Cathedral Bells – “All Under The Sky”

Earlier this month, Cathedral Bells announced their upcoming album Everything At Once, the follow up to 2021’s stunning release Ether. The “shoegaze-by-way-of-bedroom-pop” project is led by Orlando, Florida-based artist Matt Messore, who writes, records, and produces everything on his own; live, he’s accompanied by Griffin Marthe, Miguel Pais, and Jordan Bermudez. Overall, Messore’s sound is lush and otherworldly, a perfect mix of crystalline synth and crepuscular flourishes (imagine tendrils of smoke preserved in a rough-cut diamond – that’s what Cathedral Bells are to me).

The album’s latest single “All Under The Sky,” released last week, at once hearkens back to the icy, gauzy dark wave of Ether (and Sensory Overload, the debut from Messore’s coldwave solo project, Midi Memory) as well as points us in a slightly more expansive direction in terms of tone and feeling; and, if I may be so bold, it is, perhaps, one of the best singles they have ever released, due, in part, to this perfect balance. It is direct and bold right at the outset, with sharp, jangly, post-punk-esque guitar; later, it’s perfectly layered with celestial-like synth and gorgeously frantic percussion. Messore’s vocals are impassioned, patient, and inquisitive, but not without a sense of dire urgency; during the chorus, true to the track’s name, it sounds like he’s singing in the middle of a meteor shower, the rogue stars shooting across the sky like emergency flares. 

Everything At Once is out 5/19 via Born Losers Records. Pre-order it here.


photo courtesy of artist

Royel Otis – “Razor Teeth”

Today, Sydney-based duo Royel Otis share their third EP Sofa Kings. Back in 2022, the duo – made up of Otis Pavlovic and Royel Maddell – released their stunning sophomore EP Bar N’ Grill, a sun-drenched, multi-textured menagerie of indie dream pop tracks that flawlessly hid a melancholic edge. In a recent interview, the duo explained the meaning behind each track on Sofa Kings, including our favorite, a lighthearted, yet heartsick tune titled “Razor Teeth:”

“Razor Teeth” is a song about getting way too obsessed with someone. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a positive way or not. Stop being bloody intrusive.

Despite their stern tone, the track is a bit more wistful in comparison, perhaps meaning to indicate the sheer futility of parasocial infatuation and all of its potential hazards. The guitar bounces and gurgles throughout the track, emulating that infatuation, only to be softened later by the seraphic synth at the chorus. Overall, it maintains its chaotic calm, which mutates into a sort of manic yearning. Looking a bit more closely at the lyrics, there is an overwhelming sense of indeterminacy, of not knowing exactly what you want but pushing for it anyways, not aware of the deleterious effect on those involved. As Pavlovic croons in the first verse, even if the nothings being relayed are sweet, they’re “sung like silk through razor teeth.” Ultimately, it’s something like a reality check, set to song.

Sofa Kings is out now.


photo by Alex Wall

Pearly Drops – “Feed The Fire”

Earlier this week, Pearly Drops released “Feed The Fire,” the stunning fourth single from their upcoming sophomore album A Little Disaster. It’s the follow-up to Helsinki-based duo Sandra Tervonen and Juuso Malin’s 2020 debut Call For Help, an absolutely exquisite, multi-textured, otherworldly collection of alt-pop. I wish I could go back and hear “Bloom For Me” for the very first time again; when Tervonen’s vocals kicked in during that first listen, I was certain that I had never heard anything like their music before. Their bio on bandcamp states that Tervonen and Malin craft “eerily haunting pop dirges,” songs “made for keeping the hope inside and the unmeaningful at bay.” There’s something softly visceral about their compositions; the album artwork for previous singles “Get Well” and “I Cry While You Sleep” as well as the art for A Little Disaster, paintings of slightly distorted faces, only adds to their intrigue. Regarding “Feed The Fire,” the duo explained the feelings behind the track:

“This song can’t decide if it’s outgoing or shy, sad or upbeat, it’s like when you say someone is a ‘lost cause’ – not really having a proper sense of self or lacking a protecting barrier between yourself and the rest of the world.”

“I must follow my heart/ But love is not in this room,” Tervonen laments at the start, all while the synth, fluttering, rarefied just so, falls softly to the sonic floor, as if to soundtrack her dismay. “I’m the trees that are burning,” she admits at, arguably, the most beautiful part of the track; “only feeding the fire,” she continues, most likely referring to her self-destructive habits. The synth after the chorus bounces playfully while the guitar melody, serious and moody, works to create a steady path underneath it all. Part of Pearly Drops’s charm, of course, is their ability to be both cathartic and calm at the same time, and this single is no exception; earnest, self-aware, and refreshingly vulnerable, it just might be one of their best yet. 

