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Listen: quinnie’s “touch tank”

I have butterflies. Wonderful lilac and periwinkle and rosy butterflies flutter in circles around my heart, waking me from my dark dreams, dragging me into the sunlight, dancing me into summer.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt love within a song. I’ve only been listening to melancholy music. Angrier guitar riffs, sad lyrics. It seems that my teenage angst has lingered into my twenties. And in the past few weeks, as I’ve felt immense uncertainty and confusion, these songs linger still. But there comes a point in the confusion and anger and frustration when I need to be lifted up. Music helps me feel and contextualize my feelings, but it also wakes me from my slumber. And that is what “touch tank” by quinnie does. It sends serotonin and smiles through my veins. 

Released as a single on July 1st of this year, quinnie brings summer into this alt-pop track with faded vocals, a warm acoustic guitar, and swimming metaphors.  

Beginning with the sound, the first verse reminisces on old-timey movie projector audio, where the sound comes out muffled and light and romantic. The chorus picks up the guitar and quinnie’s vocals more clearly, but the tone is still light and bright, making it the perfect song for the beach or the pool or any body of water really. Verse two brings in percussion and more echoing vocals, giving the aural experience of being under or near water. 

It would be very unlike me to fall in love with a song that doesn’t have beautiful, relatable lyrics. This song is no exception to that. Detailed descriptions like: “gold-skinned, eager baby, blue shirt out the laundry” in the chorus that bring the listeners attention to the object of quinnie’s desire. And again in verse two with: “to you, deep sea pearl, my soft manta ray.”  It’s these minute details that could only be noted by a poet, and a poet in love at that. 

My favorite lyric comes in the bridge as quinnie sings, “you took my breath away, so now I can’t suck in my stomach around you anymore.” To me, this is the ultimate sign of comfortability within a relationship. You suck in your stomach so no one has to see who you really are, what you may really look like, but when someone takes your breath away like that (figuratively, of course), you don’t even get the chance to overthink. You just are who you are and, miraculously, it isn’t more complicated than that. 

“Touch tank” is also a song so openly about female pleasure and the female enjoyment of said pleasure. The chorus begins with, “he’s so pretty when he goes down on me.” Another verse two includes, “two tender fingers to touch the display” (this imagery is mirrored in the music video). I think it’s rare to find a song that is just so simply about a woman enjoying herself. She’s falling in love, but it doesn’t come across as overly romantic or dramatic. It’s the simplicity of the little things quinnie notes throughout the lyrics that makes her song genuine. That make love seem genuine and not overly complicated. 

It’s just one of the prettiest and loveliest songs I’ve heard in a while. The line “We’re too old to live with our parents; Do you wanna wake up to me every morning?” is so simple, and by no means original, yet quinnie transforms that simplicity into the only thing I desire. And I cannot stop singing it; it plays on repeat in my head at all hours of sunshine. 

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Listen: “I HATE IT!” – Caroline Meade

TGG guest writer Molly MacDuff chats with Caroline Meade to discuss her latest single, “I HATE IT!” I don’t understand loving something and not doing it Caroline Meade “I write my meanest songs on my best days,” singer/songwriter Caroline Meade explains to me. On one of these days, “I HATE IT!” was born. As the […]

Listen: “For a Moment You’re Mine” – Little Monarch

It satisfied something in me for the moment, and personally, it felt important to put out there and just not care how much attention it got. I can picture a flock of monarchs fluttering around in the bright morning sun. Birds chirping in the distance. I am dreaming and white sun peers through blinds, wasting […]

Listen: Does It Make You Happy? – Rowan

We wanted to create an arc of joy and sadness. Rowan, on the sequencing of Does It Make You Happy? Irish alt-rock band, Rowan, released their debut album, Does It Make You Happy? at the top of the month. The album, with a sound akin to The Strokes, inventories the pain, anger and confusion that […]

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Listen: “For a Moment You’re Mine” – Little Monarch

It satisfied something in me for the moment, and personally, it felt important to put out there and just not care how much attention it got.

I can picture a flock of monarchs fluttering around in the bright morning sun. Birds chirping in the distance. I am dreaming and white sun peers through blinds, wasting the morning away in bed with you. For a moment I’m yours.

