Track Premiere

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: 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.

PREMIERE: Roman Jinn - Russian River

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Will Shenton

I often find myself using the word "transportive" to describe music—that which is evocative of a time or place beyond our own, whether in the past, future, or some other dimensional direction. But in listening to Roman Jinn's debut single, "Russian River," I'm inclined to use it in a different context. Like its namesake, this is a song that whisks the listener along from one movement to the next, never lingering too long on any sound but never losing its cohesion.

The track opens with wistful vocals over piano before exploding into what feels like a climactic, cloud-parting chorus, complete with high-pitched accents from an electric guitar. But then, just as soon as things start to feel familiar, we dive back beneath the surface into a meandering collection of free-jazz horns and ride-cymbal nonchalance, all before the first minute has elapsed. We return to the putative chorus once more before abruptly hitting the brakes, and the song melts into a sunny wash of throwback psychedelia to round things out.

There's structure to "Russian River," yes, but just enough to hold its wildly disparate elements together. If anything, it feels like artists Sahil Ansari and Eli Aleinikoff are showing off their control not just of instrumentation but of emotion—they're willing to dabble in longing and catharsis, but they refuse to be swept away by it. There's a stoic quality to the piece, which is a strange thing to say about a song that makes so much use of improvisation. I'm excited to see what other contradictions Roman Jinn manage to synthesize when their debut album, MNO, drops this spring on Massif Records.

PREMIERE: Space Cubs - Gnaw

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Phillipe Roberts

Building from a billowing cloud of voices into a hypnotic trek towards the unknown, Space Cubs’ “Gnaw” is picturesque, scene-setting ambient pop. The first track from the Buffalo-based band's latest EP, What iff, it’s a fantastic showcase of the group’s knack for weightless melodies and darkly soothing atmospheres.

True to its title, there’s an unmistakable dread piercing the heart of this song; beneath the swirling piano figure that loosely tethers the more ethereal elements, a thick layer of dissonance gleams like a knife. The sounds detune as an eerily organic yet metallic chorus swims in and out of prominence, playing anxious call and response with main vocalist Suzanne Bonifacio, her voice surging as these audible strands of doubt crowd around her.

When a beat does come in, it sinks “Gnaw” deeper into quicksand. Bass and drums seem to run in reverse. The soundscape pulls in tighter, sucking in a deep breath before the plunge. A digitized ride skips along and Bonifacio waxes about leaving it all behind and starting again, telling herself, trapped in the immense gravitational whirl of the now-dense instrumentals, that “The past is the past.” “Gnaw” eventually coasts to the finish, but at the close Space Cubs have broken through to rich and mysterious new territory.

PREMIERE: Millionyoung - What To Do

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Will Shenton

Millionyoung's latest single, "What To Do," is a track that makes itself at home in nearly any context. Opening with a wash of transportive, tropical synths, the song progresses like a dream through Mike Diaz's hazy vocals and shimmering beats, channeling warm sunsets and neon-lit city streets. Punchy enough to stand as a dance track but eminently laid-back, "What To Do" is poised to be an anthem for the summer.

Be sure to catch Millionyoung's new LP, Rare Form, out 4/13 on Mishu Records.