A Little Disaster is out April 14. Pre-order it here


photo courtesy of artist

Layzi – “idk”

Last week, bedroom pop artist Layzi released the gorgeous new single “idk.” The Boston-based artist has been steadily releasing stellar singles since her 2021 debut EP What’s Left To Lose, a charming, impressive collection of lo-fi dream pop tunes that consistently put her ethereal, perfectly balanced vocals front and center. To us, it was a sophisticated balance of opposites, light and dark, soft and jagged; the electric guitar throughout opener “If U Want Me 2,” burning through the pasteled synth like a wildfire, proves that her compositions are anything but one-dimensional. “Ego,” her previous single, was effervescent, with a subtle 80s overlay; in “idk,” the synth is far more delicate, akin to gossamer, with the occasional glitchy flourish that actually works to emphasize its overall fragility. Her vocals are gauzy, the tone melancholic, enamored, and anguished all at once; the narrative is steeped in quiet desperation, of trying to get someone – or, perhaps, the idea of someone – to leave the precious spaces in your mind, soul, and heart alike. “What do I have to do?” she asks, although it seems that deep down, she’s already made peace with the possibility that there might never be a satisfying answer.

“idk” is out now via Spirit Goth Records. 


photo courtesy of artist

Beach Fossils – “Don’t Fade Away”

Earlier this week, Beach Fossils announced the upcoming release of Bunny, their first new album in five years. Since his stunning debut EP What A Pleasure back in 2011 to their most recent album, 2017’s Somersault, the band has grown steadily, beginning from the DIY solo project of Dustin Payseur, to an influential four-piece dream pop band (Tommy Davidson (guitar), Jack Doyle Smith (bass), and Anton Hochheim (drums)) that are confidently self-produced, self-managed, and self-released. In fact, Payseur produced this album himself, heavily inspired by the psych-pop of early Verve and Spiritualized albums, as well as perennial influences like the Cure, Wire, the Byrds, and the Velvet Underground. Said to be their most personal album to date, the songs reflect on “depression, love, adventure, loss, mistakes, New York City, friendships coming and going — a mélange of granular pieces in the process of continuing to find yourself,” but ultimately, Payseur states that Bunny represents “strength through vulnerability.” 

Regarding “Don’t Fade Away,” the album’s stunning first single, I firmly believe that it is one of the best tracks Beach Fossils have ever produced. And it’s for personal reasons, admittedly. I had the biggest, cheesiest smile on my face when I was listening to this for the first time, and the weather was perfect (to me, at least): right on the cusp of rain, with slightly gloomy skies, warm wind, and the sun a gauzy highlight in the distance. I was exhausted, and it was a long day, but I slowed my pace while walking to my car, taking it all in, looking up at the trees and breathing in the heavy air; for a moment, I felt capital A alive, and yet so wistful at the same time. Maybe it had such a big effect on me because Payseur anchors the narrative on lost love, lost connections, and directly noting that absence, rather than wishing it out of existence – all ideas I’ve been turning over in my head recently. “The city hasn’t felt the same/ Since you moved away,” Payseur admits, ensconced in soft, yet pensive instrumentals. “Wonder if you found your way,” he continues, but clear by his tone that he’s not quite over the subject of his devotion. He clings to the memory, calling her his “novacaine,” the numbing agent that makes life just a bit more bearable. “Don’t fade away,” he pleads, the guitar reiterating the strength of his passion, his resolve. 

Bunny is out 6/2 via Bayonet Records. Pre-order it here


photo by Sinna Nasseri

Nation of Language – “Sole Obsession”

This week, post-punk trio Nation of Language announced their upcoming album Strange Disciple and shared its first single, a haunting stunner titled “Sole Obsession.” Follow-up to the Brooklyn-based band’s radiant 2021 sophomore album A Way Forward, Strange Disciple will most likely bring more dimension and depth to their 1980’s inspired coldwave/darkwave aesthetic, focusing on what I hear to be the tonal equivalents of light and shadow, of stark devotion and hesitant repudiation. “Sole Obsession” is no exception; the band – composed of Ian Richard Devaney (lead vocals, guitar, synthesizer, percussion), Aidan Noell (synthesizer, backing vocals), and Alex MacKay (bass guitar) – explained the specific inspiration behind the new track earlier this week, which centers on the idea of irrevocable surrender:

“In simplest terms, “Sole Obsession” is one about knowing when, or if, to give in or give up — particularly, when to untie the knots we tie ourselves into when an infatuation sets in. So many of us have experienced an addictive feeling that constricts us further and further until, hopefully, there’s a moment of clarity that allows one to free themself from that particular compulsion. The title of our next album Strange Disciple is a lyric from “Sole Obsession” which references a character of such a nature, one who finds themself an adherent to a subject that is probably not worth the devotion.”

It’s a perfectly produced single, and it beautifully highlights the duality of Devaney’s vocals, at once evocative and stoic, switching from enamored croons to near-spoken-word passages; the track, as a result, feels ironically prophetic, reaching towards something in the ether. “Don’t offer me this measured attention,” Devaney pleads; “End the cycle / I must stop limiting myself / You and your sensational soul.” The glitchy flutters of synth create an atmosphere that’s volatile but in the sense that it will soon lead to a cathartic epiphany, that “moment of clarity” that they allude to. “My sole obsession/ Finally I feel it fading,” Devaney breathes out at each chorus, at the end his affect converging into mix of relief and subtle ecstasy. 

