flipturn @ milkboy philly

flipturn @ milkboy philly

With two stunning EPs and two singles under their belts – including one acoustic rendition – five-piece indie rock dream Flipturn has been taking east coast stages by storm while on tour with crunchy indie group *repeat repeat. I was lucky enough to catch them in Philly on the second night of their tour, following a DC performance the night before.

Flipturn has become one of my absolute staple favorites since discovering them in March – a discovery made from a particularly spot-on Spotify algorithm, might I add. Even as I’m sitting and writing this, I’m having a hard time accurately conveying my excitement for just how stoked I was to see Flipturn, and for just how tight of a show this group can put on. Let’s get into it.

Just as I was entering the upstairs of The Milkboy, Flipturn was launching right into “Cold”, the second-to-last song off their first EP titled Heavy Colors (2017). This song acted effectively as a primer; the base layer that Flipturn would swathe their canvas with, a rich and varying sample of their sound. Vocalist (and rhythm guitarist) Dillon Basse’s crystal clear, operatic bellows soar with a fervor unmatched alongside piercing leads from guitarist Tristan Duncan, the kind that drift away and carry you with them. Madeline Jarman’s bass grounds us, reminding us that we are still desperately running to keep up with our own heartbeats; all in harmonious contrast with Taylor Allen’s synth, which subtly lifts us to the dreamy stratosphere, filling the space as it floats by. Drums from Adrian Walker are compelling when they need to take the wheel, and subdued at all the right times, building captivating suspense as each song plays out.

Following “Cold” was “Churches”, which the band released as a single before its official release on second EP Citrona, out in 2018. This punchy, electrifying track is arguably the band’s angstiest, and it was an absolute headbanger – halfway through, I turned around to check out the crowd, and it had easily doubled. On the recording for this song, there is slightly more distortion placed on the vocals, almost like screaming into a 1930’s telephone (I say this genuinely and endearingly) – and Basse’s vigor and rasp as a live performer matched this intensity perfectly.

 Next was a new song that hasn’t been released yet, but judging by its subject, I might guess that it will be titled “Eleanor”. The bass-heavy, disco feel of this song definitely piqued the crowd’s interest as much as the ones they knew and sang along to. Following that, a cover, and a modern classic at that: “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes. Flipturn’s insertion of their gritty yet uplifting indie glitter gave the song a fresh and welcomed twist. Basse made sure to shout out dynamic frontwoman Brittany Howard, as well as encourage the crowd to check out her new solo work, released earlier this year.

On Citrona, instrumental opening track “Fletcher” bleeds into “Six Below”– which is exactly how Flipturn played it live. “Fletcher” starts off minimally, adding layer and layer of perfectly syncopated lilting rhythms from Basse on guitar and Allen’s synth alike, topped with Duncan’s undulating lead guitar that yearns for another summer. The transition into “Six Below” feels like that brief, liminal space between dreaming and awareness, and it isn’t until the first chorus that you have to truly face the world, as Basse declares, “I know what everybody knows: Die young or you can grow old, until you’re buried six below”.  The incredibly fast drum fills and solos from Walker were outstanding during this number.

“Hippies” haunts in all the right ways, and left me feeling nostalgic for memories that weren’t even my own. Basse’s ringing falsetto paints like an old film, reminiscent of all those who have loved and lost before himself. The buildup towards the end up the song held just the right touch of suspense, lifting up the audience just high enough to drop back off with a satisfied head nod at its break. The final line of each chorus, as well as the song, mourns: “I lost you”.

Between each song, Basse must have called out at least thirty different variations of “Thank you!” and “You guys rock!” following the eruptions of applause and “Woo!”s from the crowd (here’s hoping I was the loudest there). Then, he and Jarman playfully requested a name for their next song – another new and untitled one. Several jokes were called out, but we’ll have to wait and see what they end up deciding for it. On this track, the most dominant melody came from Duncan on lead guitar, heartily met by a much more frequent use of falsetto from Basse. Basse is also an unstoppable dancer; I swear, he never stopped jumping back and forth during the entire set. His buzz was infectious.

Basse announced they had two more songs. The group was met again by cheers not lacking in volume, but, knowing that it would inevitably end, the celebratory air that begins every night of excitement had shifted slightly, preparing itself to begin missing the experience. The first twinkling strums of one of Flipturn’s biggest hits began, “August”. To say that this song is sweet or nostalgic might be cliché, but not out of line. The first line is an invitation to open the storybook: “August, honey, tasted sweeter with you.” Every summer love, every youthful flashback, every ray of sun entering your teenage bedroom is captured in this song. The perfect song to fall in love to, to have your heart broken to, to fall apart to – and it happened live, all at once, for about fifty of us in that room. “I loved you from the start,” Basse wails, each note rising to surpass the last – eventually leading up to a perfectly stacked buildup that meanders at first, then meets you face to face, as if to settle matters for the last time. The crowd went wild.

