Liv Slingerland, Kelsey Magnuson, Adam Melchor, Damion, Sunfruits, Secret Machines, and Bahjat are among these press releases for August.
Liv Slingerland – “Hey You”: A playful and mid-tempo indie pop-rock track with buzzing new wave synths and bouncy raucous vocals. This is the titled track of the new album from Liv Slingerland who has been the in-demand guitarist for many bands such as Halsey, Olivia Rodrigo, Lauren Ruth Ward, and Donna Missal… the album is out on Righteous Babe Records the label of Ani DiFranco, who declared: “We at Righteous Babe (including the head honchess!) are excited to announce the release of the debut album by Liv Slingerland. Liv has been putting in her time, growing her voice and supporting the music of others with style and dedication for years, and now we get to hear her stretch her wings and take flight.” When Liv Slingerland lost her beloved father in March 2020, she knew what she needed to do immediately: wrap the solo album she’d spent the past few years honing in on. It was the least she could do, a heartfelt homage to her biggest fan. “I’d been working on these songs for years,” explains Slingerland, “But I hadn’t truly given my own music a full push before. I felt that this was the best way to channel my grief while honoring what my dad had sacrificed to support me. I knew this was the time to refocus, the time to make something happen.” The only problem? The pandemic, of course, although Slingerland wasn’t about to let a looming national lockdown get in the way of finishing her long overdue debut. Building on the myriad styles she’d mastered over the years — surf rock scorchers, Tom Petty tabs, the blues — and her recent studies in USC’s Popular Music program, Slingerland dove straight into decoding what she didn’t already know, between performing in Olivia Rodrigo’s band on SNL and in her ground-breaking Sour Prom. Mostly necessary evils like tricked-out production and engineering techniques required to drive her artistry forward in a much more self-reliant manner. “I hadn’t come out to my parents until after I graduated from college and was in my first queer relationship. Even though I knew they would be supportive, I was still fearful of their reaction, a feeling I know that many experience. Finding community amongst other LGBTQ+ musicians and collaborators along the way has allowed me to fully embrace my queer identity without that fear, which was crucial for me to be able to write through the pain of that first heartbreak and ultimately to feel a sense of wholeness. These songs helped me work through the frustration I was feeling at that time and carve out my own path.” It’s only fitting that the record has found a home at the “woman-informed, queer-happy” Righteous Babe Records, the label founded by fellow guitar slinger Ani DiFranco, and that “Hey You” is coming out while Slingerland is on tour with fellow queer pop artist Halsey. As for her father’s role in all of this, she adds, “This record isn’t about him, but it is completely because of him that it exists. I can’t imagine finishing it without him.”
Kelsey Magnuson – “Beep Beep”: An upbeat guitar song with a catchy and rebellious tempo, dreamy vocals, and infectious energy that could make you carefree for the entire day. This is the single off Olympia-based indie rock singer-songwriter Kelsey Magnuson’s debut LP, “Don’t Budge,” set for release on November 2 via Earth Libraries. Speaking on her new single, Kelsey wrote: “‘Beep Beep’ is a song written in the first months of the pandemic during a slip into a total loss of my sense of time. But the sound (beep!beep!) of a friend’s watch that went off on the hour every hour was particularly noticeable…how each hour could pass without much happening at all. The days would drag and then all of a sudden pass too quickly-the rhythm and stops in ‘Beep Beep’ echo that specific feeling.” The chugging energy and blithe delivery of opener “Beep Beep” recalls Courtney Barnett, another singer-songwriter known for the careful balance of droll humor and heartbreak. Paired with the stop-on-a-dime shifts in guitar riffs, Magnuson’s multi-tracked vocals perfectly add to the sense of overthinking. “I can get yeah so distracted/ But my life is just made up of fractions on fractions of fractions on fractions,” she sings, a recursive mental gymnastics that will surely be familiar to many listeners. Throughout her debut LP, Magnuson draws inspiration from other femme rock musicians such as Julie Doiron, Haley Heynderickx, and Hannah Mohan (And the Kids).
