a pop-ish roundup on the edge of snowpocalaypse 2021 [single reviews]
Sucré– “Permission”: I think it’s fair to say this is my favorite release from Sucré since “Inside.” The power couple of Stacy and Darren King continue to kill it, with Stacy leading the way with sultry vocals and a powerful hook. There are bigtime Phantogram vibes in this song, which isn’t a bad thing at all. “I am so done, asking for permission! A girl in my position, can conquer the world.” I concur, Stacy. Dark and triumphant is the name of the game, here. I’m assuming this is the lead single of Sucré’s TBA LP. This single also features brilliant complementary guitar work from Todd Gummerman (formerly of Mutemath). Photo credit – @darlingjulietphoto
The Orphan The Poet – “The Moxie”: TOTP continue their transition from indie rock Midwesteners to pop rock duo for the everyman with the release of “The Moxie,” a bombastic, radio ready electro-rock bop. It’s hard to believe the last release from the band came in 2019 (unless you include the Christmas meets quarantine anthem “O Family (Why Can’t I Leave)” – but that shows that the band never stops hyping. Thematically, nothing too deep happens here, but this is a strong effort when it comes to output of a hype song. They don’t shy away from fleshing the whole thing out. This is the most “full” sounding song of the new TOTP era, and there are quirky Easter eggs hidden if you pay attention.
Londin Thompson – “Don’t Prove Me Wrong”: 2021 Ohio Artist to Watch Londin Thompson continues to move steadily toward a debut record with this single, “Don’t Prove Me Wrong.” It feels appropriate to include this single with Sucre’s “Permission,” as they are both dark triumphant jams. Here, Thompson comes across like a mix of Phantogram and Dua Lipa. This is a modern discotheque ready songs appropriate for the times.
LeTrainiump – “Control”: The New Orleans Synthpop artist and Steadfast alumni returns with “Control,” the lead single off his EP. With endorsements from the likes of Tank and the Bangas and Sweet Crude, two Louisiana music heavyweights, LeTrainiump is set to take the 2020s by storm with his mix of 90s inspired synthpop. The music video for “Control” is set in a roller rink and has a heavy vaporwave aesthetic. As has been the case with LeTrainiump’s other singles, there’s a lot going on instrumentally but everything blends together well into a straightforward earworm.
Brightest London – “Try”: As if on cue, after we published our Ohio Artists to Watch feature, a crop of promising new artists we weren’t aware of popped up. One of them is the creative new project of Jeremy Steckel (known for production work and as the original lead guitarist of Wolves at the Gate) and songwriter Linsley Hartenstein. “Try” is an atmospheric pop tune that fans of Copeland and Purity Ring will enjoy. It’s a song that begs a presence in the grey areas of life, appropriate for this time of year, the deepest part of winter, where it seems impossibly cold and snowy, but the days are starting to get longer.
All Hallowed – “Kill”: While not exactly pop, I thought “Kill” fit the general vibe of the songs we’re writing about here. All Hallowed is a brand new dance punk project out of Dayton, OH. The debut single a short but sweet, driving tune with reserved vocals and a pronounced rhythm section, leaping full steam ahead into a mysterious atmosphere. Speaking of steam, I could see this song being used in a film with a steampunk theme. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that this project featured contributions of members of Starving in the Belly of the Whale (as seen at one of our favorite events, Madden Road Music Fest) and session drumming from Aaron Gillespie.
Jack Conway – “Calluses”: If you thought the above songs were a bit too dark and you were looking for something a bit more wholesome, “Calluses” has your name on it. It’s an autobiographical ballad where Conway wears his heart on his sleeve. It’s a story that feels all too familiar. It would be easy to write off parts of this song as cliché, but that’s only because Conway’s experience is so common. This song begs the question – would certain lyrics feel cliché if we acted on our awareness of those who are struggling with self worth more often?
Forever X2 – “Lost Your Heart”: It’s seldom that you see a comparison like lovelytheband and Spoon in the same sentence, but that was what initially drew me to Forever X2, a new alt-pop-rock project out of LA. His single “Lost Your Heart” has an oddly wholesome quality to it, waxing poetic about the ever-familiar struggle of not wanting to ruin a good friendship with taking things to next level. A pleasant, heartwarming instrumental backdrop keeps things moving, while the lyrics are mostly talked out in spoken word fashion – very stream of consciousness-esque.