It’s all about musical variety this month. From superstar Lady Gaga, to crooning sensation Teddy Swims and American Idol alum Casey Bishop, it is safe to say our readers have good taste.
Also on the top tracks of the month list is newcomer Con Murphy and contemporary Christian artist Semler.
If you’re like me, you may have fallen off American Idol the last few years. So, color me surprised when I stumbled upon Casey Bishop’s “Bad Dream.” As a debut single, it’s a dramatic and mesmerizing, almost psychedelic, offering. A rhythmic core practically cracks open and oozes a classic volcanic goo. “I don’t wanna figure out why you have been takin’ pictures of my house, no / I don’t wanna figure out why you’re in the hallway, comin’ towards me now,” she details. Bishop, cut before the Top 3 last year, is one of the finest to go through the Idol machine. Cut to me: falling down a rabbit hole of her show performances.
Listen to “Bad Dream” below.
A vintage warmth emanates from Teddy Swim’s soul. “dose” takes cues from classic ‘60s pop music, from the scratchy jingle-jangle to the curling of his upper register. “Love how you kiss every tattoo on my face / Yeah, it’s the time and place,” he sings with a playful smirk. “To do what the doctor say, a dose of you a day / Pop more than what I need, the perks of being a fiend.” There’s even finger-snaps dressing up the musicality; it’s unapologetically a throwback, and it fits his voice like a leather glove.
Listen to “dose” below.
Con Murphy wields his pen as a painter’s brush, scraping the canvas and leaving vibrant traces. “Word Paint Me,” from the newly-released Otherworld, emits a gentle, lullaby quality. It’s both haunting and ethereal. Love songs, generally speaking, are tragically saccharine and uninspired. Murphy demonstrates one can lean into the hope-gilded sentimentality without sacrificing any sense of musical composition and emotional complexity. “If you word paint me the thoughts in your mind / Spiral like a falling leaf / Stick to the ground, don’t make a sound,” he sings with a knitted guitar/piano pattern
Listen to “Word Paint Me” below.
Give Lady Gaga a soft-rock ballad and watch her soar. “Hold My Hand” is lifted from the forthcoming Top Gun: Maverickfilm, and in true Gaga fashion, the rafts come crumbling to the ground. “So cry tonight but don’t you let go of my hand / You can cry every last tear / I won’t leave ’til I understand / Promise me, just hold my hand,” her words light the air on fire. Drums crash and thump, electric guitar pouring out its own musical emotion. It’s as a much a barner-burner as it is a tear-jerker.
Listen to “Hold My Hand” below.
Every single emotion is valid. Even the petty parts carry a life-long significance. Indie-folk darling Semler offers as much with “You’re Not My Friend,” a moody document about an ongoing break-up. It’s been rearing its hissing double-head for three years, and each time, it never gets easier to quell. “God is amazing and your church is crazy / Fuck off to your world view and scary bad values,” lambasts Semler. Honestly, so relatable, it is actually scary.
Listen to “You’re Not My Friend” below.