by Ryan Getz / Pictured: Pale Waves (Photo credit: Niall Lea)
Pale Waves – “Change”: I saw a tweet earlier today that made mention of Pale Waves’ new tune and its alleged similarity to Avril Lavigne. I’m not sure I would go that far, but there’s no doubt in my mind this song is the brightest I’ve heard from the goth pop quartet. It actually wouldn’t surprise me at all to see this song crossover onto the pop charts… and you know, it does kind of remind me of the days when Michelle Branch, and Natalie Imbruglia ruled the airwaves.
Shihori – “I Cover You”: It’s not terribly often that I decide to cover (no pun intended) a piano ballad on Tuned Up. Shihori’s unique vocal adds a whimsical twist on a classical sound. Transparently, I initially listened to this song because I was moved by the challenges Shihori has overcome—a form of dwarfism combined with deafness in one ear and Asperger’s syndrome. As someone born hearing impaired myself, I identified with a part of it—my left ear is a lot worse than my right. All that to say, I found this song comforting, even though it seemed to be more autobiographical than directed outward.
th1rt3en feat. Cypress Hill – “Fight”: It’s time for a slick yet heavy hitting hip-hop, rock fusion track. Listening to this track feels weird tonight. A few hours ago, my state’s governor threatened a second lockdown. It’s weird to listen to an aggressive track like this when the world might be on the verge of going quiet again. There’s something oddly comforting about knowing that even in the midst of chaos, or chaos masquerading as quiet, you can still throw a molotov cocktail square in the face of hatred (wait til’ you see the climax of the video). This track is the lead single off the album with a cutting title, A Magnificent Day For An Exorcism, and is worthy of the all star pedigree behind th1rt3en; Emcee Pharoah Monch, Jack White drummer Daru Jones, and renowned guitarist Marcus Machado.
Selfdrou9ht – “The Comedown”: Retrowave meets darkwave is the name of the game with Selfdrou9ht’s “The Comedown,” which is oddly soothing in its delivery. The press release for this single makes note of several on-point influences, the most amusing of which is *NSYNC. Be aware that amusing doesn’t mean false—it just isn’t something I would have thought of. But for Selfdrou9ht I’m appreciative of this approach to dark synthwave / dream pop that seems to be pushing some boundaries.
AMBERGROVE – “Seraphim”: Again, experimental outfit AMBERGROVE has released a single that is hard to define sonically. Experimental pop/alternative is a my fickle attempt at adding a descriptor. What I will say is that “Seraphim” is less like wandering through a field at twilight and more like entering a foggy, ethereal place—though being on psychedelics basically has to be a prerequisite for entering both environments. Fortunately for the goody-two-shoes of the world like me, I can just listen to this song instead.
Billie Eilish – “Therefore I Am”: Leave it to Billie Eilish to make a song that sounds both dark and upbeat at the same time. Who knew “I’m not your friend” could be so bouncy and satisfying in its delivery? This has the potential to be her biggest hit since “bad guy.” While it doesn’t have an iconic synth hook, the chorus will stick with you. I don’t love the song, but it’s hard for me to find fault with it. Is it too similar to what she’s already released? Time will tell. It almost sounds like the upbeat antithesis to “All the Good Girls Go to Hell.”