A composite image of the six covers of October's Local Music Singles Roundup.

Local Music Singles Roundup: October 2023

Local Music Reviews

All Hollow’s Eve is creeping in on us foolish mortals once again. SLUG is ditching the tricks and dishing out some raving treats in the October edition of our Local Music Singles Roundup! Enjoy “Moon II” by The Plastic Cherries as you watch the leaves change to its yearly autumn palette. How about dancing amongst the tombstones to the crypt-growling sounds of PK Opal’s “Hymenopteran”? Whatever you’re in the mood for this Halloween, be sure to have SLUG fill those spooky playlists!

Single art for Hurtado's "Away From Here"Hurtado
“Away From Here”

Street: 06.23
Hurtado = Paul Westerberg + The National

“Away From Here” is a breakup song about longing, escape, staying and distancing. “You tell me to sit down in your new living room,” Hurtado sings. “I’m 5,000 miles away if that’s okay with you.” No matter how far Hurtado runs, figuratively or physically, he sings from the other end of a ball and chain. The refrain, “Get me away from here,” is repeated 17 times, not as an angry, primal scream, but as a dry, subtle wail that builds and suggests that Hurtado still longs for a place—or a person—he insists on escaping. The quiet, simple instrumentation builds to a wall of sound at the end. The track is put together perfectly. It avoids over-the-top rage from a relationship ending and doesn’t get stuck in boring, played-out melancholy. Hurtado places it exactly in the middle where true breakup songs should be. I look forward to a full album and hope Hurtado continues the clever songwriting and emotional musings that explode like a firework from this very accessible, shredded heart of a song. –Russ Holsten

Single art for Lex Ether's “Trampoline Dreams”Lex Ether
Trampoline Dreams

Rhymin Reason Records
Street: 07.25
Lex Ether = Future + Lil Wayne + NF

Lex Ether’s newest song, “Trampoline Dreams,” is a bass-boosted, trap-rap banger delivering an energetic punch challenging conventional American notions of success. In the chorus, Ether doesn’t let up the energy, utilizing an infectious autotuned melody as the lyrics urge, “Don’t let everybody love to jump on trampolines / So jump motherfucker, stomp on these American dreams.” The beat features standard hi-hats and 808 elements, and while this might not break new ground, it effectively serves as a platform for Ether’s social commentary on the bruised and battered state of America in 2023. “Trampoline Dreams,” which is an homage to Outkast’s “Gasoline Dreams,” truly shines in its ability to showcase lyrical finesse and raw, engaging delivery, which he’s proved successful at early in his music career. Having made more than 200 songs since the start of the pandemic, you can expect Ether to drop more music sooner rather than later. –Andrew Christiansen

Single art for PK Opal's “Hymenopteran”PK Opal

Street: 07.30
PK Opal = Weyes Blood + pre-Elon Musk Grimes

What if Grimes was obsessed with ecology instead of artificial intelligence? PK Opal, the solo project of Cecil Smith, answers that question with their newest single “Hymenopteran,” an ode to the undeniable interconnectedness between species. Hymenoptera is an order of the animal kingdom comprising ants, bees and wasps; the lyrics reference a “poisonous barb” suggesting that the song is about the latter. The vocals are near hymnal, meditating on the David-and-Goliath relationship between human and insect—two historically adversarial creatures tied together by mutually assured destruction. Rhythmic humming backed with strings populates the sacred planet of lush electronica that PK Opal inhabits, built on an ethereal exoskeleton of experimental pop. The song is hypnotic, like a Studio Ghibli movie, bubbling over with glitter and grace as it toes the line between fear and fascination. “Hymenopteran” would feel otherworldly if it wasn’t so decidedly grounded in earthly wonder. –Asha Pruitt

Single art for The Plastic Cherries' “Moon II”The Plastic Cherries
“Moon II”

Roxanne Records
Street: 08.01
The Plastic Cherries = The Walters x The Zombies

Some things are destined to repeat—the moon will wax and wane, and The Plastic Cherries will keep releasing more music that I can’t wait to add to my many playlists. “Moon II” is a catchy track that speaks to its name with glittering flashes of guitar and cyclical, spacey vocals. The backing soundscape is straight from the ’60s, softening what I’d otherwise call psychedelic indie-rock with a dreamy, vintage sheen. While “Moon II” came out in early August, this song is sure to be on repeat for me throughout the spooky season. The sweet, croony delivery of lyrics such as “My love is on the line / ‘Til we find another moon / Please make it soon / My lover’s hardly mine” is full of the kind of yearning that screams “chilly weather” to me. So, to The Plastic Cherries: release more music—and please make it soon! ⁠–Jude Perno

Single art for Toto Peña's “Now”Toto Peña

Street: 08.09
Toto Peña = Cigarettes After Sex + Blood Orange

Toto Peña is a youthful, skillful Venezuelan-American local songsmith and former founder of indie act June Pastel. “Now” is his first released single as a solo endeavor, offering a wiser and more soulful selfhood. The track is retro and wandering with beautifully light ‘70s sitar, saxophone and organ sprinkled around a snowy, sonic space. “Now” sets a mood that seems to capture the era of its release; there’s a decidedly dreamy veil of sound to the track which deftly disguises its shattered sentiment. The song is a smooth, jazzy wail of disenchantment and engulfing hopelessness post-heartbreak. Lyrically, the existentialism of “Now” is a refreshing surprise from such an ostensibly young, local artist. This track has the agility to fit both a sexy, darkly lit evening dinner outing or laying on a beach musing on one’s dreams deferred. As a singular offering to our late-summer soundscape, one surely hopes Peña has many more such dulcet songs in his quiver. –Paige Zuckerman

Single art for Woman As Weapon's “Winner”Woman As Weapon

Dangerous Records
Street: 06.17
Woman As Weapon = The Pretty Reckless + Miley Cyrus^(the Coyote Ugly soundtrack)

Tastefully provocative and draped in a crime scene black light, Woman As Weapon’s newest single “Winner” plants its heels in the gravel as a feminine battle cry. I almost mistook its robust drum kit for Børns’ “Clouds” intro, but the snarky, finger-tickling plucks at the guitar harkens to more Southern roots. There’s a slight honky-tonk drawl in Lola Doutre’s vocals, but don’t let that fool you. The overall style is new-age and alternative. Think less of Reba’s “a single mom who works two jobs” and add more Laura Les. Where most might use the song as the anthem to a reckless and wild girls’ night out, I bobbed to the track while shooting Plantation Overproof rum and bonfiring my dresser. It’s a decent listen and good for a slow-motion bar crawl downtown, the perfect end to my hot girl summer. –Alton Barnhart

Read past Local Music Singles Roundups here:
Local Music Singles Roundup: September 2023
Local Music Singles Roundup: August 2023