Lowertown, the duo comprised of Olivia Osby and Avsha Weinberg, are excited to release their new single “Seaface”. This is the first song from their upcoming EP The Gaping Mouth. Osby and Weinberg spent time in London recording the EP “that they call their most honest, interesting, and mature work to date”. “Seaface” is a tune that combines dreamy lyrics with music that builds from a single guitar to a full mix.
Pick what you want to be, It can be anything. If you close your eyes, It’s fun to imagine Another body, another life.
Despite the constraints of the pandemic, 2020 proved to be a productive time for the pair of 19-year-olds – they graduated high school (where they met in math class), signed to label Dirty Hit and released their EP Honeycomb, Bedbug. 2021 looks like it could be as big a year for Lowertown.
While we wait with bated breath for Jessica Luise’s debut EP, Going in Blind, to release on July 9th, the stunning songstress has given us some ear candy to play with until then. A light, 90’s rock-inspired track, “a.m.” begins at the same clip that will carry it through the entirety of its 3 minutes and 28 seconds of existence.
While reverb plays along through the chorus, you find yourself daydreaming about your next road trip or adventure into the unknown. Her mellifluous vocals pay homage to flings, bringing in a bittersweet string of lyrics to consume from the inside out. A welcome treat for our ears, this track makes it more enticing than ever to venture out into the world (for the first time in what feels like forever).
Says Jessica of the upcoming EP:
To think that I would be the proud creator of a piece of work like this after being in this industry for such a short time baffles me. ‘Going In Blind’ comes from how I was blind to the red flags in relationships I’ve encountered over the years, and a bit of a comment on how when I first started in music I knew nothing. I am still learning, but maybe I’m not as much of a newborn in this industry as I was a year ago.
Norwegian indie folk duo Tuvaband – comprised of Simon Would and Tuva Hellum – have been crazy busy prepping to release their debut EP, which is set to drop in November. The pair – who are incredibly socially conscious and tend to lend that activism to their art – recently released their single “Trees” to critical acclaim. The song, which touches on the importance of our natural habitat, is an ethereal taste of what’s to come.
With that in mind, we were ecstatic to catch a few moments with the band leading up to their big show at Mirrors Festival. Here is what they had to say.
What is the first song or album you ever remember hearing, and who introduced it to you?
I can’t remember. I do remember that Aretha Franklin was one of my first favourite artists and that I had a lot of her albums. I wanted to become the new Aretha Franklin. A mix between Aretha Franklin and Gwen Stefani (when she was in No Doubt).
The first album Simon heard was Radiohead – Amnesiac. His uncle had bought it and they were listening to it in the car in Ireland. It’s still one of his favorite albums.
What is the origin story of Tuvaband? Was it impossibly amazing?
I was studying child welfare, and the girls I was living with was tired of hearing me make annoying sounds and doing my man-vocals out loud in our apartment. They told a guy in our class, to bring me to his studio to make me try to sing normal. I did, and it was the most fun I’ve had. I started singing with this guy and another musician. I thought we were a band and told my family and friends. Turned out we were just jamming. I went to my room and started making my own songs, and called myself Tuvaband as a joke. I would never sing in front of people, but gave my parents a Tuvaband CD for Christmas.
Back in Oslo after my studies, I met Simon and his friend in a bar, which were looking for a girl to sing a duet with. After three hours at an afterparty, when people had started falling asleep, I finally sang with Simon and his friend. Many months later I asked if Simon could play guitar in Tuvaband. We found out we would rather be a duo than a band and therefore could keep that name.
“Trees” is incredibly beautiful. We know production happened in two separate apartments, but what was the process like for this one? Lyrics first, melody first? Concept vs. words? Paint us a picture!
Thank you so much!
I’de written the lyrics earlier, but the melody we were just jamming, it’s the first song we had which started from a random jam. We had to structure the song together later to make it sound more like a song. There was a lot of rounds trying to record it and make it sound good. I think it took us almost a year to make it right.
What do you hope people glean from this track, specifically?
