Between global pandemics, burnout culture, and the rise of AI, the future seems more bleak than ever. The alt-rock artist Moon Walker expresses his frustrations with the present-day in the track “Give The People What They Want”, tackling the defects of American society via an arresting punk rock song. The music video from Tiltshift Visual sets the song in a nondescript American office—aka, the source of many societal frustrations—and features a zombification of its workers.
Opening with an arresting dialogue between the guitar and bass lines, the music primes the video for its imminent belligerent energy. Amid the beats of drums and panning synths, zombies type away at keyboards and make trips to the fax machine, ambling their way through dimly-lit, whitewashed corridors. Anyone who’s ever worked a corporate job can easily relate to this shuffling, fatigued movement. All the while, Moon Walker’s electrifying voice echoes the sentiments of discontented people across the globe: “We want children we can’t care for, houses we can’t pay for, jobs we can’t stay awake for”.
The two zombies in the video are ghostly pale and dingy, covered in wounds as raw as Walker’s lyrics. Moon Walker’s guitar shredding accompanies the human coworkers running away from their zombie counterparts, terrified of the decomposed future they will inevitably embody. There is nothing subtle about Walker’s message: we’ve all become slaves and zombies to our jobs and the political climate surrounding us. The end of the video features a ticking clock, reminding us that time does not stop for anyone, and our zombification could be imminent if nothing changes.
In a world where solutions are few and far between, belting rock songs with catchy melodic hooks is a good form of escapism. “Give The People What They Want” previews the alt-rock artist’s third LP, the aptly named Apocalypticism, due out on October 20th. Walker will expose the most troubling aspects of society with this release, challenging the status quo and pushing for change. Additionally, get tickets now for Moon Walker’s debut U.S. tour in October 2023.
For two decades, Scott Fisher has crafted musical fusions of his own design, with works featured in popular TV shows such as Shameless, Parks & Recreation, and Gossip Girl. His groovy rhythms are infectiously catchy and are right at home in these comedies and dramas. If his new single “Still the Same” were in a show, it would accompany a protagonist returning to their old hometown, expecting friends and family to have changed—only, they find that everything has stayed the same.
Funky jazz chords and a guitar riff hook the listener from the start, evoking 1970s production styles. Fisher’s voice echoes with reverb, infusing the song with a contemporary indie-pop spin. The lyrics are contemplative, as the speaker observes the inherent constancy of people despite ever-changing surroundings. Fisher observes that “the same old thoughts” are “in different brains” and “the gray in your beard is all that changed.” It’s a timeless feeling, as we move from one place in life to the next and realize that human emotions are, at their core, changeless.
“Still the Same” is the third single from Fisher’s upcoming album, Kingdom of Ego. Fisher is currently based in Los Angeles, where he has worked on acclaimed television shows (Shameless, Parks and Recreation, Better Call Saul, The Good Doctor, etc.). He has opened for Brandi Carlile, Augustana, and Pink Martini, in line with their genre-crossing musical styles.
Zach Gerzon of Twin Bridges is an up-and-coming songwriter and self-taught cellist, breaking into the music scene with a distinct mix of folk and instrumental chamber genres. The project’s latest single, “Carbon & Dust”, puts instrumental chamber music through an indie filter, mixing traditional orchestral instruments with wistful vocals. Durnis Markov’s animated music video is as heart-wrenching as it is breathtaking, providing context for the song as well as eye candy visuals.
While self-teaching, Gerzon experimented on his cello, incorporating playing it on its side like a guitar and using a looping pedal. He brings this experience into “Carbon & Dust”, incorporating a plucked cello motif as the crux of the piece. Its ambling tempo resembles how the characters in the music video lumber through a forest aimlessly. The music video’s description elaborates that the song “explores a conversation with a loved one who has passed… Slipping between a dream and reality, the lines get blurred from reality, the afterlife and reliving trauma / tragedy.”
Along with cello and vocals, “Carbon & Dust” includes a trumpet, bass clarinet, bassoon, clarinet, and saxophone, creating a mini symphony. Each drastic change in instrumentation accompanies the events in the video. When a car crashes in a head-on collision—recalling the moment the mourned person passed in this tragic accident—the winds suddenly break into the song. The wail of strings and blast of winds juxtapose Gerzon’s forlorn voice, encompassing the simultaneously agonizing and gloomy experience of grief.
“Carbon & Dust” is only the beginning of Twin Bridges’ exploration into folk-chamber pop, as the lead single to the upcoming Fertile Ashes full-length debut, out on 10/27. With a strong start, Twin Bridges and animator Durnis Markov helm the sail of an exciting new genre.
Does a new future of folk-chamber pop lie ahead of us? Find out below!
British-born musician Enny Owl has cultivated a musical career of what could fittingly be called the musical version of the cottage-core aesthetic. Her songs feature layered vocal harmonies that echo in the mind long after listening and lyrics that enchant with the rawness of personal struggle. “Nicolette”, the lead single from her upcoming Homes in Humans album, envisions Enny Owl as a spiritual guide for the listless soul of Nicolette, who searches for her own inner strength to fend off her enemies.
The soaring vocals immediately bring to mind a fairytale, with Enny Owl’s lead accompanied by lush harmonies. Strings and percussion in the background give depth to the soundscape, crafting a fantasy landscape through these familiar, Celtic-inspired timbres. The lyrics encourage the titular Nicolette to face her fears and “fend off dark forces”. “Nicolette” would fit snugly into a fantasy movie soundtrack, as the anthem for a determined protagonist who faces daunting tasks and dangerous enemies. In the words of Enny, “This song is about the fear of opening up after being hurt so many times before. It’s for the quiet and gentle-hearted. “Nicolette” is a reminder to be brave enough to find the strength and magic that was within you all along.”
The music video directed by Paula Crichton channels this fantasy feel to create a narrative, in which Enny Owl represents a “Spirit Guide” to the wandering Nicolette. Enny Owl sings in a forest glowing golden, surrounded by glittering magic. The beautiful costuming dresses Enny in a classic cottage-core look, donning puffy white sleeves, purple hair, and a tiara worthy of elven royalty. The character of Nicolette (Ariel Barber) wears a crimson cape, reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood. Though, Nicolette is not taken in by the wolf. She confronts her hunters head-on, with Enny’s spirit as support.
More magical narratives await with the release of Homes in Humans, set for November 3, 2023. Each upcoming song is based on one of Enny’s listeners, and they are sure to prove just as entrancing as “Nicolette”. Now based in Los Angeles, Enny Owl is represented by Weird Sister Records.
The Barenaked Ladies are back at it with another feel-good song full of optimistic energy. “Lovin’ Life” is the Toronto rock band’s first musical release since 2021, and excitement for their comeback shines through in its accompanying rainbow-tinged music video. Band members Ed Robertson, Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, and Tyler Stewart share their unhinged enthusiasm in appreciation of life’s highs and lows, reminding us to take a step back and smell the roses.
It’s hard not to smile while listening to “Lovin’ Life”. Even though it begins bleak, since “the world could end before the end of this song,” the band quickly jumps into why it is so important to not dwell on negativity and instead focus on living in the now. The chorus introduces keyboard synths and rockin’ guitar chords for a high-energy drop. Its catchy lyrics are an anthem to relishing the present moment and all the simple joys of summer. Life is not only “sweeter than a watermelon slice” but also as delicious as a gooey piece of pizza.
The MV’s visuals jump back and forth between the band’s in-studio sessions and their onstage performance of “Lovin’ Life” during their almost-annual Last Summer on Earth tour. As 2018 inductees of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Barenaked Ladies have much to celebrate for across their 35-year musical journey. If you can’t get enough of this single, be sure to check out the Barenaked Ladies’ 2023 Last Summer on Earth tour.
In need of a pick-me-up? Have a listen to “Lovin’ Life” below:
Experienced multi-genre artist Daniel Ellsworth brings all of his prior skills to the table, presenting his first independent project in a set of four LPs. The newly released WHAT is Ellsworth’s first fully self-produced LP and is the third in the set of I HAVE / NO CLUE / WHAT / I’M DOING. Contrary to that title, Ellsworth certainly seems to know what he’s doing, as the five new songs in WHAT display a mature musical sensibility with their clever arranging and the mixing of musical styles.
WHAT holds the listener’s hand via lyrics that tell a story, a diverse array of synths, and a clear progression of styles. Beginning with the welcoming “Lost In the Rhythm”, Ellsworth introduces a beat and whooshing synths worthy of any dance party. It’s feel-good and optimistic, in touch with the speaker’s initial meeting with the love interest.
“Blurry” heightens this euphoria, infusing its pop style with hip-hop influences, to evoke how the speaker is in complete awe of the lover. Panning synths in the catchy chorus create interest in the left and right ears, mimicking how it feels to have blurry vision in an auditory format.
“Flower Underground” flips the switch. Doubt sprouts in the speaker as the relationship with the lover takes a turn toward the uncertain. With indie-pop influences, this song has a myriad of synth timbres, creating an engaging collage of sound. The jazz piano solo hearkens to Ellsworth’s background in jazz piano, adding another new element to this LP.
Ellsworth draws from his experience in techno-pop in “Operator Emma”, as the speaker is in contact with the lover via sparse phone calls. Pleading for “an answer on the line”, Ellsworth’s voice soars into its highest range so far. The sweeping synths toward the end seem to hint at a hopeful conclusion for this complicated situation.
The final track, “I Believe In You”, is about the sun rising at the end of a long night. Circling back to indie-pop, Ellsworth’s voice has that lo-fi, old-time-radio vocal effect. There’s even word-painting when rising synths accompany the lyrics “surrounded by the sunlight”. The relationship has been repaired, and the music reflects that sense of relief and contentment that comes after a test of trust.
