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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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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 of Spring and Growth permeates, then gently absorbs every single track. Although released in 2020, this album came to me fresh, plucked straight from the tree of Widowspeak’s lauded discography. Primarily consisting of vocalist Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas, Widowspeak intended to expand, and to shed light, on the peace that follows acceptance with Plum. “So much of it is centered around allowing things to be what they are, and just noticing,” Hamilton shared in a press release. “I tried to notice more, and I think those observations became the songs.”

The album’s title track, which is cradled gently by Hamilton’s honey-soaked vocals, reluctantly embraces a diversion of growth between two people. On the surface, a perfect pair, but beneath the exterior lies differences and obstacles that are impossible to overcome, resulting in inevitable decay: “Feel the bruising through the skin / It won’t go back to being green again / Try to hold on to the sweet / Where the softness used to be.” The comparison between two very similar, but ultimately differing fruits meant to be harvested separately is representative of “trying to be more present with the fact that all things are temporary,” Widowspeak shared with Flood Magazine.

“The Good Ones” is a subtle jab towards social media and the hyper-positivity that is often displayed as “motivation.” Its parody-based inception is evident via its haunting, inauspicious instrumentals overlaid by seemingly inspirational lyricism. “There are no miracle fixes for life, no formulas for success. So it comes off as a little salty, and the mood of it is a little dark, slinking…” Hamilton shared of the track, “but I had been feeling frustrated with how society often rewards those who are already ‘winning,’ implying that anyone else is “‘losing.'” The track conveys this sarcastic undertone with the lyrics in the last verse: “Used to be an open door / Used to be, you wanted more / Every taste, it’s a feast / Every taste, I bet it’s sweet.” 

The following track, “Money” discusses greed, and almost feels like a temptress’s siren song. The track is “about capitalism and how it trains us to see everything in terms of value, even our experiences, and we get so caught up in seeking some return on investment that we ignore the damage we inflict,” the band shared in a press release. With driving bass, the track circulates, similar to currency– how it’s cultivated and then, sometimes unfairly and unethically dispersed: “To earn your living, it’s worth forsaking / All is forgiven and free for the taking.” 

I’d been sitting with some existential dread for the last year or so; honestly, sort of overwhelmed by the recognition that life is absurd and finite.

Hamilton, on writing “Even True Love”
Widowspeak: Robert Earl Thomas, Molly Hamilton

The fifth track on the album, “Even True Love,” is a humble reminder to enjoy the ride while it lasts, and that beauty– in both love and in life– is fleeting: “It’s nothing but the pull of going under / Maybe you can’t know, but you can wonder / You had the kindest eyes when you were younger / But it’s nothing now.” “Prior to writing ‘Even True Love,’ I’d been sitting with some existential dread for the last year or so; honestly, sort of overwhelmed by the recognition that life is absurd and finite….humans tend to want to possess things: objects, success, money, experiences, people. True Love. Amassing the most and best of whatever while you can,” Hamilton shared. “But that never really landed with me; I think this one is more about being present with the unknown, letting things go a little more, trying not to hold on too tight.”


The thematic presence of growth is felt throughout Plum, which feels alive itself, as though it’s both expanding and deteriorating. Whispering words of wisdom into the ears of all who cross its path, Plum is an album that firmly grasps the listener by the throat then kindly steers them toward the path of peace and acceptance.

Jessica K
Jessica K

Jessica is a writer in her late twenties and is casually withering away in the Midwestern Wasteland of Central Indiana.

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Listen: “Hell of a Woman” – Papooz

As musicians, we needed to be way more demanding of ourselves.

Ulysse Cottin, on limiting distractions while writing and recording None of This Matters Now

Armand Penicaut and Ulysse Cottin, the key players in French indie-pop duo, Papooz, have been best friends since meeting at a Patti Smith show in 2008. “We would just be kids, smoke joints, talk shit, play guitar, and make up songs,” Penicaut says of the early years of their friendship. The carefree comradery and fellowship of the two overflows into their creations, resulting in three very different albums.

Papooz released their third album, None of This Matters Now just this month. The band’s funk-driven Green Juice (2019) precedes their recent release and differs greatly from folk-infused None of This Matters Now. The former is high energy, filled with songs meant for nights spent dancing, while the latter seems destined to be played on a weekend trip away with friends among the trees.

The entirety of None of This Matters Now was recorded in an all-wood studio, built by the band’s drummer, Pierre-Marie Dornan. “For a couple of weeks we would rehearse the songs during the day, and then record at night while drinking red wine,” Cottin shared in a press release for the album. The ease of the album’s flow is a testament to the band’s natural chemistry and desire for authenticity.