The most recent single from Little Monarch, “For a Moment You’re Mine,” is the epitome of sun-soaked indie pop, as “listeners are taken through a fleeing moment.” In speaking with Casey Kalmenson, creator and lead singer of the project, she described this as the basis for the track. “This song is a fleeting moment in macros and micros,” Kalmenson said. “It feels fleeting sonically because there are very short bursts of tempo and energy in the song.” In micro, the song evolves in tempo and in lyricism, as the title itself is a sentiment of how momentary love and feelings can be. From the macro perspective, Kalmenson noted that, “this feels like a fleeting moment because it was a change that I took when choosing which sonic path I’d take.” It’s more of a “hybrid-acoustic” track than her previous and upcoming songs.

Kalmenson, who began her musical journey with the piano around 8 or 9 years old, explained how the varying sound of “For a Moment You’re Mine” was partly due to writing during a more isolated period. The track, which was co-produced and co-written with Daniel Pashman, “just sort of happened,” Kalmenson explained. “It satisfied something in me for the moment, and personally, it felt important to put out there and just not care how much attention it got.”

With For a Moment You’re Mine, she felt that she was able to maintain control and freedom with her creation, knowing that it’ll reach the right audience. To Kalmenson, the beauty of independent artistry lies in the fact that it’s about the artist. “It’s a different world putting out music now. You feel like maybe you’re not encouraged to put something out at the moment unless there is some specific precursor, which is not a healthy way to create.”

Kalmenson, who prides herself in dabbling in a bit of everything related to music, has acted (as she graduated with a theatre degree from USC), worked as a background singer and musician, done sync and licensing, and shared her skillset through teaching and mentoring before creating Little Monarch. The band, whose name pays homage to the abundance of monarch butterflies outside their LA studio, initially formed as a five-piece indie band for their first EP. Since then, the band has transformed with her, as it follows her journey as a writer and producer. Little Monarch has metamorphosized into a representation of Kalmenson and whomever she is working with (which is often members from the original five).

Most recently, Kalmenson joined Gracie Abrams on her North American and European tour. She noted that this experience was much different from touring your own project. “It’s fun to be in support of someone else as the whole show isn’t on your shoulders.”

For Kalmenson, curiosity is king, and music is the thing she is most curious about. She has goals of creating a group of songs that feel hopeful and positive. Though she continues to dabble in production, sync work, and will be playing more shows with Gracie Abrams, she most simply enjoys writing and composing her own music. “Music [as a whole] helps us become more innocent and hopeful. There are no biases, just listening,” Kalmenson said. “You’ll never totally figure it out. You can never master it and there’s always more to discover.”

Overall, Kalmenson feels that “For a Moment You’re Mine” reflects her personality: chill optimism. Her own genre and playlist, I find her sound to be more relevant than ever. With longing lyrics like “hope is slowly growing in the darkness of my own fears, I wish I gave you this whole year,” Kalmenson captures regret in the loveliest way. She drives through the point of these emotions with the line, “Our worlds still collide, for a moment you’re mine.” There is great beauty in accepting that some things only last a moment.

Kalmenson describes music as a magic potion, something that dictates your mood and feeling. “For a Moment You’re Mine” makes you remember the feeling of being with someone you loved. It’s waking up to coffee in bed. Walking through the park and holding hands in the sunshine. It’s equally somber and romantic, a movie scene.

Listen: quinnie’s “touch tank”

I have butterflies. Wonderful lilac and periwinkle and rosy butterflies flutter in circles around my heart, waking me from my dark dreams, dragging me into the sunlight, dancing me into summer. It’s been a while since I’ve felt love within a song. I’ve only been listening to melancholy music. Angrier guitar riffs, sad lyrics. It […]

Listen: “hate to be lame” – Lizzy McApline ft. FINNEAS

This song is the musicification of walking on thin ice. Lizzy McAlpine is the queen of the soft pop ballad. That’s a bold statement, I’m aware, but her voice has just the right amount of soul and desperation for me to feel everything she sings.  I don’t particularly know much about falling in love. I […]

Listen: “Chill Out” – Barcode Pony

Indy’s own Barcode Pony releases first single, “Chill Out” Bringing some local representation to TGG with today’s track, the first single from Indianapolis-based Barcode Pony is one for the young and the restless. Infused with infectious blues guitar and buoyed by an incredibly funky bass line, “Chill Out” reminds us to hurry up and wait. […]

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Listen: Does It Make You Happy? – Rowan

We wanted to create an arc of joy and sadness.

Rowan, on the sequencing of Does It Make You Happy?

