The Sonos Review Roundup: Early Summer 2021 Edition
This month's playlist features new tracks by Charlotte Day Wilson, H.E.R. and Tyler, the Creator
Published Jul 15, 2021Not everyone has time to pull together a playlist of the best new tunes, so we're here to do it for you. Here are some can't-miss tracks from some of Exclaim!'s best recent reviews, along with some other favourites from fresh releases — read about each release below, and then listen to our selections with the playlist at the end. So pull up a lawn chair, turn on those twinkly lights, and enjoy Exclaim!'s Review Roundup — best enjoyed with Sonos.
Palehound's Ellen Kempner and Jay Som's Melina Duterte come together in perfect harmony on their debut album as Bachelor. The pair bring the best elements of their respective solo projects to the table on the 10-track release, illuminating their natural chemistry and melding east-coast grunge riffs with tender indie-rock vocals. Read Exclaim!'s full review here.
Standout track: "Stay in the Car"
Documenting a parking lot encounter with a pair of Floridian eccentrics, Kempner illustrates her reverence for a lady in red, setting the scene with romanticized minutiae and begging to be the "ice cream left out in her sun."
Church of Better Daze
Winnipeg songwriter Boy Golden has serious swagger, making him the coolest guy around with a moustache, mullet, aviator shades and nudie suit. With a smashed-tooth smirk, lyrics about smoking weed, and a woozy stoner-country sound, he explores the psychedelic side of the Prairies. Learn more about the Canadian Cannabis Hero with our interview here.
Standout track: "KD and Lunch Meat"
This electric piano boogie extols the virtues of cheap food and a laidback lifestyle, as Boy Golden drawls, "Late for work again / But I'm feeling good / Yeah, 'cause I just got stoned."
Charlotte Day Wilson
(Stone Woman Music)
Following a pair of acclaimed EPs, it's a joy to hear how Day Wilson's work remains just as affecting at LP length on Alpha. With friends and collaborators like BADBADNOTGOOD, Syd and Daniel Caesar in tow, Day Wilson's voice remains the arresting constant across songs of strength, vulnerability and identity. Read Exclaim!'s recent interview here.
Standout track: "Mountains"
From its steady stomp-clap rhythm, to the call-and-response of its yearning chorus, the peaks and valleys of feeling have seldom been navigated in such stunning fashion.
nothing is sacred anymore
This pandemic-recorded EP showcases Linnea Siggelkow's songwriting chops and sees the Ontario artist blending the brighter dream-pop instrumental elements of her recent releases with the solemn, sadder lyricism of her 2018 EP, The Fuzz. Covering the subjects of mental health, the afterlife and societal despair, nothing is sacred embodies Ellis's self-prescribed "sad but nice" ethos. Read Exclaim!'s 2020 interview with Ellis here.
Standout track: "hell" (feat. Chastity)
Teaming up with her creative and romantic partner, Brandon Williams of Chastity, the pair find peace in accepting life's inevitabilities: "I've seen hell and I'm not afraid to die," Siggelkow sings triumphantly on the track.
Toronto singer Emanuel's smooth, sensual R&B examines weighty themes like race ("Black Woman") and drug dependency ("Addiction") — but more than anything, it explores the self. He sings with so much raw, cathartic emotion that even depraved sex jams sound downright soulful. Just wait till you find out what "PTH" stands for. Read Exclaim!'s full review here.
Standout track: "Worldwide"
Exactly how famous is Emanuel going to be? "I'm tryna take the damn thing worldwide," he tells us amidst shimmering, hypnagogic dream pop chords.
Back of My Mind
Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson — a.k.a. H.E.R., an acronym for Having Everything Revealed — brings together myriad modes and moods of R&B with the 21-track follow-up to 2018's I Used to Know Her EPs. The artist plays well with others across a slew of collaborations; adaptable yet surefooted in exactly what becomes her. Read Exclaim!'s full review here.
Standout track: "We Made It"
Sure to be remembered as one of the great modern album openers with a flipped late-'70s Carole Bayer Sager sample and gnarly guitar solo.
The eight tracks of Adult Supervision might whizz by, but Montreal emcee Nate Husser covers plenty of ground whether ominous refrains, tongue-twisting verses or melodic hooks. Sparse production allows his words to resonate strongly, and appearances from some of Chicago's finest in Mick Jenkins and Jean Deaux, and Toronto DJ Eva Shaw add some personal flair to the proceedings.
Standout track: "JELLY"
Built around a creaky guitar loop, Husser's impassioned performance puts all the focus on his rapid-fire rhymes that deftly back up his braggadocio: "I'm something else, It's just disgusting / Blunt hit like concussion, no long talk discussin'."
All That Emotion Versions
(Arts & Crafts)
This guest-heavy five-song EP flips a few songs from last year's excellent All That Emotion album. Toronto-based artist Hannah Georgas duets with the National's Matt Berninger and This Is the Kit's Kate Stables, respectively, and Bartees Strange remixes "Dreams" as a haunting house thumper that makes the singer's airy vocals sound even more haunting. Read Georgas' Exclaim! Questionnaire here.
Standout track: "Easy" (World Cafe Session feat. Owen Pallett)
With the synth arpeggiator performed on piano and slathered in atmospheric strings, this stripped-down acoustic version has a mellow (yet ever-so-slightly manic) beauty that recalls the baroque pop of Pallett's solo work.
While this year's Crying in H Mart memoir explored grief in harrowing detail, Jubilee refracts the full spectrum of emotion. Yes, there's heart-wrenching ballads — but Japanese Breakfast's Michelle Zauner also offers triumphant pop rock and slithering dance-funk, all tied together by impeccable dream-pop production. Read Zauner's recent Exclaim! interview here.
Standout track: "Be Sweet"
On Jubilee, "Be Sweet" is the outlier. While the rest of the album will get under your skin, this banger comes at you head-on with a slippery dance beat and towering pop hooks.
Nafs at Peace
Pakistani quartet Jaubi's debut full-length, Nafs at Peace, combines traditional instruments with synths and hip-hop beats for a spiritually-inclined collection of John Coltrane-informed instrumental tracks. Joining the group for the LP is jazz instrumentalist Tenderlonious, who brings sax solos and elevated crescendos to the project.
Standout track: "Straight Path"
This mid-album track builds in intensity over its seven-minute runtime. Anchored by anxious polyrhythmic tabla playing and a firm adherence to tension-and-release, the song delivers on its title's promise: a straight path to musical climax.
Kamloops-based singer-songwriter JP Lancaster set his sights on the intimate moments of small-city living on his debut full-length album, Around Town. Vivid imagery, potent parables and a tangled web of connections add colour to this charming, psychedelic romp, with crisp production and hints of woodwinds evoking Andy Shauf with a little more bite.
Standout track: "Southern Cross"
Geographic specificity in the lyrics might lull listeners into a false sense of orientation — once the dream pop gauze and Lancaster's Kevin Morby-esque overpowers any baroque pop elements that the track began with, it's too late.