starwolf, astro lobo

starwolf, astro lobo

When Starwolf formed in 2016, they were creating music in rural Illinois, their sound of choice being funk/pop.  Four years later, they have released their album, Astro Lobo, filled with other-worldly sounds and expressions.  

Something that makes this body of wok stand out is the appearance of Tim Lefebvre on “Bad Feeling”.  Lefebvre has worked with well-known artists from David Bowie to John Mayer, so his presence is welcomed.  The track benefits from a catchiness that amplifies the message of losing oneself in fear and anxiety.  Indeed, it is a standout on the album. 

The title track happens to be the longest, reaching over six minutes long.  With no lyrics, it is easy for one to create their own interpretation of what it means.  Whatever the meaning, “Astro Lobo” lives up to the other-worldly name.  And then comes the final track, “Real Love”.  Following the theme of love that can be heard on various songs throughout the album, this song’s funk groove guides the lyrics about being in a healthy and real relationship. With this album, the funk roots of Starwolf’s music shines through on every song. The band have achieved the perfect blend of funk and pop that sounds like the quintessential 80s soundtrack with Astro Lobo.

old news, self-acceptance speech

old news, self-acceptance speech

It was time for the members of Old News to get more personal than they ever have before.  That’s how their new album, Self-Acceptance Speech, came about.  Using emo sounds hailing from the late 90s and early 2000s indie rock scene, the album tells stories of self-discovery and understanding.  One of these stories can be found in the reflective rock track, “1917 Cherry St.”.  Here, we find out about a significant location in the singer’s life, one that he finds himself looking back on.  This leads right into “722 Harter St.”, a shorter instrumental that leaves details of the significance of this address to the listener’s imagination.  The starry “Flicker” provides a similar experience.  This track gives the feeling of a new beginning, perhaps following the self-reflection that takes place during the prior songs.  The final track is “Sunday Suit”, a standout on the album that begins with a memorable guitar riff and is an anthem for those who feel they are hiding some part of themselves beneath, in this case, the church music.

Old News have taken the nostalgia of 90s emo rock and turned it into something of their own.  Says frontman Beau Harris of the goal in creating this album: “In these very tumultuous times, I think many of us are turning inwards, and we wanted to contribute by giving people a message of healing and hope.”

lauren hulbert, “honeydew”

lauren hulbert, “honeydew”

When renting an apartment with an ex, one may not expect to feel refreshed and optimistic about a new day.  Lauren Hulbert, however, felt just that.  This is when she got the inspiration for her bright new track, “Honeydew”, which is to appear on her upcoming EP, Superbloom, out Oct. 30.  

Supported by gentle acoustic guitar strums and synths, the music provides a summery warm tone as Hulbert sings about her newfound joy and happiness that she finds herself experiencing at the start of every new day.  Comfort radiates from the track as you hear music that might be heard on the beach.  By the end of the track, you will understand the happy and free feeling Hulbert has been singing about as a feeling of weightlessness takes over.  “Honeydew” is not only a song about loving someone else, it is a song about loving yourself.

Hulbert says of the inspiration for the track:

I think I was happy to be in one place, making a temporary home, in our own space, with a nice, friendly neighbor and a little bodega at the end of our alleyway. It was a really cute spot. We got to make a little life for ourselves. We had a lot of hope for our future together and I remember that feeling really good.

eddy lee ryder, “vultures”

eddy lee ryder, “vultures”

Eddy Lee Ryder has released her brand-new music video for her awe-inspiring song, “Vultures”.  With a visual that flashes between color and black and white, Ryder compares her lover to a vulture, presumably as a metaphor for somebody who takes so much without giving a lot in return.  The video seems to represent the very end of a relationship, perhaps the moment she has come to the realization that she was not fulfilled the way she should be.  Because the video takes place almost entirely in the car, one may infer that this symbolizes an attempt to move away from a relationship that is harming her.  Also significant is a broken-down car that leaves her stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.  This seemingly suggests that she isn’t able to leave the relationship like she once thought.  This inability to leave illustrates the struggles of toxic romance in a rather poignant way.

We got to speak with Ryder briefly leading up to the new release.

___

What was your first musical memory, or the first album you remember listening to?

