Top Ten Thursday: Matthew and the Arrogant Sea, The 106, Penvriend, Baker, Jake Knox, KiD RAiN, You Citizen, Kjahn, Rivers and Suns, and Lonely Little Kitsch

Hey there, music explorers! It’s that time of the week again. Welcome to Top Ten Thursday, where we dig through the world of music and dust off some hidden gems for you. We’re not just talking about any songs, we’re talking about those under-the-radar tracks that don’t get the recognition they deserve.

From the heart of indie folk to the edgy corners of alternative rock, from the soulful depths of R&B to the vibrant colors of pop – we’ve got it all covered. These are songs that might have slipped under your radar but trust us, once you give them a listen, they’ll be on heavy rotation.

So grab your headphones, sit back, and let’s dive into this week’s top ten unearthed gems!

Matthew and the Arrogant Sea – “WEBS”

Hailing from Denton, TX, Matthew and the Arrogant Sea’s “WEBS” is an ode to nostalgia, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit. Frontman Matthew Gray’s distinctive vocals echo through the contours of the song, like a memory resurfacing from the depths of the subconscious. It’s a sentiment that resonates in the lyrics: “I miss my friends the most / the ones that I called brothers / when I wasn’t even close.”

The track, recorded at Redwood Studios, is a testament to the band’s genre-blending prowess. Indie rock, folk, and psychedelic undertones merge into a riveting soundscape, mirrored by Gray’s introspective lyricism. The repeated line “So I keep I keep I keep I keep spinning my webs” serves as a mantra of resilience, an acknowledgement of the intricate patterns of life that we weave with our actions and relationships.

Matthew and The Arrogant Sea, known for their electrifying live performances, have crafted a song that is both deeply personal and universally relatable. With “WEBS”, they continue to push the boundaries of their sound and creativity, further cementing their status as an influential force in the indie rock scene.

The 106 – “empty words”

The song “empty words” by The 106 is a poignant portrayal of the end of a relationship. It’s a beautiful and melancholic track that dives deep into the emotions of letting go and moving on, while still maintaining the respect and care for the person involved.

The lyrics are full of introspection and regret, with lines such as “I chose to ignore the signs / I chose to believe the lies.” This suggests the speaker’s acknowledgment of his own role in the failed relationship, showing a level of maturity and self-awareness. There’s also a degree of finality in the repeated phrase “For the last time,” hinting at a painful but necessary decision to end the relationship.

Yet, despite the breakup, the speaker expresses a desire to preserve the friendship, as stated in the line “I don’t think I can ever see you less than a friend.” It’s a sentiment that many listeners can relate to, given that ending a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean the end of all feelings for the other person.

The band’s indie rock sound, with influences from folk and classic rock, serves as an excellent backdrop for these heartfelt lyrics. The music complements the song’s narrative, enhancing the emotional depth of the track.

Moreover, The 106’s debut album, from which “empty words” is taken, was released on May 12, 2023​​. Since then, the band has quickly gained a loyal following, demonstrating their ability to connect with listeners on an emotional level.

Overall, “empty words” is a deeply emotive track that beautifully captures the complexities and pain of ending a relationship. It showcases The 106’s lyrical depth and musical prowess, marking them as a band to watch in the indie rock scene.

Penvriend – “Coming Back”

“Coming Back” by the dreamy indie folk duo Penvriend is a masterful exploration of longing and resilience. Hailing from Arnhem, best friends Twan and Imre have crafted an achingly beautiful piece that echoes the melancholic charm of Kurt Vile, the lyrical depth of Bob Dylan, and the raw authenticity of Big Thief.

The song begins with a haunting line, “Spinning like a season, mysterious and wild,” setting the tone for the introspective journey ahead. As the narrative unfolds, Penvriend’s delicate instrumentals and contemplative lyrics paint a vivid picture of an individual facing the push and pull of returning to something—or someone—familiar. The chorus “Don’t know why, but I keep coming back” is a poignant admission of a struggle that resonates with listeners on a deeply personal level. The metaphor of the weary journey, underscored by the line “My feet hurt and I can’t get ahead,” further enhances the song’s emotional impact.

“Coming Back” is a testament to Penvriend’s ability to weave a complex tapestry of emotion through their music. With its memorable melodies and insightful lyrics, it’s no surprise that this song has become a standout in their discography, promising much more to come from this talented duo.

Baker – “D.N.R.”

