Mid-June 2021 Round-Up
I went through this month’s releases (so far) and selected the statements to follow.
June has already been hopeful for music fans across all genres: tour dates for the fall have been announced with plenty of new music to match. The world is reopening and music is taking every opportunity to return to its pre-pandemic state as well. Two and a half weeks into the month, we’ve already seen a ton of exciting moments: Lorde’s first track in four years, Danny Elfman’s pandemic-themed album, and the fifth installment of Pi’erre Bourne’s The Life of Pi’erre series, to name a few. Here’s an abbreviated list of some of this month’s notable releases:
Dark0 - Eternity
Over the past two years, the London-based producer has gradually made his mark on the club/electronic world with his fresh mixes and nether-worldly soundscapes. In August of 2020, Dark0 signed with YEAR0001, the independent record label from Stockholm; his sound aligns with the label’s most notable music groups, Sad Boys and Drain Gang. Their shared appreciation for darker-sounding kicks and mystical concepts makes them congruent label mates. Following his 2020 debut, ZERO2, Dark0 capitalizes on his creative brevity to produce a world of cascading drums, secure blends, and intimate moments of reflection — all above 130 beats per minute. Eternity is a peek into just one of these worlds, featuring the heavy-hitting singles, “Wait For Me” and “Shining Star”.
Check out “Wait For Me” below:
Pi’erre Bourne - The Life of Pi’erre 5
Pi’erre Bourne has established himself as one of rap’s beloved producers of this generation, next to Metro Boomin and Zaytoven. He displays his versatility and artistic curiosity on The Life of Pi’erre 5. The 16-track long project showcases the musician’s capabilities as a rapper and producer: he can really do both. Linking with Playboi Carti, the flashy Jordan to his Pippen, on the second track, “Switching Lanes”, Pi’erre knows what the people want to hear and he chooses to provide what he wants to. Across the album, 808s meet lighter-hearted keys to create a playful quality to Bourne’s sound. To prevent the ‘childish’ aesthetic, Bourne lays down mature-ish raps on tracks like “YNS” and “Groceries”. His sound isn’t claiming to be older than he truly wishes to be.
Check out “Groceries” below:
Danny Elfman - Big Mess
Leading up to his first solo album in nearly 40 years, Danny Elfman surprised the music world with a double-disc LP that explores each pandemic emotion with a series of layered guitars and hypnotic verses. Elfman’s musical genius has likely inspired your favorite films and film series; he’s most known for his work on each Tim Burton film, Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, along with Justice League (2017). Elfman translates this artistic scale to his solo album. Big Mess is not only exciting as a fan of any of these movies, but also as a fan of prog rock and ambient music. From the second disc, “Love In The Time of Covid” highlights the album’s focus well, beside “Choose Your Side” and “Cruel Compensation”.
Check out “Love In the Time of Covid” below:
Yves Tumor - “Jackie”
Following their acclaimed third album, Heaven To A Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor graces fans with a new single that takes a nod from their sophomore release, Safe In The Hands of Love. Pensive lyrics of yearning in front of an uprising chord progression sums up the track’s focus. As an artist, Yves Tumor continues to experiment with rock’s generic boundaries, leaving their dry vocals to ring out of the chorus in a spiraling manner. “Jackie” points to another innovative Yves Tumor project in the coming year and displays a musician having fun with what they can do.
Check out “Jackie” below:
PRONOUN - OMG I MADE IT
Instead of thinking of emo-pop as a dead-end genre, Brooklyn-based PRONOUN explores the bubbliest elements of the hybrid genre to celebrate their own success as an artist. OMG I MADE IT displays Alyse Velturo’s gradual understanding of fame in Disney-exposition fashion: the album sounds like an accompaniment to tall trees swaying, teens whizzing past on their skateboards, a cold drink from the fridge after school — the whole thing. By destroying this artist-fan distance via songwriting, Velturo places herself among the listeners and provides five tracks that get comfier with each listen. I’d be really excited if I ‘made it’, too. Not only does transparency make PRONOUN a wonderful act to follow, but it sounds thoughtful and pleasant.