When I was growing up, I only loved new, mainstream pop music. I remember being pretty obsessed with The Coors song, “Leave Me Breathless,” specifically that yodel. On the way to a day of skiing with my dad, I made him listen to that song for about two hours straight. Finally, he was like, “This is the last time, then my old people music.” He put on “Solsberry Hill” by Peter Gabriel. That song hit me like a ton of bricks… and I was hooked on classic rock from that moment.

What, specifically, inspired “Vultures”?

I wrote the first line about four or five years before I actually finished the song, so I knew I had the mood down before I figured out what the rest of the lyrics would eventually be. Around the start of the #MeToo movement, I was involved with a guy I thought wouldn’t treat me the way other men in the past had. As the story goes, he ended up treating me worse. He was slowly taking from me, and I felt picked apart. Once I realized that, I wrote the song in about ten minutes. 

The colors used in the video are gorgeous. Where did the concept for the video come from?

The concept of the music video was loosely based on The Birds. I wanted a very 1960s Hitchcockian mood. I wanted to be stalked by these vultures, which represent men in my life that I’ve known who have torn pieces of me away, little by little, the way that vultures do. The color palette was referential of vintage Hitchcock, and glitches that happen throughout are meant to segway from color to black and white to represent what’s being taken away by the vultures.

Any fun anecdotes from set?

We had one day to shoot this video due to time constraints, so it had to be done very fast. Because of this, in the aerial shots, there was a body double for me. The body double was a tall, slender man in a wig who offered up his car for the video. But probably the highlight of our stay, we were filming in California, and I booked a beautiful AirBnB that was reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour. When we got there, the Lyft driver dropped us off at the wrong place, so we had to lug our luggage–costumes and bags–up an incredible hill until we found the right place. That should have been the first sign of something ominous.

But when my stylist (and good friend) and I got there, we saw a puddle of blood splatter by the pool. We started calling my then-manager, who had supposedly checked in before us, but he wasn’t picking up. We both huddled in a corner in case there was a murderer on the loose for a long time, afraid to actually go in. We were prepared to cancel the shoot because we were convinced my then-manager had died. We called the police, and saw helicopters overhead. Turns out, my then-manager just left his phone charging in a different room, and was fine, so we figured we’d just ignore the blood splatters and check-in. In the meantime, the director and producer who we had yet to meet were well aware of the possible murder story that was unfolding; and I don’t think there is a better way to meet new people!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I have a lot of new music in the pipeline. I’ve been writing nonstop, and I have been developing a concept album. If you like “Vultures,” I think you’ll be really excited for what’s to come!

___

Ryder channels the experience of reflecting on a former relationship into a beautiful and heartbreaking visual with “Vultures”.  Check out the official premiere below.

lucy gaffney, “send me away”

lucy gaffney, “send me away”

 Ireland’s Lucy Gaffney has crafted a pop/rock dream tune with her latest track, “Send Me Away”.  Gaffney worked on the track alongside The Coral’s James Skelly, who produced it, as well as her brother, Thom Southern.  The result is a tune that nods to greats like Carly Simon and The Cure, two of Gaffney’s musical influences.  In no time after pressing play, you are welcomed into what feels like a mystical dreamland filled with love and hope.  With synths that bring out the feeling of dancing along to the end credits of a coming of age film set in the 80s, “Send Me Away” can easily measure up to any timeless masterpiece.

There’s raw freedom that has been captured with this song.  It’s the kind of freedom that comes with being young and in love and unsure of what the future holds.  This feeling of fearlessness flows from the speakers the minute the music starts and carries all the way through to the final moments.  Of the track, Gaffney says, “For me the track really encapsulates the dreamy element in the idea of love, getting lost in intoxicating moments and the electric excitement of the unknown.”

alix, feel better

alix, feel better

For anybody needing comfort on a dreary fall day, singer-songwriter ALIX has you covered with her new album, Feel Better.  Filled with whimsical sounds splashed with springtime melodies, Feel Better is a collection of songs about feeling free despite some of the curve balls life throws at you.  

