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New Music Spotlight (July 2020)

This slightly delayed edition of our 'New Music Spotlight' features six outstanding single releases from late July. In this post, we take a listen to some great new music from Yella Belly, Karis Lee, Samina, DNDR, Darla Jade, and Trae Sheehan. Read on, have a listen and make these impressive new songs part of your playlists and music collection!

Yella Belly | "Baby Please/Lo Down" (new single)

With the third installment in their AA-side single release series, NYC alt/indie rockers Yella Belly return with "Baby Please" and "Lo Down." Comprised of singer/guitarist William Thompson, bassist Connor Jones, drummer Steve Vannelli, guitarist Jack McLoughlin and keyboardist Patrick Carr, this emerging grit-rock quintet has released a series of fresh, impressive songs since their official formation just over a year ago.

Keeping true to the pattern of what I call 'yin/yang' single releases, "Baby Please" and "Lo Down" complement each other on the musical spectrum. With its lyrical plea for rekindling a relationship where one of the parties is still 'gunnin' for yah', "Baby Please" is the 'yang' as it captures the emotion, angst and pining for a new start. "Lo Down" is the gentle, melodic companion 'yin' single with its sweet, weeping steel guitars and Pogues-like vocals that steadily transition to the track's melodic, resounding chorus. Lyrically, "Lo Down" paints a sort of homecoming after a hard year of challenges with a resolution to do one's best and figure things out. Both tracks are testament to the outstanding songwriting and musical presence of this emerging band.

The band recorded and produced this new batch of songs themselves, opting out of the previous producer/studio approach. They tracked all over New York on their own terms, eventually winding up in thCatskill Mountains where they mixed everything down with Eli Crews (Tuneyards) at his upstate studio. Before quarantine and lockdown, Yella Belly had plans for a big SXSW and additional tour. With that scrapped, the band is now hard at work writing and demoing the next AA-side release to complete the series, and then the eventual full length debut album with plans for a 2021 release.

Karis Lee | "Double" (new single)

R&B/pop singer-songwriter Karis Lee instructs the listeners of her new single "Double" to "please fasten your seatbelts, 'cos you're in for a ride!" As this downtempo, R&B ride commences, you'll find yourself snapping your fingers and immersing yourself into Karis' chill, soulful vocals and the relaxed vibe of "Double." Produced by Adam Reid and running at just over two minutes long, our only wish is that "Double" lasted twice as long as it does!

Karis, the former lead singer of R&B/pop duo Eleven, recently released her debut solo single "2pm" and plans to release her debut EP shortly. Bringing her art and activism to life, Karis is donating every pennny made from "Double" to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to support the fight for racial injustice. Can't think of a better way to support this emerging artist and a critical and worthy cause than by streaming this outstanding new single!

Samina | "Prom" (debut single)

I was immediately taken by "Prom," the debut single from 20-year-old South Asian, Muslim singer-songwriter Samina, from my very first listen. This lo-fi, bedroom pop ballad elegantly combines elements of acoustic guitar, electronic beats, keyboards, and Samina's mesmerizing, heartfelt vocals into a dreamy, melancholic indie/folk gem. With a self-described sound of "rainy window pop," Samina is lyrically inspired by artists the likes of Lorde, Gracie Abrams, Noah Cyrus, and the poetry of Mary Oliver.

Currently based in NYC, Samina comments on the single's lyrical inspiration: "'Prom' is a love letter to the summer after high school. It’s funny to me that everyone knows prom as a night that never quite lives up to our dreams. Finishing this song was my way of closing a chapter in my life even though it’s been years since, and even though it didn’t live up to my dreams." "Prom" is an outstanding debut release for Samina, and we're crossing our fingers that there's more great music on the way from this emerging artist.

DNDR | "Fever Dream" (new single)

If you're looking for a song to put some energy, light and step back into your existence, look no further than "Fever Dream" by Los Angeles-based electronic/pop duo DNDR, the project of Ludwig Jonsson and Ola Pålsson. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, this rising star duo met several years back while taking classes at UCLA and most recently graced our ears with the five tracks on their stunning 2019 debut EP, All We Know.

Pulsing synths, a driving beat, glittering electronics and melodic vocals make "Fever Dream" one of the most infectious and upbeat anthems I've heard during this crazy ride that we call 2020. The song's opening lyrics allude to aspects of the current pandemic and social isolation:

"If I try I could not see your face

Oh my god, it's like we've been erased

I don't leave my house that much no more

I feel my feet are nailed right to the floor"

From there, the song launches into its infectious, feel-good chorus that'll have you dancing and singing along: "ba, ba-dum... walk into a fever dream." The production on this track is outstanding with a well-balanced mix of all the core musical elements.

The band had hoped to film a music video for "Fever Dream" in Joshua Tree, but with everything going on, they postponed it. But in the meantime, the band is planning to unveil an alternative music video created by Matt Sundin that incorporates some pretty awesome visuals from the countryside in Sweden. Keep your eyes and ears open for the new video and more new music from DNDR.

Darla Jade | "Two of You" (new single)

Midlands, UK-based electro-pop artist Darla Jade unveils an air of mystery and déjà vu with her intriguing and gripping new single, "Two of You." Co-written with Craig Sellar and Mark Smith and produced in Thailand at Karma Sound Studios, the bass-driven "Two of You" marks the third single release from Darla Jade, and is a taste of music featured on her forthcoming album.

Darla comments on the background and inspiration for "Two of You" in a recent interview: "It's all about those moments of déjà vu! I took inspiration for 'Two Of You' around last year - for some reason at this time, there were numerous occasions where strangers said they felt they knew me, but didn’t know how because we had definitely never met - well not in this lifetime anyway! And it got me thinking of times when I had met someone for the first time and instantly felt that we’d known each other for years!"

While we await Darla's forthcoming album, be sure to also check out her recent impressive singles, "Overcrowded" and "Frenemy."

Trae Sheehan | "To Be Alone" (new single)

Nashville-based indie/folk singer-songwriter Trae Sheehan releases his new single, "To Be Alone," the first taste of new music from his forthcoming album, Postcards from the Country, which is currently set for a September 18 release via Half Moon Records.

Hailing from the panhandle of West Virginia, Trae grew up surrounded by music and family and has lived in both NYC and Nashville, along with touring the country in his converted minivan. I first heard Trae's music at a performance at Chicago's Uncommon Ground and was taken in by his impressive songwriting, vocal delivery and captivating solo acoustic performance.

"To Be Alone" is a lovely acoustic number that features Trae's impressive fingerstyle guitar playing, songwriting and heartfelt, emotive vocals. With lyrics that reflect upon the feelings of not wanting that special someone to ever feel alone, this is a love song at heart. The acoustic treatment, upbeat pace and well-placed harmonica all work to create a warm, sunny indie-folk gem from this emerging artist.

Be sure to check out the accompanying music video for "To Be Alone," filmed by Misty Sheehan.

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