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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Makes Ya Feel: February New Music Roundup

Gallery hoppers, Spotify stalkers, book worms, Letterboxd users and anyone who enjoys art, this is the place for you. Makes Ya Feel highlights art across all of its mediums, small and large scale, that (you guessed it) makes ya feel! Check back every other week for recommendations, reviews and discussions.

February: A time when snow sheds its fresh, exciting layer and is colored gray by the seemingly never-ending winter. The promise of spring looms as the snow begins to melt away the drear. February is conflicting. It marks the end of one season and the beginning of another. 

My February was spent taking long walks, listening to music and trying to find some light in the melancholy. I have found music to be the best outlet for my own personal reflection and there was plenty of new music released this month. 

Here is my February music roundup, featuring songs and albums that highlight the month’s melancholy, the hope for spring and the fresh starts. These five were my personal favorite February releases, and ones I felt accurately encapsulated February in all of its cold, bright and promising glory.

“Under Water / In Air” by STRFKR

On the first day of February, indie-rock band STRFKR released the new single “Under Water / In Air.” The song is reminiscent of early 2010s surf rock with some ’80s electronic elements. The lyrics, which profess love to someone who is still figuring out their place in life, paired with wistful retro backing music echo beloved new wave bands Depeche Mode and New Order. This song is the perfect representation of February — bleak yet hopeful and the slightest bit haunting. 

“Vertino” by Conway the Machine and Joey Bada$$

Conway the Machine and Joey Bada$$ collaborated to create a compelling track riddled with interesting musical elements for an overall enjoyable listen. The song seems to span decades through the different elements and genres it covers in five minutes. Its hard-hitting beats harken back to ’90s rap projects, and its big electric guitar riffs give the track a classic rock feel. 

The lyrics are a powerful portrait of the struggle to find success and resilience in difficult times. Maybe I’m biased because Joey Bada$$ went to my high school, but this song was a really fun listen and I consistently used it as a soundtrack to my walks around campus. There are a lot of different elements going on but they all work harmoniously, which is how February can feel at times, particularly with the whirlwind of a new semester starting. 

“Any Light” by Loving

Four years after the release of their EP “Lately In Another Time,” the British Columbian band Loving returns with a new album. “Any Light” is delicate, filled with gentle lyrics and entrancing instrumentals that effectively combine acoustic and jazz elements. The band falls under the psychedelic folk category, mixing poetic lyrics with complex instrumentals. The album has no skips, with each song flowing perfectly to the next. It sounds like spring is right around the corner, making it an apt album for February. 

There is a plaintive quality to each song, yet also a sense of gentleness and satisfaction. My favorite track was “Medicine,” a soft and atmospheric song with beautiful lyrics and instrumentals. The album feels approachable, and like it could be consumed in one sitting without getting overwhelmed. It’s a defrosting album, much like February is a defrosting month, when the sun starts to come out and everything turns around. 

“From The Capitol Vaults” by Nat King Cole

Capitol Records recently released another installment of vault tracks from the pioneer of jazz, Nat King Cole. The album includes never heard before songs as well as alternate and live versions of celebrated songs. Each has strong elements of jazz and swing. All of the tracks are romantic in their lyricism, strong big-band instrumentals, and Cole’s vocals. It is always amazing to be able to listen to the music of a late artist, and Cole’s legacy lives on throughout this music. 

My favorite track was the dreamy “It’s Not What You Say (It’s How You Say It) — Live At The Sands,” on which there is a palpable intimacy between Cole and the audience. This album feels like the brief moments when the wind stops howling, the snow glistens and February’s never-ending cold feels less daunting.

“What Happened to the Beach?” by Declan McKenna

For his third studio album, Declan McKenna transitions from his indie-pop roots to a sound that is both experimental and inviting. Incorporating bell chimes, murmured voices and whirrs alongside simple guitar strummings, each song is interesting and fun to listen to. McKenna plays around with layering and warping lyrics that explore themes of introspection and enjoyment. He also encourages listeners through each song to breathe, and — much like the artist himself throughout the production of the album — have fun. 

A highlight of the album was “Nothing Works,” where McKenna reconciles his missteps with the hope of bettering himself while a nicely juxtaposed upbeat instrumental plays in the background. As the end of February finally brings sunshine and class workloads begin to increase, this album is the perfect reminder to pause in the chaos and just breathe.

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