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New Arcwelder and Old(ish) Kpop in This Week’s New Music Playlists

Year-end lists? Nah, there's still more music from 2023 to hear.

10:42 AM CST on December 7, 2023

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Arcwelder, Aespa

No way around it—the year is winding down, the pickings are getting slimmer. But while other publications and critics are posting their year-end best-of lists, I'm still out here making sure I haven't missed anything. Next week, I plan to go into scavenger mode and scour those lists for whatever choice picks I've overlooked. 

Local Picks

Arcwelder, “Lafayette”

The better (by a hair) of the band’s first two new tracks in 24 years, and a taste of an album out next January, has plenty of the old punch and trails out anthemically on a very ’90s chorus coda.

Big Kiaa, “Under the Rug”

This former local child star (then Nakia Marie) emerges a decade later with rippling textures and Auto-Tune-fluttered vocals; when a backbeat kicks in, the effect is almost like an earnest 100 gecs.  

BUIO OMEGA, “Take a Look”

Not for nothing are they named for an old Italian horror flick—singer Greer’s screams sound like both predator and prey and you’d best not get too close to those slashes of guitar. Boo! 

Heart to Gold, “Chloe” 

This palate-cleansing rocker from three fellas from the northern suburbs is nothing tricky, a reminder that sometimes all you need is momentum, a hook, and the guitars to back it up. 

Sleeping Jesus, “Last Time”

It’s the little details that help put across the lead track from the band’s new album Hollywood Smile—that wry guitar bit that sneaks in after every line, the backing vocals from Siri Undlin (aka Humbird), the cosmic synth break—but it’s the strong melody that gives those details something to cling to.

Non-Local Picks

Aespa, “Spicy”

Kpop remains an acquired taste for me—I don’t always know what to make of the genre's reconstituted forms of past pop styles, which often sounds less retro than just plain dated to me—so it takes me a while to catch up. Nine months, in this case.

Hemlocke Springs, “enknee1”

Always a nice surprise to see a TikTok phenom made good. (You may know “Girlfriend,” even if not by name.) My favorite of Springs's follow-ups (all of which are at least decent) percolates along with upbeat yearning.

Adrianne Lenker, “Ruined”

If you're used to Big Thief’s collaborative idiosyncrasies this straightforward piano ballad is the kind of changeup that can leave you lunging at the plate. Sometimes coloring between the lines is the most adventurous choice to make.

The Libertines, “Run Run Run”
They were never as great at the Brits said, but who ever is? Pete Doherty and the boys still sound forever on the edge of tripping over their shoelaces (or whatever they call them over there) as they breathlessly strive to run “faster than the past.”

NNAMDÏ – “Going Crazy”

Sometimes I wonder if this creative Chicagoan would get more praise if his music was more classifiable. A pretty, lovelorn falsetto floats over a screwed-down chorus of “we are going crazy” and 808 stutter. And that's just part of what happens here.

Wanna get a local song considered for the playlist? To make things easy on both of us, email keith@racketmn.com with MONDAY PLAYLIST in the subject header. (Don’t, as in do NOT, DM or text: If I’m in a good mood, I’ll just ask you to send an email; if I’m in a bad mood I’ll just ignore it.)

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