The final song of the night was “Nickel”, paralleling its closing on Citrona. On this upbeat, choppy anthem, Basse demands the truth. “Was I just told a lie my entire life, thinking I’d be great?” The song carries out with a chant that Basse invited the entire crowd to chant, clap, eventually scream along with many times over, as the intensity increases: “I give it all up for a bottle of wine, about two feet tall, three inches wide; I’d rather be drunk, or out of my mind, than trade my soul for nickels and dimes.”

After graciously accepting the mountainous applause and cheers following this track, Basse’s and Jarman’s eyebrows raised as the crowd began chanting unanimously, “One more song!” Jarman made a slashing motion to her throat as Basse stepped to the mic, jokingly exasperated with palms extended at his sides and an ear-to-ear grin, to remind the crowd, “We’re the opener! We can’t play another, we’re the opener,” The cheering finally subdued, some music began on the speakers overhead to fill the space, and fans flocked together to discuss what they had just heard.

Flipturn put on one of the more solid shows I’ve seen of any indie touring group, touring or not, and I will definitely be seeing them next – and hopefully every- time they come to Philly in the future.

1. Cold
2. Churches
3. New – Unreleased
4. Hold On by Alabama Shakes
5. Fletcher
6. Six Below
7. Hippies
8. New – Untitled
9. August
10. Nickel

You can keep up with Flipturn here:

grand canyon, “yesterday’s news”

grand canyon, “yesterday’s news”

Grand Canyon has just released their newest body of work, an EP titled Yesterday’s News. The five-track collection covers enormous ground with explosive back road Americana, dreamy psychedelic storytelling, hard-hitting social commentary, and the sour wounds of heartache. The band’s spirited, defiant, D-I-Y attitude is captured in the music video for their single “Yesterday’s News”, as lead singer and guitarist Casey Shea struts solo through the bustling streets of London.

Filmed on an iPhone by guitarist-turned-cinematographer Joe Guese, the video is a prime example of an impromptu good time caught on tape: the members had a day off in London between shows and asked themselves if there was any way they could quickly engineer a much-needed video for “Yesterday’s News”. Creative energies aligned, and the grainy video, bubbling over with Shea’s individuality, was finished in the snap of a finger. Said Shea to Billboard, “There’s just a good vibe about the video. It has attitude. I love seeing the double decker buses everywhere. It seems like it was just meant to be.”

We can’t help but agree.

                             P.S.: Fate strikes the video at 1:17, when a truck drives by bearing the slogan, “Carrying you through the 21st century!”, a serendipitous nod to track four on the EP, “21st Century American Man”.

Keep up with Grand Canyon here.

highjak, “mystical”

highjak, “mystical”

For fans of David Guetta, Post Malone, Marshmello.
Get your “Add to Playlist” button ready: The newest summer dance anthem is found in HighJak’s latest single “Mystical”. Thumping club beats, a heart-stopping EDM bass drop, and a chorus riddled with synth-pop fuse to form HighJak’s tale of finding love on the dance floor.

The first few bars of “Mystical” start out modestly, with only a curt, electrifying keyboard to signal for more. The track gains traction quickly, layering in a sharp clapping beat. HighJak’s smooth, inviting vocals echo across each other, soulful harmonies repeating key phrases, all aptly filling the space like reverb in a dance hall.

Channeling his inner EDM DJ, HighJak leads us into the chorus with a classic buildup drawn from some older house favorites, not unlike David Guetta. The succeeding thud of the drum machine fill fits so naturally you might miss it the first time, as track glides seamlessly into its peak, launching into the full soundscape of the last-night-on-Earth party scene.
Thematically, this song differs from HighJak’s other work, much of which channels Post Malone and Migos and is closer to rap or hip hop. While trap is in his repertoire, HighJak nails this party favorite – here’s hoping for more like it to come.

Keep up with HighJak here:


deify, “outta my league”

deify, “outta my league”

For fans of AC/DC, Shinedown, Green Day.

Get ready to have your speakers blown out – Deify’s electrifying rock ballad “Outta My League” is meant to be played at full volume, preferably while flooring it down a deserted highway. Deify, borne out of Seattle and comprised of brothers Duncan and Jared Byargeon, draw influence from 80’s stadium rock classics such as AC/DC, most notably in bluesy chord progressions and compressed drum fills. Blasting through fervent guitar solos and a snare that refuses to quit, this track is friend to headbangers and country-rockers alike.