Baker’s “D.N.R.” is a candid introspective song that reflects on past mistakes and personal growth. The song was released on May 19, 2023 and is written by Andre Bluteau, who also performed it alongside Phillipe Charbonneau​.

Analyzing the lyrics, we see that Baker uses a conversational tone to express regret and self-awareness. In the lyrics, “I don’t wanna / But I know that I will / Making mistakes / I’ll make again”, the artist acknowledges the inevitability of making mistakes but also implies the willingness to learn and grow from them. The reference to “D.N.R. legacy” might suggest a past self or behavior that the artist wishes not to resuscitate, in line with the common medical term ‘DNR’ or ‘Do Not Resuscitate’.

Lines such as “Disposable currency / Friend with weed / Better / That’s what my friend kept telling me” and “DNR legacy / Half awake / Ketamine / That’s what my friend kept telling me” imply external influences that may have led to past mistakes, perhaps hinting at substance use and peer pressure. The repetition of these lines throughout the song emphasizes their significance in the artist’s past experiences.

The lyrics “Let’s turn the heat off when it’s forty below / And hold our breath when there’s nothing left to hold / Answer questions after everybody goes / Perception fades to black as I press my eyes back in my skull” could be interpreted as a metaphor for facing harsh realities or difficult situations alone, after others have left or stopped paying attention.

Overall, “D.N.R.” explores themes of regret, self-reflection, and personal growth. It’s a raw and honest look at past behaviors and the effort to change and become a better person. The artist’s note stating that the song is about “a look at past mistakes after a period of growth. Lost friendships, shitty behaviours and learning to how to be your genuine self moving forward” further underlines these themes. Baker’s candid introspection and the relatability of these experiences contribute to the song’s emotional resonance.

Jake Knox – “Sleep”

Jake Knox, formerly known for his collaboration with multi-platinum artist Bipolar Sunshine, returns with “Sleep,” the second single off his upcoming album. A profound exploration of remorse and unfulfilled desires, the song marries the familiar territory of love and longing with an unexpected final chorus that reframes the narrative. It’s a haunting, yet affectionate composition that emphasizes the lingering specters of past decisions and the constant yearning for a better tomorrow.

With his earlier successes, such as “Better Parts” and “Changes ft. Bipolar Sunshine, Chance Pena,” having garnered significant attention on streaming platforms, Jake Knox has demonstrated an uncanny ability to translate emotional complexities into catchy, accessible tracks. “Sleep” further underscores his growth as an artist and his knack for creating compelling narratives through music. It’s clear that the partnership with J.Patt from the EDM duo The Knocks has paid dividends, and with his listener count hovering at a consistent 50,000 per month, Knox is a rising star in the music scene. As he prepares for the exclusive SoundCloud release of “Sold All of Me,” fans and critics alike eagerly anticipate what else this promising artist has up his sleeve.

KiD RAiN – “Half”

KiD RAiN, the promising crossover pop artist from the UK, offers an arresting exploration of youthful indecision in his latest single, “Half”. The track, which has already garnered 500,000 views on a TikTok teaser, artfully encapsulates the perplexity of life’s transitional stages—of being caught between childlike innocence and mature responsibility, solitude and companionship, ambition and lethargy. KiD RAiN’s relatable lyrics about navigating life’s dichotomies echo against the backdrop of his soothing pop vocals, striking a chord with the many listeners who find themselves in similar liminal spaces.

“Half” is a testament to KiD RAiN’s songwriting and producing prowess, which he began honing at just 12 years old, as well as his continued growth as an artist—this time collaborating with Will Reeves (Stormzy, Bree Runway, Olivia Dean) for the mixing. The song’s catchy hook, “Half of me’s got big plans of moving to the city, but the other half just wants to sleep,” brilliantly encapsulates the universal dichotomy of aspiration and exhaustion. Akin to his previous hits, ‘Half’ promises to be another chart-topping triumph, reinforcing KiD RAiN’s talent for capturing the complexities of young adulthood

You Citizen – “Too Bright”

With an eclectic blend of influences ranging from The Strokes to The Psychedelic Furs, You Citizen, aka Bill McElnea, strikes a compelling balance of gritty rock and synth-laden ambiance in his latest single, “Too Bright.” The track is a pulsating exploration of introspection and the external world, built around sharp lyricism that resonates deeply within the listener. McElnea’s voice carries a potent blend of detached cool and raw emotion, bringing to life lines like “Is that your lost son playing a bad song displaying too bright” and “I feel your disdain down from old Brisbane displaying too bright,” adding a layer of intense realism to the song’s vivid imagery.

