Tuesday Tracks: Gina Miles, Kishi Bashi and The National Parks

Gina Miles

Gina Miles, courtesy.

Pinch-hitting for the Tuesday Tracks team, this week I spotlight a breezy folk rock tune by The National Parks, a surprising sun-drenched pop song by rapper Nashon, an orchestral dance explosion by Kishi Bashi, a psychedelic alt-rock gem by Man Man, an emotional piano-led ballad by Zevia and a “wicked” cover by former “The Voice” winner Gina Miles.

The National Parks, “Wild Spirit” – Completely by accident, I’ve got a couple of songs in this column that have a certain carefree, devil-may-care vibe. Those who know me would you tell that’s not me. My stress levels are often a few degrees south of HEARTATTACK. But that’s where songs like The National Parks‘ “Wild Spirit” come in; they calm my blood pressure and get me to breathe in some fresh air. That’s what this song sounds like.

To the band, it’s about navigating life changes and “taking uncharted steps.” I can see how it would help them find their way. The Provo, Utah folk-pop quartet seemingly always delivers uplifting gems, and this is another one. It plays Cornerstone Berkeley on Oct. 2.


Kishi Bashi, “Colorful State” – This is a banger, and I didn’t know Kishi Bashi (Kaoru Ishibashi) had it in him! The symphonic orchestration for which Ishibashi is known take a back seat to a driving beat and nostalgic-sounding synths. You can work out to this song! But being a Kishi Bashi tune, there’s way more depth than that.

The forthcoming album the song is from, August’s Kantos, was partly inspired by sci-fi novel series “Hyperion Cantos,” the writings of philosopher Immanuel Kant, the morality of artificial intelligence  and a personal trip to Crete. The artist also points out that “canto” means “I sing” in Spanish. Kishi Bashi now calls Santa Cruz home and also found inspiration from his partner, a philosophy professor at nearby Santa Clara University.

Fun fact! “Hyperion Cantos” also inspired St. Lucia album Hyperion, with which “Colorful State” shares some sonic similarities. Kishi Bashi plays the Regency Ballroom on Sept 15.

Gina Miles, “Wicked Game” — This song by Stockton legend Chris Isaak has been covered so many times. I’ve had it stuck in my head for the last couple of weeks since Orville Peck and Midland paid tribute to it on his Peck’s recent song “The Hurting’ Kind.” So let’s just say that my brain was primed for this beautiful cover by Gina Miles. Now, I’ve never watched “The Voice” in my life, but this was a song she performed last season on her way to victory.

The keys that set the wheels in motion are reminiscent of Gary Jules’ cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World,” but as the familiar melody of the verse settles down like snow, over pedal steel or slide guitar accents, it’s unmistakable. And as for the singing, Gina Miles’ smoky upper register fits right in.


Man Man, “Alibi” – The third single from the band’s next album, Carrot On Strings (June 7, Sub Pop), has a sort of groovy, psychedelic sway to it over the staccato guitar playing and an organ. It sounds great now and would also probably fit in the swingin’ ’60s. Man Man is the project of Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner) and his many friends, who got their start in Philadelphia but are based in L.A. now.

The album was produced by Matt Schuessler, with whom Kattner had worked on a cover of Neu!’s “Super” for the Krautrock band’s box set. The songs were developed live on stage and then furiously recorded over five days in 2022.

Zevia, “surrender” — There are a lot of bouncy, uptempo songs in this list, but this isn’t one of those. Singer-songwriter Zevia’s heartfelt track has her looking inward. Over a quivering singing style, with a slight rasp, the Florida native has an internal dialogue about moving on from something—a relationship?— for which she’s clearly fought hard but sees no victory or happy ending. Her words can be taken in a couple of different ways; there’s a depression floating over this song.

“I wish that I could paint a picture/ Of what it would be like/ … If I was gone tonight/ Without a word of where I went/ Nobody has to know/ To hurt, I hope/ Made a promise I wouldn’t leave/ But sometimes selfishly/ I think, I think,” she sings.

But it could also be about the first step in finding her better path forward. Zevia has more new music coming in 2024.


Nashon, “runaway” – Here’s this week’s other carefree jam; a summery pop tune that likely doesn’t reference the Del Shannon classic but makes you want to hit the highway all the same. The interesting thing here is that Nashon, a New Jersey native who now calls California home, came up in hip-hop, and this song is a purposeful step away from that. Had I not known of his background, I may have still guessed it with his emphatic singing style, yet Steve Lacy’s recent solo material is also comparable. This is the first song from his forthcoming EP, MARTYR; ACT III, concluding a series.

Roman’s pick: Before I knew I was writing this column this week, Gina Miles’ “Wicked Game” cover was the song I had on repeat. She’s scheduled to perform the song on the season finale of “The Voice,” which takes places over two days, ending tonight on NBC. So maybe you can still catch on on TV. Another fun fact: Miles spent her early years in rural Illinois but moved to Sacramento after high school in 2022; so she’s kind of local!

Follow editor Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter

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