Irish alt-rock band, Rowan, released their debut album, Does It Make You Happy? at the top of the month. The album, with a sound akin to The Strokes, inventories the pain, anger and confusion that typically ensues in tandem with a potentially unhealthy relationship. Having written over 50 songs during the height of 2020’s onslaught of grief, strife and trauma, Rowan whittled that collection down to 12 tracks in the form of their debut album. Does It Make You Happy? garners inspiration from not only collective, societal agony and anger, but the band’s own personal experience with pain as lead vocalist, Dylan Howe, slogged through the aftermath of his own heartbreak.

The album’s intro track, “Apollo,” sets the project in motion with a confining, yet expansive feeling. “We had decided from day one that it was literally going to launch the album,” the band shared about the track, “with a sample from Charles Duke, the space capsule communicator on NASA’s Apollo 10 mission to orbit the moon. We recorded the vocals for this one in a car that we parked outside the studio, to get the tight space that would mirror that of being in a space capsule.” 

Courtesy of Rowan

We have yet to break the mold on what history has given us, but there is great hope in today’s world, with the efforts that are being put in place to eliminate the stigmas of yesterday.

Rowan, on writing “Irish to My Bones”

Does It Make You Happy? seamlessly fluctuates between higher energy tracks fueled by anger like “Irish to My Bones” and “Nothing’s Gonna Change” to slower tracks embedded with sorrow and regret, like “I Don’t Wanna Talk” and “Leave Now Go.” “We wanted to create an arc of joy and sadness,” the band shared, “with the album starting up high, going through various emotions and then finally ending with a profound cathartic question of ‘Does It Make You Happy?’”

Consisting of only three members, Rowan is unable to realistically recreate each aspect of the song outside of recording. Enjoy watching the music video for “Nothing’s Gonna Change” where the members comically stand, hands-free, as the imaginary bassist plays.

The band, which consists of Dylan Howe, Fionn Hennessy-Hayes, and Kevin Herron, pays homage to, while also rejecting, the current state of their nationality with the lively, punk-infused track, “Irish to My Bones.” The second single from the album, which is frenzied and fuming, was “written to pierce the modern perspective of suppression and shame, brought on by generational trauma in Ireland,” the band shared in a statement. “We have yet to break the mold on what history has given us, but there is great hope in today’s world, with the efforts that are being put in place to eliminate the stigmas of yesterday.”

The inception of “I Don’t Wanna Talk” is one that highlights the catharsis of music as well as the healing powers of understanding provided by those who know us better than we may know ourselves. As a way to extend support to Howe, who “was going through a messy breakup around the same time he lost his mother,” Hennessy-Hayes stated. “Unbeknownst to him, myself and Kev made a conscious effort to write lyrics that we thought would resonate with him. My logic was that if I was going through everything he was, I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone.” With one line written, the track’s title, Fionn sent it to Howe and within an hour, Howe returned with a finished song. “It’s about confronting the pain, looking it in the eye and acknowledging it,” Howe stated. “Yes, it’s tough and it’ll always be tough, but it’s important to express yourself.”

“It was like a surge of energy just shot through me and it was finished,” vocalist Dylan Howe shared of the album’s title track. The song features Canadian multi-instrumentalist, Ariel Posen, and is dripping with remorse. “It’s the song I resonate with heaviest on this album,” Howe shared, “it deals with abusive behaviors in a relationship and, in retrospect, how I should’ve demanded better for myself.”

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Listen: “hate to be lame” – Lizzy McApline ft. FINNEAS

This song is the musicification of walking on thin ice.

Lizzy McAlpine is the queen of the soft pop ballad. That’s a bold statement, I’m aware, but her voice has just the right amount of soul and desperation for me to feel everything she sings. 

I don’t particularly know much about falling in love. I mean, I do know a good amount. I read loads of novels, watch endless movies, and listen to music like McAlpine’s on a regular basis. Occasionally I experience a flurry or a flint of the magic myself. But the stories that she’s created in her songs, the blunt lyricism and the raw emotion, they get me there.

Hate to be lame” is one of these songs. Released April 5, 2022 and the 11th track off her sophomore album five seconds flat, McAlpine featured pop artist FINNEAS to help her contextualize when you know you’re in love. Love songs are about as popular as mosquitos in summer, so it’s difficult to find something as original and equally relatable as “hate to be lame.” The song not only captures what it feels like to be on the verge of saying “I love you,” but it demonstrates the anxieties that come with saying those words. It’s a love song, but it’s also a song about the fear and anxiety of what happens once those words are said. 

