Son Lux – “Prophecy”

After a chaotic couple of weeks (months), the newly released Son Lux track truly feels like a much needed breath of fresh air. “Prophecy,” in tow with first single “Live Another Life” released earlier this year, is imbued not only with etherality within its minimal, yet evocative instrumentals and Ryan Lott’s signature falsetto, but also a sense of quiet resilience within the narrative itself, marking yet another unpredictable, yet stunning separation from their past work. Piercing through the expanse of sultry synth like a light arrow, Lott speaks to himself and the listener in patient, honeyed breath: “tell yourself that you / need to bleed but you / don’t deserve this,” that “you are not less / you don’t deserve less.” Later, with help from vocalist Nina Moffitt, Lott delicately repeats “don’t stand in your own way” as the instrumentals beautifully warp and waver around them, insisting on the ultimate futility of self-sabotage. Equal parts uplifting and seductive, “Prophecy” is ultimately a love letter to one’s own interiority, one’s own glorious potential. 

Tomorrows II, the second of Son Lux’s intended trilogy, is out December 4.

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Hollow Graves – “Far Out Summer” / “Tequila Sunrise”

Brilliantly balanced between dream pop, new-wave, and post-punk, Toronto quintet Hollow Graves just might be our newest obsession. After discovering their most recent single “Far Out Summer,” we came across their incredible self-titled debut, released back in 2018 – it was there where their punk background shone through, especially gorgeously heavy tracks “Soda” and “Moonlighting” that illuminate not only the darkness in their tone, but the innate dreaminess that lingers as well. Since then, there’s been alterations in overall sound, but thankfully, that incredible tension they began with is still there – “Tequila Sunrise,” their first single of 2020, feels like a sister track to “Far Out Summer,” given the similar interplays between vocals and instrumentals that feel nothing short of euphoric. And yet, they have their differences – the former is a bold, yet vulnerable rager (with vocals I still can’t get out of my head), while the latter is an atmospheric, quietly visceral ballad. Both, however, are absolutely worth your time – we promise you’ll have them on repeat just as we have this past week.

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Cathedral Bells – “Invisible”

Back in May, we premiered Cathedral Bells’s gorgeous track “Undertow,” the first single since the release of their wonderful debut LP Velvet Spirit two months prior. Since then, there’s been some slight changes: originally a bedroom pop project founded by Florida based musician Matt Messore, Cathedral Bells is now a trio, with the addition of Aaron Gollubier on drums and Kyle Hoffer on bass. Last month, they announced their upcoming sophomore album; today, they share the first stunning single, titled “Invisible.” The track takes dream pop to another level, weaving together dark-wave tones and eerily metallic synth until the tapestry left behind seems to scintillate in tandem with Messore’s radiant vocals. Partly inspired by the depression and anxiety in dealing with the pandemic, the track immediately feels honest and inviting, representative of something both individualized and easy to relate with. 

Cathedral Bells will release their sophomore album in early 2021 via our friends Spirit Goth records.

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Sitcom Arch Nemesis – “Sing To Me As I Lay”

It’s difficult to describe the newest LP from Sitcom Arch Nemesis, and I mean that in the best way possible. According to him, Transit Authority Gothic is a menagerie of genres: “it’s shoegaze, it’s dreampop, it’s industrial noise, it’s edm, it’s goth, it’s disco.” And yet, somehow, it’s all cohesive, perhaps because, in some way or another, they’re all about “acceptance” – acceptance of who you are, acceptance of how you choose to love, the anxiety and neglect felt when it’s more about the lack of love rather than the existence of it. Many of these tracks are about love, because, as he admits “I like writing about love.” Their lyrics are simple, yet memorable, honest – our favorite, “Sing To Me As I Lay” (though the following track “Swans” is a close second with its electronic), is no exception, with a saccharine sweet narrative surrounded on all sides with sharpened synth and lush percussion. The vocals swirl and swell like ghostly apparitions, creating a texture as soft as it is jagged and surreal. He sings about an unreciprocated adoration with a sense of resignation, pleading for them to “Lay down here beside me/ The night is crawling near,” and “though you don’t feel the same way / I’ll always be here.”

Transit Authority Gothic is out now.

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Early Eyes – “Marigolds”

Last week, indie pop quintet Early Eyes released their lovely debut EP Sunbathing. Bright in tone, lithe in its instrumentals, and immediately arresting from the very first moments, the album shows the Minneapolis group’s immense skill in songwriting and composition alike – there’s an aura here that feels wonderfully familiar, a warmth within the music that ultimately keeps you listening. Along with the exuberant title track and the bouncy single “Wander,” we were similarly entranced by “Marigolds” – namely, the lounge style piano opening that explodes into a full chorus, not unlike, given the title, an entire garden blooming simultaneously. The vocals, courtesy of Jake Berglove, are earnest and honest despite the playful melodies – they seemingly relaying the importance of self-care, the idea of never being ashamed to take the time to get to a place of self-awareness; he even explains “I shouldn’t be this afraid / to take time to feel okay,” that he knows one day he’ll not only see marigolds bloom within the person he’s singing about, but to also maybe see them bloom within himself, too. 

