Although 2020 hasn’t been the best year, there have been some good things. What I mean by those good things is great music and the rise of many new artists. Among those ranks is Dava, a Los Angeles-based artist who isn’t afraid to tell her stories and blend different genres. If you are looking for a sound similar to artists such as Benee and Lolo Zouai, look no further. Dava’s latest single, “Papercut”, is out now accompanied by a music video with trippy visuals. In an Instagram post she spoke about the meaning behind the song and left a message to fans, “I hope this song speaks to whoever needs it.”
“Papercut” is impressive on its own for the clever lyrics, but the icing on the cake is Dava’s voice bringing them to life. You cannot ignore the emotions behind her voice and the talent she has. The Pre-chorus, “when my heads in the clouds and my hearts in my gut / keep your eyes on the prize and your hand on the gun / gave you all that I had but it wasn’t enough,” is something a lot of people will be able to relate to their own experiences and feelings. Her debut EP, Sticky, is set to release via Sony this year. This may only be the beginning for Dava, but she is off to a great start.
A good album doesn’t always have to be a grand release that tries to pull out all the stops. Sticking to what works for an artist and being cohesive can lead to their best work. Anya Marina’s new album Queen of the Night is exactly that. It is a cohesive piece of work where Marina’s voice floats over the lyrics like she is tracing them with her voice. 15 years after the release of her first album, this might be her best album yet. Queen Of The Night was written and recorded in part in Nashville with several producers (K.S. Rhoads / “Love the Most”, Katie Herzig / “Lucky Star”) and San Diego (with Brian Karscig of Louis XIV and Nervous Wreckords on “Just Calling”) but mostly in NYC with producer/artist Miles Francis (Last Word, Creeps, Can’t Nobody Love You, Nothing, The Man, 16 Letters, Ain’t Misbehavin’) and Christopher Kuffner (“Broken Bottles”) from A Great Big World.
Opening with the title-track, “Queen of the Night”, was a strong choice by Marina. Listening to the song, you can picture it becoming an anthem. “Last Word” is a hazy dream where her voice drags through the pain of pretending. Things pick up with “Broken Bottles” as Marina sings, “hard to be wrong, worse to be right / stuck in the middle of a losing fight,” over a mid-tempo beat. Similar to the sound of artists such as Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor, Marina has a certain characteristic to her music that is present in every song. There is an unmistakable quality that you have to admire in Marina’s work.
“Me and My Phone”, one of the singles off the record, jazzes things up. The chorus has a deep bass that feels nostalgic. “Can’t Nobody Love You” is a testament to the love Marina gives, no one can compare. It is the perfect slow dance song for a wedding. “Lucky Star” combines all the elements used in the album, but with layered vocals for an echo effect. It is the most ambitious song on the album, and might be a fan favorite. Similarly, “Just Calling” has echoed vocals but takes on the story of a breakup. Marina is known for pulling off great covers of songs, like T.I.’s “Whatever You Like”, and she does it again. This time she slows down Taylor Swift’s “The Man”, but does it gracefully. If you weren’t a fan of the song, you will be now. Overall, there wasn’t a single song that made you want to skip over or made you think it was a throwaway that snuck onto the tracklist. Everything makes sense and is in its place.
The prolific singer-songwriter is no stranger to success as she was a part of the platinum-selling soundtrack to Twilight: New Moon, her music appeared in TV shows like 13 Reasons Why and Grey’s Anatomy and she opened for Nikki Glaser in theaters across the U.S.. Marina has been independently releasing her music and will continue to do so with Queen of the Night. With great style and sound, Marina didn’t need to do anything except be her authentic self for this album.
They’re genre expansive, gender expansive and multi-instrumentalists. They’re LE FOMO and they’re back with their new album Swallow Me Whole. The electro thrash pop duo is releasing nine tracks that are bound to get you out of your seat and onto your feet. The driving bass lines, catchy guitar riffs and punchy vocals will give you a feeling of nostalgia, but still giving a new and fresh sound. Ess Nelson (Vocals, lyrics, synths, bass, beats, arrangement) and Kai Hofius (guitar, drums, lyrics, bass) are based in Oakland, CA.
