summer is here [single reviews]
The Orphan, The Poet – “Queen Cobra”: TOTP have been through a lot since the early days of Tuned Up, and here we are to chronicle another part of their evolution—the bass driven bop “Queen Cobra.” This is arguably the strongest of the three singles released since the Terrible Things EP. “Hot Take: she’s a queen cobra” is an earworm of a line that could become a sort of catchphrase for the band. Their growing fanbase calls themselves the Hive; I wonder what they’ll do with this song. David Eselgroth’s vocals are strong here, catching a dreamy upswing in the melody—particularly in the hook. When I listen to this track, I think of the singer describing someone he’s intimidated yet fascinated by.
Banks – “Gimme”: This song sounds like it should go with a “femme fatale” sequence in a James Bond film. The elements of the song that are jarring also seem to be parts that are most alluring in the end. Banks has established herself as one of the leading ladies of the dark pop movement, yet in the shadow of Lorde and Billie Eilish she still is staying somewhat under the radar. This song could be seen as a statement that she is ready for the big time—the really big time.
Vesperteen – “Love Me When It Hurts”: What can I say? It’s been a thrill to watch this artist develop over the past few years. Kid in a Korner now is ready to take this project to the next level, and the stakes are raised with the lead single off Vesperteen’s Sad Sun EP. This single is a happy medium between the pensive indie pop of the self-titled EP (“Obsess Possess” and “Drinking From An Empty Glass” for example) and the shimmering bops of The Hype is Dead (“Feel” and “Medicine” come to mind). Long time readers of Tuned Up might have seen us mention a pop artist from Nashville named Andreas Moss on here, and that’s the first name that popped into mind upon hearing this track. This song doesn’t rock—it’s a sensual slow burner with attitude. Per usual, the lyricism is raw and relatable. I have no doubt this will be a hit at live shows.
Pom Pom Squad – “Heavy Heavy”: I can just sense the gritted teeth of singer Mia Berrin, as she powers through this punk meets sludge sounding banger. Of no surprise to me, the theme of this song is mental illness. As someone who has struggled through anxiety, the build up to an attack is something foreboding that compounds the dread I may already be feeling. In moments where the attack climaxes, I need a physical outlet—and this song could actually function as such for someone I’m sure. I need that explosion of noise at the end to kick in when I need to get those last few reps in at the gym.
Inigo Montoya – “Nuit blanche, vol. 2”: The Echo Orange label sent this to us today, and the language barrier isn’t keeping me from understanding that this is quite the cool track. I’m a fan of the call/answer vocals in the chorus. This is an ethereal anthem if I’ve ever heard one—there’s something primal here underlying all the effects that I’m having trouble articulating. This song sounds like Salvador Dali went on vacation and spent a lot of time swimming in the ocean.
Wild Planes – “Money”: Around age 14 I was introduced to the idea of the summer rock anthem. In the shadow of Greta Van Fleet, another—erm—wild rock and roll band with high pitched vocals appears! All jesting aside, I really am getting into this. A rant about money never sounded so happy. Rants and sad songs have been made into upbeat hits of the summer before (“Pumped Up Kicks” comes to mind). Who says Wild Planes can’t be that band? I’d also like to see Columbus, Ohio’s Black Coffee play a show with these guys. I know “money makes this funny world go round,” but I wonder if this blog post could sway the two bands to make this happen for more than just $$$.
Best Foot Back – “Up Too Late”: Every summer I get a craving of sorts for the pop punk of old. The radio rock of old. And by old I mean my youth, of course. “Up Too Late” is the latest release by down-to-earth pop punk outfit Best Foot Back, who aim to create a brand of music to take you straight back to your high school days—but in a wholesome way. Think Relient K but with more heart and less whimsy. “Up Too Late” is a windows-down city driving single that ought to be great for show sing-alongs as well.
Find all of the above songs and more below on our “New and Nifty” playlist on Spotify!