Song Premiere

PREMIERE: Relatives - Give It A Try

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Will Shenton

By way of announcing their new LP, Strange We Fall (out August 31 on Figure & Ground), Relatives have released a truly lush track. "Give It A Try" showcases the group's signature smoky duets and softly cascading instrumentals, while capturing their approach to the record as a whole: dive in and don't overthink it.

Building off the songwriting duo's diverse backgrounds—Ian McLellan Davis' as a composer and string arranger for acts like Feist and Grizzly Bear, and Katie Vogel's as a self-taught bluegrass singer—"Give It A Try" feels effortless in its composition. Sultry double bass snakes along to form the backbone as it gradually builds from near-minimalism to a wall of shimmering guitars. The vocals are gorgeous throughout, simple yet mesmerizing, floating along like they're singing at your bedside.

Last year marked the tenth anniversary of Relatives, and their experience shows at every turn. To hear them tell it, writing Strange We Fall was an exercise in spontaneity, characterized by quick turnarounds and attempts to pare down the band's grandiose ideas. But even in this somewhat less deliberate environment, the final recordings feel eminently complete.

"Give It A Try," and Strange We Fall as a whole, sees Relatives "paring down and turning inwards, exploring what can be done with less." Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Pre-order Strange We Fall on Figure & Ground Records

PREMIERE: Fir Cone Children - On My Plate (Feat. Krissy Vanderwoude)

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Will Shenton

Taken from Fir Cone Children's forthcoming LP, The Straight & The Curly, "On My Plate" is a dream-punk tune packed with the whimsy of the mundane. Alexander Donat and Krissy Vanderwoude's vocals weave a shimmering tapestry among the driving piano and soaring guitars as they sing about something almost universally familiar: a kid who doesn't want to eat his dinner.

There's something delightful about giving such dramatic treatment to such a banal scene. "I want to eat something else / I do not want what's on my plate," the duo sings in the buildup to the frantic chorus, in which they emphatically declare, "No fork / No knife / No food / No fruit / No vegetables." It almost reads as a parody of self-serious punk (or subgenres thereof), presenting a child's tantrum in a style usually reserved for grander rebellion.

Fir Cone Children do seem to be getting at a broader theme than the literal narrative suggests. Choice, at any age, can be paralyzing, and the birds in the bush are often more appealing than the one in the hand. Perhaps these are impulses we have to overcome to truly grow up, but it's hard not to relate to the kid—sometimes you just want to flip the dinner table and throw a fit.

Be sure to catch The Straight & The Curly July 13 on Blackjack Illuminist Records.

PREMIERE: Hit Like A Girl - Cold To Be Alone

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Will Shenton

The raw sincerity of Hit Like A Girl's "Cold To Be Alone" is refreshing. Lyrically blunt and heartbreakingly familiar, it's a song that captures the seemingly incurable pain of loneliness and lost love without trying to smother it in ironic detachment. Nicolle Maroulis' vocals soar with bitter anguish against the glimmering instrumentals, recalling the delivery of the best emo and pop-punk of decades past.

But "Cold To Be Alone" isn't just a lamentation—it's also an expression of furious resentment. Maroulis pulls no punches, singing "You don't get to discuss whatever happened to us / 'Cause you did this to me / You're the one who chose to leave." The band's forthcoming LP, What Makes Love Last, is itself an exploration of romance and the myriad ways it can leave us feeling broken, but it's in these moments of catharsis that it feels empowering when it could have simply wallowed.

Of the many things that set Hit Like A Girl apart, perhaps most impressive is their charity, No More Dysphoria, which raises money to help transgender individuals pay for major aspects of their transition. The band forgoes their own merch sales to instead support the organization at shows, and they dedicate a portion of the profits from their music to the cause as well.

So if you're looking for a reason to hit that pre-order button, look no further. What Makes Love Last will be released August 28, 2018.

PREMIERE: Curling - Radio King

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Phillipe Roberts

Coming off of their 2016 self-titled release, which featured frantic drums in constant combat with noisily nimble guitar (leaning towards YES on the math-rock spectrum), Curling strike a surprisingly measured posture on their latest single. Glued to a propulsive beat and pressing its way through a hail of glittering arpeggios, “Radio King” doesn’t let up until the last note splashes off into the sunset, leaving a memory trail of sparkling, no-nonsense melodies in its wake.

There’s a curious purity to Curling’s approach this time around. For a band used to off-time turnaround riffs and intricately stitched together fills, hearing them jam out and ride the beat so consistently is a breath of fresh air. Given time and space to get comfortable in the mix, that virtuosic intensity brings out a sweetly nostalgic side to the band. It pairs especially well with singer Bernie Gelman’s knack for aching wistfulness, affecting a tone that’s somewhere between Duster and vintage Built to Spill.

In a better world, the stadium-sized falsetto choruses of “Radio King” would be a swift ticket into the ranks of FM royalty. As a single, it’s a phenomenal entry point into the limited but rapidly expanding universe that Curling is building around them.

PREMIERE: Two Meters - Captive Audience

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Will Shenton

"Captive Audience," the second single from Florida artist Two Meters' forthcoming self-titled EP, is a song that resolves itself out of a hazy mist. Lost in an ambient wash, an acoustic guitar strums lazily along, distant and defeated. In a nod to its own construction, Tyler Costolo's vocals enter with understated anguish, "Waking up in a daze / With my head throbbing / Eyes covered and blind / I feel my hands are bound," setting the stage for the increasingly grisly tableau to come.

The track is Costolo's take on the end of a relationship, as unsaid words and regrets linger long after the romance has died, manifesting here as a brutal kidnapping: "I was your hostage / But I had no idea," he sings alongside labelmate and producer Pastel (aka Gabriel Brenner). It's both lyrically and instrumentally raw, blending scenes of physical violence (or, more accurately, their aftermath) with a sound that is simultaneously pleading and exhausted.

Two Meters pulls no punches here. "Captive Audience" is a beautiful song, and one that leaves a lasting impression, but it never shies from its own wounds.

Two Meters' debut EP is out June 15 on Very Jazzed. Pre-order it here.