New year; new beginnings. For our first Mass Mix of 2021, we asked our contributors to reflect on the meaning of a new year and tell us what they've been listening to on repeat. Here's what they said.
Squirrel Flower, “Explain It To Me"
Squirrel Flower has blossomed into a standout vocalist in the Boston music scene. Featuring her trademark poetic, earthy melodies and smooth harmonizations, Squirrel Flower appropriately closes 2020 with her latest release, an ethereal cover of Liz Phair's 1993 sleeper hit, Explain It To Me. It's a ghostly, melancholic reflection on leaving places, people, and memories from the past behind and moving on to more positive experiences. It's a poignant song, lyrically and sonically — but with Squirrel Flower's calming tone, she strings together such a breathtaking look at letting go that you can't help but feel optimistic about the days to come. -Lex den Boggende, Staff Writer, Sound of Boston
Watch Front Row Boston's Squirrel Flower Live At The Decordova Sculpture Park And Museum
HighKeyRandom, "Groove With Me"
In a year that rewired our brains to fear the sight of others, nostalgic party-banger, "Groove With Me" will help you recall the feeling of celebrating a care-free Saturday night with friends. Boston-based rapper, HighKeyRandom, incorporates high-energy trap beats over warm, celebratory synths; and laid back rhymes that ride the beat like a wave. HighKeyRandom hits "get-down-with-your-bad-self" notes as he raps and sings joyful lines like, "when I walk into the party, it's a groove!" Check out the track on his new album, The Gentle Savage, to envision yourself in a future where life is social and vibrant once again. -Jared Steinberg, Staff Writer,Sound of Boston
Tigers Jaw, "Hesitation"
It's a new year. But it still feels like the old year. And it's probably going to feel like the old year for a little while. And that's OK. Let's take this opportunity to find the balance in between. To both look ahead and lean back, simultaneously. I'm looking ahead to March, when a band that I love leaning back into — Scranton, PA's Tigers Jaw — will release a new full-length, I Won't Care How You Remember Me. The lead single, "Hesitation," captures the zeitgeist not only in its title but in its lyrics: "Strip away the paint and begin and begin again." And it's done with all the angst and aplomb Tigers Jaw has come to be known for over the last 15 years. We're moving forward. Cautiously. And hopefully. -Adam 12, Weekdays 11a-4p, ROCK 92.9
Perfume Genius, "Your Body Changes Everything" (Boy Harsher Remix)
If dark, brooding dance music is your thing, then Boy Harsher has got you covered. They remix a Perfume Genius song for this track, which is as unexpected as it is well-executed. To be truthful, I thought 2020's album by Perfume Genius 'SET MY HEART ON FIRE IMMEDIATELY' was ''meh.'' If the reader has paid attention to my writings through the Hassle over the past few years, you know how much I stan Michael Hadreas. So, the remix of this song has resuscitated my many-a-years long interest in Hadreas' catalog. If the listener may recall, Jae & Augustus also remixed a Urochromes track, which, of all of the Urochromes releases, I just gobble up — but Boy Harsher'sHarsher's remixes of Night Bully — muah. I highly recommend all three of these artists if you have not checked them out already. This song represents new beginnings because remixes prove that you can always remix past experiences into something positive and something new. -Chris Hues, Associate Editor of bostonhassle.com
Tiberius, "Pale Ale"
Watch Allston indie rocker Tiberius careen from moody drone to ecstatic, scream-your-lungs-out choruses. Watch them inquire about the future in a time of lost futures: "What if I moved to the city? / What if I moved down the street? / Would you have me over for toast and tea?" they ask some implied beau(x). Watch Brendan Wright, the band's brainchild, make a song sound as loud, sonically, as it is at times quiet and brooding. Watch Tiberius hope, remember, nostalgize. Listen to Tiberius remind us in the absence of social interaction and the lull of life that the light at the end of the tunnel is a house show. -N. Malte Collins, Editor, Sound of Boston
After listening to "antennas//earl Sweatshirt," it comes as no surprise that Tariq Charles, who goes by the moniker Red Amandala, was a finalist for Boston's Youth Poet Laureate. There's a feel of ease in the flow, like Red Amandala's feet are kicked up on a big wooden desk, leaning back while recounting success: "I push facts. I did that / I pen tracks, I wrist that / The air crisp. I taste that / A fair risk, I take that." Perhaps it's most appropriate to compare "antennas//earl Sweatshirt" to the artist it name drops: Earl Sweatshirt. The title's format is a potential ode to "AM // Radio," and the song shares a similar feel. But it also shares a melancholy like Mac Miller's posthumous record, a nonchalance like Action Bronson, and a soft analog beat reminiscent of Knxlwedge. The instrumentation is looped throughout the song, allowing the listener to set their focus on what deserves it most: Red Amandala's lyrics. -Knar Bedian, Editor in Chief, Sound of Boston
Julien Baker, "Hardline"
I’ve never found a song that reflects my own present emotional experience down to the precise second the way this song does, and it knocks the wind out of me. I feel as if it is a gift from Baker; she is holding my hand as I toddle through these first days of 2021 with fear and a maddening uncertainty, trying to find a sweetness in the infected winter. “Hardline” is the second single released off of Baker’s forthcoming album, Little Oblivions, due out February 26 on Matador Records. -Ashley Kreutter, Music Section Manager & Editor, Boston Hassle
Kaiti Jones, "Gettin Around To It"
I exhaled BIG when I heard this. It's validation for everyone who's forgotten to call this week or this month; for everyone who wrote chapter one of a great novel and gave up, everyone trying hard to get started again! Kaiti Jones (no relation) waited nearly four years before new songs were ready to be released, writing from her home in Cambridge. "Gettin Around to It" is one that sounds like it came to mind one afternoon; it's urgent, tightly-written, and a little off-kilter. The whacky meter-shifts suggest a distracted but persevering mind. Acknowledgment is due to the Novel Ideas' local Dan Radin for extraordinary harmony vocals and co-producing Jones' new album Tossed. Look for it on March 5, and in the meantime, go easy on yourself! -Phil Jones, Afternoon Host, 88.9 WERS
Hailey Whitters, "Fillin’ My Cup" feat. Little Big Town
I'm not usually a big country music fan, but something about 2021 has me searching for music I usually don't listen to. When I saw that Little Big Town teamed up with Haily Whitters, I took a listen and realized that an upbeat country song is the exact energy I need as we start this year. It's not breaking any barriers, but I like the tribute to how life can be unpredicatble: "One part happy/One part chaos/Whole lot of borrowed/Little bit of paid off." I saw Little Big Town perform live way back when, and they struck me as a country band for someone who doesn't really listen to country music, and I loved how they centered female voices. -Meghan Smith, Digital Producer, GBH