Words by Brian James
Every month Off Shelf contributor Brian James brings you the best singles of the month and puts together a playlist for your enjoyment. Below you’ll find six highlighted songs that stood above the rest, which is followed by the entire playlist.
Hold U is a super catchy and equally beautiful pop song. As with the music video, the songwriting is vulnerable and inviting as it lays out a love song about community. De Souza really captures the spirit of the song with this press quote: “I wanted to write about a really simple kind of love that isn’t necessarily romantic, but that is just about holding space for other people to fully express themselves and to feel celebrated. Just simply seeing someone in their humanity and loving them … Community is the purest kind of magic and can heal so much trauma and pain. We all just want to feel truly held by the people around us!”
Wednesday has had an amazing roll out for their upcoming album Twin Plagues. There have been moments of real beauty and rocking catharsis and One More Last One is no different. It’s a bit more zoned-out than the previous crunchy indie rock songs, but no less powerful. The band’s press release really sums up what I like so much about it, as it “is a shoegaze-y trip that swells and swells until it overflows, but it doesn’t stop. It keeps offering and offering and offering.”
Abstract Mindstate – A Wise Tale (YZY SND)
As the world waits with bated breath for a new Kanye West album (maybe?) this hip hop release unfortunately hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. Abstract Mindstate is a 2000s underground rap duo from Chicago, one that Kanye really likes and that relationship grew into Kanye actually producing Abstract Mindstate’s entire new album. This is such a great song for true hip-hop heads out there. It also makes you wonder what could’ve happened if Kanye had focused his energy into becoming the best producer of his generation instead of whatever it is he’s up to.
Ducks Ltd. is a duo from Toronto, Ontario and on new song, 18 Cigarettes they present a super urgent, rhythmically based version of jangle pop that really injects life into what could’ve been another stale track in the genre. Ducks Ltd. cite a performance of Oasis’ “Don’t Go Away” as a major inspiration for this song. As they say “It’s a really raw emotional expression from someone whose capacity to talk about their feelings is stunted and they’re cut up about it. ’18 Cigarettes’ is kind of an attempt to do a different version of what that song does.”
La Luz and Adrian Younge is not at all a combination I thought I’d ever see. Maybe on some weird new Girl Talk mashup or something, but even that seems far fetched. Yet, somehow they met and feel like they’re kindred spirits as far as making music goes, so Adrian Younge agreed to produce the new La Luz album. Watching Cartoons is a really nice, pretty, catchy song that has a great rhythm section driving things forward. Really excited to hear what else this unexpected team comes up with.
Hovvdy are an Austin, TX duo who create beautiful songs, which are often somewhat off-kilter. Since releasing their last album, both members of the band got married and one of them had a child, so it comes as no surprise that their new song is called True Love. They say that this song was like a jolt of energy that inspired the rest of the new album. As the bad says: it feels so good to express love and appreciation when you really fucking mean it. but it’s hard to feel worthy of love, of something so rare, and all we can do is try to measure up.”
If you don’t have time for the whole playlist but want a handful more awesome songs, check these out!
But, really, just listen to the whole playlist here: