PopMatters Picks Playlist

PM Picks: The Best New Songs – 1 June 2021

PopMatters Picks playlist features the best new songs. Today, we feature Kara Connolly, Hannah Slavin, LiAurora, Christopher Paul Stelling, and Attacca Quartet.

Hear all of this music on the PopMatters Picks Spotify playlist.

Kara Connolly – “Something More”

Los Angeles alt-pop artist Kara Connolly looks for more out of life in these ongoing pandemic times. With a rousing, infectious chorus, Connolly creates a pop anthem that we can all relate to. Music over the past year has been a bit more subdued and downcast than normal and we really need feel-good pop to help lift us out of the sadness and darkness. Connolly certainly speaks for her generation in wanting something more meaningful out of life.

“As we slowly exit this pandemic and return to whatever new normal exists for us, I hope we don’t forget the lessons we’ve learned in isolation. There has to be something more than the paint-by-numbers, work until you’re burned out, constant comparison, and power struggle that we’ve gotten used to and is reinforced generation to generation. There have been a few moments in my life where everything just seemed to make sense and click, as though there is some intricate web, beyond my current understanding, connecting our experiences and us all; that’s something I find hope and beauty in,” says Connolly.  

Hannah Slavin – “I Don’t Have a Clue”

Scotland’s Hannah Slavin is also concerned about our existential state and wraps her anxieties into an alt-pop sound laced with R&B and soul elements. “I Don’t Have a Clue” is a groovy number with fabulous rhythms, a memorable melody, and bubbling synthesizer flourishes. In 2020, the BBC named her one of their “Ones to Watch”, and it’s easy to see why as Slavin writes catchy little songs that lodge deep in your head.

“’I Don’t Have a Clue’ was written during the height of lockdown where every day felt like Groundhog Day and I was questioning what I was doing with my life. I think when you spend a huge amount of time alone and in your own head, you can very quickly start to question everything about yourself and suddenly you’re trapped in this negative spiral. I guess this song just explores those different emotions I went through throughout lockdown, but to be honest, I think the truth is that everybody else doesn’t have a clue either,” says Slavin.

LiAurora – “LOUD”

Nineteen-year-old Helsinki electropop artist LiAURORA may still be a youngster, but she’s already sorted out her sound, one that’s thoroughly original and promising of great things. The beats feel exotic and otherworldly as LiAURORA sings/raps her risque lyrics. The spareness in the sound echoes the Finnish landscape with its deep and vast dark forests. She’s sultry and a temptress and her music will surely seduce. It’s also worth mentioning that LiAurora is also a dancer and choreographer and that greatly influences her music. Like Jlin, she constructs passages that evoke dance moves and that aspect is central.

Christopher Paul Stelling – “Cutting Loose”

Indie folk’s Christopher Paul Stelling is releasing his latest album Forgiving It All on 25 September via his own label and has announced he’s “Cutting Loose” via his latest single. The song features a spritely melody fingerpicked gloriously on acoustic guitar. Stelling’s rough, lived-in voice provides a counterpoint to the sweet musical lines that descend in beautiful little cascades. It’s a warm and inviting number that speaks to optimism and better times ahead.

Attacca Quartet – “Electric Pow Wow Drum”

Brooklyn’s Attacca Quartet conduct a very successful experiment of creating electronic-sounding music from orchestral instruments and classical styles. The ensemble have an album planned for 9 July on Sony Classical called Real Life that we’re quite eager to hear. “Electric Pow Wow Drum” introduces the experimental group’s approach and multi-tracked strings create a massive sound emulating huge synth washes. Drums drive the rhythm as do staccato strings and one feels enmeshed in a glorious little world where an orchestra can become a synthesizer.