Music Features

Rainbow Kitten Surprise Will Shake You Out of Your Pretension

Let RKS remind you what live music is supposed to be.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise - It's Called: Freefall [Official Video]

One day you're listening to your usual assortment of experimental synth music and whale noises, maybe a little Kero Kero Bonito if it's sunny out.

In a good mood, you decide to branch out, and a song comes on your discover weekly that you don't recognize. You bob your head along to the beat, and wonder who the band is, thinking they must be deliciously obscure. You reach for your phone to save the track, and recoil at the glitter-sprinkled name: Rainbow Kitten Surprise. The name sounds distinctly like the name of your seven-year-old niece's Guitar Hero band, but you find that in reality it refers to a group of serious musicians from Boone, North Carolina who play an amalgamation of indie and folk rock. Even worse than their name, they have millions of plays. They're popular and kitschy and unacceptable for someone like you who only shops at organic co-ops in your vintage Doc Martens. You move on to the next song.

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Photo by Johanna on Unsplash

There are opinions and there are stone cold facts.

That Lizzo is the best thing to happen to music in a long time falls into the latter category. Her infectious joy and unbridled confidence combined with the massive dance tunes she's been steadily releasing since 2013 have made her an icon, and her star only seems to be rising.

Now, the artist has released a colorful new music video for her hit song, "Juice," featuring drag queens from RuPaul's Drag Race. The bonus video follows the release of the track's official music video that dropped in January.

"Juice" will be featured on Lizzo's upcoming album, CUZ I LOVE YOU, which is out this Friday, April 19 (via Nice Life/Atlantic). The album also includes Lizzo's incredible Missy Elliott collab "Tempo."

Lizzo - JUICE Music Video feat. RuPaul's Drag Race

Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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Music Lists

Six Songs You Should Hear This Week: Musical Acid Trips

New tracks from Valerie June, Kevin Abstract, Norah Jones, AURORA, and more.

Photo by Danny Howe on Unsplash

Each one of this week's best new songs is a miniature revelation in itself, trippy enough to open your mind to new worlds.

For the record, the creator of this list has never taken acid; but these songs are what she imagines it would feel like, and truly, who needs drugs when you have songs like these? Transcendence, peace, revelations, a feeling of interconnectedness, swirly imagery—it's all here for your listening pleasure.

1. Drinker: Wave

Bicoastal NY/LA duo Aaron Mendelsohn and Ariel Loh (aka Drinker) have gifted the world with a gorgeous piece of pop psychedelia in the form of their new single, "Wave," released on Wednesday. The haunting track starts slow and ethereal, building up to a climactic tower of synths punctuated by bell-like guitar tones. A slow burn that's rewarding the whole way through, it's the kind of song meant for lying on a dock at sunset, sifting through memories and feeling the first hints of evening chill. Lyrically, it's a testament to the strangeness of time—the way it continues to move forward, but the past always seems to surge into the present. "Who is this? I'm stuck inside a wave," goes the refrain, a line that could be about dissociation, or fear of the future, or déja vu. "I feel like we've been here before," sings Mendelsohn, "but it wasn't you that I was here with." Hypnotic in its spaciousness, disconcerting in its dissociative leanings, this is an immersive sonic experience that bodes well for the duo's upcoming EP release on May 3.

2. Valerie June: Little Wing

Valerie June - Little

Valerie June has returned with a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," and it's absolutely breathtaking. Mystical and pure, raw and electric, it's a compilation of whirling guitars, whistling strings, distant organs, and eventually a horn section to drive it all home. June sounds a bit like Stevie Nicks, but perhaps even more weather-worn, her voice is ageless, meant for staticky radios. She proved her songwriting abilities on 2017's The Order of Time, but this cover is a testament to her aptitude as an arranger and a conveyer of raw emotion. In a way, it seems to come straight from a timeless dimension where there are only peace and starlight, and yet, at the same time, it cuts through to the core of something distinctly of this world, some pain known only to humankind. If you listen to one song this week, listen to this one.

