Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – May 14, 2019

the w lovers, kill j, Christopher willits, kelly lee owens, holly redford jones, the mystery lights

Clockwise from top left: Holly Redford Jones, The Mystery Lights, Christopher Willits, The W Lovers, Kill J and Kelly Lee Owens.

Summer is on its way, and the festival season is just starting to come into full swing. Of course, everyone knows the headliners, but what about the undercards? The names nearly out of focus could test anyone’s researching abilities.

Thanks to RIFF, you don’t have to comb through and figure it out yourself. We’re happy to bring you some new awesome songs in this weekly segment.

Here’s to some good listening to start your week off right.


The W Lovers, “Time’s a Liar” — Words like “authentic,” “real” and “America” come to mind when hearing The W Lovers. With the opening guitar strums, it feels like you’ve landed in the South. Surprisingly, this beautiful alt-country duet of Fleur and Wesley Wood is straight out of Seattle. “Time’s a Liar” is a simple folk song with two guitars and harmonizing vocals. The soothing arrangement feels like you’re sitting outside with them as they play. Long after the song’s end, it’s hard to get Fleur’s pure voice out of your head. As alt-country singer-songwriters start to get more notice, The W Lovers should be right there sharing the spotlight.


Kill J, “Moon Sick” — If it’s two in the morning and you’re still on the dance floor, you would expect this song to come on. “Moon Sick” is moody, hypnotic and begs for undulating. The song is sparse and minimalist, yet incredibly dramatic as Kill J’s high-pitched vocals blend into the synths. Hailing from Copenhagen, Kill J’s spacey ambiance could transcend the space-time continuum. “I was inspired by the multiverse theory within quantum mechanics,” the experimental art rock musician says of the song. “There’s as many universes as there are choices, for every choice we make, there is a corresponding world.”


Christopher Willits, “Coast” — San Francisco’s Christopher Willits presents his latest piece, Sunset—which is set to drop in June—with simple instructions: “Begin the music 15 minutes before the sun sets.” The instructions for “Coast” would probably be “close your eyes and imagine the water lapping at your feet.” This song is evidence of the healing properties and escapism music can provide. “Coast” has an immersive soundscape that evokes a trip chasing coastlines. The song generates a tangible, vivid and surrounding sense of atmosphere, which increases if its detailed sonics are played through quality speakers. Willits also cofounded and now directs San Francisco nonprofit Envelop. The organization leads a mission to amplify the connective power of music through immersive audio venues and spatial audio production tools. This latest cut seems tailor-made for such a unique environment. It’s an audiophile’s dream.


Kelly Lee Owens, “Let It Go” — The beat drops and you’re immediately thrust into the song. “Let It Go” sits astride a percussive beat as Owens ghostly voice drones in the background. Continuous crescendos make it the perfect tune to get lost in and let wash over you. “Let It Go” has a house, trip-hop feel that could easily have fit into ’90s raves. It’s hypnotic and trance-like, while also creating a compellingly claustrophobic era. At certain moments, the synthetic thumping drumming has a tension that feels like a techno horror movie. Owens, a British musician and producer, is bringing her DJ set to San Francisco this summer.


Holly Redford Jones, “Bonjour Madame” — This British songwriter sounds like she could be living in Nashville. Her gritty, blues-country number “Bonjour Madame” is nothing if not catchy. Its grinding, slower-burning progression centers on infectious vocal motifs. Her voice grabs you as she wears her heart and soul on her sleeve. Redford Jones says the song was “born whilst just about scraping by in London, working in bars and other assorted odd jobs.”


The Mystery Lights, “Too Much Tension” — The Mystery Lights, originally from Salinas in Central California and now in Queens, sound like they came from the ’60s to the point where I had to look them up to make sure they weren’t a band my dad had seen in the Haight. The Mystery Lights bring a funky take on garage rock and psychedelic pop to “Too Much Tension.” The riffs command attention from the get-go but it’s really the hooky chorus that sticks. The song is two minutes of pure psych-pop bliss. It’s easy to see how the band is signed to the Daptone Records family—on the rock imprint Wick Records. Following in the footsteps of its new labelmates like the late Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, the band’s energetic groove is sure to win over new fans this summer.


Rachel’s Pick: After just one listen, I was hooked on The Mystery Lights. Considering the song was over in just over two minutes, I could easily listen to “Too Much Tension” again and again. You can hear the fire that makes their live shows so applauded on this studio recording. So the band already went to the top of my must-see list. But really, the fact The Mystery Lights are on Daptone Records was all I needed to know. As a huge fan of Sharon Jones, “Too Much Tension” swept back up into that world, this time through ’60s psychedelia instead of soul. I could not have been more ecstatic with what I heard.

Follow writer Rachel Goodman at Twitter.com/xneverwherex and Instagram.com/xneverwherex.

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