The Jins pop up, Julia Shapiro is a natural, Dehd walk it off, For I Am forge an armistice and more in today’s Roundup. When life gives you lemons on sale, make lemon squares. Because really, who can drink that much lemonade?
1 Timing is everything. And with the 25th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death arriving later this week, there’s no better time to enjoy some grunge-pop. And Vancouver trio The Jins are only to happy to oblige with their melodic fuzzbuster Pop Song and its accompanying video. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I settled on The Jins as a name because of all the pigeons I saw around Vancouver,” states lively frontman Ben Larsen, reminiscing about those early days. “I always thought that pigeons were a great metaphor for the way I lived at the time, like sleeping in random places and eating garbage and just generally not respected by anyone, but still a part of the urban landscape, just hanging around everywhere, dwellers of the seedy underbelly of society rejected by the general public but ubiquitous in the city.” Here they are now, entertain us:
2 You know what they say about hindsight. But here’s the thing: Along with being 20/20, it can inspire everything from personal growth to lovely art. Case in point: The jangly charmer Natural, the first single from Seattle indie-pop singer-songwriter (and Chastity Belt frontwoman) Julia Shapiro’s June 14 solo release Perfect Vision. See what I mean? SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “How can someone be so blindly confident/I wanna know that trick,” she wonders on Natural, the opening track that begins using another person as a mirror and then pans back to a bigger picture: what would it take to really love yourself? The album is peppered with ideas of what self-improvement could look like—whether it’s learning a skill and living out in the woods, going to bed at a reasonable hour, or even more playful, deeply relatable lines like “I should really delete my Instagram.” Naturally:
3 Life can be a lonely road. Just ask Emily Kempf from Chicago indie trio Dehd. She illustrates that point clearly on the video for their new single On My Side, a gorgeously unusual piece of maximum minimalism number distinguished by smeary clang-twang guitars, growled verses and soaring emotional chorus. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “We shot this video on our way home from this year’s South By (Southwest). The wide-open spaces of rural Texas have a certain magic that’s so different from the compact, vertical reality of Chicago life. There’s a sort of longing in the distant horizon that felt similar to what’s happening in the song. As we drove north, we kept our eyes peeled for the perfect stretch of land until we found this gravel road a little off the highway.” Walk on:
4 “It’s a long way down,” For I Am sing on their latest single The Armistice. But that doesn’t stop the female-fronted Belgian pop-punks from looking in the abyss on the song, which eschews their normally upbeat sentiments for a darker look at the sensitive top of mental health. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “As intricate human beings, we at times experience difficulties getting the message across we want to get across. Reactions might differ because of underlying reasons we don’t know about or reasons we do not necessarily understand. Mutual respect for one another is of the utmost importance, but sadly it’s also something we discard way too often. Let us at least try to understand each other and open up our hearts & ears to one another. Let us really listen. Let the armistice be now.” Check in:
5 Where do we all fit into this world? Are all just meaningless cogs in an endless wheel? Or are we essential notes in the chord of the universe? Heavy questions. But ones that Abbotsford singer-songwriter Kuri isn’t afraid to consider in the skillfully crafted and stylishly arranged art-folk creation Sort Sol, the first single from his June 7 album No Village. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “This song is so much about connecting to the chaos of existence and to the unity in how we move ourselves amongst other selves. I think this visual helps aid that sentiment. Where is the line between the individual and the whole? Is there much of a line at all?” Meet him halfway:
6 What’s done is done. The past is past. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it. Or write a song about it, as Canadian-born pop eccentric Mac DeMarco has done. And done surprisingly beautifully — judge for yourself by spinning All of Our Yesterday, the gently sweet second single from his May 10 release Here Comes the Cowboy. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The phrase ‘all of our yesterdays’ comes from the play Macbeth. Also I think there’s a Star Trek episode from 1969 with the same title; very cool. I had just seen a documentary about Oasis before writing this song, and I was trying to write a gigantic rock and roll hit with my renewed love for the band. I didn’t really get close to that at all, but I’m happy with the song that came out hahahahaha.” Giddyup:
7 What a difference an L makes. When I first glanced at this press release, I thought it was headlined: Slayer Makes New Noise Debut. But no, the death-metal monsters have not started making electronica Steve Aoki’s label. (Though that would be awesome.) The artist in question is actually a Bay Area knobtwiddler who calls himself Sayer. On the plus side: His track Relentless is noisy, weird and crazy enough that it’s far from a disappointment. Even if it isn’t quite Angel of Electro-Death. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Approaching dance music with a punk aesthetic, Oakland producer Sayer executes a rapture of sound on his New Noise debut. Infusing waves of techno and unexpected twists, Sayer’s technical finesse speaks volumes, transporting listeners to another dimension.” Hel yes:
8 Sometimes the old ways are best. Jake Xerxes Fussell knows this. And the North Carolina folk-blues singer-guitarist puts it into practice on warm, mellow and flowing Appalachian classic The River St. Johns, a welcome preview of his June 7 album Out of Sight. Keep an eye out for this one. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The River St. Johns comes straight from one of Stetson Kennedy’s Florida WPA recordings of a gentleman named Harden Stuckey doing his interpretation of a fishmonger’s cry, which he recalls from a childhood memory. What compelling imagery there: “I’ve got fresh fish this morning, ladies / They are gilded with gold, and you may find a diamond in their mouths.” I can’t help but believe him.” Last one in is a fishmonger:
9 Wintersleep are the gift that keeps on giving. Or just a band that doesn’t know when to quit. The East Coast vets have already released umpteen singles from their recently released album In The Land Of. So why stop now? Here’s the latest treat: The smoky folk-rocker Forest Fire. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Like all Wintersleep records, In the Land Of encourages thought and introspection. The new record’s title is an incomplete thought, a blank that is filled in across the record with different places, words, and sounds. “A lot of the songs touch on this idea of being a stranger or feeling foreign in all the different landscapes in which the songs took place lyrically,” explains Paul Murphy. “It all relates back to the land,” adds guitarist Tim D’Eon.” Got a match?
10 We could all use a field guide to love. And while I’m fairly sure singer-songwriter Dylan MacDonald would never dream of selling himself as a romance guru, the member of Manitoba trio The Middle Coast is billing himself as Field Guide these days — and his bittersweet, intimately pulsing new single Full Time does have a few insightful things to say about heartbreak. So use your own judgment. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Full Time was born in the midst of a lot of life changes; I had just moved, my relationship was coming to an end and I was mourning the loss of the way things had been. We worked really hard to get the mood right for this EP and I’m really happy with how it turned out.” Now’s the time: