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New Music Spotlight (November 2020)

In this late Fall edition of our 'New Music Spotlight' series, we feature six outstanding single releases from the past few months. In this post, we take a listen to some great new music from M. Byrd, Jonas Källstrand, Young Ritual, Squirrel Flower, The Go Luckys, and Dana Crowe. Read on, have a listen and make these impressive new songs part of your playlists and music collection!

M. Byrd | "Mountain" (debut single)

M. Byrd is the musical project of indie singer-songwriter Maximilian Bart who describes his musical beginnings as "a story that started somewhere between Amsterdam and Paris..." Inspired and influenced by his travels while touring as bass player with German indie pop singer-songwriter Ilgun-Nur, the singer remarks, "I spent many years soaking up personal and musical experiences and I've been learning a lot in different studios and touring situations. The music I make is thus inspired by being on the road, moving on and allowing growth to happen. I realized that the experiences on my path might also inspire other people and I hoped that will transcend in the songs we are releasing."

"Mountain" is M. Byrd's debut single and a stunning first listen to the breezy, infectious acoustic indie/folk sound of this emerging artist. Bringing to mind the likes of Tom Petty, Sufjan Stevens and The War on Drugs, "Mountain" features M. Byrd's warm, wavy guitar reverb, laid-back, stoic drums by André Albrecht and floating choirs by Doreen Albrecht, creating a space in which Byrd’s voice moves in wishful, yet familiar warmth. "Mountain" feels like a warm, carefree, sunny drive along the coast.

The songwriter shares insight into the song's meaning: "I visited the highest mountain of Denmark called Himmelsbjerget, which roughly translates to Sky Mountain or Mountain of Heaven. I thought it was quite a name for a mountain that is only 147m high, but when you climb on top of it, it feels so high, you can almost see the ocean. So 'Mountain' became this idea of a song that puts things into perspective - if even the seemingly smallest hill can be a mountain, what good things are actually surrounding me right now?"

It’s a walk in the dark

A stretching of time

A color of hope

A song in your mind

The stunning music video for "Mountain" features Danish dancer and choreographer Nana Anine. In the vast landscape of the Atlantic beaches of Normandy, France, Anine sets a sign of feminine strength and sensitivity, interpreting "Mountain" as a meditation on personal growth and an empowering metaphor to trust your intuition. Under Marcel Izquierdo Torres' direction, Anine’s choreography is embedded into atmospheric pictures that not only capture the beauty but also the solitude of the region.

Jonas Källstrand | "What You Need & Where You Go" (new single)

Gothenburg-based singer-songwriter Jonas Källstrand has been creating music over the past several years in a variety of contexts. In addition to writing and recording as a solo artist, his musical collaborations and projects include Tuff Bransch, Skötkonung, Teenman, and KÅRP.

Jonas' latest solo single is "What You Need & Where You Go," a rhythmic and spirited acoustic folk rock track with lyrics that allude to the power that rock 'n roll music plays in transporting one to a safe place faraway from loneliness and challenges in life. Along with the melody and lyrics that are brought to life by Jonas' emotive, heartfelt vocals, the musical earworm for me is the captivating guitar hook that introduces the song and comes gleaming through after each round of the chorus.

Jonas comments that the song is "... a story about a young girl growing up in poor conditions, which also serves as a reference to this day and age of loneliness that is being forced upon so many of us." Jonas continues, "It's a documentary about a young girl being forced into a corner with only her little brother and escaping into music as her last resort."

"Now rock 'n roll is all you know

'cos rock 'n roll is all we need

and rock 'n roll is where you go 

it's all you ever cared for"

In addition to "What You Need & Where You Go," be sure to check out Jonas' recently released singles on his SoundCloud channel and other streaming music services.

Young Ritual | "Together, Alone" (new single)

Mid-Michigan indie/alt solo artist Young Ritual, the musical alias of singer-songwriter Dylan Grantham, recently released his captivating new single, "Together, Alone," a song which tackles feelings of isolation and paranoia through the lens of a deeply committed relationship built on the cornerstone of acceptance.

In his time as a musician, the trademark of Young Ritual has become confessional lyrics clothed in 70’s folk-rock vibes that meet super-indie-rock energy for an experience that pulls your heart out of your chest. With a sound and energy that brings to mind artists the likes of Conor Oberst, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Phoebe Bridgers and Mac Demarco, "Together, Alone" is an outstanding new song that features Dylan's powerful and passionate vocals, accompanied by a musical soundscape that builds from strummed acoustic guitar to powerful, vibrant, and anthemic heights.

