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Music News and Interviews

mxmtoon “Mona Lisa” Song Review

This song has been on my mind ever since I first listened to it.

Oftentimes, when I listen to a song for the first time, I focus on the instrumentation of it, like the harmony and melody or how the instruments work together. But when I listen to Mona Lisa by mxmtoon, an up-and-coming indie-pop artist, the lyrics had my full attention. 

In “Mona Lisa”, mxmtoon writes about how she often takes the place of Shakespeare by creating characters in a narrative instead of living as the main character in her life. As a songwriter, she often hides behind her lyrics and in this song, she highlights how she doesn’t want to just be another story but wants to feel like she is the central aspect of her own story instead of being just the author.

What really hit close to home for me while I was listening to this song was the environment I listened to it in. It was a rainy day and I was walking back from class alone observing everyone around me. The lyrics felt so relatable at that moment because it felt like I could apply them to my life at that very moment. I am a writer too and similarly, I often feel like I spent too much living through my characters instead of trying to make an impact in my own community.

The lyrics “I’m so tired of being a book on the shelf | Tired of stories for somebody else | Think that I’m ready to start a new chapter | I’ve been looking for some way |to turn it around | Looking for someone to give me the crown | I wanna feel like I finally matter | I wanna be a Mona Lisa, ah-ah | The kind of girl that you can dream of, ah-ah” resonated with me.

In a world where we are constantly feeling like other people are living better lives than we are due to all the exposure we get to people’s handcrafted posts on social media, this song really encompasses that feeling of wanting to be an inspiration for someone.

The lines “Who could change my point of view? | The way that Van Gogh uses yellow or the self in Frida Kahlo | I could be that for you” drive home this point.

mxmtoon writes that she wants to be a muse and be known for having a specific purpose in life and she compares that to how yellow is such a distinct feature in Van Gogh’s paintings. The entire premise of the song centers around Mona Lisa who was the muse, a woman, behind the painting of the famous Mona Lisa painting done by DaVinci.

I just love the relatability of this song and especially when you realize that everyone has the same thoughts or feelings and you aren’t alone in feeling a particular way.

In contrast to the rather sad lyrics, the song itself is very upbeat and starts off with a strong ukulele intro that launches the listener of the song into a dream world. It makes you feel like you are inside someone’s daydream. The guitar chord combined with mxmtoon’s wispy dreamlike voice in the chorus really hooks you into the majestic environment that the song creates. In addition to this fantastical world that the song puts you in, the music video has a similar enchantment to it that makes you feel like you are in the fantasy mxmtoon has created of being a muse for an artist.

Sometimes we all have this feeling that there might not be anyone we truly inspire or play a huge role in their lives but, maybe we just might be the Mona Lisa to someone out there after all.

Be sure to check out the music video for “Mona Lisa”.

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Music News and Interviews

Dhruv “Moonlight” Song Review

You might have heard the viral song “Double Take” that was all over TikTok last summer. 

“Moonlight” is written by the same artist that wrote that viral song and evokes the same R&B melody, Dhruv. These songs are part of Dhruv’s first EP titled “Rapunzel” and although I could do an entire album review for that album and rave about how relatable and therapeutic all the tracks are, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite tracks of the album- Moonlight.

Many of us out there are hopeless romantics believing that being in love possesses qualities that come straight out of fairy tales. Dhruv is an artist that embraces this quality of his pours into the song.

The most poetic stanza of this song for me is “Moonlight | I’ll be smitten with you on these blue nights | You’ll be holding me until the sunrise| And the songbirds be waking up | Oh, true love |  Kinda hoped it would feel like a rom-com | I’ve been planning this out in my notebook|  Since I was a little boy|”

His lyrics paint a picture in your mind of sitting under the blue moonlight till dawn with someone you love. Straight out of a movie. 

Growing up in Singapore and later in New York, he highlights that he hadn’t seen or experienced much of what navigating queer love was like and that is what inspired this song along with many other songs on his EP. This fantasy of what being in love could be like since he had never seen it play out in real life was something he thought was only something that could happen on the big screen.

This is seen in the lines “Poetry and handpicked flowers | Say you’ll meet me at the altar | Can we fall in love in the moonlight?|”

Even if you haven’t experienced unrequited love or are a hopeless romantic, Dhruv evokes his emotions and really lets the listener feel what he is going through.

Listening to Moonlight really feels like it’s 12am and you’re staring at the stars under the moonlight.

Invite someone this summer to sit with you at midnight to stargaze and play this song for them. Maybe you’ll get lost in the moonlight with them too.

Check out the Moonlight audio video.

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Music News and Interviews

Harry Styles “As It Was” Song Review

Harry Styles is most definitely not a name that commonly shows up on WKNC blogs.

However with this newest lead single from his third and upcoming album “Harry’s Home” perhaps Harry is entering his Indie Pop Era?

I am a casual consumer of Harry Styles’s music and one thing I find fresh about his music is that it’s always a unique and different experience each time. You might be picturing the highly popular pop song “Watermelon Sugar” or  “Adore You” when you think of the name, however, many people have said that his single “As It Was” evokes a certain familiarity with songs you might see by popular Indie Pop bands such as The Strokes or Dayglow. 

Essentially, if you are a listener of the Indie Pop or Bedroom Indie Pop genre, this song will induce similar feelings of wanting to dance around in your room.

This song is far from the radio pop music that has been produced by this artist recently and this is the result of the prominent instruments heard throughout this song. The electric guitar and the drums. The fast tempo and 80s synth-pop melody combined with heavily deep and melancholy lyrics put the audience in a whole new world of its own. Styles plays an instrument called the tubular bells towards the end of the song in beat with a sound of steel dreams, while his poignant lyrics almost feel like the listener is hearing his inner monologue from a diary entry.

A few lines that hit deep most specifically are from the second verse, “Answer the phone| Harry, you’re no good alone| Why are you sitting on the floor?| What kind of pills are you on?| Ringin’ the bell and nobody is coming to help| Your daddy lives by himself| He just wants to know that you’re well”

Like most traditionally popular songs, Styles commonly writes about relationships and romance, yet something about these introspective lyrics changed my perspective on him. The depth seen in these lyrics is quite personal and is one of the first times we’ve seen Harry Styles in this light since his debut as a soloist.

I know what you must be saying, no way is Harry Styles, a member of a former boy band making Indie music. Especially for you out there that regularly listen to Indie Rock and Alternative Underground music – this must be an unusual thing to read about. 

But take my word for it. 

Once you listen to “As It Was” you’ll feel like skipping down a sidewalk or frolicking around a field in the Spring.

Check out the “As It Was” music video here.

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Music News and Interviews

Three Releases to Check Out This New Music Friday

A lot of new music has come out this week, and in case it’s hard for you to keep up, here’s a list of some of the new releases to listen to in the wide world of indie music. The three releases I’m highlighting this week are folky, but all in vastly different ways.

“That’s Where I Am” by Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers made a sweeping return with her single “That’s Where I Am.” It’s the lead single for her new album “Surrender” that she announced is coming out July 29. Produced by Rogers and Kid Harpoon, this single is simultaneously Rogers branching out into new realms whilst staying true to her folk-pop roots. I will definitely have this single on repeat all summer

“Chloë and the Next 20th Century” by Father John Misty

Speaking of folk, “Chloë and the Next 20th Century” is Father John Misty’s brand new album. It’s jazzy, lovely, folky and definitely a contender for my personal album of the year. He announced that he’s going on tour in support of this album (and will be stopping in Asheville and Durham this fall). Father John Misty is insanely talented and did not disappoint with this release.

“five seconds flat” by Lizzy McAlpine

Lizzy McAlpine also released a brand new album, titled “five seconds flat.” This former Berklee student is a talented lyricist and knows how to craft beautiful melodies. The album features collaborations with Jacob Collier, Ben Kessler, Laura Elliott and FINNEAS. It touches on themes of love and loss, and is perfect for those who are big fans of Phoebe Bridgers.

What are your favorite releases so far this year?

