Song of the Day

By KEXP

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 Aug 16, 2018

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Description

KEXP’s Song of the Day podcast features stand-out tracks from independent and emerging talent alongside the best new music from more established artists. Curated by KEXP DJs with listeners’ adventurous taste in mind, Song of the Day is delivered daily, Monday through Friday. Finding new music can be hard. Let KEXP help!


Episode Date
Peter Matthew Bauer - Skulls
286

Peter Matthew Bauer - "Skulls" from the 2022 album Flowers on Fortune Tellers.

With The Walkmen still on hiatus, multi-instrumentalist Peter Matthew Bauer continues their anthemic style of indie rock on his latest solo LP, Flowers. On today's Song of the Day, he displays the ways he's developed musically since the band took a break.

"'Skulls' was inspired by a new style of guitar playing that I stumbled on," he told Under the Radar. "In all the years I’d made music, I’d never figured out a way to take a guitar solo before. I started using a distortion pedal and a space echo, playing these kind of waterfalling guitar riffs over some farfisa chords. It felt really loose and brought me a lot of joy. From there, I tried to write a very joyous melody to match it. There’s a record by Peter One and Jess Sah Bi, it’s a kind of 1980s country rock record from the Cote d’Ivoire. I feel like their style of melodies really inspired me throughout this album. Just the rhythm and the way they’re both laid back but really letting go."

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Sep 28, 2022
Rocky Votolato - Little Black Diamond
164

Rocky Votolato - "Little Black Diamond" from the 2022 album Wild Roots on Spartan.

Long-beloved local artist Rocky Votolato returns with his most personal album yet. Wild Roots is his first new album in seven years. Written during the pandemic, Votolato sought to craft an album about "family connection," adding to People magazine, "but on a deeper level, it's about the human struggle and overcoming and surviving anything that is handed to you." (You can hear and read more about this album in an upcoming interview here on KEXP!)

Today's Song of the Day was inspired by Votolato's niece Carissa. As he writes on social media, "it’s a song about loyalty and how much keeping your word and telling the truth means to the ones closest to you. I wrote it after we went for a walk one day and she helped me find a little stone that I carried around with me in my pocket for years and years on every tour I did. That little rock came to represent loyalty to me and was a constant reminder of all the people in my life who love me and why I was trying to stay alive and do the work on myself to become a better person."

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Sep 27, 2022
Karate, Guns and Tanning - Enchanter
249

Karate, Guns and Tanning - "Enchanter," a 2022 self-released single.

Indianapolis-based band Karate, Guns & Tanning formed out of the 15-year friendship of bassist/vocalist Valerie Green and keyboardist/vocalist Paige Shedletsky. “We basically share a brain,” Shedletsky told Post-Punk.com.

Together, they craft a dark, riot grrrl-tinged shoegaze, influenced by David Lynch and Hunter S. Thompson. On today's Song of the Day, they evoke the chilly synths of Ladytron with a soaring '80s-style guitar solo in the center. It's a first look at the band's next EP, slated for release this fall. 

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Sep 26, 2022
LIV† - Let It Go (feat. Dave B)
166

Livt - Let It Go (feat. Dave B) from the 2022 album Pink and Orange on LIV Free Media / DAY ONE ENT.

If you weren’t able to make it to our KEXP 50th anniversary party earlier this summer, then you missed an incredible performance by local artist LIVt kicking the festivities off. KEXP has become a major champion of the Tacoma, WA-raised musician’s poetic lyricism touting messages of radical self-love and acceptance.

Her most recent record, 2022’s Pink and Orange expands on the soulful soundscapes LIVt created on 2020’s Flowers in the Void. Our Song of the Day “Let It Go” sees her team up with another local hero, Dave B, for a laid-back bop with the cathartic (if not exactly radio-friendly) message of, “Fuck it /Let it go.”

LIVt stopped by KEXP back in March for an in-studio with Gabriel Teodros. Watch it and read the full post at KEXP.org.

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Sep 23, 2022
Lil Silva - Still (feat. Sampha & Ghetts)
247

Lil Silva - Still (feat. Sampha & Ghetts) from the 2022 album Yesterday Is Heavy on Nowhere Music Ltd.

It may have taken Lil Silva over a decade to finally drop his debut full-length, but he proved it was worth the wait. Since 2010, the UK producer has been winning over fans as a beatmaker who could bring emotion to the dancefloor. Eventually, Silva started to incorporate his airy vocals into his work, expanding his tapestry of sounds.

Yesterday Is Heavy is not only a tapestry of sounds but also collaborators. Lil Silva is clearly well-liked because everyone from Little Dragon, BADBADNOTGOOD, Charlotte Day Wilson, and serpentwithfeet join him on the record. Our Song of the Day, “Still,” is just one of two tracks South London singer Sampha lends his vocals to alongside some help from grime MC Ghetts.

The smooth track gently grooves until the beat kicks in and Sampha leads with anxiety-riddled lyricsm about wanting to love but knowing he’s not in the right mental place for it. Ghetts backs him on the sentiment with his compelling verse, “Just come back from my therapist /Wouldn't recommend it /I opened up too much /Book in every sentence /I don't need an analyst /To tell me I'm an anarchist.” Silva’s touch is light but his gentle coos back the boys for the intimate posse cut.

Watch the video for Yesterday Is Heavy opening track "Another Sketch" and read the full post at KEXP.org.

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Sep 22, 2022
Son Little - 6 AM
231

Son Little - "6 AM," a 2022 single on ANTI-.

Philadelphia-based R&B artist Son Little (real name: Aaron Livingston) found inspiration from acclaimed sci-fi author Octavia Butler for today's Song of the Day. 

Dawn is my favorite Octavia Butler book,” he said in a press release. “It’s also my favorite time of the day— the time I have my clearest most exciting ideas and also the time when I sometimes spiral into emotional/mental chaos. Wrote a song about it.”

"6 AM" is available on his latest LP Like Neptune, out now via ANTI- Records. You can catch him Monday, November 7th at Neumos in Seattle. 

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Sep 21, 2022
Mystic - Here, Alive (Spirits High)
277

Mystic - "Here, Alive (Spirits High)" from the 2022 album Dreaming In Cursive: The Girl Who Loved Sparklers on Beautifull Soundworks.

As KEXP's Gabriel Teodros says, "Every Mystic album is an event, and something to come back to for years and years."

The long-running Bay Area-based artist/activist (real name: Mandolyn Wind Ludlum) returns with her third full-length Dreaming In Cursive: The Girl Who Loved Sparklers, another release of "healed Black woman music," as she puts it.  

Her debut full-length — 2001's Cuts for Luck and Scars for Freedom — had a huge impact on Teodros. As he writes on Instagram, "Mystic’s debut album was a record that changed me, an album that made me feel loved in a way I hadn’t felt from other hip-hop albums before: that real kind of love that will hold you accountable, see your flaws and your beauty and just love you to your best self… all in the music though!"

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Sep 20, 2022
Kingsley Ibeneche - Asked for Light
259

Kingsley Ibeneche - "Asked For Light" from the 2022 album Udo on Dirty Deity.

Nigerian-American artist Kingsley Ibeneche truly opens his heart on his debut album Udo, which was released last Friday. In a press statement, the full-length is described as an "emotional experience of an empathic person who stays bound to their kin sometimes to the detriment of themselves, but who refuses to give up the quest for elation, personal peace and self-actualization in the process."

Today's Song of the Day, in particular, is "very special" to him and his longtime collaborator, Lee Clarke. It's a beautiful, meditative piece, with a plaintively plucked acoustic guitar and serene washes of soul. As he stated on Instagram, "We spent a good amount of time carving and molding the shape of this song. I’m a lucky dude to be able to work with Lee. He has always believed in me and supported me in the fullest way possible. I learn from him up close and from afar." 

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Sep 19, 2022
Nada Rosa - The Process of Dying
155

Nada Rosa - "The Process of Dying" from the 2020 Personas EP on OTHERWORLDS.

Brandi Diaz is a Seattle-based musician and first-generation Cuban/Dominican American making intimate surf-tinged cosmic soul under the moniker Nada Rosa. The name takes inspiration from the concept of infinite potential (everything comes from nothingness/nada) as well as the name of her maternal Grandmother Rosa, who represents authenticity, power, and strength.

Our Song of the Day “The Process of Dying” is a gentle strummer that hinges on Diaz’s angelic vocals that pack a punch in just a little over two minutes, harkening a gentle rally towards finding freedom from the anxieties that plague the mind. “I give myself /What I need /And I set myself free,” she coos before admitting, “I may not know what’s coming /But I set myself free.”

In an exclusive quote for KEXP, Diaz says this of “The Process of Dying”:

“This song came to me in the middle of a bubble bath actually…. It was the middle of 2020, and I had a whole lot of time of my hands. I decided to take mushrooms that day and go inward. Submerged in the water, I began to notice my hair, and realized how hair lives on even after it leaves our body. For some reason, that moment sparked something in me, and the lyrics to Process of Dying began pouring in. I jumped out of the water, ran to my bedroom and began recording. It was one of those songs that came out almost like a birth, completely intact, and as a total release. The lyrics were a profound realization for me that I have the power to take care of myself always, and that the only certainly in life is that there IS no certainty, other than the fact that this time on earth is temporary. For me, that is the most freeing thing to know. My wish for this song is for it to be a meditation and reminder for everyone that hears it, that we always hold the key to our own freedom, if we can let go of certainty, care for ourselves, and fully belong to this moment.”

Watch the video for "The Process of Dying," co-directed by Diaz and Jane Urban, and read the full post at KEXP.org.

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Sep 16, 2022
Meridian Brothers - Metamorfosis (feat. Grupo El Renacimiento)
296

Meridian Brothers - "Metamorfosis (feat. Grupo El Renacimiento)" from the 2022 album Meridian Brothers & El Grupo Renacimiento on Ansonia Records.

For Eblis Álvarez, frontman and figurehead behind Bogotá band Meridian Brothers, the imaginary is a primary source of inspiration. His latest record, and 11th since the band’s inception in 1998, is a collaboration with a fictional band called Grupo El Renacimiento. Creating an entire backstory for the band, Álvarez claims them to be a 1970s salsa group from a small village in Colombia who had a small amount of fame but then were forgotten after the band delved further into drugs and partying.

But that’s not the only story on Meridian Brothers & El Grupo Renacimiento. There’s also a Kafka-esque storyline on today’s Song of the Day “Metamorfosis,” in which the formerly-human protagonist wakes up to find themselves transformed into a robot. “Memory is dying,” reads the English translation of the lyrics. “They’ve already connected the internet to my lung /To my heart.”

“Salsa singers in the '70s, they used to sing about, you know, like, actual problems,” Álvarez told NPR in an interview. “Social problems, political problems, human problems of emotional problems. So I decide to imitate that attitude - ‘Metamorfosis’ - that tells about this dystopian world where technology takes over the human brain, takes over the human body, takes over the human societies and control it.”

This record is also important because it marks the first release in 30 years from long-standing label Ansonia Records. Created in 1949 by Puerto Rican immigrant Rafael ‘Ralph’ Pérez, the New York-based label was the home for a surprisingly large, diverse, and important catalog of seminal recordings featuring traditional and popular Latin rhythms and sounds. Genres such as música jíbara, plena, bomba, danza, son, guajira, bolero, danzón and merengue are well represented, as are guaracha, mambo, cha-cha-cha, pachanga and boogaloo.

Watch the lyric video (in both English and Spanish) for “Metamorfosis” and read the full post at KEXP.org.

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Sep 15, 2022
Omar Apollo - Archetype
169

Omar Apollo - "Archetype" from the 2022 album Ivory (Marfil) on Warner.

This week's Songs of the Day were selected by KEXP DJs Albina Cabrera and DJ Chilly, hosts of El Sonido, in honor of Aquí y Ahora: Without Borders. Join KEXP September 12 through October 14 for a month dedicated to amplifying the contributions, resilience, and music of Latinx, Hispanic and Latino-identified communities worldwide. More info here.


Only four months after releasing his debut album, IVORY, Mexican-American artist Omar Apollo returned with a deluxe edition — titled IVORY (Marfil) —featuring five bonus tracks, including today's Song of the Day. 

As KEXP's Albina Cabrera described in her Living Singles segment back in July, "It’s a classic Omar Apollo love song, which is definitely a way we should start defining songs that show up, interpret your feelings, turn into constant soundtracks, and stay by your side for at least half a year."

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Sep 14, 2022
mediopicky - quien te llamo
186

Mediopicky - "quien te llamo" from the 2022 album mediopicky on Salsa Fegol.

This week's Songs of the Day were selected by KEXP DJs Albina Cabrera and DJ Chilly, hosts of El Sonido, in honor of Aquí y Ahora: Without Borders. Join KEXP September 12 through October 14 for a month dedicated to amplifying the contributions, resilience, and music of Latinx, Hispanic and Latino-identified communities worldwide. More info here.


"I was borned, i learned to pruduce, and now you are dancing."

This is the Bandcamp bio for Dominican Republic-based artist mediopicky (real name: Pablo Alcántara). Since 2011, he's been releasing some serious bangers, combining tropical rhythms with hip-hop, funk with electronica. Today's Song of the Day is a fuzz-heavy, reggae-tinged trip with eerie overtones.

Throughout it all, his ultimate goal is to get you moving. As he says on his website, "What interests me is that people feel something from what I can create, no matter what it is, but that they feel something and dance without thinking about what kind of music they are listening to."

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Sep 13, 2022
Doris Anahí - Aprendiendo por las Malas
194

Doris Anahí - "Aprendiendo por las Malas" from the 2022 Aprendiendo por las Malas EP on Casa Mija.

This week's Songs of the Day were selected by KEXP DJs Albina Cabrera and DJ Chilly, hosts of El Sonido, in honor of Aquí y Ahora: Without Borders. Join KEXP September 12 through October 14 for a month dedicated to amplifying the contributions, resilience, and music of Latinx, Hispanic and Latino-identified communities worldwide. More info here.


Doris Anahí Muñoz was a long-time music manager, overseeing emerging Latinx artists like Cuco and La Doña. She's the founder of Casa Mija (FKA mija mgmt), a program for BIPOC youth interested in a career in the music business. Her story is detailed in the Disney original documentary Mija, which follows this ambitious activist on her mission to change the industry. 

Now, she's taking the mic herself, recording under the name Doris Anahí. Her debut EP is titled Aprendiendo por las Malas, or "Learning the Hard Way," which is something she surely did during her time as a music manager.

In an interview with LatinPlug, she says the EP "really tells the different stories of that whole chapter of my life." She adds, "Where I felt like all these repressed songs came from all these lessons that I had to learn the hard way these last few years. Largely because I didn't follow my gut, because I was so stubborn and clinging to a version of myself, the version that people wanted me to be. In the end, you end up learning the hard way. When you're not honest with yourself, you're not honest with others, and that's exactly where the hard lessons come in." 

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Sep 12, 2022
Beverly Crusher - Vacuum
164

Beverly Crusher - "Vacuum" from the 2022 album Waste of Waves on Freakout.

Seattle punk rock band Beverly Crusher has been chipping away and threatening a full album for about three years and finally have come to the point they can share said forthcoming new album Waste of Waves, out on Freakout Records.

Said Cozell Wilson (guitar and vocals) of their brand new LP,

"We had so many set backs, development, and growth working on this album that all we can be is ecstatic that it finally printed in its final form on a sick record label that really believes in us and bends over backwards to support independent music. 17 year old us wouldn't believe this is real."

Watch their KEXP in-studio session and read the full post at KEXP.org

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Sep 09, 2022
Manny Noir & Psychedelic Ensemble - Where Were You...
209

Manny Noir & Psychedelic Ensemble - "Where Were You…" from the 2022 album Nocturne on Everything Is Perfect / LIVE AT THE CLINIC.

Southeast London emcee Manny Noir recently teamed up with producer Psychedelic Ensemble to release the collaborative record Nocturne in June. True to the album’s name, Nocturne is ten tracks of vibey downtempo hip hop perfect for the late hours of the evening. The combination of Manny Noir’s silky flows with Psychedelic Ensemble’s smooth, softly grooving production makes for a sexily uneasy nighttime soundscape.

Our Song of the Day “Where Were You…” hones in on the feelings of longing and betrayal that often permeate the brain upon nightfall. “Where were you when I was hurting / I was hurting /I was hurt,” questions Noir over a thrumming beat punctuated by ghostly synths mimicking the fog of memories best left in the past.

Read the full post and watch the video for Nocturne closing track "Let the Love In," directed by Marlon Francis, at KEXP.org.

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Sep 08, 2022
Meskerem Mees - Best Friend
184

Meskerem Mees - "Best Friend," from the 2022 Caesar EP on Mayway.

Born in Ethiopia and raised in Belgium (where she still resides today), 23-year-old artist Meskerem Mees displays a maturity beyond her years in her beautiful compositions. She's won the Emerging Artists Award from Humo's Rock Rally, the Music Moves Europe 2022 Grand Jury Prize, as well as the Montreux Jazz Talent Award in 2021.

On today's Song of the Day, she calls to mind Courtney Barnett with her speedy talk-singing style, but musically, it's stripped down to just her acoustic guitar and cello accompaniment by Frederik Daelemans. Against the minimal folk-pop instrumentation, her lyrics reflect on middle school days to just a year ago, and how her life has changed. 

Today's Song of the Day will appear on the Caesar EP, to be released November 10th via Mayway.

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Sep 07, 2022
S H I R A N - Habibi Inta حبيبي انت
183

S H I R A N - "Habibi Inta حبيبي انت" from the 2022 album Fadaytak on Batov.

Tel Aviv-based artist S H I R A N (real name: Shiran Avraham) uses her music to explore her Middle Eastern roots, combining the influences with hip-hop, Afrobeats, and more. Her production partner Ron Bakal returns on this latest LP to help her carry these songs to new heights, in a style they call “Electro Hafla,” a reference to "the large “'hafla' get-togethers full of music and dancing, common at family gatherings and religious ceremonies."

She declares on Facebook:

I am so proud of what we created Ron Bakal⁩. The album’s creation process was very special for me because all the songs were written in collaboration with a song writer from Yemen and been through a journey in all the places Ron and I love’s to travel. The truth is that the album was ready two years ago, it needed to release outside a long time ago but it postponed by a lot of reasons. COVID-19, our life routine and all kind of challenges that we have been through. We worked on it so hard and during our work I went through a process of my own that thought me a lot. I have learned that it is good to let go and not hold in.. listen to myself and let the art burst out without a lot of questions and thoughts. But I do believe that everything is happening in it’s time. After all, the album was made with love! Thanks to amazing people that took part If it and brought there talent and heart 

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Sep 06, 2022
Jitwam - The Get Down
197

Jitwam - "The Get Down" from the 2022 album Third on Roya Records.

As KEXP's DJ Alex mentioned in 2018 when Jitwam contributed a Midnight in a Perfect World mix to us, "Jitwam is a bit of an enigma. He was born in Northeast India, he's currently based in Brooklyn, he spent his formative years in New Zealand and Australia, and has lived in monasteries in Thailand, orphanages in South Africa, and washed out apartments in London."

On his third album — helpfully titled Third — Jitwam focuses on nights in London and New York, specifically, while still infusing a lifetime of global influences into his rich tapestry of disco-funk. Today's Song of the Day is such a fast-paced dance delight, you can almost picture the Soul Train dancers doing one of their infamous line dances to it. 

As he told Mixmag, "Being a diaspora kid, Third, for me, also has a lot of references to third culture. I’m trying to blur the lines between what we think of as different cultures, rhythms, and genres, and show that despite how different these genres are — or how different we are as people — we’re all grounded in the same drumbeat really."

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Sep 05, 2022
Franklin Gothic - Mr. Hangman
188

Franklin Gothic - Mr. Hangman from the 2022 album Into the Light on #veryjazzed.

Franklin Gothic is the solo project of Portland-based artist Jay DiBartolo. In August, he released his debut record Into the Light via split release with Very Jazzed ad Pleasure Tapes. Made in collaboration with producer/local luminary Erik Blood (Shabazz Palaces, Tacocat, Pickwick), the album covers a variety of genres including ‘90s indie, Americana, and shoegaze for a dynamic and colorful listen.

Our Song of the Day is the early single “Mr. Hangman.” Influenced by DiBartolo’s childhood and using the game Hangman as an analogy for feeling cut off from the world and left hanging, the song is, conversely, one of the more vibrant tunes on the record. DiBartolo had this to say about the song:

"The original version we intended to record for "Mr. Hangman" was this sweet, little boppy tune, which had been bugging me because it felt inauthentic. After laying down the drums in the studio, I took the song back home and experimented a bit on guitar by noodling with various phrasings over the existing chord progression. That's when this dissonant feeling emerged that juxtaposed the original version and captured what the song's about. I sent it to Erik and he replied back with a champagne emoji, so I knew that was it."

The song comes with a glitchy VHS-style video directed by Sean McGuirk. Watch it and read the full post at KEXP.org.

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Sep 02, 2022
Brijean - Take A Trip
169

Brijean - Take A Trip from the 2022 album Angelo on Ghostly International.

Vocalist/percussionist Brijean Murphy and producer/multi-instrumentalist Doug Stuart have been making sweltering groovy soundscapes as Brijean since 2019 and recently followed up their 2021 full-length Feelings with the EP Angelo. Named after their 1981 Toyota Celica, Angelo was born out of a period of immense grief, in which the duo leaned heavily on each other and music as a way to cope.

Our Song of the Day “Take a Trip” celebrates those moments of cruising windows-down, as well as the more psychedelic types of trips, in which the journey is through the mind. “Travel with me down, down, down /Hear the colors, taste the sounds /Through the window, out the door /Spaces in my mind I've never seen before,” coos Murphy. A meandering bassline leads the scorchingly sunny song while a bevy of sounds including hand-claps, cuíca hiccups, whip-cracks, even a horse neigh add color to the already-heated track.

“This song is an inquiry into shifting perspectives—a way to deepen our lived experience by becoming aware of the unexplored facets of our own perception,” says the duo of “Take a Trip” which comes with a music video from Nathan Castiel inspired by Dreamcast-era video games that interplays lo-fi 3D animation with the warmth of 16mm film.

Watch the video and read the full post at KEXP.org

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Sep 01, 2022
Flying Lotus - You Don’t Know (feat. Devin Tracy)
140

Flying Lotus - "You Don’t Know (feat. Devin Tracy)" from the 2022 album The Room on Warp Records.

DJ/producer Flying Lotus teams up with soul singer Devin Tracy for today's Song of the Day, a laid back summer-y groove perfect for these final days of the season. 

FlyLo's been busy this year: he wrote the theme song to the AppleTV+ Magic Johnson documentary series, They Call Me Magic, and wrote the score for Netflix's YASUKE anime series. He's currently working on his second film, titled Ash. The film was written by Jonni Remler and focuses on a woman who "wakes up on a distant planet and finds the crew of her space station viciously killed, her investigation into what happened setting in motion a terrifying chain of events." In addition to directing, Flying Lotus will also compose the score. 

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Aug 31, 2022
Yaya Bey - alright
189

Yaya Bey - "alright" from the 2022 album Remember Your North Star on Big Dada.

On her latest LP, Remember Your North Star, Brooklyn-based artist Yaya Bey explores the themes of Black womanhood against a mix of R&B, jazz, reggae, and hip-hop.

"I saw a tweet that said, "Black women have never seen healthy love or have been loved in a healthy way." That's a deep wound for us," she stated in a press release. "Then I started to think about our responses to that as Black women. So this album is kind of my thesis. Even though we need to be all these different types of women, ultimately we do want love: love of self and love from our community. The album is a reminder of that goal."

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Aug 30, 2022
Santigold - High Priestess
193

Santigold - "High Priestess" from the 2022 album Spirituals on Little Jerk.

Santigold returns with a vengeance for Spirituals, her first new full-length in six years. 

She explains in a press release, "I loved the idea of calling it Spirituals because it touched on the idea of Negro spirituals, which were songs that served the purpose of getting Black people through the un-get-throughable. In the absence of physical freedom, spirituals have traditionally been music whose sound and physical performance allow its participants to feel transcendental freedom in the moment. That’s what this record did for me."

Today's Song of the Day came out of a collaboration with Ray Brady and Boys Noize, with additional creative contributions from Psymun and Gayngs’ Ryan Olson. 

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Aug 29, 2022
Slang - Chipped Tooth
157

Slang - Chipped Tooth from the 2022 album Cockroach In A Ghost Town on Kill Rock Stars.

In one of the most ultimate Northwest powergroup collaborations to come in recent history, Slang seemingly appeared out of nowhere. In fact, Drew Grow and Janet Weiss (the latter needing no introduction and Grow being a IYKYK frontman of Modern Kin and the Pastors’ Wives and in-demand producer) have been slowly working on Slang for over a decade.

Bringing with them a bevy of notable names for their first record Cockroach In a Ghost Town, including Kathy Foster (Roseblood, The Thermals) on bass and Anita Lee Elliot (Viva Voce) as well as appearances from Sam Coomes (Quasi), Stephen Malkmus (Pavement), and Mary Timony (Helium, Ex Hex, Wild Flag), it’s a who’s who of the Northwest Gen X scene.

Our Song of the Day, “Chipped Tooth,” is an existentialist viewpoint of examining all the rough edges of yourself - be it your ragged brain, running wild with thoughts that slip into darkness quicker than you’d like, or the jagged points of a chipped tooth - always existing but not always noticeable until it’s the only part of you that you can think about.

“I think it’s more our mutual appreciation of music that grabs you and grabs hold and shakes you to the core,” explained Weiss to KEXP’s Eva Walker during their in-studio recorded in July. “I think we feel like this band has that potential to kind of get inside a person a give them strength and hope and just a joie de vive. Things get really hard and I feel like music is our saving grace so we all kind of look to music to lift us up.”

Watch said in-studio and read the full post at KEXP.org.

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Aug 26, 2022
The Beths - Silence is Golden
175

The Beths - Silence is Golden from the 2022 album Expert in a Dying Field on Carpark.

New Zealand indie pop outfit The Beths are on the verge of dropping their highly anticipated third record Expert in a Dying Field on September 16th via Carpark Records. The follow-up to 2020’s Jump Rope Gazers sees the band delve into character sketches of relationships and their aftermaths, with an emphasis on the aftermath.

Our Song of the Day is the single “Silence Is Golden.” Frontwoman Elizabeth Stokes spews lines at a brisk clip, nimbly quipping lines like, "I wish that I could freeze time, go to the wild, soak up the quiet / Till I'm dripping wet with it / Then I would drive home, go to my room, wring myself out / That would be the end of it." According to the band, the song conveys the, "stress and anxiety manifesting as an intolerance to noise, where each new sound makes you more and more stressed.”

With fuzzy guitars and a screeching guitar solo contrasting that message, the song is a roaring and nervy antidote to silence. While silence may be golden, a Beths song gleams just as bright.

Watch the video for “Silence Is Golden" and read the full post at KEXP.org

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Aug 25, 2022
Momma - Lucky
244

Momma - "Lucky" from the 2022 album Household Name on Polyvinyl.

On today's Song of the Day, Brooklyn duo Momma aimed to write "a sappy and sentimental love song." The track is a stand-out on their latest LP Household Name, which is a powerhouse of '90s influences and grunge-y guitars. 

“I wrote it after my significant other and I had to spend an unknown amount of time apart from each other on opposite sides of the country,” guitarist/vocalist Etta Friedman said in a press statement. “I wanted it to feel anthemic, like a sappy and sentimental love song, but I still wanted to speak on how exciting it feels to know you found true treasure with someone you are in love with.” 

For its accompanying music video, they tapped directors Emma Penrose and Zack Shorrosh for a clip inspired by Green Day’s “Walking Contradiction.”

"We didn’t want to get too cheesy and literal," Penrose shared, "so, Etta suggested some ideas from the Green Day ‘Walking Contradiction’ video as well as the fun and etherealness of certain Beabadoobee videos. In the end, we feel like the video displays how much fun it was to film."

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Aug 24, 2022
NoSo - David
198

NoSo - "David" from the 2022 album Stay Proud of Me on Partisan.

Singer-songwriter Abby Hwong named their musical project NoSo (as in North/South) after being asked one too many times, "which Korea are you from?". The Los Angeles-based artist channels the frustrations stemming from their Asian American heritage into their songs, as well as their experience as a queer non-binary person. Today's Song of the Day taps into that feeling, inspired by a dream Hwong had where they were trapped in the body of a white man named "David." They explained in a press release:

"One summer night, I had a dream that I was a white dude sitting in a church pew; I saw the way girls giggled and whispered to each other excitedly upon noticing me, and other men gave me nods of respect. The way I was perceived in such a positive and palatable way hit me in the gut; I even recognized it was a dream when it was happening."

"I woke up emotional and so disappointed in myself; I had done a lot of work to unlearn internalized racism, and I had been feeling so proud of my identity. But I had to be gentle with myself and remember that it's a plethora of issues; bullying from peers, the media we consume that spotlights euro-centric beauty standards, and the desperate desire to not feel like you inherently take up too much space. It seems to be a universal experience for POC (especially during childhood) to look in the mirror and resent your own features. That dream (and writing this song) reminds me that these kinds of issues don’t disappear overnight; it sneaks up on your subconscious in layered ways."

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Aug 23, 2022
Ambar Lucid - La Torre
185

Ambar Lucid - "La Torre" from the 2022 album La Torre on 300 Entertainment.

In tarot, the "Tower" card is said to represent sudden upheaval and unexpected change. Today's Song of the Day is based on this Major Arcana card, which the Dominican-Mexican artist Ambar Lucid told Flaunt “reflects the phase of life that I'm currently in the process of trying to transition from. A lot of these songs were written during my tower moment. This song is a sonic manifestation of childhood PTSD.” 

“Since I started reading tarot, most of my songs are inspired by tarot cards because they are part of my creative process,” she continued. “Before I start writing a song, I shuffle my cards and I'm like, 'alright God, what should I talk about today?' Tarot cards inspire me in so many different ways — visually, just helping me tap into my inner worlds, and lyrically.”

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Aug 22, 2022
Smokey Brights - Ocean Shores
199

Smokey Brights - “Ocean Shores,” a 2022 single on Freakout.

Husband-and-wife duo and KEXP regulars, Smokey Brights, have been steadily churning out singles since their third record, 2020’s I Love You But Damn. Released in the midst of the pandemic, the album was a bright spot amidst the bleakness of the world in which it was birthed and a sign of perseverance.

Their latest single continues the Seattle band’s streak of sunshiney optimism. Named after the sleepy seaside Washington town, “Ocean Shores” sparkles with glimmering synths and kicks off with chorus of bellowing cries before mellowing out to focus on Kim West’s saccharine vocals that recount a story of spending time in the idyllic town while in the midst of battling depression and the mental gymnastics that take place when trying to get out of your head to appreciate beauty.

Read the full post and watch Smokey Brights' KEXP in-studio performance from 2018 at KEXP.org.

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Aug 19, 2022
Young Fathers - Geronimo
214

Young Fathers - “Geronimo,” a 2022 single on Ninja Tune.

Scottish genre-benders, Mercury Prize-winners, and KEXP favorites Young Fathers released their third record Cocoa Sugar in what feels like a lifetime ago, 2018. At long last, they finally returned with the single “Geronimo.” In a world where we’re still stretching our legs and feeling out how to get back into the swing of “real life,” the trio - made up of Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and ‘G’ Hastings - are doing the same.

In their most soulful, downtempo song to date, Young Fathers are both sonically and literally dipping their toes back into the waters of music. While in the past, they’d often caustically throw themselves at you, pushing the doors down with the heels of their feet, the trio is gentle in their approach, as if to tap on the door and ask, “Do you mind if I enter?”

Of course we don’t mind. But, personally, I’m not opposed to a gentle approach these days. This is what the band had to say about the song:

“A good time trying. That’s what Ma said, she was smiling, but it was meant as a warning.

It’s a track about contrast, because life is contrast - pushing through, giving up, all at the same time. Wanting everything and then wanting nothing, then wanting everything again. It’s kind of reflective of where we are at the moment, trying to remember how to do this again.

Trying to make music and all of the other stuff that comes along with it. Trying to forget all the bad bits, just trying to get somewhere. And that’s where we are right now, trying to get somewhere.

It’s the tenderness in toil, we had expelled a bunch of stuff with a lot of drive and wilder energy beforehand but this one had focus. It widened the scope again for us personally, that’s where the real high comes from. We grew another arm. We surprised ourselves.

So coming back with a track called ‘Geronimo’ feels quite fitting. Just the 3 of us again, but still in a fucking basement.”

Read the full post and watch their 2018 KEXP in-studio at KEXP.org

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Aug 18, 2022
Beach Bunny - Entropy
221

Beach Bunny - “Entropy” from the 2022 album Emotional Creature on Mom + Pop.

From TikTok buzzband to their sophomore album Emotional Creature, Chicago-based band Beach Bunny have earned a devoted following, including producer Butch Vig and actor Bob Odenkirk, who even appears in one of their music videos. 