“Too Bright” is a notable accomplishment for You Citizen, demonstrating his prowess in capturing complex sentiments and presenting them in an accessible, engaging format. There’s a sense of disjointedness in lines like “Partly cause you haunt so sweet / A party acetone / Can’t see how your parts all meet,” a feeling further underscored by the insistent rhythms and cascading synth lines that populate the track. Engineer Joe Clapp deserves significant credit for the sonic finesse on display, ensuring each component shines without overwhelming the others. “Too Bright” is an intriguing addition to You Citizen’s growing discography, reaffirming McElnea’s position as a promising force within the alternative music scene.

Kjahn – “Great Adventures”

Kjahn Powell, a Seattle-based MC and songwriter, combines his inspiration from old school hip hop with contemporary production techniques to create a sound that feels both nostalgic and innovative. This is especially evident in his latest single “Great Adventures,” an invigorating hip-hop track that encourages listeners to step out of their comfort zones. The song is marked by an infectious beat and lyrical sophistication, demonstrating Kjahn’s proficiency in creating music that is as contemplative as it is head-nodding.

“Great Adventures” serves as a testament to Kjahn’s musical versatility, reflecting his influences ranging from Motown classics and Bob Marley to Jay-Z and Nas. His engaging lyrical flow and intricate wordplay bring a unique flavor to the hip-hop genre, ensuring the track resonates with listeners long after it ends. This song marks a promising glimpse into his future projects, suggesting that we can expect more boundary-pushing tracks from this rising artist. Having already made a significant impact on the underground Seattle hip-hop scene and with his previous successful EP “Grits” and singles, Kjahn is one to watch as he continues to merge different musical epochs in a refreshing way.

Rivers and Suns – “My Favorite Lie”

In “My Favorite Lie,” Rivers and Suns — the artistic project of California-bred, Barcelona-based singer Jordan Rivers — combines the essential elements of classic American folk and rock with a poignant, narrative-driven lyrical style. The song is reminiscent of influences ranging from Fleetwood Mac to The Beatles, yet it is imbued with a distinctive sound that is truly Rivers and Suns’. Collaborating with Argentine musician and producer Tomas Aristimuño, Rivers skillfully weaves an intricate tapestry of longing and deceit, crafting a narrative as immersive as the works of Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemingway that have shaped her artistic perspective.

The lyrics of “My Favorite Lie” reveal a story of waiting, of love entwined with falsehoods, and of a desperation that lurks in the quiet hours of early evening. Rivers and Suns’s ability to evoke such strong imagery and emotion through her songwriting is compelling, conveying the pain and hope inherent in loving a person who may not be entirely truthful. The song’s chorus— “You’re my favorite kind of lie / You fooled me once, don’t fool me twice”— resonates with the sting of betrayal and the paradoxical allure of a tantalizing lie. Despite the melancholic undertone, there’s an underlying strength, a refusal to be fooled again, that makes the song not just a lamentation, but also a statement of resilience. It’s a striking testament to Rivers and Suns’ songwriting prowess, promising a compelling journey through the rest of the “Fork in the Road” album.

Lonely Little Kitsch – “Monster”

“Monster,” the latest offering from the Niagara-based alt-rock duo Lonely Little Kitsch, is a potent commentary on miscommunication and the ensuing chaos it can breed. Kristen Goetz’s impassioned vocals narrate a tale of frustration and transformation that is both personal and universal, offering a mirror to the polarized state of contemporary discourse. Fueled by Nolan Jodes’s simple yet addictive guitar riffs and the pounding rhythm provided by Ian Romano on drums, the track’s punk roots are clear and its infectious energy undeniable.

The lyrics, as they unfold, depict an escalating struggle, the conflict blooming from a simple misread to a full-blown attack. The chorus hits hard with the repeated lines “And I become a monster,” transforming the track into a raw self-reflection and a stark indictment of the escalating divisiveness in the world. The image of baring teeth and unsheathing claws serves as a vivid embodiment of this transformation. Yet, beneath the veneer of the monster, there’s an undercurrent of strength and defiance — the character in the song does not cower, but fights back, refusing to be subjugated. This push-and-pull dynamic, expertly rendered by Lonely Little Kitsch, turns “Monster” into a compelling alt-rock anthem that invites listeners to reflect on their own transformations when faced with conflict and miscommunication. Through “Monster,” the band continues to expand their musical boundaries, creating an auditory experience that is as thought-provoking as it is exhilarating.

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