Adam Melchor -“Turnham Green”: An ethereal soundscape with fingerpicking guitar and harmonies-rich vaporous vocals. This is a new song from rising singer-songwriter Adam Melchor, released via Warner Records alongside an accompanying video directed by Francisco Covarrubias. Of the song, Adam states, “‘Turnham Green’ is a song about listening to someone’s reason for hurting you, taking every step they took in your own mind and realizing you’ll never be able to see the same colors they saw when they hurt you.” The new track sets the stage for more music to come from Melchor soon as he gears up to release a new body of work later this year. Melchor moved to Los Angeles in 2018 where he had sessions with everyone from Charlie Puth to The Chainsmokers, which subsequently led to tour dates alongside Mt. Joy, Dodie, Ashe, Chelsea Cutler, and Ondara. Melchor’s previously released single “Real Estate” has garnered over 50 million streams to date and received critical praise. In 2020, Melchor launched Melchor’s Lullaby Hotline, where he sent out 40 original songs to over 10,000 fans. In conjunction, Melchor released a mixtape featuring his favorite tracks entitled Melchor Lullaby Hotline, Vol. 1, marking his first release on Warner Records. Earlier this year, Melchor performed with Post Malone on “Saturday Night Live” where he sang backing vocals, and recently completed a 30-date headlining tour across the country. Melchor’s songwriting accolades include co-writes on Ashe’s “Taylor,” The Chainsmokers’ “In Too Deep,” Alexander 23’s “Loving You Gets Hard” and Allison Ponthier’s “Faking My Own Death.” He has also collaborated with Briston Maroney, Lennon Stella, ELIO, Madeline The Person, and more.
Damion -“Your Secret is Safe With Me”: A languid track with yearning in the vocals, a romantic guitar solo, and wobbling synths, a bit reminiscent of Todd Rundgren or the late ‘70s. This is the final single and focus track from Damion’s brand new debut solo LP, “Special Interest,” out via Earth Libraries. Damion wrote: “The song is about secrets, but only because that’s what felt right in the context of the music. I always write the music first, so the mood is typically established there. I knew the last line of that chorus needed to be the hook, and one day a co-worker confided something in me, and I sort of jokingly said ‘your secret is safe with me,’ because to me that phrase can’t be said in a very serious way. But those words just sort of stuck with me, so I decided to write the song around that hook. I wanted to write a song that sounds like it oozes out of the speakers.” Speaking on his new album, he continued: “My favorite way to discover music is in settings where I don’t pick what the music is. I’ve spent probably ten-thousand hours delivering pizzas really late at night listening to classic hits radio. After like 11pm on radio stations like that, you stop hearing the regular Eric Clapton-ey classic rock and start hearing more esoteric stuff (one hit wonders from 1976, or really minor singles from artists I thought I didn’t like because I just hadn’t heard this one weird song before). I’d pull over on the side of the road and look up the lyrics. Eventually, I just started writing songs that sounded like that stuff to me and made some demos at home on my Tascam 488 cassette machine. There’s no narrative concept or anything like that. I don’t think about themes when I write, but the album is definitely influenced by my experiences driving around listening to the radio. In an ideal world, that would certainly be how I would want the album to reach listeners. Ben Lumsdaine and Lewis Rogers produced the album. I had really meticulously demoed every song on my cassette machine at home, so the recording process was just a matter of adapting the songs to a more hi-fi context. Ben and Lewis each have a ton of studio experience, so we were able to work really quickly. I like the limitations of recording to a cassette tape (you either have to play the part right or learn to love the way it sounds wrong), so even in the studio we kind of abided by those same limitations. Ben played all the drums, some music students came in to do the horns, and I brought in a bunch of friends to do the occasional overdub. Besides that, I played most instruments myself.” The song comes with an accompanying video.