Sunbathing is out now.

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photo by Muriel Margaret

Angelo De Augustine – “Blue”

Every time I hear Angelo De Augustine’s voice, it’s like the very first time. It has to be the way it’s mixed, of course, that gives it such echo, such reverberant texture, but there’s also just something within it that’s blissfully unattainable, so otherworldly – no other vocal sounds quite like his. Tomb, De Augustine’s brilliant debut, knocked the wind out of me in a gut-punch instant; I was constantly a prisoner to my own subconscious, sinking deeper and deeper into the past (seriously, just listen to “All Your Life”). And normally I’d advise against reminiscing to such an irrevocable extent, and against dissolving in fleeting ideas like nostalgia and wistfulness – especially these days, when it would be to your benefit to remain as present and aware as possible. However, at the same time, I’ve never been one to deny the healing power in succumbing to vulnerability – with his most recent track “Blue,” I say, succumb away. In fact, I insist.

“Blue” is the latest single from De Augustine since releasing the stunning “Santa Barbara” earlier this year, working with friend and collaborator Sufjan Stevens on both. It’s delicate and pure, as it is within the rest of De Augustine’s ouvre. The guitar is soft, so unbelievably soft it is as if he’s cradling a baby bird at the same time as he strums; his vocals are hushed and yet simultaneously the loudest bit of the track, relaying words simple and light in appearance only to be made complex and heavy the moment they’re sung. Though one of his shorter tracks, it is not void of substance in the slightest – De Augustine explained that the track is about “the eternal and symbiotic bond of mother and child,” as well as “an inquisition into our inner pain, investigating if we are forever bound by it.” 

The song feels somewhat like a triptych – each of its three verses is tinged with a different emotion, but they’re all strung together by the same thread, woven together by conscious and honest introspection. The last verse in particular has been haunting me since the track came out, and one I feel I must share verbatim: 

Between my eyes 

is an ocean – 

You can feel it if you try.

Not unlike a howling wind,

like a tempest in the open hearts of men. 

“Blue” and “Santa Barbara” are out now on a 7” via Asthmatic Kitty Records. Get it here

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photo by Jess Collins

Beach Vacation – “Unfazed”

Today, Beach Vacation has released their stunning debut album I Fell Apart. Influenced by the likes of Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils, and Craft Spells, the indie outfit has essentially been moving towards this particular release for nearly a decade – the journey began when Tabor Rupp and John DeAvilla were in a high school band – their first EP, released back in 2013, gained international acclaim, released on CD and vinyl in the UK, US, and Japan. But, given the members were 16-17 at the time, life eventually got in the way – over the years, members moved away, got jobs, and started school. But back in 2018, Rupp and DeAvilla reunited, and turned the group into a duo – two years later, we now have this fantastic debut that shows off their newly evolved sound. 

Our favorite from the album, “Unfazed,” walks the thin line between dream pop and shoegaze beautifully, and, as is the case with the album as a whole, contains a near tangible tension that keeps you listening – the synth and guitar shimmer underneath the deep, echoed vocal line like an electric current, or lights shining brilliantly from underneath a dark, murky body of water. DeAvilla’s vocals are honest, similarly immersed in sentimentality  – he feels that there must be “something better” than the current situation between him and another, that he just wants to “feel this to the end” in case there’s a chance there’s something special between them. Ironically, given the title, he is less than confident; as if afraid they will slip away, he begs them to “take another breath,” to prove again that they’re real, that this is real. 

Given that “Unfazed” is the shortest song on the album at just over two minutes, it should really tell you all you need to know about Beach Vacation’s talent – ultimately, to be able to convey such immediacy in such little time is a gift. 

