DISCOVER WEEKLY #15 (ft. Subtlety and kiwifroot)

I spend an unspeakable amount of time on TikTok. Before the end of last year, I promised myself that I wouldn’t download the app. This was mostly due to only hearing about the bad parts of the app, including some racism, colorism, misogyny, etc and all the corny videos I’d seen screen-grabbed from the app on other websites. But after a video chat with my friends last year where they spent 20 minutes talking about TikTok videos that I was completely oblivious to, I decided to be out of the loop no longer. Unfortunately, that has led to many nights where I tell myself I’ll just watch “a couple more videos,” but then it ends up being another two hours of me scrolling through diy birdhouse videos and wig tutorials – neither of which apply to me. However, despite my irresponsible scrolling practices, I’ve had a lot of exposure to some talented musicians and artists showcasing their work on the app. So, I’ve decided to use the space of these Discover Weeklys to talk about a few of those artists on here. And the first Discover Weekly of the year is the perfect place to start that. There will be a playlist of some songs from artists I’ve discovered through TikTok here!

Subtlety’s Letters Lost on the Way Home (2021)

Subtlety is an independent rock band from Sacramento, California, and after releasing some singles and at least one EP, the band released Letters Lost on the Way Home, its full-length project, last week.

A video from a member of Subtlety popped up on my For You page last week, and the special place in my heart that holds Black people in rock bands very near and dear pushed me over to Spotify to listen to LLWH. And I’m in LOVE. When I wasn’t listening to people like Tyler the Creator and Childish Gambino in middle and high school, I listened to a lot of emo, grunge, and punk rock.

And LLWH hits me right in the angsty teenager part of my brain that still exists and goes wild for albums like this. The overall sound, the themes (finding your way against all odds, finding the meaning of life, love…it’s all there!), the instrumentation…all of it was put together very well, and it’s clear that the folks that make up Subtlety took their time with this album (that they apparently worked on for around four years). I love what people are able to do using electronic/digital music production software, but there’s nothing like hearing people play actual instruments on a song. Everything sounds fuller and more robust – like you’re standing right in front of them at a concert (but who knows when we’ll be able to do that again 😦 I’ll just pretend for now). The whole album is worth checking out, but “Absent Author” and “Tongue and Teeth” are my favorites so far; I’m planning on re-listening to the album soon, so that might change. Overall amazing project. 

kiwifroot’s dual (2021)

Next up is kiwifroot an independent rapper from Gainesville, Florida. According to their bio on Spotify, they began putting their background in poetry into music during Pandemic Season 1 and released their EP dual in January of this year.

And y’all. The TALENT!!!! THE RANGGEEEEEEE on this project is brilliant. Kiwifroot comes out swinging from the very first song, “Bliss,” offering extremely smart (but still very playful) lines. They continue with “go to work” which has my favorite production out of the four songs on the EP. The ukulele in there is chef’s kiss!

And there’s a line in the song where they say “past woes like trapped ghosts, in the confines of my mind, they murderous / Just wanted to be burdenless” and WOOF. They follow up with “sleep talking” which has an incredible intro that flows seamlessly into the first verse, and it BLEW MY MIND when I first heard it. And they continued their witty and remarkable flow and bars on “Dream State.” There’s something really special about poets that turn to music; you can hear almost immediately that there’s something in their lyrics that goes way beyond just writing lyrics – they have a control over language and form that not everyone who makes music has – and it was clear from the start that kiwifroot holds writing very near and dear. I wish this project was longer, but it’s the perfect length to show off how vast kiwifroot’s musical possibilities are.

I had a couple other projects I wanted to mention, BUT I’ll save those for next week. You can follow Subtlety on Instagram here and kiwifroot on Instagram here.

here’s something else you might like…

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