“I don’t know how to tell you.”

“When I’m With Him” by Empress Of | Speaking of Los Angeles, Empress Of, aka Lorely Rodriguez. As I crawled out of my weeks of isolation caused by being utterly busy, this song seemed everywhere: the Canadians love it, the Aussies love it, the cool Americans do, too. And that’s got me thinking, because I have written about a lot of Los Angeles-based acts over the years, and even I get frustrated about how derivative they tend to sound. Don’t get me wrong, I like what I hear, but when you’re doing this macro-view thing you tend to realize that they are samey. Is Empress Of samey? On one level, this sounds comfortingly familiar – the dense electro-pop people seem to love these days, like it’s from any of those laptop producers only it isn’t. On another level, there’s a snatch of Spanish on this song and that alone pushes things to a different direction – slightly, but a strong enough nudge to remind me that things can be different. Los Angeles is cosmopolitan, but sometimes I wish it can sound more like that. [NB]


“You need to sign for it, mate!”

“Stick In A Five And Go” by Sleaford Mods | Sleaford Mods are a band I wouldn’t usually write about, if only because they’re a band people hold in high regard and I have difficulty figuring out where to start. I heard this song on Monday, as I headed to the hotel, the very reason why this blog is on autopilot all week. (To go full circle, I heard it on 6 Music, too. It’s their new single, from their new EP.) Nice, wobbly bass, although it’s better on earphones than on car speakers. At this point I’ve probably woken up late, thinking about what the hell just happened. Did that just happen? Did it all come together? Or, maybe, why was it all a disaster? (I hope not.) Again, did all that just happen? I will still be in a daze now. I assume. I could try and act like everything is normal by dipping back into a full inbox again, but nah. Let’s hold that for next week. [NB]

“We’re gonna fly in the blue sky.”

“Memoria” by GFriend | We’ve had our ears peeled for GFriend’s first official Japanese single; with the music video for it dropped yesterday, we finally have a properly clear stream for it. If anything, “Memoria” makes it clear that the girls are taking the melancholic route. And yet this pushes that narrative further, something. Maybe it’s the decision to blend everything more: there’s no “powerful” Yuju moment, although she is still there to lift the song with her vocal runs. Maybe it’s a sound that’s even dreamier than “Rough”, and a slight departure from the cinematic nature of “Time for the Moon Night”. There are a lot of videos on YouTube where fans lay this song over random anime opening titles – here’s one for friend of the blog Louis – and that says a lot about how, surprisingly effortlessly, the group adopted their sound to Japanese audiences. This year seems to be the year when more than the usual K-pop suspects make the jump across the sea – Mamamoo’s releasing a new “Decalcomanie” next month, too – and I’m happy GFriend’s is distinct. I did just say that, right, hun? [NB]

“…and I’ll fall asleep to the sounds of the late noon.”

“Backstroke” by Dizzy | The past couple of years I seem to be sticking to a theme: discovering female-fronted acts just a month or so after the release of a debut record. I did that to Alex Lahey; I did that to the Beths; I am doing that to Dizzy, this time a band from Oshawa, Ontario. (Yes, another act from Ontario. Accidental theme there.) They’ve just released their album Baby Teeth a couple of weeks back, so that’s too late for a review, and since I am woefully busy – I am pre-writing things weeks ahead and writing a lot of things for the day job – I’ll have to park this album for future listening. But I did hear “Backstroke” on some random radio jaunt, and considering it was around eight in the morning and I was driving to pick Shalla up from work, it felt a little… hazy, dreamy, extra lovely. I hope I don’t forget that mental note. [NB]

“I need you sticking around ’cause there’s something about you.”

“Future Me Hates Me” by the Beths | Well, this one’s fun. It’s tight, it’s clippy, and it’s really fun, even if the lyrics are a bit more hesitant – and that’s how you marvel at how, well, fun this song is. The band is called the Beths; they’re from New Zealand, and apparently they’ve just released their debut album last week, although this single dropped three months ago or so. I chanced upon this song on a random weekend drive – not that random, but you know what I mean – and what struck me is the clash, of sorts, between the garage stylings of the band and the sweet, almost drowned-out vocals of Elizabeth Stokes. Somehow that clicked for me, and here we are writing about them. Must try the album. [NB]