Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – May 7

Yann Tiersen, Kishi Bashi, MXMS, Palehound, KEELD, Brasko

Clockwise from top left: Yann Tiersen, Kishi Bashi, MXMS, Palehound, KEELD, Brasko.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of music on the internet.

Don’t get me wrong; I love how platforms like YouTube, Bandcamp and Soundcloud have opened the floodgates of independent artists. But navigating the flood is easier said than done.

That’s where RIFF steps in. We do the heavy lifting for you, scouring the sea of sound with ears perked for choice listens.

Enjoy this week’s memorable tunes!


Brasko, “Lipstick Stain” — It’s hard to think of music genres that aged worse than glam rock, but Braskso’s single manages to capture the good without falling prey to the bad. The sexual vibe and glossy production certainly bring ’80s glam to mind, but the funky beat and contemporary sonics counteract clumsy nostalgia. In many ways, “Lipstick Stain” is glam in spirit rather than sound. Even so, it’s hard to imagine a smarter, more infectious way to resurrect the style.


Palehound, “Worthy” — What do you do when you can’t stop hating yourself? Ellen Kempner wrestles with this on this touching acoustic rock ballad. Her unassuming, homey voice invites listeners into her journey to accept a relationship she hardly believed existed. It’s a heartfelt ode to overcoming self-doubt and finding solace in companionship.


KEELD, “Freek” — This French producer emphasizes the “deep” part of deep house music. The subtones on “Freek” do wonders for its exhilarating drops and quirky samples, but the real twist is the platform releasing it. The New Noise imprint of Dim Mak Records aims to help Twitch streamers and YouTubers who want to use music in their content without getting a copyright strike. This makes KEELD’s compelling production more than a party starter, but a boost to independent creators across the world.


MXMS, “Salvation Hurts” — New York and Oklahoma duo MXMS embodies its brand of funeral pop with a compelling combination of gothic imagery, depressive lyricism and sticky hooks. The catchy songwriting almost seems antithetical to the impenetrable darkness, but the passion of vocalist Ariel Levitan bridges the gap to a transfixing effect. Jeremy Dawson’s bright synthscapes carry enough sadness to match themes of mental illness and inner demons but always circle back around to powerful chords and tasty leads. These two know how to use accessibility to fuel pessimistic introspection.


Yann Tiersen, “Erc’h” — French drone-folk and folktronica artist Yann Tiersen melds field recordings, spacious electro-acoustic sound collages and spellbinding falsetto vocals on this luscious track. The sounds of nature came from Breton island of Ushant, where Tiersen lives and makes music. He was able to capture bird songs as they searched for refuge during a rare snow day on the island. Somber church bells and spectral vocal harmonies contrast with the constant movement of seasons and indigenous life, immersing listeners in a vivid transcendental experience.


Kishi Bashi, “Marigolds” — Japanese-American songwriter Kishi Bashi uses sweeping sonics and relatable lyricism to elaborate on the inherent divides between generations. From the sheets of pizzicato strings at its beginning to the earthy beat and quivering organs in the verses, “Marigold” blends contemporary classical and indie rock to a dazzling, intimate effect. Through this diverse tapestry of sound shines Bashi’s desire to look past the bigotry and intolerance that threaten to drown society and find empathy and mutual understanding.


Max’s Pick: The arrangement of “Marigolds” had me engrossed right off the bat, but the way Kishi Bashi uses his skills as a composer and songwriter to fuel his unique perspective makes it a truly remarkable listen. As generational rifts seem to only widen, a call to find common ground and appreciate each other’s perspectives is always appreciated. The double positive of gorgeous instrumentation and thoughtful themes solidify Bashi as a true bastion of authentic lyricism and stunning musicianship.

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

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