3. Novo Amor: I Make Sparks

Novo Amor - I Make Sparks (official audio)

Nobody is better at making soupy lullabies than Novo Amor, but he's made a particularly beautiful one with "I Make Sparks," a title that—despite its swaggering implications—moves beyond the realm of woodsy folk. Ideal for the ending frames of a film, the song is a miniature vacation in itself. Light strings cast flickering lights over Amor's frail, breathy vocals, and though his voice never grows to anything more than a whisper, the music swells and grows throughout, reaching a satisfyingly disorienting conclusion.

4. Aurora: The Seed

For a slightly more energized but equally intense listening experience, AURORA's newest release, "The Seed," will do the trick. It sounds perfect for, say, the finale of a show like Game of Thrones—hopeful and dramatic, full of rhythmic humming and intense violins, designed for scenes of armies charging over snowy hills.

In essence, this is a song about environmental destruction—one of many, certainly, as we approach the end times. "When the last tree has fallen and the rivers are poisoned, you cannot eat money, oh no," she sings. Ominous, indeed; maybe avoid this if you're actually going to take acid because it could potentially send you on a bad trip.

5. Kevin Abstract: Georgia

Kevin Abstract announced his newest project, ARIZONA baby, in a cryptic Instagram post a few days ago. But the first single, "Georgia," is transparent and honest, a welcome return to Abstract's distinct solo work. On this song, he draws lyrical inspiration from the old classic "Georgia On My Mind" and spins it into a web of bells, swirling electric guitar, and gritty basslines. At heart, it's a love song, a tribute to the free-fall of true emotion, communicated through rapidly panned vocals and electronic vocal effects layered over a slow beat. Abstract is a master of his craft, and with the release of ARIZONA baby, he's continued his tradition of making some of the best atmospheric rap out there. (For better or worse, it was produced by Jack Antonoff, which may explain its sonic similarities to Lana Del Rey's "Venice Bitch"—the high-pitched synth is definitely the same—but that's another story).

6. Norah Jones: A Song With No Name

This song is the sonic embodiment of a tall glass of water, a breath of fresh air, a drive upstate in the midst of a New York City summer, a comedown after a wild night. In classic Norah tradition, it's easy on the ears and heart, just ambiguous enough to feel applicable to almost any kind of subdued situation, but has enough nuance to merit multiple listens. Striking lyrics cut harshly against soft acoustic guitar and not much else—"If I had a gun, if I had a knife, if I had your love if I was your wife," she sings, as gentle piano twinkles in the background.

Special Mention: LSD

This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning LSD, the project of Sia, Diplo, and Labrinth, whose debut LP dropped this Friday. But unless you have a taste for poorly crafted, shamelessly algorithmic, and lyrically embarrassing pop music, spare yourself the pain and skip this one.

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.

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RELEASE RADAR: Best New Music for April 12


6 New Songs You Should Hear This Week: The Times, They Are a-Changing

Featuring tracks from Suki Waterhouse, Jimi Somewhere, Shura, and more.

This week's new indie music selections oscillate between nostalgia and a resolute desire to embrace the present and future. While Jimi Somewhere, Suki Waterhouse and Rae Isla miss bygone times, Tierra Whack is done with bullshit and ready to power into her strength, and Holly Herndon is basically already living in the matrix.

Each of these songs grapples with the reality of change in a completely different way—but ultimately, each is guaranteed to remind you that you're not alone in feeling a lot of things about it.

1. Jimi Somewhere — "I Shot My Dog / 1st Place"

Jimi Somewhere's newest release is a harmony-laden, sun-drenched tune in the vein of Kevin Abstract and Roy Blair. It's an angsty and expansive track that seems meant for lying on the floor of your mom's basement, staring at the vomit stain from one of your high school parties, questioning everything and missing your childhood dog. But it also has enough energy to propel you off that floor, out onto the highway and into a dramatic running scene that ends with you kneeling down in a wheat field and suddenly deciding to change your life, dedicating yourself to love rather than self-pity. "I Shot My Dog" is a mixed bag of emotions, and it's a promising taste of the Norwegian up-and-comer's first EP.

