NYVES’ heavy synths are a far cry from the hard rock of their two members’ previous projects (including Demon Hunter and Project 86), but their ‘80s-tinged electronic is nevertheless impressive. “Just Give Up” looses a hard-rock snarl over a stolid chunk of synthwave, the video’s black-and-white palate reflecting the spartan sensibilities of the song’s evenhandedness. It takes a couple key elements from NYVES’ past — eardrum-crushing snares, rippling bass — and gives them a futuristic sheen, plating smooth chrome over the frenzied metal spirit thrashing within. In other words, its misanthropic words and off-human music are synthwave through and through — and, more importantly, synthwave done right.
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Jonathan Frahm: Perhaps it was the new set of experiences with I’m With Her last year that invigorated something new in her, but no matter the case, something about Watkins is coming across as that much more confident in her own bones—and, henceforth, that much more compelling. Being first recognized as one of bluegrass’ prodigal daughters, she handles herself incredibly well on the more rock-based instrumentation of her past couple of singles leading into her latest full-length. Despite the electrified arrangement, her vocals are still set right at the center of this track, and you can altogether feel the bittersweet nature of the song’s lyric in her earnest delivery. The various natural sets in the music video offer more than enough lush imagery to assist in driving this one home. [8/10]
“When You’ve Found It Out” is a wandering behemoth of a song, equal parts immense rocker and wispy pop specter. Sara Rachele’s coy, mirthful wail darts in and out of the dusty bass and jagged distortion of her Skintights bandmates, creating an effect both impactful and evanescent. It plays out like a mirage — quick and substanceless, but also impactful and resonant. When the final chorus thuds in with the force of a guillotine, you’ve got nothing left to do but to let the song’s raw power take its course.
“22 Knots” brings to mind the smell of a salt breeze, whether from a coastal wind or urban sprawl. Equal parts vintage rock ‘n’ roll and vintage revival a la the Black Keys, Ethan Burns’ newest track slinks forward over a red-hot bed of castanets and sultry guitar, all propelled by Burns’ vital folk-rock croon. Its pained trudge is rock in its most troubadour sense, the sound of getting away from the grind just to stay lucid. If you’re looking for a sweltering old-school rock song to get you through the mid-week grind, this is for you.
Stewart Eastham makes rhythmic country, Americana with an extra hip-swing or two. “In the Morning” couples a walking bassline with peppy horns and a dance-all-night mantra — we’re exhorted to “get some rest in the morning” as Eastham’s band swings us through the hours until then. It’s joyful at its core, a welcome break from Eastham’s other work as well as much of his genre as a whole. Rather than the tortured wanderings of rural America, it’s a brief respite from the trials those entail, an acknowledgment that, no matter what, we can always dance.