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May 2021 Singles 1

  1. “Mondial” – Rêves sonores. Floating saxophone melodies, trebly piano taps, gentle electronic pads, sharp-as-in-pointy and sharp-as-in-on-point strings, and experimental dance come together in an entrancing, engaging piece. What more do you want out of contemporary composition? Highly recommended.
  2. Spiritual Wars” – Ariel Bart. This jazz piece begins as mournful, enigmatic elegy before ramping up into a striking jazz combo jam. The work is even more interesting than that description because Israel-based bandleader Ariel Bart is a harmonica player. She makes the harmonica sing as a lead instrument, just like a saxophone, clarinet, or flute would. The tone of the harmonica here falls between “expressive accordion” and “soulful saxophone.” The title and theme of the composition are all the more pressing due to the current events in Israel and Palestine.
  3. Cat on a Chain” – Jeremy James Meyer. Put honky tonk, Laurel Canyon, and road troubadour folk into a blender, and you’ll get this deeply enjoyable cut.
  4. “Hey Gringo” – KALEO. This track off their highly anticipated, eleven-song sophomore release Surface Sounds shines. Co-producers frontman Jökull Júlíusson and Dave Cobb capture the essence of the Icelandic blues rockers’ debut release. The track mirrors the vibe that oozes through “Miss You” off 1978’s Some Girls from The Rolling Stones. With its gritty songwriting style, song structure, and connection to classic blues narratives, “Hey Gringo” reframes Surface Sounds as more than just another victim of Covid-19 delays.–Lisa Whealy
  5. The Hoopoe” – Ceridwen McCooey. Cellist McCooey delivers a brilliant, singular, seemingly effortless 72-second composition here. McCooey builds the piece off of the solo cello mimicking the sound of a hoopoe call and gets creative from there. A fascinating, fully-realized piece.
  6. Avon-by-the-Sea” – The Maravines. The slinky, cloudy longing of The Antlers’ Burst Apart is a rare mood: sensual and yet grieved, lonely and yet spacious. The title track from the Maravines’ latest has a similar vibe (minus some of the sensuality): the guitars smolder and yearn but don’t explode, while the vocals are earnestly sad without becoming maudlin. The results are unique: not tense, but not calm; not overly energetic, but not sleepy. It’s unique and beautiful.
  7. Early Dark (w/Richard Curran)” – Myles Cochran. A moody piece for strings and acoustic guitar that’s equal parts elegant, swampy, and mysterious. An inviting, interesting composition.
  8. Find Your Ore (feat. Silent Titan)” – Hedge Hop, Takahiro Izumikawa. Feathery yet grounded, this lo-fi hip-hop jam balances levity and seriousness well. It leans toward serious ideas, but never so much that the charm of a quirky treble line is lost.
  9. We Need a Bigger Dumpster” – Cheekface. The calm, bitter satire of contemporary life amid  eclectic, punchy indie-rock makes me think that this is what Cake would produce if they formed today. There’s traces of Guided by Voices and early Strokes in there too; it’s a more-than-the-sum-of-its-influences triumph.
  10. Wasteland” – Tim Kile. Kile was frontman of the short-lived Wild Light, which produced an all-time-favorites-list song for me (“My Father Was a Horse“), so I’m thrilled to catch up with new work from him. This track has all the arch, urgent intertwined neurosis and enthusiasm that I could hope for in an indie-rock track from Kile. There’s some lovely quiet/loud action here in the heartland-rock-meets-indie-ennui.