“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.
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 tryto 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.
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.
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.
Much like a heart broken in two halves, Norwegian singer Dagny is gearing up to release the second half of her debut album Strangers / Lovers by releasing the first single, “It’s Only A Heartbreak.” Since the A side of the album dropped earlier this May, its two lead singles have received an impressive response; “Come Over” spent 3 weeks at the top of the Norwegian radio-airplay charts, while “Somebody” made its way the top 5, amassing over 14 million streams along the way. The album as a whole tracks the journey of a relationship. The half that has already been released traces the dizzying, butterfly-inducing blooming of a new love, but now it’s time for things to fall apart. Side B of Strangers / Lovers is out on October 2nd via Little Daggers Records, and it examines the fall out of the relationship that blossomed on side A.
Like the whole album, “It’s Only A Heartbreak” is personal, so Dagny uses conversational lyrics to reflect on her post-breakup emotions and to give herself a sort of pep talk in the aftermath. The song was partially inspired by Humphery Bogart’s famous quote from the 1942 classic Casablanca: “Here’s looking at you, kid.” Dagny explains, “Like the movie, the song is about knowing that you will never get someone back, but you can secretly still look at, and admire, that certain someone. The song carries a nonchalant expression, but the undertone makes it pretty obvious that you’re not over that person yet.”
And indeed, from all sonic appearances, “It’s Only A Heartbreak” is an energetic, striking bop. Its infectious melody lines and vibrant array of jittering electronic sounds create a vivid soundscape that could be mistaken for a dance track– unless you listen to the lyrics. Dagny sings “Most days I wake up I’m okay / I’m doing my own thing, I don’t have a moment to think about you / Most days I’m up on a high wave, And I’m just like urgh, It’s only a heartbreak, I got to get through you,” and suddenly the brilliance and complexity of the sounds surrounding her seem to reflect the intense and complicated emotions that come with heartbreak. So whether you’re feeling heavy-hearted yourself and just want to feel seen, you just want to dance, or you’re a fan of intriguing musical settings and skilled production, “It’s Only A Heartbreak” is definitely for you.