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.
It's the end of the second month of February, and somehow this collection of tracks this month seems, to me, like the appropriate end to winter and a shining beacon pointing toward enjoying some warmer weather. I hope you enjoy it!
Pom Poko — Andrew
Off Cheater, released January 15, 2021
I mentioned Pom Poko all the way back in November for the release of their single "Like A Lady" — and the album it supports, Cheater, is phenomenal. To those familiar with the album, it might seem a bit surprising that "Andrew" has stood out as my favorite track, but there's just so much happening here that I keep finding myself coming back to it.
Pom Poko's instrumentation is impossible to adequately describe. It can be, in some moments, a cacophony which all points in the same direction, while at other times all snapping together to sing as one voice. "Andrew" is the epitome of that style — it's jazzy without being jazz, it's like a future genre that will surely be influential upon some genre that doesn't quite exist yet.
The real star of the show here, though, is this chorus. It is perfect. Jamtveit's vocals follow a guitar line in both pitch and emphasis, and it's an otherworldly effect; especially in the later repetitions, where her call of "Andrew" perfectly emulates a wammy bar easing down. Seriously, it's one of the most impressive vocal takes I've ever heard, and it's just kind of buried as a one-off later in the song.
The Lounge Society — Cain's Heresy
single, released February 18, 2021
"Cain's Heresy" is a rocking track, but there's a kind of laid-back, chill vibe to its fast-paced rock. The not-quite shouting moments that the vocals can build up to are the perfect counterpoint to the guitars bouncing around, and the sudden shift most of the way through the song checks off the box to place us firmly into the realm of cool.
These kids are going places. And yes, I'm sure they get it a lot, but this group is super young, so it's incredible for this to be their first effort.
錯乱前戦 — TAXIMAN
Off I am SAKURAN-ZENSEN, released March 4, 2020
This relatively recent track is a fun garage jam: the guitars go fast and hard, and the vocal performance is the essence of rock. There's a combination of shouts and claps which pair with a sort of dueling guitar performance; the space of the ripping, rocking vocals makes so much sense in the mix with shredding guitars flanking it.
That 「ぶっ壊せ、ペットショップ」 refrain in the chorus is just so great. This song just screams "fun," and they're obviously having fun with it!
Film School — Is This a Hotel?
single, released February 7, 2020
This track isn't quite shoegaze, but it's close. There's a delightful, electronic bass throughout the track which pairs well with the rolling drums, echoy vocals, and even echoier guitars. The evolution of the track is powerful, dropping in and out in all the right times to create an energetic feeling. It's honestly just a beautiful tune.
Bessie Turner — Donkey
single, released February 14, 2020
Wow, those vocals.
"Donkey" is such a heart-wrenching track. It's energetic, with guitars pushing us forward and providing more voice to the melody of the chorus.
And that guitar motif is just so cool; it's a great piece to turn the song around, both in the melody and the tone of it. This song is one that's meant to be played loud — it's deceptively rocking.
Soko — Looking For Love
Off Feel Feelings, released July 10, 2020
The spacey guitars and other instrumentation fit so well with Soko's vocal performance: in the verse, quiet and gravely, but reverbed and almost belted in the chorus. Each section is its own part of a bigger cosmic whole in this track. The mixing is incredible, making a flowing sound out of some more bouncy chord structures.
ELIO — @elio.irl
single, released January 22, 2021
This poppy, passionate track grips me every time. It's a lovely song to usher in the spring, with a dream-like quality to it, especially in the vocals. It's a song that you expect to play in the background of a film, with a soft frame to set up a chance encounter, but there's still this incredible funky bassline underneath the rest of the tones keeping it somewhere upbeat.
Liza Anne — Bad Vacation
Off Bad Vacation, released July 24, 2020
"Bad Vacation" is a bit of a pop bop with clever subject matter. Though there's many elements that are ultimately predictable, those elements lay the foundation upon which really clever motifs can shine through. There's such great guitar tones throughout this track which layer in just the right ways — they're fuzzy, but they sound extremely clean in the soundscape sitting right next to Anne's vocals. The awesome chorus-shout-guitar-scream in the chorus is fantastic as well.
But really, it's not just the instrumentation that's clever — "you were like sand in my ice cream" is just such a great lyric.
Keep Shelly In Athens (feat. Georgia Hurd) — You
single, released February 5, 2021
Dang this one's a ripper. That square-shaped bass line, those drips and claps pair so well with the powerful vocal performance from Georgia Hurd. There's a kind of 80s vibe to this one, or maybe even early nineties — it's a track that would blare in the background as cars race down a curving mountainside well into the night.
The pulsing, driving energy carries throughout the song, but there's enough variation between the verse and the chorus to keep the pace up. This one definitely belongs on your driving playlist at the very least.