Nature TV – “Loopholes”

Last week, Brighton-based indie quartet Nature TV released their stunning third EP Heartache Skyline, follow up to 2019’s debut Emotion Sickness and 2020’s Lady Luck. Nature TV is a group whose music has personally brought me so much peace and comfort over the past few months; their soft, often jazz-inspired instrumentals and detailed, poetic narratives feel almost cerebral at times, filling all the crevices of a strained, weary heart. There are truly few bands that sound as gorgeously seamless and complete as Nature TV does – fronted by Guy Bangham’s smooth, ardent vocals, their songs touch on internal strife, lovesickness, and everything else in between with finesse;like a spoonful of sugar, their music makes even the most painful emotions just a bit easier to stomach. 

“Loopholes,” perhaps our favorite track from Heartache Skyline, has a sweet, yet melancholic air about it, evoking the complex feeling of coming home after a long day, throwing the window open, and feeling the breeze wafting through while overthinking about everything you said, everything you did, and, most importantly, everything you missed out on, the aura of resignation settling into your soul like moonlight. Bangham asks a nameless figure “close the window, baby/ I don’t think I’ll get no sleep/ I hear the city breathing/ better than it ought to be,” yearning for something abstract and nameless. Backed by moody guitar, his vocals become emboldened at the chorus, lamenting “for the first time/ I’ve really tried to see a loophole, baby/ but they’re all closed to me.” 

Heartache Skyline is out now.


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Butter Bath – “Kurrajong Hotel”

Earlier this week, Butter Bath – aka the dream psych project from Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist Toby Anagnostis – released “Kurrajong Hotel,” the absolutely gorgeous final single from his upcoming sophomore EP of the same name out next month. From his bedroom studio, Anagnostis maintains a meticulous hand when it comes to his compositions; directing all parts of the recording, mixing, and producing process, his music is a “sincerely raw and undiluted insight into his psyche.” His previous singles “Anchor in the Clouds” and “Show Me That You Care” are flawless, and “Kurrajong Hotel” follows suit, though its inspiration is rooted less in reverie and more in remedy. Specifically, On social media, Anagnostis shared that [“Kurrajong Hotel”] is “about growing up in conservative religious circles and the process of unlearning a lot of patterns as I reached my late teens and started thinking critically about my beliefs.” 

Opening with groovy ‘70’s-inspired piano bursts and heavy, earth-shattering percussion evoking the anxious pound of a heartbeat, the verses and chorus soon smooth everything over with Anagnostis’s dreamy, yet adamant vocals: “I’ve been acting earnest / So why’re you always preaching / You put me through the furnace / Your eyes are so beseeching.” At the tail end of the chorus, his voice hardens and echoes confidently: “Surely I have earned it / The right to tell you keep it to yourself / I don’t want your help.” As the chorus plays one last time, with Anagnostis’s vocals intertwining with a single, isolated guitar melody, it sounds like reaching an internal sense of peace. 

Kurrajong Hotel is out 5/27 via Nice Guys Records. 

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Swiss Portrait – “Safe House”

Earlier this week, Swiss Portrait released Safe House, follow-up to his debut EP Familiar Patterns released just last year. Recording, mixing, and producing everything in his bedroom just outside Edinburgh, Michael Kay Terence keeps everything as DIY as possible, resulting in a soft, ambered, pastoral sound resting somewhere in between a daydream and a deep, enamored sigh. Safe House continues this aesthetic tenfold; the title track from the EP, the first track Terence wrote with his bandmates, is the perfect way to close out these handful of tracks, ironically pointing towards something of a fresh beginning rather than a finite ending. But then again, this perpetual oscillation between beginning and ending is the nature of Swiss Portrait’s style of dream pop, as shown in “Safe House” – ouroboric tendrils of synth swirl and dance like a summer breeze just after sunset, while Terence’s vocals melt into the landscape. In the last minute, metallic, heavily textured guitar breaks apart the fantasy for just a moment, almost as if a deeper part of the subconscious is telling the heart and mind to return to reality; 

Safe House is out now. 

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COOL HEAT – “Lately”

Earlier this week, COOL HEAT – also known as the lo-fi pop project of Chicago-based artist and photographer Eden Sierotnik – released “Lately,” the second official single from his upcoming debut LP Nowhere. The new album follows Sierotnik’s incredible 2021 EP Levitate, which further expounded his stunning, cinematic take on shoegaze and dream pop that was introduced in his 2020 self-titled debut (just take one listen to “Drift” and tell me that doesn’t take you to another dimension). Multi-textured yet subtly ethereal, modern yet lost in time, the project’s moniker is apt; Sierotnik proves with his highly unique, maximalist synth work that it is entirely possible to balance two opposing ideas with finesse. “Lately,” following the debut coldwave single “Devotion” with Midi Memory (aka Matt Messore/Cathedral Bells), takes a slightly different approach:

I wanted this one to have a “dreamy love song” vibe to it. I feel like most of my stuff tends to have a melancholic mood. While this track may still have a little bit of that, I like that this one sounds more uplifting both lyrically and sonically.