A huge part of their appeal is the confessional and, ultimately, relatable lyrics from frontwoman Lili Trifilio. On today's Song of the Day, she tells Stereogum, she took inspiration from the Jonas Brothers for this infectious, polished pop song. Reflecting on her journey as a musician, she continues, "As a young kid I was watching Hannah Montana thinking that was the most unrealistic expectation of all time. But now here I am and all of it happened organically; it just goes very slowly over many, many years. If you want to do something in a creative field, make it a passion project and try it for a few years. You’ll learn what you want to do, or you’ll get to go on a journey. Embark on your journeys! Don’t settle! I mean it! Oh, and don’t date toxic boys. Or I guess, if you do, at least you’ll have songs to write about them."

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Aug 17, 2022
Hermanos Gutiérrez - El Bueno Y El Malo
205

Hermanos Gutiérrez - “El Bueno Y El Malo” from the 2022 album El Bueno Y El Malo on Easy Eye Sound

Swiss-Ecuadorian siblings Estevan and Alejandro Gutiérrez bring their love of '50s Latin American music to their musical project Hermanos Gutiérrez. In fact, their forthcoming full-length, El Bueno Y El Malo, takes its name from the 1966 Spaghetti Western film The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. with its iconic score by Ennio Morricone. 

“We think that everybody has a good side and a bad side,” Estevan said in a press release. “It’s every person, every moment, every situation. Everybody has these two faces.”

El Bueno Y El Malo was co-produced alongside The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, and will be released October 28th via Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound imprint.

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Aug 16, 2022
High Vis - Blending
235

High Vis - “Blending” from the 2022 album Blending on Dais.

London-based band High Vis has its roots in the UK hardcore scene, but evolved into a less-shout-y post-punk vibe on their 2019 debut LP, No Sense No Feeling, and now explore a more new wave vibe on their sophomore album, Blending, which comes out September 9th via Dais Records. The album's title track has a softer sound, reminiscent of The Cult or late-era Ride. In a press release, frontman Graham Sayle explains the song's meaning.

“It became about cloaking yourself in whatever you present to the world, but you’re not defined by that. Just because I wear a trackie, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t read a book. The message of the album is you’re not who you think you are,” he continues. “You’re not your class background. Whatever it is, you’re not that. Don’t resign yourself to thinking you can’t be this and you can’t be that.”

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Aug 15, 2022
Sango - Tongue Tied
425

Sango - "Tongue Tied (feat. asante)" from the 2022 album Great Lakes Influence on Wright Music Group.

Beloved former-Seattlite Sango recently returned with the mixtape Great Lake Influence in June, two years after the release of SHANGO. Described by the sought-after beatmaker as “A homage to where I’m from,” the collection of songs sees Sango dip his toes in techno-house which is very of the moment, as we’ve seen Drake and Beyonce also delve into this realm with their recent releases.

Our Song of the Day, “Tongue Tied” is an excellent example of Sango’s pristine ability to make something that’s currently popular still sound fresh and unique. Bringing back frequent collaborator asante on vocals, the track is bright and bubbly and made for the dancefloor. Moving away from his prior South American influences toward more African sounds is a natural move and one that Sango does with ease.

On his website, Sango says, “I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can change things. I feel change is the first thing we as humans either love or hate. There isn’t a middle. I took a side and I love change. It challenges me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I also figured something out. I can't change the world, but I can change my world, which allows others to see inside of it and hopefully I can influence them to feel/do the same, and hopefully that trend goes on to the next person.”

Read the full post on KEXP.org

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Aug 12, 2022
BLK ODYSSY - COMPLEX OF KILLING A MAN (feat. Baby Rose)
191

BLK ODYSSY - "COMPLEX OF KILLING A MAN (feat. Baby Rose)" from the 2022 album BLK VINTAGE: THE REPRISE on BLK ODYSSY / EMPIRE.

BLK ODYSSY aka Juwan Elcock is a dynamic artist who nixed his former Americana sound for a soul-infused hip hop solo project. The Austin-based musician dropped his debut album BLK VINTAGE under the moniker in August of 2021 and, after the record slowly caught fire for its rich jazzy soundscapes and deeply personal and political lyrics about the plight of Black Americanhood, is now following it up with the deluxe edition BLK VINTAGE REPRISE.

One of the new tracks to be included is “COMPLEX OF KILLING A MAN.” With Grammy-nominated R&B singer Baby Rose adding her lush vocals, the song is a downtempo slow burner with heated lyrics about being caught in a culture of violence and oppression with seemingly no way out. “What's the complex of killing a man?/ Can't help but think that this scenario's part of a plan/ That's word to Willie Lynch and Uncle Sam.”

The story is one that hits close to home for Elcock, as his brother was killed at the hands of police offivers when living in New Jersey. With that in mind, the chorus of “Ghetto child, ghetto child/ Running wild, running wild/ This Glock gon' change your ways/ So count your days” hits especially hard.

Watch the video for "COMPLEX OF KILLING A MAN" and read the full post at KEXP.org.

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Aug 11, 2022
CARRTOONS - Lighta (feat. Rae Khalil)
187

CARRTOONS - "Lighta (feat. Rae Khalil)" from the 2022 album Homegrown on Wichita Recordings.

Producer/multi-instrumentalist CARRTOONS (real name: Ben Carr) teams up for a second time with Grammy Award-winning artist Rae Khalil, a track from his latest album, Homegrown. Carr provides a soulful groove for Khalil to drop her breezy, speedy rhymes, playing on the song title as both a noun and a feeling: "I feel a lil lighta / where is my lighta."

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Aug 10, 2022
Ricki Monique - CEREAL (feat. MMYYKK)
213

Ricki Monique - "CEREAL (feat. MMYYKK)" from the 2022 GOOD SEEDS EP on Tangible Records.

Minneapolis-based artist Ricki Monique teams up with producer/multi-instrumentalist on today's Song of the Day, a serene, soulful track she wrote to boost her confidence.

“This song was created as a sonic affirmation to remind me that I was built to be great," she told Lyrical Lemonade. "I put affirmations from my mother and sisters in the hook and brought up feelings of depression and hardships in the first verse to portray a sense of everything-ness. I am both powerful and weak at times. I wrote this song to remind myself to lean into my strong parts.”

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Aug 09, 2022
Zap Mama - Dessiné
220

Zap Mama - "Dessiné" a 2022 self-released single.

A French poem set to song, the latest from Belgian artist Marie Daulne (better known as Zap Mama) is a vibrant expression of love. "Dessiné" loosely translates to "drawn," and the lyrics capture a person sketching the facial features of the one they love. It's the first single from her forthcoming full-length Odyssée, which will be released this fall. 

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Aug 08, 2022
dsrt flwr - Of Discernment
106

dsrt flwr - "Of Discernment," a 2022 self-released single.

Leave it to Larry Mizell Jr. to scope out a song that’s on the verge of blowing up. While “Of Discernment” may be the sole single from up-and-coming artist dsrt flwr, it’s gotten some movement on Tik Tok which, whether you love or hate the clock app, is fast becoming the new medium for a new artist’s rise. It’s currently the sole place where I can find any information on dsrt flower, who uses her platform to speak on the issues she faces as a Muslim woman in America as well as share her music.

“Of Discernment” may be short, at only a minute and forty-six seconds but packs a punch with its truth-telling lyrcism and vibey down-tempo R&B flow. “What's it doin for me/ Will it make?/ All the suffering in life just fade away,” questions the Seattle-based artist before concluding. “If not then be well and/ Take it somewhere else/ If it's something that I need/ Then I can find it for myself.”

Read the full post on KEXP.org

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Aug 05, 2022
Bruno Berle - É Preciso Ter Amor
161

Bruno Berle -" É Preciso Ter Amor" from the 2022 album No Reino Dos Afetos on Far Out Recordings.

When Bruno Berle first quietly appeared in 2014, it was with the intimate MPB-folk solo record Arapiraca, Maceió, 2013, which garnered a decent amount of acclaim for seemingly coming out of nowhere. The Brazilian artist has a long musical history, first cutting his teeth in the soft-rock outfit Troco Em Bala and forming the "supergroup", The Mozões alongside fellow Alagoas artist Ítallo França. Most recently, Berle dropped No Reino Dos Afetos, which appears to be his first non-Bandcamp, *very official* release.

Unlike the softly strung releases before it, No Reino Dos Afetos sees Berle experiment with a number of genres including indie, bedroom pop, hip hop, and MPB but never loses the starry-eyed earnestness that Berle has mastered. Our Song of the Day, “É Preciso Ter Amor” closes out the record with a hazy vignette that’s mostly instrumental besides Berle’s reverberating echoed coos, like fading into a dream. “It’s an album that was built from my desire to find beauty”, Berle says and, indeed, he has.

Read the full story and watch the video for No Reino Dos Afetos track "Quero Dizer" at KEXP. org

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Aug 04, 2022
Σtella - Another Nation
162

Σtella - "Another Nation"from the 2022 album Up and Away on Sub Pop.

Greek artist Stella Chronopoulou (who records as Σtella, with a sigma) makes her Sub Pop Records debut with a collection of dreamy electro-pop influenced by her family's music collection of Greek folk-pop from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“Growing up I loved playing ‘Sousourada’ by Nikos Gounaris on my grandfather’s old gramophone. I was thrilled by Greek folk-pop artists like Grigoris Bithikotsis and the great Tzeni Vanou, as well as international artists like Tony Motolla and Julio Inglesias,” she says in a press statement; “Living in a close-knit community by the mountains and sea, I vaguely recall being woken by neighbouring shepherds’ sheep bells… everything back then was so pure and innocent!”

For her first LP, she teamed up with fellow Greek artist and producer Tom Calvert (aka Redinho). "Tom had a similar desire of creating a vintage sound," she continues. "Instantly stars aligned; I was time-traveling, singing songs as The Chiffons or The Crystals would.”

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Aug 03, 2022
Daphni - Cloudy
412

Daphni - "Cloudy" from the 2022 album  on Jiaolong.

Canadian composer Dan Snaith is perhaps best known as Caribou, but he shakes off his old "Daphni" moniker for today's Song of the Day. The title track from his forthcoming full-length is a joyful seven-minute hypnosis. 

He said in a press release, "The essence of this one is keeping it aloft — like occasionally nudging a balloon that’s only just heavier than air to keep it afloat. For something so buoyant, I’m surprised how much it bangs in a club."

Cherry will be released October 7th via Jiaolong. 

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Aug 02, 2022
George Riley - Sacrifice
275

George Riley - "Sacrifice," a 2022 single on PLZ Make It Ruins.

West London-based artist George Riley teams up with DJ/producer Vegyn for today's Song of the Day. Vegyn is best known for his work on Frank Ocean's Blonde and Endless, and brings that soulful sensibility to this dreamy slow jam. (He's also released it on his own PLZ Make It Ruins label.) 

The track serves as a sneak peek at her forthcoming full-length, Running In Waves, to be released on September 9th via Vegyn's aforementioned label. 

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Aug 01, 2022
Bryson The Alien - I'm Out (feat. Signe Baburin)
186

Bryson The Alien - "I'm Out (feat. Signe Baburin)," a 2022 single on PNKSLM.

Portland-based rapper/producer Bryson the Alien is about to break out in a big way with his forthcoming record The Great Adventures of Bryson the Alien. His debut with lauded Stockholm label PNKSLM is due out September 16th and sees the prolific artist and member of the SUMALIENZ and Unexplained Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) collectives utilize a long list of genres for one-of-a-kind sounds and textures.

Our Song of the Day, “I’m Out,” is evidence of this perfectly constructed genre smash. Sunny indie pop and Motown soul come together for a light and bouncy summer jam, while Bryson and his teenage Swedish collaborator Signe Barburin tell a darker tale of coming out of a dysfunctional relationship. Barburin’s melodic, almost childlike coos blend with Bryson’s soft and laid-back, near-whispered baritone rhymes in unexpected harmony. It’s a song whose elements don’t feel like they should work together, but somehow they absolutely do.

Read the full post at KEXP.org

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Jul 29, 2022
Elizabeth M. Drummond - Crisis
232

Elizabeth M. Drummond - "Crisis," a 2022 single on Young Poet.

While the idea of starting a band with your childhood friends that almost immediately breaks it big, tours the world, and even works with Aaron Dessner sounds like an absolute dream, the pressure can take a toll. That’s the simplified backstory behind Elizabeth M. Drummond's new path as a solo artist, after leaving the popular Australian indie folk band Little May. Her experiences and the overwhelming feelings that accompanied leaving the band are told through her recent singles “Crisis” and “Congratulations.”

Our Song of the Day, “Crisis,” is particularly gutting. While the instrumentation is light and lovely, the lyrics tell the story of someone who knows it's time to move on from painful past relationships but is having trouble sorting out who they are without them. “There’s a hurricane/ It’s in your eyes,” Drummond coos. “I don’t want to be a part of this thing anymore/ I’d rather run into a fire.”

Speaking of the song, Drummond had this to say:

"I wrote 'Crisis' when I had moved cities after leaving Little May and a long relationship. I felt like everything I ever identified with had just exploded in front of me. I also realised I had been living on auto-pilot for as long as I could remember, and that I had been ignoring what I actually wanted for my life. At this point, I had started to feel a huge amount of relief and humour in surrendering to the idea that things couldn’t get any worse. In many ways I felt like I had become 'no one,' and this started to become liberating. This song marks that time and those feelings for me."

Watch the video for “Crisis,” directed and edited by Richard Clifford, at KEXP.org

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Jul 28, 2022
Brimheim - can't hate myself into a different shape
219

Brimheim - “can't hate myself into a different shape” from the 2022 album can't hate myself into a different shape on W.A.S. Entertainment.

Copenhagen-based artist Helena Heinesen Rebensdorff chose Brimheim as her recording name, as a tribute to her roots in the Faroe Islands. The word translates to "home of the breaking waves," which gives a visual reference to her emotionally-rich alt-pop, and the musical rise-and-fall on today's dramatic Song of the Day. 

On her debut LP can’t hate myself into a different shape, Brimheim explores the topic of self love, inspired by her own experience with a "deep depression hole" she experienced during the pandemic. In an inspiring interview with Get In Her Ears, she says, "I felt like I’d been in this black muddy place, not able to see anything and kind of drowning, and then I slowly started emerging from that through this process of transforming these ideas into arrangements and recorded music with a structure. It was so life affirming."

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Jul 27, 2022
Alvvays - Pharmacist
126

Alvvays - "Pharmacist" from the 2022 album Blue Rev on Polyvinyl.

Canadian indie-pop quintet Alvvays return this fall with Blue Rev, despite numerous misfortunes that came before it. A thief stole a recorder full of demos from frontwoman Molly Rankin's apartment. The very next day, a basement flood nearly ruined all the band’s gear. On the plus side, they recruited two new band members — drummer Sheridan Riley and bassist Abbey Blackwell  — but, on the bummer side, COVID-related border closures prevented band rehearsals. 

But the band persevered to craft their most mature (and longest!) LP yet. Keyboardist Kerri MacLellan and guitarist Alec O’Hanley contributed more to the songwriting process this time, adding fresh perspectives to their melodic sound. 

Blue Rev is named for a "sugary alcoholic beverage Rankin and MacLellan used to drink as teens on rural Cape Breton," and the songs within express that sweet, dizzy, exuberant feeling. 

Blue Rev will be released October 7th via Polyvinyl, with an October 22nd date at The Moore Theatre in Seattle. 

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Jul 26, 2022
Stone Gossard and Ani DiFranco - Disorders
275

Stone Gossard and Ani DiFranco - "Disorders," a 2022 single on Loosegroove/Righteous Babe.

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard unearthed a six-year-old demo and teamed up with alt-folk icon Ani DiFranco for an anthem for abortion access. The music was composed by Gossard, along with Josh Evans, Skerik and Stanton Moore, with vocals and lyrics by DiFranco. All proceeds will be donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds, which aims "to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access by centering people who have abortions and organizing at the intersections of racial, economic, and reproductive justice."

"...Women in every Republican stronghold in this country are left treading in a sea of unnecessary suffering, just trying to keep their heads above water," DiFranco declared. "Poor women will be drowned by the score. That is why this track is a fundraiser for abortion access — to help women who don’t have resources but who desperately need abortions. I am so grateful for men like Stone, Skerik, Stanton — not just for the blessing of this track and the honor of being invited into it, but for actually seeing women in their full humanity and being willing to stand with them.”

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Jul 25, 2022
Mt Fog - Behind a Silent Door
227

Mt Fog - "Behind a Silent Door" from the 2022 self-released album Spells of Silence.

KEXP's own Jasmine Albertson spotlighted today's Song of the Day in her recent segment of Living Singles, introducing us to the gorgeous, melodic synth-pop of Mt. Fog, a project of local artist Carolyn B.

During a lonely time in Olympia, WA, living in a house with no internet, she began experimenting with making loops on her sister's old keyboard with a pirated version of Reason, she says in this interview with Tape Deck Podcast. She brings to Mt. Fog her previous experience as a classical violinist and as a member of a Slavic chorus who sang mostly traditional Bulgarian women’s music. The result is a unique sound she dubs ''forest folktronica'' on her Bandcamp page. Stay tuned for her upcoming sophomore LP, Spells of Silence.

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Jul 22, 2022
Courting - Tennis
242

Courting - "Tennis" a 2022 single on Play It Again Sam.

UK band Courting set the course with their 2020 single "Football" and the title track off last year's EP, Grand National. Now they return with another sporting track, the playful post-punk ode "Tennis," featuring frontman Sean Murphy-O’Neill talk-singing over a Krautrock beat. 

“‘Tennis’ is a paypig’s personal redemption narrative, set in “the city”, and told in two parts,” the band in a press release. “A twisted tale of two lovers’ back and forth, bound by cricket, bodybuilding, and money. A story as old as time.”

“We named the song 'Tennis' as a logical (but unrelated) sequel to our two previously released sports-related songs. To us, this felt like a natural ending to that idea. Dynamically, the second part of the song is supposed to represent a shift in tone for the character in which they realise their own worth and leave the situation that is set within the first part of the song.”

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Jul 21, 2022
Hello Mary - Looking Right Into the Sun
150

Hello Mary - "Looking Right Into the Sun" from the 2022 album Looking Right Into the Sun on Frenchkiss Records

Brooklyn trio Hello Mary continue their ascent with a recent signing to Frenchkiss Records. They followed the announcement with a melodically gritty new single, today's Song of the Day, which they say touches on the "general themes of feeling stuck and restricted by circumstances out of one’s control."

"For us specifically it relates to us having to practice as a band during COVID, not being able to play shows, and being stuck in the thick of writing songs out of a need to cope," they shared in a press release. "The main repeating line of the song ‘Looking Right Into the Sun,’ plays with the idea of confronting something with such duality — the sun is beautiful and mesmerizing yet looking directly at it will blind you — kind of like confronting a hard truth and turning it into a sick song."

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Jul 20, 2022
Jasmyn - Crystal Ball
244

Jasmyn - "Crystal Ball" from the 2022 album In the Wild on ANTI-

Having unraveled herself from the band Weaves, Toronto singer/songwriter Jasmyn Burke was ready to slow down. She moved from the city to the quiet of Hamilton, soaking in the outdoors and the serenity of Lake Ontario. Inspired by her surroundings, she decided to embark on a solo career under the name Jasmyn. She speaks to the experience in today's Song of the Day.

"“I was writing about being afraid of moving into the future but also getting excited by it," she said in a press release. "I knew that I had to change my life and follow my heart in order to evolve and be happy. I think I leaned on nature to do that. Staring at the sun go down, watching birds just float. Nature seems to move without regret or worry. I wanted to write about leaning on my intuition and charging forward into the future with what felt right. I was hit with fresh love and fresh air and a new beginning -- it was exciting. I think this song is about the concept of having a personal renaissance. Looking inward and finding that consistency for yourself even if it means letting go sometimes. Happiness is on the other side.”

Read the full story at KEXP.org

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Jul 19, 2022
Xenia Rubinos & El Individuo - Madrugada
169

Xenia Rubinos & El Individuo - "Madrugada" a 2022 single on ANTI-.

Last year's album, Una Rosa, was so fantastic, artist Xenia Rubinos is revisiting it with reimagined versions of those tracks. Last year's single "What Is This Voice?” has been reworked into today's Song of the Day, "Madrugada," adding guest vocalist, Cuban rapper El Individuo. She told Stereogum:

El Individuo had just arrived to NYC from Habana for the first time and came straight into this session without us ever having met and just blew us all away.

It feels like the thaw of Spring, like the last frost leaving, like the first flower buds starting to poke through. In the lyrics he talks about dawn and the mysterious vale of those hours right before the morning light hits. I added in a Rhodes line in post production at the end of the track that kind of reminded me of the melody that clocks play, “Westminster Quarters” and the main riff from Mt. Airy Groove by Pieces of a Dream. Creating this rework in a whirlwind cypher with this supergroup of musicians felt like opening a secret trap door we found in the original song.

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Jul 18, 2022
Alec Shaw - Spinning
248

 Alec Shaw - "Spinning" from the 2022 self-released album Quantity.

Seattle-based singer/songwriter Alec Shaw splashed onto the local scene in 2016 with the record Car Town, landing him a gig at famed venue Neumos and perking ears of those in the know as an artist to watch. Since then, Shaw’s subsequent records 2017's Uh Oh and the Oh Wells and 2019's Thinking Place led to KEXP’s own Marco Collins dubbing him one of the “Top 3 PNW artists he would sign immediately.”

Earlier this year, Shaw dropped his fourth record Quantity, recorded during the pandemic and produced by Andy Park (Death Cab For Cutie, Noah Gunderson, Macklemore). The six songs represent that moment in 2020 when life was slowed down and thus more time and effort could be spent in creating fully-realized projects.

“I didn't leave any song on that I was unsure of,” Shaw says of the album. “And because of this I'm thinking of naming the project Quantity as a testament to the thing I had to let go of during this trying time. In the past I would get caught up thinking more is better. ‘More money, more songs, more instruments, more shows, larger audiences.’”

Our Song of the Day, “Spinning,” is a clear highlight on a record already filled with highs. Led by twinkling pianos, soaring strings, and church choir-esque backing vocals, Shaw belts his heart out for the dynamic and emotionally charged track. It’s one you’ll definitely want to spin endlessly.

Alec Shaw will be playing the Sunset Tavern on Saturday, July 30th. Read the full piece and watch a gorgeous live performance of “Spinning” recorded at Studio X Seattle at KEXP.org.

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Jul 15, 2022
Banditos - Here Tonight
199

Banditos - "Here Tonight" from the 2022 album Right On on Egghunt Records.

Birmingham-born, now Nashville-based six-piece Banditos initially started over a decade ago as a searing honky tonk band that bled only the most American of sounds integrating pedal steel, bango, upright bass, and even kazoo for a delightfully scrappy sound. With nearly seven years since their self-titled sophomore record and 2022’s Right On, the country rock band has refined their sound for something decidedly adult and yet no less energetic.

Our Song of the Day, “Here Tonight,” is an excellent representation of this new era for Banditos, with Mary Beth Richardson taking on the role of lead singer which was a good call because the girl has got pipes! Stephen Pierce, initially the band’s banjo player, has also stepped in for bassist duty and the complex strutting rhythmic structure of “Here Tonight” proves that was yet another good call.

Striking the line between sad and hopeful, the song follows a couple of bar patrons drunkenly reminiscing over mistakes and memories, finding comfort in shared errors and repeated plays of singular songs. Mary, as our narrator, helps to quell their haunted hearts with the chorus of, “Life is a drag and then you die /Sometimes, baby, you gotta get high /There ain't no mountain too rugged to climb /Live for today 'cause you're here tonight.”

Watch the video for "Here Tonight" and read the full article at KEXP.org.

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Jul 14, 2022
Kevin Morby - A Random Act of Kindness
253

Kevin Morby - "A Random Act of Kindness," from the 2022 album This is a Photograph on Dead Oceans

With today's Song of the Day, Kevin Morby aims to explore the duality of language on this impassioned piece of Americana. He explains in a press release:

In ‘A Random Act Of Kindness’ I set out to write a song where each line could be interpreted in two completely different ways. For example; when I sing the words ’out of trust…’ it could be heard as either I have lost my sense of trust in something or that I am committing an act with trust as my motive. It’s a song about the menacing nature of the sun rising during a dark time in one’s life only to further illuminate their pain and suffering – and how during these periods it is often the selfless acts of strangers that keeps a person going.

Sonically I am so proud and surprised by where we ended up with this one. Producer Sam Cohen and I had set out to make a sort of windows-down-mid-tempo-cruiser and somehow, with weeks of exploration, made a sonic rocket ship that shoots you out into outer space over the course of 4 minutes. Enjoy!

Morby returns to Seattle on November 11th, playing The Showbox.

Read the full story at KEXP.org

 

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Jul 13, 2022
Wild Pink - Q. Degraw
371

Wild Pink - "Q. Degraw," a 2022 single on Royal Mountain.

Wild Pink – a New York-based group led by John Ross – reflect on the experience of burnout in today's Song of the Day. He's joined by guest vocalist Catherine Vianale of Winded on this six-minute long, heavy, expansive —  yet ultimately uplifting — track. 

“This song is about my experiences with some health problems and how an extremely stressful situation can sharpen your focus on what’s important in life," he shared in a press release. "It’s also about how that stress can sometimes cause you to dissociate from yourself.”

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Jul 12, 2022
Panda Riot - Extra Cosmic
284

Panda Riot - "Extra Cosmic" from the 2022 self-released album Extra Cosmic.

Not only do Chicago quartet Panda Riot tap into My Bloody Valentine's Loveless by sharing the same hot pink color on the album artwork to their fourth LP, Extra Cosmic, they also capture that dreamy shoegaze sound with their soaring, swooning guitars. (I'm also detecting a nod to the Cocteau Twins' Heaven or Las Vegas with the purple/pink theme.) Frontwoman Rebecca Scott's girlish voice is way higher in the mix than MBV though, which is a very good thing! Today's Song of the Day is a dream-pop delight with Beach House synth vibes layered throughout.

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Jul 11, 2022
Khingz - Fort Cash Money
171

Khingz - "Fort Cash Money" from the 2022 album Over The World on OTOW/ freshcutflowers.

Khingz has long been an influential force in the Seattle hip hop scene, with the crowning achievement of Best MC of the Year in 2009 according to Seattle Weekly for his groundbreaking record From Slaveships to Spaceships. A powerful collaborator, Khingz has worked with Geologic of Blue Scholars, Macklemore, and KEXP’s own Gabriel Teodros in the hip-hop supergroup Good Medicine, with B-Flat and Crispy of Godspeed as the trio Hi-Life Soundsystem, and, once again, with Teodros as well as rapper Nam under the project The Livin Yard. His latest single and our Song of the Day reiterates Khingz’ affinity for collaboration.

Over a twinkling piano line and vibrant high hats, Khingz waxes poetic about his desire to bring up the people around him and the power and importance of doing so in “Fort Cash Money.” “Please God make me useful for those I love,” Khingz pleads. “I just wanna be the plug /I just wanna bring them power.”

The song comes from Khingz’ latest full-length and first in 13 years, Over the World, released last month. Khingz will be playing the Clock Out Lounge on July 23rd for the latest installment of The Good Foot alongside notable names such as the aforementioned Geologic and Grynch.

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Jul 08, 2022
Mejiwahn - Heart String Special (feat. Liv.e)
160

Mejiwahn - "Heart String Special (feat. Liv.e)" from the 2022 album BEANNA on Hot Record Societe.

Mejiwahn, who previously recorded under the name Art Vandelay (which personally I love greatly as someone finally watching Seinfeld in whole), is a bit of a mystery. Like the fictional character that George makes up in a job interview, there are few photos, quotes, or general living artifacts to prove that Mejiwahn exists. And yet, the producer is a very real and influential musician in the Oakland scene.

Our Song of the Day, “Heart String Special” was the third single to drop from his latest Beanna full-length, which dropped this week. Featuring Dallas R&b chanteuse Liv.e on vocals, the two create a sunny, sultry downtempo summer jam that’s loose and free like we all should be during these few summer months. Made for the sunsets and sunrises, the comedowns or the comeups, it’s a perfect accompaniment to getting grounded.

If I may steal from the Quietus’ review of Beanna, Mejiwahn, “Worked with R&B-jazz singer-songwriter Liv.e on her 2020 debut Couldn’t Wait to Tell You. Like that record, Beanna finds its strength in the fluidity of soundscapes, with lo-fi beatmaking and production, psychedelic backdrops and cinematic instrumentals all contributing to this nomadic and meandering feel.” Sometimes other writers just say it perfectly.

Read the full story on KEXP.org

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Jul 07, 2022
FKJ - Greener (feat. Santana)
234

FKJ - "Greener (feat. Santana)" from the 2022 album V I N C E N T on Mom + Pop.

How do you get legendary guitar virtuoso Carlos Santana to perform on one of your songs? Well, according to multi-instrumentalist FKJ (that's short for French Kiwi Juice, but his real name is Vincent Fenton), you just need to ask nicely. As he explains in a press release, "I told him I would listen to the radio as a young boy, in the days before Spotify, waiting for his song 'Smooth' to come on so I could tape it, and that he plays his instrument like it has its own language and it speaks to me. I just didn’t think he’d end up saying he’d be happy to play on my track."

Santana himself had this to say about their soulful jam: “It is a joy to collaborate and share music with my brother Vincent (FKJ) on ‘Greener.’ Together we have painted a canvas of color, texture and musicality that we know will bring you courage and a deep awareness of your own light and life. Once that happens, there’s no division, separation, or fear. It’s just joy.” 

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Jul 06, 2022
Xênia França - Ancestral Infinito
228

Xênia França - "Ancestral Infinito" from the 2022 self-released album Em Nome da Estrela.

Straight out of the gate, Brazilian artist Xênia França scored two Latin Grammy nominations for her 2018 debut album, Xênia, and the single “Pra Que Me Chamas?” 

She returns with her self-released sophomore effort, Em Nome da Estrela, which translates to "in the name of the star." França expands on the rich influence of her homeland (she even covers a song by tropicália pioneer Gilberto Gil), bringing a sultry R&B vibe with a touch of psychedelia. 

She writes on her Facebook, "I hope this album can take everyone on an enlightened journey, full of love and access their ancestral technological power." 

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Jul 05, 2022
Coco Peila - Remember
208

Coco Peila - "Remember" from the 2022 Whose World? (The New Normal) EP on Miss Behave Records/La Vida Diosa Publishing.

With her latest EP, Whose World? (The New Normal), Bay Area-based MC, singer-songwriter, and producer Coco Peila continues to use music as a platform to speak on causes she feels passionately about. (Her last KEXP Song of the Day spoke out against outdated beauty norms.) This new release is described as a "Hip Hop and Climate Justice audio-visual initiative," presented by BlackGold Movement and developed as a part of Creative Wildfire, "a collaborative call to action from frontline communities, represented by Climate Justice Alliance, New Economy Coalition, and Movement Generation."

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Jul 04, 2022
Supercrush - Perfect Smile
231

Supercrush - Perfect Smile - from the 2022 self-released Melody Maker EP.

While Seattle power pop band Supercrush have technically been a band since 2013, they only just released their debut LP Debt Offensive in 2019. With time to makeup, the band, led by veteran hardcore, punk, and metal musician Mark Palm, quickly followed that up with SODO Pop in 2020 and just dropped the EP Melody Maker in early June via Supercrush’s own KR Records. Made up of five soaringly sweet hook-laden songs, the EP is tailor-made for the sunny days that have finally emerged, including our Song of the Day “Perfect Smile.”

In America, we put high precedence on good teeth. And, unfortunately, it usually takes money in order to acquire perfect teeth. “Perfect Smile,” delves into how easy it is for one who does not have them to fall fast and hard for someone who does. Perhaps, the love interest has other qualities that their narrator also loves but it’s the one quality of obsession that comes into play here. While we could admonish them for their admiration for something that most people can only control to a limited extent, who doesn’t love an incredible smile?

Supercrush are currently in the middle of a US tour, with a tour-ending hometown show in Seattle on Saturday, July 16th at the Vera Project. Watch the visualizer for “Perfect Smile” at the link below.

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Jul 01, 2022
Penelope Isles - Play It Cool (Alt Mix)
275

Penelope Isles - Play It Cool (Alt Mix) - a 2022 single on Bella Union.

It’s a family affair for Penelope Isles, the sibling songwriting duo of Lily and Jack Wolter, who have channeled the energy of their UK homeland the Isle of Man for some seriously dreamy sounds over the course of two records. Now based in Brighton, their latest record, 2021’s Which Way To Happy, sees the band recruit the help of Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor, and Hannah Feenstra to fill out their expansive soundscapes for an intoxicating leap forward.

Still, a lot of those sounds aren’t exactly accurate to what the band is playing on tour which is why they decided to re-imagine a few of those songs and release them as alternate mixes. Our Song of the Day (and third from Penelope Isles) is the alternate mix of stand-out track “Play It Cool.” Slightly stripped down but no less gorgeous, bouncy, and effervescent, the song only builds excitement to see the band deliver the songs on stage. This is what they had to say about the single:

“We have been working on how to re-imagine songs from Which Way To Happy for our festival shows this summer…. Play It Cool seemed to fall into place a lot easier than others… maybe because we stripped a lot of things away that are in the album version, so we felt that it would be ‘cool’ to re-mix and create an alternative version, where the arrangement and sonics are more like how we are doing it live. Everything is pretty hard panned in the stereo mix, so the drums are on one side and the bass on the other. It’s kind of fun to pan to one side and isolate things. Inspired by those early Byrds and Beatles mixes.”

