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Weekly Bullet Reviews

March 7, 2024 – Weekly Bullet Reviews

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This week, Justin and I are headed to SXSW, so we’re gonna pause this series for a bit while we prepare ourselves for the chaos that is Austin, TX! We’ve got some cool stuff planned for y’all… but before that here are this week’s weekly bullet reviews.

Special thanks to Justin Ricafort for contributing this week.

Some ground rules:

  • These songs are listed in no particular order.
  • Basically these blurbs are our rough first impressions of these tracks, so our reviews will be a lot more relaxed!
  • Anything released from the past 3 weeks/month is eligible for a bullet review.
  • Songs with new, recent music video releases will also be considered for a weekly bullet review.

Valkyrae, Fuslie & Ylona Garcia – “Echoes”

Justin: An unexpected streamer super group fronted by Ylona Garcia. High electronic drama. Love seeing Ylona spice up her R&B-pop standards with other flavors. Seems like 100 Thieves is trying to edge in alternative programming outside of gaming. Valkyrae and Fuslie give such scant contributions that it does leave me wanting more from such a left field idea. An interesting foundation with too little to assess. I feel like we’ll be getting some more of this.

Li-Wei: I literally didn’t know the other two people on this song were streamers until Justin mentioned it to me… am I that out of touch?? 🙁

Ylona Garcia’s doing a bit of heavy lifting with her vocal work on the hook here (she’s the only one who shows any sort of range on the track), but otherwise it’s a pretty inoffensive, chill song that I probably wouldn’t mind listening to while waiting for my game to load. Maybe it’s because of how involved gaming is on this one that it reminds me of the similarly phoned in NewJeans song “GODS” that was released for League of Legends… all I’m saying is that I’m still waiting to be blown away by a gaming collaboration song. 

Brandon Liew – “ILOVEYOU (ft. xiinya)”

Justin: But daddy I love my virtual anime pop idol! Brandon Liew barrels through with a hyper-pop anthem testing our parasocial infatuation. Speaker (and heart) pounding bass ping pongs with glitchy soundfonts from ten of your favorite DS games. xiinya’s vocal melodies (and rap verses) drape perfectly through Brandon’s technically verbose production. I especially love the speedy break halfway through the track that earns a spot onto my running playlist.

Li-Wei: I still return to Brandon Liew’s VIRTUAL CANDY EP from time to time when I’m playing video games, so hearing his new release “ILOVEYOU” was a welcome surprise! This one’s a high BPM, bass-boosted J-pop arcade track with growling kawaii vocals (courtesy of xiinya), and it’s just as energetic as any of his other songs. I can imagine “ILOVEYOU” being a big hit on maimai and causing casual players to break their hands trying to hit the beats during the song’s euphoric interludes and heavy drops. Can someone please make it happen???

Shazza – “All You Really Need (Is Love)”

Justin: shazza is a godddd dangggg winner!!! This track warms you all the way up with joy and sincerity that clears your sinuses. On “All You Really Need (Is Love)” shazza knows how to layer, attract, and deliver with a production that develops from rinky bedroom beats to block party boogie down shimmer so manifest it makes you take food home. Glorious.

Li-Wei: There are some songs that absolutely radiate pure joy and Singaporean singer shazza’s “All You Really Need (Is Love)” absolutely fits the bill. Filled to the brim with triumphant horns, lively background singers and distilled sonic happiness, this is a song that somehow melted my cold heart as I’m sitting here shivering in the SoCal storm.

Sure, it may use a few cliched Instagram-caption platitudes that are groan-worthy, but shazza sells it so well that I’m not complaining. Wait until the interlude where she starts listing what she likes, and she truly makes the song hers (sun and rain and Doris Day and… cake!) Honestly, if shazza just released a song where she kept listing things that she liked, I’d be down for that. 

moon tang – “favourite jeans”

Justin: 10/10 adorable metaphor. Extremely addictive chorus with that “You’re. My. Favourite. Jeans!” moon tang accomplishes a cozy, loving vibe here I associate with Daniel Caesar. Unceasingly cute especially with all of the dancing in the music video.

