Aruba Red walks the walk, Merival blows up, Kenton Chan gets overwhelmed and more in a short ’n’ sweet Friday Roundup. Because we’ve all got better ways to kick off the long weekend, right? Right.
1 Some people can’t see the forest for the trees. Aruba Red is definitely not one of them. The singer-songwriter, Friend of Tinnitist and daughter of legendary rocker Jack Bruce makes that crystal clear with her reflective, seductive and lushly intoxicating neo-soul offering No Light — not to mention its sweeping cinematic video. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “No Light focuses on looking back, not in bitterness or in anger but with a knowing that often the challenges we face in life can be the making of us. This is my testament to all the survivors, to everyone who has managed to not allow their pain define them. It’s a wild journey and we hold the answers within us, we have to try to reconnect to our own power. Music is my therapy and I hope it will act as a campfire for anyone who needs to feel its warmth.” See the light:
2 I don’t see a lot of videos that surprise me — and make me smile — with their very last shot. But the charming clip that illustrates Toronto singer-songwriter Merival’s equally endearing folk-pop single No Brakes is one of those videos. That’s all I’m going to say. You’ll have to watch it yourself to find out the rest. And then pick up her debut album Lesson on June 21 to hear more. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “At the time of writing No Brakes, I was really grappling with what I felt was a downturn in the quality of my songs. It seemed directly correlated to getting my shit together. With this song, I was basically wishing that I was depressed again so I could write ‘better’ music. The sentiment was definitely a bit tongue-in-cheek. It’s nuts to think that I was around 20 when I wrote this song and was already thinking “Oh God, I’ve peaked.” Just a little melodramatic.” Well, at least she’s sticking her neck out:
3 You might know Kenton Chen from his time on NBC’s Sing-Off, his work with Postmodern Jukebox and his performances with artists such as Katy Perry, Kesha, Sara Bareilles, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Portugal. The Man. Now you can get to know him on his own terms, via his solo musical alter ego Bridesmen, his darkly sweeping new-soul electro-ballad Overwhelm and its romantic dance video. Together, they make a fine introduction. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Overwhelm narrates the battle we have with our emotions. The songwriter reveals, “We Americans don’t talk about mental health, and the shame we attach to it is prohibiting us from addressing it head-on. It’s a vicious cycle. We feel isolated, so we produce negative thoughts, but because we don’t discuss our struggles, we feel more isolated, driving us deeper and deeper into the abyss.” Fall for him:
4 They say there’s a lid for every pot. Which brings us around to Halifax indie-popsters Smaller Hearts. They claim their quirky cut Cloud Cover is “poised to be a soundtrack for hazy summer nights.” And since it’s gotta be hazy somewhere, this must be the perfect song for someone out there somewhere. It’s just math, people. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Smaller Hearts’ signature washy electronic dreampop is once again on full display. Minimalist bass-heavy synths and a bouncy drive blend seamlessly with wistful vocals, new wave infused power-pop inclinations, and rich aural tapestries.” Up, up and away:
5 Names are funny things. For instance: Max Styler might sound like the name of a makeup line, but it is in fact the name of a California DJ. And just to help you remember, he just released a sweet new house track featuring singer Alex Hosking. The title? Sweet, natch. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Max Styler creates a slick sunset groove on Sweet, featuring vocalist Alex Hosking. Deep, funk-filled basslines and jazzy instrumentation provide the backbone to this sophisticated house single. Sweet is the third single to be released from Max Styler’s forthcoming Supernatural EP.” How about some sugar?
6 A little punchy power pop is always a treat. And that’s exactly what you get from Toronto singer-songwriter Taylor Knox’s latest track Live It Up, a punchy little nugget of ’90s-inspired crunch and melody. Taylor-made for the weekend. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “There has always been something magical about nighttime. For Taylor Knox, this epiphany was especially true and present on his upcoming sophomore album, Here Tonight. Forever a creature of the night, Knox’s preference for night became thematically important on his second LP. Here, he thought precisely what he was thinking about—and what he wanted to do or say with it.” Turn it up: