Brett Newski’s fourth studio album Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down centers around regaining control, and we only have to wait until April 17th to experience it in its entirety. At a time of high depression and anxiety because of the current global health crisis, Newski’s newest album sheds some much needed optimism.
Newski creates a call to arms against the destructive forces one may find themselves battling, which pertains to individual struggles with toxic relationships, low self-esteem, loneliness, and apathy to the global challenges we are already facing in 2020.
Newski and collaborator Spatola blend Newski’s lyricism with Spatola’s up-beat tempo and guitar-driven alternative style to create the sound of this record. Tracks like “Last Dance” lay out the challenge of trying to stay informed and engaged while trying to not consume too much that it negatively affects one’s mind. Meanwhile tracks like “Lousy T-shirt” describes the traps of social comparison in the wake of social media.
Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down is a reminder to not let outside forces negatively affect you. Keep up with Brett Newski here.
Chicago singer-songwriter Anna Holmquist formed Ester back in 2017 with the help of friends and collaborators, and now they’re about to release their first full-band LP, Turn Around. The record is a meditation both on major life changes and looking back at the past to help you understand your own growth, and Holmquist, possessing a rare vein of talent in both songwriting and singing, expertly guides their band through this task.
Most of the songs were written within the 6 month window around the beginning of Holmquist’s Saturn Return, which is psychologically viewed as the time that one reaches full adulthood and is faced (often for the first time) with adult challenges and responsibilities. The album’s exploration of adulthood is vulnerable and introspective, presenting a lot of moments for personal reflection.
Turn Around pieces together folk and rock elements around the centerpiece of the album: Holmquist’s honest and confessional lyricism and sensitive and emotional vocals. The songs are well-crafted, with the words written just as artful and important as the music.
“Little Shadow” is draped in haunting strings and gently plucked guitar. The ominous track builds to great heights with Holmquist’s quivering voice pulling mysterious melodies across the night sky.
“Holy Daze” feels like a float down a lazy river, with warm, slow bass coating the track in thick golden honey. Holmquist shows off her control and flexibility, easily flipping into her head voice before landing skillfully back with both feet on the ground. She sprinkles herself over the calm and breezy instrumentation like a colorful candy coating before tapping into her stock of emotionally-charged vocals, the intensity of her feeling evident to even the most casual listener.
“John’s Car” starts off sounding like a simple yet ominous indie-pop track, but Holmquist stuns, expertly building the song’s intensity with precise and attentive skill before it naturally peaks in a cathartic explosion of emotion. Holmquist is not only a powerhouse, but one who is smart enough to form important moments by holding back just the right amount before laying all of her cards on the table and damn, it’s a good hand.
“Thirsty” is reminiscent of a modern Fleetwood Mac while tracks like “When You Wake” channel the power and authority of Florence Welch. “Wildflower” is a breath of fresh air, providing even the most stressed out soul with a breath of fresh country air.
When Ryan Lee of Santa Cruz, Cali was familiarizing himself with his new studio Paradise Garage came his own musical project, Magic Waters. After recording the songs that would make up his debut EP Pinky Swear, it became clear these songs needed to be heard. This 3-song EP showcases Lee’s writing abilities, skills as a producer, and him as a performer. Through his songwriting Lee is able to blend personal stories, and observations on real-world problems.
A big political inspiration of Pinky Swear is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. The title of the EP and the single comes from Warren making pinky swears to young women to be a constant reminder that women can also be leaders.
The single “Pinky Swear” revolves heavily around politics. The chorus and outro shout out female political leaders like Senator Warren, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Katie Hill. Lee also makes reference to powerful women in his life, such as his wife, mother, and grandmother. While the verses tackle the NRA and Trump. This back and forth of female politicians that provide optimism, versus the current political climate showcases Lee’s view of the world today and where he hopes it can go.
Pinky Swear is out this Friday, and will be available on streaming platforms everywhere for your quarantine enjoyment. Keep up with Magic Waters here.
Manchester pop band The Slow Readers Club has recently released new single “Jericho” ahead of their highly anticipated new album, The Joy of the Return, out today via Modern Sky UK, which will be followed by a UK/European tour.
“Jericho’s our ‘sunniest’ track to date, and hopefully a good indicator of the variety people can expect from the album,” says frontman Aaron Starkie. The track is written from the perspective of his teenage self and focuses on the moment when you’re on the brink of a new relationship and you start to surrender yourself to the other person. It’s one of the bands’ personal favorites, and it’s easy to see why. Infectiously upbeat and featuring a bright blend of guitars and propulsive drums, the song is both danceable and anthemic. Ah, young love!
The album’s first single, “All I Hear” was recorded at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool produced by long-standing collaborator Phil Bulleyment. The Joy Of The Return marks a significant change in the band’s process, with their extensive touring allowing them time to write and develop tracks and arrangements through sound checks and back-of-van jams.
On March 12th, DED, the four-piece nu-metal powerhouse from Phoenix, AZ,released a 2-track mini EP titled Mannequin Eyes – and it’s worth screaming about. Not one to be missed, this heart-pounding release is features radio hit “A MANNEQUIN IDOL (Lullaby)” as well as premiere single “Eyes Sewn Shut”.