– Caitlin

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Music News and Interviews

Spotify Armageddon

Over the past few years, streaming music has become as necessary as breathing to a lot of people. The constant consumption of melodious audio has led streaming platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify to skyrocket in popularity.

Unfortunately, on the dreaded day of Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at 1:08 p.m. the ‘Spotify Armageddon’ struck. The streaming service, Spotify, crashed and users were locked out of their accounts getting errors such as “The firewall is preventing you from gaining access” or “Invalid Username or Password”. 

Accounts that people had from the young age of twelve and the playlists created over the years for various occasions such as post-test anger or a road trip were all out of reach, and people rushed to Twitter to cope. Users joked, “now I have to listen to the sound of my engine on the car ride home” and “me joining my family for dinner for the first time in 8 years because Spotify is down”

Avid users of the platform were left in shock and heartbreak after being locked out of their accounts, but for our beloved radio station, WKNC 88.1, this was a serendipitous occasion. NC State students and Raleigh locals immediately sought out ways to continue their music streaming and WKNC 88.1 was the safe haven in this ‘Spotify Armageddon’. Regular listeners of WKNC 88.1 HD-1 and HD-2 got their moment of glory.

Those who tuned in to HD-1 were able to indulge in some Daytime Rock with DJ AV and listen to a few classics such as “We Go Back” by Animal Collective and “I Wanna Feel Love” by Julia Bardo. Meanwhile, those who tuned in to HD-2 were gifted with the Underground playlist hosted by DJ AV, featuring some hidden gems like “First Breath” by Daylyt.

Though this brief Spotify Armageddon influenced melophiles, music lovers, from all walks of life, those who happened to pop onto WKNC 88.1 didn’t have a reason to fret.

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Music News and Interviews

Wallows “At the End of the Day” Song Review

Wallows are an up-and-coming indie-rock band that have grown in popularity in the past three years. Their band consists of three members: Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters, Cole Preston. The song “At The End of the Day” was released this Friday, March 4 and is a single that is part of their sophomore album titled “Tell Me That It’s Over”, which will be released on March 25. 

From my initial impression, the song was a lot different than the songs we have seen from Wallows recently and had a much more mellow rhythm compared to their more upbeat single “I Don’t Want to Talk”. While “I Don’t Want to Talk” featured a more energetic tempo, “At The End of the Day” had a slower more steady tempo, matching the nostalgic feelings of the lyrics. What was teased as an acoustic song was released as a masterpiece.

Another refreshing aspect of this song was that the audience was able to hear a lot more of Braeden’s voice throughout and he was the main vocalist. Oftentimes, Dylan is the lead singer and his voice is accompanied by Braeden’s, though in this song Braeden was able to take center stage. 

A few lines that stood out to me in the song were “Please just see | That you are not alone, you are not alone| I’ll never let you go| Unless you want me to” There is something just so sentimental about being afraid to end a relationship or let go of someone you love because you are afraid you’ll hurt them. This song encompasses this feeling all too well.

The meaning behind this song is as resonating as most Wallows songs are. This song describes the intensity of being in a relationship and feeling that the end might be nearing, though at the end of the day (no pun intended) you just want your significant other to be happy.

The aesthetics of the music video serve this immense nostalgia of summer nights and this is a song that you’ll be rushing to add to your late night driving playlist.

Check out the music video here.

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Blog Music News and Interviews

Track Review: “Menace” by Rezz

The context that a song is first heard in, where the melody imprints itself on your brain, is critical to what the listener takes away from it. YouTuber Nathan Zed has an excellent video on this, and I’ve definitely noticed this effect when revisiting songs I would listen to a lot at a specific point in time. “White Roses” by Charli XCX will teleport me back to my freshman year dorm with its blend of introspection adventure, and songs I don’t even really listen to can be fun just by how they work in the context you heard them. “My Wife & 2 Dogs” by Quinn XCII isn’t a song I particularly enjoy but what I did enjoy was the trip to the lake with my friends when I first heard it and it’s a fun, bouncy pop song, perfect for that experience.