It’s her simple, yet relatable lyrics that draw me in, captivated by that first feeling. She begins this immediately, with the opening line, “It’s always on the tip of my tongue.” This is McAlpine’s first image for what this love feels like, how the words seem to come to her without further thought or questioning. It’s followed by, “I read an article on the internet, told me that’s how you know you’re fallin’ in love.” I love how simple and relevant this image is. It makes me remember the points in my life where I questioned it too, where I typed the words into google hoping I’d gain some sense of clarity from a Seventeen article titled something like “Five Ways You Know You’re in Love.”

When we arrive at the chorus, we feel the anxiety, bordering on embarrassment. McAlpine sings, “Hate to admit but it might be true. Hate to admit but I think you knew. Hate to be lame but I might love you.”  It’s like she’s apologizing for her feelings, trying as hard as she can not to feel that way. Not to ruin anything. Not to say something she shouldn’t. This is contrasted by the lines in FINNEAS’s verse. He sings, “If I could rewind, would there be some butterfly effect? What if we never met? What if the stars never aligned?” The butterfly effect represents the idea that FINNEAS wishes they could go back to the beginning of their relationship to stop it from starting. They’re both falling in love apprehensively, regretfully. 

I think it’s important to note the tone behind the lyrics as well. It’s obviously not happy-go-lucky. The beat drop during the bridge intensifies the song and matches the questioning in her lyrics: “Do I love him? Do I need him? Do I want him? Do I care enough to say that I love him, that I need him?” Her anxieties are apparent; her emotional spiral parallels the tempo during this moment. And it’s brought to fruition with the end of the bridge: “If I need him, maybe that will make him stay. If I lie, will I still feel this way?” The doubt becomes obvious as McAlpine questions whether saying “I love you” will soften the damage that’s already apparent within the relationship.  

What’s so beautiful about this song is that it attempts to examine what it feels like to be in love but have severe anxieties and regrets about the relationship to begin with. It’s about feeling it and wanting so badly for some sense of relief from the questioning inside an anxious mind. But, at the same time, feeling embarrassed and “lame” for wanting to say it, knowing that neither person is falling willingly. This song is the musicification of walking on thin ice. Could the words “I love you” save them or tear them apart?

Listen: “No Shame” – Five Seconds of Summer

“Our ambition as a band is to become genreless.” I’ve been caught in a cycle of self-doubt lately. The end of the semester kicked my ass, work sucks, and I’m itching to get out of the house. Summer can’t come soon enough. You know the urge you get sometimes to scream-sing in the car at […]

Listen: “Lullaby” – Grace Ives

A beautiful thing to think about is that stars on earth look like blobs, but in space, really defined structures. Grace Ives, on her upcoming album, Janky Star Brooklyn-based DIY artist, Grace Ives announced the release of her upcoming sophomore album, Janky Star in the beginning of April with “Lullaby.” The second single from the […]

Listen: “Please” – Sali

I like working with the idea that songs don’t need to take a normal, organizational path Sali When I listen to this song, I picture an early spring sunset, blue and pink and yellow form a tie-dye sky. I’m on the train watching the sun slide beneath the city, the world passes by quickly but […]

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Listen: “Chill Out” – Barcode Pony

Indy’s own Barcode Pony releases first single, “Chill Out”

Bringing some local representation to TGG with today’s track, the first single from Indianapolis-based Barcode Pony is one for the young and the restless. Infused with infectious blues guitar and buoyed by an incredibly funky bass line, “Chill Out” reminds us to hurry up and wait. As they say, anything worth having is worth waiting for, and this track mimics that sentiment. From working a 9-5, to bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-465, “Chill Out” reminds us to do exactly that.

Plucked from a flourishing garden of musical influence, such as funk, R&B, blues and pop, “Chill Out” precedes Barcode Pony’s second single, titled “Perception,” set to release on June 3rd. The first single is emblematic of the patience needed while attempting to maintain some semblance of autonomy in a very success-driven society. Written for anyone who may be in between plans, “Chill Out” also encourages us to clip the strings that connect us to the things that don’t serve our purpose– if it doesn’t work, fix it, and if you don’t like it, change it. “Misfit, therefore not the right match,” McDermott-Sipe sings.

