Sweden’s REIN (known in “real” life as Joanna Reinikainen) worries a lot about society’s largest problems, including the return of fascism in the Western world, the continual denigration of women’s rights, and income inequality. We should all be worried about these issues and REIN brings them front and center in her righteous brand of electropunk. REIN’s latest single is “Democracy” and it’s a banger that hits the nail right on the head, calling out those billionaire business figures that control 85% of the world’s wealth. Accompanied by footage of protests from around the world, the video for “Democracy” is powerful and moving as REIN questions whether those of us in so-called First World democracies are actually experiencing anything like real democracy.
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Tess Océane Joffroy hails from Saint Denis on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean and that stunningly gorgeous location is the setting for Tess’ new video for the single “Love Gun”. The island vibes imbue “Love Gun” with warmth and mellowness as the sound of waves lapping the shore intertwine with the instrumentation. Meanwhile, Tess’ electropop aesthetic embraces minimalist textures and quiet space within the confines of a traditional pop song. That allows Tess’ music to both feel vast and intimate at the same time. Tess’ voice recalls Björk and the Knife at moments, but she’s more resolutely pop like an Ellie Goulding or Hannah Reid (London Grammar), and her music draws more from R&B than those aforementioned northern artists.
Evan Sawdey: When UNKLE debuted in 1998, part of the buzz stemmed from the fact that this project was a new outlet for the more structured, accessible melodic musings of the great DJ Shadow, still riding high off of the success of his iconic debut Endtroducing…. Yet in the Shadowless years that followed, James Lavelle has been slowly building UNKLE into something of a dark-pop warhorse, continuing the group’s ongoing brand of cryptic-yet-danceable sounds in new dimensions and with new directions. “The Road” is frentic, blessed with a genuine enthusiasm behind it that bleeds through that epic drum buildup and that smooth acoustic cooldown. As has been the case for the past few years now, “The Road” that UNKLE is going down is one worth following them on. [7/10]
Adriane Pontecorvo: The premise isn’t too groundbreaking: a group of young indie poppers with hip haircuts singing about getting high. What sets Sir Sly’s take on getting high apart from many others is how current it is. Sir Sly’s “High” nails the mindset of many a millennial as the group sings about “wondering what peace would be like”—drugs as a means of escape from this very specific wave of global turmoil. On top of that, the chorus is mind-blowingly catchy, the beats enticing. This is a social statement you can dance to, an escapist earworm and a party anthem for our times. [9/10]
Steve Horowitz: This simple song has a deep heart. Justin Townes Earle celebrates that we all have miracles in are lives every day that we take for granted: the love of another, the warmth of a friend, or whatever the wonders may be. The song shows us how to relax and enjoy the calm. Today could be the one you remember years from now as a happy time. Savor it. Earle doesn’t preach. He shows you how it’s done as the words and lyrics invite gentle reflection. [9/10]