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  • Post Author
    by Music director
  • Post Date
    Sun Apr 21 2024

Every week WSUM's Music Director, Claire, chooses some of the best new releases to add to our music library and on-air rotation. Here are a couple of recent highlights, presented by the station's Music Journalism Club.

Reyna Tropical, Malegría

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Cartagena” “Huītzilin” “Conexión Ancestral” 

GENRE: Tropical, Psychedelic, Alternative

RIYL: Chicano Batman, Bomba Estéreo, Un Verano Sin Ti

Reyna Tropical's debut full-length paints a transnational soundscape embracing the complexities of love and life. Borrowing its title from a 1998 Manu Chao track, Malegría (combining ‘mal' and ‘alegría' to mean ‘bittersweetness') explores the very duality it is named for. Simultaneously balancing the good and the bad often looks like dancing, explains late founding member Nectali ‘Sumohair' Díaz on the interluding title track. Memory-like spoken interludes intersperse the atmospheric tracklist, evoking a sense similar to that of a conversation among friends dying down as the music overtakes. On “Singing”, project lead Fabiola Reyna shares her initial apprehension to singing, a skill she learns to lean into on Malegría that fits perfectly alongside her excellent guitarwork. Tracks like “Cartagena” and “Conexión Ancestral” combine Reyna's many talents with the various Afro-Latine stylistic influences found throughout the album. Malegría's sonic fluidity navigates the listener through the liminal spaces between grief and contentment, a gentle reminder that nicer days are always just around the corner. 

— Juan Carlos Garcia Martinez

Clea Vincent, Ad vitam æternamour

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: Douce Chavirée, Ad vitam æternamour, Free demain

GENRE: Pop, synth

RIYL: Cobra Man, Poolside, Juniore

In her fourth album, French artist Clea Vincent creates a dreamy and complex electronic sound. With a heavy hand on the synth, Vincent is able to deliver tracks with both a lively and melancholic sound. The album opener, “ Ad vitam æternamour” which translates to: forever, for eternity, for life, definitely delivers on that idea. The track is reflective and intriguing with lyrics speaking about a past relationship, over a continual synth riff. On the other hand, the track “free demain” opens with the sound of a zipper, followed by an upbeat house beat. The track repeated the phrase “free demain” which translates to “free tomorrow”, aiding in the track's message of an optimistic future. Finally, the track Douce Chavirée opens with a simple drum beat, followed by intermittent synth accompaniments, making it easily the most fun song on the album. The track describes a hazy night under the moon, a sort of free and dreamy theme that comes to a climax with the introduction of a trumpet riff at the end of the song. Overall, Ad vitam æternamour is an album that preaches themes of freedom and does not fall short in supporting that theme through its sound. 

— Margaret Scheuerman 

Waxahatchee, Tigers Blood

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “3 Sisters”, “Right Back to It”, “Bored”, “Crowbar”

GENRE: Alternative country/folk/americana

RIYL: Wednesday, MJ Lenderman, Big Thief

The last time Alabamian singer/songwriter Waxahatchee took us on a musical journey was in 2020 with Saint Cloud, a sonically country record that showed off her range of genre. She's back again with a similar take on country music with Tigers Blood. Named after a flavor of shaved ice, the album explores many themes of loss, relationships and finding one's self. The track “Right Back to It” was the first single for this record and features MJ Lenderman on background vocals and guitar. This song feels like drifting away on a pontoon in the middle of the summer at a lakeside cabin. Another standout track on the album is “Bored”, which was another one of the singles. This is a more up tempo track and is almost more indie-rock than country but still feels straight out of the south. Overall, this album is a great listen and will be even more great in the summertime. 

Jordon Stangland

Bendigo Fletcher, Two Things At Once 

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: Tough Season, Liquor Store, Sweet Tooth

GENRE: Contemporary indie-rock, americana folk

RIYL: Flyte, Dr. Dog, Fleet Foxes 

Bendigo Fletcher's recent album reinforces their image as a unique and fun group, yet with lyrics that can relate to any listener on a profound emotional level. As their second full length album, Two Things At Once blends old sounds reminiscent of bands like The Mamas and Papas and Crosby Stills Nash and Young, with new contemporary indie and americana sounds that they have shaped to be uniquely their own over the past eight years together. Their lyrics are slightly strange at times yet raw and vulnerable, bringing a sense of whimsical but poetic storytelling to their writing. From the opening track, “Upcountry Lemonade,” to the final “Rental Skates,” frontman Ryan Anderson's powerful vocals are present in a way that makes the listener want to spread their arms and sing along with him, very loudly. If you listen closely to the lyrics on this album, you'll likely find that their utilization of vocals with layered sounds and heavy instrumentals effectively brings through intense vulnerability that is usually reserved for softer, more acoustic sounds. I've been following this Louisville band since 2020 when I first heard their song “Soul Factory,” and I must say this album has only increased my appreciation of their musical and lyrical talents, and more than that their individuality. 

—- Adeline Fielding 

Khruangbin, A LA SALA

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: May Ninth, Pon Pón, A Love International

GENRE: Alternative, Lo-fi

RIYL: Little Dragon, Deerhoof 

Khruangbin returns with A LA SALA, their fourth studio album that creates an engulfing environment of sound even with its comparatively stripped-back composition. A LA SALA, meaning ‘to the living room', captures that exact sentiment with a relaxing atmosphere perfect for lazy Sundays. The introduction of Laura Lee's vocals on “May Ninth” are soothing and perfectly compliment her bandmates' laid back instrumentation. Meanwhile, tracks like “A Love International” showcase the group's ability to create flourishing and entrancing soundscapes. Listening to A LA SALA brings to mind the album's cover, spurring the desire to watch the clouds sail across the sky as you get lost in this record's hypnotic melodies. 

— Juan Carlos Garcia Martinez