Penelope Isles is currently on tour behind Which Way To Happy but, unfortunately, currently solely in Europe and the UK. Watch their 2019 KEXP in-studio performance at the link below while we eagerly wait for them to hop the pond.

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Jun 30, 2022
Oceanator - Beach Days (Alive Again)
246

Oceanator - "Beach Days (Alive Again)" from the 2022 album Nothing's Ever Fine on Big Scary Monsters.

"By the ocean /

Is where i wanna be /

When this all comes to an end"

On her 2020 debut album Things I Never Said, Brooklyn-based songwriter Oceanator (real name: Elise Okusami) pondered the apocalypse against grungy guitars and Green Day-inspired pop/punk. On her follow-up LP Nothing’s Ever Fine, she continues to explore similar themes... except on today's Song of the Day.

“I feel like summer is supposed to be the good times,” she told Under the Radar. “I wanted to write some songs about some of the good parts of life, and a lot of those are — for me at least — in the summer.”

Her sophomore full-length was co-produced by Bartees Strange and her brother, Mike Okusami, who each brought their musical expertise to the table. “Bartees and Michael both have this really extensive knowledge of sound and gear,” she explained. “So, it was extremely helpful to be able to translate what I was saying into sounds. Maybe I could have gotten some of the sounds on my own, but it would have taken like 10 years.”

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Jun 29, 2022
Camilla Munck - Blessed Be
236

Camilla Munck - "Blessed Be" from the 2021 album Aeon on Moondrop Records.

Danish artist Camilla Munck began with a background in soundtracks and sound design. On her debut album AEON, she taps into these skills for an emotive, atmospheric experience. On her Facebook page, she describes today's Song of the Day as "a song about finding oneself in and outside communities. to dare step in and out of them. about following oneself, following one's curiosity. and about finding peace in the movement."

Read the full post on KEXP.org

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Jun 28, 2022
Confidence Man - Holiday
288

Confidence Man - "Holiday" from the 2022 album TILT on Heavenly Recordings/[PIAS].

With today's Song of the Day, Australian electro-pop duo Confidence Man aim to make the party last forever.

“We’ve been trying for the most epic, hands up, euphoric anthem for a while and this is the first time we’ve come close… Turns out it’s pretty difficult, but nothing’s too hard for Con Man,” said vocalist Sugar Bones.

His bandmate Janet Planet added: “No one tells Confidence Man what to do. Who said a Holiday can’t last forever? Spend big and live free, that’s our motto. And it can be yours too. A vacation is just sunburn at premium prices but a holiday is a state of mind.”

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Jun 27, 2022
Beautiful Freaks - CROCODILE
210

Beautiful Freaks - "CROCODILE," a 2022 single on Scream Queen Records.

Constantly evolving in their sound, Beautiful Freaks has always been a band built more on energy and experimentation than a specific genre tag. Formed in 2013, Peter Bryson and James Bonaci came together over their love for metal, jazz & punk. Their 2018 debut Cameo Artist was hardcore glam at its most frenzied and visceral but the former Bellingham band now resides in Seattle and is entering the next phase of their evolution with the recently released singles “Slugs” and “Crocodile.”

More refined and vocally driven than their prior work, “Crocodile” features Meg Hall shining on lead vocals to tell the story of a not-so-good guy that meets his demise. The angular hooks, spacey guitar wails, and unique time signature make the song some sort of math rock/psychedelic/post punk hybrid and an exciting new direction for the queer & trans band.

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Jun 24, 2022
Chainsaw Girl - Chainsaw Girl
259

Chainsaw Girl - "Chainsaw Girl"  from the 2021 self-released Chainsaw Girl EP.

Portland’s Chainsaw Girl were brought together with a combination of fate and Yu-Gi-Oh. Guitarists Manny Ruiz and Kei Iguchi met at a conference for the Japanese manga series in 2016 and found their common interests spanned beyond Yu-Gi-Oh and into a deep love for music. Vocalist Cricket Greene was later asked to join after their loud and constant singing could be heard through Iguchi’s walls. With the rest of the crew found either through Craigslist or mutual friends, their self-described “Boring Dystopia-core” band was complete.

While very far from boring, finding a better label for the band is difficult. Pulling from a wide range of influences including Title Fight, Joyce Manor, J-rock bands like Number Girl and Polka Dot Stingray, Bay Area DIY bands such as Pllush and Pardener, as well as Mitski, Hayley Williams, and Caroline Polachek as vocal inspirations, Chainsaw Girl straddle the line somewhere between vulnerable indie rock and harder punk.

Our Song of the Day is the eponymous opening track off their self-titled EP which implies it to be Chainsaw Girl’s manifesto. “Chainsaw Girl / Never learned to play guitar,” howls Greene in the opening line. Iguchi describes the song as “an experiment in abstract character development through lyrics.” Each bandmate wrote their part in separation and brought them together, creating a full and diverse picture of who each bandmate considers the character of Chainsaw Girl to be.

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Jun 23, 2022
Ethel Cain - Hard Times
303

Ethel Cain - Hard Times - from the 2022 album Preacher's Daughter on Daughters of Cain Records

The album title Preacher's Daughter is on point for 24-year-old artist Ethel Cain. Raised and home-schooled in a tight-knit Southern Baptist community where her father served as deacon and her mother sang in the church choir, Cain (legal name: Hayden Silas Anhedönia after a name-change at age 20) struggled against her conservative upbringing. At the age of 12, she came out as gay to her mom, and was sent to religious therapy. “My therapist was the first person in my whole life to ever tell me I wasn’t going to hell,” she told the New York Times. “I guess she didn’t understand the assignment.”

On her debut album, she explores the gothic Americana of her southern roots, with dark lyrics tapping into her difficult adolescence and love of horror films. “I love overkill — I’m nothing if not dramatic,” Cain continued. “It’s over-the-top American melodrama, it’s Thelma & Louise and the most ridiculous, psychotic, psychedelic things.”

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Jun 22, 2022
Dreamer Isioma - Dream Girl
91

Dreamer Isioma - Dream Girl - from the 2022 album Goodnight Dreamer on Dreamer Isioma/AWAL.

Goodnight Dreamer may be the debut album for 21-year-old Nigerian-American artist Dreamer Isioma, but it's hardly their first foray into music. 

“Well, it started before birth,” Isioma told the Chicago Tribune, revealing their parents enrolled them in Mommy & Me music classes before they were even out of the womb. “Basically, my parents had a plan. They’re like, this child is either gonna do music or be an athlete or both.” 

Their parents' dream was realized with Isioma's soulful, genre-defying first release. “I think that people will also see themselves in my writing, which is what I’m most excited about," they shared with NME. “I make music for people who aren’t like everyone else, or who are just trying to find themselves and figure out what’s going on with [them] or the world around them. And hopefully, that’s what people hear.”

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Jun 21, 2022
Tasha - Perfect Wife
218

Tasha - Perfect Wife - from the 2021 album Tell Me What You Miss The Most on Father/Daughter Records.

With her sophomore full-length Tell Me What You Miss The Most, Chicago-based singer/songwriter Tasha invites the listener to nestle in to each track, allowing yourself to be enveloped by the warmth and light. "These are swaying songs," she says of the swoonful new release. “I was inspired by a distance I felt from myself,” she continues in a press release, “the writing was kind of born from this desire to get back to an intimacy, or honesty, with myself.” 

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Jun 20, 2022
Erik Blood - Or Am I Wrong?
229

Musician, producer, sound engineer, and all-around creative force Erik Blood is known for a lot of things - one-half of Knife Knights alongside Ishmael Butler, his recent funkified sensual project Pink Lotion with Rachel Ferguson, Black Constellation all-star contributor, and a solo artist in his own right. Something you may have missed was his 2011 foray into music soundtracking which saw the multi-hyphenate write an album’s worth of original music for the Brazilian film Center of Gravity.

Without having even seen the movie, the haunting soundtrack Blood created tells a powerful story on its own, full of tender longing and heartwrenching aching. The description of the film describes it as dealing with, “universal questions about love and our expectations toward the beloved, the thin line that simultaneously divides and unites one another.”

Our Song of the Day, “Or Am I Wrong?” expresses that extremely thin line as our narrator questions their ex’s ability to move on while they’re still so hopelessly entrenched in the memory of their shared past. Backed by a spaghetti-western-esque beat that pairs perfectly with our narrator’s cinema-sized reimagining of past love, the song was made for the widescreen. With lyrics like “That place we were /Can we ever go back /This fear of me being phased out /Or instantly replaced is just so strong,” it’s easy to imagine a montage of loving moments past or rain pouring down a protagonists head as they stare at their ex-love’s window.

For the full lowdown on Erik Blood, listen KEXP’s episode on him for our Fresh Off the Spaceship podcast which delves into the boundless world of the Black Constellation. Below, watch Erik Blood's KEXP in-studio performance from 2016.

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Jun 17, 2022
Toro Y Moi - The Loop
242

In April, Chaz Bear dropped the seventh studio album from his constantly evolving project Toro y Moi titled Mahal. One of his jammier records, Mahal veers heavily towards psych-funk and features a hefty list of contributors including Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Neilson, Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo, visual artist and musician Sofie Royer, and jazz duo the Mattson 2.

Our Song of the Day is the breezy track and early single “The Loop.” Led by a funky bassline and a meandering guitar, the song slowly ambles while Bear mellowly muses on the trappings of modern life in the digital age where it’s imperative to stay up to date. “East Coast friends fill me in, I know you get the early scoop,” Bear croons. “Online trends that border cringe start to feel overused."

The video for the song follows Bear and his friends over the course of a pretty incredible day in San Francisco where the squad skateboards, rolls through the streets in go-carts and jeepneys, and has one heck of a meal at FOB Kitchen in Oakland. Watch the video below and catch Toro y Moi on Saturday, July 23rd at Capitol Hill Block Party.

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Jun 16, 2022
Poppy Ajudha - MOTHERS SISTERS GIRLFRIENDS
223

Poppy Ajudha - MOTHERS SISTERS GIRLFRIENDS - from the 2022 self-released album THE POWER IN US

On her debut album The Power In UsPoppy Ajudha displays just that: a fearless force-of-nature, with songs about feminism, colonialism, gender politics, mental health, and other social issues on her mind. Today's Song of the Day, in particular, is a call to action for women's rights. 

"Women don’t have to be just what they are taught to be," she emphasizes, via a press release. "There is so much more to us than Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Girlfriends and our relation to men. I want men to engage more heavily in feminism and really see how their defiance against it only holds both women and men back. There are so many boxes we put ourselves in; I want us all to break out of them."

The South London-born artist adds, "Every song on this album touches on these issues because they are all I think about everyday, all I see around me in my friends and my family. I hope it flips a switch in your mind, like it did for mine.” 

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Jun 15, 2022
Sampa the Great - Lane (feat. Denzel Curry)
162

Sampa the Great - Lane (feat. Denzel Curry) - a 2022 single on Loma Vista.

Today's Song of the Day finds Zambian-born, Botswana-raised artist Sampa The Great taking up some well-deserved space, alongside guest vocalist and fellow rapper Denzel Curry. “We’re not going to stay in one lane, we’re going to create multiple ones,” she said in a press statement. “My truest self encourages me to explore different lanes, and go beyond what I think I know of myself.”

She adds that the song is “about expressing the full range of who you are without being boxed by anyone else’s definitions of you. Connecting to your younger self means connecting to your truest self, and that truest self is not confined by any labels and any boxes. ‘Lane’ is about breaking those boxes, and staying true to yourself.”

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Jun 14, 2022
Alabaster DePlume - I’m Good at Not Crying
204

Alabaster DePlume - I'm Good at Not Crying - from the 2022 album GOLD on International Anthem.

Quirkiness is in the cards with a nom de plume like Alabaster DePlume. The London-based poet/songwriter (real name: Gus Fairbairn) has just released his cheekily-titled sophomore album, Gold, a 2xLP collection, captured chaotically. During the 2020 recording sessions, DePlume invited a different set of musicians each day to record the same songs at the same speed. Two rules were in place: one, that musicians wouldn’t be given enough time to rehearse, and two, that they wouldn’t listen back to the music they recorded. “They didn’t have enough preparation to be able to hide behind this piece of material or skill,” he said via his Bandcamp. “They had to look up and respond to each other, and that’s what we've recorded.”

DePlume then took the recordings, slicing them together seamlessly. “The method is part of the mission. It wasn’t like school. We had mayhem. We were having fun. That’s the story and the process – and I want to live that way,” he adds.

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Jun 13, 2022
Hollis - Burn Burn
197

Hollis - Burn Burn - a 2022 single on AntiFragile Music.

After years as a supporting artist for artists like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and bands like The Flavr Blue, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Hollis (full name: Hollis Wong-Wear) is front and center on her solo album debut Subliminal, out now via Anti Fragile.

"It’s an opportunity for me to sonically chart the spectrum of feelings," she shared in a press release, "from existential angst and the tension of our historical moment, to meditative reflection, to uninhibited joy, that was evoked during the pandemic and into today. I’m so happy to offer this album to the world in hopes that it can provide a space of healing and resonance the way that writing the songs did for me.”

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Jun 10, 2022
Zola Jesus - The Fall
244

Zola Jesus - The Fall - from the 2022 album Arkhon on Sacred Bones.

Zola Jesus returns with her sixth full-length later this month titled Arkhon. The artist, whose real name is Nika Roza Danilova, explains that the title translates to "power" or "ruler" in ancient Greek.

"Arkons are a Gnostic idea of power wielded through a flawed god," Danilova elaborated via a press release. "They taint and tarnish humanity, keeping them corrupted instead of letting them find their harmonious selves. I do feel like we are living in an arkhonic time; these negative influences are weighing extremely heavy on all of us. We're in a time of arkhons. There's power in naming that." 

Today's Song of the Day taps into that power. "I wrote ‘The Fall’ for myself," she said. "It was an exercise in using music as a tool for the sake of my own inner catharsis. I had a lot of turmoil and complicated emotions that I couldn’t process in any other way. I suppose some feelings require you to write a pop song in order to fully understand them. For that reason, this song is very precious to me."

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Jun 09, 2022
The Heavy Heavy - Miles and Miles
243

The Heavy Heavy - Miles and Miles - from the 2022 album Life and Life Only on ATO.

Brighton, UK-based duo The Heavy Heavy channel the sun-drenched sound of the '60s with today's Song of the Day.

“‘Miles and Miles’ is about driving across the country, trying to get from place to place — free and easy but with real energy and motion," band member Georgie Fuller said in a press release. "It was inspired by the landscapes of Easy Rider and Vanishing Point and this fantasy of racing down the highway. It’s fuel for the listeners’ imagination — whatever that may be. For the music video we wanted to create that feeling, and we were inspired by clips of the Stones and the Beatles on roadsides in the ’60s. It’s sun-soaked and fast-paced, and we wanted it to feel like a dream."

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Jun 08, 2022
Porridge Radio - The Rip
176

Porridge Radio - "The Rip" from the 2022 album Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky on Secretly Canadian.

Right before the pandemic shut the world down, Brighton band Porridge Radio dropped Every Bad, their first record on Secretly Canadian that would go on to receive a Mercury Prize nomination as well as a generous amount of airplay on KEXP. While not technically the first album under the Porridge Radio moniker, it felt like an introduction to the band, who blended UK post-punk with anthemic indie rock for a uniquely cathartic sound.

Last month, they released the follow-up Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky which broadens Porridge Radio’s sound without giving up any of their defining characteristics. Our Song of the Day is “The Rip” which is led by soaring synths and roaring guitars, as the song slowly builds and bursts. Frontperson Dana Margolin had this to say about the song:

“‘The Rip’ was the last song to be finished for the album, and we finished it about a week before we went into the studio to record it in March 2021. We wanted it to sound like massive pop, like Charli XCX, but with the instrumentation of bands like Slothrust or Deftones. It took the longest a song has ever taken me to write lyrics for, and they took form over a few years. At the beginning it was a song about a power dynamic where I was in control, by the end it was about one where I had none. My friends always accuse me of making up idioms and using them like they are well known phrases and I think this song is full of those. I love the idea of something being sick at the seams, like it’s disintegrating from its core. I like things that are so simple they are universal. I wanted it to sound like when your heart breaks so badly that your entire body aches. I wanted it to feel like your soul is dropping out of your body.”

The song comes with a video directed by Margolin’s sister Ella which mimics the intensity of the song with Margolin furiously running on a treadmill while menacing figures in papier-mâché masks envelope her. Watch the video at the link below and catch Porridge Radio in Seattle on Tuesday, September 13th at Barboza.

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Jun 07, 2022
Julia Jacklin - Lydia Wears A Cross
242

Julia Jacklin - "Lydia Wears A Cross" from the 2022 album Pre Pleasure on Polyvinyl.

Four years after charming the socks off of us with her 2018 record Crushing, Julia Jacklin is finally releasing its anticipated follow-up. Titled Pre Pleasure, the record was conceived upon returning home at the end of a mammoth Crushing world tour and finished in a frantic few months of recording in Montreal.

Our Song of the Day is the lead single and opening track off the record, “Lydia Wears a Cross.” Harkening back to her Catholic upbringing, a young Jacklin struggles with an understanding of what she’s being fed while deeply enjoying the pageantry of the church. “I'd be a believer /If it was all just song and dance,” she sings on the chorus. In a statement, Jacklin describes the song like this:

“The song is about a lot of things but mainly being a 7yr old Jesus Christ superstar fanatic attending catholic school trying to figure out which way is up. The music video was filmed by my constant collaborator and friend Nick Mckk at Splitpoint lighthouse. I played a show close by recently and asked on stage if anyone could let me film inside. Someone in the crowd knew a guy and that was it. The rest was filmed in the streets of Northcote, Melbourne.”

Pre Pleasure was recorded in Montreal with co-producer Marcus Paquin (The Weather Station, The National) and finds Jacklin teamed with her Canada-based touring band, bassist Ben Whiteley and guitarist Will Kidman, both of Canadian folk outfit The Weather Station. It also introduces drummer Laurie Torres, saxophonist Adam Kinner and string arrangements by Owen Pallett (Arcade Fire) recorded by a full orchestra in Prague.

Jacklin will be embarking on a US tour this August, with a date in Seattle on Friday, September 30th at the Crocodile. Watch her incredible KEXP in-studio performance from 2019 at the link below.

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Jun 06, 2022
These Arms Are Snakes - Camera Shy
242

These Arms Are Snakes - "Camera Shy" from the 2022 album Duct Tape & Shivering Crows on Suicide Squeeze.

Thirteen years after the unceremonious breakup of post-hardcore outfit These Arms Are Snakes, the Seattle band have released the double LP Duct Tape & Shivering Crows. While it’s not made up of entirely new material, the record gives a thorough overview of the band’s expansive experimentations over their seven-year run.

Our Song of the Day is the track “Camera Shy.” Originally released on their 2008 split-LP with Chicago’s Russian Circles, the song utilizes a crisp, throbbing rhythm section as a platform for Ryan Frederiksen to lay his always-intense spacey yowls.

Following These Arms Are Snakes’ reunion shows in Seattle last August, the quartet is hitting the road for a run of five dates in Denver, Chicago, Brooklyn, Oakland, and Los Angeles starting in June. Watch the visualizer for “Camera Shy” at the link below.

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Jun 03, 2022
Introducing "The Runcast with John Richards"
43

We believe that everyone who runs should have a great soundtrack. Not one curated by an algorithm, but one that’s hand-picked by a DJ who runs too. The Runcast with John Richards brings you a dynamic mix of music and inspiration to keep you company and motivate you on your run, no matter what your level.

Subscribe to KEXP's The Runcast with John Richards, wherever you podcast, and enjoy new episodes every two weeks, June 3 - October 7, 2022.

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Jun 03, 2022
Kraus - Anyone
143

Kraus - "Anyone" from the 2022 album Eye Escapes on Mutual Skies.

Will Kraus has been releasing his unique brand of caustic shoegaze under his surname since 2016. Since then, the Dallas musician has released four records, with his latest being 2022’s Eye Escapes. A collection of recordings from 2016 - 2021, primarily from a lost album between Path and View No Country, the 11 tracks were mastered by the legendary Sacramento-based producer Blank Body, who also recently dropped a new record - his first in five years.

Our Song of the Day, “Anyone,” is another excellent addition to Kraus’ discography of lush, dissonant sounds. Anchored by heavy distortion, his soft vocals float angelically yet indecipherably over the semi-caustic soundscapes.

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Jun 02, 2022
The Hunt - I Can’t Stand
228

The Hunt - "I Can’t Stand (Zola Jesus cover)" from the 2022 album Todo Muere SBXV on Sacred Bones.

This year, Brooklyn-based label Sacred Bones Records celebrates its 15th anniversary, and to commemorate this occasion, they've devoted the latest volume of their annual Todo Muere compilation to artists on their roster covering other artists on their roster. 

And who better to reunite for this release than The Hunt? The post-punk duo helped launch the label with their very first release, a 7" single from the band. While both band members — Jasper McGandy & Christian Kount — have sinced moved on to join Cult of Youth, they've reconvened to cover labelmate Zola Jesus for this special release.  

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Jun 01, 2022
Automatic - Skyscraper
238

Automatic - "Skyscraper" from the 2022 album Excess on Stones Throw.

Los Angeles trio Automatic tap into consumerism on their latest single, “Skyscraper,” channeling a materialistic yuppie type, obsessed with consumer culture.

“It’s about spending your life making money and then spending it to fill the void created by said job,” explained bassist/vocalist Halle Saxon, with bandmate Lola Dompé cheekily adding, "Kind of like going to LA to live your dreams." 

The track will be released on their forthcoming full-length Excess, out June 24th. Automatic plays Seattle on September 10th and 11th, opening for Osees at Neumos.

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May 31, 2022
Working Men's Club - Circumference
229

Working Men’s Club - Circumference from the 2022 album Fear Fear on Heavenly Recordings.

UK quartet Working Men’s Club return with their sophomore full-length Fear Fear, to be released July 15th via Heavenly Recordings. Like their first album, Ross Orton (The Fall, Arctic Monkeys) provides production talents; unlike that debut LP, the band have evolved their post-punk sound in a more new wave, synth-heavy direction, providing a stark contrast to their lyrical approach this time around. 

“The first album was mostly a personal documentation lyrically, this is a blur between personal and a third-person perspective of what was going on.” says frontman and songwriter Syd Minsky-Sargeant, in a press release. “I like the contrast of it being happy, uplifting music and really dark lyrics. It’s not a minimal record, certainly compared to the first one. That’s because there’s been a lot more going on that needed to be said.”

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May 30, 2022
MALIA - Undone
169

MALIA - "Undone" from the 2022 album What's After 'I Love You?' on MALIA/Black Sea Music.

Seattle-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter MALIA recently unveiled her latest set of soulful R&B tunes with What’s After ‘I Love You.’ Following her 2021 debut Unpolished, the vulnerable album examines a past relationship in the wake of immense heartbreak.

Our Song of the Day is the record’s closer “Undone,” in which MALIA comes to terms with the fact that the relationship is now forever changed and even when her ex asks her to come over, it won’t be the same for her. The damage is done and the magic gone so it’s time to focus on putting herself back together piece-by-piece.

“This is the most vulnerable I’ve ever been in my writing and it makes me feel so exposed to share but also empowered because the growth I experienced through this intense pain created the best version of me yet,” MALIA told American Songwriter about the new EP. “Sharing these songs with the world forces me to continue to remain open and live from a place of love over fear. I hope my story reminds people that moments of darkness however painful, actually hold our hand and help us elevate.”

This summer, MALIA will be supporting Corrine Bailey Rae on tour with a stop in Seattle on Sunday, July 17th at the Moore Theatre. Below, watch the visual for What’s After ‘I Love You’ highlight “Only One.”

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May 27, 2022
Jelly Cleaver - Cosmovisions
367

Jelly Cleaver - "Cosmovisions," a 2022 single on Jelly's Jams.

London musician Jelly Cleaver’s otherworldly take on jazz by utilizing her DIY/punk scene influences and integrating political activism within her work makes the century and half year-old genre something entirely new. A recipient of the coveted Steve Reid Innovation Award, a grant that funds outstanding emerging artists of which Nubya Garcia and Moses Boyd have also been recipients, Cleaver is on a clear path towards greatness.

Our Song of the Day, “Cosmovisions,” is direct evidence of that. The massive track feels like a constantly evolving organism, with layers of bass, keys, strings, flute, and sax flowing and cascading over each other to extraordinary effect. This track was inspired by Arturo Escobar's book Designs for the Pluriverse, “A beautiful book which describes the ontology of Cosmovisions as a way for humankind to live in harmony with nature and itself,” according to Cleaver.

That focus on harmony begins with knowledge and Cleaver’s been doing her part to attempt to make the world a less racist place. During the lockdown, she helped develop a workshop on Anti-racism that she delivered to Extinction Rebellion groups across the country and presented the workshop at Brainchild Festival. Her newest single, “My People,” dropped yesterday, on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death (as well as her birthday) as a eulogy to all victims of racism and police violence.

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May 26, 2022
Mumu Fresh - Dance Daughter
298

Mumu Fresh - "Dance Daughter" a 2022 self-released single.

For her latest single (and today's Song of the Day), Grammy-nominated artist Mumu Fresh teamed up with the movement 20 Million Women Strong, Planet Restoration, and the Netflix original TV show "We Speak Dance" to craft a special song for Earth Day. On social media, she thanks the organizations for "sharing the healing balm and uplifting energy of dance on behalf of Mother Earth and women, mothers, sisters, and daughters around the world. May we all dance for the planet on this special day and always."

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May 25, 2022
Chronixx - Never Give Up
259

Chronixx - "Never Give Up" a 2022 single on Forever Living Originals.

With his latest single, reggae artist Chronixx sends love to generations of his fellow artists in Jamaica. On social media, he writes:

Give thanks for the Rastafari vibration. The positive vibrations that make it possible for youths here in a seemingly chaotic world to sing from our souls into the soul of the world.  For all the people who are struggling for peace and against systematic oppression. #nevergiveup the fight for the family. Never give up the fight for love.

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May 24, 2022
Quelle Chris - Alive Ain't Always Living
242

Quelle Chris - "Alive Ain't Always Living" from the 2022 album Deathfame on Mello Music Group.

Fresh off co-composing part of the score for the Oscar-winning film Judas and The Black Messiah, rapper Quelle Chris returned last week with his latest full-length, DEATHFAME.

The Detroit-based artist (real name: Gavin Tennille) describes the genre-defying new LP like "an incredible lost tape found at a flea market." Guests include Navy Blue, Pink Siifu, and Quelle's longtime collaborator Chris Keys co-produces a few of the album's tracks. 

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May 23, 2022
Damien Jurado - Taped In Front Of A Live Studio Audience
120

Damien Jurado - Taped in Front of a Live Studio Audience from the 2022 album Reggae Film Star on Maraqopa.

Longtime KEXP-favorite Damien Jurado is on the heels of releasing his 18th album Reggae Film Star this June. The album comes 25 years after his debut album Waters Ave S. and is just one of seven albums the prolific songwriter wrote and recorded during the pandemic. 2021’s The Monster Who Ate Pennsylvania was the first of those to be released.

Our Song of the Day is the short but sweet “Taped In Front of a Live Studio Audience.” Over a softly driving beat and warm, thrumming guitars, Jurado paints a picture of a day in the life of an exhausted working mother, doing her best to keep it together or at least stay awake. With lines like “Who's screaming at the top of their lungs? /Well I don't have time, and my patience is running thin,” the song is a relatable story for those familiar with the comedy of parenting.

Reggae Film Sta is due digitally and on CD June 24 via his own Maraqopa Records, with vinyl arriving July 8. Damien produced it himself alongside multi-instrumentalist Josh Gordon and recording engineer Alex Bush.

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May 20, 2022
James and the Cold Gun - Seven
237

James and the Cold Gun - "Seven" from the 2022 False Start EP on Venn Records.

With a sound that’s miles away from the Kate Bush song they’re named after, the two James’ of James and the Cold Gun - James Joseph and James Bliss - are making blistering rock n’ roll that harkens back to the early aughts alt-rock scene. The duo individually formerly fronted other bands but have been making waves in their Cardiff scene for their balls-to-the-wall pub shows as well as outside of it, touring with bands like Salem and Therapy.

Our Song of the Day, “Seven” is the opening track off their debut EP False Start, released in April. Immediately, the song sets the tone for the searing set of tracks to follow. Stomping drums and fiery, distortion-laden guitars accompany James squared’s howling vocals. The band had this to say about the song:

“‘Seven’ is a song about being angry, but only because you care about something so much. We really enjoy this one, it’s a real thumper—we aimed to write a proper, driving riff.”

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May 19, 2022
Nina Kohout - Moonlight
254

Nina Kohout - "Moonlight" from the 2022 Pandemonium EP on Deadred Records.

When Slovakian artist Nina Kohout released her first single "Blue Sunray" back in 2020, she landed the Newcomer of the Year award from her hometown Rádio FM's annual Radio_Head Awards. More accolades are sure to be on the way with the release of her long-awaited debut EP, Pandemonium. She describes today's Song of the Day as a "Vampiric Waltz" in this YouTube clip

Kohout currently resides in London, attending The Brit School where she studies music production and music technology. (A few alumni of this prestigious institution include Amy Winehouse, Adele, and FKA Twigs.) In an interview with Hudba.sk, she shares, "I'm an intense person. I think a lot, I feel, and so I turn to music as my personal valve," adding, "it is the personal demons with whom we are slowly becoming friends that I explore through music."

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May 18, 2022
alyona alyona - Рідні мої (feat. Jerry Heil)
155

alyona alyona - "Ridni moi (feat. Jerry Heil)," a 2022 single on ENKO.

For Easter this year, Ukrainian rapper alyona alyona shared a plea to celebrate and to uphold traditions with her latest single "Рідні мої." She writes on YouTube:

The warmest memories of most people in Ukraine during their lives are warm family gatherings for Easter. Opportunity to get away from business, to see the closest ones, to visit distant relatives, to take part in creation of Easter eggs, to taste mother's or grandmother's dishes from the childhood, to unite in continuation of national and family traditions...

This year has radically changed us, changed everything around us. Many families will no longer reunite, many grandparents will no longer please their grandchildren, and many ovens will no longer bake Easter cakes. We have changed our values, changed our attitude to many things. But we will always carry the traditions of our nation and our families through the years. May the memory of them be eternal.

This track is about pain, sadness, memories and family warmth. And about that things which unite us all, wherever we are.

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May 17, 2022
Hazel English - Summer Nights
186

Hazel English - "Summer Nights," a 2022 self-released single.

On her forthcoming EP Summer Nights (out June 17th), Hazel English teams up with producer Jackson Phillips (Day Wave) for a "short story"-like collection of songs whose narratives interweave with another. Today's Song of the Day is “about the intoxicating feeling of developing a crush on someone. I thought it would be interesting to explore the buildup of tension sonically because to me, the anticipation is the best part.”

“Jackson and I have such a great flow when it comes to working on music that it was easy to essentially pick up where we had left off,” English said in a press release about the EP. “Our process together is very quick and fun, no second guessing. I also think the pandemic and time at home got me thinking a lot about my past and remembering high school experiences and those kinds of feelings that were so vivid at that time. So I found myself writing lyrics that were inspired by some of those experiences and then I kind of created a whole new story out of it.”

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May 16, 2022
Ben Zaidi - Jerusalem.
349

Ben Zaidi - "Jerusalem" from the 2022 album Acre of Salt on Nettwerk.

“What are you?” is an eye-rolling question people of mixed heritages never cease to get asked and often have no idea how to answer. Seattle’s Ben Zaidi tackles his unique background and the internal conflict of not knowing how to identify in today’s Song of the Day, “Jerusalem.”

Born to a Jewish father, Pakistani mother, and with Muslim grandparents, Zaidi candidly unpacks his familial stories and the complicated feelings surrounding them in the downtempo guitar strummer. “Sometimes I feel like Jersualem /There’s three religions trickling through my veins,” sings Zaidi in the chorus. “By the time they sort it out /There’ll be nothing left to claim.”

“It is a strange fate being of mixed heritage in the whitewash of America,” Zaidi explains of the song. “Often it feels like the many cultures of my ancestors have been diluted, and I have been left with no heritage rather than many... I am starting, however, to see this disorientation as an identity of its own. Manzur Zaidi was my grandfather I never met. He and his family were Pakistani, and lived through the partition of India... I use their Arabic family name and my Hebrew first name to try to combine the two lineages that most describe my parents. It was only later that I discovered 'Ben' means 'son.' and that 'Zaidi' is also a Yiddish word, for 'grandfather.'"

The song comes from his upcoming debut album Acre of Salt, set for release on June 3rd. Produced by Tony Berg (Phoebe Bridgers, Peter Gabriel, Beck), the record was recorded at Los Angeles' Sound City Studios along with backing band members Ethan Gruska, Sebastian Steinberg (Fiona Apple,) saxophonist Sam Gendel and Kane Ritchotte (Portugal. The Man). Watch the video for “Jersualem” at the link below.

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May 13, 2022
Fontaines D.C. - Roman Holiday
267

Fontaines D.C. - "Roman Holiday" from the 2022 album Skinty Fia on Partisan.

In April, Irish post-punkers Fontaines D.C. released their third studio album Skinty Fia. Their first record since relocating to London, the album title is an Irish phrase that translates to “the damnation of the deer" and delves deep into the minds of transplants reckoning with their feelings around identity and belonging.