Swallow Me Whole was recorded and mixed by Maryam Qudus at Tiny Telephone and Best House Studios and mastered by Piper Payne at Infrasonic Studios. “NOTDF (Nip on the Dance Floor)”, is one of the three singles off the album and has been gaining traction through the press and from fans. “Tiny Anchor” at the core is all about loving someone, while letting go of the fears it might bring along. The song was accompanied by an animated music video that ends with the sailor letting someone in.
Although their beats may be lively and easy to lightly listen to, if you really pay attention to the lyrics, they are very clever and full of emotion. The title track, “Swallow Me Whole”, is a prime example of this especially with the verse, “Infuse your bloodstream / infuse your heart / bathe every organ, every soft weathered scar / won’t you swallow me whole, so I can sing to your guts / fill your tenderest parts, and rub up on your heart.” In “We Were Never In Control”, there’s a great combination of elements that are reminiscent of something that you might hear in the 80s. “Heedless Velvet Moonshine Rocket” is a nice transition in the middle of the album, it is a prime example of their smooth production and arrangement. “Corkscrew Hourglass” continues this sound but with Nelson’s vocals flying high over the song. Things slow down slightly with “Parabolic Rinpoche”, but still continue with the upbeat tempo that they are known for. On a less serious topic than pain,“Spoon Revolt” is about switching up who is the big and little spoon. The album wraps up with “Hot Whiskey”, it’s a slow burn that stands out on the album. It ends how it begins, with original style. LE FOMO has created an amazing piece of art inspired by pain and healed their wounds in the process. With diversified musical influences from artists like Prince, Karen O, Devo and Janelle Monae, they have created their own unique sound. Swallow Me Whole calls on us to become our fullest, most expansive selves and to find authentic human connection in that place, together. It goes beyond just an album and is a piece of the journey for LE FOMO.
After a major shift in her life, including a divorce and personal upheaval, Lydia Loveless returns with Daughter, her first album in four years via Honey, You’re Gonna Be Late Records. Across 10 songs, she goes beyond her comfort zone to tell her story through heartfelt lyrics. This is a new side to Loveless, but all a part of her journey. With her unmistakable voice and alt-country sound, Daughter is the cathartic release that’s been trapped inside all along. On the album, Loveless explains, “I felt frustrated with myself for going straight from my tumultuous teen years into a marriage so that I could feel safe, and right when I was getting out of the situation, people around me were settling down and having kids. I felt lost and inexperienced, meanwhile the political landscape was turning even bleaker. Many men were coming around to feminism because they had just had a daughter. I’d see billboards on the side of the road imploring people not to hurt women because they were somebody’s daughter or sister or mother. And I was living as an individual for the first time, and don’t have maternal desires. My family was in turmoil so defining myself as a daughter or sister didn’t give me much comfort.”
Starting the album with “Dead Writer”, Loveless wastes no time getting right into the fallout of her divorce. The track is mellow and the lyrics address the end, which previews the vibe for the rest of the album. The singles “Wringer” and “Love Is Not Enough” have already started to gain praise from fans and critics. The singer-songwriter struggles with conflicting desires on “Can’t Think”, continually building until the end of the track. In working on this album, Loveless found unexpected inspiration in learning new techniques and gear and it shows. “Never” can be traced back to her George Michael phase, built on a foundation of synthesizers. The title track can be described as a meditative song where she reckons how her place in the world is defined. “September” is a somber, piano-led arrangement, featuring cellist Nora Barton and guest vocals from her friend Jane Grace. Finally, “Don’t Bother Mountain”, the longest track on the album, is built on drum machines and keys. Her sound is refined and all of the different elements blend together to create a collection that exhibits the true Lydia Loveless.
Lydia Loveless has found a new side of herself and it only is up from here, for both her personal and musical journeys. Daughter was recorded at The Loft in Chicago with Tom Schick (Wilco, Mavis Staples, Norah Jones). She has gained an untapped sense of self that shines throughout the album, unable to hide the emotion behind the lyrics. There always is a light at the end of the tunnel, and Daughter is Loveless’ light.
Home Remedy tackles current issues, but gives you feelings of nostalgia with their sound. This album is the first release for Sundressed under their new label Rude Records. The indie-punk band has a sound similar to Modern Baseball, Weezer and All Time Low. The 11 tracks LP follows the 2017 release, A Little Less Put Together, and is a fresh, new sound for the band. Produced by Mike Pepe (Taking Back Sunday, Wasi), the highly anticipated album is finally out. Frontman Trevor Hedges said, “Home Remedy is a record about getting better by any means necessary. Despite many setbacks, I truly believe we were able to make our most authentic and honest record yet.”
