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  • Tom H

New Music Spotlight (May 2020)

In this May edition of our New Music Spotlight blog post series, we take a sampling of new single releases from alt/indie musicians around the world. Read on and be sure to listen to the fresh, impressive new offerings from EXNATIONS, Hēran Soun, Yard Arms, Eskobar, The Go Luckys, and Jared Minnix.

EXNATIONS | "Love in the Time of Quarantine" (new single)

The lyrical theme of "Love in the Time of Quarantine," the empowering new single from NYC/Jersey City-based indie pop band EXNATIONS, came to lead vocalist Sal Mastrocola while temporarily venturing out into the city streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Clinging to normalcy taking trips to the corner bodega

Wondering how much longer can we keep this up

Passing people on the street being sure to keep our distance

Trying hard to keep our trust"

While self-defined as a 'sad' band, the passionate electricity and uplifting vibe prevalent in "Love in the Time of Quarantine" and many other EXNATIONS songs leads one to think and feel anything other than 'sad.' The band kicked off 2020 with their New Year's Day single launch of the haunting and hopeful "11:59." Little did we all know what 2020 would have in store. Looking beyond COVID-19, murder hornets and often impending doom, "Love in the Time of Quarantine" is a melodic and anthemic beam of hope and a welcome distraction from the uncertainty of our new normal.

"We get high, we get low, we’ve got nowhere else to go"

Comprised of Sal Mastrocola, Taylor Hughes, and John O'Neill, EXNATIONS wrote and recorded "Love in the Time of Quarantine" remotely with Walter Dicristina at Silk City Grooves and Mike Piacentini (Depeche Mode, Cheap Trick) at Battery Studios (Sony Music Entertainment).

Hēran Soun | "When You Wanted" (new single and video)

Oakland-based singer-songwriter and producer James Freeman Turner releases his new single and music video for "When You Wanted" under his musical moniker of Hēran Soun. Deaf for much of his childhood and only fully regaining his hearing at the age of nine, James' love and enthusiasm for music developed shortly thereafter. With dis debut album on the near horizon and having recently landed on NPR's "The Austin 100" list of musical acts they were hoping to see at this year's now-cancelled SXSW music festival, Hēran Soun is clearly on the list of emerging artists to keep on your musical radar.

Featuring a sound that blends elements of indie, electronic and ambient, "When You Wanted" is a delicate and moving track embellished with a lovely touch of strings that heighten the emotional intensity of this impressive song. On his Instagram page, James comments that the song and accompanying music video address the true story of "a relationship stuck together, being pulled apart, one coming closer while the other disappears into themselves."

"But you wanted something didn’t you

Something I could not just give to you

and you wanted something said to you

Something I could not just say to you

Like 'I Love you'"

The single's cinematic music video is directed by Ariel Heller and features actors Cris Gris and Jamie Turner.

Yard Arms | "Mantra" (new single)

I first heard of Bristol-based Yard Arms with the release of their stunning sophomore EP, A Glossary of Broken Humans & Beating Hearts, which featured impressive singles that included "Comfortable" and "Idea of Me & You." Comprised of long time collaborators and musicians Noah Villeneuve and Billy Golding, the duo releases "Mantra," the first taste of music from their forthcoming third EP, Sanctuary Lines. The song was recorded, mixed and mastered at Stage 2 Studios with Producer Josh Gallop (Phoxjaw).

Above its glittering guitar riffs, "Mantra" boasts hypnotic vocals and a lyrical optimism that float a soaring "you're my mantra" at its chorus. Lyricist and frontman Noah Villeneuve describes "Mantra" as a 'triumphant love letter to the anxious.'

Eskobar | "Roller Coaster" (new single and video)

Following up their recent single release of "When Your Heroes Fall," Swedish alt/indie band Eskobar, the trio of Daniel Bellqvist (lead vocals), Frederik Zäll (guitar), and Jocke Brunnberg (drums), releases "Roller Coaster." With its sound rooted in the 90's UK indie scene, the energized, guitar-driven track channels elements of Oasis/Liam Gallagher and Primal Scream with a distinct, modern indie rock drive.

Produced by Daniel Bellqvist, "Roller Coaster" is the second single from Eskobar's forthcoming album Chapter 2, about which the band comments, "A big part of it is a love letter to the 90’s UK Brit/indie scene that we all used to dance and party to back in the day mixed with subtle nods on the production side to the hip-hop from the same era that we liked. This combo together with our northern sensibilities makes up the sound that we in the band call 'Northie' which is short for 'Northern Indie.'"

The single's accompanying music video was directed by Eskobar's very own Daniel Bellqvist.

The Go Luckys | "How Much Longer" (new single and video)

Chicago-based lofi/synth rock duo The Go Luckys recently released their impressive, self-titled debut EP, a ten minute laid back, ambient journey across four tracks that leaves the listener wanting more. Fulfilling that specific wish, the duo follows up "How Much Longer," their easygoing new single that emanates gentle optimism and a chill vibe.

Comprised of Matt Perius and Kacey Oesterrech, the emerging duo's laid back, lofi sound channels elements of bands the likes of Washed Out and Small Black. The Go Luckys comment on the creative process and theme of the new song, "We wrote and recorded this while in quarantine (separately). It's a good track to stare out a window too, remembering what it felt like to be a social creature."

The accompany music video to "How Much Longer" features the animation of Zoe Pham alongside the new track.

Jared Minnix | "Slow Down" (new single and video)

Bringing some positivity to quarantines and stay-at-home orders, Nashville-based indie pop artist Jared Minnix releases "Slow Down," the singer's musical message that encourages everyone to slow down and make the most of where they are. The lyrical theme of the song finds its roots in a series of challenging events, including the recent tornado that brought destruction to areas in and around Nashville, being laid off from work, his wife's work shutting down and the current state in which many other are losing employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On social media, Jared explains, "I wrote a song just a few days ago that is about everything happening right now. With some much fear and worry going on in the world, I thought it would be good to put something positive, joyful, and real out there. I typically spend a lot of time carefully selecting one of the hundreds of songs I’ve written and over analyzing with my team about when and what to release." With "Slow Down," the process was different, being more spontaneous and unplanned. "I wrote a song in a few hours by myself in my basement about being quarantined. I produced it in one day and spent most of the evening jumping around because I was so hype."

The single's accompanying music video, directed by Jared and produced by Jake White, was mixed and mastered the next day while the video was filmed. Jared hopes people can relate to the song, adding, "It's genuine, relevant, and encouraging. I hope you it makes you dance, smile, and bring joy into each of your lives. Slow down, make the most of where we are at, and call your parents because they miss you."

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