Our Song of the Day, “Roman Holiday,” really drives that home with a bittersweet ode to discovering a new city while in the midst of young love. One of the many surprsingly downtempo songs on the record, wailing guitars provide a bed for Grian Chatten’s wistful croons about weddings, high heels, and getting stoned to lay upon.

“‘Roman Holiday’ makes me think of the wide streets of north London in the summer and the urge to discover them at night time,” explains Chatten. “The thrill of being a gang of Irish people in London with a bit of a secret language and my first flat with my girlfriend.”

Fontaines D.C. will be in Seattle this Saturday, May 14th to play Showbox SoDo with Just Mustard. They’ll be stopping by KEXP that afternoon to play a live in-studio at 12:30pm. Watch their 2019 KEXP in-studio performance at the link below.

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May 12, 2022
Say Sue Me - 꿈에 To Dream
269

Say Sue Me - "꿈에 To Dream" from the 2022 album The Last Thing Left on Damnably.

South Korean dream-pop quartet Say Sue Me will release their third LP The Last Thing Left this coming Friday, May 13th via long-time label Damnably. The group states the new release "has the theme of some realization, eventually the realization of love. Love in relationships, love for oneself, and the ultimate love gained after realizing those two things!”

On today's Song of the Day, they surrender to slumber, with vocalist/guitarist Sumi Choi explaining in a press release, “I dreamed that everyone was alive, and I came to think that there might be no end. One day everyone will come back and meet somewhere.” 

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May 11, 2022
Camp Cope - Running with the Hurricane
255

Camp Cope - "Running With the Hurricane" from the 2022 album Running with the Hurricane on Run For Cover.

Melbourne, Australia-based trio Camp Cope find the calm within the storm on their latest full-length Running with the Hurricane

While their 2018 album How to Socialise & Make Friends channeled the intensity of '90s artists like Alanis Morissette or Courtney Love, the new LP takes a quieter approach. During the pandemic, guitarist/vocalist Georgia Maq returned to her post-rock world of nursing. Her work in COVID-19 testing and vaccine administration had an impact on her songwriting. As she explained to NPR, "Before when we'd made records, it was just like, 'Let's just record us live so that when people see us live, they won't be disappointed.' This was more like, 'Well, we're all gonna die of coronavirus, so let's just try to make something quite beautiful.'"

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May 10, 2022
Gracie Gray - Happiness
240

Gracie Gray - "Happiness" from the 2022 album Anna on Hand In Hive.

Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Gracie Gray looks back on her youth on this wistful acoustic track off her latest LP anna. The accompanying music video features VHS footage from her family's archive, alongside footage of her today. (Watch below.)

"'happiness' is about longing for childhood innocence," she explained in a press release. "It's something that can never be fully recaptured, but the video shows that these younger versions of ourselves are still alive inside of us." 

"I think 'happiness' is going to mean different things to me as time goes on," she continued. "When I wrote it I was processing a lot of hard memories. When I finished it, I felt like I was just beginning an ugly process of letting go. I am really proud of how we were able to resolve the song sonically."

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May 09, 2022
Moon Palace - It's a Shame
248

Moon Palace - "It’s a Shame" from the 2022 self-released Love Lost EP.

We’ve written about Moon Palace a number of times since the release of their 2017 self-titled debut. In fact, today marks the third time that the Seattle band has received the Song of the Day treatment! If they get to five, they get a jacket! (Or, at least, should. In my opinion.)

Today’s Song of the Day “It’s a Shame” is actually quite a departure from the rambling psychedelia Moon Palace has released over the past five years. Slow and sensual, the song is led by a throbbing bass riff while twin sisters Cat and Carrie Biell croon about a torrid experience with an elusive sweetie.

“With this track we took our dreamy psychedelic garage vibes to the disco club,” explains Moon Palace in the song’s Bandcamp description. “We slowed way down and summoned the sultry lyrics Carrie wrote about having a chance encounter with a mysterious babe at our local Seattle lesbian bar, The Wildrose. Inspirations were Solange, Taylor Swift & Prince.”

The song comes from the Love Lost EP, released today, May 6th. Moon Palace will be playing with Tomo Nakayama and Coral Grief at the Tractor Tavern on Friday, June 3rd.

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May 06, 2022
Night Shop - Let Me Let It Go
248

Night Shop - "Let Me Let It Go" from the 2022 album Forever Night on Dangerbird Records.

Night Shop is the solo project of Justin Sullivan, who can often be seen hitting the skins as the touring drummer for Kevin Morby, in addition to playing with Waxahatchee, Hand Habits, The Babies, Anna St. Louis, and LA post-punk outfit Flat Worms. This past February, he unveiled Night Shop’s debut album Forever Night via Dangerbird Records which saw a lot of these prior collaborators give back to their favorite drummer.

Early single and Song of the Day “Let Me Let It Go” features Meg Duffy of Hand Habits on guitar, Jess Williamson, Anna St. Louis and Woods/Purple Mountains’ Jarvis Taveniere providing engineering and co-production alongside Sullivan so it truly is a family affair. The rollicking horn-laden track its inspiration from Dante and Beatrice’s love and “the concept of courtly love,” according to Sullivan. “A journey to hell, the pursuit of art, the Shangri-Las, and finding peace in what is, not how we think things should be.”

The video for the track sees Sullivan fleeing directors Jeff Davenport and Cooper Kenward, sprinting through the streets of LA. “I think we just wanted to offer a sense of escape and abandon that comes with both loving someone and also surrendering our attachment to a certain outcome in regards to that love,” Sullivan explains. “I'm just trying to get at the proper expression of a feeling; in this case, a deep yearning. So I think visually, you want to complement that sense. A desire to see and feel everything and escape from the smallness of your own thoughts.”

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May 05, 2022
Spiritualized - The Mainline Song
357

Spiritualized - "The Mainline Song" from the 2022 album Everything Was Beautiful on Fat Possum.

Long-running space rock pioneers Spiritualized return with their ninth studio album, the appropriately titled Everything Was Beautiful. Founding and sole constant member Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman) plays 16 different instruments on the recording, which was done at 11 different studios (not including his home), and employing 30 different collaborators. 

“There was so much information on it that the slightest move would unbalance it," he admits in a press release, "but going around in circles is important to me. Not like you’re spiraling out of control but you’re going around and around and on each revolution you hold onto the good each time. Sure, you get mistakes as well, but you hold on to some of those too and that’s how you kind of... achieve. Well, you get there.” 

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May 04, 2022
Death Of The High Street - Synergy
232

Death Of The High Street - "Synergy," a 2022 self-released single.

Midlands-based post-punk band Death Of The High Street hit the scene last year with a very strong vote of confidence: their debut single was released by Creation Records empresario Alan McGee, on his new label named It’s Creation Baby. Their latest single continues their reign of dark, driving, pulsating sound. 

“Synergy is a mantra. A reminder that the collective struggle is more important than the individual," the band shared in a press statement. "We should remember, no matter the importance we place on the person, no matter how much the powers that be attempt to single us out and turn us into consumerist automations, we will only really know ourselves properly when we interact with those around us.”

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May 03, 2022
Dazy & Militarie Gun - Pressure Cooker
171

Dazy & Militarie Gun - "Pressure Cooker," a 2022 single on Very Loud Sounds.

Combine the talents of LA-based hardcore band Militarie Gun and James Goodson's punk/pop project Dazy, and what you get is "Pressure Cooker," a collaborative single out now. A conflict of interest? Perhaps, as Goodson also serves as Militarie Gun's publicist, but the creativity could not be contained. 

“Ever since I met Ian [Shelton, frontman of Militarie Gun], we’ve had a tendency to veer off into long conversations about songwriting, but when he suggested we should try to do something together I thought he was just being friendly,” Goodson shared in a press release, that maybe he wrote. “He kept bringing it up so finally I showed him a song I’d been working on, and in no time at all he was sending back vocals and new ideas. I’m always blown away by the amount of energy and personality that Militarie Gun can pack into a song, and it was really cool to work together and see that happening in real time.”

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May 02, 2022
Rigmor - Det er lige meget
176

Rigmor - "Det er lige meget" from the 2022 album Glade blinde børn on Mermaid Records.

This week's Songs of the Day were selected by KEXP DJ Kevin Cole, host of Drive Time, spotlighting artists playing the SPOT Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, May 6-7th. 

This past February, two years after they dropped the Rebel EP, Danish indie pop band Rigmor unveiled their debut record Glade blinde børn. In English the title translates to “Happy Blind Children” which is telling of the poetic melancholy the band paints through their lyrics and dramatic, airy soundscapes.

Our Song of the Day “Det er lige meget” translates to “It Doesn’t Matter” but rather than being a narrative of cynicism, it’s simply admittance that, when looking out at the stars and nature and the vastness of the universe, our petty little bullshit is just not that important. Frontwoman Sarah Wichmann’s celestial vocals paired with shimmering guitars serve well as angelic advisors, whispering in our ears, “It doesn’t matter.”

The song comes with a video directed by Peter Sørensen in which our protagonist seemingly has this revelation. Watch it at the link below.

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Apr 29, 2022
La Dame Blanche - Mata Sede (feat. Amanda Magalhaes)
196

La Dame Blanche - "Mata Sede (feat. Amanda Magalhaes)," a 2021 single on Nacional.

This week's Songs of the Day were selected by KEXP DJ Kevin Cole, host of Drive Time, spotlighting artists playing the SPOT Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, May 6-7th. 

Cuban singer, flautist, and percussionist Yaite Ramos Rodriguez makes a distinctive mix of cumbia, hip hop, dancehall, and feminist lyrics as La Dame Blanche. The daughter of the artistic director of the Buena Vista Social Club orquestra and a loving mother who imparted incredible wisdom upon her daughter, it was inevitable that Rodriguez would become the rebellious powerhouse musician she is.

For “Mata Sede,” the Paris-based artist teamed up with Brazilian actress Amanda Magalhães, of the immensely popular Brazilian series 3% for a sweet ballad of sisterhood. The downtempo track was produced by Babylotion, the Paris-based producer, beat maker, and sound engineer who mans production for the majority of La Dame Blanche’s music. Magalhães had this to say about “Mata Sede”:

“It’s a song about the longing to love nowadays. It’s an honor to sing alongside an artist whose work I admire so much. La Dame Blanche has a special way of composing and this musical encounter was special for me. ‘Mata Sede’ is about love. It speaks of us.”

La Dame Blanche’s latest full-length was 2020’s Ella, which was made as a tribute to her mother as well as women everywhere. At the link below, watch her Live on KEXP At Home session from November 2021. 

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Apr 28, 2022
Lydmor - Nevada
231

Lydmor - "Nevada" from the 2021 album Capacity on hfn music.

This week's Songs of the Day were selected by KEXP DJ Kevin Cole, host of Drive Time, spotlighting artists playing the SPOT Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, May 6-7th. 

Danish artist Lydmor [real name: Jenny Rossander] examines the space she's in on her fourth album Capacity, a Björk-inspired expression of futuristic electro-pop. On today's Song of the Day, she's joined by Faroese singer Eivør on guest vocals.

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Apr 27, 2022
Les Filles de Illighadad - Eghass Malan
289

Les Filles de Illighadad - "Eghass Malan" from the 2017 album Eghass Malan on Sahel Sounds.

This week's Songs of the Day were selected by KEXP DJ Kevin Cole, host of Drive Time, spotlighting artists playing the SPOT Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, May 6-7th. 

Hailing from the secluded commune of Illighadad, located in central Niger, Les Filles de Illighadad tap into their "desert blues" heritage on their most recent album, Eghass Malan. The band breaks the mold of the typical male Tuareg guitarist with lead vocalist/musician Fatou Seidi Ghali, the first professional female Tuareg guitarist, and still one of a very few in general. 

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Apr 26, 2022
Verdens Sidste Idé - Marianne
272

Verdens Sidste Idé - "Marianne" from the 2022 self-released album Strå.

This week's Songs of the Day were selected by KEXP DJ Kevin Cole, host of Drive Time, spotlighting artists playing the SPOT Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, May 6-7th. 

Danish pop band Verdens Sidste Idé [translation: The World's Last Idea] is a seven-member orchestra led by songwriter/frontman Asbjørn Hvelplund. They debuted with the full-length Den Indre By [translation: The Inner City] at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, but forged ahead during the global lockdown to create their sophomore full-length Strå [or Straw], just released in February. 

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Apr 25, 2022
K!MMORTAL - K I'm Mortal
220
Apr 22, 2022
Missy D - Case Départ
186
Apr 21, 2022
Robert Glasper - Why We Speak (feat. Q-Tip & Esperanza Spalding)
379

Robert Glasper - "Why We Speak (feat. Q-Tip & Esperanza Spalding)," a 2022 single on Loma Vista / Concord.

In 2012, jazz pianist Robert Glasper's fifth album, Black Radio, was a breakout success. It landed him the Grammy for Best R&B Album, while at the same time, hitting #1 on the Billboard jazz charts. The following year, Black Radio 2 was met with similar success, winning the Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the track "Jesus Children of America" featuring Lalah Hathaway and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Now, in 2022, he's released the latest installment, Black Radio III, where he continues to defy categorization and embrace collaboration. Featured guests include India.Arie, Meshell Ndegeocello, Killer Mike, Common, Ty Dolla $ign, and on today's KEXP Song of the Day, Esperanza Spalding and Q-Tip.

“When I’m working on Black Radio, I’m not interested in who’s the hot new artist at the time,” Glasper told Relix. “It’s more about people who are open to pushing the music. I’m interested in, ‘Are you actually talented? Do you actually work on your craft?’ Black Radio has become a bar. If you’re on Black Radio, you have to be a certain thing. Who really has something to say?”

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Apr 20, 2022
Sarah MK - MITTOS (Make It To The Other Side)
272

Sarah MK - "MITTOS (Make It To The Other Side)," a 2022 self-released single.

Montreal-based soulstress Sarah MK shares an uplifting new single, the first from her sophomore full-length Wax & Gold, out later this month on April 27th.

“I wrote this song a few years back for a friend of mine going through a difficult time in her life,” Sarah MK told the Tinnitist. “I just wanted her to know that no matter what she’s facing, she’s going to get through it and make it out. The song seems just as poignant now speaking to the whole world as we try to navigate living through a global pandemic.”

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Apr 19, 2022
Rell Be Free -$FreeMunny
179

Rell Be Free - "$FreeMunny" from the 2022 self-released album Sow What? (Phase 3).

South Seattle-based musician/educator/entrepreneur Rell Be Free (real name: Jerrell Davis) returns this month with Sow What? (Phase 3). On this latest installment of the series, he teams up again with local producer Noah Coinflip for their atmospheric, mysterious sound. 

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Apr 18, 2022
Mala Suerte - Habla Mierda de Mi
139

Mala Suerte - "Habla Mierda de Mi" from the 2022 album Mala Suerte on Freakout Records.

Back in October, KEXP shared the debut single from brand new PNW meets MEX supergroup Mala Suerte. Made up of members of Carrion Kids, Acid Tongue, Los Honey Rockets, and Grizzled Mighty, the band is an international fusion of spirited sounds and talents.

Our Song of the Day, “Habla Mierda de Mi” takes the psychedelic sounds of Acid Tongue, the bluesy riffs of Grizzled Mighty, the grittiness of Carrion Kids, and firey intensity of Los Honey Rockets and throws them in a blender for a song that smacks you in the face. Sung en español by Miguel Servin, the title translates to “Talk Shit About Me,” which is exactly the kind of bratty, no-fucks-given attitude that you’d expect from this quartet.

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Apr 15, 2022
Crows - Garden Of England
129

Crows - "Garden of England" from the 2022 album Beware Believers on Bad Vibrations Records.

London-based quartet Crows released their sophomore dark and fuzzy post-punk record Beware Believers in early April. Written during the summer of 2019, Song of the Day “Garden of England” takes its inspiration from the complicated and controversial Brexit elections.

“This is straight-up our Brexit anthem,” frontman James Cox explains. “Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t care less which way you voted, your vote, your choice. I just hated how much Brexit had become so ingrained in our day to day life. First thing I’d hear about when I woke up and the last thing I’d read before I went to sleep at night. It became all people spoke about. ‘Garden of England’ is more of a comment about the divisiveness it caused, splitting families, friends, widening the north-south divide and empowering nationalism. Public figures’ ability to lie publicly and not be held accountable, it’s just dangerous dog-whistle politics that doesn’t belong in the UK.”

The song is accompanied by a video directed by Joe Hoffman and Phoebe May, with Hoffman explaining, “When chatting with a boxer mate one day, he mentioned a friend at his club who was a career ‘Journeyman’. He explained this was a boxer who was not skilled enough to go pro, but was all the same good enough to fight around that level. The Journeyman makes a career by being paid, often weekly, to lose fights (unbeknownst to many of the crowd). When up-and-coming boxers are looking to progress to the next stage of their career, they need an unbroken streak of say 12 wins. When they are nearing this streak after maybe 10 wins, the coach often doesn’t want to risk them losing at this point so they will employ a Journeyman to put on a good show, and ultimately lose the fight.”

“I found this to be a fascinating concept,” he continues. “As I imagine it to be a real battle of the psyche for a Journeyman. They love the sport, but to partake and make a living in it they must fight to lose, and with this often lose the respect of their peers too. Many Journeymen work hard during the week, as low paid labourers or similar, and then will be paid a few hundred quid at the weekend to step into the losing ring. I’m sure it must be a battle in their head, but ultimately it will put food on the table and get them in the ring. The idea that he is a loser out of choice, and the fact he gets paid for it, brings into question who in this story is the actual loser? Is it the Contender? Is it the Journeyman? Or is it the crowd? I think maybe it’s all of them and none of them.”

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Apr 14, 2022
Francis of Delirium - The Funhouse
255

Francis of Delirium - "The Funhouse," a 2022 single on Dalliance Records.

Fronted by 20-year-old dynamo Jana Bahrich, the Luxembourg-based band Francis of Delirium brings a moody, yet driving alt-rock sound to today's Song of the Day. On their latest single, Bahrich says she was inspired by the disarray we experience daily. 

“'The Funhouse' is largely about how we are adapting to the chaos that is present in our everyday lives," she shared in a press release. "The way it can feel that the world is crashing down around us and in order to protect ourselves, we become numb to the sheer terror of it all. Sort of like walking through a funhouse and attempting to remain unphased by the mayhem that surrounds you.”

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Apr 13, 2022
Chaka Gettz - Incinerate for KG
305

Chaka Gettz - "Incinerate for KG" from the 2022 self-released Daytime Eraser EP.

Ukrainian band Chaka Gettz admits: "If someday a series is made about us 🎬, then the beginning of the first series (our 2-year activity before the release of the first track) will not be very dynamic in visual terms. Probably, the director should just turn on the camera and shoot at an accelerated pace, as we play, compose, change and improve our songs day after day, sitting in our cozy studio in Kharkov (Ukraine) and looking for our sound 🎸."

The young trio released their first single in late 2021, and have since self-released their debut EP Daytime Eraser, featuring three fun, frenetic '90s-inspired songs. It's no surprise that today's Song of the Day is dedicated to none other than indie-rock icon Kim Gordon. 

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Apr 12, 2022
Hello Mary - Sink In
238

Hello Mary - "Sink In," a 2022 self-released single.

Today's Song of the Day comes from Brooklyn trio Hello Mary, who formed when band members Helena Straight (vocalist/guitarist), Mikaela Oppenheimer (bassist), and Stella Wave (drummer/vocalist) were still teenagers. They released their debut album Ginger back in 2020. Earlier this year, we were thrilled to premiere this latest single, along with its sister song "Stinge." As KEXP's Tia Ho reported, the singles were produced by Bryce Goggin, who brought his experience working with '90s guitar-heavy bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement to the studio. 

Wave told KEXP, “‘Stinge’ is a passion-filled, sad/angry song focusing on the polarizing emotions and back and forth feelings that come with nearing the end of a relationship (friend, romantic partner etc.), “Sink In” puts the relationship to rest. The feeling is less angry, and more accepting of the new state of things.” 

She added that the two new tracks are "more mature on all fronts," adding, "Most of the songs on Ginger were written when Helena and Mikaela were 14 years old. The song writing, even though it can be catchy and fun, is pretty amateur in comparison to the new songs. Our ‘sound’ has become more unique since we have been playing together for longer. It’s more Hello Mary.”

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Apr 11, 2022
The Black Tones - The End of Everything
191

The Black Tones - "The End of Everything," a 2022 single on Sub Pop.

Seattle twin sibling duo The Black Tones made a splash in 2019 with their gritty debut full-length Cobain & Cornbread which saw Eva and Cedric Walker utilize blues, soul, and grunge to explore topics both light and heavy. While “Ghetto Spaceship” and “Mama! There’s a Spider in My Room” veered towards the former, songs like “The Key of Black (They Want Us Dead)” swung so dramatically towards the latter that it was clear the Walkers have important things to say.

Since then, they’ve been using their art primarily just for that - to voice their concerns about the issues, be it political or personal, of the present moment. The George Floyd protests inspired them to write “My Name’s Not Abraham Lincoln” in the summer of 2020 and, most recently, the culmination of two years of personal anxieties, grief, and anger led to our Song of the Day, “The End of Everything.”

Named after the book The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie Mack, the song confronts the fact that, whether it’s the second coming of who or whatever you believe in, this will all end. A variety of gods and religious symbols - Jesus, Buddah, Allah, Confucious - are shouted out in the sludgey ‘90s-indebted scorcher that features vocals from former Talking Heads backing singer and member the 1970s disco group The Ritchie Family, Edna Holt.

“This song is not a jab at religion or anything like that,” Eva Walker told American Songwriter in an interview. “This song is saying, it doesn’t matter what you believe in, the second coming of whoever or whatever, this is all going to be over and it feels like humans might be speeding up that process.”

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Apr 08, 2022
Quinton Brock - There For You
134

Quinton Brock - "There For You," a 2022 single on Shadow Panther.

With an ambitious goal to “change rock music forever,” Quinton Brock is clearly not shy about his pursuits. The former singer of the bluesy surf rock duo The Get Money Squad has been slowly releasing singles under his government name over the past couple of years that prove he just might do it too. With a penchant for breezy R&B-tinged indie rock that’s typically played by artists of a paler complexion, Brock is on an ever-growing list of black artists reclaiming rock.

Highly influenced by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the lost godmother of rock and roll, who melded spiritual lyrics with electric guitar (shredding long before Elvis gyrated his way to becoming to the “King” of rock n’ roll), Brock similarly fuses genres. Our Song of the Day, “There For You,” utilizes surf rock guitar tones with R&B production for a sunny ditty about love.

“This song is so close to me,” explains Brock. “An ode to a past love. The song fades out in the end the same way love sometimes fades away. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.”

Watch the video for “There For You,” directed by Allen Jiang, at the link below.

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Apr 07, 2022
Magdalena Bay - Secrets (Your Fire)
246

Magdalena Bay - "Secrets (Your Fire)" from the 2021 album Mercurial World on Luminelle Recordings.

Electro-pop duo Magdalena Bay share their struggles with social media on today's Song of the Day.

“‘Secrets’ is about interconnectivity, privacy, and digital anxiety,” band members Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin shared in a press release. “It’s also about a need to keep sharing, to keep giving up more and more of yourself to faceless strangers in the hopes of making friends or fans.”

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Apr 06, 2022
Congotronics International - Where's The One?
230

Congotronics International - "Where's The One?," a 2022 single on Crammed Discs.

Congotronics International is truly a global affair: this supergroup comprises members of Konono Nº1, Kasai Allstars, Deerhoof, Juana Molina, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, and Skeletons’ Matt Mehlan. Their forthcoming full-length, Where’s The One (due April 29th via Crammed Discs), was crafted over ten years, with files being emailed across four continents, sent from Kinshasa DRC, Buenos Aires, New Mexico, New York, Stockholm and Brooklyn. 

“There was no rational explanation behind what was going on, it was just direct, immediate experience on both sides. Things you think are impossible just happen,” Vincent Kenis of Crammed Discs said in a press release (Kenis is the co-founder of Kasai Allstars and curator/producer of the Congotronics series).

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Apr 05, 2022
TV Girl x Jordana - Jump the Turnstile
222

TV Girl x Jordana - "Jump the Turnstile" from the 2021 album Summer's Over on Summer's Over.

Los Angeles-based group TV Girl have a long history with NYC artist Jordana. The pair have toured together, and a collaborative EP seemed like a natural next step. Titled Summer’s Over, the seven-song release combines Jordana's heavenly voice with the west coast trio's sample-heavy style. 

TV Girl set off for their first headlining European tour later this year, and Jordana releases her debut studio album, Face The Wall, on May 20th via Grand Jury.

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Apr 04, 2022
ODESZA - The Last Goodbye (feat. Bettye LaVette)
360

ODESZA - "The Last Goodbye (feat. Bettye LaVette)," a 2022 single on Foreign Family Collective/Ninja Tune.

In Early February, ODESZA returned from a four-year hiatus to drop the cinematic soulful single, “The Last Goodbye.” Featuring reworked vocals from Bettye LaVette’s 1965 soul/R&B track “Let Me Down Easy,” the track is a six-minute spine-tingling epic blending the Grammy-nominated duo’s electronic grooves with LaVette’s heartwrenching vocals to stirring effect.

“This song was born out of the concept of trying to bring these lasting, defining musical pieces like the 1965 release of “Let Me Down Easy” by Bettye LaVette into a modern and contemporary electronic setting,” explained Clayton Knight and Harrison Mills of the song.

“The idea of bringing two worlds together, that at first seem distant, has always been something we’ve been drawn to. It was an absolute honor to be able to work with Bettye’s voice over the course of writing the track. She’s able to convey emotion with her vocal work unlike any other. To date, this has been one of the more fulfilling songs we’ve had the chance to work on as artists.”

The song comes from ODESZA’s forthcoming fourth studio album of the same title, which according to a press release, is said to be their most ambitious and personal album to date and includes contributions from a number of notable artists including Låpsley, Ólafur Arnolds, Julianna Barwick, Izzy Bizu, and Charlie Houston.

The video for “The Last Goodbye” artfully highlights the power of the instrumentation (including KEXP’s Eva Walker on bass!) and features archival footage of LaVette performing “Let Me Down Easy.” Watch it at the link below.

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Apr 01, 2022
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - The Way It Shatters
238

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - "The Way It Shatters" from the 2022 album Endless Rooms on Sub Pop.

In early February, Australian rockers Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever announced their third studio album, Endless Rooms, due out May 6 via Ivy League/Sub Pop. Following up 2020’s acclaimed Sideways to New Italy, the record is described by the band as “almost an anti-concept album,” with the title reflecting “our love of creating worlds in our songs. We treat each of them as a bare room to be built up with infinite possibilities.”

The first room to be shared by Rolling Blackouts C.F. and today’s Song of the Day is “The Way It Shatters.” Automatically, it’s clear that the extra time the band had during lockdown to work on their new record has paid off because the song is an expansive new step. Adding synth for the first time into their usual jangle-rock, the song is blistering but also has darker lyrical undertones, dealing with the human race and our various places within it. 

The band had this to say about the song:

“It’s about how ending up in your particular situation in life is the result of absolute randomness. If you happen to be born into wealthy Australia or happen to be born into a war zone in Syria. That’s just the way it shatters. So it’s when this good luck is mistaken for a sense of pride in one’s self or their country they become confused and deluded about what’s important. It’s when those on the other side of the luck scale are completely othered and considered not worthy.”

The song comes with video by Nick Mckk, who also worked with RBCF on the videos for “Sideways To New Italy,” “Cameo,” “Cars In Space,” and “She’s There.” He had this to say about the video:

“The new album has a night time feeling, so we wanted to explore shooting the whole thing from sundown. Fran [Keaney, vocals/guitar] had the idea of revisiting memories, of resetting groundhog day style, but each time we come back the world is a little different. The attraction of light works as a narrative device, coaxing Joe into this house of memories, and back out again.”

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are, at long last, embarking on an international tour this summer, with dates in the US starting in August. Catch them in Seattle on August 18th at Neumos. Watch the video for “The Way It Shatters” at the link below.

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Mar 31, 2022
Body Type - Buoyancy
190

Body Type - "Buoyancy" from the 2022 album Everything is Dangerous But Nothing's Surprising on Poison City Records.

You never know when creative inspiration will strike, and for Australian quartet Body Type, it was over text. 

“'Buoyancy' started as a playful text message exchange between Annabel and me," bassist/vocalist Georgia Wilkinson Derums said of her bandmate, guitarist/vocalist Annabel Blackman. "In many ways, the song is about grappling with internal inconsistencies and moral ambiguities in an incoherent style. It’s had a few iterations – when I brought it to the group it had more of a slow Big Star spirit. Soph and Annabel made it more angular, more tongue in cheek with the guitar, which further injects the song with distorted meaning. It’s also a personal reminder that when certain things are rendered uncertain those you love are an eternal rudder.”

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Mar 30, 2022
Mitski - The Only Heartbreaker
185

Mitski - "The Only Heartbreaker" from the 2022 album Laurel Hell on Dead Oceans.

Mitski's latest album, Laurel Hell, went through a few different phases during its creation. "This album has been a punk record at some point, and a country record," she told Rolling Stone. "Then, after a while, it was like, 'I need to dance.' Even though the lyrics might be depressing, I need something peppy to get me through this." Today's Song of the Day definitely fits the bill. "I needed that Breakfast Club dance-sequence music."

Today's Song of the Day also marks the first time Mitski has teamed up with another songwriter: Dan Wilson, formerly of the band Semisonic. "I was just sitting on it forever. I have so many iterations of it. Nothing felt right," she told Apple Music. Wilson was able to give her the guidance she needed. "It turned out he's really good. He helped me solve so many of the problems and kind of lead me out of the labyrinth of it. And yeah, I'm really glad that I took that chance with him."

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Mar 29, 2022
Fresh off the Spaceship: The Story of the Black Constellation
304

What is the Black Constellation? If you know, you'll want to listen to this podcast. If you don't, you'll want to listen, too.

"Fresh off the Spaceship" is the newest podcast from KEXP, telling the story of the highly influential yet scarcely documented artist collective. The Black Constellation has included such varied musical acts as Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction, Ya Tseen and Porter Ray.

Hosted by KEXP's Larry Mizell Jr. and Martin Douglas, each episode in this 10-part series takes listeners on an audio journey connecting the stars of the Constellation, shedding light on their art and their ethos along the way.

New episodes come out every Friday from March 18 - May 27, 2022. Find out more at KEXP.org/fresh-off-the-spaceship.

Watch a video version of the trailer and explore more work from the artists of the Constellation on KEXP's Fresh off the Spaceship YouTube playlist.

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Mar 28, 2022
Sudan Archives - Home Maker
232

Sudan Archives - "Home Maker," a 2022 single on Stones Throw.

Leave it to Sudan Archives to make domestic life sultry and seductive. After making the move from Cincinnati to her current home of Los Angeles, the acclaimed violinist/vocalist/producer (real name: Brittney Denise Parks) turned to home making to feel more grounded. Her first new single in three years reflects that.

“It took nesting — building a home, investing in partners that were worth my investment — to shake my anxiety and depression,” she said in a press release. “For me, homemaking is a service to mental health and coping with fear and isolation. This song is about the effort put into making a relationship work and giving love a place to live.”

Check out the video at the link below, directed by Jocelyn Anquetil, and revisit her 2019 KEXP session, filmed at THING! Fest in Fort Worden, WA. 

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Mar 28, 2022
Acid Tongue - Take Me To Your Leader (feat. Death Valley Girls)
153

Acid Tongue - "Take Me To Your Leader (feat. Death Valley Girls)" from the 2021 album Arboretum on Freakout Records.

This past November, local chairmen of psych-rock Acid Tongue dropped their celebrated third record Arboretum. Their most fully-formed album to date, Arboretum is a joyful, intoxicating psychedelic glam rock opus that employs the many friendships Guy Keltner and Ian Cunningham have made in the music scene for a highly collaborative effort.

Our Song of the Day, “Take Me to Your Leader,” sees L.A.-based psych-garage group Death Valley Girls jump in for one of the most rousing tracks on the album. Furious and rollicking, the song blazes in with a message that essentially says, “If the country’s burning down, we might as well have fun while it lasts.” Something I can certainly get behind.

Watch the VHS-style, cult-themed video by CULT NUG at the link below.

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Mar 25, 2022
King Hannah - Big Big Baby
182

King Hannah - "Big Big Baby" from the 2022 album I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me on City Slang.

While the duo that make up King Hannah - Craig Whittle and Hannah Merrick - hail from Liverpool, the music they make feels more fitting for the deep American south. Taking inspiration from the dark, mystical elements of that region, the band makes smokey, heavy Americana with tinges of dusky, rambling post-rock.

Our Song of the Day, “Big Big Baby,” epitomizes this, utilizing slow, ominous drums, fuzzy guitars, and Merrick’s sultry vocals for an ominous effect. But these tones belie the song’s darkly humorous lyrics. Lines like “I heard you got a lady pregnant, well I can only wish her well /‘Cause soon you’ll have a bigger baby, in the family than yourself” and “I hope you choke on a dumpling, at least that would be mildly fun” read as the punchlines of some harsh burns.