It would be nice if some people like the song so much that they will listen to the lyrics. First about the rainforest, then about our self-destructing behaviour, and then maybe produce even more thoughts about what we could do differently when it comes to the environment.
Your new EP is due in November. Can we expect other equally as socially conscious tracks on it? Is there an overarching message in its tranquility?
A lot of the songs I write has a similar message to the one in ‘Trees’, but the EP has a lot of different themes. It’s constructed in a way as a story, which evolves as the EP progresses. It goes from being about dealing with a trauma, then the aftermath of a trauma. And then when you are done dealing with this, it shifts towards the world around you, which is where ‘Trees’ and two other songs come in.
What are you most excited about with the upcoming EP release?
It’s nice to finally get something out that we’ve been working on for a long time, and to show people that we have more songs. We are close to finishing yet another EP, so it is about time to release the debut EP.
I have to say that we are both really excited about releasing a really nice music video, made by Marius Mathisrud and Oscar Juul Sørensen, for one of the tracks on the EP too!
Alright. The tough one. Cats or dogs?
It’s definitely cats for me. I’m the cat lady, but with no cats. When I’m 65, I will probably have 14 cats. If I ever start a side project as a musician, my name would be ‘The Mother of Cats’. Simon is a dog person and had a dog growing up. That says a lot about how different we are from each other.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
We are playing at Mirrors (festival) in Hackney, London, 28th of October. We hope to see you there!
Catch up with Tuvaband during a Rough Trade In-Store gig on October 27th, and at Mirrors on the 28th. Keep up with Tuvaband here.
Alongside its artful visual comes the new track “Dreamspeak” from genre-bending artist Nisa. The song itself comes across as hyper-aware, but of whom, you can only guess. Explains Nisa: “‘Dreamspeak’ is about the push-and-pull of wanting to fit in while growing tired of the artifice.”Most people can certainly identify with that idea. This song is easily relatable through Nisa’s lyrics.
Nisa sings as though comforting someone — is it her past or present self? Is it someone else? Either way, her vocal delivery makes this song feel both severely hopeless and carefully hopeful at the same time. (You have to hear it to understand it — or it’s maybe also just me. That’s fine.)
The video feels a touch 90s in its presentation, delivered with shots reminiscent of Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” and other videos featured on TRL at the time. The cool tones to the video create the coldness associated with the exhaustion the song is undoubtedly dealing with.
Feeling like you have to fit in is associated with feelings of comparison and high standards for your own life. It paralyzes people every day, and singing about it can and does help people destigmatize these thoughts a little bit further.
Get your first look at the song and its accompanying video below!
Catch Nisa LIVE On Tour This Spring! Tour + tickets here 5/7: Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right 5/8: Washington, DC @ Pie Shop 5/11: Boston, MA @ Lilypad 5/12: Philadelphia, PA @ MilkBoy
Critically acclaimed Austin-based singer-songwriter Matthew Squires has been releasing thoughtful, meandering audible candy for over a decade now. While his work has taken on many forms, his vocal styling and talented lyricism have remained a constant over the years. His latest track “Poor Men Southeast of Portland” was released in January, a self-aware, modern commentary on the American dream.
For context, the song is complete satire, and was written in response to Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond.” From the perspective of “a parallel universe’s version of Oliver Anthony,” Squires takes us on a ride with tortured vocals and a sense of humor that humbly brings a smile to your face, even with how hard everything seems to be right now. Further explains Squires of the song:
This song was written and passionately performed by Anthony Oliver, a parallel universe’s version of Oliver Anthony.
Oliver Anthony told Joe Rogan that he chose ‘Oliver’ as his stage name in honor of his grandfather. He was nostalgic for a more innocent time, when hardworking, God-fearing white men got a little respect (he forgot to mention how that respect was at the expense of everyone else’s, or how it was largely enabled by unions).
Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Anthony Oliver told Roe Jogan his name was inspired by Casey Anthony. He was nostalgic for a more innocent time, when Americans could still unite around our fleeting spectacles, and weren’t yet confused as to which ones were astroturfed by right wingers.
