What’s the sound of spring? You need an aesthetic that champions rebirth and relentless rain, the darkness of a brutal year and a handful of sunny, perfect days. Where the Song of Summer needs to be pure escapism, this season’s soundtrack must reflect on our collective crises and have some downright epic dance party jams. I know, it’s a lot of weight for six songs to carry. Thankfully, I have complete faith in the Greater Boston music scene.
“Holding on Too Long,” Hard Feelings
People talk about second roaring ’20s. How about a second disco ’70s? If we are on the precipice of a global era of awesome, let’s have Hard Feelings score the whole thing. Ex-Bostonian Amy Douglas (the rock and dance queen behind Feints and SPF 5000) teams with Joe Goddard (of Hot Chip) for this fierce beat and ferocious vocal. A song of spring from a new duo that could capture the Song of Summer crown with a followup single (please, please, get us a followup single stat).
“Love Me Pt. 1,” DJ WhySham, MonaVeli & Jill McCracken
DJ WhySham and her crew of collaborators continue to run the city with this hot and chill jam. Slow and boiling, hushed and thumping, modern hip-hop and throwback R&B, “Love Me Pt. 1” shows the power WhySham, MonaVeli and Jill McCracken can harness when they team up. After this track crushes you, spin the rest of “A Survivor’s Prayer EP Part I.” After that, fall hard for WhySham’s stunning LP “Finally.”
“Blood & Bone,” Abbie Barrett
Did Abbie Barrett make a prog rock song? Just thinking about the question might make you forget about pandemics. Now forget even more by pondering a silly question like, “What exactly is prog?” Great, now go and listen to this. Long one of the city’s great singer-songwriters-band leaders, Barrett gets freaky up in “Blood & Bone.” So freaky it’s mid-career Radiohead, mid-career St. Vincent, and maybe Flaming Lips or PJ Harvey too? Join me in erasing your brain trying to understand how cool and crazy this new tune is.
“I Can Go,” Airport
This is a yacht rock song. That’s meant as extreme praise. Everybody knew Craig Small’s band could make a groovy single somewhere between AM gold and early ’80s pop, but did we all expect it to have vocal harmonies this dreamy, guitar lines this breezy, and just the right backbeat and keyboard tone? Yes, I guess those paying attention to Small’s craft did.
“The Pill,” Eph See
The Boston singer-songwriter looks back at high school with some deep introspection and a magnetic melody. A wonderful dichotomy, “The Pill” matches heavy lyrics with light production, nostalgia and modern sonic palette. A folk song with a dance beat, or a pop song with an acoustic guitar riff, or an indie rock song featuring elements pulled from multiple genres, it is the latest in a streak of impressive singles from Eph See.
“Hope You’re Doing Well,” Nate Leavitt
Somewhere between “Here Comes the Sun” and a My Morning Jacket crescendo, local luminary Nate Leavitt asks, “How you doing?” While answers are going to vary, the impact of the singer-songwriter-guitarist’s new single shouldn’t. This tune, released mindfully during Mental Health Awareness Month and written during the pandemic, speaks to isolation and loneliness. But Leavitt and co-writer Dan Nicklin don’t get bogged down in relentless ennui. Sure, they create space for reflection, but also leave room for a bit of big guitar and a bright melody.