caroline culver, “i went out with a man”

caroline culver, “i went out with a man”

by: katy mombourquette

Twenty-year-old Caroline Culver’s new single “I Went Out With A Man” is an ironic lesson in enjoying disappointment in the form of a mesmerizingly moody anthem. Culver recounts her experience going out with a man in his late twenties and finding that her expectation that he would be any more mature or exciting than a boy her own age to be unfulfilled. Recorded and produced by Jason Cummings at the Cutting Room Studios in NYC, “I Went Out With A Man” uses Culver’s foundation as a singer-songwriter as a jumping-off point, exploring stately vocal lines superimposed on top of introspective soundscapes. The resulting atmospheric sound echoes that of bands like Alvvays and Soccer Mommy, but the distorted guitars and crashing cymbals give Culver a bit of an edge. Her powerful voice perfectly encapsulates the saturnine disenchantment of this song both in the softer verses and the grandiose choruses. Each melody line is surprising, compelling the listener as Culver’s voice flits upwards at the ends of words. 

About the song, Culver says “Ultimately, this song is an anthem for single girls dating around in their twenties and all the excitement it brings.” So while the underlying emotion behind “I Went Out With A Man” is a sense of disappointment, it’s also a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the exhilaration that comes with a young girl finding her way.

dava, “papercut”

dava, “papercut”

by katy mombourquette

Rising anti-pop star Dava is once again enchanting her listeners, channeling her unique brand of offbeat pop in her new single “Papercut”, the latest off her upcoming EP, Sticky. The left-of-center pop newcomer turned to music after her mom passed away when she was only 8, finding solace in writing songs on a guitar that her mother gave her. She grew up between Texas and Oklahoma, but has since moved to Colorado to build her career. Releasing tracks on SoundCloud and taking advantage of coffeehouse open mics earned Dava a substantial grassroots following, her warm R&B sound appealing to a wide audience. With “Papercut”, Dava further explores the sonic space she has created for herself. Its soulful and tangible pop sound feels like a cozy blanket wrapped around the listener. Dava’s vocals are delicately produced in a way that serves to augment her natural talent. As a whole, the track has this soothing, relaxed vibe to it. The verse melodies gently propel you along while the echoing choruses envelop you in static, yet infectious layers of the phrase “you’re just a papercut.” 

Dava’s music is eccentric, yet feels instantly familiar when it hits your ears. It’s no wonder that her two previously released singles, “ASOS” and “Right Time”, have highlighted the emerging artist as one to watch. Sink into “Papercut” today. 

brit drozda, “spotlight”

brit drozda, “spotlight”

by: leigha stuiso

“Spotlight” is the latest single off Brit Drozda’s upcoming EP Seashells & Stories. It is an anthem to friendship, celebrating a selfless friend finally finding her truth. The lyrics are reflective and full of heart, shining a light on the kind of artist Drozda is. Not only was this song written about a friend, but it has the power to reach the listener as if the song is about them. “I had a very close friend share a truth with me that allowed me to see her in a whole new light. Watching her come into her own, made me so proud and happy for her. I felt like I was watching her step into a spotlight and own this stage of her life,” Drozda said. 

Nowadays more and more music is coming out that is meant to empower and support people. Drozda is a great example of how and why this type of music works. On the EP, she worked with producer Scott Jacoby (Coldplay, Vampire Weekend) who helped transform the songs into a more distinctive and three-dimensional expression. The single “Spotlight” is accompanied with a lyric video with art by Windy O’Connor that brings the words to life. During the challenging times we are facing, take time to support your friends and listen to “Spotlight”. Who knows, you could be giving someone the boost you never knew they needed.