The lyrics seem like a poignant call for justice. And they are, but in jest regarding privileged white males (who victimize themselves in a world where they have largely benefitted from every oppressive system ever built).
Baby, I’ve been working for too damn long for too little pay Don’t know nothin’ bout Marx or Freud but I know what it’s like to play the role that someone else designed to make someone else’s day but the tree of justice blooms upon the top of every grave
Love’s a lot like dyin’ Love’s a lot like a Pepsi inside a church Love’s a lot like flyin’ Love’s a lot like a heaven encased in Earth Love’s a lot like cryin’ Love’s a lot like the space ‘tween death and birth
Poor men southeast of Portland awake from their American dreams, they enlist into the culture wars to distract them from their screams about how they feel about their shame to look their children in the eyes I guess the tree of justice blooms upon the question “why?”
The unique way Squires expresses his rage is entertaining, and honestly an earworm. Check out the track below.
English indie rock outfit The Vaccines – made up of Árni Árnason (bass, vocals), Yoann Intonti (drums), Justin Young (lead vocals, guitars) and Timothy Lanham (guitars, keys, vocals) – dropped a track today that, at first look, could be considered misleading. The title “Love To Walk Away” gives off the impression that the song will be a positive one, perhaps one about finding empowerment in walking away. However, the lyrics come from the perspective of an outsider – an assumed lover – who is experiencing grief as the result of a crumbling relationship. They watch the runner prepare to run. With lyrics like “How come you’re always leaving?” it is implied that this is patterned behavior.
Sonically, there is a sunny disposition that just does not align with the lyrics, almost making the contemplative message more palatable. (Hey, who really loves confrontation or existentialism THAT MUCH?)
Says Young of the release, co-written with Andrew Wells: “This is the song responsible for the album’s direction sonically and thematically. Given the record’s central theme is not knowing what direction you’re headed in, it feels poignant that the music was so sure of itself so quickly.”
Check it out below.
The Vaccines 2024 US Tour Dates with The Kooks Feb 29 – Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle Mar 1 – Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel Mar 2 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall Mar 4 – Toronto, ON @ QET History Mar 5 – Montreal, QB @ Mtelus Mar 6 – Albany, NY @ Empire Mar 8 – Boston, MA @ MGM Fenway Mar 9 – Philadelphia, PA @ Fillmore Mar 11 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5 Mar 12 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel Mar 13 – Washington DC @ Anthem Mar 15 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Mar 16 – Minneapolis, MN @ Filmore Mar 18 – Denver, CO @ The Fillmore Mar 19 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Union Mar 21 – Los Angeles, CA @ Palladium Mar 22 – San Francisco, CA @ Fox Theatre
Today, San Diego rock act Embers releases To: The Moon, a 5-track EP that will get you on your feet, jamming out to anthemic melodies about mistakes, intrusive thoughts, and other relatable material. Sleeping with Sirens’ Kellin Quinn guests his notable vocals on the EP’s second track, “eating me alive,” giving this otherwise dark track another intense and beautiful layer.
Explains Embers of the EP: “’To: The Moon’ is a melting pot of my influences using inspiration from pop punk and emo to reflect on mental health struggles, toxic relationships, and emotional turbulence. A step forward from my last EP ‘EMO SZN’, ‘To: The Moon’ finds itself a more energetic place in my catalog.”
And he’s not wrong. The energy is on another level. Get your first listen to the Embers EP in its entirety below.
Recording the EP has been an amazing journey. On my first EP, I was going through such a hard time, and it reflects in the music. I’m so proud of the lyrical content and how therapeutic performing those songs is for me and my fans, from what I’ve been told. This second EP takes the basis of the sound of the first EP, but bumps up the energy x 100. The guitars are bigger and the lyrics are less desperate and stronger to match. I can’t wait for people to hear the new music live.
Alt-rock outfit We The Kings – yes, THAT We The Kings – recently signed to Graveboy Records. The momentous partnership is marked with the release of their latest work, a single titled “Alien.” The song begins with a melancholic feel, rectified by a quintessential upbeat, fast-paced chorus. “We’re all just a bunch of kids who feel like aliens searching for the answer to the question – ‘does anybody else feel like I do,’” shares lead singer Travis Clark.
