Harmony House started as the soundtrack to a fictional sitcom. Sloan Struble, the man behind the music/dayglow, was inspired by the soft rock of the late 70s and early 80s, as well as the old TV show Cheers. From the synths to the lyrics, the whole album is drenched in the welcoming, nostalgic vibe of an old sitcom.
The 97-minute, 2016 film Free of Thought ends with John hunched over a sink in a dimly-lit kitchen. Through a doorframe, we see our protagonist doing the dishes and hear him whistling to himself: a quiet, unassuming moment almost all can relate to. What makes this particular, ostensibly-mundane scene so striking are the circumstances that led up to it. The film starts in Melbourne, Australia, where John is in a relationship with Mel. But by the film’s closing moments, John has become a habitual stoner, messily broke up with Mel and migrated to Montreal, Canada.
It’s been two years since Mitski graced us with Puberty 2, a deep, thoughtful and powerful album that was so mesmerizing words will never do it justice. The Japanese-American artist has grown increasingly louder over the years, and now with her newest album, Be the Cowboy, she is louder than ever, making listeners feel emotions they didn’t know they were capable of. In the past, Mitski has consistently kept a rather slow, mostly acoustic and melancholic sound (save for the few bursts of lyrical and emotional impacts, i.e. the chorus in “Your Best American Girl”). In addition to keeping a consistent sound, Mitski keeps her lyrical style the same: emotional, deeply sad and lonesome lyrics that very often hit home and have listeners in tears just one song into her albums.
Mitski has never been scared to bare it all and be vulnerable, because it’s human. Women are too often told that being powerful and independent means that we have to meet certain superhuman expectations, such as immunity to negative emotions and heartbreak, as well as coldheartedness, all while being sexy.
There has always been a certain magic to Girlpool. The bond that duo Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker share is unlike any other. Girlpool stands out due to their lack of a drummer: Cleo’s guitar chords and picking fit perfectly with Harmony’s bass — or vice versa when they trade off. Their vocal styles also seem to have been made for each other and are instantly identifiable. Their music was perfect already without a drummer.
You may know Emily Haines from the Canadian band Metric. This Emily Haines is an entertainer. She energizes arenas of fans. She sings and plays the synth at Coachella. She dances comfortably on the stage.
Music critics (often) fall into two traps. The first is comparison. Lacking a way to describe lyrics, songwriting, production and so on, critics get tempted to compare. We write about how a musician conforms to or subverts their genre. We provide a catalog of suggested listening, a list of similar musicians.
The move from a small label to Warner Bros. for the Signs of Light album should leave no fan surprised that the stage production was as polished as the album’s established indie pop sound. Hanging lights and potted ferns were arranged across the stage, like a dreamy NYLON Mag photo shoot, and the draped reflective curtains in the back and twinkly lights atop the antique piano were impressive alone. An impressive light show weaved through the setlist, neon colors (sometimes a complimentary yellow over violet, but always bright) and floor lights always in motion created a stage your eyes couldn’t ignore. A disco ball was even added during the sixth song, and as Josiah and Jonathan crooned the last line of “Let’s be Still” the lights switched off right as the final chord was strummed, a beautiful quiet moment after long projections of light.