Yesterday, at 9 am, Barack Obama officially stepped down from his seat in office, and Donald Trump took the title of 45th President of these United States. It was a moment millions of Americans didn’t see coming. A moment wrapped in darkness and fear, bringing forth a future that is as uncertain as it is frightening. It’s in these monumental and unfortunate moments in history when music is needed most. In times of extreme negativity and fear, music has the power to relate to us, and let us know we’re not alone. It has the power to build us up, to bring us together and give a voice to those who have been silenced. And it has the power to light the way, and bring positivity and love in even the darkest of times. While this Friday left us in a state of confusion and panic, it also gave us some music to help us cope with this new America. Here are our #NewMusic choices for Friday, January 20th…
Bryan Lanning // Us
YouTube star Bryan Lanning is widely known for his channel, Daily Bumps, featuring videos of him and his family living out their daily grind. After the release of some singles and an EP, the father of the family now releases his full length debut, Us, a wholesome pop experience brimming with soaring and uplifting pop anthems. On the record’s first track, “We,” Lanning’s smooth voice sings to his wife, looking back on a moment before the “we” turned into “us.” Throughout the album, Bryan Lanning opens up and shows us his love, a magnificent and beautiful bringing together that lead to the beloved family. One of the best tracks of the pure pop collection features his wife, Missy Lanning, herself. On “Scars,” Missy lends her voice to duet, and provides a verse of spoken word, telling her story to the listener. It’s an inspiring musing on her struggles in life that ultimately led her to meet her true soulmate in Bryan. Bryan Lanning’s debut is brimming with hope and love, a positive beacon that can provide an escape for the listener, and a heartful of love within it’s songs.
As It Is // Okay.
Two years after the release of their debut album, British pop punk band As It Is return with Okay, a strong follow-up that will satisfy the pallet of any fans of bands like Knuckle Puck, Neck Deep, or With Confidence. “Pretty Little Distance,” the opening track of the record, is a fun and catchy upbeat punk track that really brings the pop back into the genre. A definite highlight comes in the title track, “Okay.” For any pop punk fan, a song that can relate to your deepest feelings is wanted and needed. In “Okay,” the band muses on the feeling of not being okay, a feeling many of us can relate to. While at times it’s good to look on the bright side, sometimes you just need to know you’re not alone in your misery. And what better way to feel that than with the upbeat chords of pop punk.
Austra // Future Politics
Out of all the albums released this week, Austra’s new record, Future Politics, may be the most important and most needed in the wake of this political shit storm. With a hint of Bjork in sound, classically trained vocalist and Toronto native Katie Stelmanis muses over a display of production reminiscent of 80s science fiction to deliver a strong message essential to our hope and understanding of this past year. With a diverse range of upbeat dance tracks mixed with more minimalist sounds, Austra paints a vivid picture of our current and future political atmosphere in more ways than one. The album begins with “We Were Alive,” which grows and rises in enormity while opening our eyes and awakening us to the world we live in. The title track is far and away the most vital following the election and inauguration, feeding a message of hope. With a new President now in the seat, our hope for a better future lies in the hands of “Future Politics.” And, as Austra tells us within the melodies, we must never take our eyes off that light. “I look ahead,” Stelmanis muses. “I look ahead and I think about it. There’s still a hope somebody needs to feel.” And by God do we all need to feel it now.
Alex Clare // Tail of Lions
Now three albums in, the man behind the massive 2012 hit “Too Close” has grown. He’s not only matured his sound and song mastery, but he’s found himself in his own personal life and faith, a theme which resonates throughout Tail of Lions. The large sound, a perfect blend of electronic and alternative folk familiar to any fan of his work, comes out full steam in the first track, “Tell Me What You Need.” As if beckoning the listener to let him into our own trials and tribulations, Clare unleashes the line, “Open your mouth, I can read your mind” before the big production ensues. Throughout the record, Alex Clare gives us messages of hope, dealing with themes ranging from faith, marriage, mental illness, and the world’s current political atmosphere. In “Love Can Heal,” Clare spreads a message of love, showing us how in times of strife, we must look past our own burdens and past and show compassion to one another. The closing track, “You’ll Be Fine,” delivers an equally important message. No matter what happens, we will get through it. We shall overcome.
Foxygen // Hang
If in the wake of the negativity surrounding our country you seek to escape, look no further than Foxygen’s new record, Hang, an album that acts as the perfect companion piece to last year’s beloved La La Land soundtrack. Hang is a record soaked in nostalgia, a collection that teams up the duo with a 40 piece orchestra to recreate the big sounds of 60s and 70s pop. Throughout it’s tracks, you’ll be whisked into a musical extravaganza soundtracked by songs akin to Abba, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and more. In “Avalon,” Foxygen unleashes a “Waterloo” style track that brings together Broadway dance and the harmonies of beloved 60s boy bands. In “America,” a picture of the glamorous atmosphere of Hollywood is painted with a jazzy chorus of horns. Hang is an escape, a fun upbeat record that would be perfectly fit for a colorful night on the Great White Way.
Superwalkers // Home EP
While there were many full length albums giving us just the hope and positivity we needed, a collection of EPs and singles gave us a glimer of light in just a fraction of the playtime. Up and coming duo Superwalkers debut EP, Home, gave us just the shimmer we seek. In four tracks, the duo deliver a collection of upbeat and danceable electropop that provides a light note of fun in the darkness. It all accumulates on the final track, “Earth,” an ode to coming together as one human species. “Listen up little Earthling. We are nothing more and nothing less than friends.”
Rubblebucket // If U C My Enemies EP
Yet another upbeat collection of jazzy fun to drop on Inauguration Day is indie pop band Rubblebucket’s new EP, If U C My Enemies. With a variety of pop melodies filled with sax and brass, the bands spirited sound gives an escape from the dark in tracks like “Forlornification” and the title song, “If U C My Enemies.”
Arcade Fire // I Give You Power (feat. Mavis Staples) (Single)
The critically acclaimed band is back with a new single, and while not directly promoted as an anti-Trump track, it’s easy to tell by it’s release date and lyrical content that it very well is. With the assistance of Mavis Staples, Win Butler and Co. deliver a message to our new President, a wake up call as to who really wears the pants in this political relationship. “I give you power over me,” Butler admits. “But now I say I can take it away.” Be careful Donald. We’ve elected you, but we still hold the power. And we will stand and we will act. History has it’s eyes on you…
J. Cole // High For Hours (Single)
Hot off the release of his new album, 4 Your Eyez Only, rapper J. Cole gives us a single with a powerful message. Delivered over beats matching those of popular 90s rap, Cole tells a story of today’s racial issues and political corruption that infests our atmosphere. It’s an important message for a very important track. Following the election, many talk of revolution. As masses take to the streets in protest, J. Cole reminds us of where real change is made. In the dawning of this new age, “the only real revolution happens right inside of you.”
Here’s to the revolution…