Comprised of Elias McDermott-Sipe, Isaac Vining, and Rowan Stewart, the band hopes to perform at the Garfield Park Art and Music Festival in Indianapolis on June 25th.

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Listen: “Peace” – Taylor Swift

“Our coming-of-age has come and gone. Suddenly this summer, it’s clear.” One of my favorite things about music is its ability to draw you in at moments when you really need it. We truly hear and resonate with lyrics and melodies when we’re feeling a particular way. That’s how I feel when I listen to […]

Album Review: Somewhere (2021) – Sun June

Prom isn’t all rosy and perfect. The songs show you the crying in the bathroom, the fear of dancing, the joy of a kiss– all the highs and all the lows. Laura Colwell, Sun June Austin-based indie outfit, Sun June’s sophomore album, Somewhere, is described by the band as a “prom” record. Channeling the essence […]

Listen: Mid-Century Modern Romance (2021) – Dante Elephante

Although life’s one true constant is change, that change appears to approach in a recurrent pattern. What goes around comes around, and goes around again. The resurgence of disco, for example, is among us: roller skates, bell bottoms, and handlebar mustaches have been recycled, yet again, into popularity in the 2020s. A byproduct of this […]

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Listen: “No Shame” – Five Seconds of Summer

“Our ambition as a band is to become genreless.”

I’ve been caught in a cycle of self-doubt lately. The end of the semester kicked my ass, work sucks, and I’m itching to get out of the house. Summer can’t come soon enough. You know the urge you get sometimes to scream-sing in the car at the top of your lungs? That feeling has been constantly pumping through my veins, making me restless. 

I, of course, have a specific playlist for this type of feeling, as most Type A, anxiety-ridden Spotify users do. And one of the songs on it has been running through my mind: “No Shame” by 5 Seconds of Summer. Initially released February 5, 2020, “No Shame” was the third single off the band’s 2020 album CALM (named such after each band member’s first initial). The track is now over two years old, but I don’t think it got enough attention at the time. It has everything required for a proper head-banging, bedroom dancing, anxiety-curing bop: emotive vocals, a wicked bass drop, and a screamable chorus. 

As drummer Ashton Irwin discussed on an Instagram live on March 27, 2021, one year after the album’s release, the concept of the song is based on the one-dimensionality of celebrity and the evil behind attaining such status. It’s exemplified with the opening line of verse one: “Angel, with the gun in your hand, pointin’ my direction, givin’ me affection.” The irony of this line comes from the power that the general public (the angel) holds over the celebrity. They can either kill them or give them affection. 

The simile in the pre-chorus of “go on and light me like a cigarette, even if it might be something you’ll regret” gets at the notion of the effect the celebrity has on the public. It also demonstrates their dehumanization process: they willingly become pawns in order to gain a sense of immortality. This is heard in the chorus with lines like “I only light up when cameras are flashing,” which touches on the fake-it-’til-you-make-it ideal. The following line “never enough and no satisfaction,” is a reference to the Rolling Stones’s “Satisfaction.” The extreme, of course, is fully exemplified with the chorus lines: “Diggin’ my grave to get a reaction. Changin’ my face and callin’ it fashion.” You have to absolutely have no shame to be capable of these things. 

With the lyrics “I love the way you’re screaming my name” in the chorus and “I’ll give you my permission, you’ll always be forgiven” in verse two, 5SOS paints the power of the public in creating and building celebrity, while simultaneously demonstrating how they’re never held responsible. And then the darker side comes to light with the lines, “Go on replace me, when you’re cravin’ somethin’ sweeter than the words I left in your mouth. Go on and spit me out.” Irwin noted this as a particularly dark lyric because it illuminates the lifecycle of celebrity: you’ll eventually be replaced. 

Stylistically, Irwin discussed how the sound and instrumentation mimics the theme. “The opening guitar riff is very grunge, new metal, and we were definitely influenced by Nine Inch Nails,” he said, describing lead guitarist Michael Clifford’s work as “melodically haunting.” He also mentioned lead singer Luke Hemmings, noting these vocals as some of the best recordings of their career, and bass player Calum Hood’s synth playing which made the track bolder. Each member of the band’s talent helped depict the brutality of the entertainment industry. Irwin concluded the Live by stating that “our ambition as a band is to become genreless.” This song is a long way from “She Looks So Perfect” and “Don’t Stop.” The maturity as a band is apparent through their developed lyricism and ambition to jump genres. Celebrating ten years as a band, this maturity is continually seen on their most recent releases, “Complete Mess” and “Take My Hand.” 

