Patrick Murphy/Northern Star
Weekly Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6pmuekmqKAWehC8rXdgL1s
Leviathan – “The Idiot Sun”
Current Joys – “Dancer in the Dark”
UnoTheActivist – “Jimmy Fallon”
Devourment – “Arterial Spray Patterns”
One-man black metal outfit Leviathan is the gold standard for U.S. black metal. “The Idiot Sun” is extremely bleak, cold and tortured. The haunting eeriness of lo-fi black metal screams mimics true pain. And, knowing front-man Jef Whitehead’s past context for these releases, the listener can truly understand the honesty of which the music was forged, especially all through one musician. The instrumentation lacks so much hope that this world has to offer in the best way imaginable.
Onto something much more lighthearted, “Dancer in the Dark” by Current Joys will easily go down as one of my favorite pop-alternative songs this year. It’s so soothing, beautiful and raw. Multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Nick Rattigan strikes all of the right chords to make the listener come back for more.
UnoTheActivist is on an unbelievable run of fantastic releases right now. Intro track “Jimmy Fallon” off of the rapper’s latest release, “Unoverse 2,” is some of the best Uno has to offer right now. With production from producer Dream Awake, the track feels like an otherworldly sega-genesis inspired beat where Uno effortlessly capitalizes with his nuanced flow.
Revolutionary brutal death metal maniacs, Devourment, returned to its signature sound on its 2019 album, “Obscene Majesty.” Track four, “Arterial Spray Patterns,” may not even qualify for top five on the album, but it’s still great and that goes to show how spectacular “Obscene Majesty” ended up being. Disgusting gutturals, menacing guitar tones and layered and hammering percussion make “Arterial Spray Patterns” a damn good, brutal death metal goodie.
Twin Peaks – “Wanted You”
Dr. Dog – “Where’d All the Time Go?”
The Paper Kites – “Young”
Tame Impala – “Mind Mischief”
Formed in Chicago, indie rock band, Twin Peaks, gives the listener a song reminiscent of the ‘60s on “Wanted You.” Lead singer Cadien Lake James starts off mellow on the first and second verse, but the chorus showcases what his voice is truly capable of. The metaphorical lyrics from start to finish help paint a picture of unreciprocated feelings for the listener to visualize for themselves.
Dr. Dog has outdone themselves on “Where’d All the Time Go,” from the band’s sixth studio album. This lo-fi rock band knows how to make the listener nostalgic with both its lyrics and melody. With the mesmerizing synth at the beginning and the incredible bass throughout its entirety, it is clear as to why this is currently Dr. Dog’s most popular song on Spotify.
Australian folk-rock band, The Paper Kites, never miss an opportunity to start their songs with a mellow and catchy guitar riff. “Young” is the perfect song for an autumn day. The harmonies throughout the song sound effortless, while the lyrics invoke sentimentality.
Tame Impala has never released a bad album and one-man band Kevin Parker’s second studio album “Lonerism” is no exception. This psychedelic rock artist writes his own lyrics and plays every instrument heard in his songs. “Mind Mischief” has many different layering components to it that compliment each other and create something quite impressive.
Chris Lanzon – “Iris”
The Revivalists – “It Was a Sin”
Frank Ocean – “Ivy”
Bryce Vine – “Care At All”
Out of the dozens of covers that have been released for the Goo Goo Dolls’ 1998 song “Iris” recently, Lanzon’s cover might just be my favorite. His vocals are soft and dreamy and the instrumentals are refreshingly different from the original song. His cover currently has over 955,000 streams on Spotify and it deserves more attention.
The Revivalists dropped their album “Men Amongst Mountains” in 2015 and six years later it is still just as poetic and honest. This song revels in the human experience of guilt and, instead of dwelling on it, the song is apologetic and accepting. The entire album is worth a listen, but especially this song.
It’s hard not to know Frank Ocean’s name in 2021, let alone his 2016 song “Ivy,” but as the wait for Ocean to drop new music draws on, there’s no shame in playing all of his songs over and over again. “Ivy,” especially, never gets old and makes an expected masterpiece worth the wait.
Bryce Vine is an underrated musician in general and he’s released many songs that are perfect for any occasion. While most of his songs are on the upbeat side, “Care At All” is more mellow and sad. Vine has a pleasant voice and his vocals truly shine in this song.
Nana Lourdes, Strath – “That’s How It Goes”
The Chain Gang of 1974 – “YDLMA”
Planning for Burial – “Warmth of You”
Wyatt Smith – “Elated”
Grooving baselines, harmonious, overproduced vocals and synth melodies all couple together to create “That’s How It Goes,” a bouncing and head bobbing track that transports the listener to the early ‘00s. The washed out bridge of this song is also fantastic, with blended synthetic percussion and surprising instrumental choice.
“YDLMA” is a vibrant track that comes off of the 2020 album, “Honey Moon Drips,” from synth-pop artist, The Chain Gang of 1974. “YDLMA” is an effect-heavy track that fills any space with nostalgia and ambience.
“Warmth of You” is a gritty grunge shoegaze track from self described “loud/quiet lofi” artist, Planning for Burial. The track starts slow and then subtly picks up with overdriven guitar and punching drums backing the song’s haunting vocals.
San Francisco indie-folk artist Wyatt Smith’s 2020 record, “Maple,” is an earnest and introspective listen. Contrary to its title, “Elated” is a soothing yet somber listen that breaks down to picking acoustic guitar and shaking cymbals.