atmosphere.
Jordana — Reason
Off Something to Say to You, released December 4, 2020
That drum and bass section is so good — I need to be careful that it doesn’t blow out my speakers.
Jordana’s soft, gentle vocals are fantastic, and it’s the perfect foil to that loud, powerful drum loop. “Reason” is almost James Blake-like in its combination of soft vocals and sampling which borrows from a more electronic or hip hop style, but this track is almost danceable, even with Jordana practically whispering at you.
Mette — Petrified
single, released March 3, 2021
“Petrified” is a lovely electronic song, with incredible vocal effects and outrageous mixing. It deserves to be played loud. Mette’s vocals are beautiful, and they are intertwined with the rest of the track like one of the instruments.
EXUM — Bad Chick Bad Dude
single, released March 25, 2021
I watched the two music videos which EXUM has released so far and realized that he’s very likely going to end up being the king of pop. This is to say that he is clearly on track to become immensely popular, and you should become a fan now, while his catalog is, at time of writing, essentially two songs.
And both songs are fantastic. I feature the Death Grips-esque hip hop earworm “Bad Chick Bad Dude” here, but “Dark Kept Secret” is clearly also extremely good, though it slots into an entirely different genre.
“Bad Chick Bad Dude” is clever and catchy. Every verse has a sort of delightful character behind it, but the chorus really stands out to me as super well-crafted and one of the most repeatable hooks I’ve ever heard.