I, however, am not a celebrity (despite how often I get interviewed by my bedroom mirror), so I cannot relate to the song in that particular way. To me, this song is a release. It’s a chance to be free of fears and sing and dance and live without judgment. And in rediscovering one of my favorite bands from my teenage years, I’m pleased to say that my YouTube homepage is once again full of 5SOS interviews. I feel like a proper 15-year-old fangirl. Which is much more fun than feeling like a burnt out, 23-year-old corporate employee. 

Molly MacDuff
Molly MacDuff

Molly MacDuff is a writer and editor currently attending Emerson College’s Publishing and Writing MA program.

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Listen: “God Complex” – Laura Elliot

There is nothing quite like a strong, vocal-lead ballad about a narcissistic boy to brighten your midweek listening. Singer-songwriter Laura Elliot hits the nail on the head with “God Complex,” track seven from her debut album, People Pleaser. The track revolves around Elliot’s relationship with a boy who has a “God Complex,” and the emotional […]

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Album Review: Plum (2020) – Widowspeak

So much of it is centered around allowing things to be what they are, and just noticing. I tried to notice more, and I think those observations became the songs. Molly Hamilton on the origin of Plum The only word to describe my personal experience while listening to Widowspeak’s Plum is “emotional.” The album’s theme […]

Listen: “Umami” – Klô Pelgag

I felt like I was this old man going into himself, for I don’t know how long. I wanted to return with answers. Klô Pelgag on writing “Umami” “I wrote ‘Umami’ shortly after revisiting Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea,’” 32-year-old Klô Pelgag shared in a press release. The track is the third single […]

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Listen: “Lullaby” – Grace Ives

A beautiful thing to think about is that stars on earth look like blobs, but in space, really defined structures.

Grace Ives, on her upcoming album, Janky Star

Brooklyn-based DIY artist, Grace Ives announced the release of her upcoming sophomore album, Janky Star in the beginning of April with “Lullaby.” The second single from the forthcoming album is my favorite breed of melancholy music; cleverly disguised with upbeat instrumentals, Ives sings of an introvert’s amplified anxiety on “Lullaby.” “What a mess, what a lovely mess,” she croons on the chorus. Whether she’s describing life, the spectrum of emotion, or the room in which a potentially agoraphobic individual might find comfort while watching the same movie over and over, she’s right. It’s all a lovely mess, isn’t it?

Ives described the song as the “homebody’s anthem” in a press release for the single, saying, “This song is about the comfort and anxiety that comes with isolating yourself.” The track is Ives’s groundhog day song, as it describes her experience of “living the same day over and over again.” A fitting theme for the cultural atmosphere of the times, “Lullaby” was brought to fruition with the help of producer Justin Raisen, who has worked with other avant-garde pop artists, such as Yves Tumor.

Ives’s discography, which consists of her experimental first album, 2nd, and her 2016 EP titled Really Hot, sees the artist on an expedition of musical exploration. Artists tend to explore different sounds with the hope of expansion. For Ives, it seems less about broadening her audience and more about broadening her perspective. In an interview with The FADER, Ives shared the confusing process of using “music as therapy,” saying, “On some of my songs, I don’t even know if I’m expressing something — but I can hear myself really wanting to say something, like there’s this unsettling feeling inside me.”

Janky Star is slated to be released on June 10th via True Panther Records.

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Listen: “Alrighty Aphrodite” – Peach Pit

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Listen: “Somebody’s Watching You” – The Jack Moves

People have to feel you through the record. If it doesn’t have feeling, it’s just pointless. Zee Desmondes, for Passion of the Weiss Creating what The Jack Moves describe as “sweet soul,” the duo released smooth-as-butter single, “Somebody’s Watching You” last week. The single is a flirtatious, modern funk dance ballad, that generates a whole […]

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Listen: “Hell of a Woman” – Papooz

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Listen: “Please” – Sali

I like working with the idea that songs don’t need to take a normal, organizational path

Sali

When I listen to this song, I picture an early spring sunset, blue and pink and yellow form a tie-dye sky. I’m on the train watching the sun slide beneath the city, the world passes by quickly but the song plays at regular speed. I am young and I am managing a difficult love. The song is “Please,” the most recent release by independent, Brooklyn-based artist, Sali. 

