Features

Songs We’re Vibing With (January and February 2021)

Do you love discovering new music, but have the slightest idea of where to begin? Then look no further—the Chicago Haze Team curated 20 of our favorite tracks from January and February of ‘21 to help you jumpstart your search.

In this culmination from the previous two months, team members kept their ears out for the latest gems of the Indie, Pop, Rock, and Alternative worlds. We hope this eclectic mix helps you uncover new tracks you may have missed from the early sixth of this year.

January

1. “knuckle tattoo” – girlhouse
Release date – January 1

Fans of the Aces, Samia, or CHVRCHES will enjoy new Portland indie rockers girlhouse, who have released three remarkable singles so far, plus an excellent holiday song called “ugly xmas sweater party.” For now, I’m recommending “knuckle tattoo,” released on January 1. The song, about “being lost on the east side of Portland,” comes with straightforward chugging guitars and power strokes reminiscent of the ’80s. The track is fun and its low-fi jogging-down-the-street music video will appeal to fans of Haim’s classic music video looks too. – Brittany

2. “Close To You” – Dayglow
Release date – January 12

“Close to You” is a masterclass in 80s-inspired indie pop. Sunny, simple, and synthy, this song is one of the most replayable songs of the year so far. I can’t wait to see what Dayglow’s sophomore era holds; if “Close to You” is an accurate forecast, I’m sure the album will be a summer staple. – Emma M.

3. “Black Rain” – Rhye
Release date – January 22

“Black Rain” has been my go-to chiller for just a notch over a month now. Whenever I feel like the world is caving in, this song helps me relax, realign, and refocus. Rhye knocked this track out of the park, and it is arguably my favorite track of the year (to date). – Sean

4. “Immune” – Jensen McRae
Release date – January 27

Like I said in Chicago Haze’s 21 Artists to Watch in 2021 story, when I first discovered Jensen McRae, I cried. McRae’s music continues to impress me: “Immune” is her latest, which describes the feelings we may have to grapple with once we get COVID vaccines, a feeling we probably wouldn’t have ever imagined having to deal with, yet one we will all have to work through in the next few months (fingers crossed). Did we mention it was inspired by Phoebe Bridgers? – Kristin 

5. “In Reverse” – Punchlove
Release date – January 29

Punchlove began as a college duo, but has since branched out and emerged onto the dreamstate, shoegaze scene. “In Reverse” reminds us to stay calm, cool, and collected when the world throws everything it can at us. It’s easily one of my top three favorite tracks from the early segment of 2021, and I could not be any more excited for their next three releases, which drop in March. – Sean

February

6. “These Kids We Knew” – Rostam
Release date – February 2

If you didn’t know already, Rostam Batmanglij is a veteran of the music industry. Once known as a founding member of Vampire Weekend (he left a few years ago), Batmanglij has dabbled extensively in production, including work on Clairo’s Immunity and HAIM’s Women In Music Pt. III. Rostam has also released work as a solo artist, releasing his first project Half-Light in 2017 and now gearing up for his sophomore release in June. “These Kids We Knew” was written back in March 2020 in a “fever-dream state,” when Batmanglij was recovering from COVID-19.

7. “10 Missed Calls” – Black Coffee ft. Pharrell Williams & Jozzy
Release date – February 5

Pharrell Williams and Jozzy blend effortlessly with beats by South African DJ Black Coffee. It’s one of those tracks that you blast from your car stereo during the twilight hours of a summer evening. This track is one of my favorite chill house tracks to date, and that’s a mighty strong title to own. – Sean

8. “My Limb” – Hayley Williams
Release date – February 5

Hayley Williams’ “FLOWERS for VASES / descansos” didn’t result in as much fanfare as her 2020 release Petals for Armor, but it’s just as well done. “My Limb” is the signature Hayley, a stripped-back version of her usual emo rock sound. She feels at home on this track, and it’s a pleasure to listen to. – Emma M.

9. “Meaningless” – Charlotte Cardin
Release date – February 12

An artist I’ve had mild familiarity with for a few years, 26-year-old Canadian pop musician Charlotte Cardin is seemingly ready to explode this year. “Meaningless,” “Daddy,” and “Passive Aggressive” are three singles that lead Cardin’s debut album, set to drop on April 9. I am looking forward to it greatly! – Kristin 

10. “Cuff Your Jeans” – Claud
Release date – February 12

“Cuff Your Jeans” details a lost or strained relationship between college friends that participated in regularly scheduled banter with one another. Claud’s voice floats over a dreamscape atmosphere that almost thrusts the listener into their mind. They care for this individual, perhaps reminding us to keep a pulse on relationships before they slip away from us. Truly a powerful message that any of us can exhibit during these times of pseudo-lockdown and general isolation as our friends are just a call or click away. – Sean