The video for the song leans into the elements of the songs sound rather than lyrics, with Merrick slow dancing in a dark, slighted distorted room. The clip was directed by Whittle, proving the duo are a creative force to be reckoned with. Watch it at the link below.

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Mar 24, 2022
The Lazy Eyes - Fuzz Jam
267

The Lazy Eyes - "Fuzz Jam" from the 2022 self-released album SongBook.

Australian psych band The Lazy Eyes chose a fitting title for today's Song of the Day: the song is, indeed, a fuzzy jam, making it a fitting introduction to their forthcoming debut full-length SongBook, to be released on April 22nd.

In an interview with Happy Mag, vocalist/guitarist Harvey Geraghty remembers the genesis of the track. "I’ve got a pretty random story about how this song started. I was brushing my teeth at home, and I was looking in the bathroom mirror and I was just like beatboxing to myself. I don’t know if anyone else does that, but like, you know, when people sing to themselves, I was just doing a bit of a beatbox."

"And then I started doing that like rhythm, which is what the bass line is. And then I think I just went to my room and recorded it on the guitar. And then maybe a few days later, recorded a GarageBand demo to show the boys. But yeah, the bass line, it’s all based around the bass line. No pun intended."

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Mar 23, 2022
Death Valley Girls - When I'm Free
180

Death Valley Girls - "When I’m Free," a 2022 single on Suicide Squeeze.

Earlier this year, Seattle's Suicide Squeeze Records released a split single featuring two bands off their roster: Death Valley Girls and Le Butcherettes. Side A features the Guadalajara-based Le Butcherettes covering an old DVG song titled "The Universe," and side B features a brand new track from Death Valley Girls, the psychedelic, introspective song "When I’m Free."

In a press release, frontwoman Bonnie Bloomgarden shares, “We’ve talked a lot about trauma, mental health, and how hard it is to live in a human body! One concept that has really been helping during the daily struggle is the perspective shift – that things aren’t ‘happening to me,’ they’re ‘happening for me.’ Sometimes if you can, squint your eyes, alter your view, try to see experiences as opportunities to learn and grow! Sometimes that’s the best we can do!”

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Mar 22, 2022
Bambara - Birds
216

Bambara - "Birds" from the 2022 Love On My Mind EP on Wharf Cat.

Brooklyn-based band Bambara — a trio of twins Reid and Blaze Bateh with their childhood friend William Brookshire on bass — have just released their six-song mini-album, Love Is On My Mind, in advance of their European tour with IDLES. 

On today's Song of the Day, Reid shares in a press release, “‘Birds’ compresses the events of many months into three and a half minutes, spanning time when the couple we follow throughout the record are growing closer. On the train, they fall in and out of sleep, reliving shared moments. Then a childhood memory bubbles up to the surface of the protagonist’s mind, revealing his complex relationship to the idea of love.”

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Mar 21, 2022
King Khazm - Gone Away From Here (feat. Abstract Rude, Moka Only & Myka 9)
282

King Khazm - "Gone Away From Here (feat. Abstract Rude, Moka Only & Myka 9)" from the 2022 album Return of a MAD on Fresh Chopped Beats / MADK Productions.

For over 25 years, King Khazm has been using hip hop as a means to amplify not just his voice but the voices of many in the Seattle community. A multifaceted artist, community organizer, performer, and educator, Khazm first rose to prominence in 1995 when he founded MAD Krew, a hip hop crew that quickly evolved into an influential multimedia production company.

While his prevalence on the scene has been long-lasting, full projects from the emcee have been slow to be unveiled. His last record, 2016’s Diaries of a Mad took nearly a decade to drop which is what makes his most recent release, Return of a MAD, all the more thrilling.

Our Song of the Day, “Gone Away From Here” is a posse cut featuring Canada’s Moka Only and Los Angeles-based rappers Abstract Rude and Myka 9 and produced by Third Eye Bling (an incredible artist name, if I’ve ever heard one). The quartet take their turns on the mic to speak on their experiences with oppression and struggles to live within a racist society. The song comes with a video directed by Will Lemke that sees the emcees in the studio while pulling their influences off the shelves.

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Mar 18, 2022
A. Billi Free & The Lasso - Thrive, Despite
181

Billi Free & The Lasso - "Thrive, Despite" from the 2022 album Holy Body Roll on Mello Music Group.

Holy Body Roll, released this March, is a collaborative record between New Mexico vocalist A. Billi Free and Michigan producer The Lasso that leans into the duo’s love for funk, pop, hip hop, and R&B for a record that’s free-flowing and boundaryless. Joined by The Lasso’s studio team made up of saxophonist The Saxsquatch, cellist Jordan Hamilton, and pianist Grayson Nye, Holy Body Roll is meant to serve as a “groove-filled guidebook for healing, the soundtrack to help you move from tear-streaming breakdown to full-body boogie.”

Our Song of the Day, “Thrive, Despite,” embodies this both in title and spirit. Led by a jazzy piano line from Nye, the song morphs into a downtempo R&B track that has incredible warmth as A. Billi Free croons, “I know you carrying this weight /This thang so deep can’t touch the base /After you take a little break, get up and face another day.”

“We’ve been building this project since late 2020,” explained Free in an interview. “We used this record to process difficult personal/collective feelings and embody the celebration of little victories with honest lyrics, layered vocals and a unique sonic homage to R&B, funk, rock and pop using our shared love of hip-hop as a foundation.”

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Mar 17, 2022
Samora Pinderhughes - Masculinity (feat. Immanuel Wilkins)
339

Samora Pinderhughes - "Masculinity (feat. Immanuel Wilkins)" from the 2022 album GRIEF on Stretch Music / Ropeadope.

GRIEF is more than just an album — it's a third of "The Healing Project," a multimedia effort from composer/artist Samora Pinderhughes, which also includes a forthcoming digital archive and an exhibition, opening on March 24th at the Yerba Buena Center For The Arts in San Francisco. (Watch the accompanying film below, directed by filmmaker Christian Padron, and inspired by the black-and-white photography of Roy DeCarava.)

A Juilliard-trained musician, Pinderhughes wrote all the songs on the LP, inspired by artists from the '60's and '70s, like Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, and Curtis Mayfield. He tells Bandcamp, “What I love about Nina’s Pastel Blues, and Dylan’s first three or four records, is that when you listen individually, each song is a whole world about different ideas. But when you put them together, you get a picture of the time period.”

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Mar 16, 2022
K.ZIA - JFMB
188

K.ZIA - "JFMB" from the 2022 album Genesis on Groove Attack.

Born in Berlin to a father from Martinique and a Belgo-Congolese mother (Marie Daulne, of the acclaimed Zap Mama), K.ZIA brings a worldliness to her debut full-length, Genesis. Not only does she adopt the alter ego of "Zia," a feistier version of her own self, but she sings for the first time in French, like on today's Song of the Day "JFMB" or "J’Fais Mes Bails."

"So I’d translate J’fais mes bails into 'I do my thing,'" she told Essentially Pop. "Zia is someone that lives unapologetically. She knows her values and will not bend herself to try to explain or justify her ways to ignorant or close minded people who criticize and downgrade when they don’t understand the other. That’s the vibe of the song “des fois je fais des choses qui ne sont pas trop acceptés, je connais mes valeurs je ne vais pas m’éxcuser” – Sometimes I do things that aren’t quite accepted, I know my values I won’t apologize for it. While growing up in France very often I was perceived as strange, coming from an artistic background and having grown in foreign countries. Younger, i would try so hard to blend in, and detach myself from all these eccentric traits. Today, I no longer do that, this is what 'JFMB' is about."

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Mar 15, 2022
Yugen Blakrok & Kanif The Jhatmaster - Pedestal
214

Yugen Blakrok & Kanif The Jhatmaster - "Pedestal," a 2022 single on I.O.T. Records.

Hailing from the Eastern Cape, rapper Yugen Blackrok shot to stardom with her 2013 debut album Return of the Astro-Goth, landing three nominations in the South African Hip-Hop Awards for Best Lyricist, Best Newcomer, and Best Female Artist.​ Here in the States, she was a stand-out on 2018's Black Panther: The Album, appearing on the track "Opps" alongside heavy-hitters Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples. Earlier this year, she returned with the single "Pedestal," which finds her reunited with long-time producer Kanif the Jhatmaster. In a press release, she states: 

Concepts. Idols. Civilizations. We build and we destroy. ‘Pedestal’ is about building oneself and breaking the mould. Growing, expanding and still remaining true to the spark. The pedestal is a physical framework for the senses. Civilization after civilization, it carries the weight of great symbols and the foundation of cultural and social edifices.

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Mar 14, 2022
Arlo Parks - Softly
189

Arlo Parks - "Softly," a 2022 single on Transgressive.

This week's Song of the Day were selected by KEXP DJ Kevin Cole, host of Drive Time, in honor of International Women's Month. Re-listen to our kick-off day of programming, and explore articles and live sessions from some of our favorite female artists here

Last year, Arlo Parks - the musical nom de plume of Anais Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho - released her highly anticipated debut record Collapsed in Sunbeams. The intimate, compassionate lyricism combined with earworm pop musicality made the album an instant classic that was a KEXP favorite of 2021.

Parks recently returned with the single “Softly,” which while bubbly and upbeat in tone, is, in reality, a heartbreaking story of a relationship on the verge of cessation.

“‘Softly’ is a song about yearning, about how fragile you feel in the dying days of a relationship when you’re still desperately in love,” the Grammy-nominated singer - who’s up for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album - explained in a statement. “The song is about how it feels to brace yourself before the blow of a break up and reminisce about the days where it all felt luminous.”

The song was released alongside a video by Zhang and Knight that sees a cityscape disintegrate behind Parks. The directorial duo had this to say about the video:

“For us ‘Softly’ explored the idea of wanting something that was once perfect to end in a gentle way, and we wanted to express this using the world surrounding Arlo. We were instinctively drawn to the warm toned, hazy nostalgia of the 1960s, as we loved the idea of something universally romantic being slowly stripped away throughout the film. We based the colors of the bricks, trims and doors on mid-century painting in order to bake this romanticism into everything. The production itself was a huge challenge, as everything was captured in-camera with each piece of the set built on wheels operated by several production crew. However, we knew it was all worth it when we saw the skyscrapers dancing around Arlo for the first time.”

Arlo Parks will be in Seattle on Wednesday, March 23rd to play the Paramount supporting Clairo. The 64th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, April 3rd. Watch the video for “Softly” at the link below.

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Mar 11, 2022
50 Foot Wave - Staring Into The Sun
316

50 Foot Wave - "Staring Into the Sun," a 2022 single on Fire Records.

This week's Song of the Day were selected by KEXP DJ Kevin Cole, host of Drive Time, in honor of International Women's Month. Re-listen to our kick-off day of programming, and explore articles and live sessions from some of our favorite female artists here

Two years after the long-awaited 10th studio album from Throwing Muses, frontwoman Kristin Hersh is back with a new record from her heavier side project 50 Foot Wave. Titled Black Pearl, the record is out April 15th and follows the 2016 EP Bath White.

Our Song of the Day is Black Pearl’s lead single “Staring Into the Sun.” Joined by Throwing Muses member Bernard Georges on bass and drummer Rob Ahler, Hersh creates a massively lush and gloomy soundscape for their first new music in six years. Featuring throbbing, droney, distortion-filled riffs, “Staring Into the Sun” is 50 Foot Wave at their most metal.

Kristin Hersh is doing a long run of solo shows starting this March at SXSW and then jumping over to the UK and Europe into early Summer. Check out a full list of dates here and watch Hersh’s KEXP in-studio session from 2017 at the link below.

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Mar 10, 2022
Adwaith - ETO
248

Adwaith - "ETO," a 2022 single on Libertino Records.

This week's Song of the Day were selected by KEXP DJ Kevin Cole, host of Drive Time, in honor of International Women's Month. Re-listen to our kick-off day of programming, and explore articles and live sessions from some of our favorite female artists here

Post-punk trio Adwaith have announced their sophomore full-length Bato Mato will be out July 1st via Libertino Records, their eagerly-awaited follow-up to their Welsh Music Prize-winning 2019 debut Melyn. The album's first single (and today's Song of the Day) was written the day after performing at the UU.Sound festival in the city of Ulan-Ude, Siberia in 2020. “We really wanted to write a heartfelt song about being infatuated with someone," the band said in a press release. "This isn't something we normally write about and we wanted to approach this song differently to our other ones. We felt inspired to write a big pop song."

In fact, the entire album is colored by that impactful trip. Vocalist Hollie Singer shared in a press release, "Our journey through the Siberian and Mongolian wilderness influenced the writing and sound of the album to be as open and big as the limitless sky around us there." Bassist Gwenllian Anthony added, "It was a life changing trip that really inspired us to write this album. The barren landscape and brutalist architecture really seeped into these songs and the use of world instruments was heavily inspired by this journey."

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Mar 09, 2022
LOTTA - Léonard
208

LOTTA - "Léonard" from the 2021 Seafarer EP on Deadred Records.

This week's Song of the Day were selected by KEXP DJ Kevin Cole, host of Drive Time, in honor of International Women's Month. Re-listen to our kick-off day of programming, and explore articles and live sessions from some of our favorite female artists here

On her debut EP, Seafarer, Slovakian singer/songwriter LOTTA (real name: Dagmar Mišíková) presents four songs inspired by the seasons, with today's Song of the Day capturing the fading days of autumn. The release is a collaboration with producer/multi-instrumentalist STROON (real name: Dalibor Kocián), who says via a press release, "Some moments of cooperation were so inspiring and informative for me that I approach my work even more experimentally... I feel a personality about it. It's not structured pop, it's stories.”

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Mar 08, 2022
Clarissa Connelly - Holler
206

Clarissa Connelly - "Holler" from the 2020 self-released album The Voyager.

This week's Song of the Day were selected by KEXP DJ Kevin Cole, host of Drive Time, in honor of International Women's Month. Re-listen to our kick-off day of programming, and explore articles and live sessions from some of our favorite female artists here

Combining the technology of her Korg M1 synthesizer with inspiration from ancient lands, Copenhagen-based artist Clarissa Connelly crafts beautiful baroque pop songs, highlighting her diaphanous melodies with lyrics that sow the seeds of Celtic folklore. In fact, the album was released simultaneously with an app named Vandringen that spotlights these foregone Danish locations, not viewable on Google Maps. 

"Many of the places are forgotten to some extent, at least when I was there back in 2018," Connelly told The Wire last year. "Since the pandemic, people’s interests have turned back to what’s around them in a really beautiful way. But I’ve always been interested in how the landscape was formed, either by humans or by the ice age pushing the soil back and forth creating mountains, or ice holes that become a lake two ice ages later. Imagining that timespan gives me a huge feeling of wanting to create. I’m fascinated by old buildings in cities – like a church, looking at the stones and wondering who built it – but they’re only maybe a thousand years old. Looking at these more ancient sites, the burial mounds and Viking fortresses, that’s even further back into history. I just get awestruck and want to sing or write about it."

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Mar 07, 2022
BRoc - Black Rainbow (feat. Porter Ray)
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BRoc - "Black Rainbow (feat. Porter Ray)," a 2022 self-released single.

Brian Ovalles, AKA BRoc, is a Seattle-based producer and DJ who’s worked extensively with Central District Seattle MC Porter Ray. He is a part of the label/collective called Intratecque, family to the Black Constellation.

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Take a journey through the Black Constellation on KEXP's new podcast, Fresh off the Spaceship (coming March 18)

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Mar 04, 2022
Sevdaliza - High Alone
229

Sevdaliza - "High Alone," a 2022 single on Twisted Elegance.

It's been two years since her stunning sophomore release Shabrang, but Dutch-Iranian artist Sevdaliza re-emerges on the new EP, Raving Dahlia. On today's Song of the Day, she continues to explore the gothic electronic sound of those earlier releases, adding cinematic elements like the spoken-word piece against an ethereal harp background. 

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Mar 03, 2022
Fly Anakin - Ghost (feat. Nickelus F)
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Fly Anakin - "Ghost (feat. Nickelus F)" from the 2022 album Frank on Lex Records Ltd.

Described by Madlib as "one of the illest MCs," anticipation has been high for the debut full-length from Richmond, VA-based rapper/producer Fly Anakin. On March 11th, that release will drop, titled Frank, via Lex Records. He notes the album draws inspiration from the "classic R&B and Soul" his dad played for him when he was a child. 

Today's Song of the Day features guest vocals from his "hero and mentor", as well as a fellow Richmond resident, Nickelus F, a seven-time "Freestyle Friday" champion on BET's weekly hip-hop show 106 & Park. Together, with Grammy-nominated producer Like (of Pac Div), they deliver a somber track befitting of the title "Ghost." 

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Mar 02, 2022
High Pulp - All Roads Lead To Los Angeles
282

High Pulp - "All Roads Lead to Los Angeles" from the 2022 album Pursuit of Ends on ANTI-.

With today's Song of the Day, Seattle's experimental jazz septet High Pulp share a sneak preview of their forthcoming full-length Pursuit Of Ends, which will be released April 15th via ANTI- Records. The album draws inspiration from "bebop, punk rock, shoegaze, hip-hop, and electronic music," and came together in spite of the pandemic.

“Having to start working remotely actually allowed us to try things that I don’t think we ever would have otherwise,” keyboard player Rob Homan says in a press release. “The process enabled us to walk the line between our more freewheeling, improvisatory jazz instincts and our more highly composed, electronic impulses, and what we ended up with was a really satisfying balance between the individual and the collective.”

“We’re a bunch of outsiders who refused to be kept out,” adds drummer Bobby Granfelt. “We’ve never had an academic approach to jazz as most of us grew up playing in DIY bands, so it was the rawness and the energy and the absolute freedom of the music that called to us in the first place.”

Check out the video at the link below (directed by Sara Jade Alfaro and starring Zaahira Joseph), and revisit the band's 2020 in-studio performance, filmed before the global shut-down.

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Mar 01, 2022
Blue Lab Beats - Motherland Journey (feat. Killbeatz & Fela Kuti)
258

Blue Lab Beats - "Motherland Journey (feat. Killbeatz & Fela Kuti)" from the 2022 album Motherland Journey on Blue Note / Blue Adventure.

London-based duo Blue Lab Beats released their Blue Note Records debut last week with Motherland Journey, an album they described as "extremely special album to us." 

“This album took us two-and-a-half years to finish, our longest process to make an album, but it was so worth it," they explain in a press release. "On this album you’ll hear many fusions of genres and inspirations that we gathered throughout that time frame and especially to work on so many of the songs during the first lockdown it was a test in itself. We had to figure out so many different ways to achieve what we exactly wanted sonically and having Blue Note to help us achieve that was an absolute blessing. Many of the vocal features and instrumentalists on this album are great friends of ours and it’s just so amazing to have family on this album.”

Today's Song of the Day spotlights one of those amazing finds: the vocals of the late Afrobeat-pioneer Fela Kuti, taken from his song “Everything Scatter.” 

“When we got confirmation to have Fela Kuti‘s vocals from his publishers in Nigeria we were honestly blown away that he could really feature on our tracks," they continue. "An absolute dream come true. When we got [collaborators] Poppy [Daniels] and Kaidi [Akinnibi] to play the horn line then we definitely got the song we wanted.”

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Feb 28, 2022
F!RES - The Lonely Sea
267

F!RES - "The Lonely Sea" from the 2021 self-released album High Tide.

Ballard-based band F!RES pay tribute to the late Shawn Smith on today's Song of the Day. The local legend had lent his distinctive vocals to bands like Brad, Satchel, Pigeonhed, and The Twilight Singers, as well as his solo material. And he also appears on the new F!RES full-length High Tide.

"High Tide really is a love letter to Seattle and to the memory of our friend @shawnsmithsinger," the band wrote on their Instagram account. "Shawn was so giving of his talent and we were honored that he wanted to join us in the studio on some of the tracks."

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Feb 25, 2022
Cloud Cult - One Way Out of a Hole
302

Cloud Cult - "One Way Out of a Hole," a 2022 single on Earthology Records.

After a six-year hiatus, Cloud Cult return with the album Metamorphosis, to be released March 4th via their own Earthology Records. Like all albums from this orchestral-folk-rock group, nature plays a big role in the LP. Founding member/frontman Craig Minowa wrote and recorded the new album in the remote woods of Wisconsin, tracking the album from an old Amish cabin he converted to a recording studio. The sounds from outdoors can be heard throughout the songs on Metamorphosis.

Cloud Cult return to Seattle on Saturday, August 27th at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral. Check out the video for today's Song of the Day at the link below, and enjoy a Throwback Thursday to the band's 2014 KEXP in-studio session. 

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Feb 24, 2022
Yard Act - The Overload
200

Yard Act - "The Overload" from the 2022 album The Overload on Zen F.C.

This might be the debut album from Leeds band Yard Act, but its members have been kicking around the scene for a while — frontman James Smith in Post War Glamour Girls, and bassist Ryan Needham as a member of Menace Beach. They're hardly the latest post-punk band to come out of the UK, but Smith brings a sarcastic sense of humor and gift for lyrics that sets them ahead of the pack. 

"‘The Overload’ serves as an overture to the album," he says of today's Song of the Day to NME. "It’s written from the perspective of someone sitting in a pub overhearing snippets of all these different conversations from different characters and acting as a vessel, a medium even, for their own thoughts and opinions. That cut and paste approach means it’s hard to decipher where one person’s musings end and another’s statement begins, and that feels like a fairer representation of why human existence is at the point it is right now. Society doesn’t prevail because of the absolute, it struggles on in spite of it. It’s our ability to compromise which helps us to coexist."

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Feb 23, 2022
Dehd - Bad Love
152

Dehd - "Bad Love" from the 2022 album Blue Skies on Fat Possum.

Post-punk trio Dehd return this spring with Blue Skies, their fourth album overall, but their first for Fat Possum Records. Today's featured track finds the Chicago-based band channeling an '80s new wave vibe, calling to mind The Jesus & Mary Chain led by Dale Bozzio of Missing Persons. 

“‘Bad Love’ is about recovering from love addiction and making a decision to stop choosing and aligning with people who aren’t your energetic match,” said vocalist Emily Kempf in a press release. “I wrote it for myself and for everyone who needed to hear a song about choosing new forms of love. It’s about chasing a relationship with oneself rather than an unhealthy one, one that just doesn’t quite fit, or a codependent one. Everyone experiences loneliness and everyone needs connection. I wished to reclaim loneliness for myself and others as something not embarrassing or to be a kept dark secret. I wanted to embrace loneliness and being alone, alchemizing it with friendship and behaviors with self that don’t involve romance or sex.”

Blue Skies hits store shelves on May 27th, preceded by a May 5th appearance at Neumos in Seattle. Check out the video for the song at the link below, and revisit their Live on KEXP at Home session from 2020.

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Feb 22, 2022
The Head and the Heart - Virginia (Wind in the Night)
205

The Head and the Heart - "Virginia (Wind in the Night)" from the 2022 album Every Shade of Blue on Warner.

Beloved local band The Head and the Heart return this spring with their fifth full-length, Every Shade of Blue, recorded at Studio Litho here in Seattle, where they made their first two albums back in 2011 and 2013. “It was almost like coming back home,” guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Russell told Consequence of Sound. “We used the same engineer, Shawn Simmons. There was this balance of old and new, being familiar with the studio but bringing somebody much newer in his relationship with us.”

On today's Song of the Day, Russell pays tribute to his home state. "Being from Virginia, for me this song represents a long and winding relationship to place – a place that is grounding. I’m often drawing on my life through symbolism as a way into someone else’s psyche,” he said via a press statement. “It’s part of my search for a deeper connection without having to compare our experiences directly. There is a reason this song has two titles. One is literal and one is symbolic. Not everyone is from Virginia, I know that. But I bet you have walked home and heard the wind in the night.”

The Head and the Heart perform two nights – August 12th and 13th – at Marymoor Park.

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Feb 21, 2022
Weep Wave - Synthetic Dreams
331

Weep Wave - "Synthetic Dreams," a 2022 self-released single.

Over the five years since we first covered Weep Wave, a lot has changed for the Seattle band. They went on to release their debut album, S.A.D., in 2019, a concept album based on the changing seasons and corresponding moods that take place over the course of a year in the Pacific Northwest, that KEXP’s Martin Douglas had a lot to say about. Since then, a series of lineup changes have occurred but the band, led by Dylan Fuentes, continues to constantly churn out a new single at least every six months or so.

One of Weep Wave, currently a quartet,’s most recent singles is the synth-fueled, “Synthetic Dreams.” Putting aside their signature Modest Mousian guitar riffs for this one, the song is a stripped-down version of the band, utilizing ‘80s style synthesizers and a thrumming analog drum machine for a haunting and altogether different sound for the band.

“It was interesting to write and record a style of song that’s pretty different from what we would normally do,” explains Fuentes. “With the synth there’s a lot of textures and tones that I can’t do with the guitar.”

Weep Wave has big plans for 2022 including releasing a new EP and going on tour. Keep up with release dates and tour announcements here.

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Feb 18, 2022
Warpaint - Champion
279

Warpaint - "Champion" from the 2022 album Radiate Like This on Heirlooms/Virgin.

After six long years, Los Angeles quartet Warpaint are set to release a new album. Due out on May 6th, the heavily anticipated Radiate Like This follows 2016’s Heads Up. Alongside the announcement, the band shared the lead single “Champion,” which is just too good to not be our Song of the Day.

“Champion” continues Warpaint’s penchant for brooding anthems, with a slow-burning smooth groove leading the way with angelic harmonies floating amongst the thrumming beats for a haunting soundscape. The final minute builds the groove into a slightly rollicking post-rock instrumental for a cinematic ending.

“Being a champion to oneself and for others,” is the band’s description of the meaning of the song. “We are all in this together, life is too short not to strive for excellence in all that we do.”

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Feb 17, 2022
Widowspeak - Everything Is Simple
259

Widowspeak - "Everything is Simple" from the 2022 album The Jacket on Captured Tracks.

Brooklyn-based duo Widowspeak are gearing up to release their sixth studio album, The Jacket, on March 11th via longtime label Captured Tracks. Initially intended to be a concept album based on a fictional band, The Jacket morphed into a more personal and biographical meditation on performance and past lives.

The record’s lead single, “Everything is Simple,” is a gentle alt-folk strummer that sees frontwoman Molly Hamilton wistfully ruminate on constantly shifting perspectives. “Everything is simple 'til it's not,” is the phrase that Hamilton hauntingly bookends the song with, describing a whole variety of possible situations. She had this to say about the meaning behind the “Everything is Simple”:

“At the beginning of something (a relationship, a project, a job, a new place) you have this very pure feeling toward it. Everything feels less complicated because you’re oriented wholly toward that potential. It’s undefined, and that makes it easier to understand, because you can’t see the problems yet. As time goes on, you learn more, you experience more, and you see where the limitations exist: not even necessarily ones imposed upon you, but where you draw your own lines. Maybe you can’t see what was holding you back until it’s in the past, and by then others’ perspectives contradict your own. Everyone is constructing their own versions of reality. The song was originally going to feed into the drama of the imaginary band, but it’s about our own band too. I was thinking about how I’m an inherently unreliable narrator about my own life, and at the same time maybe there are no ‘true’ stories.”

The song comes with a bullriding-themed video directed by OTIUM. Watch it at the link below.

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Feb 16, 2022
The Devil and Her Chauffeur - Never Let Me Go
239

The Devil and Her Chauffeur - "Never Let Me Go," a 2021 self-released single.

Seattle-based duo The Devil and Her Chauffeur was a project born out of the pandemic and the necessity of creative projects to stay sane. Jacqueline Kasbohm was in-between recording with her proper band Echodrone and brought in a revolving door of collaborators to flesh out her ideas. Now two years into the band, the string of singles released show a strong affinity for ‘90s indebted shoegaze and atmospheric post-rock.

Our Song of the Day, “Never Let Me Go,” is dreampop gold, with densely interwoven vocal layers, spacious synths, and dreamy guitars. Kasbohm’s Rachel Goswellian vocals are light and airy, initially leading the song but then settling amongst the instruments as just an additional layer in the thick wall of sounds. The track was initially recorded with Daniel Dieters handing guitars and percussion but now has Virginia-born, Bay Area-based musician Tosh Enders handling that load.

The Devil and Her Chauffeur are currently working on their first full-length album with producer and fellow musician, Fran Lora from the Saville, Spain band Flu Flu and is set to be released by end of summer 2022. Watch the video for “Never Let Me Go” at the link below.

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Feb 15, 2022
Pom Pom Squad - Popular (feat. Matthew Caws of Nada Surf)
207

Pom Pom Squad - "Popular (feat. Matthew Caws of Nada Surf)," a 2021 single on City Slang.

Back in December, Pom Pom Squad turned a joke tweet into reality when they covered Nada Surf’s “Popular” and remade the classic video shot by shot. “I’m gonna recreate the video for “Popular” by Nada Surf but I’m gonna play every character,” Mia Berrin tweeted in March 2021. Nine months later, that dream was realized.

It’s a fitting tribute for a band that’s built their imagery around cheer parody. Their latest album Death of a Cheerleader saw Berrin explore the coming-of-age high school stories that Matthew Caws was subversing on Nada Surf’s 1996 hit. There are different implications or meanings, though, hearing some of these lines from the voice of a queer woman of color rather than a straight white man.

“Being attractive is the most important thing there is,” goes one the more iconic spoken-word lines from the song. “If you wanna catch the biggest fish in your pond, you have to be as attractive as possible.”

For the video, Pom Pom Squad journeyed back to the same high school the original video was shot and enlisted real students to star alongside Berrin, who plays the teacher, football star, coach, and, of course, cheerleader. For an extra boost of authenticity, Caws joins the band on the football field to play guitar and sing backing vocals.

Watch the video for “Popular” at the link below and catch Pom Pom Squad at Neumos on Friday, March 11th.

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Feb 14, 2022
Greg Cypher & Def Dee - Right On (feat. 10isee Williams)
303

Greg Cypher & Def Dee - "Right On (feat. 10isee Williams)" from the 2021 album Third Stone on Nine Six Intl.

For over a decade Greg Cypher climbed the ranks of Seattle hip hop as one-half of Kung Foo Grip alongside fellow rapper Eff Is H. Never disappointing with their live show, the duo concocted a hip hop, trap rap, and punk cocktail that saw them looking beyond a single genre for influences. Everyone from Pink Floyd to Nirvana had a hand in shaping their sound.

Since releasing their celebrated 2018 record 2KFG, it’s been quiet on the KFG front. Cypher, on the other hand, has been busy releasing his debut solo material. In 2020, he dropped the vibey EP Homebass featuring contributions from Aaron King, Dex Amora, Rick Rude, and even Mr. Hentvii aka Eff is H himself. A year later, his debut album Third Stone was unveiled.

A collaboration with producer Def Dee, the record once again sees a number of names hop on the mic over its seven tracks. Our Song of the Day, “Right On,” features the very clever yet possibly not yet recognizable name 10isee Williams. The Seattle-based artist joins Cypher on the loungey track for effortless flows about ignoring what others say and focusing on elevating yourself.

On February 25th Cypher is throwing a cassette release/birthday show at Vermillion featuring performances by AJ Suede, Blake Anthony, Edibles, and Mile. Watch Kung Foo Grip’s KEXP in-studio performance from 2018 at the link below.

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Feb 11, 2022
A La Una - On My Way (feat. Kimmortal)
194

A La Una - "On My Way (feat. Kimmortal)," a 2022 single on Palms High Records.

A La Una is the just the latest iteration of a long-running collaboration between Lex Junior and Romeo Candido. Formerly known as DATU, the duo has progressed from focusing on contemporizing traditional Filipino music to a vast landscape of various tempos, stories, and textures as A La Una.

Our Song of the Day, “On My Way,” represents just one side or facet of the sounds A La Una is making and sees the duo put Vancouver rapper Kimmortal to the front. Over a ferocious beat, Kimmortal spits a story of resilience in the face of hardship with an allegory for being considered too short to play basketball. Written for the NBA, the song is the lead track in a short film directed by Candido called “Shorty.” Kimmortal said this about the song on Instagram:

“Wagkang Mahiya!” - my parents would say this to my siblings and i growing up. It would jolt me up and forward to just do it, to not be shy, to use my voice. Don’t hesitate, don’t hold back, Go in!

i wish you all fearlessness, courage and bravery when navigating this terrain. Practise being in your power because you are not powerless, you are powerful, divine and whole.”

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Feb 10, 2022
Lucius - Next To Normal
191

Lucius - "Next To Normal" from the 2022 album Second Nature on Mom + Pop Records.

After spending the past few years lending their voices to their friends’ records such as The War on Drugs’ I Don’t Live Here Anymore and Brandi Carlile’s In These Silent Days, Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe are finally unveiling their latest album as Lucius.

Titled Second Nature, the record is due out April 8th and features contributions from Drew Erickson, Rob Moose, and Gabriel Cabezas, plus backing vocals from Carlile and Sheryl Crow. Our Song of the Day is the album's lead single “Next to Normal.” An absolute banger of a track, the song is a groovy disco earworm that sees the duo channel the Bee Gees to great effect. If this is what the whole album sounds like then there’s no way it doesn’t end up on all the year-end lists!