Fragments of a lovesick narrative are interspersed between jagged, metallic synth reminiscent of the splintered, ricoheted light from a shattered mirror, placed at just the right time as to evoke the act of piecing together a ripped valentine; growing simultaneously pensive and cathartic as it reaches the conclusion, Sierotnik ultimately chooses to wear his heart on his sleeve. “Let’s fall behind,” he asks, his voice melting into the gauzy ether, “‘cause you’re on my mind.” 

Nowhere is out this summer via Spirit Goth Records.

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Meltt – “Within You, Within Me”

Today, Meltt shares the vibrant dream pop stunner “Within You, Within Me,” the newest single from their forthcoming sophomore LP  and follow-up to their gorgeous 2019 debut Swim Slowly. The Vancouver-based alterna-psych rock group wrote the new album while living in a remote cabin in the western Canadian woods, and it definitely shows; their soft, intimate synth melodies, arguably what the group was already known for, have somehow become more expansive, more atmospheric, more euphoric. “Within You, Within Me” opens gently with a piano beat that sounds like raindrops falling into the ocean, later detailed with majestic harp-like flourishes and heavy, echoed bass simulating the oscillating push and pull alluded to in the narrative: “Somehow I feel/ part of you/ is part of me.” It marks a new direction for the band, which they shared earlier today:

This song feels like a real exploration and growth for us in terms of embracing a new sonic palette and letting more light and color into our writing and recording process. Written during the peak of the pandemic, the song is all about unknowingly bringing yourselves out of dark times by learning how to love someone, how to connect with people, and in the process how to love yourself more…Hope that whoever you are, you blast this song with your friends or by yourself, in the city or in the great outdoors.

“Within You, Within Me” is out now. 

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photo by Zachary Vague

atmos bloom – “Daisy”

atmos bloom is the project of Manchester-based artists Curtis Paterson and Tilda Gratton. Working in the delicate space between shoegaze and dream pop, the duo take influence from past groups – 90’s icons like My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, mostly – as well as modern day indie greats, such as DIIV and Beach Fossils. However, Paterson and Gratton confidently operate within a sound all their own, rooted in stunning, seemingly multi-dimensional guitar work as well as Gratton’s soft, patient vocals.

“Daisy,” the first single from their upcoming album Flora, out this summer via Spirit Goth Records, shows their finesse in both of these elements firsthand – Gratton’s verses, relaying a lovesick narrative oscillating between escapism and adoration (“I wish I could float away/ I wish I could make your day”) are beautifully adhered by Paterson’s reverb-heavy guitar melody, tip-toeing the line that separates daydream with catharsis. Short, sweet, bright, and upbeat, sonically, at least, the track feels like an much-needed embrace towards the warmer months, towards the sun-bleached afternoons and carefree excursions that come complimentary.

Flora is out this summer via Spirit Goth Records.

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Launder – “Chipper”

Earlier this week, Launder – also known as the project of Los Angeles-based musician John Cudlip – announced the release of Happening, his much-anticipated debut LP. “Grappling with something bigger than just melody,” the album is “indebted to indie rock greats” – partly inspired by ‘90’s lo-fi grunge and shoegaze – with lyrics and narratives “informed by modern and prudent self-reflection.” Released along with the news were the first two tracks from the album: “Unwound” and “Chipper,” both co-written by DIIV’s Zachary Cole and Colin Caulfield. The former, hinting at a persona grappling with addiction (“You’re coming out/ Say you’re clean now”), is interlaced with razor sharp, feedback heavy guitar blares, while “Chipper” is just that – more upbeat, though not without dizzying, disorienting instrumentals that bring edge to Cudlip’s calm, seraphic vocals, indicating that this is, ironically, “a love song written with smite, an indictment of fleeting lust:” “I’m in love with you, honey/ But you’re not quite there,” Cudlip croons in half-annoyance and half-adoration, the track short enough to keep it lingering, unresolved. 

Happening is out 7/15 via Ghostly.