dutch falconi, “ride with me”

dutch falconi, “ride with me”

by katy mombourquette

Have you ever heard of Transylvanian salsa? Me neither, until Sacramento-based artist Dutch Falconi’s new single “Ride With Me” crossed my path. As you might have guessed, the music of this wildly unorthodox composer exists entirely outside the norm, taking the form of cohesive and border-transcending instrumental pieces. But while Falconi is off breaking boundaries and crossing into new territories, he also delicately pays attention to what his notes are saying: “When you think about writing instrumentals, you realize that if you take away the dimension of having a vocal as a bridge to people who aren’t musicians, you restrict the palette, then you have to figure out a way to really make the instruments say something.” But rather than words, “Ride With Me” speaks in images. Coming from a place of disillusionment and drudgery, Falconi pictures a spirited escape on horseback from the ordinary details of life, but for myself the Transylvanian connection and the dark, yet slightly groovy undertones of the track firmly implant in my mind the brooding scene of a sophisticated vampire function. In any case, “Ride With Me” is offered as an anthem to those seeking a better life. It’s easy to escape from reality in the layers and layers of unusual instruments that I’m not even going to try to name. Just know that there are many, they all have their own unique sound, and they are intricately layered and mixed together to achieve a form of sonic enlightenment. On the surface notes may crash into one another and get into a jumble, but underneath there’s this distinct and smooth harmonic framework and danceable percussion that holds everything together. The syncopated beats are somewhat disjunct, yet easy to follow. 

Because of its noticeable focus on layers, “Ride With Me” is a testament to Falconi’s compositional technique: writing songs piece by piece, folding instrumental tracks on top of each other to create a thickly woven tapestry of sound that is as jolting as it is remarkable. Though it was written as an antidote to Falconi’s own disenchantment, he offers it to the entire world, and he hopes that it translates well into something his audience can appreciate. He explains “That’s the hardest thing about making instrumental music when you’re multi-tracking all the instruments yourself. I don’t know whether I’m speaking to the audience with my instrumental music because I’m so intimately involved in it. It speaks to me because I’m speaking to myself. Hopefully, I’m not the only one listening.” Well, let me tell you Falconi: we hear you. So keep up your peculiarly bewitching endeavours, your listeners will be captivated from the moment that first layer of sound unravels in their ears. 

paper jackets, “what they call a life”

paper jackets, “what they call a life”

by: meredith schneider

On July 10th, the world was graced with an invigorating and indulgent album Souvenirs, Vol. 1 from alt-pop geniuses Paper Jackets. High energy, songs that take you away to that vacation you didn’t get in the middle of the pandemic, that sort of incredibly magic work that makes us all smile just thinking about it. But the music is introspective, vulnerable, and intrinsically relatable. We are smitten. Thinking about it, we are all the more pleased to premiere the virtual performance video of the band singing “What They Call a Life” from their respective homes. Says the band of the song:

A virtual version of us for this unforeseen age!  We are telling a story about the human condition, how no one is ever really OK and how we’re all learning to cope in life. It’s about hope, clarity, the need to have a voice and, I think most of all, the promise of having a legacy. I think the biggest fear in our hearts is being forgotten, and even though nothing truly lasts forever, it is impossible sometimes to comprehend. “What They Call A Life” is about having strength while you’re here in this life, keeping friends and family close and being present. The song is a reflection of the darkest fears and brightest hopes.

With that in mind, the video couldn’t have been done any differently. So turn it on, turn it up, and have a moment of community with everyone, because this song and its message apply to everyone.

Keep up with the band at paperjackets.com.

malin pettersen, “wildhorse dream”

malin pettersen, “wildhorse dream”


by: leigha stuiso

From Oslo, Norway to Nashville, Tennessee Malin Pettersen seems to be paving the way, around the world, to success. After growing up surrounded by music Pettersen was drawn to American culture and arts, as if it was calling her name. This calling led to the formation of popular country band Lucky Lips where she sings lead vocals. Which finally led to the release of her first solo album in 2018 and a mini-album in 2019, which received praise from big names like Rolling Stone Country and Billboard. Fans of Darling West, Erin Rae and Angel Olsen would love Pettersen, but she has a voice of her own that sounds strong and soft at the same time. 

Her next album Wildhorse is set to release October 16. The latest single before the album drops, “Wildhorse Dream”, references the album title. It is filled with layers of instrumentation and graceful harmonies. “I wrote this on a plane. I don’t think it needs any explanation and I think it can probably be different things for different people, but I did want to capture that feeling of “in-betweenness” that at least I specifically get on planes. It’s like a weird philosophical time zone where everything is up in the air,” Pettersen says. Pettersen has one of those styles that you can recognize the second the song begins. “Wildhorse Dream” is a journey back to music made years ago, while keeping it new. It feels like discovering something you haven’t listened to in a while that you will find yourself gravitating back to.