11. “Right the Wrongs” – Django Django
Release date – February 12

“Right the Wrongs” is square one fever dream energy that always puts a smile on my face. The track is fun, lighthearted, and acts as an amazing gateway to Glowing in the Dark — which, you guessed it — is also fun and lighthearted. Totally worth a listen or three. – Sean

12. “And So It Went” – The Pretty Reckless ft. Tom Morello
Release date – February 12

Sometimes you need an adrenaline kick on your Monday commute, and “And So It Went” fulfills that need tenfold. Taylor Momson’s vocals ride tandem over intense guitar riffs — my antidote for when I need more than a cup of Joe on those tough mornings. What’s wrong with unleashing your inner badass every now and again? – Sean

13. “Hard Drive” – Cassandra Jenkins
Release date – February 19

This single from Cassandra Jenkins’ phenomenal album An Overview on Phenomenal Nature is one of my top tracks from this year so far. It combines several elements I love: Jenkins’ soothing audiobook voice, the jazzy saxophone in the back that never becomes overbearing, the constant feeling of expansion throughout the song that complements Jenkins’ increasing sense of self-realization. For those looking for a more peaceful, The National-influenced version of Black Country, New Road, or maybe a Young Jesus version of Phoebe Bridgers’ “Garden Song,” check out “Hard Drive.”  – Brittany

14. “pink party” – Isaac Dunbar
Release date – February 19

What do you get when you combine Brockhampton and Troye Sivan? Hard to imagine? Well, allow me to introduce you to Isaac Dunbar, your next teenage icon. The 17-year-old (!!!) musician signed to RCA Records back in 2019 after releasing his first EP independently. “pink party” is the first single on Dunbar’s newly-released EP, “Evil Twin.” – Kristin

15. “Oversharers Anonymous” – Wild Pink
Release date – February 19

I’ve waxed poetic about Wild Pink in my review of their new album A Billion Little Lights, but in case you haven’t checked out Wild Pink yet, here’s a place to start. “Oversharers Anonymous” showcases many elements from the record, including poetic images of nature, the driving sense of taking a cross-country road trip, wonderful pedal steel wrapped up in string arrangements in the wonderful outro, and the most unforgettable lyrics on the album: “You’re a fucking baby but your pain is valid too.” In particular, check out the song’s stunning paper animation music video. – Brittany

16. “23” – Wallice
Release date – February 23

“23” is a coming of age anthem for those of us who are already of age. With lyrics dripping in dry humor and a laid-back alt-rock sound, it unpacks all the contradictions of the early 20s experience. It’s only Wallice’s second single, so I’m eager to hear her future releases. – Emma M.

17. “More” – Mansionair
Release date – February 25 

Australian indie/electronic duo Mansionair are back with their first release of the new year, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. “More” is a song that perfectly encapsulates the times we’re living in, and the struggle with coming to terms with what you have when all you want is more. Mansionair has yet to announce any information about an upcoming album, but I would say it’s safe to assume that something’s coming later this year. – Kristin

18. “Bloodshot” – Julien Baker
Release date – February 26

I’ve spent a few hours listening to Julien Baker’s Little Oblivions over the past several days, and half of that time was spent listening to “Bloodshot” on repeat. The pop melodic excellence of a Taylor Swift song and the pulsing instrumentation of an indie anthem make for an addicting combination. The lyrics, of course, are stellar, including the line that decorates the album cover: “There is no glory in love/Only the gore of our hearts.” Emma M.

19. “Ziptie” – Julien Baker
Release date – February 26

The team helped me find Julien Baker and I’m incredibly thankful for that! Baker’s songwriting is top notch and her latest release Little Oblivions is the culmination of patience and hard work. Her vocals are fluid and angelic, lofting over the instrumentals to near perfection. The album, as a whole, is chill and fun after each playback. – Sean

20. “Follow The White Rabbit” – Madison Beer
Release date – February 26

Okay, let’s be real, I would’ve put “BOYSHIT” here without hesitation if it hadn’t originally dropped in 2020. “Follow The White Rabbit” is Madison’s second attempt at some truly bombastic production and I cannot express how much I am here for it. The track may be a bit out of Beer’s comfort zone, but it works oh so well. You won’t regret spinning this one as loud as socially accepted. – Sean 

Check out these songs and more on our Spring ’21 Playlist.

4 comments on “Songs We’re Vibing With (January and February 2021)

  1. Pingback: The Mystique Behind The Moniker: Chatting with Indie Pop Artist girlhouse – Chicago Haze

  2. Pingback: Songs We’re Vibing With (May and June 2021)

  3. Pingback: 12 Artists to See at Pitchfork 2021

  4. Pingback: What We’re Vibing With (July and August Edition)

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