Kramies on “Hotel in LA,” Collaboration, and Old Letters

“Hotel in LA,” the spellbinding new song by Kramies, doesn’t sound much at all like the Los Angeles of our collective imagination. Even in the darkest and most cynical tales of the City of Angels, there’s always sunshine, if only to better light the terrible things that occur there. But there’s no sunshine in “Hotel […]

“So Much Love” by Calista Kazuko: Elegant Jazz-Pop About Love and Motherhood

“So much love, so much love.” That’s how Calista Kazuko’s song of the same name starts, and on paper it seems straightforward enough. But what really caught my ear was the two different ways she sings the word “love” in those two lines. The first “love” is an airy, dreamy, melodious high note, the kind […]

“Kiss City” by Blondshell: An Unfulfilled Lover Asks For More

“Kiss City” is a lame title for a song. It sounds like something Leisure Suit Larry would call first base. But then again, it’s kind of supposed to be lame. The crux of the new song by Blondshell (aka Sabrina Teitelbaum) is that the narrator is needily asking for things that should really be the […]

“Sideline” by Low Phase: Exploring Compassion Fatigue

Low Phase, a shaggy, amiable indie rock band from Grand Rapids, Michigan, describes themselves in their Twitter bio as “the indie band of your dreams.” It’s a bit of knowing hubris on their part, and it’s clearly intended at least partially in jest, but there’s a kernel of truth to it. In their nifty guitar […]

Will Wood on “White Noise,” Decisions on Singles, and Empty Celebrations

Will Wood has established a cult following for his clever, theatrical music, and it’s not hard to see why it’s struck a chord. A songwriter with the incisive clarity of Bo Burnham and Lemon Demon’s knack for playful absurdity, Wood uses quirky themes and presentations to explore the gnawing horror of the modern condition. “Suburbia […]

“Guthrie” by Julien Baker: A Desolate, Beautiful Return to Her Debut

It’s unfair to expect an artist to stick rigidly to the sound of their first album, no matter how beloved it may be. If the fans are loud and angry enough, it’s downright stifling, limiting the artist’s creative potential and telling them that they’re only accepted if they stay within one little pigeonhole. Even if […]

“New Mexico” by Lizzy Dutton: Soul-Searching Beauty

What do you make of the Land of Enchantment? Until recently, New Mexico has been something of a cultural enigma. Before Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul drew attention (and unsolicited roof pizzas) to the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico seemed to exist only in the abstract as a stretch of desert between Texas and […]

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