“It is a record that begs you not to sit in the difficult moments, but to dance through them,” Wolfe said of Second Nature in a statement. “It touches upon all these stages of grief—and some of that is breakthrough, by the way. Being able to have the full spectrum of the experience that we have had, or that I’ve had in my divorce, or that we had in lockdown, having our careers come to a halt, so to speak. I think you can really hear and feel the spectrum of emotion and hopefully find the joy in the darkness. It does exist. That’s why we made Second Nature and why we wanted it to sound the way it did: our focus was on dancing our way through the darkness.”

Watch the appropriately kaleidoscopic video for “Next to Normal” at the link below and check out Lucius’ upcoming tour dates here (unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a Seattle show).

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Feb 09, 2022
Lady Wray - Melody (feat. Melody Bloom Bacote)
228

Lady Wray - "Melody (feat. Melody Bloom Bacote)" from the 2021 album Piece of Me on Big Crown Records.

Nicole Wray’s musical career is a long and winding one, with a series of highs like collaborating with Missy Elliot and then getting signed to her label, a certified gold single with 1998’s “Make It Hot,” and doing background vocals for The Black Keys and Lee Fields. Her lows, on the other hand, were devastating. A series of re-signings to various labels from Goldmind to Roc-A-Fella to Def Jam to Dame Dash Music Group led to album pushback after album pushback, stalling her career in a massive way. In truth, she should’ve been an R&B superstar.

Thankfully, Wray didn’t give up because her latest record under the name Lady Wray, January’s Piece of Me, is a brilliant blend of soul, R&B and hip hop that feels like an instant classic. Our Song of the Day, “Melody,” is a touching ode to the profound love she’s come to feel from her daughter. A stripped-down guitar ballad, Wray exudes raw emotion over the finger-picked melody. The voice of her daughter sweetly asking, “Is that a star?’ comingles with her sometimes strained, cracked voice for a moment that feels intimate and very real.

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Feb 08, 2022
JusMoni - Reckoning
191

JusMoni - "Reckoning," a 2021 self-released single.

Here at KEXP, we’ve long been fans of JusMoni aka Moni Tep. Back in 2018, alongside the release of her latest album Sweet to Me, she curated a Midnight in a Perfect World set, the track “Characters” was chosen as Song of the Day, and she played her first KEXP in-studio. Finally, after three years, she’s ready to release something new.

Released in November, “Reckoning” appears to be the first taste of an upcoming album titled your body, your skin tone. While a release date has yet to be revealed, this single is great enough to tide us over until she decides to deliver. Typically vibey and celestial, the track is led by a downtempo beat by frequent collaborator Martín Saucelíto that pairs perfectly with JusMoni’s heavenly hums about the effort it takes to heal.

“I remember laying on my living room floor, high as hell, piecing all these words together,” JusMoni said in an Instagram post about the song. “I hadn’t started therapy yet. My triggers were creepin up on all sides of me and I was just trying to make way. Sitting in grief, swallowing me full. But for whatever reason, all the reasons- I seen somethin better for me.”

Watched the video for “Reckoning,” directed by Abdul Kassamali, at the link below.

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Feb 07, 2022
Chastity Belt - Fear
257

Chastity Belt - "Fear," a 2021 self-released single.

Local faves Chastity Belt recently returned with the limited 7” ‘Fake/Fear,’ the quartet’s first release since 2020’s “The Process,” a digital split release with Melbourne trio Loose Tooth. “Fear” was the first of the two to be shared and is an anxiously dreamy slow-burner about going through life with uneasy trepidation. Lead guitarist Lydia Lund penned this one and had this to say about the song:

“I wrote the song a few summers ago based around a dream I had. At one point in the dream, I was opening door after door, noticing the fear build, then dissipate upon opening, then build again when I realized there was yet another door. It felt like my dream was giving me practice in noticing my fear as something separate from the thing causing the fear, as something potentially more harmful and unbearable.

About a year later I was recording vocals out at my parents’ place. My mom knocked on the door – ‘is there anything you want to talk to me about? Is there something you’re afraid of?’ At that point I’d become so detached from the lyrics of the song it took me a minute to realize she thought I was doing some kind of primal scream therapy. And I guess in a way I am.”

The song came with a medieval-themed video directed by Eleanor Petry, who chatted with KEXP about her relationship with Chastity Belt and the making of the videos for both “Fear” and “Fake” back in December. Watch the video at the link below.

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Feb 04, 2022
Boy Harsher - Give Me a Reason
266

Boy Harsher - "Give Me a Reason" from the 2022 album The Runner on NUDE CLUB.

The Northampton, MA-via-Savannah, GA duo Boy Harsher recently added filmmaker to their resume with the release of their debut feature film The Runner. Obviously, any arthouse horror film wouldn’t be complete without a killer soundtrack and vocalist/lyricist Jae Matthews and producer Augustus Muller have been readying themselves since 2013 by making cold darkwave that makes for a perfect backdrop to horrifying tension.

Our Song of the Day, “Give Me a Reason,” is the second track on the original soundtrack for the film and strikes a perfect balance of spooky and sensual with its throbbing, droney ambiance. “Did you mean to touch me that way?” asks Matthews with a gruff. “Come and tell me /I'm the only one /Speak of the devil /And she will appear.”

“With ‘Give Me a Reason,’ we wanted to write something that encapsulates that feeling of yearning — the way we feel when we catch eyes from across the room,” said Matthews in a statement. “Our music can be flirty and crushable, and it’s fun to play with that.”

Boy Harsher is taking The Runner on tour this spring, with a date in Seattle on April 15th at the Crocodile. Watch the trailer for The Runner at the link below.

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Feb 03, 2022
Dijon - Talk Down
152

Dijon - "Talk Down" from the 2021 album Absolutely on Warner.

LA-based artist and former half of the alt R&B duo Abhi//Dijon, Dijon released his debut album Absolutely back in November, perhaps just a smidge too late in the year for listeners to spend the appropriate time cozying up with it for the album to end up on the 2021 year-end lists that it absolutely should have been on. A home-run of a first record, Absolutely is a brilliant blend of smooth R&B and downtempo pop, with flourishes of Americana.

Our Song of the Day, “Talk Down,” is just one of the many highlights on Absolutely. Built upon a shuffling breakbeat, Dijon huskily croons out an arresting story of a couple on a road trip, where landscapes change, arguments ensue, and the radio is constantly playing music in the background. Gillian Welch, the Band, and Liz Phair soundtrack their journey, often distracting the narrator from their conversation who pleads to turn the music down.

Dijon will be on tour starting late April 2022, with a stop in Seattle on May 22nd at the Crocodile. Watch an abbreviated live version of “Talk Down” at the link below.

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Feb 02, 2022
Parris - Skater's World (feat. Eden Samara)
213

Parris - "Skater's World (feat. Eden Samara)" from the 2021 album Soaked In Indigo Moonlight on Can You Feel The Sun.

Parris is a London-born-and-raised producer who has been using his grime, drum 'n' bass, and pop influences to weave diverse soundscapes since his 2017 split single release Burr / Blue. 2021 saw him finally unveil his debut full-length, Soaked in Indigo Moonlight, which intertwines stripped-down, airy compositions, jittery experiments, and club-rooted pop for a dynamic, exciting listen.

Our Song of the Day, “Skater’s World,” is one of the poppiest, upbeat, and carefree tracks on the record. Featuring upcoming London-via-Toronto singer/producer Eden Samara, the track is a frenetic eulogy to friendship and skateboarding. Parris aka Dwayne Parris-Robinson says this about the album:

“The only constant truth is change. This is a record about understanding yourself. This is a record about finding the support you trust so you can have the confidence to start building. It is a record about friendship. About hanging out, about skating. This is an album built on Pop, then torn into my thing. Charli XCX, Lana Del Rey, Frank Ocean, Kewngface, Digga D, SL, Unknown T, Vince Staples, Lil Peep, Denzel Curry and Emmy the Great: if you’ve known me then you’ve known these are the reverberations in my head. I write music in blue, this album is my indigo. They say only moonlight shows your true reflection, that is the light of this record.”

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Feb 01, 2022
serpentwithfeet - Down Nuh River
127

serpentwithfeet - "Down Nuh River" from the 2021 EP DEACON'S Grove on Secretly Canadian.

In March of 2021, Los Angeles-via-Baltimore experimental soul artist serpentwithfeet released his sophomore album DEACON, which ended up on both KEXP’s Larry Rose and Larry Mizell Jr.’s top albums of 2021. While that one incredible record would’ve been quite sufficient for one year’s release, the artist who’s legally known as Josiah Wise quickly followed that up with a companion EP this past October titled DEACON'S Grove featuring reinterpretations of two DEACON songs, a remix of “Fellowship” featuring Ambre and Alex Isley, and the new songs “Down Nuh River” and “Shoot Ya Shot.”

Our Song of the Day, “Down Nuh River,” is characteristically hushed but playful in its sing-song manner. “When working on ‘Down Nuh River’ I was thinking of all the songs that me, my friends and cousins made up as kids," serpentwithfeet said of the song. "We had so much fun creating and reinventing songs on the playground and the porch. I wanted to channel that energy in this track."

The song comes with a video that channels that youthful spirit. Directed by Keith Nedd, the video sees Wise a few friends performing a choreographed dance routine on a school football field, dressed in matching outfits made for the playfield. Watch the video for “Down Nuh River” as well as serpentwithfeet’s Live on KEXP at Home session with Larry Mizell Jr. from 2020 at the link below and catch serpentwithfeet in Seattle on Saturday, February 26th at Neumos.

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Jan 31, 2022
Friedberg - Yeah
175

Friedberg - "Yeah" from the 2021 album YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH on Marathon Artists.

Indie pop quartet Friedberg is named after frontwoman Anna F.’s Austrian hometown and is just the latest project from the musician, who had a successful solo career in her native country that included two chart-topping records and four Amadeus Austrian Music Awards, before joining forces with Emily Linden, Laura Williams and Cheryl Pinero as Friedberg.

One could say that Anna F.’s prestigious history is the reason Friedberg has been making major waves despite only having a string of singles and one five-song EP out but that would be extremely reductive to the incredible music the band is making. Our Song of the Day, the abridged title track off 2021’s Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, is pure, unadulterated fun. What the song lacks in depth, it makes up for in spades with its catchy dance groove and joyful exuberance. Anna F. had this to say about the song:

“‘Yeah’ is my personal anthem for letting go – of everything and anything. From voices in your head, pictures popping up and patterns you have learnt. When we wrote the song we were just dancing to the groove in the studio until all those voices and things disappeared and basically only the yeahs, the beat and bassline remained. Dancing yourself clean I suppose.”

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Jan 28, 2022
Qlowski - Folk Song
218

Qlowski - "Folk Song" from the 2021 album Quale Futuro? on Maple Death Records.

London-by-way-of-Italy art-punk outfit Qlowski is led by Michele Tellarini and Cecilia Corapi. Friends since the age of 16, the duo have dabbled with a number of sounds and influences over the past decade, which is apparent on their debut full-length Quale Futuro? which eccentrically fuses new wave and post-punk with just a flourish of twee for a sound that’s both nostalgic and refreshing.

Our Song of the Day, “Folk Song,” is deceptive in its titling because, for all the genres the band meshes together, folk is not one of them. Abrasive rhythms coincide with motorik guitar strums while Tellarini mumble-roars nearly imperceptible lyrics, sounding like a fusion of Robert Smith, Joe Talbot, and Hamish Kilgour.

The song comes with a video directed by Eli Hart. The band had this to say about it:

"The original idea was to recreate a late 70s/early 80s Top of the Pops scenario - but given the nature of the song we opted for a more dreamy/nightmarish vibe. The presenter is struggling pronouncing our name and no one in the crowd is even slightly touched by our performance and music. Everyone is actually frozen in time, as if our music wasn’t even reaching their reality. For once we wanted to be ironic and funny, but it turned out quite Lynchian I'm afraid!"

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Jan 27, 2022
Amelie Siba - hold on to me
219

Amelie Siba - "hold on to me" from the 2021 self-released EP when is our time.

Prague-based singer-songwriter Amelie Siba makes quiet, intimate songs that are simple in instrumentation so as to focus on Siba’s childlike falsetto which belies the maturity of her songwriting. Following 2019’s introductory EP titled It Was Nice to Meet You, Siba’s 2020 debut full-length Dye My Hair arrived when the musician was just 17 years old and went on to earn her the critics’ choice Apollo award for the Czech album of the year.

2021 saw Siba release both the EP when is our time and the full-length Love Cowboys. Our Song of the Day, “hold on to me,” comes from the latter release. While the EP continues Siba’s penchant for gentle melodies and airy vocals, she sets aside the guitar to incorporate electronic beats for just the smallest hint of danceability over the EP’s four songs. “hold on to me” closes out the EP with spacious, layered vocals with the wistful sentiment of yearning to be loved and held.

Amelie Siba played the Netherlands-based non-profit showcase for European artists Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) this past weekend. At the link below, watch Siba’s video for “New Normal,” a song off the Czech film of the same name from the Laterna for Camera series.

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Jan 26, 2022
Meskerem Mees - Joe
193

Meskerem Mees - "Joe" from the 2021 album Julius on Mayway Records.

Belgium-based singer-songwriter Meskerem Mees first appeared on the scene in 2020 with her debut single, “Joe.” A sweet and simple guitar ballad, Mees’ soft, clear voice takes center stage and pulls listeners in with her saccharine coos, making it an easy choice for Song of the Day.

“Joe” went on to become a massive commercial and critical success in Belgium and its neighboring countries and set Mees up to release her debut album Julius in November 2021. At only 22 years old, the 13 songs that make up Julius show an artist fully formed in her timeless delivery of catchy, well-crafted folk-pop gems. With just her voice, an acoustic guitar, and the cello of her sister-in-arms Febe Lazou, the sparse songs carry so much more weight than their simplicity belies.

Meskerem Mees played the Netherlands-based non-profit showcase for European artists Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) this past weekend, where they were also awarded with the Grand Jury MME Award for the Music Moves Europe Awards.

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Jan 25, 2022
LADANIVA - Vay Aman
199

LADANIVA - "Vay Aman" from the 2020 EP Ladaniva on Planete B.

Ladaniva is the musical partnership between Armenian singer Jacqueline Baghdasaryan and French multi-instrumentalist Louis Thomas. Founded by the duo in 2019, they went viral in the early days of the pandemic with the release of the video for our Song of the Day, “Vay Aman.” Set in a sunny locale with faces full of joy, it’s hard not to smile while watching their effervescent playing.

Ladaniva’s music takes influences from all around the world, from traditional Balkan music to maloya, jazz and reggae, with strong roots in Armenian folk. It reflects Baghdasaryan’s DNA, of Armenian and Belarussian descent while Thomas came from a family of musicians and began to play trumpet at the age of 7. After a jazz course at the conservatory, he traveled with his instruments around Africa and Latin America and got introduced to a long list of musical genres through meetings with traditional musicians. The two fused their backgrounds and styles after meeting in Lille, France, where Baghdasaryan is a vocal teacher at the MusicaLille music school. 

Ladaniva played the Netherlands-based non-profit showcase for European artists Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) this past weekend, where they were also awarded with the esteemed prize of Public Choice Award for the Music Moves Europe Awards.

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Jan 24, 2022
Jayomi - Julia
186

Jayomi - "Julia" from the 2021 self-released album Midnight Love Note.

Local band Jayomi has been wowing underground audiences with their dreamy take on indiepop for a few years now but didn’t release recorded music until 2019’s Wet Burrito. The album was the band’s attempt to recreate the sad yet beautiful nature of those late romantic composers through the lens of modern day indie pop music.

Since the pandemic, the lineup has slimmed to just frontman Jon Wu and his partner Ruka Bleu. Together, they created Jayomi’s latest release midnight love note, released in September 2021. Our Song of the Day, “Julia,” is the opening track off the record and displays a sense of longing.

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Jan 21, 2022
Parcels - Somethinggreater
200

Parcels - "Somethinggreater" from the 2021 album Day/Night on Because Music.

Australia-born, Berlin-based five-piece Parcels make groovy electropop, blending funk and disco in intoxicating fashion. Their 2018 self-titled debut blew up with a little help from Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, better known as Daft Punk, who produced the album’s lead single “Overnight.”

But the assist from one of the world’s most popular disco duos hasn’t led Parcels to rest on their laurels. With their latest album, Day/Night, the band created an ambitious double album that plays out like a sweeping movie soundtrack. Our Song of the Day, “Somethinggreater,” is the album’s lead single and proves that the Aussies picked up a thing or two from their French friends. Slinky and sexy, the bouncey track has a natural groove that ebbs between subdued emotional moments and energetic dancefloor bursts.

The band had this to say bout the song: “In early 2020, Noah showed us a demo that contained a chorus line that had us all particularly excited. It had an anthem-like quality and felt really fitting to what we were channelling through the albums. We jammed out the track in our rehearsal room in Berlin and fell upon the chorus groove all at once, a special instantaneousness that seems to be only achieved in a live jam, and as a result we proceeded to play it for hours. Anatole began to cry with the tears that usually come from when you are lost in a night-club, alas, we felt we had hit something really special. With the song’s clear message of search and discovery, it felt absolutely right to record ‘Somethinggreater’ first upon entering La Frette studios.”

The song comes with a video directed by Carmen Crommelin. Watch it at the link below.

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Jan 20, 2022
Bully - Just for Love
198

Bully - "Just For Love," a 2021 single on Sub Pop.

If you somehow missed SUGAREGG, the third studio album from Nashville’s Bully, when it was released a year and a half ago then it’s definitely time to circle back. Furious and fiery, Alicia Bognanno put her all into the record, which just finally got to be played on live stages this past December.

Ahead of that nine-date east coast tour, Bognanno revealed a new single called “Just For Love.” Co-produced by John Congleton during the SUGAREGG sessions, the song is similarly raw and wiry, with Bognanno’s lyrics half-obscured by her coarse expressions. While it’s not exactly clear, my interpretation of the song is it’s a conversation with one’s self about wanting to grow and change and to do it for yourself this time rather than for a partner (if so, great advice).

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Jan 19, 2022
Ibibio Sound Machine - Electricity
288

Ibibio Sound Machine - "Electricity," a 2021 single on Merge.

Just about three years ago, when the world was in a very different place, KEXP celebrated International Clash Day by venturing across the pond to London for a showcase of upcoming artists that radiate the spirit of the Clash in vibrant, diverse ways. One of the most electrifying performances over those four days came from electro Afro-funk ensemble Ibibio Sound Machine. Fusing the polyrhythms of West African funk, highlife, disco, and post-punk, the Nigeria-born, London-based band light stages figuratively on fire with their genre-bending sound.

This fall, the band released their first single since their 2019 LP Doko Mien with a title fitting for a band with this much kinetic energy. “Electricity” sees Ibibio Sound Machine team up with Hot Chip for a pulsing electronic track with elements of West African instrumentation. ISM vocalist Eno Williams had this to say about “Electricity”:

“Even in trying times, ‘without love, there’s no electricity.’ This one started out as an idea to mix Afrobeat with Giorgio Moroder–style synth vibes. The end section with Alfred’s korego (Ghanaian 2-stringed folk guitar) solo was already there when we got into the studio, but then we added the big kick drum that happens underneath and Owen from Hot Chip’s crazy drum machine percussion at the end, which gave it a futuristic Afro feel when mixed with the more talking drum parts.”

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Jan 18, 2022
Beach House - Once Twice Melody
285

Beach House Once - "Twice Melody" from the 2022 album Once Twice Melody on Sub Pop.

As longtime fans and champions of Baltimore-based band Beach House, the excitement over the dream pop duo’s partially-released double LP Once Twice Melody is feverish, to say the least. With two of the four chapters already released, it’s clear to see Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have a masterpiece on their hands with their eighth studio record.

Our Song of the Day is the album’s title track and the lead single off the album. As also the opening track, “Once Twice Melody” sets the dreamy, cinematic mood that Beach House has made their signature over the past 18(?!) years. For the first time, a live string ensemble is brought in to back the sparkling synths and arpeggiated guitar strums, adding lush texture and drama. Legrand’s lyrics are similarly illusory, telling the story of a girl who lives in her head - preferring romantic daydreams over the dull realities of life.

The third chapter of Once Twice Melody is out this Wednesday, January 19th. The full release is Friday, February 18th with an option of a Limited “GOLD” Edition 2xLP in a gold-embossed, hinged box on gold and clear vinyl with full-color booklet and 2 exclusive posters if you want to go all in. Beach House is (hopefully, depending on Covid) heading out on tour this February, with a date in Seattle on Sunday, April 3rd at the Paramount. Watch the lyric video for “Once Twice Melody” at the link below.

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Jan 17, 2022
Floored Faces - I'd Be Broke
225

Floored Faces - "I'd Be Broke" from the 2021 self-released album Kool Hangs.

Floored Faces are the latest to emerge from Seattle’s heavy rock scene, drawing influence from Northwest greats like the Melvins, Tad, and the Sonics. Fusing that heavy rock energy with psychedelic and indie, the trio makes songs just as melodic as they are dense.

Our Song of the Day, “I’d Be Broke,” is an excellent example of this harmonious fusion. Anchored by a sludgy, throbbing riff, flourishes of bright guitar and harmonic vocals lightens the load for a vibey head-bobber of a track. The song comes off of Floored Faces’ November release, Kool Hangs. Somewhat of a concept album, Kool Hangs “explores the absurd yet tangible fantasy of an apocalyptic world where the only personal belongings that remain are a motocross bike and a cassette copy of Monster Magnet's 'Dopes to Infinity', and a shotgun,” according to Bandcamp.

In an interview, the band described “I’d Be Broke” as, “A love song to time and space —fleeting experiences with a flash flood of life always coming at us full steam. It’s about holding people and memories we love close. Dedicated to a close friend who passed away too soon: never spend your time unwisely, never go broke.”

The song was released alongside a video that starts out in a winter wonderland starring a very pale girl in red but then makes the stark transition to the complete opposite terrain - sunny beaches and the surfers who ride the waves. Watch the video, directed by Floored Faces, at the link below.

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Jan 14, 2022
Constant Smiles - Run To Stay
158

Constant Smiles - "Run to Stay" from the 2021 album Paragons on Sacred Bones.

Since 2009, Constant Smiles have been churning out roughly an album a year, amassing a pretty enormous discography that’s now 15 records deep. Led by Ben Jones, the band is more of a collective, with more than 50 members providing contributions over the past 13 years. While Constant Smiles have tried out a number of varying sounds over the years, their latest release sees the collective join the Sacred Bones family for a 13-track record of dynamic indie rock titled Paragons.

Our Song of the Day is the album’s lead single “Run to Stay,” a mid-tempo strummer with a shimmering, wistful tone. “‘Run To Stay’ is about not being present in the moment, and struggling with antisocial tendencies,” explains Jones. “Like when you’re at a party or talking to someone but you’re only half paying attention to what they’re saying because you can’t stop thinking about other things you need to do. Or when you avoid hanging out with friends because you want to work on music or something, but nothing comes to you so you just end up sitting around all day.”

The song comes with a video self-directed by the band that sees its members traveling separately, in various modes of transportation. Says Jones of the video, “We were trying to capture that anxious feeling of always needing to be somewhere or be doing something else but realizing that it isn’t ever that important.”

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Jan 13, 2022
Lætitia Sadier - New Moon
247

Lætitia Sadier - "New Moon," a 2021 single on Drag City.

Laetitia Sadier’s heavenly croons became familiar to us via Stereolab back when they appeared on the scene in the early ‘90s. On our Song of the Day, “New Moon,” Sadier proves her vocals have not only remained intact but, like a fine wine, have grown with age.

The lead single off her forthcoming, as yet untitled, solo record is founded by a sultry bossa nova beat with dreamy guitar strums and poetic, somewhat esoteric, lyricism. “Dreaming you fall /Into being /Turbulent transition /Evade /Overriding /The feelings,” Sadier calls out. Recorded in London by Sadier and Hannes Plattmeier, she had this to say about "New Moon":

"The nature of trauma - by going through a process of feeling the emotions of all of that has stricken or afflicted us, individually. By not avoiding these feelings, it's a way to evolve and cut the ties of the past, that are keeping us down and into the turmoil we are currently experiencing.”

The new record follows 2017’s Find Me Finding You, which was released under the name Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble. Stereolab released the compilation album Electrically Possessed, which collected the band's rarities spanning from 1999 to 2008, in early 2021. Watch the video for “New Moon,” directed by Sadier and Tanya Small, at the link below.

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Jan 12, 2022
Bonobo - Rosewood
243

Bonobo - "Rosewood" from the 2022 album Fragments on Ninja Tune.

Since the late ‘90s, Simon Green has been sharing his sweeping electronic grooves as Bonobo to much acclaim. 2022 will see him unveil his hotly anticipated seventh full-length Fragments. Created during the pandemic, the songs were made out of fragmented pieces of ideas the British-born, LA-based producer put together while on lockdown with the help of some notable names like Jamila Woods, Joji, Kadhja Bonet, and Jordan Rakei.

Our Song of the Day is the record’s lead single, “Rosewood.” Customarily warm and woozy, the song has a locked groove with the repeating phrase, “I won’t leave you,” providing emotional resonance until the song’s cathartic dance floor build-up. It’s a lesson in restraint, letting the subtle flourishes of the song shine while never fully releasing or doing too much.

Fragments is out this Friday, January 14 via Ninja Tune. It follows up Bonobo’s 2020 collaborative EP with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Heartbreak / 6000 Ft. and his Grammy-nominated 2017 full-length Migration. Watch Bonobo’s KEXP in-studio session from 2017 at the link below.

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Jan 11, 2022
Carrie Biell - Come By
203

Carrie Biell - "Come By" from the 2022 self-released album We Get Along.

As one-quarter of Moon Palace, which she founded with her twin sister Cat Biell, Carrie Biell makes warm and rambling indie rock with a hint of desert psychedelia. For her solo work, which she’s been releasing since 2001’s treasured and difficult to find Symphony of Sirens, her music is much more intimate, stripped-down, and nearly always downtempo.

Our Song of the Day, “Come By,” sounds like it could easily be a Sharon Van Etten track, with Biell’s gravelly voice leading slow-chugging guitar strums with just the faintest twang. The song comes from Beill’s forthcoming pandemic-made record We Get Along, out in February 2022. The record will be her first solo full-length in 14 years, following 2008’s When Your Feet Hit the Stars. Biell had this to say about “Come By”:

“This song means the world to me because it is the first song I wrote in the whole collection for the record. It was after playing a show with my friend, Sera Cahoone. She suggested that we should collaborate on a song and then I ran with it. Sera added harmonies, and also came up with ideas for some of the song’s instrumentation.

“‘Come By’ is about the moment a long flirtation crosses over into more between two people who are both healing from long partnerships that ended unexpectedly. It’s a new beginning, that none of them envisioned for themselves. It’s a much-needed leap forward, and although there may be a lot of past relationship baggage hanging over, or seem too soon after a breakup, there is an ask to set that all aside and go for it. To let yourself enjoy the moment and take a leap with a new person.”

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Jan 10, 2022
Eternia & Rel McCoy - Home (feat. Shad & SHEAL)
208

Eternia & Rel McCoy - "Home (feat. Shad & SHEAL)" from the 2021 album FREE on Fat Beats.

This past September saw two of Toronto’s hip hop stars team up for a collaborative album titled FREE. Juno-nominated rapper Eternia and Juno-winning producer Rel McCoy put together twelve tracks that flex their skills while shining a light on some of the criminally underrated talent that’s coming out of Canada.

Our Song of the Day, “Home,” sees two of those underrated talents join them, Juno-winning rapper Shad and angelic vocalist SHEAL. Inspired by and built off of the latter artist’s 2016 track of the same name, the song samples SHEAL’s emotional hook and is led by Eternia’s opening bars exploring displacement, loneliness, and homelessness. Shad then joins in for an incredible verse about his idea of home and the struggle to plant seeds while Rel’s downtempo instrumental guides them, well, home.

The song comes with a video by Noisemaker Media’s Mark Carrenceja, who focuses squarely on the faces of the artists while journeying through two of Eternia’s homes - her former Queens and, now, Toronto. Watch the video at the link below.

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Jan 07, 2022
NeONE the Wonderer - Nose Dive
266

NeONE the Wonderer - "Nose Dive" from the 2021 album Future Bubblers 5.0 on Brownswood Recordings.

Nathan Lawrence might have a limited body of work at NeONE the Wonderer, just a smattering of singles going back to early Summer 2020, but what the UK-based artist has out showcases a fully-formed artist with a captivating point of view. Our Song of the Day, “Nose Dive,” displays his penchant for jazzy, grooves, intoxicating soulful croons, and effortless flows on topics both personal and metaphysical.

The song comes from the 5th edition of the Future Bubblers compilation. An expansion of Gilles Peterson’s network supported by Arts Council England and the PRS Foundation, Future Bubblers is an ongoing talent discovery and artist development scheme focuses on developing unsigned talent and building audiences for new left-field music. The compilation acts as a springboard for the musician’s careers with the cooperative model providing direct revenue to the artists by a share of the profits resulting in a sustainable income to work from. Previous Future Bubblers include artists such as Yazmin Lacey, Skinny Pelembe, MC Snowy, Forest Law and Kayla Painter to name a few.

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Jan 06, 2022
Earl Sweatshirt - Tabula Rasa (feat. Armand Hammer)
258

Earl Sweatshirt - "Tabula Rasa (feat. Armand Hammer)" from the 2022 album Sick on Tan Cressida, inc/Warner.

Former Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt is gearing up to release his latest album, Sick, this month and the anticipation couldn’t be higher. His first release since 2019’s introspective Feet of Clay, Sick is still mostly a mystery other than the two singles released ahead of its arrival, “2010” and “Tabula Rasa.”

The latter track is our Song of the Day and for good reason. Featuring the duo that made one of the biggest marks on hip hop in 2021, Armand Hammer, the song is a woozy spectacle of talent. An unchanging repeating piano line and fractured sample make a perfect bed for Earl, Elucid, and billy woods to lay their lyrics on. Each politely taking his own turn, they lethargically spit their individual truths for a poetic manifesto.

Sick is my humble offering of 10 songs recorded in the wake of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns,” Earl Sweatshirt said in a statement. “Before the virus, I had been working on an album I named after a book I used to read with my mother (The People Could Fly). Once the lockdowns hit, people couldn’t fly anymore. A wise man said art imitates life. People were sick. The People were angry and isolated and restless. I leaned into the chaos cause it was apparent that it wasn’t going anywhere. These songs are what happened when I would come up for air.”

Sick is out January 14 via Tan Cressida/Warner Records. “Tabula Rasa” was released alongside a lo-fi video of the rappers in the studio, making magic happen (or, in the case of billy woods, grilling ribs). Watch it at the link below.

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Jan 05, 2022
Waahli - DERIVE (feat. Webz)
232

Waahli - "DERIVE (feat. Webz)," a 2021 single on Wyzah Musk Prod.

Born and raised in Montreal to a Haitian family, Waahli is one of the leading members of Hip Hop supergroup Nomadic Massive. He is revered as a trilingual emcee (English, French, Creole), guitarist and beatmaker. In 2018, he broke out on his own to release the debut solo album Black Soap and has since followed that up with 2020’s Soap Opera EP (Waahli is also an organic soap maker, hence his thematic focus on the sudsy cleaning product) and a string of singles.

One of his recent singles and today’s Song of the Day is a reimagining of the song "À la Derive,” originally written by Haitian songwriter Fabrice Rouzier and performed by his fellow countryman Eric Charles. Built on a series of guitar loops entitled “nights in the cave” that Waahli regularly posted on social media and featuring vocals from the Paris-based Franco-Haitian singer Webz, the song is a dreamier, jazzier, more melancholic take on the Haitian original.

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Jan 04, 2022
The Midnight Hour - Jazz Is Dead (Georgia Anne Muldrow Geemix)
161

The Midnight Hour - "Jazz Is Dead (Georgia Anne Muldrow Geemix)" from the 2021 album Remixes JID010 on Jazz Is Dead.

As The Midnight Hour, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge collaborate with a long list of incredible musicians to make a fusion of soul, jazz, and hip hop that’s inspired by the sophisticated sounds of yesteryears. Their acclaimed 2018 self-titled debut was star-studded featuring the likes of features from CeeLo Green, Raphael Saadiq, Marsha Ambrosius, Bilal, Eryn Allen Kane, Karolina, and more.

In 2020, the duo expanded their reach by creating the imprint Jazz Is Dead, where “younger artists are elaborating upon conversations started decades ago; jazz icons are utilizing vintage equipment to create new masters with Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad; the same equipment that recorded their coveted catalogs.” In the past two years, they’ve released 10 albums of recordings that take on the scores of composers past to bring into the present.

As the final chapter in the initial run of Jazz Is Dead releases, Remixes JID010 continues the creative catharsis of an exhilarating new chapter in jazz music. Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad tapped nine iconic creators to reimagine their personal favorites from Jazz Is Dead’s catalogue to-date, who created striking new versions of songs by Marcos Valle, Roy Ayers, Gary Bartz, Azymuth, João Donato, Doug Carn, Brian Jackson and The Midnight Hour. Holding the line taut like a bass string, Younge & Muhammad only invited those special musical alchemists who have previously participated in Jazz Is Dead happenings, or those who are slated to share that stage soon.

Our Song of the Day sees the prolific songwriter, rapper, musician, singer, and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow take on the title track of the series and label, “Jazz Is Dead.” Muldrow’s version completely reinvents the jazzy and percussion-heavy original into a slinky trip-hop track with the lyrics stretched out and lingered on in serpentine fashion. Sparkling electronic glitches and synth keys replace the brass, drums, and piano of the original, for a smooth, contemporary imagining of the song.

