By Amy Hanna, Production Coordinator
Welcome back to Mood Ring Music, our weekly blog series that pays homage to both multi-sensory music listening and cute, forever-in-style-but-still-kind-of-vintage accessories. Mood Ring Music highlights five of the coolest song releases of the week, and assigns each one a color and a mood.
Now, onto the music!
This time last year, I was telling everyone I knew (and everyone they knew) that Black Honey would be the next big thing in rock music. With their following steadily growing, a secured support spot on tour with UK powerhouses Royal Blood, and consistently powerful releases and visuals, Black Honey are proving me right. “Dig” is Black Honey’s latest: a dark, syrupy rock ballad that deeply haunts and immeasurably soars. Black Honey’s trademark is their theatricality, with iconic visuals that punctuate each intentional sound. Izzy Phillips, Black Honey’s lead vocalist, champions this cinematic vibe in every possible way. The way she delivers vocals, shreds on guitar, performs on stage, and carries herself off-stage are drenched in dreamy aesthetics. At the helm of the Black Honey project, Phillips is like a walking, talking, singing Americana film, and that kind of realness seeps into the DNA of Black Honey, and feels memorable like your favorite old movie does.
Black Honey’s “Dig” is grey for haunting.
The Darkwave Duchess is back, and this time she’s serving hard and soft in equal measure on her brand new track, “Bacardi”. In case this is your first introduction, Abra is a Atlanta-by-London R&B singer with a knack for keeping her tunes simple… but never too simple. On “Bacardi”, Abra’s soft, lilting voice is the chaser to a strong shot of heavy synth and drum ‘n’ bass rave beats. The song drives forward with few layers, but each one is intentional, dark, almost otherworldly. Everything about “Bacardi”, quite like Abra herself, is stylish, right down to the quick “Never Leave You (Uh Oh)” sample that sees the spotlight by the end of the track.
Abra’s “Bacardi” is wine red for sinister.
With her debut album Vows, Kimbra cemented herself in the minds and ears of the public as an undeniable, albeit kind of weird, powerhouse. Her sound edges on experimental, with all her stylistic charm and utilization of weird harmony parts, but creates consistently infectious pop music. “Top of the World”, Kimbra’s second single in the lead up to her brand new LP, Primal Heart, dropping early next year, feels appropriately like a triumph. To be completely candid, I didn’t like Kimbra’s lead single for this project. “Everybody Knows” was beautifully minimal, and its melodies felt catchy and classic, but the song just didn’t feel intentional enough. To be honest, it all just could’ve been weirder. But “Top of the World”, with all its off-putting chants and pseudo-rapping, resolutely squashes that particular critique. Kimbra performs with undeniable swagger, fresh and new but laced with just enough of Kimbra’s trademark magic.
Kimbra’s “Top of the World” is bright pink for confident.
I love surprise releases, especially from artists like Jidenna with such a cool, easy confidence about them. Jidenna dropped his brand new EP, Boomerang, out of nowhere last Friday, and luckily for fans, it’s chock full of gems. The EP includes features from Quavo, Tiwa Savage, Wale, and more, and is just an enjoyable, easy listen start to finish. The title track “Boomerang” is a bubbly, afrobeat-laden track about a lover you can’t help but keep running back to. It’s a fun, danceable song, but it’s careful too, with detailed, balanced synths and bright samples that sound incredibly unique and fresh.
Jidenna’s “Boomerang” is yellow for cheerful.
The Neighbourhood, Jesse Rutherford‘s band as well as his main vehicle to notoriety, has always been a group to tread genre lines and bring a more varied platter of sound to the indie pop fans it attracted in droves. I’ll never forget The Neighbourhood Summer 2014 US tour with rap-producer Travis Scott billed as an opener. Fans complained about the bizarre combination of Scott’s stylish hip hop with The Neighbourhood’s brooding, gritty sound, but it seemed that Rutherford and Co. didn’t really care that fans were confused by the match up. Jesse Rutherford loves hip hop, so he wanted his show to open with a hip hop set. Simple as that. Now, Rutherford has struck out on his own with &, his debut solo album, and it is apparent that his love of hip hop is deeply interwoven into his creative process. To be honest, the bulk of the album sounds more than little a bit ridiculous–a white boy with admittedly strong musical sensibilities offering trite, heavily auto-tuned bars over trap beats. But in the same vein, the album is also kind of fresh and experimental, a new point-of-view that’s worth some attention. The song “I Think We Should Stay In Love” blends classic Neighbourhood thematics with trap-hop bombast into a very confusing yet undeniably unique track. If you’re not convinced about this song’s quality during the first half, be sure to stick it out until the end. I promise there are some worthwhile surprises on this one.
Jesse Rutherford’s “I Think We Should Stay in Love” is electric purple for unique.