summer’s still here [single reviews]

By Ryan G

Rival Summers – “Still Here”: The musical outlet of Leo Bautista is exactly what you would expect it to be if you have talked to him for any length of time. He, and his music have a sunny disposition. Though, to say “he and his music” is sort of redundant, isn’t it? “Still Here” certainly isn’t redundant. It’s a pop-rock gem that’s radio ready and has a generally hopeful, almost carefree vibe. Rival Summers is mainly known in his home state of Michigan, but after a move to Nashville has much new material to come, leading with this single. In a city where polished vibes and hard work are king, his attitude and sound will definitely stand out.

Hayley Reardon – “Everything Else”: This singer-songwriter has a very conversational way of singing. There’s also a distinct allure to it that is kind of endearing. As I listen, I feel I’m getting to know Hayley better, and I want to take a few minutes to ask her about her life story over a beer. This song isn’t really either cheerful or sad at first impression. However, it does come across as very authentic and raw and definitely something that would inspire a follow up conversation and listen. This artist has been making waves, having showcased at the Folk Alliance Festival and then continuing with a steady stream of releases.

Christopher Paul Stelling – “Have to Do For Now”: This Americana track is a simple track about perseverance. Songs of hope can take many forms; some are stadium anthems from bands like U2, and some are more like quiet encouragement from a friend. This is one of those songs in the latter category. The setting of the music video—a cabin near Stelling’s getaway cabin in Asheville, NC is the perfect visual: peaceful and filmed at a time of day where there’s a hint of dusk. This song was produced by Ben Harper, and it precedes a full length record that will drop in 2020 on Anti- Records.

Leland Blue – “Lying to Myself”: My first impression when hitting “play” on this track is that Leland Blue are an unassuming Duran Duran. This atmospheric track leans into dance rock without fully committing to it, until a well-timed breakdown breaks the anticipation after the bridge before the final chorus. I like that this track shares a lot of attributes with bands in the dream pop genre, while not getting completely lost in the reverb or lush synths—they maintain a level of assertiveness. I’m intrigued by what’s to come from this Grand Rapids band (they have a headline show coming up at Mac’s Bar on October 18th!).

Arch of Love – “Reintroduction”: This dreamy synthpop song takes its time. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was an introductory song to something else (the vocals don’t kick in until 1 minute, 30 seconds in). The vocals are rich and lush; they remind me a bit of Cara Dziak of Seaside Holiday, a similarly dreamy group from nothern Ohio. Arch of Love comes across as an interesting mix of Beach House and Metric, here. This Philly duo, signed to 6131 Records, will be rolling out singles over the next phase of their career.

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