Li-Wei: After it dropped, I think I listened to moon tang’s “favourite jeans”… maybe a dozen times on repeat? There’s something comforting about this endearing love song, especially with its nostalgic and simple structure — much like the jeans that she sings about in the song. moon tang also really sells it here with her starry-eyed delivery and the music video which features a dance that reminds me of old-school pop videos tailor-made (hehe) for the TikTok era.

Anyone else think that this music video is probably better than any ad that Old Navy/GAP could ever make? Brb, grabbing myself some jeans, too.

PS: between this song, Layton Wu’s recently announced BLUE JEANS album, and NewJeans in general, blue jeans really are having their moment, huh?

Vicki Lovelee – “Click”

Justin: Vicki Lovelee venomously muses on Sisyphian outcast realities with “Click.” Mimicking a nursery rhyme, Lovelee’s vocals jump rope with the track’s rolling bass and schoolground chants. Satisfying enunciation of “click” does stuff to my neck hairs.

Li-Wei: Here’s an alt-pop song with a chorus that somehow just works: “My jigsaw puzzle piece in their pile of rigid bricks / But nothing clicks” is going to be playing on a loop in my mind. Vicki Lovelee really makes the most of that plosive in “clicks” and all those other words with “k” in them and hits them hard!

Avara – “duck & roll”

Justin: Wavy, bass-driven smooth liquor heart swoons. Colored by chittering harps, jazzy-as-hell drums and keys, and her light dancing harmonies, Avara and her band flits through the pages of heartfelt, luscious, healing chapters. Good luck on your Tiny Desk submission!

Li-Wei: Any R&B song with harps in them automatically gets my attention, so Avara’s “duck & roll” automatically gets my vote for my favorite mystical slow jam of the month. Avara’s intimate, whispery vocals take center stage above the shining instrumentation here, though — which says a lot since it’s so gorgeously textured. Check this one out if you’re a fan of Raveena or UMI for sure.

Tim Atlas – “Lighthouse”

Justin: This is my first exposure to Tim Atlas, but trust I have already started combing through the discography. Verve, charisma, star power, whatever you want to call it, Tim has the X-factor for weeks bruh. This man is married to that mic and treats it with an undeniable faithfulness. And with a backing band that knows how to punch up all the jazz and funk and Michael Jackson-swagger, he is in good company. Handle a song like this delicately because Tim has the type of light that exponentially attracts fans guaranteed. LISTEN TO THIS NOW. TELL HIM JUSTIN SENT YOU.

Li-Wei: All the songs on Tim Atlas’ latest MATINEE EP do well to build upon his sunshine-chill, neo-soul funk vibe, but “Lighthouse” is probably my favorite of the bunch. The second I pressed play on this one, the clouds actually parted and the sunshine came through my window even though it’d been dreary for the last few days here in SoCal. Coincidence, or…???

(also, is it summer yet?)

Afternoon Bike Ride – “The Ride”

Justin: Incessantly cool. Afternoon Bike Ride pairs plaintive observations, uncertainties with nightclub energy from a sulking conch shell on the beach. Distorted, melodic echoes humidify an atmosphere of gentle, vulnerable thoughtfulness. Clear eyed humility to hug your demons out to. With such deceptively simple lines like, “I love you and I love myself,” how could you not draw out a delightfully large tear?

Li-Wei: Is it just me or is this song kind of chaotic? “The Ride,” the latest single from Montreal trio Afternoon Bike Ride, finds sonic friction through a wonderful juxtaposition between Lia’s vocal delivery and the meandering instrumentation. And that abrupt cut off at the end of the song? Consider me intrigued.

(I don’t know if they were serious when they said that this song was inspired by “Lightning McQueen & Rascal Flatts” on their Instagram post but it’s my duty to mention it)


Header photo taken from Brandon Liew – “ILOVEYOU (ft. xiinya).”

Check out our other Weekly Bullet Reviews here.

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