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photo by Cameron McCool

Hemlock – “Garbage Truck”

Last month, Hemlock – also known as the solo project of Chicago-based singer/songwriter Carolina Chauffe – released her gorgeous debut album Talk Soon. A self-described “interstate phone-fi bedroom folk saga,” the album is as delicate as the flower the project was named after (at least in the visual sense – actual hemlock is extremely poisonous to humans and animals). Composed of seventeen soft folk tracks peppered with the occasional interlude, it speaks to the beauty of connection, growth, and forgiveness, bringing dimension to those little moments of rumination that make us question past and present. “Garbage Truck,” one of our favorite tracks on the album, speaks to all of the above to deliver a narrative infused with gentle apology and promise, a vulnerable plea towards a loved one: “I’ve always been afraid of the things I can’t control,” Chauffe sings over pensive, finger-picked guitar, “but I am not bound to make the mistakes I did before.” “I wanna be a better person to you/ a better person” she repeats in earnest, lullaby-like tones, allowing her voice and the warm, nostalgic instrumentals to melt seamlessly into the air. 

Talk Soon is out now. 

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A Beacon School – “Dot”

Today, A Beacon School – also known as the experimental dream pop project of Brooklyn-based multi instrumentalist Patrick J Smith – returns with the gorgeous new single “Dot,” his first release in nearly three years. “Dot” follows Smith’s stunning full-length debut LP Cola – first digitally released in 2018, and then reissued and pressed to vinyl in 2019 – which was an album that never stayed still, in the best possible way; tirelessly alternating between synthwave and glitch pop, math rock and shoegaze, Smith’s tonal narratives were sprawling, atmospheric stunners that always seemed to flirt subtly with catharsis, but yet always made sure to return back to a sense of calm. For us, Cola was the musical equivalent of the sky after a chaotic mid-summer storm, your eyes still glued to the soft blue and greys painted haphazardly onto the clouds, the thick, potent smell of rainwater lingering in the air; off in the distance, traces of iridescent light, but they’re still just muted and pasteled possibilities. 

So, what would happen if you boiled Cola down into a syrupy concentrate? Most likely, “Dot.” Smith explained the further meaning behind the new single, which tantalizingly points into the forthcoming sophomore full-length just on the horizon: 

“Dot” is a song about seeing patterns in your life emerge but feeling helpless to change them. The song oscillates between these moments of unfiltered wonder and inspiration, and the immediate skepticism that follows them.

There’s a beautiful, deep, cinematic quality to “Dot” that makes it perhaps more akin to a performance art piece rather than song (as is the case with much of A Beacon School’s discography). At just under five and a half minutes, Smith effortlessly creates a stunning, multi-layered daydream-like narrative, opening with stark, sharp synth that alludes to this aforementioned sense of oscillation, painting on stable percussion and guitar plucks with careful, meticulous hands. The entire operation feels dire, desperate, and delicate, as if one ill-timed flick of the wrist would make everything fall apart. But soon, it all settles like sediment at the bottom of a lake, allowing Smith’s vocals to echo, commenting on this metaphysical process:  “Light shifting/ While all the rest fills in slowly.” “You find your head fizzing softly/ And this all feels brand new,” he laments split-seconds before the ouroboros finds its tail, the oscillation starting all over again. 

“Dot” is out now.

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Petite League – “Pantone Karaoke”

Today, Petite League shares the bright, colorful new track “Pantone Karaoke,” their third stand-alone single since the release of their phenomenal fifth album Joyrider last year. There’s always been a comfortably lived-in, sun-bleached, beautifully nostalgic ambiance within the NY-based group’s gritty, lo-fi pop, propelled by singer and guitarist Lorenzo Gillis-Cook’s signature vocals that always brilliantly sound as if they’re being called out to you through a megaphone from across a baseball field. Following the already released “Bad For Fun” and “Floating Blue,” “Pantone Karaoke” is, according to Gillis-Cook, an upbeat, lively, yet slightly ruminative tune about “being bigger than your day job,” complete with bongos. “I’m worn and torn in the right way,” Gillis-Cook croons atop an oscillating guitar melody, “I stumble into my old ways/ Jukebox fistfight gone sideways.” As always, the imagery and clever syntax within the bass-enamored verses are a delight, as is the sudden embodiment of a new Petite League persona: the “Rainbow Kid” striking yet again at the “Pantone Karaoke,” celebrating putting his “two weeks in,” asking the DJ to bring the drums and bass in, commanding the room with ease. At just under three minutes long, however, it’s akin to fun, ephemeral reverie, not without humor, despite the inherent pensiveness I hear within jangle pop; the escaped burst of laughter just as the track wraps up puts a sudden end to the daydreaming – as well as the bongos. 

“Pantone Karaoke” is out now. 

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