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 feels really trite right now to be writing about my own personal experience with music when the United States is calling for justice and the halt of racist violence against its citizens. But I find joy in the work created by these artists, so I want to share that joy with you all, too.
Locate S,1 — Personalia
You know how Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? is a record that is perfect in any way? If you're a fan of that era of Of Montreal, you'll love "Personalia" — the track and the record.
The bassline here just pops. It's so powerful, and it's a perfect counterbalance to the "Mad World" (Tears for Fears) atmosphere. This song is sweet and sad, it's upbeat and bouncy. It is, of course, reminiscent of the heavy themes and danceable beats from Hissing Fauna.
I want to belt this song in a karaoke room. I want to dance wildly to this song at an Of Montreal-style show while singing along. Easily one of the best songs of the year for me.
Mint Julep — Unite
It was hard for me to pick just one song off of this record. This song glides and dips like a peaceful airplane: the overdriven pads start the ethereal vibe, building to the delay-heavy verse. But all of this is the perfect counter to the atmospheric, sprawling, symphonic chorus. After the chorus, the reverb on the vocals hangs in the air, only to be cut short by a delightful digital tom-tom.
It's hard for me to understand the vocals in this song. Vocals are something that I place a lot of value in, but I don't think that matters so much here. The vocal melody, here, is another track creating a counterbalance to the layered melodies which ping, crunch, and strum throughout the rest of the song's journey.
Anna Burch — Not So Bad
Burch's If You're Dreaming is an excellent followup to her first record, Quit the Curse, but "Not So Bad" is a standout to me for its evocative lyrics and catchy melody. "Not So Bad" is a rising, jangly refrain that delightfully reflects its title. The lyrics are a wonderful, semi-obscured reflection on a relationship, perfectly paired to its instrumentation.
Squirrel Flower — Red Shoulder
Wow. This tune is cinematic, with deep, country-western vibes and resonating guitars. The transitions between vocal and non-vocal sections perfectly amp up the energy and heart-wrenching emotions. This is one of the more driven tracks off the record, which tend toward a little folk, but this track isn't out of place for the thunderous power it brings: Ella O'Connor Williams brings her A-game to each track with her resonant, engaging voice. Expect each track to be as sweet and sad as this one.
Perfume Genius — Describe
Set My Heart On Fire Immediately is another great collection from Perfume Genius. I almost have a hard time listening to this song because it is so sad. The slide guitar and mandolin are a slight departure from the Perfume Genius songs I'd heard before, but the sparse lyrics and dense soundscape pull together to tell a story that I cannot put a name on or really tell why it brings so much emotion. Then, suddenly, the song cuts to a slow, far-away organ hum.
Ringo Deathstarr — Just Like You
Ringo Deathstarr are back, taking a page out of the Slowdive handbook by releasing a shoegaze masterpiece after an already storied career.
"Just Like You" is a ripper. With "Only Shallow"-style, circling instrumentation, it punches forward with every note. It is a soft headbanger. It belongs in a movie.
Momma — Double Dare
The harmonies of Friedman and Weingarten's vocals here are astonishing. It's hard to tell where their melodies end and begin with respect to each other and the rest of the song; creating astonishing, gripping effects that are hard to describe.
This rolling track has a sly narrative inside, smart in the same way that the composition is smart. It's so good.
This is one of a handful of recent singles to be released by Momma, all of which are absolute jams. I'm really looking forward to the record they support, due on June 5th.
Wednesday — Maura
Well, from the way the song starts you just know that something's coming.
The rising and falling nature of this track is so cool. Taken together as one whole, this song is powerful and energetic. It's a beautiful, not-quite punk; the screaming guitar over the chorus vocal melodies which continue through to a refrain and then suddenly drop out to Hartzman, alone — so good.
I also highly recommend "Fate Is…" from "I Was Trying to Describe You To Someone" — a shorter but powerful jam.
Pintandwefall — People Like Me
This slow, garage-y tune is a perfect series of vocals, bass, guitar, drums, and synth combined. There's a slight syncopation in the chorus which is very very catchy; you can hear all aspects of the instrumentation in the room, and it's delightful.
Katie Von Schleicher — Wheel
This short track epitomizes the fantastic sound of Katie Von Shleicher's latest record, Consummation.
There's an extremely crunchy guitar which surprisingly does not sound out of place on top of the deep, resonant vocals. The way it kicks in in the chorus with a series of punches that fade back and forth is fantastic.
Gengahr — Heavenly Maybe
The round bass line drives this song. It barely changes as the song proceeds, while the rest of the instrumentation evolves, filling out, adding and removing layers that catch your ear and nod your head.
The very subtle layering on the vocals really make the track, with falsetto support whispering overtop of a delightful timbre.
In short: this track is a jam!