One part anthem and one part inquiry, “Alien” seeks the match to our souls, any minor detail to connect us to others. It asks everyone who feels “other” to be proud. The song itself seeks similarities in the irregularities and differences. Combine this journey with relatable lyrics and a catchy tune, and this release is poised for charting success.
“Every few albums or so I get a strong feeling about a song,” says Clark. “It’s hard to explain, but the last 2 times I felt this way were with ‘Check Yes Juliet’ and ‘Sad Song’. I have that same feeling about “Alien” so only time will tell what that means!”
Emo children of the aughts rejoice, because one of our favorite live bands is making the rounds again, and they’re bigger than ever before. Pop-punk bad boys Yellowcard delivered a kiss of surf pop, a hint of nostalgia, and a whole lot of energy every time they took the stage. So when I had the opportunity to interview Ryan Key, Yellowcard’s lead singer, Star Wars aficionado, podcast host, and content creator extraordinaire – I snapped it up.
One of the first things I say, after promising myself not to bring it up? “I spoke to you in 2006 and it was to ask you to sign a t-shirt for my friend and I was too nervous to say anything else.” Cool. Word vomit.
“Oh, I was such a little shit in 2006 too,” Key immediately admitted, laughing. “So, it should be a way better encounter this time, I promise.”
Key’s self-awareness eased us into a conversation that ran the gamut. From our shared love of Star Wars (Though I haven’t quite expanded into podcast territory yet), being driven by bitterness through some tough times, how it feels coming off the biggest tour Yellowcard has ever experienced, and reflecting on 20 years of Ocean Avenue.
Yellowcard’s rapid-fire return fueled a “Celebrating 20 Years of Ocean Avenue” tour that took on bigger venues than they’ve ever played. The band’s welcome back was far from polite, with screaming fans more dedicated to the art form, acceptance of the music, and enjoyment during shows to fuel the energy.
From theatrical beginnings…
Admittedly, Ryan didn’t do much with music growing up. He took piano lessons for a couple of months, hated it, and quit. He wasn’t much for musicals, either. He was much more attached to the idea of the theater. An idea – it seems – that may have stemmed from his first role as Tiny Tim in none other than A Christmas Carol.
“It’s two lines,” Key admits, laughing. “But being on stage at 6 years old in front of enough people, I can only imagine shaped me, changed me forever. Having that moment happen on your impressionable little 1st-grade mind. It’s like, yeah I want more of this. You get that dopamine hit of being on stage and the adrenaline of that, you want more of that. And you don’t know why but I think as a kid, after that, I was just dead set on being on stage however I could.”
In 10th grade, Key was accepted to Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville and his pursuit of acting and theater got really serious. He was super involved at school in the shows and the deep, specific education. “We were studying Stanslovsky and real heavy stuff for high school kids,” Key says.
…to stress-reducing hobbies.
To help blow off steam in his -very limited – free time? “I had a band on the weekends,” he explains. “I got my first guitar when I was 11 or 12 years old and I played it and I wrote really crappy songs and had some friends that I played with but that was never gonna be something that I did professionally. I never even had it in my mind. I didn’t really enjoy singing, to be honest, very much. It’s still not my favorite part of my job. I was the lead singer of the band but I think that comes from that sense of wanting to be an entertainer, wanting to be a performer.”
This fact can be hard to believe, as Key’s vocal range is impressive and wide-ranging in its pop-punk glory. And his life performance tactics? Energetic to this day, at a level most people aren’t entirely capable of even at their peak. “It was never in my mind as something I wanted to pursue as a career,” he shrugs. “I just didn’t get into college where I wanted to go.”
When one door closes…
Ryan never let his rejection to the Theater Program at Boston University – twice, unfortunately – go. “I got into school in Boston but I didn’t get into their BFA program. My parents were like, ‘We’re not going to spend all that money for you to go to a private school in Boston if you’re not in the program that you want to be in.'”
