Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery

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Every week, there’s a plethora of new music at our fingertips.

Artists on platforms such as Spotify and Bandcamp are plentiful, and the radio offers a steady deluge of new singles, but who has time to sort through all that? RIFF does!

We pooled our resources to find some of the best new singles from all genres and backgrounds, so you can find your newest earworm without all the drama. Enjoy this week’s hidden gems:

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Felsen, “Vultures On Your Bones” — This West Oakland collective continues its crusade against cultural decay through its newest dose of expansive indie rock. These eight musicians collaborated to a memorable effect within an old-timey template, with each member adding the perfect flavors to their sonic palate. Synthesizing the hopeful hippie-anthems of the British titans Pink Floyd or The Beatles with more recent strains like War On Drugs, this track stands out for its surprisingly fresh take on a well-tread musical pathway. Its use of instrumental nuances, earthy dynamism, and dense vocal harmonies allows the song to transcend a simple ode to songwriter Andrew Griffin’s vision for a brighter future and become something truly gratifying.

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Triathalon, “Butter” — New York’s Triathalon bridges the gap between atmospheric hip-hop and lo-fi indie rock while avoiding the tendencies toward sameness in both approaches. “Butter” almost feels like listening to Sampha reimagined by Mac DeMarco, in that its emotional quotient reaches for the former while its execution finds footing in the latter’s less-is-more production and reverberant guitar strains. Though not particularly deep in its impact, the band succeeds in creating a compelling sonic environment while remaining rooted in familiar songwriting chops. With the line between singers and rappers within hip-hop continuously blurring, a song like this proves that making such distinctions really doesn’t matter as long as the end result works.

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EMÆL, “Yellowtail” — With their newest single, EMÆL solidify themselves at the avant-garde of several genres. Their “indie chamber pop” tagline is appropriate, given how seamlessly these Southern Californians blend the alien and the earthly. This cut’s use of staggered staccato and bouncy modulations coincides with glitchy beats and electronics, blurring the lines between real and synthetic instruments in enchantingly discordant 15/4 rhythm structure. The sheer breadth of ideas and auras this track utilizes is impressive enough, but EMÆL’s aesthetic blend of contemporary classical, folktronica and alternative R&B elevates their output to a mini-odyssey. Add to that harmonious vocal reprisals, poetic lyrics and orchestral cadences, and the five-piece is set to push boundaries and turn heads in the coming year.

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Johanna Warren, “Hopelessness Has Done Nothing For Me” — As haunting as it is accessible, this folksy ballad sees this Portland-based songwriter capture the process of learning to love after having it taken. Moving acoustic guitar lines and harmonics commingle with piano trills, shimmering electric guitar and steadfast drums, making for a gorgeous arrangement that elevates its familiar style into something undeniably heartfelt. Warren’s soothing voice complements this instrumental tapestry with warm colors of love, loss and redemption. The powerful resolve in her timbre increases the impact of her vulnerable lyrics, further inflating “Hopelessness Has Done Nothing For Me” far beyond what one would expect from its meat-and-potatoes foundation.

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The Telescopes, “Everything Must Be” — Hailing from England, noisemongers turned psych-droners The Telescopes have been wowing audiophiles with their sprawling life-affirming opus. “Everything Must Be” centers mostly around two alternating piano chords, which the band milk for every ounce of emotion and spirituality they have. Compounding warped noisescapes and obitual dissonance, this orbital tone poem’s ecstatic climax elicits epiphanic connections with its monolithic climax. Whether one actually believes in the “Stone Tape Theory” in which the song finds its spiritual nucleus, its spectral aura will surely reverberate through the listener’s body and surroundings in pursuit of realms beyond comprehension.

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Max’s Pick — “Yellowtail” by EMÆL keeps listeners guessing, but never feels awkward or jarring. These folks simply gush musicality at every turn. They obviously know how well this music works, and this confidence shows in their playing. The performances, arrangements and songwriting present on this cut speak for themselves. It functions so well as a catchy song that one might not even realize how complex it is without listening carefully and examining its every aspect. If chamber pop’s increasingly otherworldy direction needs a more grounded counterpart, EMÆL fills that void beautifully.

Follow writer Max Heilman at Twitter.com/madmaxx1995.

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