They say that love is giving someone the power to destroy you and trusting them not to, and in some ways a similar principle can apply to friendships. Our friends are the ones that know us best, that we share a deep connection with. Those closest to us know all the buttons to push to bring us down as well as all the right words to say to lift us back up again. That’s the kind of friendship I picture from Bess Atwell’s new single ‘Harvested’, taken from her latest EP Big Blue. From the song’s dreamy atmosphere, thanks to Bess’ crystal clear vocals and the kind of warm, still vibe that presents the perfect soundtrack for the summer nights, I’d like to think that this is ultimately a friendship with a happy ending. One where the comfort of closeness outweighs the consequences. Even so, this is a song perfectly crafted to tug at your heartstrings. Give ‘Harvested’ the power to destroy you and it will do so gladly, and you’ll find yourself pressing play to surrender yourself to it all over again.
Pale Ramon – Pale Ramon
The National – I Am Easy To Find
My first listen of ‘Foreign Language’ was almost enough to make me do the auditory equivalent of a double take. We’ve been big fans of Caleb’s wanderlust inducing Americana, so this foray into synth driven territory marks an ambitious shift in sound. Altogether more lush and nuanced, it builds upon layered synths, expressive bass tones and atmospheric guitar textures to construct a song that feels very much like being a small figure in a big world. Walking the streets of a sprawling city aglow with neon lights in search of something real. Lyrically it seems fitting that it deals with our over-reliance on technology to form and maintain connections, almost like a nostalgic look back on his own work and the simple life of the open road. Caleb nails his new sound with real flair and conviction, but still carries with him a knack for potent hooks and addictive melodies.
Duncan Lloyd – Outside Notion
Psychedelic Rock | Baroque Pop
There are so many songs about love, or loss, or everyday life. It feels good every now and then to delve into a song like ‘Coming Up For Air’ that elects to break the mould and play around with different ideas and narratives. This first cut from Mars Motel’s debut album Passenger X tells the tale of an android longing to be human and trying to change to find acceptance. Whether you take the story at face value, or use it as a mirror for our own need to connect and be understood, it is a unique and fascinating foundation to build a song upon. The music built around the story offers up a great blend of retro 80s vibes, bright and airy indie soundscapes, and perfectly polished pop melodies. The winding bass line gives the track an inescapable energy, and it carries the kind of infectious hooks that stay with you all day.
Local Natives – Violet Street
Indie Rock | R&B
A great voice can easily steal the spotlight and be the highlight of a song. When it comes to ‘Don’t Run’ however, Jaz Ellington’s voice is the song. It is woven into the very soul of the track, feeling like a full band in itself rather than just a single element. Whether it is in the soothing softer tones that you can feel brush against your skin like fine silk, or in the resounding calls to the heavens that command your attention and seem to make the very ground tremble, Jaz pulls out all the stops on this latest single. I don’t know many songs that can both shatter you with an imposing wall of sound, and then nurse all the pieces back together with a gentle caress the way that ‘Don’t Run’ does. A voice is an instrument like any other and Jaz is clearly a master of his craft.
We all have to live with thoughts of “what could have been” in our lives. You can follow your dreams, and ultimately be on the right path, and still face regrets along the way. It’s just life in a nutshell. That’s the sentiment that comes across in this superb song from singer/songwriter Ben McKelvey. ‘Wild Child’ talks of music as a calling. It’s not always as glamorous as it seems, life on the road means missing out on a lot of opportunities and it can tear relationships apart, but that’s a sacrifice that has to be made sometimes. To do otherwise would mean denying a part of who you are. Some people are just born with music running through their veins and Ben certainly seems like one of them, especially considering how he plays every instrument on the track. Immediately reminiscent of The Gaslight Anthem and Frank Turner with its relentless energy and heart-on-sleeve lyricism, and afternoon spent listening to this on repeat is one thing that you won’t regret.
Tackling the ever-present paradox of modern times, of being “more connected than ever, and at the same time, totally alone”, the new single from Holly Henderson calls out for freedom from a prison of our own design. With this track from her forthcoming debut album Monday Green, out 7th June, she offers her view on how we are all just a tap of a button away from each other, but have allowed ourselves to lose touch of the personal, physical connection that gives it all purpose. How we’ve become so fascinated with maintaining a glossy internet alter-ego but get nothing tangible or meaningful in return. Though it is a feeling that is often depicted as being cold and empty, Holly’s take on ‘Loneliness’ breaks the mould with its fiery, unbridled energy. With fierce riffs, propulsive percussion, a dash of psychedlica, and Holly’s passionate vocals, ‘Loneliness’ has no trouble smashing down barriers to make a deep connection.