2. Suki Waterhouse — Good Looking

Suki Waterhouse - Good Looking (Official Video)

The English singer returns with an almost luxuriously vapid single that sounds like a ripoff of a Twin Peaks trance-ballad. But the fluorescent guitar and opulently dramatic ending give the song a trippy, relaxing warmth, making it feel kind of like a sonic hot spring. It's a saccharine, glistening tribute to superficiality, and it feels kind of like wandering through Sephora, fully aware that you're being sold exorbitantly expensive products that will benefit you in absolutely no way—but not letting that stop you from lingering over the latest colorstay vegan moisturizing face-rejuvenating turmeric-infused eyeshadow palate, $75. Fortunately, listening to "Good Looking" is free and will give you the same rush of bittersweet joy you would receive from any overpriced cosmetics.

3. Rae Isla — "American Paradise"

Rae Isla - American Paradise (Official Audio)

As long as humans have existed, we've dreamed of paradises—a certain garden, nirvana, and heaven are only a few of the perfect worlds we've imagined and clung to in times of duress. In "American Paradise," Rae Isla pays her tribute to a haven of her own—our ever-idealized California dream. Vaguely reminiscent of old Irish folk songs, full of seasonal imagery and lit with a spacy kind of innocence, this nostalgic ballad is ultimately about fear of change. "Oh this country, so divided with its science and faith. Give me freedom in the valley / that is where I'll find my place," she sings. "California, do you love me?" It's unclear whether she's singing to California the state, a lover, some lost sense of happiness and peace, or a combination of all three, but regardless, "American Paradise" is about the all-too-human longing for escape.

4. Shura, "BKLYNLDN"

Shura -

Since the release of her debut album Nothing's Real in 2016, British songwriter and producer Shura has been quiet, but her new single "BKLYNLDN" breaks the silence with an intoxicating beat and expertly delicate orchestrations. Shura moved from London to Brooklyn to be with her girlfriend, and the song reflects the fear and excitement that defines major life changes. "We could take the subway to the beach where there's a breeze, cause we're in America," she sings, making it clear that she is, indeed, new to Brooklyn. Just wait, Shura, the bedbugs will find you. But for anyone who's ever made a long-term move or sacrifice in pursuit of love, this song will resonate—and plus the video is a sultry tribute to queer love, sure to engage the attention of everyone who's ever been attracted to a woman, or felt the sting of a difficult romance.

5. Holly Herndon, "Eternal"

Holly Herndon - Eternal (Official Video)

This erratic work of electronica is a collaboration between Herndon and an A.I. she created called "Spawn." Herndon, a longtime computer musician, has thought long and hard about the implications of making music with an inhuman partner. "I don't want to live in a world in which humans are automated off stage," she said in a statement. "I want an A.I. to be raised to appreciate and interact with that beauty." While these are important discussions to be exploring, "Eternal" sounds a little bit too synthetic to feel like an actual expression of emotion or a cohesive composition. It's a little too caught up in its lofty ideals, a little too close to the uncanny valley—but maybe that's the point.

6. Tierra Whack — "Wasteland"

Tierra Whack – Wasteland (Audio)

#WhackHistoryMonth just keeps getting better and better. On "Wasteland," the rising star laces aggressive lyrics over a mellow beat and churchy organ motif. She shows off her singing voice alongside effortless bars as the tune sways and swells at just the right times, echoing sentiments shared by any woman who has simply been Done with a man's shit. True to her innovative release style, Whack has been releasing one new song each week this month as a prelude to her upcoming 2019 LP.

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.

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New Releases

Chet Faker is Back, But He's Not Chet Faker Anymore

His former moniker behind him, Nick Murphy is preparing for the release of a new album.

Nick Murphy (Photo by Willy Lukatis)

Nick Murphy is striking out on his own.

Murphy, the Australian singer-songwriter and producer, formerly known as Chet Faker, recently announced the upcoming release of Run Fast Sleep Naked, his first full-length project since 2014's Built On Glass. On March 5, Murphy released the first single from the new album, "Sanity," a jaunty pop-electronica track showcasing new artistic confidence, matured from his Chet Faker days. Run Fast Sleep Naked, due out April 26, was reportedly inspired by Murphy's travels around the world, pulling influences from geography as much as Murphy's own personal development.