“Menace”, a bonus track off Rezz’s excellent album “Spiral” that was dropped several months after its release date, needs the right context to really be appreciated. I follow Rezz on Instagram and her feed is filled with pictures of her strobe-filled arena performances, and I don’t see this hitting as hard as some of her other songs in that context. There’s no specific part I can point to as “the one”, a perfect hook that meets the crowd’s energy at its summit with a catchy riff or a resounding stomp. The drop doesn’t really distinguish itself from the rest of the song, it adds a kick on every beat but it doesn’t do a lot to really heighten the intensity.

But if you’re not at an arena or a club, but rather trying to grind out a paper at some outrageously late hour, definitely give this a shot for your study playlist. The metronomic synths and squelchy soundscapes are both fun and invigorating, a steady march that makes you want to be productive. It’s not just good for study playlists either, there’s a subtle 80s influence in the bridge that toes the line of cheesy power ballads but stays true to its dubstep roots. 

This is all to say that I can’t recommend “Menace” for every situation. It’s not the perfect club banger or if you’re looking for something with a strong hook. But if you like a danceable slow burn or something to vibe to alone, well have I got a song for you.

-Erie

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Music News and Interviews

New Mitski Single, “The Only Heartbreaker” Review

“The Only Heartbreaker,” Mitski’s brand new single, released on November 9, is definitely the most commercial-sounding work that Mitski has released to date, and probably the least “Mistki” song in her repertoire. The production lends itself to 80s dance music, and the lyrics sound detached and impersonal compared to the deeply detailed and personal style of lyricism we are used to hearing from her. 

It’s not a bad song per se, but definitely not what I’d expect to hear coming from Mitski, especially after “Working For The Knife”  (which I also wrote a review about) seemed like a natural progression for her music.

The music video definitely felt more authentic, however, and seemed to be a reference to her song “A Burning Hill” off of her album “Puberty 2” where she laments “And I’ve been a forest fire / I am a forest fire / And I am the fire, and I am the forest / And I am a witness watching it / I stand in a valley watching it / And you are not there at all.”

With all of this being said, I am excited to see where this fits in the context of the album (her sixth) she just announced, “Laurel Hell,” which is coming out February 4, 2022.

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Music News and Interviews

Mitski’s Return to Music

On October 1, Mistki fans rejoiced as they noticed that she had made a return to Twitter and Instagram, which had both been deactivated by the artist since July of 2019. On October 4, she (or rather, her management, as the bios on both of these accounts read “Account run by Management”) posted a cryptic image indicating that music would be coming the next morning.

New music came indeed. At 10 a.m. ET on October 5, Mitski released a brand new single, “Working for the Knife.” I have been consistently disappointed by my favorite artist’s comebacks this year, but Mitski is an exception to that rule; she never disappoints. 

“Working for the Knife” Music Video

From the lyricism to the production to the nihilistic subject matter, this single is Mitski through and through. My favorite lyric comes in the very first verse: “I cry at the start of every movie / I guess ’cause I wish I was making things, too.”

Along with the single, she announced tour dates, and she begins her tour with two North Carolina stops, and I’m excited to say the least. She’ll be performing at The Orange Peel in Asheville on Feb 17, 2022 and at The Ritz in Raleigh on Feb 18, 2022. I was able to snag tickets to her Raleigh show, and am tentatively going to attend.

Here’s to good comebacks,

Caitlin

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Music News and Interviews

New Music Floodgates: Fall Mainstream Edition

            In the Spring, we saw a brief burst of new releases that were delayed until after the pandemic. Most of these were independent releases trying to prepare for summer and fall touring. While the machinations of the music industry are beyond me, I’d wager a guess that new music in the indie scene takes a bit longer to get going, while mainstream releases can be released pretty much concurrently with a tour and still sell tickets. This is pure speculation, but it would explain the rash of new music by established indie bands and mainstream pop artists in the last month or two.

            So today, as a part 2 to my spring edition, we’re just going to briefly recap as many event releases as possible so that you don’t miss out on a new album by an artist you like, or so you can find something new to listen to. Without further ado, here are some summaries: