In times of strife, music can sometimes be the only thing to help bring some positivity.
The last month has seen a swirl of continued protests against police brutality, as well as the ever-present specter of COVID-19. Despite both remaining present in the collective consciousness, musicians in Lancaster have been writing and releasing new music, some even directly inspired by current events.
Below are just some of the new songs released by local artists in the last month.
"BARS (I Can't Breathe)" - PINK i featuring Android Eddie and 66notes
As far as songs ripped directly from the headlines of the last month go, you can't get more to the point than "BARS (I Can't Breathe)." The collaborative track is anchored by a soaring hook delivered by PINK i, better known to the Lancaster theater community as Ian Sanchez, who has performed at shows at Ephrata Performing Arts Center and the Prima Theatre.
Though the other featured rappers, Android Eddie and 66notes, are from Avondale, PA and Des Moines, IA respectively, the project was assembled by Lancaster's own Ben Oaks and features Sleepy Limbs guitarist Ben Roth.
Funds collected for the track will be split between SafeHouse Lancaster and the Philadelphia, Des Moines and Delaware chapters of Black Lives Matter.
"400 Years" - Gregory Martinez Jr.
When LNP | LancasterOnline wrote about local producer Josh Morales Jr. offering beats for free for rappers with "something to say" about the killing of George Floyd, one of the first to speak up was Gregory Martinez Jr. At the time of the story, the collaboration wasn't quite ready for release, but since then, "400 Years" has hit most streaming services.
The song is a lyrically brutal indictment of race relations as well as a bridge between current events and specific passages from the Bible. Morales' production hits hard but never overtakes Martinez' flow, allowing for the dual power of both to hit the listener exactly as intended.
"These Nights" - Nearly York
Lancaster trio Nearly York returns with a timely ode to hanging out with friends in the summer with "These Nights." The song is chock full of poppy hooks and infectious instrumentals. When lead singer Lucas Gienow sings "These days are overrated, tonight we're all just shaking it off," it's a statement that just about everyone can sympathize with.
"Song I Couldn't Sing" - Tyler Burkhart
For years now, Tyler Burkhart has quietly been one of Lancaster's pre-eminent songwriters. Pairing a lo-fi sound with plaintive vocals and lyrics, Burkhart has long had a distinctive sound all his own.
On June 11, Burkhart released a remastered version of his great 2015 album "Sweet Spell," featuring a brand new bonus track called "Song I Couldn't Sing." The song is a hypnotic and honest ode to love, and as with the album that it's newly attached to, feels like a warm hug to the auricle.
"The Pandemonium Gates" - Jake Stevenson
When you see a song title like "The Pandemonium Gates" on an EP called "World Problems," you can sort of guess what you're walking into. Electronic musician Jake Stevenson combines a genuine feeling of dread with a beat that wouldn't sound out of place on a Run the Jewels album.
The track is instrumental, but if you close your eyes while listening, you can practically imagine the line of rappers that would be rubbing their hands together at the chance to drop verses on this.