Tuesday Tracks: Your Weekly New Music Discovery – Oct. 1

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COMA, Sløtface, Slotface, Taali, Chadwick Stokes, Brittany Howard, JR JR, Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

Clockwise from top left: COMA, Sløtface, Taali, Chadwick Stokes, Brittany Howard and JR JR.

Every week, there’s more new music waiting to be discovered.

No one really has enough time to watch that indie channel on TV that just happens to be playing a lot of great new artists. And aside from the KEXP or Subpop’s single of the day, it’s often all too consuming to figure out what artists to check out. Seriously, who really has the time to sort through all that? RIFF does!

We’re happy to bring you the latest, greatest new songs in this weekly segment. Enjoy this week’s hidden gems.

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Taali, “Los Angeles” — It’s only fitting to approach the Jewish New Year with the first track from Jewish singer-songwriter Taali. She just released the acoustic number “Los Angeles,” off her upcoming EP, Were Most Of Your Stars Out? The melancholic piano-driven track is beautiful and heartfelt. Taali tugs at the heartstrings, singing about leaving New York and and her life there behind. Taali’s soaring vocal performance drives home her lyrics, which center on starting over in a new, unfamiliar place. Much like Tori Amos or Regina Spektor, her music tells a beautiful story.

“L.A. is where the three elements came together: My Judaism, my legitimate love for pop music—and New York harmony,” Taali said of the EP and two years in L.A.



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Sløtface, “Sink or Swim” — Chunky, driving and sludgy guitar riffs guide you through this song. The sludge carries over into the video. Norway’s Sløtface isn’t about to let you forget about the effects of climate change. Even looking past the singing, the guitars are more than haunting enough alongside the diving footage. The video is the work of Rich Horner and Caroline Power, who have documented polluted oceans for years. Lead singer Haley Shea’s powerful vocals plead over the guitars: “This is not the fall I was expecting/ Warm winds/ This is not the fall I was expecting/ Too warm for October.” Coinciding with Greta Thunberg’s climate change awareness campaign, this song could not be a more timely call to action.

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JR JR, “Magic” —  JR JR, previously known as Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr, initially wrote “Magic” as a one-minute track for its appearance on TV Detroiters. After fans urged the duo to expand the rest of the song, JR JR expanded it into a kaleidoscopic, psychedelic and dreamy territory. It’s still a relatively short two-minute burst. “Magic” is spacious and soothing in its floating feel, but the drumming keeps the track grounded. While the keys feel slightly off kilter, they fit into the arrangement in a way that feels magical.



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Brittany Howard, “Georgia” — Brittany Howard, the lead singer of the Alabama Shakes, just released her debut album, Jaime. Her song “Georgia” is a sultry, breathy, gospel-infused R&B ballad about falling in love with another woman. As Howard sings, “I just want Georgia to notice me,” you feel every word and every emotion. Her bluesy vocal inflections make your skin crawl in the best way, as do her spiritual wails over pounding drumming. With beautiful organ playing complementing Howard’s vocals, the track’s old-time warmth and romantic fervor are impossible to ignore.

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COMA, “Bits and Pieces” — My first thought on watching this music video was, “That’s totally how I do a puzzle.” As I listened, I realized how beautifully the song blended into the visuals. The duo from Cologne, Germany made a song that is unadulterated electronic bliss. COMA also adds dream-pop flavors, evoking the genre’s ’90s legends. As the song picks up with catchy hooks, it turns into a spacious, danceable jam. The keyboards give the song a droning feeling, yet the tune is easy to get lost in. The puzzle was made by German toymaker Ravensburger.



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Chadwick Stokes & The Pintos,  “Chaska” — Chadwick Stokes, lead singer of Dispatch, has written a heart-wrenching story about a case of mistaken identity and an execution gone very wrong. As the fiddle quickly strums along, Stokes’ lyrics can get lost in the fast pace. While the hand-clapping and boot-stomping seems perfect for a country hoedown, the lyrics paint a different picture: “Some say they wanted that man to be hung/ For falling in love with a white woman and caring for her infant son/ When he was first captured/ She cried ‘don’t take him’/ If not for him/ My bones would be bleaching on the prairie/ My children with little crow.”

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Rachel’s Pick: Heavy, layered guitars drew me into Sløtface’s “Sink or Swim,” but the song’s message could not be more topical. It is indeed too warm for autumn, with fire season just around the corner.

“Its too warm for October/ It’s not politics/ It’s sink or swim,” Shea repeats, yearning for action. The song’s contagious catchiness actually generates righteous anger. I clearly wear my heart on my sleeve, but I’m also a big believer in making a change and standing up for what you believe in. Sløtface is doing its part in waking people up and (hopefully) making them more aware.

Follow writer Rachel Goodman at Twitter.com/xneverwherex and Instagram.com/xneverwherex.

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