“Sole Obsession” is out now.


photo by John MacKay

Akira Galaxy – “Virtual Eyes”

Earlier this week, Seattle-born, Los Angeles based artist Akira Galaxy shared the otherworldly debut single “Virtual Eyes.” Merging dream pop and alt-rock, her style is at once ethereal and vaporescent, and, most of all, gorgeously unapologetic in its utter vulnerability. In an interview about the single, in fact, she speaks to something similar to this, about the beauty of art in its helping to soothe and transmogrify moments of internal strife:

“Writing this song was a cathartic experience. It came together when I was in a state of complete brokenness, and being in the vortex of this song is what pieced me back together. I think the most secretly beautiful thing about life is turning the darkest moments into light, and the way I know how to do that is through the music.”

“Virtual Eyes” is about desiring nothing less than “impossible devotion,” the complex, visceral notion that one needs their lover to simply live, breathe, survive. “Tell me what the world is like/ ‘Cause I don’t want to go outside,” she sings in a strained croon; “let’s stay here / in our minds.” Later in the narrative, it gets more visceral; there’s talk of cutting open, of melting, of sucking dry. This is brought to life during the chorus and bridge, where the vocals and instrumentals become one empowered entity, as if the pain from yearning has unlocked her true power. It ends on a dire note, a somber ultimatum, a plea that she knows will never be answered: “Give me your impossible devotion/ Or look me in my dying eyes.”

“Virtual Eyes” is out now. 


photo by Noah Witt

The National – “New Order T-Shirt”

I listened to this song in my car before work yesterday morning when it was officially released. It was cold yesterday, and it’s just as cold, if not colder, today – a dry, bitter kind of cold that stabs at your eyes and slowly desiccates your hands until they’re at risk of bleeding, the kind of cold that makes you look grimly at gray skies and bare trees with existential dread. I’ve always attributed that sort of viscerality to this band, so it was fitting, of course, but I’d be lying if I said I was listening passively; I have been listening to The National pretty intensely these past few weeks, half due to what seems to be a sudden reliance on Matt Berninger’s stoic, evocative vocals and their darkened, strained hopefulness to drown out my own internal monologue, and half in preparation for their upcoming ninth album First Two Pages of Frankenstein, which is out this April. 

And yet, I had to stop half-way through listening to “New Order T-Shirt” right after the first chorus, not because I was late for work, but because my head was spinning, trying desperately, I believe, to match the frantic metaphysical movement of my heart. It’s the same feeling I had during first single “Tropic Morning News,” (the verse that began and ended with “you found the ache in my argument…you found the slush in my sentiment” made me have to sit down and look out the window for a while) but here, it felt way more potent, perhaps due to its heightened aura of melancholy. Maybe it was the delicate, stripped-back instrumentals – which allows you to hear the gentle grit of Berninger’s voice even more clearly, in that too-intimate sort of way – but I think it was more because of the intense, meticulous specificity of the lyrics, which gave off the feeling that I’d never be able to truly parse them, at least, not totally. Since then, I have listened to the entirety of “New Order T-Shirt,” of course, and all it really tells me is that The National, after over two decades and eight albums, continue to make the kind of music that can’t be explained away; frustratingly enough, it has to be felt, totally, completely.

First Two Pages of Frankenstein is out 4/28 via 4AD.


photo by Josh Goleman

Nightbus – “Way Past Three”

Last week, Manchester, UK post punk trio Nightbus released their stunning debut single “Way Past Three.” According to the group – composed of friends Jake (guitar/production), Olive (vocals/guitar), and Zac (bass/vocals), it’s an ode “for the ones that stayed out a little too late and a little too often.” Anchored on moody, yet eerily invigorating guitar bursts and melodies, and with Olive’s echoed vocals cutting through like neoned light through plumes of gasoline smoke, the track perfectly encapsulates the overwhelming mind fog after a too-long night out – the silent chaos, the waves of dread and soured regret slowly settling into the subconscious. Though much is sung about lost wallets, crying in corners, and eyes rolling back, it always ends in the same place, with the same epiphany: “sold my soul for a fantasy,” Olive admits towards the end, the delivery somewhere between a lamentation and a sigh. 

“Way Past Three” is out now via So Young Records. 


photo by Kitty Handley

MARBLES – “Heading Out”

Earlier this month, Norwegian indie synth-pop quartet MARBLES released their stunning sophomore album Humour. Although heavy metal is the norm in Kolbotn, their home city, they’ve made a name for themselves in this equally addictive genre, with its own specific elements to perfect. Humour is the follow up to group’s self-titled debut released back in 2020, and their short bio in bandcamp, “dreamy madness and chaotic bliss,” is an apt description for both; however, the band explained that they wanted more “simplicity” this time around, which explains the lush, crystal clear synth work and blissed out vocals on Humour. “Heading Out,” one of our favorites on the album, is effortlessly smooth; from the falsetto vocals at the chorus to the steady bassline that courses through, it evokes a nostalgia that’s tantalizingly hard to pin down, but it’s this same indeterminacy that makes you want to hit repeat. 

Humour is out now. 


photo courtesy of artist