Sunfruits – “Made To Love”: An upbeat, but messy pop-rock song with fuzzed-out guitar hooks, and propulsive drums, bathing in classic 60’s psychedelia and completed by raucous vocal harmonies from singers and guitarists Winter McQuinn and Evie Vlah. Nearly two years on from their last single release, “Mushroom Kingdom,” Australian psychedelic pop outfit Sunfruits have returned with this new garage-rock anthem that comes with a video. Produced by Theo Carbo and mixed / mastered by John Lee at Phaedra Studios (The Murlocs, Bananagun), the track showcases an exciting, fresh direction for the group. Written by frontman Winter McQuinn over Melbourne’s harshest lockdown, it’s a fiery 2:30-minute track about running away with your soulmate to escape the hellish landscape of life under capitalism. Filled with distorted guitar riffs, dueling vocals, ethereal strings, and crunchy bass and drum combo, this track throws it back to the glam-rock sounds of T-Rex and the 70s revivalism of Ty Segall, showcasing a powerful maturity in the band’s sound and songwriting. McQuinn wrote “Made To Love” while he and his partner Acacia Coates were living in regional Victoria during the 2021 lockdown. McQuinn says, “We wrote the lyrics together when we were both feeling the pull and desire to move out of the city and get away from the nine-to-five lifestyle. The song’s message follows this desire about wanting to leave the city life behind and enjoy each other’s company as we ride out the Apocalypse.” Complementing the 70s revivalist sound of “Made To Love,” the single comes with an equally retro music video directed and edited by the band’s guitarist and vocalist on the track, Evie Vlah. Hooning around in a red Ford Mustang, with bright lights, vintage outfits, and a stage performance straight out of Countdown, the video aligns perfectly with the song’s ode to 70s rock and love. Filmed at Northcote Social Club and surrounding areas, the video depicts the live energy of Sunfruits with lights, outfits and camera work reminiscent of Kiss, T-Rex, and Slade videos. Of the video, Evie Vlah says, “I wanted the video to give people a short and punchy hit of nostalgia. We handmade all the props and edited it ourselves, adding in all the 70s flair we could.”
Secret Machines – “The Fire Is Waiting”: A truly epic and heavy track of 11 minutes layered with sludgy guitars, and an overall threatening vibe. The doom-metal-prog-rock-inspired song slows down and revives several times with ferocious energy and droning textures like a space rock opera. Secret Machines have announced a digital reissue of their highly acclaimed self-titled record, remastered by Simon Scott (Slowdive) and originally released on October 14, 2008, via TSM Recordings with original members Brandon Curtis (vocals, bass, keys) and Josh Garza (drums), and Phil Karnats (guitar). Alongside the announcement, they have shared this revamped version of “The Fire Is Waiting,” featuring Tony Visconti on recorder. Speaking on “The Fire Is Waiting,” Brandon Curtis wrote: “When we recorded the demo for this song, everyone told us it was too long. We decided it wasn’t long enough. Sometimes you wait for the fire. Sometimes the fire waits for you.” Recently, Secret Machines shared a new double EP featuring a reissue of their “Dreaming of Dreaming” EP and an EP of new content entitled “Day 21.” The new release includes their recently released singles: “Day 21” (off the latter) and “Dreaming of Dreaming (Mavrogeorgis and Sclavunos version)” (off the former), which was recorded/engineered by Jim Sclavunos, drummer/percussionist for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Bahjat – “Aladdin”: An airwave-ready pure pop song, drawing its inspiration from all the boy bands of our collective memory while injecting some hip hop and Arabic influences. This is a track from Libyan electronic pop artist Bahjat, and the second single off his forthcoming EP, “A-POP,” out this summer via The Orchard. Speaking on his brand new track and its origins, Bahjat wrote the following: “I had the title ‘Aladdin’ in my head for years before finally writing it into this song. As an Arab artist with global ambitions, I always look for symbols that have had a global impact but are still of Arabic origins, to draw parallels and inspiration from. When I thought a bit more about Aladdin’s story and the way it’s virtually the only Arab story to go mainstream, I found it to be interesting how it’s still a story of a big trouble-maker. Is that the first impression kids make about us Arabs? Does it deepen the already-negative stereotypes about us? As I pondered over those thoughts, I decided to take that narrative and focus it the ambition aspect of it. As a refugee, I had to lose everything before realizing that when you have nothing else to lose, you have everything to gain. ‘Aladdin’ is the second single from my upcoming EP, “A-POP.” The EP is a snapshot of my experience as an artist finding their own path in the music industry. As an Arab with global ambitions, I’ve always received pushback for being ‘too ambitious for my reality.’ If no one had ‘made it’ from Libya, why would I ever stand a chance? Why would a refugee with no connections succeed as an artist? Why ‘waste’ the time? In that way, I related my own experience to the story of Aladdin. It’s wanting something that everyone says is unattainable, and yet, that’s exactly what makes you work ten times harder to achieve it.”
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