Breaks & Swells, “We Will Not Despair”
Thank you Breaks & Swells for the mantra that’s keeping me sane this month. “We Will Not Despair” is the tentpole lead single from the modern soul album of the same name, a song that stirs optimistic solidarity with a rush of upswinging horns and whip-tight rhythm section—though it’s Marquetta Miller’s righteous vocal that truly sells the sentiment.
Ural Thomas & the Pain, “Vibrations”
At almost 80 years old and with a voice burnished to warm gold, Ural Thomas has been making music in these parts since the early 1960s. Backed by smoking Portland septet the Pain, his latest album The Right Time is a landmark of classic soul, a flag planted on top of a long and passionate career.
Erin Jorgensen, “Beachfront Property”
“Raise a glass with us/We’re here to persist/And get fucked up.” Between the lucid poetry of her lyrics, lullaby-caress of her voice and earthy resonance of her marimba, Erin Jorgensen is some sly enchantress. The songs on Mint are so calm yet so fraught with feeling that the album plays like a silent, slow-motion explosion.
Dark Smith, “Leave You Alone Forever”
Goth music works best when its sulky melodrama is brightened by self-awareness—a wink from behind the smudged mascara, if you will. In this standalone single, Dark Smith nails the trick and ends up with a flagrantly catchy, upbeat song about debilitating loneliness.
Kilcid Band, “The Good Get Gone”
Apologies to everyone, but with this masterfully written, impeccably produced piece of fluff, Seattle fivepiece Kilcid Band tickles a soft spot in me that demands goony funk-pop. (I ❤️Cake.) Go ahead, crucify me; I’ll be singing along.