In this late summer installment of I'm Seeing Songs, we take a listen to six noteworthy new songs and their associated music videos that showcase the artist performance, location and other captivating visual elements that complement and enhance the music itself.
Agnes | Fingers Crossed
In a brilliant, pulsing canvas of blue and gold, Swedish pop diva Agnes summons the spirits of the disco days to belt out her powerful new anthem, "Fingers Crossed." With its video directed by Swim Club and produced by Andrea Gyllenskiöld, this infectious pop gem was written by Vargas & Lagola, the music alias of Vincent Pontare and Salem Al Fakir.
Agnes comments on the song's inspiration on social media, "'Fingers Crossed' is inspired by the sense of nothing is impossible, because nothing is impossible. The song does not excuse itself and I don’t excuse myself. We should never ever excuse ourselves, we should be proud and go out in the world in all our glory. I speak from my heart when I say I know how difficult that can be, how easy it is to be insecure doubting your own capacity. That’s why we have to put ourselves in situations and with people that love us, do things that make us happy and feel good about ourselves. That makes us vibrate on a higher level."
Basic Comfort | Slow My Step
When I first heard "Slow My Step," the new single from Kalamazoo-based alternative/synth-pop artist Basic Comfort, I immediately fell in love with the laid back, Royksopp-like vibe of this upbeat, light-synth tune that reminds us all to take our foot off the accelerator that drives our daily lives: "Gotta slow my step | Gotta catch my breath | Before I forget what I came here for." In their music, the band tackles a wide range of issues like growing up with brown skin in America and social justice to gender fluidity. Their soul touching lyrics are woven between lush, jazzy synth chords and guitar licks that get stuck in your head for weeks.
The band comments on the new single, "Sometimes we miss out on the beautiful aspects of life because we are so focused on getting to our destination. To truly enjoy the end result of our journey, we need to take time along the way to appreciate the present moment, and the transformation that is taking place inside of us."
Take a walk amongst the trees with Basic Comfort in their official lyric video for "Slow My Step" from ZXA Media.
Justin Oliver | KING
Written as an anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement, Tuscaloosa-based independent artist Justin Oliver releases his inspiring new single and music video for "King." With its moving and unifying message that we are stronger lifting each other up, Justin's passionate, soulful vocals carry this track through its poignant lyrics and powerful chorus. Justin has been singing and playing the piano in public since the early age of three, was an American Idol season 11 contestant, and released his debut album Presssure in 2018.
About his new single Justin comments, "I wrote a song called "King," inspired by the Ahmaud Arbery shooting. It is meant to uplift and remind black people of our value. It is even more prevalent now since the shooting of Jacob Blake." "King" is the second single from Justin's upcoming album.
Mark Fernyhough | Waves
London and Berlin-based indie musician, conceptual artist and photographer Mark Fernyhough releases his new single and music video for "Waves." Hailing from a classic haunted house English upbringing, Mark mixes his musical activities with Vogue-featured conceptual art and photography, plus directs his own music videos. Writing about contemporary, social topics in the form of fresh, clever musical structures, Mark's recent single/video releases have included the Brexit-inspired "Divided Cities" and "Corona (Song for a Virus)," his goth-tinged musings on the global pandemic.
Written this summer during lockdown, "Waves" explores today's politically fractured landscape whilst juxtaposing it with historical events and revolutionary figures. Early feminist Emma Goldman is quoted: "If I can’t dance to it, it's not my revolution," as is Alan Moore's V for Vendetta. Meanwhile the song's chorus "Roar of the Waves" references Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva.
Shot in former East Berlin, the black-and-white music video for "Waves" sees Mark performing the song with drummer Agata D’mon with cutaways to mask-clad models wearing futuristic leotards by designer Lena Quist. The song is taken from Mark’s forthcoming album which will combine dark indie, post-punk and 80's new wave sounds with expansive lyrics inspired by art, history, politics and literature.
LÉON | And It Breaks My Heart
Taken from her forthcoming album Apart, Swedish singer-songwriter LÉON (a.k.a. Lotta Lindgren) sings about the emotional aspects of moving on from a relationship in her new single and music video, "And It Breaks My Heart." Gorgeous layers of strings introduce this beautiful song that gradually builds into its soaring, anthemic chorus. LÉON's emotive vocals are reminiscent of iconic singers the likes of Miley Cirus and Lissie, among others. "Oh, where do love go | It’s right in your hands | Then suddenly gone | Oh no, nobody knows | Where it disappears | And it breaks my heart."
Erasure | Nerves of Steel
I'll never forget the first time I heard Erasure. It was a Sunday evening at college in the late 80's, as I listened to a radio broadcast of Rock Over London with Graham Dene. The broadcaster announced the news that Vince Clarke (former Yazoo, Depeche Mode) paired up with a new vocalist (Andy Bell) to form Erasure, and then played the duo's debut single, "Who Needs Love (Like That)." That vintage early-Erasure sound was magical - the song was the centerpiece, and the music and production perfectly lifted it.
The duo recently released the glam music video to single "Nerves of Steel," from their eighteenth studio album, The Neon. The entertaining visual accompaniment to "Nerves of Steel" was produced, directed and edited by Brad Hammer and Tyler Stone. Put together quarantine style, this colorful video features 22 drag performance artists and LGBTQ stars presenting "Nerves of Steel" with full glitter and glamour.
The song itself is a stunning return to vintage Erasure. I'm reminded quite a bit of the production and simplicity of tracks like "Always" from I Say, I Say I Say, with elements of the glory days of Wonderland. There's something truly magical and joyful about the songwriting and vibe of the songs on The Neon. If you haven't already, I highly recommend a listen or ten to lift your spirits.