“123, won’t you dance with me?” is the summer bop you didn’t know you needed

Becca Rogers is an electro-pop producer and songwriter based in Washington, D.C. Her latest creation ‘123’ featuring Joe Bills is a summery bop with a catchy chorus, driving beat and nostalgia infused synths all wrapped up in a flawless production.

The song starts with a plucked synth/marimba ostinato that is simple enough to already be memorable, and engaging enough to carry through the whole first verse, before the chorus comes in with a punch. The arrangement knows when to drop elements to build up for a more impactful chorus. It’s a pop production that stands up to any other pop productions out there.

The vocal production is also great overall, with doubles and octaves addded in at the right times, vocal throws and harmonies that build up effective layers and progress throughout the song to keep the arrangement alive.

Becca shares this story about the inception of the lyrics:

I ran into the bedroom to tell my girlfriend about the song, and she said “with the marimba, this song should NOT have sad lyrics! This sounds like a beach club.” She thought the song should be about a guy asking a girl to dance (we’re a female couple, so we tried to get into the mindset of what a guy might be thinking by channeling how we felt when we first met in NYC!). We sat in bed and knocked out all of the lyrics more quickly than I’d ever written a song. 

Joe’s vocals work great on the track, with just the right amount of vulnerability in the performance to suggest the nervousness of inviting the girl he likes to dance. This is not about someone out looking for a one night stand, but a someone pulling up the courage to make a move and find love. It adds a fresh spin on the typical ‘dancing in the club’ narrative, and is endearing at first listen.

Becca is clearly a very talented songwriter and music producer. While ‘123’ is the first release on Becca’s Spotify, she also produces for her pop duo Strawberry Aqua – go check it out!

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Juno Roome’s ‘Just Like Before’ is a smooth balm for the soul

Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Juno Room recently released ‘Just Like Before’, a chill bedroom pop single with a unique atmosphere and sound. Combining Korean and English lyrics, super soft falsetto vocals and non-formulaic songwriting, ‘just like before’ is a wistful gem that is bound to linger with the listener.

Remarking on the release, Roome says:

“This is the first song that I had written in both Korean and English. I moved to the US when I was 10, so I don’t speak Korean very well at all; so when I wrote the first draft of this, I sent it to my mom for review and she said “this doesn’t make any sense,” I still don’t know if it makes a whole lot of sense haha. But this one is about missing a relationship that didn’t quite work very well, missing their shadows on your skin, thinking back on those memories / intimacy fondly, while at the same time with the awareness that it probably wasn’t for the best… loss is hard no matter what.”

The opening with Korean lyrics and breathy vocal style immediately captures your attention. The vocals are underscored by a bedroom-pop/shoegaze bed of hazy guitars, soft but tight drums and the surprise addition of soft trumpet melodies which immediately invoke a sense of nostalgia. This is in line with Juno’s previous releases, which are all adept at creating a special mood of delicate beauty and plaintive melancholy.

The track has a bold runtime of 4:26 in an era of ever shortening releases, however the song structure contains some interesting sections that keep you engaged, and the song is over before you know it. Even in the sections where one doesn’t understand the lyrics, the soothing music acts like a salve for the soul.

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Reno Cruz serves new heavenly love song with ‘Around U’

‘Around U’, from the album ‘Falling In Love is Not That Hard’, was released by Chicago-based recording artist, Reno Cruz at the beginning of the year.

After a short introduction that sets the celestial theme, the single immediately grabs your attention with the bold use of creative effects on the voice: a baby-like effect in the introduction guides us through, to reveal Reno’s smooth, unprocessed vocals, reinforced by blissful harmonies.

Cosy verses, backed up with acoustic guitar, bass and drum kit, contrast the choruses, which feature extra reverb, dreamy backing vocals and breathy, wind-like synthesisers. 

On the track, Cruz remarks:

“I wanted to channel this feeling of being the less powerful body in a relationship, like a satellite or a comet orbiting a star. There’s the tension between heaven and earth, fantasy and reality.”

The choruses certainly succeed in giving the feeling of floating in space. At only 2:18, ‘Around U’ is a short but sweet dose of chill downtempo indie, ending abruptly with the punchline, “You’re the Sun and I’m your Moon / If we try, I’d just be orbiting around you”.

This is a short but sweet love song that leaves the listener wanting more. We recommend checking out Reno Cruz’s full album, ‘Falling In Love is Not That Hard’.