This single, released today, April 22, follows her debut EP Charming, released March 2021. Graduating from Boston University in 2018, Sali developed her love of music and music production from her time in the BU Acapella community. This experience comes across in her music as angelic harmonies. She’s spent all her life in music, taking jazz and opera lessons as a child. 

“Please” is more alternative than the previous tracks she’s released, as Sali wanted to bring in a bit more of a surf-rock vibe and branch out from the accessibility of hip-hop and pop production that she’s used to. As the first song she’s produced by herself, the shift is inspired by “living in Brooklyn and being more social.” Reggae with the bass, hip-hop on the drums, and a slow build to the ambient chorus are all components of the track that build this unique sound. “I like working with the idea that songs don’t need to take a normal, organizational path,” Sali explains. “I had this in mind with the cool outro that’s not exactly a bridge or an outro.” 

 Sali started writing this song based on some advice that her mother had given her about people who are withholding love or affection, the kind of people that want you to prove yourself to gain their attention. She explains that isn’t inherently romantic or based on a specific romance; she built it around this idea of having a relationship with a withholding person and the frustrating feeling that develops from managing it. “When you see the opposite of the withholding type of love, it’s so much more beautiful, even if you’re hurt or guarded,” Sali says.  

For Sali, producing her own songs has been a liberating learning experience. She’s no longer working solo, but incorporating talented people from her community and from internet friends she made during the pandemic. “There’s a lot of collaging in songwriting and producing,” she states. “As a black woman in music, it can feel like you’re losing control.” Sali notes that she has to always think about who she’s involving in the process to make sure they respect her wishes and artistic vision. She’s grateful that everyone she’s worked with thus far is incredible, respectful, and supportive. “Please” is mixed by Daniel Chironno, mastered by Joshua Pleeter, recorded musician on bass is Jonathan Kim, and the lyrics and production are, of course, done by Sali. Her friends teach her a lot about production, and she relies on her influences and surroundings to inspire her creatively. 

Her next EP called Other People, which includes “Please,” is set to be released this summer, with a scheduled release party to go with it. She’s just recently begun to perform her tracks live, singing and playing with a band this past Monday, April 18th at the East Berlin in NYC. Of the future, Sali laughs as she says, “Production will always be a process because I want to be really, really good.” Listening to “Please,” you can hear the simplistic yet pleading tone she presents, not only through her poetic lyricism but through her production as well. This is a track for young people in the city, created by one and the same. 

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Listen: “Peace” – Taylor Swift

“Our coming-of-age has come and gone. Suddenly this summer, it’s clear.”

One of my favorite things about music is its ability to draw you in at moments when you really need it. We truly hear and resonate with lyrics and melodies when we’re feeling a particular way. That’s how I feel when I listen to “Peace.” 

The second-to-last track on Taylor Swift’s 2020 Folklore album, these words and melodies are far from new but remain near as cherry blossoms bloom and green returns. Folklore represented a shift in Swift’s sound to a more acoustic, broken-down version of her earlier country and pop albums. “Peace” is one of those songs that leaves me feeling tingly.

I’m not sure exactly what it is that makes me feel the song more than I used to. Maybe it’s because I live in a city and am perpetually surrounded by people and movement. Or maybe it’s the guitar intro, gentle and forthcoming, lingering in my ears and floating to my heart. Like I’m falling in love. And then comes her voice, and I know I am:

“Our coming-of-age has come and gone. Suddenly this summer, it’s clear.”

As Swift discusses in the Long Pond Studio Sessions, “Peace” is about the fear of her own fame and how that affects the relationships that she’s had and continues to have. It is that moment of clarity and utter terror combined. How do you love someone when you’re constantly afraid that the love will never be enough to outweigh the bad?

Per usual, Swift uses metaphor and descriptive imagery to put modern poetry to shame: “But I’m a fire and I’ll keep your brittle heart warm. / All these people think love’s for show, but I would die for you in secret.”

These descriptions are not only lyrically beautiful, but they’re pleading. They represent her actions. To know that you love someone so much that you would sacrifice publicly acknowledging that love for the safety of someone else is possibly the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard. But it also shows that despite the fire she has for another, she isn’t content and at peace. There will always be a lingering fear of failure, or exposure. How can any of us ever truly give someone peace?

“I’d give you my sunshine, give you my best / But the rain is always gonna come if you’re standing with me.”

