It’s been another productive week here in sunny Southern California. Last weekend I moseyed about downtown for the annual KCON LA event and had a total blast. I was so psyched to snatch up some good deals on skincare (which, lemme tell you, surpassed my expectations! I came home with bags of goodies), but the panels were incredible. I learnt so much about the songwriting process for the Korean and Japanese music markets, sat in on a panel with Korean hip-hop and R&B producers from Jay Park’s label H1gher Music, picked the brains of American music journalists covering K-pop music, and got to speak with academic scholars who study Hallyu. Perhaps the most interesting panel they hosted this weekend was Black American music’s influence on Korean hip-hop and pop music. Phew!
By the end of the weekend I was a little overwhelmed and sad for it to be over, but I’m glad I went. 12/10 recommend hitting up KCON even if you only plan to pop in to buy boxes of sheet masks. It’s a must stop for pop culture nerds.
Now, let’s just talk music! I’ve got a handful of songs to share this week, all by artists I’ve never featured before. I have a feeling you’ll like at least one of them!
Remember: if you like what you hear, spread the cheer. Tell your friends about these artists and share the love.
P.S. If you would like to have this letter sent to your email every Friday, please head over to this link right here to subscribe to never miss a weekly roundup!
“He’s Good” - Kate Stewart | Once upon a time there was a rising powerhouse vocalist featured on a ton of pop tracks by UK producers name KStewart. KStewart’s label tightened their grip on her creative freedom, so one day she said “bye, bitch,” and rebranded her music identity as Kate Stewart. She went on to release an early 00s-esque R&B bop about confronting her ex’s new partner about her being better than her ex. She named it “He’s Good,” and it was featured on a cmd+f letter. The song was noted for being best listened to via any method of hearing, but was enjoyed being blasted through speakers in a car in the morning/mid-day. Listen here
“Language” - Moodoïd feat. Wednesday Campanella | Moodoïd is one of the most fascinating finds to fall into my lap this month. I have to thank my pal Agnes for sharing Wednesday Campanella with me many moon cycles ago. I spinned some of their records ad nauseum for a while, thus triggering the Spotify algorithm to log “she really likes this artist.” All of that has lead straight up to his magical union of frenetic Franco-Japanese psychedelic pop. Moodoïd was founded by former Melody’s Echo Chamber guitarist Pablo Padovani, and Wednesday Campanella are a Japanese experimental pop group fronted by vocalist KOM_I. “Language” sounds like an early 80s Italo disco fever dream. Listen here
“Any Other Way” - Tomberlin | Sarah Beth Tomberlin: if you’re reading this, thank you. There is an art to writing a song with only your acoustic guitar and your voice–and making it interesting. The production (done by Owen Pallett, aka Final Fantasy!!) on “Any Other Way” is divine. Driven by a single, repetitive chord plucked on an acoustic guitar and melody, the song sporadically fractures into reverberations under feathery vocal harmonies and muted piano chords. “Any Other Way” is stunning. Listen here
“Showgirl” - Sorry | Rock may be dead on Top 40 radio, but for those who know what the hell is going on in the scene, we’ve seen a massive influx of gut-churning, sweat-drenched in seven-feet high ceiling club bands fronted by women. From Wolf Alice to Sunflower Bean, Sorry are flourishing across the pond and tearing it up on stage. Their latest single “Showgirl” is, as quoted by the group, a song about “awkwardness, lusting from afar, desire and disgust,” but the real reason why it’s on here is because the guitars are cool as fuck. Listen here
“These Are Not Your Memories” - TVAM | I had a real “Holy balls” moment the first time I listened to TVAM. While the gag is I saw Joe Oxley (the self-produced mastermind behind TVAM) say he’s sick of our culture being focused on nostalgia (I may be embellishing his thoughts a bit here -- he actually said “The song is about taking society aside and having a quiet word about its shared identity crisis.”), TVAM’s music and visuals are drowning in it. I was immediately spiked with similarities to Suicide, CAN, Ride, The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, and bits of Kraftwerk on acid. If you like this joint, listen to the rest of his music; it’s soaked in delicious layers of sound. Listen here
New Music Friday Selects
Y’all: there’s, like, too much new music this week. BRACE YOURSELVES!
Rina Sawayama’s new single “Cherry” is a BOP Listen here
Cherryade, a bratpop-y outfit from London I’ve been following for a couple years now have dropped their debut EP, Fractured Fairytales - CONGRATS!!!! Listen here
UK emcee Stefflon Don’s album SECURE is packed with pure heeeeeat and packed with top tier features. Must listen. Listen here
Wasn’t so sure about the new The 1975 single “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME” but I’ve logged at least 32 listens by the time this is officially published and I don’t think I’m stopping anytime soon. Listen here
Portland rapper Aminé dropped his new mixtape ONEPOINTFIVE and honestly the greatest part of it is Instagram sensation Rickey Thompson’s inspiring opening monologue for “STFU2” Listen here
Cat Power invited Lana Del Taco to lend some vocals for her new single “Woman” Listen here
Pop banger songwriter of the decade MNEK has officially announced his debut album Language is FINALLY dropping September 7th! AAAH! Check out his latest single “Crazy World” Listen here
cmd+f alum Sam Fender has a new single out called “Dead Boys” Listen here
Slaves are back with yet another amazing album, Acts of Fear and Love Listen here
Ariana Grande’s highly anticipated new album Sweetener is here and, well, it’s here Listen here
Liam Payne of 1D acclaim has announced he’s not going to release a debut album but a debut EP of four songs next Friday, August 24, aptly titled First Time. Can’t wait, tbh.
A(lmost a)ll of the tracks I have shared in this week’s letter are archived into a single playlist on Spotify for you to follow here.
Subscribe to that playlist, share it with friends, or take some inspiration from the ever growing list to compile some of your own.
If you’re interested in listening to what I’m rinsing this month, you can follow my August 2018 playlist here. There I will dump a hodgepodge of new and old songs that fit my mood and the trends of the month. Having a personal monthly playlist makes a year in review so easy. Share your playlists with me!
See you next week!
P.S. Are you interested in contributing to cmd+f? Read more details below!
Last December I launched the cmd+vent calendar: an ambitious project that consisted of releasing a daily newsletter for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. I asked a handful friends to reflect on how music impacted their lives throughout 2017. It was much more exciting to share these reflections than compiling yet another end of the year “Best of…” list.
I’ve been thinking of ways to expand cmd+f’s potential over the last 6 months. To foster a more communal atmosphere all year round in this (mostly) weekly newsletter, I’m now inviting one reader per month to share their music discoveries by emerging artists, or artists likely flying under our radars.
To the readers currently subscribed to this letter via email, I’d like to encourage you to reply to this letter (really, just hit “reply” at the top of your box and I promise I’ll get your message), give me a hello, and let me know if you’d be interested in taking over cmd+f one week. You’ll get to write an opening monologue, introduce yourself, and gush about five songs really hitting at your heartstrings. If you’re unsure how this is going to go down, you can anticipate the first guest feature letter is coming out later this month!
For now this invitation is only open to email subscribers — so if you have a friend with a vibrant musical palette that isn’t currently subscribed, please have them head over to this link right here!