Hedges along with AJ Peacox (guitar), Vic Chan (drums), Matthew Graham and Justin Portillo are putting their best foot forward with “Home Remedy”. The title track is everything you would want from the band and more. It is a cathartic release that is meant to be put on at full volume. Fans have been quick to praise the other singles, “Oh Please” and “Size of my Heart”, off the album. “Is This a Drug?” is the song that caught my attention the most. The lyrics are begging to be heard and belted back at the track; you can envision how this track would perform at a concert.
The Atlanta-based band rock out on “The Facts” and “Explode! (Into Pieces)” with strong guitar riffs and drums. Things get serious on “Cash Out”, which tackles the issues of money, insurance and mental health; “Is this the reason why we’re dying? / it’s probably more affordable so just stop trying”. Hedges explains that “Your Frequency”, “is about the “side-hustle” culture. How it’s never okay to relax, how something always comes up when you’re almost ahead. This song is about the desire to have less worry about essential needs and have more time to be human.” All the tracks are honest and catchy at the same time, without being cheesy. Listening to Home Remedy it is easy to see the effort and time put into crafting these tracks.
What started as Hedges project in 2012 to help maintain his sobriety has turned into a place for others to find comfort in themselves. The band tries to make an impact with their music and pushes listeners to keep moving forward. In this record, Sundressed focuses on topics like frustrations with money, hustle culture and mental health issues. While being relevant with the lyrics, there is something about their sound that isn’t forced and feels warm. If you are looking for a sign to listen to Home Remedy, this is it. This is the sign.
Local Nomad took to our virtual stage for A Night w/ One in a Million Media: Imperfect Fifth’s Anniversary. With minor microphone problems and a lot of passion, the performance is what music is all about. With just a guitar in hand and a microphone, there was a feeling like you were at an intimate, acoustic concert. Watching an artist perform takes you out of the moment and transported to a different world, which is what happened here. If you weren’t a fan of Local Nomad yet, you definitely are now. Starting out with “Love is Gone”, off the EP LOCAL NOMAD, it is easy to tell that Mike Desmond loves what he does. Throughout the set, there is a fire behind his voice that ignites the lyrics and brings the songs to life. He plays three more songs, and talks about his decision not to play a Leonard Cohen song. With the help of his friend James, the set was a real success and gives you that feeling you might be missing from seeing live shows. If you have around 20 minutes and missed the original stream, check out Local Nomad’s performance below.
“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.
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.
As an artist, your debut work can make or break you. It provides the foundation for a fan base and is the first opportunity to show the strengths and weaknesses of your power. Montreal-based artist Tedy is releasing his debut EP via Sony Music Canada. The 28-year-old fuses soul, alternative and pop together for a unique sound. The compilation of six tracks show his abilities, which are impressive for an emerging artist. Boys Don’t Cry is led by the singles “Stuck” and “War”, both co-produced by Mike Wise (Ellie Goulding, Chainsmokers) and Herag Sanbalian.
In 2019, Tedy began to craft the EP thoughtfully and as a creative collaboration. He strives to have a meaningful response to his creative endeavours, which he seems to have here. The title track, “Boys Don’t Cry”, is the track we need, with different powerful elements coming to play. Tedy’s vocals might be the best part of the EP, as they slip in and out of the melodies. It is almost as if his voice is reminiscent of a mix between Sam Smith and Rag’n’Bone Man, especially on a track such as “Fireworks”. This song is a rollercoaster of highs and lows that showcase his range. He is not afraid to slow things down with “War”, and then ramp up the ante with “Twisted (I Hate Myself)” where his voice battles over the strong sound of drums.
Listening to “Stuck” , it is hard to believe this is only his debut release as a signed artist. The song feels current and pulls you in all around, whether it is the lyrics or the production. The sixth and final track, “Hopeless” feels like the bow on top of a present. It ties together all the best elements explored in the album and doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. Overall, Tedy put together an impressive collection of songs that convey his talent. He is one of those artists you could never forget and easily will become a staple in your music repertoire. Boys Don’t Cry is out now.