Check out “I WANNA DIE BUT I CAN’T (CUZ I GOTTA KEEP LIVING)” below:
serpentwithfeet - “You Don’t Own Me / Canopy”
Under the alias, serpentwithfeet, Josiah Wise has stunned the avant-garde-soul world with their vocal control and aesthetic grace. While covering Lesley Gore’s timeless classic, Wise emphasizes how beautiful and liberating breaking a possessive pattern can be. *cues “You Don’t Own Me / Canopy”* Behind the muted kicks and intimate keys, Wise chooses not to flip their voice as often as they usually do in their runs, but focuses on the delivering the song’s message with poise: “You don’t own me / I’m not just one of your many toys / You don’t own me / Don’t say I can’t go with other boys” Their previous album, DEACON celebrates a new partnership and accepting another's being into your own, Wise’s rendition holds on to their sovereignty with everything they have.
Check out “You Don’t Own Me (Commercial)” below:
Rostam - Changephobia
In eleven tracks, the Grammy-winning musician, songwriter, and founding member of Vampire Weekend, Rostam Batmanglij offers an artistically-expansive collection of songs that feel unexpected yet timeless. Its fun and genre-bending nature begs listeners to consider Rostam’s versatility as a musician apart from his high-profile collaborations and credits. As singles, “From The Back of a Cab” and the album’s title track, “Changephobia” both experiment with pop elements and ushers in electronic and trap elements to preface great songwriting. “Kinney” also displays this blend perfectly, and includes a fast-paced saxophone that fits right into the sonic image.
Check out “From The Back Of A Cab” below:
ELIO - ELIO and Friends: The Remixes
ELIO’s remix album brings acts from all across the world to remix her previous pop singles in ELIO and Friends: The Remixes. At a glance, fans of Charli XCX, No Rome, and Babygirl would assume dominant performances from their favorite artists that pull away from ELIO, but the Wales-based musician comes out on top of each track. In this way, the album truly sounds like a group of ELIO’s closest friends creating fresh pop music. “CHARGER” features a harmonious balance between ELIO and Charli XCX — the autotune yields to the kick and the chorus rules a majority of the track. The two vocalists perform this chorus together, explaining how awkward it can be to return to the scene of a fight with a significant other, especially for a phone charger.
Check out “CHARGER (ft. Charli XCX)” below:
Lorde - “Solar Power”
It’s been hard to escape any mention of Lorde’s new track over social media, let alone the excitement surrounding the New Zealand singer-songwriter’s upcoming album Solar Power. The title track embodies everything its title suggests; a fresh, new air without negativity. Considering the pandemic’s effect on music and everyone’s respective lives, “Solar Power” celebrates a hopeful future that invites the listener to wear their lightest colors and bathe in the sun: “Turn it on in a new kind of bright / It’s solar (Solar, solar, solar, solar)”. Breaking her four-year hiatus, Lorde re-introduces her voice to the world with her classic tone along the acoustic before opening up into the chorus. Whether or not the listener knows Lorde’s previous work or not, the track’s optimism is impressive and uplifting. Who doesn’t need that right now?
Check out “Solar Power” here:
Clairo - “Blouse”
Announcing her upcoming album Sling, Claire Cottrill successfully adds another dimension to her sound. In a tweet posted earlier in the month, Cottrill credits her latest companionship with her dog, Joanie, as the main influence for the new album:
“By caring for her, it forced me to face my own thoughts about parenthood and what it would mean to me.” she wrote.
Considering the lyrical content of “Blouse”, Cottrill leads with one of the most intimate tracks she’s ever released, featuring an active string section with a grounded guitar beside her vocals. The track is minimal but decisive, sacrificing productive dialogue for a sexually-distracted partner. Evolving into an established musician apart from the DIY-indie appeal, Clairo uses her honesty to tap into a fuller sound.
Check out “Blouse” below: