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'm really excited about this month's playlist — there's a lot of good music here. A some of the tracks here are pulled from a playlist created by a local store, Omoi Zakka Shop, so big thanks to them for putting together a great collection of tunes!
Quivers — You're Not Always On My Mind
Off Golden Doubt, released June 11, 2021
"You're Not Always On My Mind" is a concise ditty of a track which reminds me of the best kinds of proto-indie pop rock from the nineties. Clever, catchy vocal hooks, combining with some brilliant, spacey guitar layering; some subtle ringing tones filling out the layering in the back of the track, and plenty of space left for the song to take off where it wants to go. I love this kind of extended four-piece feel, and this track is the epitome of what the genre can be.
Alice Phoebe Lou — Glow
Off Glow, released March 19, 2021
This song almost reminds me of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, with a very tight, snappy, pared down instrumentation distorted and overdriven, only to be covered over by a certain vocal style. Alice Phoebe Lou's vocals are impeccable — I love how each line in the song has an explicit purpose, and there inflection she employs while rolling through the song is perfect every time. Some of the takes which somehow hide in the mix of the double-tracked vocals are so immensely clever that you can't help but be hooked.
Opposite Sex — Combine Harvester
Off High Drama, released May 24, 2021
This song is my newest obsession. I love the slow ramp up at the beginning, and the dramatic energy that comes with every movement. It's so effortlessly cool, and it's an atmosphere I wish I deserved to be wrapped in all the time.
Lucy Hunter's double-tracked vocals work so well, but I am particularly enamored with the refrain, which is just perpetually stuck in my head now — every time it manages to get unwedged, I'll listen to one of the many playlists I've already put this track onto and spend the rest of the week singing to myself, "c-c-c-com-b-bine, com-b-b-bine harvester."
The Chills — Monolith
Off Scatterbrain, released May 14, 2021
Okay, let's get this out of the way: do you like Guided by Voices? You will love this song for all of the same reasons.
"Monolith" is a swirling, punchy jam; a track that that implores you to go. There's a lot of energy here, but not in the traditional ways that you might expect from such a bouncy track. And, of course, that refrain is so incredibly catchy.
Wednesday — Twin Plagues
Off Twin Plagues, released August 13, 2021
It's really hard for me to not just stick Wednesday on every single one of these playlists.
"Twin Plagues" is the title track off Wednesday's brand new LP, a sludgy and flowing song that continues that great tone they've put together of not-quite-shoegaze, not-quite-horrorcore rock.
FOTOS — Das Verlangen
Off Auf zur Illumination!, released February 26, 2021
I think this German-language track from Das Verlangen is a spectacular poppy piece. I really like the amplified effects on the vocals, and the magical layering that plays throughout the entire track. They've really hit something with this chorus — when it's played loud, it's a surprisingly energetic, emphatic piece.
Ali Awan — Moon Mode
single, released April 9, 2021
Philadelphia-based Ali Awan really made a hit with this one. I love how every instrument on this track is spacey in its own way; the almost percussive "moon mode" declaration in the refrain is the perfect match for this round and driven bass line and the impeccable guitar takes.
Tei Shi — Bassically - Acoustic
single, released February 26, 2021
Tei Shi clearly deserves the critical acclaim that she has already earned, but this acoustic take of one of her many perfect tracks just demonstrates her immense range and talent.
This song drips with emotion when Tei Shi performs it, but there's something radically different about this slightly slower, severely stripped-down reimagining.
Mr Twin Sister — Expressions
single, released March 19, 2021
Mr Twin Sister have been one of the coolest bands to exist since, like, 2008. It's great to see that they're still putting out this amazing discotheque music, and honestly, I think "Expressions" might be my favorite track from them so far. I just love the way that drum slams its way through the track, perfectly punctuated by one of the best bass lines in the business. The vocals, of course, are incredible, but to me, they're the capstone on an incredible groove of a track with a legendary chorus.
Sipper — green line
Off Half Young, released August 6, 2021
Sipper has released three albums so far this year, which is extraordinary in and of itself. But while this one-person act continues to evolve, the format of bouncing keys seems largely the same, which the subject matter and overall tone have basically entirely evolved to something much happier compared to Pink Songs.
"green line" is a slower, but somehow upbeat song, continuing a recent but great tradition of a certain kind of vibe being carefully cultivated by each song in Sipper's discography.
Like the rest, this song is good at being catchy, but it's substantive, and there's something new to discover with each listen.
Crumb — Trophy
Off Ice Melt, released April 30, 2021
"Trophy" is well within the "lo-fi hip-hop beats to study and relax to" tradition, but there's something much more active about the journey that this track creates, even before the distortion kicks into high gear in the track's bridge. I think it's something about Lila Ramani's vocals; they're smooth and performed in a cool, relaxed style, but there's high energy keeping this downtempo song immensely driven.
박혜진 Park Hye Jin & Nosaj Thing — CLOUDS
single, released December 9, 2020
LA-based Park collides with well-loved producer Nosaj Thing in this cool, downtempo, Korean-language track. This song is basically everything I ever want from electronic music — it has a great feel to it, and each individual part is quite catchy, but taken as a whole, it can be either a soundscape to dive into or something to have on in the background while you work. The production on this track is fantastic, with the peaks of each loop fitting perfectly into the valleys of the others.
Cold Beat — See You Again
single, released July 7, 2021
Cold Beat are stirring the waters again with a few new singles, which I'm incredibly excited about, after the release of their fantastic record Mother last year.
"See You Again" is a sweet, slow song; it's a nice, fluid jam, and I love its ethereal electronic tones.
L'Rain — Two Face
Off Fatigue, released June 25, 2021
You can't escape the shifting polyrhythms of this jazzy, electronic track; the brilliant, expectation destroying arpeggiations somehow lay the bedrock for a stellar jazz vocal performance which flows in and out of rhythmic lines. It's like every single part has been given permission to march at its own pace, but the skill of the composition of the track somehow keeps it all together in this magnificent melodic track.