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Jan 03, 2022
Alina Pash - Bosorkanya
177

Alina Pash - "Bosorkanya" from the 2019 album PINTEA:GORY on Bitanga LLC.

Alina Pash will be performing at this year's virtual Eurosonic (ESNS) Music Festival and Conference January 19-22.

Known for a great number of things in her home country of Ukraine, Alina Pash is a former X-Factor semi-finalist, style icon, and an innovative musician breaking boundaries with her bold use of Carpathian traditional sounds with electronic, hip-hop, and pop. Cited as “100% Bitanga” which translates from the Ruthenian dialect to “Hooligan,” Pash uses her distinctly unique creative vision to carve her path.

Born in Transcarpathia (which doesn’t sound like a real place to me - like Genovia - but I assure you, it’s a very real geographical region in Western Ukraine with a fascinating history), Pash was inspired by the Transcarpathian legend Pintea the Great for her 2019 record PINTEA: GORY. A real life Robin Hood, the 17th century rebel is an ancestor of Pash’s and famous for his brave and merciful heart. Our Song of the Day “Bosorkanya,” which translates to “The Sorceress,” was an early single off the record and an excellent example of Pash’s use of mysterious folk legends within the framework of of a fun dance pop track.

The song is coupled with a high-production video of dance choreographed witches and demons casting spells and squaring off against religious leaders. Watch the video ahead of her virtual performance for Eurosonic Music Festival and Conference on January 19-22 at the link below.

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Dec 31, 2021
Дeva - Unglitched
352

Дeva - "Unglitched," a 2020 single on Move Gently Records.

Дeva  will be performing at this year's virtual Eurosonic (ESNS) Music Festival and Conference January 19-22 and has also been nominated for a Music Moves Europe Award.

Дeva/Deva is the solo project of Budapest-based musician Dorina Takács. Her use of blending traditional Hungarian folk music with pulsating electronic basslines and soaring polyphonic vocals has made her an artist on the rise in her home country. Recalling the layered instrumentation of Alt-J, the complex electronic compositions of Four Tet, and the haunting vocals of Bjork or Beth Gibbons, Deva is a compelling one to watch.

Our Song of the Day, “Unglitched,” is one of a string of singles released since 2020. Led by her airy falsetto, the track quickly glides into a dark trip-hop beat. One of the few songs of hers to be sung in English, Deva repeats the refrain of, “Are you facing the right direction?” A palm slapped drum adds a worldly flair to the electronic instrumentation and layered vocals, for something that sounds both of the past and very much the future.

Deva is nominated for a Music Moves Europe Award which celebrates emerging artists who represent the European sound of today and tomorrow. Every year, eight outstanding artists will receive a Music Moves Europe Award in recognition of their international success, as well as being rewarded with a performance at ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag) and financial support for touring and promotion. ESNS will take place virtually January 19-22.

Keep your eyes peeled for Deva’s debut LP Csillag, scheduled for release sometime in 2022. Until then, watch her live performance for Waves Vienna in 2020 at the link below.

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Dec 30, 2021
Denise Chaila - CHAILA
192

Denise Chaila - "CHAILA" from the 2020 album GO Bravely on narolane.

Denise Chaila will be performing at this year's virtual Eurosonic (ESNS) Music Festival and Conference January 19-22 and has also been nominated for a Music Moves Europe Award.

The past two years have been ones of extreme highs and lows for Zambian-Irish rapper Denise Chaila. On one hand, 2020 saw her release her debut full-length GO Bravely to rave reviews, prominent television performances, and a slew of nominations, leading her to become the highest ranking Irish woman in the country’s charts that year. She then followed that up with November’s five-song release It’s A Mixtape that saw her boldly exploring new sonic territories to acclaim.

At the same time, the giant push into the spotlight has led to an egregious amount of racism being thrown at the rapper on the internet. When GO Boldly won Chaila an RTÉ Choice Music Prize (the first time a mixtape has ever won the crown), the vitriol being aimed at Chaila in the comment sections was so disturbingly cruel that she asked RTÉ to stop tagging her in posts so that she wouldn’t have to witness the abuse. 

“CHAILA,” our Song of the Day and the hit that made people start paying attention to the rapper, is a fun and clever jab at all the people that haven’t been able to pronounce her name. “My name’s not that hard to pronounce /Pre-K it’s not profound,” she deadpans with a roll of her eyes. 

Watch the video for “CHAILA,” directed by Mark Logan, at the link below and catch Denise Chaila’s virtual performance at Eurosonic (ESNS) Music Festival and Conference January 19-22.

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Dec 29, 2021
Takeshi's Cashew - Sterndüne (Kosmodr∞m)
450

Takeshi’s Cashew - "Sterndüne (Kosmodr∞m)" from the 2021 album Humans In A Pool on Laut & Luise.

Takeshi’s Cashew will be performing at this year's virtual Eurosonic (ESNS) Music Festival and Conference January 19-22.

Blending genres, cultures, and regions into their own sound that they’ve titled “cosmofunk,” Takeshi’s Cashew can be seen taking just as much influence from sunny ‘60s surf as they do flute-filled Scandinavian folk, German krautrock, and Latin cumbia. Formed in 2020, the young band - name after the iconic Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle - unveiled their debut album Humans In A Pool in June of 2021. Recorded in their tiny DIY studio in Vienna, the album weaves a magical tapestry of sounds for something unique and timeless.

Our Song of the Day, “Sterndüne (Kosmodr∞m),” represents their lush sound impeccably. Spanning seven-and-a-half minutes of melodic synths, dancing flutes, and bright guitars - just to name a few of the many, many sounds introduced - the song goes on an epic quest in the name of the groove. Probably unsurprisingly, the song is only the second-longest track on the record, following the nearly eleven-minute closer “There Is No Harmony.”

Ahead of their virtual performance for Eurosonic (ESNS) Music Festival and Conference on January 19-22, watch a video of them performing “Akihi” at the link below.

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Dec 28, 2021
Anna B Savage - Corncrakes
224

Anna B Savage - "Corncrakes" from the 2021 album A Common Turn on City Slang.

Anna B Savage will be performing at this year's virtual Eurosonic (ESNS) Music Festival and Conference January 19-22.

In 2015, Anna B Savage released a straightforwardly titled EP titled just EP, with the four songs named after their tracklist placement. While it may have lacked appellative flair, the warmth and heart that radiated from her trembling vocals caught the ears of some big names like Father John Misty and Jenny Hval, who both brought her on tour. Turns out, it was all a bit too much too soon and the Dublin artist retreated.

Thankfully, last year she returned with the debut full-length A Common Turn. Our Song of the Day is the incredible “Corncrake,” an early single off the record. Brooding and beautiful, the song expresses both Savage’s depth of emotion and breadth of range - jumping from deep, rich croons to glistening falsetto with operatic ease. While starting out forlornly whispered, the song cathartically builds near the end with the repeating refrain of “I don’t know if this is even real / I don’t feel things as keenly as I used to,” for a dynamically emotional and visceral experience.

“At this moment in my life, I was entering a seismic shift,” Savage says of the song. “I felt like I was getting clues from the universe, and all I needed to do to ‘work it all out’ was piece them together. These clues came in the form of birds – in this instance a corncrake. I now see the corncrake as a layout for a theme: something tangible, but imperceptible, evident but not necessarily visible.”

For those unfamiliar with the species of bird known as corncrakes (they’re not common in America), they’re known for being easy to hear but often difficult to spot - hence the metaphor of imperceptibility. She goes on further to explain what exactly she was experiencing within her relationship at the time that made her think of the corncrake.

“It just appeared twice in a short space of time, not having known what it was, it being this thing you can hear but can’t certainly see, and it’s noticeable but not overwhelming or overbearing. When I was much younger, when I’d feel something for someone, I’d be ravenous to hang out around them all the time and wouldn’t be able to control myself in their presence. But with him, it felt calm, and because of that calmness, I was like, ‘Am I actually feeling proper sexy feelings, or do I just kind of love him?’ So that’s what that’s about, and the evolution of the way you feel things toward people when you get a little bit older.” 

The song comes along with a video by nature producer Chris Howard (Planet Earth Live, Springwatch, Autumnwatch) that’s meant to be a representation of “the happiness, confusion, longing, desire, sadness, and also a stoicism” that Anna had experienced in the last few years. Watch it at the link below.

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Dec 27, 2021
Mike Farris - Havana Santa
264

Mike Farris - "Havana Santa," a 2021 single on Compass Records.

This week, we are continuing a long-held tradition of featuring Christmas-themed songs selected by Brian Foss, host of KEXP’s punk show Sonic Reducer. Brian has been doing a punk rock Christmas special every year since 2004 and has been a Christmas Day on-air DJ since 2012. He will be hosting his non-traditional Christmas broadcast from noon to 6pm on Saturday, December 25th and then will be back on air later that night for Punk Rock Xmess 2021 at 9pm. No standards are played, only original X-Mess songs, most with a humorous bent.

Let’s be honest, there’s not a whole lot that’s sexy about Santa Claus. But have you met his brother? Ow ow! Grammy Award winning gospel, blues, and roots artist Mike Farris introduces a new character to the holidays with “Havana Santa.” The heated Latin track swaps the snow for the sea, where we meet the rum-drinking, mambo-dancing, red Camino-driving brother of St. Nick that’s living a very sultry life south of the border.

Apparently, the inspiration to make a Latin-style Christmas song came after Farris and his 13-piece holiday band covered a Marc Anthony song during their annual “Soul of Christmas” show in Nashville one year and it was an absolute crowd-pleaser. Farris had this to say about the song:

“The whole approach to writing “Havana Santa” was the same approach to the Soul of Christmas shows, and that is to bring maximum amounts of fun to the holiday season and to just fill the season with great memories and cheek numbing joy!”

The track features a long list of long-time collaborators and includes six Grammy award winners among them: Derrek Phillips (drums), Dave Roe (bass), Kenny Greenberg (guitars), Kevin Mckendree (piano/hammond organ), Giovanni Rodriguez (percussion), Jim Hoke (tenor and baritone sax/accordion), Steve Hermann (trumpet), Yates Mckendree (bass), Saunya Clayborn (singer), Samson White (singer), additional singers are Dave Roe, Giovanni Rodriguez, Jamie-Sue Seal, Cassidy Zuver, Derrek Phillips and Kenny Greenberg.

Get a taste of the fun that Farris and his collaborators bring to their Soul of Christmas events by watching a snippet of their performance of “Havana Santa” at this year’s show at the link below.

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Dec 24, 2021
India Ramey - Cocktail Christmas
187

India Ramey - "Cocktail for Christmas" from the 2021 album Christmas Times A'Comin' 2021 on Medicine Show Records.

This week, we are continuing a long-held tradition of featuring Christmas-themed songs selected by Brian Foss, host of KEXP’s punk show Sonic Reducer. Brian has been doing a punk rock Christmas special every year since 2004 and has been a Christmas Day on-air DJ since 2012. He will be hosting his non-traditional Christmas broadcast from noon to 6pm on Saturday, December 25th and then will be back on air later that night for Punk Rock Xmess 2021 at 9pm. No standards are played, only original X-Mess songs, most with a humorous bent.

We’re getting a little more Southern for today’s Song of the Day. “Cocktail for Christmas” is a bluegrass country tune about dealing with family during the holidays by getting completely and utterly wasted. With a delightful twang, India Ramey spells out her plan for coping, “Well Uncle Ren is drunk and talking politics again /I try to keep the peace but the room is starting to spin /But that’s fine with me /I’m where I need to be /To put up with my loved ones /I'll be lit up like a Christmas tree by the time the turkey's done.” Certainly one way to handle it!

Ramey is an Alabama-based lawyer-turned-musician who’s released who’s released four albums in the past decade, her most recent being 2020’s Shallow Graves. “Cocktail for Christmas” is included on Christmas Times A’ Comin’ 2021, the 6th compilation of holiday songs from The Medicine Show, a Scottish booking, promotion, and broadcast company run by Rob Ellen. Watch the kitschy video for “Cocktail for Christmas” directed by Stacie Huckeba at the link below.

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Dec 23, 2021
Phone Jerks - !Christmas on the Floor!
142

Phone Jerks - "!Christmas on the Floor!," a 2020 self-released single.

This week, we are continuing a long-held tradition of featuring Christmas-themed songs selected by Brian Foss, host of KEXP’s punk show Sonic Reducer. Brian has been doing a punk rock Christmas special every year since 2004 and has been a Christmas Day on-air DJ since 2012. He will be hosting his non-traditional Christmas broadcast from noon to 6pm on Saturday, December 25th and then will be back on air later that night for Punk Rock Xmess 2021 at 9pm. No standards are played, only original X-Mess songs, most with a humorous bent.

For a time of year where alcohol consumption is typically at its heaviest, we certainly don’t have enough Christmas songs about drinking. Well, Phone Jerks are here to rectify that. Last year, the Canadian quartet released their submission to the holiday drinking song canon with “!Christmas On the Floor!” The energetic garage rock tune harkens the familiar tale of a lover leaving you during the holidays but then paints a very vivid picture of the unhealthy coping mechanisms one might employ during those trying times. 

“The fairy lights remind me I'm the saddest ever been,” laments one of the band’s three lead singers (I’m guessing Emily). “I tripped over Baby Jesus, broke the Nativity scene/ My glass keeps on refilling but I just don't know who poured/ Looks like I'll be spending another Christmas on the floor.” 

While based in Canada, the Phone Jerks has a member who use to live in Seattle - Brian LaManna, who was in the alternative punk band The Valentine Killers. At the link below, watch live footage of Phone Jerks at the Maniac Mansion if Fredericton, New Brunswick in 2018.

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Dec 22, 2021
Attendant - Roll on May (Misery Christmas)
231

Attendant - "Roll On May (Misery Christmas)," a 2021 self-released single.

This week, we are continuing a long-held tradition of featuring Christmas-themed songs selected by Brian Foss, host of KEXP’s punk show Sonic Reducer. Brian has been doing a punk rock Christmas special every year since 2004 and has been a Christmas Day on-air DJ since 2012. He will be hosting his non-traditional Christmas broadcast from noon to 6pm on Saturday, December 25th and then will be back on air later that night for Punk Rock Xmess 2021 at 9pm. No standards are played, only original X-Mess songs, most with a humorous bent.

UK grunge-punk duo Attendant have thrown their hats in the heartbreak Christmas song ring this year with “Roll On May (Misery Christmas).” It’s a near-universal adult trait to feel a spot of loneliness during the holidays but what does one do when they just want to revel in the melodrama of their misery during the jolliest time of the year? Backed by customary twinkling bells and some very non-traditional heavy guitar strums, frontman Andy Walker addresses this idea. “The celebrations never end/ But I don’t want to see my friends/ They’ll force me to have fun/  When I just want someone to hold me near/ This time of year/ Cause I need you but you’re not here this Christmas.”

The single follows Attendant’s debut EP, Unreality, released in early 2021. Watch the video for “Doomscroller” at the link below.

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Dec 21, 2021
SS-20 - (No) War Toys On Christmas
90

SS-20 - "(No) War Toys On Christmas" from the 1987 EP Daddy's Drunk On Christmas on No Pretense Records.

This week, we are continuing a long-held tradition of featuring Christmas-themed songs selected by Brian Foss, host of KEXP’s punk show Sonic Reducer. Brian has been doing a punk rock Christmas special every year since 2004 and has been a Christmas Day on-air DJ since 2012. He will be hosting his non-traditional Christmas broadcast from noon to 6pm on Saturday, December 25th and then will be back on air later that night for Punk Rock Xmess 2021 at 9pm. No standards are played, only original X-Mess songs, most with a humorous bent.

His first selection of the week is a song that I literally cannot find anywhere on the internet, SS-20’s “(No) War Toys On Christmas,” from a 1987 EP of original and (I assume) highly satirical Christmas songs called Daddy’s Drunk On Christmas. This wasn’t the Cincinnati-based hardcore punk band’s first foray into the world holiday music, though. The preceding year SS-20 unveiled a DIY release of fairly straight forward Christmas songs sung with a "couldn't care less," according to Discogs, attitude titled Merry Christmas 1986: Is Santa Listening.

Formed by Robert Sturdevant in 1982 and still, at least up until a few years ago, playing shows in Cincinnati about once a month, SS-20 has released more than a dozen full-length albums and shorter EPs and 7-inch singles. They’ve also opened for “every punk and hardcore band that’s every played at the Jockey club,” Sturdevant told a publication in 2013, citing Nirvana, the Ramones, Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, among others. 

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Dec 20, 2021
Advertisement - The Matador
200

Advertisement - "The Matador," a 2021 single on Fire Talk.

Hot off the heels of their 4-song EP, Freedom, that came out last month, Seattle quintet Advertisement share the new single "The Matador," a song they say is about “being perceived by others as something different than you perceive yourself.” True to the aesthetic they established on their 2020 debut album American Advertisement, band members Charlie Hoffman, Carl Marck, Ryan Mangione, Jesse Rosenthal, and TJ Main combine Fleet Foxes-esque harmonies with Laurel Canyon-inspired rock nostalgia, tapping into their love of "blues and grooves" along the way. 

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Dec 17, 2021
Bartees Strange - Free Kelly Rowland (feat. Armand Hammer)
201

Bartees Strange - "Free Kelly Rowland (feat. Armand Hammer)" from the 2021 album Live Forever (Deluxe Edition) on Memory Music.

Last year, DC-based musician Bartees Strange wowed us all with his debut full-length Live Forever, a genre-defying release exploring themes of racism and resilience. For the album's one-year anniversary, he reissued the LP in a deluxe edition version, which includes a re-worked rendition of the single “Kelly Rowland”, now titled “Free Kelly Rowland”, featuring New York-based hip-hop duo Armand Hammer.

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Dec 16, 2021
Otis McDonald - Keep it Sexy
279

Otis McDonald - "Keep It Sexy," a 2020 single on TrackTribe.

Otis McDonald began as a studio experiment, where San Francisco-based producer and artist Joe Bagale spent three months writing, performing, recording, and sampling his own recordings. When it came time to release the results, Bagale looked towards two music icons to encapsulate the retro-tinged music he was composing: Shuggie Otis and Michael McDonald. "I don’t take myself seriously, but I take my music very seriously," he told Music Connection in 2019. 

Bagale has released his music exclusively through a royalty-free audio library via YouTube. "YouTube is the biggest streaming service in the world," he continued. "I thought if the music was good and felt human, hopefully people would put it in their videos and a certain percentage of viewers would want to further explore the music.” He concluded, “If there is one thing I’d like to do with the music it is to give people a little more joy than they had before they heard it.”

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Dec 15, 2021
Sweeping Promises - Pain Without a Touch
146

Sweeping Promises - "Pain Without A Touch," a 2021 single on Feel It Records / Sub Pop.

 On last year's debut LP Hunger for a Way Out, Sweeping Promises premiered an infectious lo-fi post-punk sound, with angular guitars, synthpop sweeps, and Lira Mondal bold, buoyant vocals. Today's Song of the Day is their first single for Sub Pop, who signed the duo up last month. Their new wave groove still firmly in place, the new track shows the group's evolution — but, with the overdubs recorded in co-founder Caufield Schnug's parents’ bathroom, Sweeping Promises stay true to their lo-fi beginnings.

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Dec 14, 2021
Dina Ögon - Ficktjuven
258

Dina Ögon - "Ficktjuven" from the 2021 album Dina Ögon on Sing a Song Fighter.

Self-described as the "bastard love child of Eric B. & Rakim, Fleetwood Mac, Selda Bağcan, and Ted Gärdestad," Swedish pop group Dina Ögon brings a '70s funk vibe to today's Song of the Day. 

The group is led by vocalist Anna Ahnlun and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Ögren, who used to play guitar for "doom metal" artist Anna Von Hausswolff. The two collaborated on the single "idag" off Ögren's solo album Fastingen-92, inspiring this new project to form, with the addition of bassist Love Örsan and drummer Christopher Cantillo. On their self-titled debut, the quartet tap into a retro influence, combined with their own psych-folk sound. 

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Dec 13, 2021
Live on KEXP with Arlo Parks
1777

Today, we bring you an episode of KEXP's Live on KEXP podcast featuring an exclusive session with Arlo Parks.

With two EPs and a seemingly endless number of accolades from nearly every tastemaker in the music industry under her belt, it’s an understatement to say that Arlo Parks’ debut album was highly anticipated. Released in January, ‘Collapsed in Sunbeams’ lives up to the hype and reflects the artist born Anais Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho’s compassionate, friendly, and poetic spirit.

For Live on KEXP, Troy Nelson traces Marinho’s journey from recording songs in her bedroom to sharing stages with heavyweights like Paramore before Marinho plays a mellow, vibey set of songs.

Songs performed:

  1. Cola
  2. Green Eyes
  3. Eugene
  4. Black Dog
  5. Caroline
  6. Hurt

Watch the full Live on KEXP session on YouTube

For a new KEXP session delivered to your feed every week, including recent favorites like José González, Japanese Breakfast, Yu Su, and Little Simz, subscribe to Live on KEXP wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Dec 10, 2021
Sea Lemon - Sunday
205

Sea Lemon - "Sunday," a 2021 self-released single.

Seattle artist Sea Lemon (aka 26-year-old singer/songwriter Natalie Lew) shares a shimmery slice of dreampop on her debut single "Sunday," a first listen at her forthcoming EP, out next year. Producer Stefan Mac (Wallows, No Vacation) gives the song a bright ebullience, even while the lyrics confront negative emotions.

“My first release, ‘Sunday,’ is a song that’s all about the anxiety and stress that comes with navigating relationships of all kind,” Lew told Atwood Magazine. “During the pandemic, when I wasn’t actively interacting with my loved ones, I constantly wondered and overthought about those relationships — would they survive? Was I doing enough? ‘Sunday’ is a reflection of those feelings I had, and represents how every passing day can feel like a worsening situation.”

She continues: “The song, along with the rest of my upcoming EP, sonically was heavily inspired by Beach House and The Cure, artists that I constantly turn to for inspiration as they portray a bittersweet and nostalgic feeling in their music. Toeing the line between sorrow and happiness, into a grey area of somewhere in the middle, is the kind of sentiment I love to feel and write about when it comes to my music.”

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Dec 10, 2021
Nilüfer Yanya - Stabilise
198

Nilüfer Yanya - "Stabilise" from the 2022 album Painless on ATO.

British singer-songwriter Nilüfer Yanya will release her highly-anticipated sophomore full-length Painless on March 4th, 2022 via ATO Records. Today's Song of the Day is a sneak peek at the upcoming release, a meditation on the monotony of daily life. 

“I was really thinking about your surroundings and how much they influence or change your perception of things," Yanya stated in a press release. The accompanying video, directed by her sister Molly Daniel, explores this idea. “A lot of the city is just grey and concrete, there’s no escape,” she continues. “The video plays on the central theme in the song of no one coming to save you ever. It’s set in depths of reality in every day life where we are the only one’s truly capable of salvaging or losing ourselves. Nothing is out there — both a depressing and reassuring statement (depending on how you look at it). Sometimes you have to dress up as a spy or a rock star and just hope for the best.”

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Dec 09, 2021
Hatchie - This Enchanted
234

Hatchie - "This Enchanted," a 2021 single on Secretly Canadian.

Brisbane, Australia-based artist Hatchie (real name: Harriette Pilbeam) has signed to the label Secretly Canadian, sharing her first new single since her 2019 dream-pop debut LP Keepsake. In a press release, she states today's KEXP Song of the Day "encapsulates everything I wanted to do moving forward from my first album."

She continues: "I started writing it with [producer] Jorge [Elbrecht] and [Hatchie guitarist] Joe [Agius] in February 2020 and completed it from afar in lockdown later in the year. We had been talking about making something dancey but shoegaze.”

“It’s one of the more lighthearted, lyrically vague songs of my new recordings about falling in love; it’s not a perfect relationship, but you’re enthralled by one another and it’s an easy love. It’s one of the most fun songs I’ve written, so it was a no-brainer to pick it as my first solo release in almost two years. It feels so right to be working with a label as exciting as Secretly as I step into new territory with Hatchie. I’ve been counting down the days until its release for a long time.“

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Dec 08, 2021
Hand Habits - More Than Love
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Hand Habits - "More Than Love" from the 2021 album Fun House on Saddle Creek.

It was a "fun house" indeed: during the pandemic, singer/songwriter Meg Duffy (who records as Hand Habits) shared a home with fellow recording artist Sasami and engineer Kyle Thomas. The quarantine bubble provided Duffy with the creative environment and support they needed to craft their most adventurous album yet, Fun House.  

“Sasami really challenged me to just trust and explore these different parts of my identity that are definitely in me — these different kinds of music that I'm really influenced by and inspired by,” Duffy told The Fader. “I wasn't ready to put out a record that was like all kind of like very slow sad ballads about my trauma and how I'm navigating that — I wanted to make the record feel at least a little energetically uplifting and contrasting between these production elements and this [intense] lyrical content. Sasami really, really helped me go there.”

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Dec 07, 2021
BLK ODYSSY - MURDA
152

BLK ODYSSY - "MURDA" from the 2021 album BLK VINTAGE on After School.

“I want to create something that will be culturally impactful for my people. I want to do something that is impactful on a larger scale, something that is for groups of Black people across the country,” says soulful songwriter Sam Houston, who records under the name BLK ODYSSY

His debut album, BLK VINTAGE, finds inspiration in both the world around him and his own personal experiences, like the tragic 2010 murder of his older brother, David, at the hands of the New Jersey police. “The Black youth has been poisoned numb because of the shit we have to deal with," he continues via a press release. "I want to speak to our experiences and let people know it’s okay to shed that layer and really, truly feel. My goal is to connect with the Black youth, and my goal is to connect with my people and speak to them on a level where we can stop suffering from happening. There’s only so much we can do for the dead. This record asks: ‘How can we stop this from happening again?’”

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Dec 06, 2021
Smokey Brights - Honey Eye
263

Smokey Brights - "Honey Eye," a 2021 single on Freakout.

Today's Song of the Day — from Seattle's own Smokey Brights — is a love song for uncertain times, with frontman Ryan Devlin declaring "Honey I want to rock the world with you, before it splits in two / Don’t know what else to do."

It's a fitting statement from a band led by married couple Devlin and Kim West, who've, indeed, rocked the world, most recently with their 2020 full-length I Love You But Damn. Today's featured track is an out-take from that album, along with another new single "Unity."

"They were just two songs that didn’t quite fit on that record but live together really nicely," West told Atwood Magazine recently. "They’re both about unity and taking care of each other and the importance of living right now. They feel really appropriate to release right now."

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Dec 03, 2021
Just Mustard - I Am You
238

Just Mustard - "I Am You," a 2021 single on Partisan.

Irish quintet Just Mustard caught our ears with their powerful noise rock debut Wednesday, an album that earned them a Choice Music Prize nomination for Album of the Year in 2018. Since then, they've signed to Partisan Records and have shared a first look at a sophomore release (projected released: 2022) with today's Song of the Day. The moody, shoegaze-tinged track was produced by the band and mixed by David Wrench (FKA twigs, The xx, Caribou). The accompanying video, directed by Dylan Friese-Greene, captures the song's eerie vibe, with vocals from Katie Ball reminiscent of Alison Shaw of Cranes. 

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Dec 02, 2021
Spiritualized - Always Together With You
196

Spiritualized - "Always Together With You" from the 2022 album Everything Was Beautiful on Fat Possum.

If today's Song of the Day sounds a little familiar, you're not just tripping on Spiritualized's otherworldly psych-sound. “Always Together With You” was originally released in demo form in 2014 as “Always Forgetting With You (The Bridge Song)”, but it's since been reworked for the long-running space-rock band's ninth album, Everything Was Beautiful, out February 25th via Fat Possum. The title — along with the title of his 2018 album And Nothing Hurt — completes a beloved quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s classic 1969 novel Slaughterhouse Five

“There was so much information on it that the slightest move would unbalance it, but going around in circles is important to me,” said frontman J Spaceman (real name: Jason Pierce) in a press release about the upcoming release. “Not like you’re spiraling out of control but you’re going around and around and on each revolution you hold onto the good each time. Sure, you get mistakes as well, but you hold on to some of those too and that’s how you kind of… achieve. Well, you get there.”

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Dec 01, 2021
Mandy, Indiana - Bottle Episode
280

Mandy, Indiana - "Bottle Episode" from the … EP on Fire Talk.

Mandy, Indiana aren't from Indiana at all — the post-rock quartet actually hail from Manchester, England, where founding members Scott Fair (guitar/production) and Valentine Caulfield (vocals/lyrics) met at a show their respective separate bands were playing. After deciding to team up, the new group began working on their debut EP '...', out physically on December 10th via Fire Talk Records. 

On today's Song of the Day, Caulfield sought to capture a somber, armed forces inspiration. “I wanted to build up on the military style of the track, but in a very slow crescendo, and not in a very obvious way," she explained in a press release. "The lyrics talk of men waiting, moving forward; war is never mentioned, yet it is obvious that the men are waiting for death. The song ends with the men almost dancing as the bullets hit them.”

Fair added, “The inspiration for the guitar line was based upon a recording of a flood siren in Todmorden. I was going to use the recording as a sample but then I decided to try and recreate it with the guitar.”

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Nov 30, 2021
Chris Carroll - Blue (feat. Gabriel Teodros)
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Chris Carroll - "Blue (feat. Gabriel Teodros)," a 2021 single on Raindrop Sound.

Seattle-based artist Chris Carroll made a name for himself with his impressive production work on music from Gifted Youngstaz, Ra Scion of Common Market, Entendres, and MADlines. And then in 2019, he began releasing his own music, first under the alias Spoke, and then under his own name. Today's Song of the Day showcases that balance between control and collaboration as he invites local artist (and KEXP DJ) Gabriel Teodros and musician Mario Luciano to the poignant single "Blue." Carroll writes on his Bandcamp page:

I'm honored to have created this track featuring an artist that I deeply admire, Gabriel Teodros. When I was 16, he was the first artist I'd ever heard perform spoken word (alongside Khingz as Abyssinian Creole), and when I was 18, Gabriel gave me my first turntable for a ride home. Little did I know this would set the course of my musical journey on through to adulthood.

This track also features the sample composition of a recent mentor of mine, Mario Luciano, who has been a tremendous influence in the last year.

This song is for all those we have lost during the pandemic, and to those we've become estranged from.

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Nov 29, 2021
Snotty Nose Rez Kids - Change (feat. ebonEmpress & Jenny Lea)
251

Snotty Nose Rez Kids - "Change (feat. ebonEmpress & Jenny Lea)" from the 2021 album Life After on Distorted Muse.

Vancouver-based duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids live up to their name. The duo of Darren “Young D” Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce formed the group in 2016 after seeing a show headlined by fellow-Indigenous artists, the hip-hop collective First Ladies Crew. As members of the Haisla nation, the pair knew they could use music to both celebrate and elevate their heritage.

“As Indigenous people who have been shit on year after year after year by the government, from the people, from our own people, the media, the police… I feel like Indigenous people have developed our own sense of humour that only we get,” Nyce told Range. “For us, the way we grew up listening to rap and hip-hop, it was so dark and heavy and it just weighed on you. You couldn’t listen to it more than once unless you were in the right mindset. So for us, coming up, our message, our music, we wanted to talk about the heavy stuff but with a positive spin. And making sure that at the end of the day you left smiling — on a high note. We never want people to feel down on themselves. We want to lift our people up, not bring them down.” Metz adds: “It’s just like our name also, Snotty Nose Rez Kids; it explains who we are without having to explain who we are. You gotta have a sense of humour when you come through trauma.”

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Nov 26, 2021
Jelly Cleaver - Black Line
324

Jelly Cleaver - "Black Line," a 2021 single on Gearbox Records.

On today's Song of the Day, South London-based artist/activist Jelly Cleaver uses her bluesy guitar rock to speak out on global warming. In a press release, she elaborates:

“This song was especially inspired by the story of the Ogoni Nine and Shell oil corporation. Having poisoned the Niger Delta region with negligent oil spills, the Ogoni people who were indigenous there rose up and demanded Shell clean up the oil and compensate them. Shell worked with the military dictatorship government who raided villages killing 2,000 and displacing 80,000. Shell then bribed witnesses to provide false testimonies so that the leaders of the uprising were executed, who became known as the Ogoni nine.”

“It was also inspired by the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests by the Standing Rock Sioux and the many times the fossil fuel industry has abused the world.”

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Nov 25, 2021
Ivy Sole - One More Night (feat. Topaz Jones)
233

Ivy Sole - "One More Night (feat. Topaz Jones)," a 2021 single on Les Fleurs Records.

With her new single "One More Night", Philadelphia-based artist Ivy Sole teams up with Montclair, NJ-based rapper Topaz Jones for a soulful, R&B tinged exploration of romantic feelings. It's also the first listen to her just-announced full-length CANDID, which will be released February 2nd on Ivy's own Les Fleurs Music. 

"CANDID explores the many ways I find myself endeavouring towards truth and clarity, and 'One More Night' is no different. It’s a song that speaks directly to the woman I had in mind, but still gives room for the listener’s imagination,” Sole explained to Stereofox. “The song itself came out of the essence of someone appearing in your mind without you actively deciding to invite them there, and the longing that ends up dictating how you act upon the memories, images and feelings that are brought out from that initial spark. Topaz and I produced it together, which makes it even more special to me..."

