The Rotation | Volume 7: José González, Sam Wickens & More

Welcome to The Rotation, a roundup of the week’s key moments in music and why you should listen. Read Volume 7 below, or scroll to the end for playlists on Spotify and Apple Music. Previous instalments available here.

As the signs of spring get stronger, there is a noticeable change of attitude in the air. The days are finally getting longer again, the temperatures are rising slowly, and everyone’s mood is lifting as a result. This week’s selection features some uplifting new tunes and some compelling storytelling. Enjoy!

dempsey hope | ‘autumn’

It takes a strong personality to list out your biggest insecurities and not only keep the listener engaged, but maintain a sense of confidence and hope. Seattle based Hope manages to pull this off on his new track. The song unfolds like a stream of consciousness as Hope explores his sense of self and his perspective on the world.

The well-crafted production allows Hope to flow effortlessly, delivering a happy-go-lucky outlook. There is an intriguing sense of hope mixed with self-assurance in the refrain, as he repeats the phase “I’ll be fine”, that is both relatable and endearing.


Hope’s songwriting balances vulnerability with nonchalance and it will be interesting to see how this style plays out on his debut album, i&u, coming April 13.

Peach Tree Rascals | ‘OOZ’

Falling into a new relationship can be fun and carefree, and Peach Tree Rascals capture this feeling here.

Lyrically they are conveying a lighthearted proclamation of commitment, maintaining a sunny disposition throughout. The different singers flow naturally over the nostalgic, genre-blending production. The infectious bassline drives the track, with smooth synths and harmoniously layered vocals building the irresistibly sunny instrumental.

The band described how they went camping in Yosemite for a week, diving into their creativity to create their debut EP, Camp Nowhere. Based on this playful track with alt pop melodies and hip hop beats, it will be a perfect record for the summer.

whatshisface | ‘Shape Of A Human’

With few releases so far, not a lot is known about the artist whatshisface, but he describes his sound as emotional, experimental and unconventional. These elements are all on display on this track.

The song evolves as it progresses, the stuttering start finds its footing and becomes a beautiful, emotionally charged offering from whatshisface. The bassline is as expressive as his voice, and the synth-based instrumental is delicate and tender in one instance, intense in the next. Lyrically the song explores a disassociation with reality, the melodic variation demanding the listener’s attention.

The artist himself has explained that whatshisface is “an idea expressed through audio and visuals”. it will be fascinating to see where he goes next with this project.

Alexander 23 | ‘Come Here and Leave Me Alone’

Alexander 23 has shown he is not afraid of tackling a complex subject matter. Here he explores the conflict that exists between mental health and love. Alexander describes the internal battle that takes place when you simultaneously need to be with someone but also need your own personal space.

The pulsating beat builds gradually throughout the song, opening up to additional synths in a smooth, mesmerising breakdown following each chorus. But the honest lyrics and the vulnerable way in which they are delivered will grab the listener’s attention and make you empathise with the artist.

Alexander’s sophomore EP, Oh No, Not Again is out now and features more of this quirky yet insightful storytelling.

Paris Texas | ‘HEAVY METAL’

It can be difficult to make a significant debut statement as a new rapper these days, but this duo from Los Angeles have created a storm around this track. Reminiscent of the early days of Odd Future or Brockhampton, the fervent excitement is palpable.

The carefree, brash lyrics mixed with the crunching, rock influenced production make this an exhilarating ride. Their excitement is addictive and infectious, but there are already signs of reflection mixed into the storm. In the first verse, despite the gory elements that precede it, he acknowledges that he just wanted his parents’ applause.

There’s not much known about these guys at this early stage, but they’ve certainly got a lot of attention for whatever comes next.

EXUM | ‘Dark Kept Secret’

Music is littered with examples of sports stars using their fame as a starting point for a music career and failing, but rarely does it sound as unique or beautiful as this track. Antone Exum is currently a free agent in the NFL, but clearly isn’t afraid to try new things. He has previously released a number of rap songs, but this latest release is a beautifully poetic track with a deep-rooted message.

The guitar and synth heavy production is reminiscent of Blood Orange or George Michael. Lyrically he paints the picture of a dysfunctional relationship and seeks clarity.

It’s fascinating to see Exum expressing his creativity in this way and 2021 looks like an exciting year for him, with his debut album due via his own record label ücke.

Sam Wickens | ‘Murky Waters’

Wickens describes this track as the realisation that he was raised under terrible circumstances. This sense of heaviness is conveyed through the sincerity of his performance, but the slick production and gorgeous vocal make this a mesmerising piece of music.

The County Down artist creates a blend of indie, folk, soul and electronic music in the production. The rumbling drums and bubbling synths create a sense of urgency while the chilling background vocals express a haunting struggle within his musical universe. The vocal performance is captivating, his voice has a soulful tone to it that expresses raw emotion, but every note feels calculated and always under his control.

Wickens exudes an earnest sense of sorrow here but the craftmanship of the music is exquisite. His new EP Watson is out now and features equally compelling songs from this talented musician.

José González | ‘El Invento’

The last José González album came out in 2015, which feels like a lifetime ago at this stage. He returns here with his first Spanish language track and it’s just as beautiful as you would expect.

The song is inspired by his young daughter, as he asks questions of creation and purpose, wondering, “who do we thank for our existence, the invention, God?”

The multi-track vocals feel comforting over the fingerpicked Spanish guitar and metronomic beat. It’s a beautiful track that is reminiscent of his previous work, but shows progression in terms of his lyrical abilities and increasingly refined production.

Spotify: The Rotation | Volume 7

Apple Music: The Rotation | Volume 7