While reasonable, it can be difficult to recover from something like that so early on in one’s career. From that bitterness was born a focus. Admittedly – and fairly – Ryan was spiteful about what had happened and chose not to complete the BFA program he started in Florida. He dropped out of school, leaned hard into music, and eventually began singing in Yellowcard.
To hear an artist admit to leaning into something in that anger is very refreshing. You often hear about heartache and heartbreak in everyone’s work, but it can be difficult to address the times of anger and instances when you feel things didn’t go the way they perhaps should have. Having a creative outlet to pour himself into was clearly the way to go, and is something so many of us should embrace as a healing mechanism in times of trouble.
Celebrating 20 Years of Ocean Avenue
Ryan says the band really appreciates the fact that the fans have weathered the storms alongside them. He credits this grand musical journey to the fact that fans have been patient and forgiving.
I have, personally, been a fan of Yellowcard’s since I was an adolescent, so getting a peek into their tour dynamic was ideal. When asked about the “Celebrating 20 Years of Ocean Avenue” tour, Key was almost gushing. “I feel like my favorite part of the tour was the energy between the band itself. I don’t think we’ve ever gone on a tour that was so lacking in negativity as this one. This tour was so full of happiness and positivity that it felt like an alien world, almost, compared to the Yellowcard that I’ve known for the past 20+ years.”
What Key refers to – this feeling of a more in-sync crew and better touring environment and experience – has been echoed by artists the world over since the pandemic triggered larger conversations around mental health and balance in the music industry. Tours are being approached in a more holistic manner, and it’s been a reinvigorating time in the music industry. He went on:
I think we all felt that way. Which compounded each other aspect of the tour. The shows and interaction with fans, on-stage and off, and the support I think that we had from our crew every day felt stronger and better. I think that’s because there was a sense of peace and calm on the road.
We’ve never had that. Yellowcard has historically been a bit of a chaotic and tumultuous bag of personalities that have not created the best environment to work in. So this was, you know, jarring in the best possible way, to get out there and get a couple weeks in and realize, Oh, everything is just OK. And we can just let that be.
Pausing to reflect
It was almost spiritual, the way that he described it. Key’s acute awareness of the dynamic of the band made me wonder, aloud, how long it took in his career to come to this acceptance of who he is and his identity in the band.
I think it started, for me personally, during the final chapter of it all, at the end. You know, in 2016, 2017. Realizing that I was going to lose it forever because, at the time, it truly felt like that was going to be the case. It started with, I think, just a simple idea of really wanting to enjoy that tour in 2016 and 2017 and the international stuff we did.
That whole experience, as much as I tried, was sort of tinged with the reasons we were stepping away from it. The metrics that you use to quantify success, right, started to say “This is on the way down. We’re on the backslide.” Let’s end this before it goes too far so we can end it on our own terms and make it something special for fans and for ourselves.
It went a lot deeper than that because it did go into the personalities and the inner workings of the band and things that we keep pretty close to the chest. So, as much as I tried to really enjoy it all, there was still an air of sadness and kind of negativity that had carried into that from all of the reasons we decided to step away in the first place.
It wasn’t until I got home and started to have to figure out how to make my own way [that the self-awareness set in.] And the pandemic, really, was huge. A good friend of mine from high school was stopping through to stay with me. I had moved back to Los Angeles – which didn’t work out because the pandemic hit and we couldn’t tour or work so I was only there for about 6 or 8 months and then I left to come back east – but I had gone out there to kind of re-establish myself there and start working on film and tv music and things I want to do, too, as I get older.
My friend stopped through and it was only going to be for a week but it was the week that the lockdown happened in California. So he ended up staying with me for an entire month. During that time, he sort of opened my mind to meditating and starting to truly figure out what was going on with myself and work on the reasons why I had ended up where I was. I had never taken a minute to look that far inward, I don’t think. So it really wasn’t until 2020 that I started to kind of forge the path that has led me back here, now, where I am.
