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Saturday, June 6, 2020

New tracks from R.O. Shapiro, Muzz, Secret Treehouse, KOYO and HAIM added to our big mix

R.O. Shapiro: Younger Then

Feelings of nostalgia, foreboding and acceptance of aging mix together in this bittersweet single from a singer-songwriter who counts as his heroes the likes of John Prine, Jackson Browne, Gillian Welch and Joni Mitchell. Here he succeeds in making the personal seem universal, weaving private jokes ("She's got an eye for anthills / And I've got anthills for eyes") and nightmares ("I’m smellin' armageddon / Smells like sulfur, smells like wine") with the musings we all have about the passage of time: "I guess this is growing up / And time ain’t slowing down for no one / Lemme be ok with the grays and the great unknown.” Harmonies by Lauren Tronick and Micah Motenko and a band of top-notch Austin-based musicians give the track a suitably intimate-yet-expansive sound.

Muzz: Red Western Sky

Muzz consists of Interpol's Paul Banks, producer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman of Bonny Light Horseman and former Walkmen drummer Matt Barrick. They've been working on and off for several years on this side project - Pitchfork says the earliest sessions "occurred around 2015; later, the band convened at various studios and practice spaces, letting the project evolve at a leisurely pace. Muzz’s music sounds similarly unhurried." This track has a quicker tempo and punchier sound than most - "rattling Americana," writes NME, which says the band plays "with a warm classic rock vibe that calls to mind the crackling of vinyl as the needle drops."

Secret Treehouse: Ice Turns to Ash

This band from Norway joins our "five-timers club," making its fifth appearance in our New Music bin. The five-piece group, including guitarist-songwriter Sveinung Fossan Bukve and vocalist Anja Bere, first caught our ear with its blend of guitar rock and electro-pop in early 2019, and keeps catching it with each new release. This is the latest single from ST's forthcoming, yet-untitled second album. The band says the lyrics "are about the loneliness that one can feel in a relationship when the other person does not see who you are ... and then meeting a person who sees you for who you are and makes you laugh."

KOYO: Out Of Control

Just ahead of this month's release of its sophomore album, the Leeds, U.K.-based band rolls out this high-energy single. The group describes its sound as gritty psych-rock with prog influences. As for this track: "It’s about wanderlust; getting itchy feet. When you feel like you just need to get away to have new experiences ... It’s also about the frustration that comes with not being able to do these things" -- which much of the world can relate to in a time of pandemic.

HAIM: Don't Wanna

The third single to be released ahead of the third album by the sisters Haim, Women in Music, Pt. III (never mind that the previous albums were not parts I and II) is another catchy piece of pop-rock, following up "The Steps." In this episode, the protagonist realizes her relationship is rocky, but she "don't wanna" break it off.

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