Friday Features: These songs by Erez Zobary, Lauren Lakis and more are making the world a better place
An eclectic blend of new music defines this week's releases, with artists tackling everything from reflecting on painful experiences to celebrating their own cultures
This week's releases tackle trauma, violence, heartbreak and hindsight with everything from gentle harps and haunting vocals to the drumming of Northern Cree delivering some stunning novel tunes to keep you company.
Joey Stylez & Northern Cree: 'You Driving Me Crazy (Indian Girl)'
Stylez is a multi-genre artist that is in no way shy to bring together various elements to create something unique. His latest effort is a collaboration with the legendary pow wow drum group, Northern Cree. Right from the moment they crossed paths, Stylez knew he wanted to work with them, owing largely to their master of traditional drumming. Speaking about the collaboration Stylez shares, "On my new single, 'You Driving Me Crazy (Indian Girl)', we wanted to make something that could mend new school and old school together to satisfy everyone's tastes."
This isn't Stylez's first foray into uplifting his own culture, and it certainly won't be his last. In 2017, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network released an hour-long special that detailed Stylez's rise from a troubled youth to an internationally recognized artist who stars like The Weeknd cite as an inspiration. With his latest track, he highlights his love for the women of the communities he hails from, sharing, "I am praising the beauty of our women in this song. Sometimes, due to stereotypes, people don’t recognize that we have dimes, princesses, and queens." He adds, "I want you to celebrate the spirit of the drum as you listen. The drumming and singing of Northern Cree sounds like thunder or a herd of wild buffalo. When you see them perform, the music shakes the room, leaving everybody’s jaws on the floor."
"We get down and rock ‘n’ roll as good as anyone that has ever done this thing. People don’t realize it, but we are as dope as the dopest. Finally, our music isn’t being forced into a niche market."
Erez Zobary: 'Blue (For Now)'
A smooth, slow track with equally smooth vocals, 'Blue (For Now)' is about being unhappy in a relationship and feeling an overwhelming sense of relief when it finally ends. The song gently oscillates between these two emotional spaces — guilt and joy — perfectly encompassing how sometimes how we feel about certain things can be confusing, and a lot of times, how we feel can change over time as we come to new realizations about what these experiences meant for us.
"I’m an all or nothing kind of person," states Zobary. "Twenty minutes before I was about to leave for the hospital to get an MRI to confirm my brain tumor as benign, I broke up with my boyfriend. I knew we both weren’t happy and felt an innate need to make a decision and end it for both of us. Originally, this song was arranged with a focus on the guilt of leaving my partner. Shortly after it was written, I realized that although it was a hard decision, it was the right one for me. In retrospect, this choice made me happier."
"'Blue (For Now)' is a reminder that the self-reflection we experience during difficult moments can make us stronger. Situational sadness is often a temporary feeling – time will heal!"
Nelson Kempf: 'Sweetness and Strife'
Off his upcoming debut album 'Family Dollar', out on July 24, 'Sweetness and Strife' has Kempf looking back on a tumultuous 10 years of his life, which included a sudden move along with his family from Nashville. Picking out the simple moments of beauty that can only be found in reflection, the track pairs Kempf's soft light, layered vocals with delicate instrumentation. On this track, Kempf resolves himself to dramatic change with peaceful clarity.
Speaking of the track Kempf says, "'Sweetness & Strife' was written when we were preparing to leave Nashville. It is a literal reminiscence of our time there. To me, it encapsulates Family Dollar as a whole because when I started writing it, the larger body of work was illuminated to me. It was the Summer of 2015. We found out we were having another child and decided in that moment that we needed to leave Nashville. It was not something we had considered up until then. The next morning I was working in my welding shop. As the sun came up over the city skyline I just started crying uncontrollably. Years of tension beginning to unravel. That night we started packing."
'Sweetness and Strife' essentially sees Kempf balance the darkness in his life with his quest to find the light and warmth from within that space of turmoil. Stream 'Sweetness and Strife' via Spotify, Soundcloud or Bandcamp.
Lauren Lakis: 'We'll Be Fine'
Shoegaze dream-pop artist Lauren Lakis' 'Well Be Fine' started out as a song about a romantic relationship, but it came to encompass so much more. Lakis shares, "As we’ve gone through this pandemic, it’s become a sort of love song to humanity, a ballad of hope. We’ve been given a unique opportunity to pause and go inward, where shadow exists alongside light. There is fear and grief and uncertainty, but ultimately I have faith that we will be fine, maybe better than 'fine' if we choose."
With stunningly raw, haunting tones, Lakis has fashioned her own brand of what Earmilk describes as "delightfully gut-churning shoegaze". Her honest lyricism pairs perfectly with the lush, darkly romantic vibes of her music. And while this sound is evident across her body of work, what does stand out on 'We'll Be Fine' is its rather optimistic message set against a sound that seems to perfectly encapsulate these seemingly dystopian times.
Stream 'We'll Be Fine' on Spotify.
Kid Dad: 'Limbo'
Chronicling what it means to feel unsafe, hassled or even abused, Kid Dad conveys the harrowing realities of domestic violence on their latest track. In similar fashion to Piera Van de Wiel, who has partnered with the UN to raise awareness around the spike in domestic violence cases during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Kid Dad is choosing to battle the surge in cases using music as a tool. Speaking about the track, vocalist and guitarist Marius Vieth says it’s about being "caught between uncertainty and fear, searching for something real to hold on to, in search of hope".
The band has chosen to convey this in a music video that tells the story of a child trying to escape domestic violence. While many are now recognizing the impact of a lockdown on victims of abuse, this reality is even more horrifying in the case of young victims on account of the detection rate for young victims being shockingly low. The band says: "We address feelings of isolation and entrapment on our debut album ‘In A Box’ and feel obliged to call attention to this situation. We want to raise awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence cases worldwide and encourage people to donate to SOS-Kinderdorf and NSPCC in order to support the work they are doing in preventing such violence and supporting victims."
Speaking about their choice to produce merchandise and donate 100% of the proceeds to the same organizations, the band says, "We know we can’t change the world with this, but even if a single child will be helped, then this whole campaign will be worth it!"
Friday Features is a column that brings you the week's latest releases that you may or may not have heard yet.