Low-Key Likes: indie potpourri

By Louis Chavey (’22) | November 16, 2020

Art by Caitlin Chan (’22)

Welcome back to Low-Key Likes, a digestible music recommendation column featuring a relatively unknown song, artist, and album under a unifying theme or genre. I will provide some needed context, a short description, and lastly, what makes each of them worth a listen. This week is a bit more scattered than usual, as we’ll be exploring a wide range of indie music from folk songs to synth pop and then towards a more conventional type of rock through the song “Summer Snow” by Dawson Hollow, the artist Manwolves, and the album A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling by Magdalena Bay.

“Summer Snow” is a 2019 single by indie-folk band Dawson Hollow that will be featured on their forthcoming sophomore album. Similar to what its title suggests, “Summer Snow” is like a summer day with clouds just on the horizon portending a storm. It is propelled by warm strings throughout the song: a homely acoustic guitar backs the hook, a springy violin carries the tune through repeated choruses and verses, and a powerful electric guitar helps the last final crescendo. While the whole atmosphere is undoubtedly a summary, the vocals hint at a certain longing. The song does not become overwhelmingly sorrowful, but it definitely is not completely jovial either; it is definitely bittersweet. Nevertheless, “Summer Snow” is an earthy tune that will please you no matter if you are feeling bitter or sweet.

Manwolves is a six member indie-rock band that takes elements from hip-hop and jazz. What truly makes them appealing is their unique combination of genres; often a combination of two of those three genres is already very rare, so having elements of all three is almost outlandish. Rock, and even more so hip-hop, has been ubiquitous in today’s mainstream sound, and Manwolves’ sound is definitely anchored by those two genres, especially the former. Songs often feature conventionally hard-hitting rock beat patterns as well as vocal flows and word play that are vaguely reminiscent of those in hip-hop, although definitely not as complex or fast-paced. The jazz embellishments, most frequently striking trumpets or quivering organs, are what elevate this already unique combination of genres. This all combines to create an authentic sound evocative of a live band playing on a Friday night for bar-goers. Manwolves creates a fresh experience bound to grab a hold of your attention.

A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling was released in early 2020 by Magdalena Bay, a synth pop duo composed of Mica Tenenbaum and Matt Lewin. Complete with pulsing, invigorating beats, dreamy vocals, catchy hooks, and, of course, bold, futuristic synths, the album is an irresistibly fun front-to-back listen. However, A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling does not devolve into soulless, glossy, overproduced pop; it perfectly balances a refined, radio-friendly sound with raw emotion. Songs like “How to Get Physical” and “Killshot” are effervescent earworms that will always put you in a good mood, while slower songs like “Oh Hell” and “Airplane” offer more sentimental moments of pause. A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling truly excels when it combines these two polar ends of the spectrum into a song like “Story”; it perfectly encapsulates the charm of the album with an addictive hook, buzzing, eccentric synths, and a genuine feeling of giddily looking ahead into the future. A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling will brighten up your day while leaving you with enough emotional substance to chew on.

With so many indie subgenres this week, hopefully “Summer Snow,” Manwolves, and A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling can all find their way onto your playlists or your regular rotation!

Categories: Column, Entertainment

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