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The Lovelines release enthralling single ‘Dark Thoughts About a Pretty Flower’

The Lovelines, a brother and sister duo new to the scene, released “Dark Thoughts About A Pretty Flower” on Valentine’s Day in 2022, following on from their successful debut, “Strange Kind of Love” at the start of the year.

The blend of jazzy, soulful vocals over live band elements, driving trip-hop rhythm section, angular chord changes, electric guitar and quirky song construction is very engaging, and takes the listener through a solid melange of influences and genres in a few short minutes. The repeating lyrics, especially in the chorus (“dark thoughts, pretty flowers”), serve almost like a hypnotic spell sung by a musical enchantress whose vocal tone recalls a delightful blend of Amy Winehouse and Arlo Parks.

On the meaning of the song, the Lovelines remark:

“‘Dark Thoughts About A Pretty Flower’ was written to be free to interpret. There’s an art to not saying too much, we think. Is it a song above love or is it a song about a literal flower? Is it a song about pessimism, or is it a song about perversion?”

The Lovelines are for sure an exciting new project that brings a fresh sound to the table, and is already doing great on Spotify by being featured in several editorial playlists.

Stream “Dark Thoughts About A Pretty Flower” now: https://linktr.ee/thelovelinesband

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Jake Huffman releases nostalgic indie rock anthem ‘Giving it a Try’.

Jake Huffman’s dreamy single “Giving it a Try” is a nostalgic, yet feel good indie rock anthem. Released on the 25th of March, Huffman’s latest offering is part of the upcoming “Adderall & Whisky” EP, an homage to an untamed dreamer traveling the country in a young rock band.

Jake Huffman, known as the drummer for Hartford-based rock band McLovins, started his solo venture in 2019 with his first release premiered on NPR’s World Cafe in October of that year. With touring plans cut short in 2020, Huffman spent his new-found time honing his songwriting and production skills in his home studio, resulting in the EP “Adderall & Whisky”, which is due to release later in April.

‘Giving it a Try’ is a fine showcase of Huffman’s Chris Martin-esque vocals, ranging from husky and hushed verses, leaping up an octave to a more held back, earnest tone in the pre-choruses and letting loose in the choruses. The passionate singing is backed by vibrant electric guitars, driving bass and hard-hitting drums, all brimming with the kind of energy that deserves to be unleashed on a concert arena.

Huffman’s aching nostalgia towards his earlier years touring with McLovins is felt strongly. It is there in the stylistic nods to the 90s and 2000s and the music we grew up to, it is there in the lyrics, and it is there in the emotion in his voice. It’s a feeling shared by a generation, in an era of copy-paste songwriting, faux-retro synthesisers and TikTok, “Giving it a Try” is an offering that is sure to resonate with millennials.

“Giving it a Try” is available on all platforms now!

Emily Parish doesn’t need much to captivate with delicate new EP

London-based singer-songwriter Emily Parish makes alt-pop infused with folk sounds. In 2020 she released her debut album ‘How I Feel Now’, and 2022 has just seen the release of her newest EP, ‘Don’t Need Much’.

The EP is a collection of four tracks, mostly written throughout 2021, with the addition of a reworked older song. As the singer-songwriter puts it “it embraces everything from love and relationships to working life and wanting more from my 20s.”

The title track ‘Don’t Need Much’ is an atmospheric alt pop offering, centred around Emily’s distinctive vocal, a guitar riff reminiscent of Daughter, and a slow electronic beat. Emily’s wispy vocals (which bring to mind artists such as London Grammar or Tusks) impart a certain kind of vulnerability, as she sings about love and the longing for human connection. The arrangement is sparse but the crafty use of reverb creates a vast sonic space where the parts come together to create an enveloping soundscape with beautifully dark tints. The strong and memorable melodies of the chorus make this rightfully the title track of the release.

The second track, ‘Moonbeam’, is a more intimate folk pop affair, with closer, drier vocals and a sparse arrangement of acoustic guitar, bass and drum and the occasional sparkle of glockenspiel. With echoes of Billie Marten or Lucy Rose, it’s a song with sad lyrics about emptiness and loneliness, in a major key. This juxtaposition seems to work well, especially when coupled with the quirky lyrics. Talking about this song, the musician explains:

The overarching theme is mostly about how I worry that I’ve made a lot of wrong decisions in my work life and how my 20s are passing me by. Plus how capitalism is crushing us – that’s why it’s spelt capital hill not Capitol Hill.