Murphy came to prominence with his 2012 EP Thinking In Textures, which included his version of Blackstreet's classic "No Diggity," a cover as smooth and charming as it was patently ridiculous. He followed up with Built On Glass, featuring the runaway hit "Talk Is Cheap." Murphy is known for fusing an idiosyncratic production style with soulful vocals, and his music betrays heart with effortless poise.

In September of 2016, Murphy posted on his Facebook page to announce his next project would be released under his birth name, and that he was leaving "Chet Faker" behind. "[T]heres [sic] an evolution happening and I wanted to let you know where its [sic] going...Chet Faker will always be a part of the music. This is next."

With a catchy new single out, an album on the way, a massive European tour to begin this summer, and a new name, the future looks more than promising for Nick Murphy's introduction to the world.


Matthew Apadula is a writer and music critic from New York. His work has previously appeared on GIGsoup Music and in Drunk in a Midnight Choir.

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Music Features

Kelvyn Colt Talks New Music and How "There Is No Growth Without Pain"

"Wanting to pursue a career in music was not the easiest thing; I have had my struggles."

For German rapper Kelvyn Colt, his rhymes present a unique balance of unwavering vulnerability and gritty braggadocio. "My sounds reflect me as a person," the 25-year-old MC told me.

Born in Wiesbaden, a small town in SouthWest Germany, Colt's access to American rap music was limited growing up. According to him, his sound was curated by what he was exposed to online. "My fellow millennials will understand what I mean, going online and discovering new music. It was almost like an online hustle." Surfing the web is what led to Colt's exposure to artists like Kid Cudi and Tupac; Colt told Highsnobiety that Tupac "saved me from my mistakes." I chatted with Colt about his gradual ascension, his decision to drop out of law school, and what we can expect next from the underdog rapper.

In "Bury Me Alive" you say, "I've seen a couple of things happen here and I ain't sure about them, this type of great escape might end in greater loss." Do you feel your decision to pursue rap has led to more hardships? How have you overcome them as your career has gone on?

Wanting to pursue a career in music was not the easiest thing. I have had my struggles. But that's part of life, the ups, and downs. I went to pursue my dreams because it's what I wanted from my life. It was not the easy way in life, but a path I felt I had to follow. In the end, it's worked out, but I do believe it led to more hardships. Some of them I am still overcoming; it's an ongoing process. I have to keep in mind that there is no growth without pain.

So would you say your family was supportive of you pursuing rap?

My parents were supportive of my music until I dropped out of law school. I was the first in the family to attend university and had enrolled in a prestigious German law school on a scholarship. My mom has been my number one supporter and holds it down, and once the deals started to come in and I started to sell out shows, my family started to come around.

How do you feel you're sound is different than the Hip-Hop that's currently in circulation?

I rap about situations from my life or certain things I had to deal with. From struggling with suicidal thoughts on "Love & Hate" to wanting to prove myself [and] prove everyone wrong on "Just Watch Me." I even have a song where I discuss my love for anime. So it's really me, but I'm influenced by so many others. Kid Cudi and Tupac especially, they've all influenced my sound and formed to who I am to a certain extent.

So then how do you feel you've creatively changed since your career started?

I'm learning so many new things every day, and I challenge myself every single day. It's part of my development as an artist – I can even say that it's part of development in general. You get influenced by your surroundings and daily encounters. This inspires you, gives you new perspectives, and, of course, leads to creative growth. Even with my work, [from] every song I work on and release to every video I shoot, I demonstrate growth. I have seen more of the world [and] have had a lot of amazing experiences. I can say I have expanded on that creative level.

It sounds like you learned a lot this past year.

I believe that every situation is a lesson, whether it's a positive or negative experience. They help us grow and shape us and contribute to our lives, so we learn from it. I am grateful for all I've learned the last year, from putting trust in certain people to learning about my capabilities as an artist. There is nothing I wouldn't want to re-experience because I believe every experience has some importance in getting me to where I am today.

What can we expect from you in 2019?

A lot. I have multiple shows in the U.S. coming up and a few soon at SXSW. I have a European tour coming up that I'm excited about and a lot of festivals around the globe. Of course, I'm also working on new music, with some big, unexpected features.

Follow Kelvyn Colt on Twitter | Instagram | Spotify

Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area. Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.

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