Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – Sept. 11

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Lando Chill

Lando Chill

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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Sister Sparrow, “Ghost” — Brooklyn’s funky soul-rock upstarts have released an irresistibly fun single with an equally compelling “lyric” video. The band tells its story entirely with emojis. A silly aesthetic, to be sure, but one that enhances the song’s lighthearted vibe. Supported by Josh Myers’ melodic bass line, Dan Boyden’s energetic groove, along with the exhilarating brass arrangements of Phil Rodriguez and Brian Graham, Arleigh Kincheloe’s infectious singing gives her “ghost” story a pervasively light-hearted feel. While it’s never fun to get ghosted, the song’s atmosphere revels in the satisfaction of ignoring negative people.

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Guerilla Toss, “Green Apple” — Guerilla Toss shows its virtuosic talent through emotion rather than flashy playing. “Green Apple” manipulates the tropes of new wave like King Crimson did to progressive rock. The group has rendered it almost unrecognizable but thoroughly enjoyable. Drummer Peter Negroponte and bassist Stephen Cooper remain as unpredictable and frenetic as they are locked in together. Keyboardist Sam Lisabeth plunges into a psychedelic jungle of outlandish texture. The spiraling guitar arpeggiations of Arian Shafiee only thicken the bewildering sound collage with microtonal sensibilities, but vocalist Kassie Carlson ties everything together in a cohesive narrative with her new age talk-singing. Few groups can get this weird without falling into chaos.

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TAUK, “Checkmate” — If Kneebody collaborated with latter-day Frank Zappa on a dystopian sci-fi project, the results wouldn’t be too far off from what these New York fusion jazz musicians have accomplished with their newest single. The impeccable groove this band falls into serves Matt Jalbert’s evolving guitar solos and Alric “A.C.” Carter’s foreboding synth drones. Isaac Teel propel’s the song with his Dave Weckle-esque rhythm changes, which bassist Charlie Dolan follows while also contributing the arrangement’s modulative tension. The song’s atmosphere is as palpable as its structure, fitting perfectly alongside its cinematic video. “Checkmate” is at once a hauntingly esoteric multimedia experience and a vital lesson in musical chops.

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Gryffin and Elley Duhé, “Tie Me Down” — With pop music going in an increasingly minimalist direction, Gryffin stands out by working with more expansive sonics. Dan Griff’s sound does have some flavors reminiscent of 2014’s positive EDM anthems, but the New Yorker succeeds where the likes of Chvrches often fail by incorporating modern sounds instead of relying on past nostalgia. The trap-influenced chorus beat and large-scale synth swells of “Tie Me Down” are compelling enough by themselves, but adding Elley Duhé’s powerful voice makes the ultimate romantic feel-good anthem to kiss summer goodbye. It’s hard not to smile when watching couples from various walks of life choosing to love each other through thick and thin over such an uplifting song.

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Lando Chill, “Dah Vapor” — Hip-hop has become pop music, and Chicago’s Lando Chill isn’t happy about that. He voices his disdain for those who fake the funk in this helping of abstract jazz rap diatribe. Every face-tattooed suburbanite should give this a listen, as it subverts the norms of cloud rap on a musical level and gives a much-needed admonishment to cloud rappers who parachute into a culture with no regard for its significance. “I know that you lack my flavor, I know that you jack my style,” he sings, letting would-be appropriators know the difference between respect and commoditization. The song’s industrial grit and amorphous rhythmic backbone make it as mysterious as it is danceable, putting alt-soul through a thought-provoking experimental filter.

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Max’s Pick: With the trap-rap explosion in full effect, truth-seekers like Lando Chill defend hip-hop as a cherished tradition instead of a cash cow. His glitched-out production rails against normality, his musicality blows auto-crooners out of the water and his words burst the bubble surrounding Xanax-ridden ignorants and laundering executives. “Dah Vapor” actually combats musical regression perfectly well by itself, and should be in every underground hip-hop head’s playlist, but it’s the lyrics of Lando Chill that make it such a cutting appraisal of the current state of the rap game.

Follow editor Max Heilman at Twitter.com/madmaxx1995 and Instagram.com/maxlikessound.

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