Her pleading, dreamlike voice and her lyrics are simply so honest. Swift has always been known for that, but you can see her growth in this album and in this song. It isn’t homecoming dances or being pretty enough for the boy on the football team (though there is equal importance in those tracks that marked our childhood), it’s about building a strong, honest, and communicative relationship.

I think all we can really ask for in our own lives is for someone to give us their best. It’s not sentimental. It’s not cliché. It’s honest. And honesty, to me at least, is the most beautiful thing. Because eventually it sets us free.  

Molly MacDuff
Molly MacDuff

Molly MacDuff is a writer and editor currently attending Emerson College’s Publishing and Writing MA program.

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Album Review: Somewhere (2021) – Sun June

Prom isn’t all rosy and perfect. The songs show you the crying in the bathroom, the fear of dancing, the joy of a kiss– all the highs and all the lows.

Laura Colwell, Sun June

Austin-based indie outfit, Sun June’s sophomore album, Somewhere, is described by the band as a “prom” record. Channeling the essence of an “Albuquerque prom band,” Sun June delicately chronicles the messy evolution of love with their latest album. Think: highly potent adolescent angst, anxiety, adoration, excitement, regret and fear. Swaying under twinkling lights with carefully placed hands, awkwardly protruding limbs we’ve barely grown into, and a nervous bead of sweat dripping down our backs, Sun June takes us Somewhere.

Sun June photographed by Jade Hammer

Consisting of Laura Colwell (vocalist, lyricist), Stephen Salisbury (guitar, lyricist), Michael Bain, (lead guitar), Sarah Schultz (drums), and Justin Harris (bass), Sun June begins the album with “Bad with time.” The song sees Colwell petitioning a lover not to move away to LA. The track tips its hat to Neil Young’s “Unknown Legends” as she sings of riding Harley-Davidsons and the perceived personas we adopt as our own when desperation and expectation intertwine: “I am Jackie O / I am Patti Smith / When you wanted it.”

The album’s second track, “Everything I had” was described by Colwell as being “about feeling stuck and wishing you could go back in time.” Sun June has described their music as “regret pop,” and this track is no exception to that categorization: “Tongue-tied lightning / All that might have been / Throwing five in a cab / You and mе in the back.”

“Everything I had” is a slow-burning reminder that hindsight is always 20/20: “It misses when things were new and easy and full of promise,” the band shared in a press release. “It feels very ‘Austin’ to us, because things change here so quickly and it’s easy to fall into a rut and feel like the city is moving on without you. Friends are always leaving town too, so sometimes it’s fun to think moving to LA or New York would solve all our problems.”

The next track, “Singing” feels like a disoriented and groggy shake of the head after many long, silent hours spent trapped in the passenger seat. “‘Singing’ is our groundhog day song. It’s about being stuck in an old argument with your partner, wishing you both saw the world the same way,” Colwell stated. “Singing” isn’t an attempt to breathe life back into a relationship that is quickly deteriorating, but rather an exhausted relinquishment of energy.

The next track, “Bad girl” was inspired by “a deep manic drive to regress into the person I used to be — back when being bad was cool and being cool was everything,” Colwell stated. We, as humans, have a terrible tendency to grasp for any semblance of control when things begin to unravel. Sometimes that desperation manifests in acts of rebellion and recklessness: “It cycles through self-destructive choices I’ve made in relationships to avoid responsibility, and how my fear of loss has lead me down some dumb paths,” Colwell says. “The tone is sad and resigned, but also self-righteous somehow.”

“Everywhere,” the album’s zenith, maintains the wistful, solemn inflection of Somewhere, and alludes to feelings of shame: “And I made bad moves, baby / Back when I was happy.” The following track, “Once in a while,” piggy-backs on that same theme of regret: “I was drunk, I was lying / I can always take it farther / Moving just like my father.” Nostalgia-inducing, the track is riddled with a very special variety of remorse, the kind of remorse that’s enveloped in gratitude: “I’ve been to heaven / Once in a while in the moonlight / Once in a while when I’m up at night / Once in a while, it can be what you want it to be.”

“Prom isn’t all rosy and perfect,” the band said of the album’s inspiration. “The songs show you the crying in the bathroom, the fear of dancing, the joy of a kiss– all the highs and all the lows.” The heady, floaty lyricism of Somewhere is anchored by its lush instrumentals, which are steeped in hues of classic country blues. Listening to Somewhere feels akin to flipping through an old yearbook filled with images of ghosts– ghosts of past loves, lives and selves.

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