With ‘Didn’t See You Leaving’ the fragile sensitivity of Emily’s voice is showing at its best, echoing the heartbreaking lyrics, impactful from the very first line: ‘you were just a disappointment’. The simplicity leaves space for the emotion to blossom into naked vulnerability with a heartbreaking ending. The word play ‘didn’t see this coming/didn’t see you leaving’ is cleverly devised to make the choruses memorable, and with the soaring vocals and soft high notes, this one is sure to tug at the listener’s heart strings.

Photo credit: Colleen Lee

Going around in full circle, the EP closed with an alternate version of ‘Don’t Need Much’, an acoustic piano version that is perhaps even more touching than the full version. The melodies and the vocal rendition are so strong that they literally ‘don’t need much’ to hide behind in terms of accompaniment. When the guitar comes in towards the end of the song, it’s exactly what the song needs to grow, showing that when the songwriting is strong enough to stand on its own, less can be more.

‘Don’t Need Much’ is a collection of songs showcasing a well-rounded sound, delicate and intimate, simple yet sophisticated, and above all, always conveying honest emotion. An artist that we are glad to have discovered, and whose journey we will be sure to follow.

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Shafkkat and Rojaz merge influences in classy electro lounge single ‘Her’

‘Her’ is a collaboration between London based producer Shafkkat and electro pop artist Rojaz.

Shafkkat (the moniker of Taz Hussain), has previously released an EP of electronic music that has resulted in various radio plays and a guestmix on Reprezent Radio. Spanish born Rojaz started releasing music in 2020 and has currently over 115k monthly listeners on Spotify, with support from BBC Introducing in the South and others.

‘Her’ is an eclectic mix of genres and elements, brilliantly brought together into a release that could be played both into a club or used in chill mix. It feels like an ambient track, in that it plays extensively with mood, tone and textures, on top of a driving club beat propelled by 808s, a snappy snare and melodic toms. The verses are sparse and enveloping, with a lounge jazzy piano creating a classy, relaxed atmosphere. The instrumental captivates the listener’s attention through the skilful manipulation of sounds, glitch elements, chopped and processed vocals, which play a predominant role in creating the distinctive sound.

An interesting addition is the use of a sample of Rojaz’s grandmother, who was a Spanish voice actress in the 1950s. This can be heard on the transition two thirds into the track, adding a unique details and acting as the perfect homage to Rojaz’s roots.

The arrangement is clean, clear and spacey; despite the variety of elements, they have a well-defined place in the mix at all times, and of course, leave plenty of room for the vocals to shine.

Rojaz’s topline is the linking glue towards which the track converges. Her voice is fluid and soulful, a silky timbre delivering a natural but controlled performance, adding colour and emphasis where needed, with a wispy gentleness reminiscent of Billie Eilish.

‘Her’ beautifully brings together the influences and creative blueprints of two very talented musicians, and makes for a stylish collaboration that is sure to find its place in a broad variety of playlists.

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Maddy Storm plays with danger and sensuality in ‘Mattress’

UK singer-songwriter and producer Maddy Storm recently released ‘Mattress’, a vibrant pop tune with a distinctive sound and a daring production.

Maddy’s confident vocals draw the listener in from the very beginning. With a delivery reminiscent of Lana del Rey, but a vocal register closer to FKA Twigs, Maddy’s poised performance is the driving force of this track. With a hint of Kate Bush’s haunting quality and the hushed tones of Billie Eilish, the vocals exude playful seductiveness with a dangerous edge.

This is also reflected in the arrangement. Driven by a dense, hard hitting drum beat, the production packs a lot of detail and ear candy elements that add constant movement to the track and command the listener’s attention. These whimsical, playful elements are juxtaposed with grittier sounds which bring in that edge that we mentioning earlier. The hyper pop touches such as the variety of pitch shifted or processed vocals, distorted drums, glitch elements and ‘8-bit’ synth runs are what pushes ‘Mattress’ away from the generic pop song label, turning it into an exciting track that showcases Maddy’s creativity and imagination.

However, the single stays in the realms of electro/dark pop, which is for the best, as it has a serious topic: “that feeling in a relationship where it seems like you’re the practice for the one they really want”, as Maddy explains. 

In a world where only about 2% of music producers are not men, it is worth emphasising again that this is a self-produced single. What is even more awe-inspiring is that Maddy wrote and produced it in one night, in her childhood bedroom.

The whole thing happened so quickly that I ended up recorded the final vocal takes on holiday in an airbnb in Brighton – there are certain takes where you can hear the southern seagulls in the background, she explains.

