Exclaim!'s Staff Picks for February 6, 2023: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dizzy, Wednesday

Photos (clockwise from top left): Sophia Bel by William Arcand, Ryuichi Sakamoto by Nathan Bajar, Dizzy by boy wonder, Wednesday by Zachary Chick

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Feb 6, 2023

It's Monday again. We know you're grieving the weekend's end, but we've got another round of Exclaim!'s Staff Picks to soften the blow. Let's usher this short month in before it disappears right before our very eyes with a set of new releases that spans sleepless nights, Drive-By Truckers devotion, ambient workday soundtracks and the end of teenage dreams. 

As always, check out our reviews section to stay on top of that release calendar.

03 Greedo & Mike Free
Free 03

Arriving days before Greedo's release from prison, Free 03 strikes a balance the scales of justice did not afford the Los Angeles artist when he was handed a 20-year sentence the moment he became a bonafide regional star. On one side, we hear syrupy, sunkissed melodies befitting of someone more than ready to resume his ascent. On the other, we hear verses rapped over an inmate telephone — one of which comes punctuated by the system's time limit warning — and words of remembrance for artistic peers who died while he was incarcerated.
Calum Slingerland

Apollo Ghosts
"Gave Up the Dream"

Reunited Vancouver indie rockers Apollo Ghosts serve up one of their snazziest arrangements ever, courtesy of sound architect John Collins (Destroyer, the New Pornographers). The wistful jangle rock is classic Apollo Ghosts, while the synth-kissed haze evokes the more elaborate productions of the War on Drugs. This is a one-off single, and I'd love to hear more in this vein.
Alex Hudson

Sophia Bel 
"No Sleep"

Reading like an excerpt from a middle school journal, the softness of Montreal-based singer-songwriter Sophia Bel's nasal pop-punk vocals on "No Sleep" beguile heartbreak for a character ripped from the tear-soaked pages of her debut album. Cannabis dependency and abandonment issues rise with the smoke as she sings, "Sweet sweet smell of roses / Brings back heart necrosis / Feel myself imploding / I just hope that you won't notice." The track — co-produced by hyperpop hero Casey MQ — drops alongside the deluxe edition of Anxious Avoidant, a great Canadian album you might have missed in 2022, on February 10.
Allie Gregory

(Royal Mountain)

If you know me, you know I've been physically incapable of shutting up about Dizzy since I first fell into the self-contained universe of "Swim" in the year of our lord 2017. The Oshawa quartet's latest single is undeniably their fullest embrace of buoyant pop, with sparse echoes of elastic synth splashes effervescing into a cathartic summer sunshower à la Lorde's "Supercut." But it's the nothing-short-of-infrastructural bridge that provides one of those awe-instilling, fall-to-your-knees moments: in her signature silkscreen power, Katie Munshaw tenderly eviscerates this dude by likening him to the least serious of fonts — a stigmata that leaves an indelible mark on witnesses, too.
Megan LaPierre

Coco Jones
(Def Jam)

A decade ago, Coco Jones rose to popularity portraying a famous young singer in the Disney movie-musical Let It Shine. With the January release of "Fallin," one of four new songs on the deluxe version of EP What I Didn't Tell You, she effectively proves that she's more than just a Disney star. Here, Jones is nothing less than a modern R&B powerhouse, as her voice sails with precision over the genre's staple hi-hats and bass. 
Ben Okazawa

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Forget about "lo-fi hip hop beats to study/relax to," 12 has been my "ambient beats to work to." Lately, my household has been in Yellow Magic Orchestra mode — especially after Yukihiro Takahashi's passing — and their side quests have been no exception. Ryuichi Sakamoto has a soft touch on his latest, with sparse synths and electronics grounding a minimalist, but still unpredictable set of tracks. 
Sydney Brasil

"Chosen to Deserve"
(Dead Oceans)

An attempt by Wednesday frontperson Karly Hartzman to recreate Drive-By Truckers' "Let There Be Rock," "Chosen to Deserve" is all molasses ooze and flickering lighters; a bleary-eyed, bittersweet account of debaucherous teendom and dangerous, head-spinning boredom. The song's twisted-steel guitars and patient bombast feel both world-swallowing and painfully intimate, a confession and an indictment — "I'm the girl that you were chosen to deserve." 
Kaelen Bell

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