“Easy Living” takes you on a trip to sunny California with a list of things that bring her the most joy.  With a vibrant guitar riff, it has earned its place as the album’s opener.  “Golden” is both one of the catchiest and happiest songs.  It serves as a celebratory anthem that gives the green light for you to feel content about the place you have arrived at in your life.  It can even be a pep talk.  Just like life, Feel Better doesn’t come without its share of gripes.  “Let’s Leave”, with the Los Angeles based pop group, 1323, offers the perspective of somebody begging to leave the party she is at to find something more worth her time.

ALIX has delivered an album about feeling content with love and life.  Whether it is wishing a past love well like the NEZZA assisted “Good”, or finding someone who makes you happy like on “Satisfied”, Feel Better promises to be your companion through it all.  ALIX says of the feel of the album: “I wanted to keep the sounds light, comforting and positive to symbolize a lifestyle I want to be dedicated to. But I wanted to include the humanity of needing to talk through feelings and turn frustration into constructive growth.”

pauline andrès, “til the end of the world”

pauline andrès, “til the end of the world”

When the world went into lockdown back in March, Pauline Andrès found herself isolating in a friend’s recording studio.  This is where she began and finished work on her newest release, “Til the End of the World”, from her upcoming EP “Tornado Season”, which is due out this Winter.

While Andrès started writing the song on an acoustic guitar, the final product is dominated by the sounds of 80s synth-pop.  A step towards electronic music that seems effortless, it is hard to believe that she hasn’t always made music like this.  The track is appropriate for the current state of the world, too.  Passionately, Andrès sings about wanting to love someone despite the fact that the world seems to be ending.  There is a feeling of urgency in her voice as she sings about being unsure of whether loving someone is a necessity during such trying times.  This is amplified by the sounds of sirens crying in the background.  Some may see this as a pessimistic point of view, but in many ways, it creatively highlights the reality the world is living in.  Andrès says:

I never thought the world was ending. I know a world is ending, which is the very definition of an apocalypse. That process started years ago. It’s gonna take a few more but we are obviously in the middle of it. I don’t know how exactly this will continue to manifest. But I’ve decided to be cool with it, to keep making art, and believing in the absolute, almost absurd power of love and music.

reggie becton, “listenin'”

reggie becton, “listenin'”

Relationships in the modern era are anything but simple.  Because of social media and other ways that society sets standards, it can be hard to know what love is today.  In his new video for “Listenin’”, Reggie Becton gives his perspective on what it is like to be a male navigating love in today’s culture while also confronting toxic masculinity and toxic relationships in general.  With influences from past and present R&B artists, it is easy to be taken back to previous eras while also appreciating where music has gone since then.

The stunning visual illustrates the difficulties of being in love with someone when it isn’t easy to be with them for one reason or another.  The two love interests appear to be physically separated by a wall, perhaps as a metaphor for how it feels to be in such a situation.  This is likely to be the result of something much more complicated than one would initially be led to believe.  The lyrics demonstrate that Becton struggles with conflicting thoughts about his emotions.  It is evident from this and moments in the video, like the scene where he appears to be trying to work out a science experiment, that he is unsure which path to take when it comes to romance.  Becton remains vulnerable when expressing his feelings about love and he does it in a stunning way throughout the entirety of the video.  Perhaps many people his age identify with this very struggle.

michael garmany, “still missing”

michael garmany, “still missing”

Michael Garmany grew up in the Bay Area where he was surrounded with a versatile range of artists including 2Pac, The Clash, and Social Distortion.  Now, his own music is a reflection of the music he grew up with.  This is evident upon listening to his new track, “Still Missing”.  

Layered with elements of funk, R&B and psychedelic pop, the track starts off mild with a simple piano and bass as he sings about wanting something that he isn’t sure he is worthy of having.  As the verse progresses, the melodies continue to get catchier.  Once the chorus hits, the music speeds up and you’ll find yourself dancing along.  The catchiness of the melodies is enhanced by various sonic choices throughout the song.  These ear-catching additions, such as bells and hand claps, take the song to new heights.  Drawing on personal experiences, Garmany is clear that he has been unable to find a love that works for him.  During the more up-tempo portions, it might be easy to forget that he is singing about missing something from his life.  With various influences present, it doesn’t sound like “Still Missing” is missing anything.