With a handful of releases under his belt, including his 2018 EP, You Can Be Beautiful, Too, recent singles, "Art Teacher," and "Lost Years," the quarantine-developed "Spare Room," and now "Together, Alone," Young Ritual is clearly developing the reputation of being one of Michigan’s finest upcoming artists.

Squirrel Flower | "Explain It To Me", "Chicago" (new singles)

Squirrel Flower, the musical moniker of indie singer-songwriter Ella O'Connor Williams, releases two stunning songs in the form of her new double-sided single, Explain It To Me / Chicago.

Many will recognize A-side "Explain It To Me" as a cover of a Liz Phair track that appears on her 1993 debut album, Exile in Guyville. Squirrel Flower's version features lovely harmonies and delicate acoustic fingerstyle while maintaining the spirit and vibe of the Liz Phair original. Squirrel Flower remarks on social media, "'Explain It To Me' has been one of my favorite songs since I first heard it when I was 14. I made this recording in my basement while experimenting with self harmonizing for the first time in a while."

Second track "Chicago" is a stunning Squirrel Flower original that I hesitate to even call a B-side - this song is outstanding. Squirrel Flower breathes life into the elegant, atmospheric musical tapestry of "Chicago" with a set of simple, straightforward lyrics that glide atop the enchanting musical sequences within the song. The tempo, production, and vibe comfortably and magically work to place the listener into their own driver's seat as they embark upon a snowy drive to the Windy City.

I'm driving out to Chicago

The weather is cold

But who's there will keep me warm

Squirrel Flower comments on her Bandcamp page, "'Chicago' is a rework of an old song I originally released in 2018. It's from a studio session a while ago and it never got used, so my brother and I put some extra guitar on it during quarantine and voila. I originally wrote it in 2015 when I lived in the Midwest. Put it on when you're lost/moving/found."

The Go Luckys | "Up in the Clouds" / "Time by Surprise" (new singles)

Chicago-based lo-fi/synth rock duo The Go Luckys is the musical collaboration of Matt Perius and Kacey Oesterreich. Earlier this year, the duo released their impressive, self-titled debut EP, followed by the easygoing and optimistic single, "How Much Longer."

The Go Luckys return with two impressive new singles - "Up in the Clouds" and "Time by Surprise" - each reaching out to opposite ends of the lo-fi/indie spectrum.

With its chill lo-fi/electronic vibe, "Up in the Clouds" might just be the perfect daydreaming soundtrack you need to get you through 2020 and beyond. The minimalist composition and production works nicely in this track, presenting an uncluttered musical canvas that keeps the focus on the lyrics and laid-back vibe.

"I'm up in the clouds

and I won't come down

i'm not afraid to fall

Life moves really slow

i'm way up above looking below"

Traveling across the musical spectrum to the minimalist, ukulele-led "Time by Surprise," The Go Luckys' Kacey Oesterrich reveals how the track came to life: "I wrote this song on ukulele one day while messing around in Logic after getting into biking during quarantine. I've spent a lot of time outdoors and looking at all the changing leaves by Chicago's lakefront. I just wanted to make a song that kind of felt like fall and looked like fall in a sense."

Regarding the lyrical theme, Kacey adds, "The lyrics and song's purpose talk about how fast time goes by and how we feel like a lot of it is wasted. Time is the changing of the seasons. The period of fall will soon be winter, so let's hold on to these last few days and remember what we love about where we are and who were with right now."

The duo then collaborated on bringing the song together. Kacey explains, "Matt is the producer/singer and keyboard player in our band, so I sent the project to him and from there he had lyrics written that fit the song perfect already and then he chopped it together like the producer he is and boom we had a single. I played the rhythm first and liked it, so I added some picking and then I added some simple drums and it came to be."

Dana Crowe | "Anchor in the Blue" (new single)

It was just three years ago in 2017 that Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Dana Crowe released her debut EP, Everything. Influenced by a variety of artists including Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen, her steady stream of single releases over the past few years have proved to be favorites on radio play throughout Australia.

The singer's latest single, "Anchor in the Blue," is an uplifting and rootsy, guitar-driven response to the challenges and setbacks of 2020, and features Dana's distinctive, upfront and captivating vocals. Produced by Alessandro Stellano, the bold and energetic "Anchor in the Blue" falls in line with Dana's desire to create songs of confidence and durability that explore the journey of hope and hardiness. Dana comments, "I've had this song completed and shelved for what feels like forever as I wanted it on the new delayed EP. With so many people separated from their loved ones it seems like a perfect time to release."

Not to be stopped or deferred by COVID lockdowns, the single's official music video is the product of a DIY mentality, having been recorded on an iPhone and independently edited.

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