The elements present in Mannequin Eyes represent the best of DED’s idiosyncrasies, including riffs that move at the speed of light, haunting vocals that invoke the fear of God, and messages that scorn the replicated and mundane. But with track “A MANNEQUIN IDOL (Lullaby)”, DED manages to weave aspects of three distinct genres into one robust arrangement, not unlike multiple personas battling over the mouthpiece in conveying DED’s distaste. Bearing themes of disgust for the conveyor-belt machine of the modern music industry and all things ingenuine, vocalist Joe Cotela leads the wind-tunnel dynamic of this thrashing headbanger by employing a refreshing variation vocal styles that push the affect of the track over the listener’s head and through the roof. Through verses of this track, the transitions between intense, horrifying whispers to screams representative of classic “metal” reveals DED’s talent within their wheelhouse – But Cotela’s switch to a resounding pop-format chorus marked by vocals more reminiscent of modern alternative rock display the band’s versatility in managing a tidal wave of emotion as it pulls back and forth, over and over.
“Eyes Sewn Shut” is closer to a standard nu-metal/metalcore screamer, with lyrics like “I won’t be silenced, don’t make me violent / You get what you deserve”. This track continues DED’s message of rejecting the reality forced upon the many by the few, and like “A MANNEQUIN IDOL (Lullaby)”, features a chorus that has leanings toward modern alternative rock laced between its slamming accompaniments from guitarist David Ludlow, bassist Kyle Koelsch, and drummer Matt Reinhard.
Mannequin Eyes is DED’s first release since 2017 breakout album MIS-AN-THROPE, which pushed the ceiling with a sky-high stream count from the moment of its inception. Prior to the album’s debut, the group released three singles in anticipation: See “FMFY”, “Anti-Everything”, and “Dead to Me”.
DED is set to release another full length album in 2020. Starting March 24, the group will tour with In This Moment, Black Veil Brides and Raven.
Indie pop wizards Yumi Zouma’s highly-anticipated new album, Truth or Consequences, was released today via Polyvinyl Record Co. Produced by Yumi Zouma themselves with mixing by Jake Aron (Solange, Snail Mail), TOC is chock-full of contemplation, duality, and the hard truth wrapped in a soft blanket.
The album is the group’s third but the first at their new label home at Polyvinyl Records. The narratives? Heartbreak (both platonic and romantic), emotional distance (both real and imagined), disillusionment, and being out of reach, and while there are rarely definitive answers to any of these tough subjects, there’s an undeniable release that comes from speaking your truth (even if it’s just to yourself).
Lead single “Right Track / Wrong Man” hits YZ’s sweet spot, giving listeners that trademark dancing-through-a-dream, shimmering sound that they seem to deliver so consistently and with such ease. Synths bubble behind Burgess and Simpson as they weave their way through smooth-toned beats with their sweet and feathery vocal blend. According to front woman Christie Simpson, the song stems from “a place of uncertainty- of not knowing if you should stay in a slightly unfulfilling relationship, or branch out and make the most of the youth you have left”, a problem that many young people feel burdened with after having spent a considerable chunk of their fleeting time be young with one person. Simpson talks about this track better than anyone else could, finishing the statement with a sentence that could serve as their slogan; “This is our dance floor anthem to the confusion of living through your twenties.”
“Lonely After” is a dream pop riddle of self-discovery. The contemplative opening track somehow manages to be a sparkling ode to pop while feeling as though it’s enveloped in a cloud, unbelievably soft and blurry around the edges in the most satisfying way. It floats across the auditory senses, pulling listeners in to get wrapped in the blanket of indie dream-pop comfort that is Truth or Consequences.
“Southwark” dances across twinkly piano melodies and breathy vocals. “Sage” steps off the white and fluffy clouds that Yumi Zouma exists in and floats into the starry night sky, delicately monotonous vocals over a driving synth-beat feeling like the soundtrack to late night drives and contemplation.
“Cool for a Second” is a lyrically sharp bright spot of synth pop that almost never happened. Bassist Charlie Ryder gave some background on the album centerpiece in a statement. “The song was demoed in Los Angeles and then long forgotten, destined for the scrap heap. A spark of inspiration from Josh in the introduction reestablished that for us, the most conspicuous of melodies are often hidden in modest beginnings.” It touches on isolation and the ensuing fallout in a letter to the past, and provides YZ fans with another one of those your-twenties-are-confusing-as-hell dance floor anthems that most lost souls in that time of their life could desperately use. Look no further, 20-29 year olds, we have the music for you!
Yumi Zouma has a talent for shielding hard truths with soft tones, providing glimpses into lucid romanticism across a dreamscape of dance-able beats and poignant lyricism. Truth or Consequences is a testament to the success of the band’s approach – a united body of melody that mines the spaces in between.
Yumi Zouma’s Truth of Consequences is out March 13th via Polyvinyl Records.
YUMI ZOUMA TOUR DATES
03/07 – London, UK @ Rough Trade East (In-Store)
03/10 – London, UK @ Moth Club [SOLD OUT]
03/12 – Washington, DC @ DC9 # [SOLD OUT]
03/13 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right # [SOLD OUT]
03/14 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle # [SOLD OUT]
03/18 – Austin, TX @ The Parish [SXSW]
03/19 – Austin, TX @ Seven Grand & Las Perlas [SXSW]*
03/19 – Austin, TX @ Banger’s [SXSW]
03/20 – McAllen, TX @ Cine El Rey @ DREAMS
03/21 – Dallas, TX @ Blue Light @ NSFWknd
03/24 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop #
03/26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge # [SOLD OUT]
03/27 – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge # [SOLD OUT]
03/28 – Boise, ID @ El Korah Shrine @ Treefort Music Festival
03/29 – Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Festival – Main Stage # w/ Magdalena Bay
* DJ set