Songs for avoiding existential dread [single reviews]

By Ryan G

Bonelang – “Anvil”: The title of this write up is homage to this, the lead single off the genre bending duo from Chicago’s forthcoming LP, entitled Sunny, Sonny. Describing Bonelang is hard, but it’s the sort of thing that compels me to want to promote them as much as I can. “Anvil” has the makings of a summer groove. “Anvil” is a short yet sweet track anchored by a straightforward but strong bass line. Anyone that has seen them live will have a hard time listening to this track without visualizing the pair getting lost in the beat—Samy with his trademark shimmying and Matt Bones with his “lost in the moment” facial expressions. The group have found receptive ears in a niche pop audience, but the release of “Anvil” proves they’re ready for the big time.

Of Monsters and Men – “Alligator”: This song has an unassuming beginning, leading up to a surprisingly angsty, rocking track where the main focal point is Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir’s vocals. On-point use of distortion and other effects have Nanna’s vocals stopping just short of a yelp at some points while remaining in their down-to-earth phase at other times. It should be noted that the angst in the sound is tapered off at the end—building to a climax that doesn’t quite arrive. It’s a compelling effect.

Carver Commodore – “Blind”: Earlier today I asked followers of Tuned Up to suggest Summer Grooves for a Spotify playlist that’s upcoming. “Blind” would certainly fit the vibe I’m going for. It reminds me a bit of the band Dreamers. The whole song has a feel-good vibe, and you can tell that they don’t take themselves too seriously. It has a “blast this from a stereo by the lake” feel to it. The guitars have the right amount of “crunch” to them. These songs have a way of emerging right when I need them, and I’m glad I came across “Blind.”

Curli. – “Worth.”: I’m going to be blunt here and admit to the world that I listened to this song because of name-recognition. “Don’t pander,” I thought to myself, “just listen.” While there may some confirmation bias at play here, I have to say that I really, really dig the chorus of this track, released by a new side project of Mike of Smallpools. This track is delightfully quirky, settling into a summery ambience. The vocals remind me a bit of Dan Boeckner of Operators/Wolf Parade fame. I feel like I’m listening to a playlist that features all of the artists of the recent Just Like Heaven Festival: Phoenix, MGMT, Passion Pit, and more showcased at the inaugural Long Beach event. You gotta love a song with some peppy trumpet overlaying some old-school synth.

Phantom Planet – “BALISONG”: So I’m probably the least qualified person to be reacting to this track, but I’ll join the incredulous crowd stoked that this band is back and share some thoughts. The vocals come across in a way that is couple of steps away from chanting in the verses, before getting into an anthemic chorus that lands somewhere between triumphant and “this is all up in my feels, bro.” I’m not blown away, but I don’t always need to be. This is a nice middle-of-the road track that will fit well on most warm-climate playlists.

Angels & Airwaves – “Rebel Girl”: I loved this band’s LOVE album and listening to the lead comeback single takes me back to listening to “Hallucinations” in my junior year dorm room. Tom DeLonge’s vocals are well-suited for this transcendent sound. Also, watching his appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast—as bizarre as that was—somehow makes me appreciate this sound more. Musicians are weird, man. If being obsessed with UFOs and extraterrestrial coverups by the government somehow aids in this guy’s ability to songwrite, I’m here for it. This song doesn’t surprise all that much. It is very consistent in feel, and I anticipate many late night jams in my car.

Find all of the above and more on “Tuned Up’s New and Nifty,” embedded below:

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