Oddly happy tunes… or in limbo? [single reviews]
Phangs – “Au Revior”: That synthpop dude Phangs is back! “Au Revoir” is likely to be one of the happiest, moody breakup songs you’ll hear this year. It is a celebration with a dash of snark and a dollop of attitude. I read in an interview that this song came together in a little over a day—which isn’t even a record for Phangs. This is a testament to how the bops seem to just roll off Phangs effortlessly. Phangs’ tunes seem to be staying consistent in vibe and quality while getting more massive at the same time—we’re here for it. Word on the street is that this song just hit top 40 radio in at least one market—is this the start of the Phangs takeover we’ve been anticipating for the past few years?
Adara – “Alien”: Adara might be one of the most intriguing under the radar artists today. The electronic pop artist is fully invested in her craft. But, it’s not a persona; it’s just who she is. “Alien” is the latest in a series of singles by the singer, who loves space, cutting edge fashion, and emerging tech. It’s a thrilling track about the ups and downs of not fitting in—but let’s be real, mostly the ups. There’s a sense of camaraderie present throughout the song, emphasized by the gang vocal “Hey!” chants leading into the chorus. This song isn’t as transcendent as “Oasis” nor as compelling as “Wasted,” but I could see this becoming an anthem for fans of Adara, more so than anything I’ve heard from her thus far.
Smart Objects – “Devastator”: This song came out in 2018, but it was submitted to TU just last week. It caught our ears so strongly that we had to include it. “Oddly Happy Tunes” was a placeholder title for this article loosely inspired by Phangs’ new tune leading us off, but I thought this song captured that vibe too. I could hear this song easily on a playlist alongside the Black Keys and Passion Pits of the world. The synths are bright and the vocals assured. It’s the sort of unassuming track that gradually sneaks up on you. Before you know it you’re a fan, even if you weren’t looking for the song.
Aryn Van Dyke – “Limbo”: I know the title of this write-up is “oddly happy tunes,” but it’s safe to say we’re this song isn’t even peripherally happy. “Limbo” doesn’t come across as desperate as the lyrics might imply, though. The dreamy soundscapes make the protagonist’s pleas seem as if they’re originating from a place bordering on resignation, though they’re not quite there yet. This song is dark enough to appease fans of Lorde but heartfelt enough to appease those with more an old school taste for power ballads. There’s something oddly warm about the impression this song leaves me with.
No Dice – “Limbo”: From one dreamy track titled “Limbo” to another, we travel in this write-up from Nashville to Columbus with the pop-punk-turned-emo-turned-dream-something indie act No Dice. This song isn’t nearly as discombobulated as that description probably came across to you. What it does do is show growth into the indie scene of Columbus. Here’s hoping that area tastemakers will start taking this band as seriously as they do some of their more established counterparts. I wonder what No Dice would be like on a lineup with The Cordial Sins.
Lost Stars – “Once In a Lifetime”: A couple of years ago, Lost Stars hit the TU radar as a Tennessee Band to Watch. The release of “Once In a Lifetime” plants the group even more on our radar, and shows us they’d fit great on a bill with Coin, The 1975, and even our hometown pals 90s Kids. The overall vibe of the song can pretty much be summed up in the “Woo!” lead-in into the guitar solo bridge. If the right tastemakers get wind of Lost Stars, this song could be destined for a summer nights anthem of 2019.
New to this article: I’ll be adding a disclaimer from here on out that Tuned Up is responding to artists that we feel are rising in relevance and deserve conversation. We aren’t necessarily endorsing themes, language choices, or political views. I have to be honest and say that sometimes I feel weird about linking songs from artists I like with language choices I find offensive, though I recognize that might not be everyone. Let’s talk about it!
As always, all of the above and more are on our “New and Nifty” playlist. Stream it below and give us a follow!