Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – Nov. 23

London Mars

London Mars, courtesy.

This week’s Tuesday Tracks covers a live show favorite by phem, a pop-punk alternate universe story by London Mars, 8-bit video game nostalgia by Anamanaguchi, a cover of a classic by Moonalice, crushing metalcore by Kill the Lights and a genre-defying trip by VRSTY.

phem, “silly putty” — On phem’s ongoing North American tour, she’s been playing “silly putty,” which she describes as her first-ever love song. It became such a fan favorite that she had to make it the next single and it’s easy to see why. The L.A. alt-pop musician’s energetic, vaguely electronic song lodges itself deep in your head in a good way. Coming off an appearance on Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello’s album The Atlas Underground Fire, phem’s only going to get more well-known, so get familiar now.


Kill the Lights, “Chasing Shadows” — Metalcore supergroup Kill the Lights is back with its first new song since 2020 debut album The Sinner. Featuring excellent drumming from founder Moose Thomas—formerly of Bullet for my Valentine—the machine-gun percussion contrasts with the relatively slow intensity of the lyrics, and the heaviness combined with some ethereal sounds makes it feel like a late Halloween present. Also, I appreciate the probably unintentional wordplay; if you’re going to chase shadows, killing the lights is the logical first step.

Moonalice, “Time Has Come Today” — When most businessmen want to start a band they find some like-minded fellow businessmen, practice in someone’s garage, and play cover songs for whoever will let them. When you’re venture-capitalist Roger McNamee, best known for mentoring then subsequently writing a book criticizing Mark Zuckerberg, you bring on some of the world’s best session musicians and start a proper band. This time around, McNamee and his compatriots covered the Chambers Brothers’ psychedelic classic “Time Has Come Today,” and they kind of crushed it. It obviously helps to have a song that good to built off of, but leaning harder into the blues rock angle than the psychedelia, it’s an interpretation as well as a cover, which is to be applauded.


VRSTY, “Soul” — Go ahead, try to pin “Soul” down to a genre. I dare you. Framed by an old-school western aesthetic, filled out by pop-rock vocals and sensibilities, eventually transitioning to grinding heavy metal, VRSTY clearly did not bother to even try to fit the confines of the expected. The song absolutely benefits from that freedom as it takes the most well-suited elements from its various inspirations and blends them into one surprisingly cohesive result.

Anamanaguchi, “Water Resistant” — If this sounds like music from an ’80s video game, that’s because it kinda is; Anamanaguchi are chiptune pioneers, using the sound synthesizers from an NES and a Game Boy as instruments for over 15 years. Appropriately, this song was written for a “Rocket League” mobile game, and accompanies a tour where they’re playing their score for a 2010 “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” video game. They obviously have a theme, and the Japanese pop-culture-inspired video game sounds of “Water Resistant” fall squarely within that. Experimental pop singer 8485 is an excellent addition, as her vocals complement and highlight that aesthetic as well as any vocals possibly could.


London Mars, “Alexandria” — According to London Mars, the idea for this song came to her as she came to San Francisco to visit her brother. Alexandria was her mom’s second choice for her name so she considered that, somewhere, in a parallel reality or another dimension, Alexandria Mars is out there living a very different life. Written almost as an anthemic pop-punk letter to that alternate version, she wonders if Alexandria is someone people want to marry. That fateful drive came after a bad breakup, which explains quite a bit about the themes.

Danny’s pick: This was a tough choice, so I put the songs on loop and forced myself to listen to them until one rose above the pack. It didn’t go well and I still liked all six. So I did the reasonable thing and procrastinated, and found that “Alexandria” was the song that was playing in my head as I did yard work. A catchy chorus and infectious pop-punk riff will go a long way and London Mars’ song features excellent examples of both.

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.

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