“As musicians, we needed to be way more demanding of ourselves,” Cottin shared, “We couldn’t just rely on fixing mistakes later. No one could get distracted by their phone or smoking a cigarette. It’s about focus.” The focus was due in part by being surrounded by likeminded and comfortable collaborators: “Plus it’s way easier to be focused in the room when it’s just your best mates, friends coming to visit late at night,” Cottin says.

Armand studied literature, and I’ve always loved poetry, so I think the best songs in life are the more intimate ones.

Ulysses Cottin on co-collaborator, Armand Penicaut’s talent for songwriting

The second single from the album, “Hell of a Woman” channels that revered 70s-inspired psych-rock sound that resembles a ray of sunshine, but be warned: the track is misleadingly melancholy. “Hell of a Woman” mourns the loss of light in a relationship that’s lived past its expiration, and accepting that loss with grace. The pre-chorus is especially bleak: “We’ve been together for so long it’s a crime / I’m stealing thunder from the rims of your eyes / You heard the words right / What in the world went wrong?”

With dreamy instrumentation, it’s incredibly easy to get lost while listening to None of This Matters Now, despite its candid lyricism. “Armand studied literature, and I’ve always loved poetry, so I think the best songs in life are the more intimate ones,” Cottin shared. With themes of global-warming-induced anxiety on the title track, of remorse and reflection on “I’d Rather Be the Moon,” Papooz creates a tenderly raw listening experience.

Jessica K
Jessica K

Jessica is a writer in her late twenties and is casually withering away in the Midwestern Wasteland of Central Indiana.

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Listen: “Palm Sunday” – Papercuts

It’s about lost love and unfulfilled potential.

Quever, on “Palm Sunday”

The man behind the curtain of Papercuts, Jason Quever, is a lifetime student of the philosophy of music. Gaining and imparting his wisdom throughout his musical career, his talent for arrangement has graced tracks belonging to Beach House, Sugar Candy Mountain, and more.

Papercuts’ latest single, “Palm Sunday,” was released ahead of the band’s forthcoming album, Past Life Regression, which is set to release April 1. The single is an apt representation of where psych-pop-turned-folk Papercuts excels: lofty instrumentals weighted with wistful lyricism. Quever describes the single as being about “lost love and unfulfilled potential.” In a press release for the single, Quever shared, “It’s about someone you never quite forgot about, but left you feeling epically let down and full of longing.”

The single is paired with a music video depicting phone calls back and forth between lovers. Beautifully capturing the melancholy of “maybes” and “what ifs,” “Palm Sunday” evokes one of the most dreaded human emotions: regret.

Jessica K
Jessica K

Jessica is a writer in her late twenties and is casually withering away in the Midwestern Wasteland of Central Indiana.

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Can You Always Go Home? Canadian Folk Singer-Songwriter Cassidy Waring Debuts Lonesome Reunion

An album that feels like an unchaperoned walk through dark and empty streets on a holiday back home– Lonesome Reunion is Cassidy Waring’s tormented debut.

Picture: families cozied up in warm houses, with bellies full and throats sore from a healthy balance of laughter and bickering as you carry on with your solitary stroll. Canadian folk singer-songwriter, Cassidy Waring‘s Lonesome Reunion is comparable to holding a snow globe. As an omnipotent outsider, you peer into a world so perfect, it’s almost fictitious. Knowing that life imitates art somehow makes beholding this tiny treasure more isolating– to know there are little towns with little houses and little families as happy as the replica you hold in your hands and yet, still so far removed from you.

Cassidy Waring photographed by Emile Benjamin

Everything you lose, needs to lose you.

Waring, “Everything You Lose”

A poignant, personal display of loss of innocence, Lonesome Reunion is somewhat of a study on the complexities of family and grief. Recorded and mastered by producer Jonathon Anderson, Lonesome Reunion features deep, folk-rooted instrumentals and sweeping, catchy melodies. Waring’s debut came to fruition after she sat for hours on end watching old VHS tapes of her family. The album’s intro, “Everybody’s Good,” features audio from one of these tapes. In the intro, we hear intimate, playful banter between Waring’s grandfather– to whom she affectionately refers as “Grandug”– and then-3-year-old Waring. “The tapes have become fascinating to watch because they are such a contrast to my painful memories as a teenager,” Waring stated in an email to The Greater Good.