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Nov 24, 2021
Coco Peila - Pretty Girls (feat. Taj Mahal)
228

Coco Peila - "Pretty Girls (feat. Taj Mahal)," a 2021 single on JuixeGRL Records.

With her latest single "Pretty Girls," Bay Area-based artist Coco Peila has elevated a movement to challenge beauty norms. As she expresses on her Facebook page, “It’s an opportunity for us as Black women to have a heart to heart about what it’s been like for all of us, and to challenge the ideas and perceptions in our own minds about what 'Pretty' is, WHY it is, and who currently or historically has access to it.”

It also launched the "Pretty Heist" media campaign, which Peila describes as "a music video and interview series centered around Black Women’s Liberation and the impacts of sexism, anti-black racism, white supremacy, and the beautification industry on Black Women & Girls’ lives, perception of ourselves and others, sense of worth, perception of beauty and access to resources. The series spotlights women and girls, and provides information about how to support the work we are doing in the world and our communities." Learn more about the campaign at her Facebook page here.

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Nov 23, 2021
Ruth B. - Moments in Between
234

Ruth B. - "Moments in Between" from the 2021 album Moments in Between on Reb Music Productions / Downtown Records.

Ethiopian-Canadian singer/songwriter Ruth B. explores the complexities of being a woman in her mid-twenties on her sophomore album Moments In Between. This is especially resonant on the title track, a wistful, laid-back song that really highlights Ruth's soulful voice. The new LP was executive produced by Patrick Wimberly (Beyonce, Solange, Blood Orange, Ellie Goulding).

“Writing songs has always been therapeutic for me,” she says via a press release, “and I hope that hearing my songs helps other people in the same way. Whether they’re feeling lonely or heartbroken or happy, I want them to know that someone else understands what they’re going through.”

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Nov 22, 2021
Maiah Manser - Walking Faster
184

Maiah Manser - "Walking Faster," a 2021 self-released single.

It’s been four years since Los Angeles-via-Seattle-via-Oregon musician Maiah Manser released her fantastic and far-too-succinct sophomore EP Second Skin. In that time, she’s been busy sharing stages with artists like CHVRCHES, Crystal Castles, and ODESZA, singing backup vocals alongside local luminary Mary Lambert for a few names you might recognize such as Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, and Pharrell Williams, and getting placements in the show Lucifer and at 2017’s Met Gala.

It now appears that, finally, Manser is ready to release new music out to the world. Today’s Song of the Day, “Walking Faster” is her first single in two years and a perfect reintroduction to an artist who clearly hasn’t lost her touch. Without any hesitation or introduction, Manser comes in swinging with the softly and speedily sung lines, “Giving up all my love /Just because that was what i was taught / Even though I don’t know who even said that,” while a glitchy electronic beat fights to keep up. From there, the song builds as Manser belts the chorus while drenched in reverb for a cathartic and catchy track that’s only snag is that it’s over too soon.

A new EP titled Third Degree is expected in 2022. Watch Manser’s 2017 KEXP in-studio performance on YouTube or at the link below.

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Nov 19, 2021
Combo Chimbita - Babalawo
342

Combo Chimbita - "Babalawo," a 2021 single on Anti-.

Combo Chimbita is the project for four first-generation New Yorkers who make tropical futurism inspired by the cumbia of their birth country of Colombia and the rock n’ roll of the American city they call home. Since the release of their incredible 2019 full-length Ahomale, the quartet have been steadily churning out singles that continually build upon their otherworldly mystique. 

Our Song of the Day, “Babalawo,” is the latest single to be revealed and an incredible entry point for those unfamiliar with the band’s gorgeous genre fusion. While my sub-par Spanish skills prevent me from deciphering the song’s lyrics, the passion and fury with which frontwoman Carolina Oliveras sings bridges the language barrier by letting listeners into the cosmically spiritual world with which the song lives. 

“We debuted ‘Babalawo’ when we played with Sun Ra Arkestra and it’s become a favorite song from our set,” explains guitarist Niño Lento. “It has some hints of trap, a bit of rock, but also carries influences from Haitian music and sounds. Carolina’s lyrics are also important since they describe some of our first encounters with Regla de Ocha (often known as Santeria). These intimate moments of spiritual guidance are incredibly important to us as a band with decolonial aspirations.”

“This song narrates a dream I had in which an Eggun (deceased person) assuaged my fears and encouraged me to continue down my path,” Oliveras says of “Babalawo.” “They said ‘Ponte pa lo tuyo,’ a directive to follow that which is already mine — a message I felt important to share forward … While it may seem that this song is dedicated to a particular Babalawo (similar to a priest in a Yoruban context), it’s also an homage to the many teachers who form the Yoruban culture and religion around me and continue to inspire a deeper exploration from me.”

The song comes with a video featuring multidisciplinary artist Edrimael Delgado Reyes in a fiery interpretative dance that draws from Plato’s Allegory of the Cave that heightens the drama of the “Babalawo” to celestial levels. Watch the video, directed by Oscar Diaz, on KEXP.org at the link below.

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Nov 18, 2021
JOHN - Šibensko Powerhouse
171

JOHN - "Šibensko Powerhouse" from the 2021 album Nocturnal Manoeuvres on Brace Yourself Records / Pets Care Records.

As one YouTuber comically remarked on the footage of JOHN’s Live on KEXP Performance from 2019’s International Clash Day celebration, “The best band with the worst SEO.” And they’re not wrong, trying to find a band that goes by the most common English first name in the world on the internet is an incredibly difficult task. But once discovered, the riches that the duo rewards you with are plentiful.

Made up of John Newton and Johnny Healey, the duo are an absolute force to be reckoned with. Their latest album Nocturnal Manoeuvres, released in October, takes the explosive riffs the two Johns have a penchant for and spreads them out into maximalist, psychedelic new territories. Our Song of the Day is the album’s early single “Šibensko Powerhouse,” a turbulent thumper that features vocals from none other than IDLES bassist Adam Devonshire for an extra layer of fury. 

“The lyrics came from a now-distant memory of visiting a festival in another country,” offers drummer and lead vocalist Newton. “I remembered standing alone in baking 40 degree heat on the hillside outside of my apartment – only to hear a familiar song echoing live in the distance from over the hill’s crest. It was a once in lifetime moment that just stuck with me, a reminder of my small scale in the greater scheme of the world.”

Nocturnal Manoeuvres follows 2019’s Out Here on the Fringes. Watch the Ryan Gander-directed video for “Šibensko Powerhouse” on KEXP.org. 

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Nov 17, 2021
Trentemøller - All Too Soon
244

Trentemøller - "All Too Soon" from the 2022 album Memoria on In My Room.

Danish producer Anders Trentemøller has been making cinematic electronic soundscapes for over 20 years now and is constantly finding new avenues of traversing genre-bending lush landscapes. The latest singles off his forthcoming sixth studio album, Memoria, “In the Gloaming” and our Song of the Day “All Too Soon,” find him employing textured dream pop and the glistening vocals of his girlfriend Lisbet Fritze for a majestic and mysterious mood. 

According to Trentemøller’s Bandcamp: “‘All Too Soon’ examines ostensibly diametric relationships of light and dark, life and death, day and night, love and hate, while actually presenting them as dualistic, and symbiotic, influencing each other as they interrelate. What might appear to be a dispiriting take on our mortality could just as easily be interpreted as its acceptance being liberating.”

Memoria follows up 2019’s Obverse, which featured Rachel Goswell of Slowdive and Jenny Lee Linberg of Warpaint. Watch the video for “All Too Soon,” directed by Fryd Frydendahl on KEXP.org.

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Nov 16, 2021
Mr Twin Sister - Polvo
242

Mr Twin Sister - "Polvo" from the 2021 album Al Mundo Azul on Twin Group.

For over a decade now, Mr Twin Sister have been constantly reinventing their sound in completely underrated fashion. From the dreamy baroque indie of their debut under the name Twin Sister to the infectious electro pop of 2014’s Mr Twin Sister to the eclectic groove and slow jams on their last full-length, 2018’s Salt, the band has been constantly pushing forward while remaining almost completely under the radar.

Their newest forthcoming album, Al Mundo Azul, sees the New York-based band continuing this trajectory in dazzling fashion. Our Song of the Day, “Polvo,” might be the best representation of this new direction towards sheeny dance pop. Influenced by the cumbia of frontwoman Andrea Estella’s maternal homeland of El Salvador, the song is a strutting dance track and one of the few in the band’s discography sung entirely in Spanish. 

“‘Polvo’ is about how death fuels life, how we’re all connected, and how we must die in order to live,” Estella says of the song. “Polvo” is one five singles off of Al Mundo Azul shared ahead of the album’s November 19th release. Watch the video for single “Beezle,” directed by Estella, on KEXP.org.

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Nov 15, 2021
Tina Bell: Unsung Goddess of Grunge
1583

Today, we bring you the story of Tina Bell, from KEXP's Sound & Vision podcast.

Bam Bam was a Black woman-fronted grunge band in Seattle in the early '80s — before grunge was a defined genre. Larry Mizell Jr. tells the story of Bam Bam and the life of frontwoman Tina Bell. He also explores why we’ve never heard of this group before and why their story has been erased from Seattle music history.

For more stories like these, including recent interviews with The War On Drugs, Tori Amos, and Mudhoney's Guy Maddison, check out KEXP's Sound & Vision wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Nov 12, 2021
Talaya. - Sola Fide + No Way (feat. Brandon Marsalis & Crissy P)
326

Talaya. - "Sola Fide + No Way (feat. Brandon Marsalis & Crissy P)" from the 2021 album Existential Soul on Talaya's Music.

“Sola Fide + No Way” is an exemplification in song of a whole new crop of young, self-taught, self-made artists that is currently rising in the Seattle area. The hypnotic track off of Talaya’s debut full-length Existential Soul sees the R&B soul songstress team up with rappers Brandon Marsalis of Tacoma and Kent-based Crissy P for a sophisticated and spiritual quest to find the light.

An audio engineer by day, Talaya first gained recognition for her vocal prowess at 2020’s Sound Off! The 21-and-under competition has been the symbolic birthplace of artists like Naked Giants, Dave B, Emma Lee Toyoda, and Travis Thompson and is seen as one of the main opportunities that young artists in the Northwest can get exposure. Crissy P also falls into that category, as a finalist in 2019’s competition and now an activist using his insightful voice on his 2020 debut full-length The East Coordinate to amplify the causes close to his heart. 

“Is you Christian all the way?” Marsalis ponders on “Sola Fide +No Way,” questioning the intentions behind performative religion. Reflection is big for the 24-year-old artist, who beautifully articulates the big questions in life on his 2019 album Ouroboros. While none of these artists have yet lived a quarter century on this planet, their ability to express larger-than-life concepts bodes very well for the next generation.

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Nov 12, 2021
Liv.e - Bout It
230

Liv.e - "Bout It," a 2021 single on In Real Life / AWAL.

Dallas-born singer/songwriter Liv.e may have only just released her debut album Couldn’t Wait to Tell You in 2020 but she’s been quietly gaining traction underground since 2017, with marquee names like Janelle Monae, Earl Sweatshirt, and Tyler, The Creator singing her praises. And, listening to Couldn’t Wait to Tell You, it’s easy to see why. The 20-track record is hypnotic in its fusion of soul, jazz, and R&B with loose song structures that fade like dreams.

Her latest single and KEXP’s Song of the Day, “Bout It” continues that dreamy feeling with hazy downtempo production by Mndsgn that repeats the same spacey line over and over like an incantation and Liv.e following suit with the recurrent question of “Is you ‘bout it?” to spell-binding effect. If you weren’t before, you certainly are about it now.

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Nov 11, 2021
Dora Jar - Scab Song
181

Dora Jar - "Scab Song," a 2021 single on Original Sin.

24-year-old Dora Jar may only have a handful of songs out currently but she’s poised to become the Next Big Thing. Take our Song of the Day, for example. “Scab Song” ingeniously uses an actual scab on Dora’s 19-year-old leg as an inspiration for an infectiously blissful pop banger that investigates the odd and interesting aspects of the human form. 

The track follows Dora Jar’s 2021 mini album Digital Meadow, a flawless debut that melds intellectually quirky songwriting with electronic flourishes and hip-hop beats for a sound we can only unjustly describe as “bedroom pop.” Keep your eyes and ears peeled because if she can make a song about a scab sound like a top 40 hit then there’s no telling what else she can do.

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Nov 10, 2021
Angélica Garcia - Llorona
245

Angélica Garcia - "Llorona" from the 2021 Echo Eléctrico EP on Spacebomb.

Los Angeles-born, Richmond-based singer/songwriter Angélica Garcia uses music to explore her many identities as an American with Mexican and Salvadoran descent. Garcia’s 2016 debut, Medicine for Birds, was a folksy affair where her vocals twinkled in harmony with both banjos and synth beats and 2020’s Cha Cha Palace, released only weeks before the world shut down, is a powerful and unique pop record that stomps with fury. So commanding were the tracks, that even Barack Obama couldn’t help but take notice.

Continuing her journey of constant evolution, Garcia’s latest release, Echo Eléctrico, couldn’t be further from her prior records. An interpretation of traditional Mexican ranchera songs, Garcia uses richly textured synth and vocal loops to layer the passionately sung ballads. Our Song of the Day, “Llorona,” sits smack dab in the middle of the 5-song EP and uses cascading looped vocals as the sole instrumentation behind Garcia’s intensely emoted quavers.

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Nov 09, 2021
Pink Siifu - Big Ole (feat. BbyMutha)
151

Pink Siifu - "Big Ole (feat. BbyMutha)" from the 2021 album GUMBO'! on Dynamite Hill.

Pink Siifu is just one of the musical pseudonyms that Livingston Matthews has taken on over the years. The 29-year-old Birmingham-bred rapper/singer/producer has been making a massive splash the past couple of years, most notably with 2020’s NEGRO, which was an experimental excercise in catharsis, taking the years of pain and discrimination and turning it into a battle cry of recordings.

In August, Matthews quickly followed NEGRO up with GUMBO, which departs massively from the free jazz experimentation and caustic howls for an incredibly smooth and bouncy Southern rap record. Our Song of the Day and GUMBO highlight, “Big Ole,” features bass-heavy, blown out production from Conquest Tony Phillips and an effortless verse from Chatanooga rapper BbyMutha. The song comes with a bright and distorted video, directed by 30onme.

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Nov 08, 2021
MAITA - Pastel Concrete
149

MAITA - "Pastel Concrete" from the 2022 album I Just Want To Be Wild For You on Kill Rock Stars.

MAITA is the full-band project of Portland-based artist Maria Maita-Keppeler. Quickly following up the release of her fantastic debut album Best Wishes, unveiled only just last year, this February her sophomore record I Want To Be Wild For You will be revealed. 

Our Song of the Day is the early single “Pastel Concrete.” What appears to be an intimate, possibly somber guitar strummer in the opening lines grows into a jaunty tune that grows and eventually cathartically erupts. Known for her mercurial lyricism, Maita-Keppeler turns the task of driving through Santa Monica for work as a study of the unique culture and landscape of Southern California. 

“Pastel Concrete was written at a time when I had a job that periodically sent me to Santa Monica, Maita-Keppeler says of the song. “A place that felt more foreign to me than any other. The outdoor mall, the kitschy boardwalk, the actors and artists I worked with who seemed so different from me and yet so understood the struggle of trying to get paid, and the infamous mythology of LA—I found it all uncomfortable and fascinating.”

I Want To Be Wild For You is out February 18, 2022 via Kill Rock Stars. 

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Nov 05, 2021
Breeze - Come Around (feat. Cadence Weapon)
231

Breeze - "Come Around (feat. Cadence Weapon)" from the 2021 album Only Up on Hand Drawn Dracula.

Toronto-based producer Josh Korody has a long list of credits to his name including Dilly Dally, Beliefs, and Nailbiter but his main solo project is the monosyllabically titled Breeze. For his latest album as Breeze, Only Up, Korody recruited pretty much anybody and everybody in the Toronto scene to join him in collaboration to make a record in only eight days. Members of Orville Peck, Tallies, Vallens, Zoon, Sauna, Fake Palms, Rapport, Praises, Civic TV, Moon King, Blonde Elvis, For Jane, Ducks Ltd, TOPS and Broken Social Scene all have their fingers on the frenetically fun album.

Our Song of the Day is the record’s early single “Come Around.” Energetic and eclectic, the song mashes genres together in a way that makes “Come Around” sound so wrong that it’s right. Psychedelic guitar strums meld with hard-hitting tribal beats and post-punk howls that feels caustic on first listen but gets soothing on repeated spins. 

Then, just when your brain is starting to comprehend what’s happening, Cadence Weapon (the musical pseudonym of rapper/writer Rollie Pemberton) jumps in halfway through for an unexpected verse of nonsensical but clever as hell lines like, “On the web I surf like Brian Wilson.” After a cool 40 seconds, he dips out and we’re back to Korody’s trippy nightmarish yowls. Korody had his to say about the song:

“Come Around” is about someone that has done something horrible and has not shown any accountability or true remorse and the fear they – or have the nerve – to be able to jump back into a community that no longer feels comfortable around them. So, as I’m singing the song I’m picturing performing it live with them walking into the room and making people, especially the people closest to them, extremely uncomfortable and angry. The lyrics: ‘Yeah, you really did a number on this one’ references the trauma they imposed upon the community. When Rollie (Cadence Weapon) comes in, his lyrical dialogue is a bit more separate, it’s more fun but still comes from frustration as well and it quickly takes myself and others out of that dark place with the hope of trying to move on and to enjoy the life we have.”

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Nov 04, 2021
Abiodun Oyewole - Harlem
381

Abiodun Oyewole - "Harlem" from the 2021 album Gratitude on Fire Records.

Abiodun Oyewole’s legendary history can be traced back to one very important day, May 19, 1968, when he read poetry in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park with David Nelson and Gylan Kain in honor of Malcolm X’s birthday and became what is now considered the first hip hop group - The Last Poets. In honor of this sacred day and Oyewole’s love for the New York neighborhood that gave him life, Oyewole recently released a single expressing his appreciation for Harlem and the people that live there.

Appropriately titled “Harlem,” the song is locked in a singular groove for nearly six and a half minutes while Oyewole waxes poetic about the music, food, history, and culture that makes this neighborhood so special. Backup singers provide meditative coos of “Harlem, sweet Harlem” behind Oyewole’s shout outs to soul food at Sylvia’s, hanging out at the Jazzmobile, the Apollo, shopping on 125th street, children jumping double dutch, high fives, and real hugs. It’s a spiritual and inspirational journey of a man with a singular legacy. In a recent interview with Pat Thomas, Oyewole had this to say about the inspiration behind the song:

“You gotta realize, Harlem was the place I wanted. It was like a desire, a dream. I was raised in Queens, New York. I would see Harlem every Sunday of my life because we went to church in Harlem. The energy of Harlem was exciting, electric. I told myself, 'I got to be here,' because there was no place in New York City that had that kind of energy and I really wanted that.

“When the opportunity arose that The Last Poets were gonna happen and Dahveed Nelson, a brother who I consider part of the group because it was his idea, he told me that we were going to read poetry at Mount Morris Park in Harlem, there was a part of me that was very happy and a part of me that was very scared. I was intimidated because I thought Harlem was a tough place to do anything. 

“Harlem was where everything was going to happen. When we set up our home base in Harlem, I spent all my time in Harlem, I got an apartment in Harlem - Harlem became everything to me.”

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Nov 03, 2021
alt-J - U&ME
197

 alt-J - "U&ME," from the 2022 album The Dream on Atlantic.

After a surprisingly sunny weekend, a cheery indie pop single about hanging with your friends at a music festival seems most appropriate. Alt-J, Mercury Prize winners and one of the early 2010’s leading festival headliners, are back after four years to provide that ebulliant and light-hearted feeling with their latest single “U&ME.”

Their first release since 2017’s Relaxer (if you don’t count the following year’s remix album Reduxer) and the lead single off their forthcoming album The Dream, “U&ME” hits all the notes that Alt-J fans search for. Groovy percussion - check. Blissed out guitar riffs - you know it. A woozy melody - gotta have it. A nostalgic repeating chorus with slightly esoteric verses - wouldn’t be alt-J without em. 

“It’s about being at a festival with your best friends, having a good time, togetherness, and the feeling in life that nothing could be any better than it is right now,” explains keyboardist/vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton. The video, directed Unger-Hamilton’s brother, Prosper, captures that sort of bonding-with-the-buds feeling by featuring the band ripping at the skatepark. Kicks are flipped, blood is shed, and - wait - concrete is floating? Just a typical day with the guys! 

The Dream is out February 11th via Canvasback/Infectious Music. Alt-J will be in Seattle on Tuesday, March 29th to play WaMu Theatre with Portugal. The Man. 

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Nov 02, 2021
Sneaker Pimps - So Far Gone (feat. Simonne Jones)
321

Sneaker Pimps - "So Far Gone (feat. Simonne Jones)" from the 2021 album Squaring The Circle on Unfall.

It might have taken almost two decades, but Sneaker Pimps are finally back with their first record since 2002’s Bloodsport. Titled Squaring the Circle, the album is a lengthy 16 tracks that sees founding members Chris Corner and Liam Howe team up with LA-born, Berlin-based musician Simonne Jones on vocals. Our Song of the Day,  “So Far Gone” probably best utilizes her emotive voice to haunting effect.

Harkening back to the trip-hop that put them on the map in the ‘90s, “So Far Gone,” is cemented by a downtempo electronic beat while arpeggiated synth flourishes sparkle around Jones’ yearning cries of nostalgia. “So far gone, never return, no safe ground,” she coos with a deeper timbre than the band’s original singer Kelli Alli’s wispy vocals rang on iconic songs like “6 Underground.” The textured dynamics and affecting vocals make “So Far Gone” an album highlight and an exciting return for a band that some (wrongly) think of as a one-hit-wonder. 

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Nov 01, 2021
Danny Newcomb - This World
250

Danny Newcomb - "This World," a 2021 single on Rock Candy Mountain.

Danny Newcomb’s musical journey goes all the way back to 1981, when the hair was bigger, the music simultaneously messy and glam, and Seattle wasn’t even a footnote in the music zeitgeist. At that time, Newcomb was a member of a KISS-inspired Seattle-area band called Shadow made up of four teens, one with a particularly now-recognizable name - Mike McCready.

Since then, Newcomb’s gone on to play in a number of bands including dark pop outfit Goodness and the McCready and Nancy Wilson-featuring short-lived side project. Under his own name, Newcomb makes straightforward guitar strummers, with his last release, 2020’s Mackerel Sky, departing from his long-standing rock-n-roll, singer-songwriter roots for a drum-less, introspective, piano and acoustic-guitar led record.  

On our Song of the Day, “This World,” he is back to playing with a full band, bringing the piano into the sound as well. “I’ve always been a fan of classic songwriting and so many are written on the piano,” Newcomb explains. “It’s such a great instrument to have in the mix when there is a strong main melody — you can call and respond with the vocals, echo a chorus subtly, while adding a driving percussive feel at the same time. It’s made the sound bigger, and it feels a little more finished to me.” 

Last year, he started gathering material for a new release, writing for the band, and “This World” is the first single of 10 songs recorded with producer John Goodmanson, (Sleater-Kinney, Wolf Parade, Quasi) and drummer Eric Eagle, bassist Jeremy Lightfoot, and Erin Rubin on piano. “My good friend Carrie Akre [who played with Newcomb in Goodness and The Rockfords] will be singing with me on a track as well  — its a bit of a throwback, (that song) but maybe in the best possible way." 

"I wrote ‘This World’ last fall after being shut in for 10 months or so on the small farm on the small island where I live,” Newcomb continues. “I think there was line that drew me in — the one that says: ‘Don’t ever let the Strangers in’ — because that’s what it was, I saw my family every morning, the sheep, the chickens, my geese, my neighbors, but not anyone outside my immediate circle. And I missed seeing people in that larger circle, people at shows, people on the ferry, talking to people i didn’t know, making connections. Felt like the whole world was lonely — literally — but it was also a state of mind.” 

The single is the first song off the upcoming LP in Spring 2022 tentatively titled The Islander. Watch Danny Newcomb & the Sugarmakers’ KEXP in-studio performance from 2019 below.

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Oct 29, 2021
Makthaverskan - This Time
250

Makthaverskan - "This Time" from the 2021 album För Allting on Run For Cover.

Makthaverskan don’t sound at all like they belong in this era. Heavily inspired by mid ‘80s post punk and baroque pop, they sound like they should be a Factory Records-signee alongside Joy Division rather than their (albeit great) home of Run For Cover. Even the slight crack in their recordings make them sound like a long-lost cassette import your cousin sent you when they went to Sweden for the summer.

But, indeed, the Gothenburg-based band is completely of this time and on the verge of releasing their fourth studio album and first since 2017’s III. Titled För Allting, the album was recorded with HOLY’s Hannes Ferm and will be out on November 12th via Run For Cover. Our Song of the Day is the record’s lead single “This Time” that soars in the band’s typical theatrical fashion, with frontwoman Maja Milner’s voice going to Kate Bushian lengths to convey, well, something important. “It won’t matter/ This time, it’s too late/ This time, it won’t matter.”

While the song sounds squarely within the wheelhouse of the Makthaverskan’s previously melodramatic dream pop, the band say the recording process for the new album was a very new direction for them.

“When we started the songwriting process for this album, I think we all were pretty determined to take the music in a new direction. Not necessarily that we would sound ‘different,’ but to work on the songs using somewhat different methods than before. For our previous albums, we wrote the songs in our rehearsal space and pretty much recorded them the way they were. For this album, we intended the songs to be finalized in the studio and left some more room to work with.”

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Oct 28, 2021
Deserta - Lost In The Weight
380

Deserta - "Lost in the Weight" from the 2022 album Every Moment, Everything You Need on Felte.

Matthew Doty is wasting no time building up a catalogue of work as Deserta. Quick on the heels of releasing his debut album under the moniker last year, Black Aura My Sun, the former Saxon Shore/Midnight Faces plans on releasing the follow-up titled Every Moment, Everything You Need in 2022.

The record’s lead single and our Song of the Day is the Herculean track “Lost In the Weight.” At nearly six and a half minutes, the song is a slow burn of epic proportions that sludges as if carrying the weight of the world on its back. Endless layers of swelling textures ground the track while Doty’s wispy vocals float above, urging us to “Take a little time /Slow down” like an angelic spirit guiding us from the demons in our heads.

Doty had this to say about “Lost In the Weight”:

“This song came from a place of exhaustion, frustration and the necessity to create. LITW trudges away on the same bass note for most of its six and a half minutes. It has moments of release, but even those moments are meant to feel heavy. This was the first song I tracked with Chris Coady and while we were setting up mics I said something along the lines of “Please make this sound as good as possible, I can’t work as a nurse much longer.” And though I somehow doubt releasing seven-minute ‘singles’ will bring about financial independence, I feel that we created some beauty from all of those darker parts.” 

Deserta will be in Seattle on Friday, November 5th to play the Central Saloon.

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Oct 27, 2021
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - The Distance
248

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - "The Distance" from the 2021 The Distance EP on Nice Age.

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, the musical pseudonym of Orlando Higginbottom, returned last year with his first collection of songs since his 2012’s Trouble, a four-track EP called I Can Hear the Birds. After nearly a decade of releasing singles and collaborating with a horde of others including Amtrac, Bonobo, and Porter Robinson, the London-born producer is finally ready to give us the solo cuts we’ve been patiently waiting for.

Our Song of the Day, “The Distance” is the title track from a forthcoming solo EP out October 27th. The blissful dance track is meditative and trancey with wistful glitched out vocals. “How long must I wait for this love?” T.E.E.D. beseeches. “I’m tired of breathing alone /Don’t you know this could be you and me forever?” Rarely has longing felt this good.

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Oct 26, 2021
Aeon Station - Queens
239

Aeon Station - "Queens" from the 2021 album Observatory on Sub Pop.

After 18 years of waiting for the Wrens to follow up their beloved 2003 triumph, The Meadowlands, we’ve finally received new music from them. Well, sort of. Frustrated with his bandmate Charles Bissell’s endlessly tinkering with his half of the planned follow-up record alongside a dispute over money cuts, Kevin Whelan is releasing his portion of songs under the name Aeon Station on December 10th. It’s a heartbreaking way to receive them, but we’ll take what we can get!

The lead single and our Song of the Day, “Queens,” was unveiled in September and is so much more than we could’ve expected. A climactic five-minute epic, the song opens as a synthy slow-burner but builds into a propulsive, thrashing rocker only to crash to its emotional guitar-strummed ending. With lines like, “You said it was all in,” it’s difficult to not read the song as Whelan’s pointed message to his former bandmate. 

Whelan claims the song was inspired by one of his all-time favorite songs, “The Winner Takes it All” by ABBA. “It’s about betting on the real you,” he explains in the press release. “Like a game of high-stakes poker, you push all your chips to the center of the table and aren’t afraid to go “all in.” When the New York Times asked Whelan in their profile on his new project about whether the song was a breakup song, he responded “More like post-break-up,” Whelan said, “when you find the strength to get on with your life.”

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Oct 25, 2021
J'von - Blacc Moses
144

J’von - "Blacc Moses" from the 2021 album KING CHEETAH on Empty Planet.

“I need something that sounds like a win,” J’Von announces at the beginning of “Blacc Moses.” And, indeed, the story he weaves is one of triumph. Starting at the beginning, with his childhood, the Seattle rapper paints a picture of a mother stricken with grief but keeping it together for her four boys and how that molded him into an empathetic but unassailable human who would look at life with a keen and level-headed lens. 

The song comes from J’Von’s 2021 album KING CHEETAH, his latest in a nearly annual record release string since 2015. More than solely a rapper, J’Von can count the titles of producer, animator, creative director, and father on his rapidly expanding resume. “They have that whole ‘jack of all trades master of none’… I hate that,” J’Von told KEXP’s Dusty Henry in 2019. “I don't want to be that. I don't want to be the dude that's alright at everything. I want to be amazing at everything.” That sounds like a win to me.

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Oct 22, 2021
Tiawa - Life Is Not a Crime
158

Tiawa - "Life Is Not a Crime" from the 2021 album Moonlit Train on Tru Thoughts.

Brighton-based musician Tiawa fuses hip hop, neo-soul, and the Latin folk of her Portuguese heritage for an exploratory yet unhurried experience on her debut album Moonlit Train. Released at the beginning of the summer, the album features production by collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Jack-Chi aka Jack Kingslake and a thematic concept that maps a metaphorical train journey from relationships through to healing and liberation.

Our Song of the Day, “Life Is Not a Crime” focuses on the liberation from oppression. A gorgeous Spanish guitar riff and lackadaisical electronic beat ground the song while Tiawa’s woozy vocals float in a nearly imperceptible tone to create more “vibe” than message. What does come through, though, - words like “frightened” and “silenced” coupled with “life is not a crime” - paints a clear picture of Tiawa’s story and intention.

"Each song on the album is an emotion,” Tiawa explains. “I hope it helps to heal people in serious situations and make them feel better when they listen.”

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Oct 21, 2021
Helixx C. Armageddon - Rollercoaster
229

Helixx C. Armageddon - "Rollercoaster," a 2021 single on Creative Juices Music.

While “Rollercoaster” might be the sole single one can currently find on streaming platforms by Helixx C. Armageddon, the New York-based artist has a wealth of songs, poems, and beats going back over 20 years. Probably best known as a member of The Anomolies, an all-women hip-hop supergroup founded in the late '90s NYC alongside Invincible, Pri the Honey Dark, Big Tara and DJ Kuttin Kandi,  Armageddon is a treasure trove of creative energy that has emersed herself in nearly every medium of artistry one can engage with over the years.

“Rollercoaster” comes from the anticipated forthcoming full-length House of Helixx and wrestles with the dips in the proverbial rollercoaster of life. The low lows are something Armageddon knows well. Sleep paralysis, depression, and social media addiction are a few of the demons that plague her but Armageddon keeps her perspective by acknowledging that “There isn’t one person on Earth that isn’t riddled with holes.”

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Oct 20, 2021
Cleo Sol - Don't Let It Go to Your Head
260

Cleo Sol - "Don't Let It Go to Your Head" from the 2021 album Mother on Forever Living Originals.

If her name doesn’t sound familiar, her angelic vocals have been on full display here at KEXP as a contributor to the mysterious UK collective SAULT. But Cleo Sol is a star in her own right, with a penchant for intimate neo-soul that’s both heartwarming and spacious. Her latest record, August’s Mother, is especially personal as its subject matter is grounded in the beautiful yet overwhelming adventure of becoming a mother.

Our Song of the Day, “Don’t Let It Go To Your Head,” is smack dab in the middle of the record and one of the funkier tracks on the album, with an intricate drum beat leading the way rather than the twinkling piano, sparse guitar, and shimmering strings that fill the majority of the songs. “Don't let it go to your head,” Sol croons. “Love is stronger than fear /Don't let it change who you are /You are meant to be here.” While the song was likely written as a lesson to her baby girl about the importance of being willing to love without compromising yourself, it’s something we all likely need to be reminded of from time to time.

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