Daniel Ellsworth’s WHAT is a prime example of how to intermix musical genres to tell a story. After many collaborations with other artists—Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes, Chaos Emeralds, and DARKMINDS—Ellsworth sets out on his own, carrying a vast scope of musical experience with him.
The arrival of summer comes with the need for captivating folk-pop, and Jonah Kagen is here to deliver. In two short years, singer-songwriter Jonah Kagen has skyrocketed from TikTok fame to wider acclaim, lending his characteristic jazz-inspired guitar playing and personal storytelling to his music. His new single, “The Roads”, premieres today, and is a worthy addition to any summer road trip playlist.
A hallmark of Kagen’s music is his personal hue of melancholy and nostalgia, which “The Roads” wholly leans into. The universally-relatable lyrics detail the pain of an ended relationship, accompanied by the push and pull of dynamic musical contrast. Solo acoustic guitar verses are juxtaposed by the sweeping chorus, expanded with strummed guitar, cello, and violin. Kagan declares that “These roads are changin’ me, but they all lead back to you”, in a memorable and timeless melody.
The expansive rural landscape in the accompanying music video perfectly matches the song’s folk aspects. With truly stunning cinematography, we have a bird’s-eye view of the landscape as well as close-ups with Jonah Kagen on guitar. The sky is cloudy and gray, while the lush greens of the forest burst into view. The contrasts, both visually and musically, emphasize the undercurrent of doubt and regret on the speaker’s part, mourning the loss of love.
Represented by Arista Records, Jonah Kagen has amassed nearly 2 million Spotify listeners and more than 140 million global streams since the release of his debut EP, ‘georgia got colder’. “The Roads” builds upon this journey, as he crafts music full of heart and earnest. Stream the song today on all platforms, and check out the music video on Youtube.
As Italian singer-songwriter Alice Bisi revs up for the release of her third LP, her new track “Hyperdrive” gives a taste of a new direction for the alt-pop artist. Though Bisi, or Birthh, is based in Brooklyn, her music sounds as though it originates from the fourth dimension, cleverly using synths and fast tempos to transport listeners through musical wormholes.
It’s hard to believe that the high-octane “Hyperdrive” started out as a slow ballad. When Birthh was having trouble perfecting the song to her liking, she enlisted the help of her trusted co-producer London O’Connor. After a year of tweaking in the studio, “Hyperdrive” morphed into an upbeat, euphoric depiction of Birthh’s inner world and dreams. The verses are poetic in nature, with such lyrics as “I’ll chase your face, to infinity and beyond” and “spinning round, galactic dancer”, as the speaker experiences a whirlwind romance with hopes of reciprocation from the beloved.
This track keeps the listener on its toes, constantly adding new layers and advancing the intergalactic journey through Birthh’s heart. After the verse, the chorus shifts into the titular “Hyperdrive” mode, with rhythmic variation, a denser musical texture, and an earworm of a melody. The synths, percussion, and high-pitched strings interact with the vocal samples in a bouncing vortex of musical interest. The closing portion introduces a slew of new aspects, with piano chords interrupted by vocal samples of other voices besides Birthh’s, as though it leads into another track. As of now, we can only speculate what might come next.
When confronted with stretching hours alone during the 2020 pandemic, River Shook found themselves in a unique position to explore their own musical voice. Their solo project, Mightmare, was born, as an independent project separate from their country-punk band, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers. Now, River Shook releases the first Mightmare single to feature a full musical cast, “Can’t Get What I Want”, with Blake Tallent on guitar and synth, Ash Lopez on bass, and Ethan Standard on drums.
The lyrics of “Can’t Get What I Want” are immediately accusatory, as the speaker takes issue with the one-sided nature of a problematic relationship. Shook shines light on how the song “highlights a moment of clarity as our protagonist realizes in real time that demanding better treatment from an abuser is like expecting honey from a hornet’s nest.” Indeed, this realization stings with the arrival of the chorus, when Shook shouts the song’s namesake. The lingering dreaminess accompanying the lyrics “I can get anything I want” ends, as the tempo picks up and the rhythm changes to a steady emphasis on every downbeat. Reality sets in, as the speaker escapes fantasy and accepts that their abuser will not make any concessions.
Mightmare plants itself fully into the punk, indie-rock aesthetic, with the wail of its lyrics and head-banging instrumentation. Shook’s first solo album, Cruel Liars, features more of Shook’s punk sound. It’s a departure from the distinct country influences of Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, which is a testament to Shook’s musical versatility. Represented by Kill Rock Stars, this is sure to be only the beginning of Mightmare’s electrifying turn into the alternative scene.
In the mood to be vicariously angry via punk energy? Stream “Can’t Get What I Want” on these platforms now!