While its gritty, boot-stomping vigor may seem well suited for your local dive, lyrically, the song is textbook pop. The chorus professes: “You’re the one…that I need, you’re the only person for me, here’s my heart, take the key”. The second half of the song brings with it a much-appreciated rattle of dynamic, as a wailing guitar solo increases in intensity before giving way into a mathy drum fill, before sending off into one final chorus.

Explains Duncan of the track:

Outta My League is a sonic mashup of our love for AC/DC and ZZ Ward. In college, I was going out with a woman that my friends dubbed way out of my league – and they liked to remind me as much as possible. As much fun as the jokes were, that’s something that really began to eat at me, and that insecurity certainly impacted the relationships for the worse.

This song explores the back-and-forth in my head, as I was head-over-heels for this woman, but “knew” deep down that I wasn’t good enough for her. Letting doubt into any relationship is the ultimate killer – and I knew once I felt this way it wasn’t going to last. However, I also couldn’t bear the thought of being the one to end it. So, this song is about the elation of the pursuit, while knowing the relationship was doomed from the start.

This single is the group’s newest work since their latest EP, five track compilation titled So Far Away. Deify will be touring through the West Coast Starting in August, beginning in Seattle.

Keep up with Deify here: https://www.deifymusic.com/ | https://www.facebook.com/deifymusic/ | https://www.instagram.com/deifymusic/ | https://twitter.com/deifymusic?s=17

daughter of swords, dawnbreaker

daughter of swords, dawnbreaker

For fans of Adrianne Lenker, Shannen Moser, Field Medic, Lomelda, Julie Byrne, Liz Cooper and the Stampede.

Daughter of Swords’ Dawnbreaker spins webs of stretching landscapes, intimate self-reflection, and the solace of a eulogy. Marked by gentle acoustic strumming, the faintest vocal harmonies, and folk storyweaving, the affect of this album soars most in its home-grown familiarity and faithful consistency.

Mountain Man’s Alexandra Sauser-Monnig paces her lyrics with intent, fully forming her own conclusions before speaking out loud. The characters that drift in and out of her stories (see opening track Fellows) could be people she knew, or mirrors through which she talks to versions of herself. Dawnbreaker feels like a faint memory being retold to you by someone else, and the sporadic flourish of gentle harmonies on Fields of Gold texturize Sauser-Monnig’s musings. It is this introspective exploration that distinguishers Daughter of Swords’ storytelling from that of Mountain Man.

Sauser-Monnig creates the perfect balance between indie folk and an Americana dream, be it resting in the tall brush on Grasses or careening through the evening air on a bicycle in Shining Woman. The occasional toned-down electric guitar and textured vocal harmonies lend their curiosity to the flowing breezes, pink clouds, and rising mountains painted on Dawnbreaker.

Undoubtedly, the grittiest Americana track Daughter of Swords delivers is Rising Sun. A classic and undulating electric blues riff peddles along behind a soulful harmonica solo and Sauser-Monnig’s sweeping notes that rise and fall like the Western mountainsides she seems to climb, not searching for anything in particular, but finding all along the way.

While Long Leaf Pine and Gem sparkle with optimism, tracks Easy Is Hard and Human portray the melancholy that heartache, a soaring soprano, and the peppered-in twinkling of a grand piano illustrate so well. The magic of Sauser-Monnig’s lyricism is that even morose moods never feel truly hopeless, rather, they are examples of folk storytelling at its finest: the story sits back, and, accompanied by the ever-reliable acoustic, tells itself.

Lastly, a perfect ending to a folky dream: Dawnbreaker’s title track is arguably the most pensive, featuring comparably deeper, earthier guitar tones than its predecessors. The topic is hazy, but this is where Sauser-Monnig’s heartbreaking warble shines. The final word of the album, a low, oaky utterance of the word “Dawnbreakin’”, invokes finality. The song feels like a eulogy, an acceptance, a forgiving.

Keep up with more to come from Daughter of Swords here:


Twitter @swordsdaughter
Instagram @swordsdaughter


  1. Fellows
  2. Gem
  3. Fields of Gold
  4. Shining Woman
  5. Grasses
  6. Easy Is Hard
  7. Long Leaf Pine
  8. Human
  9. Dawnbreaker
x. ari,  uni-fi

x. ari, uni-fi

For fans of Hayley Kiyoko, Sia, Carly Rae Jepsen, Dua Lipa, Charli XCX

Punchy, deliberate, and honest: On 6-track EP Uni-Fi, we meet many sides of X. ARI. Never holding back from her truth, X. ARI tells stories of her most confident and vulnerable moments alike over glittery soundscapes full of synth, undulating basslines and pounding club beats. The work covers a handful of essential topics for young people today: mental health, gender and sexuality, and of course, heartache.