Seagulls or no seagulls, we think that it sounds incredible, not to mention that it manages to be super catchy, without being predictable. A well-rounded songwriter, singer and producer Maddy Storm is definitely one to watch.

Speaking of watching, you can watch below the newly released music video for ‘Mattress’:

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Kevin Rieth tackles metaphoric insomnia with idiosyncratic single ‘When I Sleep’

‘When I Sleep’ is the third single from San Diego singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Rieth’s album ‘Up and up’. On the album Kevin plays guitar, keyboards, bass, horns, harmonica, and charango, with percussion courtesy of Rob Hanzlik, lead guitar performed by Gage Markey, cello by Jake Matthew Rivers, and Aaron Russo on drums.

‘When I Sleep’ is a quirky burst of timbres and melodies presented in a package of soft rock crossed with baroque pop. From the very introduction, the cello sets a sophisticated tone, talking us to the realm of chamber pop pop, echoing the likes of Belle and Sebastian or the Divine Comedy. The tracks retains an old school vibe through the guitar solo, the vocal production and the classic fade out outro, but treated to a modern touch.

Driven by a groovy bass and steady acoustic drums, the track achieves contrast between sections through careful arrangement. The sparse and dry verse gives way to a dreamlike soundscape in the choruses, with lush synths and vocal ‘pads’ providing an ethereal, eerie background. We loved the use of the voice as an instrument in the choruses, and also the bass line that emulates the vocal line – it is small details like this that show the musical experience and prowess when arranging a song. Kevin’s vocals are natural and personable and display an impressive range, which becomes apparent when the falsetto backing vocals are introduced in the chorus.

This is a colourful track that is not afraid to explore the joy of musicality in both arrangement, structure and production. It’s almost as wacky and liberating as a lucid dream, where things feel real but are not quite as they should be. This was the first impression when listening to the song, and it all made sense when realising that it is about insomnia. ‘When I sleep’ perfectly evokes the dreamlike state between being awake and asleep, with an unsettling pang conveyed through repetitive, fractured guitar chops.

Diving deeper into the meaning of the song, Kevin explains that the song details the anxiety and frustration surrounding the police violence and political unrest in the United States. As the narrator attempts to calm their troubled mind and get some rest, the song laments, “What am I supposed to be doing now?”, referring to bigger questions such as ‘how can we make the world a better place?’ and ‘what can we do to make a change?’.

The whole ‘Up and Up’ album is available on Spotify, and we recommend that you dive in Kevin Rieth’s sonic world.

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Delujn releases outstanding debut single ‘Ride in Chains’

Delujn (pronounced as ‘delusion’) is the brand new musical project of Canadian multi-instrumentalist John Sklove.

A cinematic trip driven by spaghetti western guitars, hazy vocals and exquisite lyrics, ‘Ride in Chains’ makes for the enthralling debut single of a project that is already owning up to a strong stylistic identity.

Clearly a work of love, the ‘desert-dream pop/rock’ piece (as self-described by the artist) runs over 6 minutes in length, a trait rarely encountered in songs these days, when attention spans of audiences are so short and pop songs now tend to reach for the under 3 minute mark. But Delujn’s music is not meant for those audiences. It is intricate and tasteful, with inspiration drawn from a melange of class acts, such as Beach House, Cat Power or Neil Young, and appeals to a listener that is not in just for a casual fling.

With lines of imagery as strong as ‘For a drunkards bail, you’ll ride in chains/ and you’ll crush each other just to stay in the game’, ‘Ride in Chains’ reads like a refined epic poem with the fractured sensibilities of modern poetry. Perhaps another ‘poet of brokeness’ like Cohen, Sklove sings sings about intense emotion in a despondent way, which only accentuates the magnitude of the hollowness and disappointment he is portraying.


The song was mixed by John Goodmanson and mastered by James Trevascus, and the drums were performed and recorded by John McEntire at Soma Studios. But other than that, all vocals and instruments were by John in his furnace room studio, and he has achieved a well-crafted arrangement in which details are meaningful and no parts are superfluous. The sounds fit together like a holistic mechanism, with details such as brisk punctuations of percussion, small bursts of acoustic guitars and synth interventions turning it into a vivid arrangement of its own flavour. To fully understand what we are talking about, one should also listen to the instrumental version, which is also available on Spotify.

A compelling piece, ‘Ride in Chains’ makes for a finely polished aural experience that deserves to be listened actively and enjoyed as an intellectual experience.

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