I Fell Apart is out today via Z Tapes. Get it here

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Sprints – “Drones”

Earlier this week, Dublin post-punk group Sprints announced the release of their debut EP Manifesto – along with the news came the incredible “Drones,” the album’s first official single. The track, along with industrial percussion and two-tone jagged guitar blares that slash and cut at the air like knives, puts the incendiary vocals of lead singer and songwriter Karla Chubb at the forefront. Never one to shy away from addressing important issues, (their stunningly volatile last single “The Cheek” was about her own experiences with sexual assault, unsolicited advances, and sexuality as a whole) “Drones” is no exception – she explained the inspiration behind it in a statement earlier this week:

“Drones” is very literally about my struggles with imposter syndrome. I think being a female in music, I struggle a lot with feeling like I have something to prove. It’s not okay for me to just be good, I have to be great. I have to prove constantly why I am deserving to be on the stage, or holding that guitar or that microphone. That pressure can be very difficult to deal with, and I think a lot of the times you doubt yourself then, am I actually able to write? Or is this all shit? “Drones” is about my experiences with dealing with this pressure, but realising that a lot of people have these struggles. The bars fill, the car parks fill, life seems to go on and on, and we can become so internally on our issues that you don’t realise that maybe while I was wishing I was someone else, they’re also wishing the same thing.

With each verse, Chubb’s vocals brilliantly build in intensity; what begins as a narrative relayed in a slightly annoyed tone turns into frustration and then ultimately into white-hot rage by end of the second chorus, where she repeats “you’re getting better/ and I’m getting bitter” before the instrumentals unleash into a cathartic clamor of pure punk euphoria. Through the brick wall of noise, Chubb yells “well maybe I always wanted to be like you” but answers the thought with “well, maybe you always wanted to be like me!,” commenting on the perpetual existence of self-doubt as long as there is art to be made. And Sprints truly do make art – this is a band that simply needs to be on your radar. 

Manifesto is out 10/9 via Nice Swan Records.

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Fake Laugh – “Amhurst”

Just a few months after the release of his LP Dining Alone, Kamran Khan – who makes music under the name Fake Laugh – released the beautiful Waltz, a stripped-back, piano-anchored album that allows his vocals to shine like never before. Largely written and recorded during isolation, the tracks feel intimate and lived-in, with the slightest twinge of gorgeous melancholy that, long after the album ends, still seems to linger in the air like strong perfume. If Khan’s first single from the album “Apology” had him emulating, in his words, “the classic character of the sad self-indulgent songwriter, sitting at a bar staring into the void,” then the breathtaking “Amhurst” sounds like what would swirl around in his head as he stares into his half-filled glass.

Khan’s wistful vocals rest delicately on a gentle piano melody, relaying an esoteric narrative radiating with self-deprecating awareness, of the world and his place within it: “swirling around down in the sink/ won’t miss a thing if i don’t blink/ tiniest cog in the machine / why would the world care for my dreams?” Between verses, an effect reminiscent of blinking lights seems to hint at something like the bartender signaling a last call, along with the image of the bar slowly closing down for the night – but the character still sits, lost in thought. Pensive and lonely in the best possible sense, “Amhurst” is an introspective dream, internalized thought set to music. 

Waltz is out now. 

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Multiples – “Quiet Room”

Multiples’s stunning “Quiet Room” might just be the best song inspired by quarantine you’ll hear this year. Despite it being recorded entirely remotely by the band while being cooped up in South London, instrumentally, the track – inspired by the baroque pop of The Zombies, ‘70’s Spanish rock, and ‘60’s French pop – feels breezy and sun-soaked, albeit wistfully reminiscent of better days. Lead singer and guitarist Tom Short elaborated on the stunning track earlier this week:

I was listening to a lot of Francoise Hardy and Stereolab who reference that [‘60’s French pop] sound along with 70s Spanish rock like Paco de Lucia. I love how bands like Stereolab and Broadcast used that carefree, nostalgic sound but also made it a bit uneasy, like a summer holiday that’s gone wrong. That was definitely something we were trying to communicate with “Quiet Room.

Lyrically, the track explores the idea of love in confinement – the various ways in which being together in a small space over a set period of time can either bring couples closer together, or, more realistically, perhaps closer to the verge of mutually assured destruction. An hour can feel like a year, or vice versa; similarly, with enough imagination – or rather, enough psychological coaxing – a small room is able to expand to the size of the world. 

This is what Short alludes to in each chorus, right before the crystalline, shoegaze-y guitars take center stage: “you and me / and endless time / make the whole world in a quiet room/ restless people in a big cocoon.” He takes time to introspect and wonder if this relationship will flourish or fail, explaining “I’m the type who wants to make things last,” asking that though “no maps exist here, I wanna know, does our world still have more room to grow?” The bridge, glitchy, distorted, and slightly eerie, offers brilliant texture to the track, a more than fitting atmosphere for pondering the existential, the hypothetical – Short asks  “when we speak of endless love / what is that supposed to mean?” But before we have a chance to think of an answer, it returns the breezy, sunny guitars once again, almost as if we’re caught in a perpetual loop, doomed to repeat it all again the next day. Seems about right. 

“Quiet Room” is out now.

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