As if to echo this spiritual, self-reflective sentiment, he notably wrapped the tour wielding a lightsaber, a symbol that the force is strong. While he claims that he brought the saber to make his nephew happy, we know there were probably additional motives here. (Because, really, who doesn’t want to have a lightsaber on tour with them?) For those of you wondering, yes, he does have a lightsaber lying around. In fact, he has multiple.
Embracing creative outlets
Besides his lifetime love of the franchise, Key has had the opportunity to connect with the franchise on a different level since the pandemic. “I’ve been really lucky the last 3 or 4 years to intensify my connection with Star Wars through hosting the Thank The Maker podcast with my friends,” he almost gushes. “I think Star Wars reminds you, at 43 years old, if you just give in and let yourself love it the way that I do, it reminds you how to play. That’s something that adults just don’t do.”
At this point, Key doesn’t realize he has hit a home run and we dive into a conversation about what being a “Disney adult” means in certain circles and some of the symbolism involved in Star Wars. We agreed that a certain level of play is encouraged to truly live a full life, especially as we age. “I’m a big fan of my wife for allowing me to just embrace that side, that childhood side of me, and letting me dress up in costumes with my friends and swing lightsabers around, you know?” he says, almost in amazement. “It’s really been a beneficial thing.”
As for if anything has changed for the band over the years – aside from the deep, self-realizations and occasional weaponry – Ryan says writing with everyone has become much more simplified. Explaining that the technology just wasn’t there to support quick changes to tracks and production fixes when they recorded their first albums, Key said the process now is just so much more accessible. “We can get right into ProTools, create the demo, program the drums so that we can change those around – we can try all the different options.”
The great part about having home studios is being able to control the sound as you build it. This way, you have more of an actualized recording that more than likely will sound much more similar to the final product. “It’s way more inspiring to have a good-sounding, ripping demo to steer the direction of the melody and the lyric that I’m going to put over the music.”
But the way Yellowcard writes? Pretty much the same. And super focused on the instrumentals. “It’ll start with usually a guitar riff. Shawn also has brought plenty of ideas on the violin or ideas for the structure of a whole song. He’ll have like a motif or a chord progression he will bring in that we will then build riffs and things around that.”
But you have to remember, Ryan is one with The Force. “I get middle-of-the-night ideas sometimes. I’ll wake up or I’ll not be able to sleep, one or the other. And it’ll just happen and I’ll take out my notes app on my phone and start plugging stuff in.
The title track from their latest release, “Childhood Eyes,” actually came to be that way. “I woke up with that chorus melody in my head and I started to put words to it. I could hear it happening in my head. And when I got to Austin for pre-production, I had an idea for the verse and the chorus in my notepad but I had never picked up a guitar to put music to it. So I just said, ‘Hey I have these lyrics and I have sort of a cadence and a rhythm for them.’ And we wrote the whole song in 15 minutes.”
In the coming weeks, Key will be working from his new home studio. When asked about his plans for the space, he perks up immediately. “I’m doing the whole room black,” he says. “Ceiling, walls, floor. A lot of wood grain and a lot of green pops in the room. The vibe is super Scandinavian, and I love that. I’m a big fan of Iceland, Sweden and Denmark. I love that part of the world so much. So we have a lot of this [look] in our house.”
Even more than the initial planning and execution of the project, this room will hold so much more meaning for Ryan as an artist, as he explores new podcast-related projects, and films content, pursues long-term goals (like music supervision and composition), and writes new Yellowcard songs for us to enjoy. It will also hold space for Ryan as a new father, viewing movies and creating art in this space with his family.
You mentioned we met in 2006. I wouldn’t want to meet me in 2006, you know? It’s just not even comparable, the headspace I’m in now and the tools that I have now to kind of prove my reactivity and try to stay positive. Things I was just incapable of doing for the better part of my career in Yellowcard until now. So, in the end, stepping away from the band and having that time was probably the best possible thing that could happen to me, personally. Because the perspective that I’ve come back to the band with is just so wildly different than it’s ever been before.
Yellowcard has, once again, taken a front seat in Ryan’s life. Check out an upcoming performance near you throughout 2024.