Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – May 29

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Astronauts, etc.

Every week, there’s a plethora of new music at our fingertips.

Artists on platforms such as Spotify and Bandcamp are plentiful, and the radio offers a steady deluge of new singles, but who has time to sort through all that? RIFF does!

We pooled our resources to find some of the best new singles from all genres and backgrounds, so you can find your newest earworm without all the drama. Enjoy this week’s hidden gems:

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Shortly, “Spare Time” — Though it would have worked well as a bare-bones indie-folk ballad, Alex Maniak has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. Sparse piano lines drizzle over her fingerpicked acoustic refrain as her deeply personal lyrics weave a tale of unrequited love, but in the the song’s last minute, it blossoms into full rock instrumentation. Maniak’s delivery remains familiar from an instrumental perspective, but her emotional purity separates her from the crowd. “Sparetime” continues her push to transcend her disillusionment with the music industry and find solace in what she considers the true heart of her expression.

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Astronauts, etc., “The Border” — “Supermelodic pulp” might be the goofiest self-categorization ever featured on Tuesday Tracks, but it’s also a fitting name for Anthony “Peppers” Ferraro’s newest offering. Though this Oakland musician started Astronauts, etc. to keep himself busy between keyboard gigs with chillwave luminary Toro y Moi, “The Border” proves the project’s development as a unique cross-section between David Axelrod’s cinematic fusion, Steely Dan’s jazz-rock grooves and whimsical psychedelia. Ferraro implements his classical-tinged violin to a gorgeous effect over a deliciously melodic bassline and a lackadaisical half-time shuffle, yet the song’s overarching modulations and vocal refrains remain simple, catchy and hypnotic.

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Elise Davis, “Married Young” — Name-dropping Tom Waits might seem like a gutsy move, but this Arkansas Americana storyteller’s relation to him merits a reference in more ways than one. Davis’ lyrical interplay switches between autobiographical reflections on past relationships and her close friend’s experiences with the song’s namesake. Her vivid and cohesive imagery carries Waitsian qualities, just as her incorporation of orchestral strings tips a hat to his 1973 debut, Closing Time, but she remains firmly rooted in alt-country and contemporary Americana. Her narrative skill makes the song’s sweeping crescendos that much more satisfying, taking listeners on an impactful journey.

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Paul Beaubrun, “Rise Up” — Considering his familial association with mizik rasin legends Boukman Eksperyans, it only makes sense that this New York City standout would incorporate his Haitian-American heritage and history into his rootsy blues protest anthems. It’s hard to imagine what else “Rise Up” could need to hit harder than it does with just Beaubrun’s impeccable vocal chops and steadfast acoustic guitar. His lyrics rail against the corruption and division he sees take hold, while his melodic scatting demands attention. His dynamic presence resonates at the core of protest music, showcasing his dream for change with his chorus call to “rise up, be free.”

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Night Riots, “On The Line” — Sumerian Records might have more leanings toward Hot Topic metalcore, but this California quintet continues bringing unabashed new wave sensibilities to the table with this danceable banger. If the song’s music video isn’t enough proof, Night Riots revel in the synthetic energy of their music—treating it with as much gusto as any arena rocker would. Instead of riding the coattails of Asking Alexandria, these guys prove that a similar aura can be generated using straightforward four-on-the-floor, triplet-based melodies and just enough real instrumentation to keep glossy electronics from overtaking the band’s sound.

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Max’s Pick: The sheer musicality of Astronauts, etc. won me over right away. Ferraro’s expert layering of melodies and harmonies becomes a cross-genre masterpiece, all while remaining within the boundaries of a solid psychedelic pop song. He doesn’t show off his skill, using it instead to heighten the impact of his songwriting. Stripping away his violin legato and nuanced ambience leaves an infectious tune, but adding these dense arrangements and thoughtful ornamentation allows it to transcend its chill-out aura.

Follow writer Max Heilman at Twitter.com/madmaxx1995.

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