By Christopher Treacy
Short and sweet: this week’s selections are all from CQ Roundup newcomers, from Brooklyn to Nashville, from Boston to Montreal. Stylistically, it’s also all over the map, but there are musical elements in each tune that make them CQ-appropriate. We’re hoping you agree!
Song of the Week: zannie – “For a While”
Inspired by Judee Sill and Prince, among others, Brooklyn’s Zannie Owens—’zannie’—has just released their new full length, How Do I Get That Star (Kill Rock Stars), and, as you might imagine, it’s stylistically diverse. This particular track caught our attention not only with it’s transfixing mélange of Americana twang and modern indie treatment, but also with it’s curious imagery. It seems as if zannie’s running from something that’s always on their tail… never too far behind. It feels like a persecution. And there’s a Dream Dragon involved. We found the whole presentation intriguing enough to make “For a While” our Song of the Week, and we got to ask zannie about the Dream Dragon and more in a Q&A that’ll run tomorrow. Meanwhile, they get an A for effort, accessorizing the boots with the dragon outfit! Between the song and the video clip, “For a While” is a feast for the imagination.
Exclusive Song Premiere: Amelia White – “Devil’s Gonna Eat You Alive”
“You’ve got everything to lose.” Nashville-based Amelia White returns this week with some words of warning. We’re thrilled to bring y’all an Exclusive Premiere of the first single (and album opener) from White’s forthcoming Dave Coleman-produced album, Rocket Rearview, featuring contributions from Erin Rae, Irakli Gabriel (David Olney & Anana Kaye), Chris Benelli (Kim Richey), and Paul Niehaus.
“Devil’s Gonna Eat You Alive” encapsulates a bitter truth, and nobody is safe. In fact, it’s a false sense of safety that White is warning us about. “The song, to me, is about the skeleton in your closet you’re trying to hide—the thing you’re tying to avoid,” she told us. “It will come for you! It can be addiction, it can be even trying to stay in the closet to ‘build your career.’ Bottom line, it never works to avoid the truth.”
White makes great sense, and the track exudes a slithering, stealthy, outlaw feel to match the way the truth sneaks up and bites us on the ass. You can only hear it here for the time being, but “Devil’s Gonna Eat You Alive” will premiere across streaming services on 9/9 with the album to follow at the end of the month. Want to show Amelia some additional support? Check out her kickstarter!
Adam Mac – “Disco Cowboy”
Mac’s got an infectious groove going on his new single, and we don’t mind at all! Built from the bottom up with a gooey bassline, he weaves a lusty, back alley pickup scene into a track about letting loose and being yourself at the club. No question—it slaps. And it also celebrates the increasingly rare spectacle of gay men actually dancing in the sort of spaces we once celebrated as our own. With “Disco Cowboy,” Mac taps into an exhilarating freedom that can only be experienced in the moment; if we weren’t all so busy staring at our phones, our lives might be full of times like the one he describes. Don’t cheat yourself out of this vicarious thrill.
Hen in the Foxhouse – “Valium”
As Hen in the Foxhouse, Elena Krell is readying a new album for release toward the end of the year; “Valium” is the track they’ve chosen to highlight. Krell is a Women’s Studies professor and non-binary Latinx who can sing in Spanish, English, German and French. While they’ve worked in opera and have produced plenty of more folksy, contemplative material along the way, “Valium” is playful and giddy with a delightfully jazzy lilt. The song sweeps us away in a warm breeze of familiar love and contentment. Ride It!
Matthew Connor – “Lose This Number”
“When the world is cleaved in two, whose side will you be on?”
How many so-called friends have you cut loose from your social circle(s) since 2016? While some folks just unplugged altogether, others stayed to watch the sociopolitical fray, as unsettling as it became. And as things devolved, like sandbags from a leaky boat, we cut people off. Simultaneously heartbreaking and necessary, we piled up losses and did our best to move on. “Unfriend me now if…” our social media posts read as the divides between us all became more pronounced.
Connor’s new single off his forthcoming album, Disappearances, chronicles this phenomenon of thinking you knew someone when it turns out you didn’t; the ensuing realization that you cannot unsee the truth about them once revealed puts us in a tough spot. His throaty croon guides us through this dark interpersonal terrain in a near-surreal haze, underscoring the horror as we slowly realize, “…the call is coming from within the house.”
Nora Kelly Band – “Right Now”
Born from the embers of a punkier outfit called DISHPIT, Montreal’s Nora Kelly Band have just released the debut EP, Perfect Pig, featuring this track that encapsulates the crossroads of moving on from an ended relationship. Kelly ruminates on the positive memories with a sense of longing that almost makes them seem like scenes from a new tryst, but really, she’s making peace with the past. The song moves along at a reasonably jaunty pace, but the noir-ish overtones effectively let us know that it exists in a space of emotional uncertainty—which can be challenging to capture.
Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He lives in Waitsfield, VT.
Got a great new song? Submit it to CQ!