Early on in the EP, X. ARI characterizes her “I don’t give a f—“ attitude that many, many artists have learned to embody over the years as a means of making a name in pop. This declaration, paired with a glicthy chorus peppered with onomatopoeic vocals, blast X. ARI through her own video-game-sounding world on track two titled La La La

ARI is well known as a fierce advocate for mental health, and this EP addresses her daily battles directly; specifically on tracksBreak-Point, Uni-Fi (ft. IRA X.), and Yin Yang (ft. IRA X.)  The first track, Break-Point, is an effective invitation for listeners to dive into an alt-pop experience that could be characterized as an interpretive dancer’s dream come true.

Title track Uni-Fi feels wistful and hopeful, both sonically and lyrically. X. ARI explains her feelings of displacement, confessing, “I’m a little bit damaged…I’m together in fragments, a mosaic I’m trapped in”; but the tone of this song is optimistic, especially through the resounding chorus. While IRA X.’s contributions on the EP aren’t necessarily overwhelming, they complement X. ARI’s vocals nicely; adding dimension and even more synth, as well as highlighting notions of living in a gendered world. She divulges, “I’ll tell you a story of a girl and a boy trapped in the same body, just fighting for some space”.

The most telling narrative of X. ARI’s personal journey with mental health has got to be Yin Yang, also featuring IRA X.  Considering how sensitive and emotional of a topic this must have been for X. ARI to write, one is almost left wishing that the song’s dynamic conveyed just a little bit more of those extremes than it does. That said, sometimes the pen is mightier than the- well, synth, and X. ARI scores a 10 for the vulnerability of Yin-Yang’s lyrics.

Perhaps one of the most enticing melodies on the EP lie in the token heartbreak track of the work, titled Everywhere. Contrasting the thrust of her alt-pop anthems, X. ARI uses a slightly softer vocal inflection and a floaty, oscillating hook that mates perfectly with the twinkly, echoing backdrop. The track is punctuated by muted, reverberating beats that could be a slowing heartbeat, or an explosion off in the distance. The most expressive song by far, it seems that on Everywhere, X. ARI is experiencing the feeling of both.

You can keep up with X. ARI on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram below.





paper lions, “rhythm & gold”

paper lions, “rhythm & gold”

For fans of: Young the Giant, COIN, St. Motel, Phoenix, The Wombats

On their newest single “Rhythm & Gold”, Paper Lions shows off some of their finest indie-pop skills: that ability to implant a radiant summer’s day right into your speakers. With a thumping bass line that’s sure to increase your heart rate, the Canadian four-piece tell a tale of the electricity of falling in love with playing music – as well as dealing with the trials and tribulations that come with life as a touring band. The song’s unblemished cheeriness never falters, as call-and-response vocals and upbeat hand-claps encourage the listener to join in with every beat of the chorus.

“Rhythm & Gold” not only supplies the glitteriest aspects of indie pop sweetness, it also gives some insight to the group’s journey in working together to make it in the music world. Vocalist John MacPhee reaches out to his bandmates with reassurance in the resounding chorus: “This is where I wanna stay, where we started loving rock and roll,” referencing their roots that trace back to the early 2000’s. Originally formed in 2004 under the Chucky Danger Band, the quartet (brothers John MacPhee and Rob MacPhee, Colin Buchanan and David Cyrus MacDonald) began going as Paper Lions officially in 2008. They have since been nominated for 8 music awards, and won an Independent Music Award for their 2012 EP At Long Creek. Aside from a Christmas tune titled “Where Is My Love For Christmas”, this new track is the band’s first release since their most recently debuted album, titled At Long Creek II (2018). Here’s to a summer full of “Rhythm & Gold”!

Keep up with Paper Lions here.

holdan, “bright red”

holdan, “bright red”

For fans of: Post Malone, Khalid, Russ
Holdan’s newest single “Bright Red” is a perfect addition to your “nighttime driving” playlist: The blend of dreamy Khalid-esque vocals and pop lyric motifs encapsulate the notion of gliding only on the surface; perhaps in a superficial conversation at a party like the ones in the first few seconds of the track, or while coasting along familiar highways. A punk kid at heart but no stranger to experimentation, Holdan implements features of hip hop and pop alike, drawing influence from smooth Atlanta trap beats alongside lyrical themes of feeling like an outsider from an “in-crowd”.  These feelings, shown in the setup to the chorus, are confidently declared: “People take issue…with the things that I say…they all say ‘stop’.” This track is an example of Holdan’s ability to assert his unique perspective and withdraw from a scene he does not find compatibility with, all while never disrupting the track’s mellow vibe. Shortly before releasing “Bright Red”, Holdan dropped another single “Foggy Lake”. Both are available to stream now!

Keep up with Holdan here.