Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – Dec. 1

Hurtwave, Cristy Alover, Grandma, T9ine, Shallow Side, Barbara Black

Clockwise from top left: Hurtwave, Cristy Alover, Grandma, T9ine, Shallow Side and Barbara Black.

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

Artists on platforms like 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.


Cristy Alover, “Contact High” — Starting with an authentic half-time shuffle and a virtuosic bass line, “Contact High” reestablishes the standard for musicality in soul music. Sultry saxophone solos notwithstanding, it’s the voice of Cristy Alover that takes the cake. Her lyrical motif of a contact high becomes an interesting metaphor for toxic relationships and how just hanging around the wrong person can change you for the worst. The song’s instrumentation remains impressive enough, but Cristy Alover’s voice has musicality as well.


T9INE, “Go Harder” — No, this isn’t the chopper rap legend. With production from Juan Prod and Jai Beats, this 19-year-old rapper comes through with a surprisingly unpredictable flow. He does a lot to break the pop-trap trope of repetitive, boring rapping. It actually takes a few listens to vibe with his verses, as he weaves in and out of the sparse yet intricate beat. T9INE’s Auto-Tuned approach remains convincingly emotional, with a nearly stream-of-consciousness cadence.


Grandma, “Chills” — Bedroom pop—a genre known for dreadful boringness—is not the case with Grandma. His voice cuts through the mix with a distorted growl, commanding attention right away. While certainly stripped-back in nature, the arrangement of “Chills” sports compelling diversity and dynamics. Perhaps that’s because the solo artist sought out the creative input of his live band. The song toys with the idea of reincarnation, eulogizing Princess Diana, Allen Ginsberg and Joanna Moore, who all died the year he was born (1997). Complete with an incredibly trippy music video, this track goes to show that bedroom pop doesn’t have to relegate itself to four walls.


Hurtwave, “My Father Said” — Comprised of vocalist Rory Rodriguez and drummer Mike Karle of post-hardcore band Dayseeker, Hurtwave’s name really speaks for itself. “My Father Said” bares a cross of downtempo synth-pop as Rodriguez gives a heartfelt depiction of conflicted love. The lessons he thought he learned from his parents’ divorce are tested as he finds himself in his own romantic conundrum. With sweeping dynamics and believable anguish, this would surely appeal to fans of Joji’s more extravagant work.


Shallow Side, “Revival” — This particular strain of arena-ready rock music should’ve come and gone by now, but bands like Shallow Side show why the style has stuck around. With an impressive vocal range and a few solid guitar licks, “Revival” really boils down to accessible, fun hooks. That being said, it’s not turn-your-brain-off music, either. There’s extra ornamentation in the riffs and production to keep you interested as the band rides its anthemic melodies into the darkened sky.


Barbara Black, “Vampire Love, Chapter I: You Belong To Me” — If there’s one thing at which classic heavy metal excelled, it’s melodrama. Listening to five seconds of Barbara Black’s voice displays her understanding of this metal maxim. The song itself is pretty by-the-numbers head-bang fodder, so Black’s voice remains the main attraction. The modern metal scene needs more heroes behind the microphone, and it seems that Black is up for the challenge. It’s a muscular blend of Dio’s virtuosity and Arthur Brown’s craziness, with just the right amount of glam metal sleaze.


Max’s Pick: I’m a simple guy. If the rhythm section reminds me of Steely Dan, I’m here for it. That’s what clicked for me right off the bat when I heard “Contact High” by Cristy Alover. What kept me around, however, was her clever lyricism and interesting vocal phrasing. The R&B and soul movement needs more musicians like this put on blast, and fast.

Follow Max Heilman at Twitter.com/madmaxx1995 and Instagram.com/maxlikessound.

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