The tapes, to Waring, are an ode to the glory of innocence and blissful ignorance only possessed in early childhood. “Part of me is comforted by them, they have served as proof that I have never been wrong about the amount of love and warmth that surrounded me as a kid and that we really were as happy and healthy as everyone remembers. It’s also confusing and devastating to watch these videos knowing what will happen for us in the future,” Waring stated. “When I was seventeen my mom died and her cause of death was chronic ethanol abuse,” the artist shared with me. “She and I were still very close when she passed. The main statement from anyone in and around my family is usually ‘But they were so happy, what happened?'”

Lonesome Reunion cover photo by Emile Benjamin

On the outside, Waring’s family could have lived in that aforementioned snow globe: “We were one of those families that went on bike rides together every week and talked about our feelings at the dinner table. It’s something I am still trying to understand, what pulled both my parents into addiction when I was about twelve. Very quickly, our house became a dangerous place to be, physically and mentally. I’ve just been trying to understand both of my parents and their relationship in a deeper way, after the fact.”

Waring released a music video for the fourth track on the album in September. In it, we see the songwriter through several days of sitting in front of an old CRT TV, captivated by family pictures in motion. “Leaving” is a wistful track about managing grief, with guitars sounding similar to what you may find yourself doing after listening this song (crying). I’d wager it nearly impossible not to feel a catch in your throat as Waring sings, “If I believed in ghosts, would you haunt me just to talk?”

Led by melancholy piano keys, “Everything You Lose” is another painfully intimate look into the stages of grief. The song was written after Waring experienced a series of losses including the ending of a romantic relationship and the break-up of her last band, all while still grappling with the loss of family years later. “I lost the sympathy cards from my mother’s funeral,” Waring sings.

When asked about this line, Waring said she was with her boyfriend at the time when she lost them: “Someone broke into his car in the mall parking lot and stole everything, including my big stack of unopened sympathy cards everyone gave me– I wasn’t ready to open them yet. What are the chances! After that verse poured out, so did the rest of the song.” Waring sings, “Everything you lose, needs to lose you.” Perhaps that sentiment works in reverse and everything that finds you, needs to find you.

Jessica K
Jessica K

Jessica is a writer in her late twenties and is casually withering away in the Midwestern Wasteland of Central Indiana.

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Listen: “Creature of Mine” – Billie Marten

Folk singer-songwriter and Certified Sad Girl, Billie Marten released the second single from her upcoming sophomore album, Flora Fauna, in early April. “It’s an end of the world, post-apocalyptic scenario – you get to choose one thing, one person to leave it with,” Marten said in a statement about the single, “It’s a love song to a stranger and a polite request to momentarily leave Earth when it’s all too much.”

Cover art for Billie Marten’s upcoming album, Flora Fauna

“Creature of Mine” begins like a soft breath, gentle and rhythmic, eventually building into a grand exhale of horns. The single has been in consistent rotation for me since its release, listening so often that I’ve found myself singing “makin’ looooooove’s not enoooooough” at any given moment for the past month.

“Creature of Mine” follows the album’s first single, “Garden of Eden,” which was released in January. The song is far more sanguine in nature as compared to previous (and much more melancholic) work by Marten. “I liked the idea of humans growing up like tomatoes in the greenhouse, needing water and oxygen and space, but not getting any of it,” Marten says of the song, “This was one of the first pivotal songs for me as the general sentiment breeds happiness and optimism, which is something I wasn’t particularly familiar with thus far.” Flora Fauna is set to release May 21.

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Listen: Billie Marten – “Creature of Mine”

Folk singer-songwriter and Certified Sad Girl, Billie Marten released the second single from her upcoming sophomore album, Flora Fauna, in early April. “It’s an end of the world, post-apocalyptic scenario – you get to choose one thing, one person to leave it with,” Marten said in a statement about the single, “It’s a love song to a stranger and a polite request to momentarily leave Earth when it’s all too much.”

Cover art for Billie Marten’s upcoming album, Flora Fauna

“Creature of Mine” begins like a soft breath, gentle and rhythmic, eventually building into a grand exhale of horns. The single has been in consistent rotation for me since its release, listening so often that I’ve found myself singing “makin’ looooooove’s not enoooooough” at any given moment for the past month.

“Creature of Mine” follows the album’s first single, “Garden of Eden,” which was released in January. The song is far more sanguine in nature as compared to previous (and much more melancholic) work by Marten. “I liked the idea of humans growing up like tomatoes in the greenhouse, needing water and oxygen and space, but not getting any of it,” Marten says of the song, “This was one of the first pivotal songs for me as the general sentiment breeds happiness and optimism, which is something I wasn’t particularly familiar with thus far.” Flora Fauna is set to release May 21.