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Annotated On Rotation, 11.3.21

Our weekly playlist, featuring Aminé, Teen Daze, Ivy Sole and more

On September 1, 2021

Annotated On Rotation is here to give you context on what we’re spinning each week in our On Rotation playlist — curated by our Head of A&R Alexandra Berenson, no algorithm needed. We’ve annotated each track with some added info to explain why these artists should be on your radar. Listen and read along below:

“Anybody Can Be in Love”

Following “Casita” (featured in a previous edition of Annotated On Rotation), KAINA has announced her sophomore album, It Was A Home, her debut with City Slang, and released the next single from the record, “Anybody Can Be In Love.” It Was A Home, due out in March, will feature contributions from Sleater-Kinney, Helado Negro and Sen Morimoto.

The colorful, dreamy visuals for the song, directed by Weird Life Films, featuring KAINA caring for a nurturing cartoon flowers, like the song cares for a nurtures KAINA and her friends.

In a statement about the single, KAINA said, “‘Anybody Can Be in Love’ is about letting go and accepting love when it comes to any sort of relationship, romantic or platonic. I’ve seen myself and my close friends miss out on a really great moment we’ve wished for or a great relationship because we’re so fixated on getting hurt or being fearful. ‘Anybody Can Be in Love’ is a little reminder to keep it simple and enjoy the moments you’ve been waiting for.”

She added, “Sonically, I wanted the track to sound very psychedelic and dreamy. Almost like love is taking over and you’re just losing yourself in a moment.”

You can pre-order ‘It Was A Home,’ KAINA’s debut ‘Next To The Sun’ or a bundle of both albums from the VMP store here.


With his first release since 2020’s Limbo, Aminé is back with “Charmander.” The song has a brief runtime of just over two minutes, with Aminé rapping at a faster clip than most of Limbo, which saw features from Young Thug, JID, Vince Staples, Summer Walker and slowthai, among others.

The music video features a gigantic dog and other trippy elements, along with a slew of costume changes — GQ rounded up nearly everything Aminé is wearing in the music video, in case you watch it and feel fashionably inspired.

The Portland rapper said of the new track: “After the release of Limbo I took some time to experiment and challenge myself to create in ways I hadn’t before — exploring different textures and tempos without any expectations. ‘Charmander’ was the first product of that period that felt natural while still being at a completely different BPM than any of my previous work.”

Teen Daze

British Columbia-based producer Jamison Isaak — who also releases dance music as Pacific Coliseum and folk songs as Two Bicycles — has released a new single, “Swimming,” from his synthpop moniker Teen Daze. In line with the ambient sounds of the song, there are animated visuals, directed by Nicole Ginelli, with figures dancing to the atmospheric beat.

Ginelli said in a statement, “For me, the song is a celebration of dancing together again and the anticipation of those moments.”

“Swimming” is the first single from Teen Daze’s upcoming album, Interior via Cascine, mixed by Joel Ford and mastered by Dave Cooley. Isaak said in the statement, “[‘Swimming’] is one of the first songs I made for this record, some three years ago. It benefited so much from Joel’s guidance. When I first sent him the original demos he said he could hear slivers of ‘early 2000s French house music,’ [and] that note sent me down a rabbit hole which resulted in [Interior], and ‘Swimming’ is one of the songs that benefited most from that note.”

He added, “This track is truly meant for a dancefloor. I’ve spent a lot of the last few years trying to craft ‘ambient music that you could dance to,’ but this one is about as close as I get to a DJ tool.”

You can pre-order ‘Interior’ from the VMP store here.



Shygirl is a misnomer for the London-based vocalist with a number of dance hits under her belt — who, according to Pitchfork, is “shaping London club music in her own bawdy image.” She’s released two singles this year: the raunchy “BDE” with slowthai and now “Cleo.” The two tracks are her only releases after her 2020 EP Alias, which introduced her via four alter egos.

A glamorous fantasy, the music video for “Cleo” draws out the strings at the intro, upping the drama as Shygirl looks at her own projected image. It’s cinematic and flashy, like the track itself, which repeats, “You got me feeling like a movie star / all eyes on me.”

In an Instagram post, Shygirl said of “Cleo,” which seems to be a reference to Cleopatra: “new single and video dedicated to the ones who have made me feel special and loved.” She added, “I love me too so we have that in common lol.”

“Never Know”
Sam Evian

“Never Know” is the last single from Sam Evian in advance of his recently released album Time To Melt, his third record and debut with Fat Possum. Earlier singles from the psychedelic pop album include “Easy to Love,” “Knock Knock” and the title track. There isn’t a music video for “Never Know,” but Evian did release an official lyric video.

In a statement about the last single, Evian said, “‘Never Know’ is kind of about escapism, dystopian realities, and aliens. Sometimes it’s more fun to sit there and look out, you know? It’s a wild time to be alive, for better or for worse. It used to be that we only had fiction and conspiracy to feed our off-world fantasies. Now we have fighter pilots coming forward about strange, impossible experiences they’ve had in the sky.”

Time To Melt was recorded at Evian’s studio, Flying Cloud Recordings, in the Catskills in upstate New York, where he lives with his partner Hannah Cohen — who is also a musician featured on the album.

You can pre-order ‘Time To Melt’ from the VMP store here.

Charlotte Dos Santos

Charlotte Dos Santos, the composer, producer and vocalist based between London and Oslo, has released the second single, “Patience,” from her upcoming album (unnamed so far but set for release in 2022). Since her critically acclaimed EP Harvest Time in 2020, Dos Santos has released two tracks, “Patience” and the earlier single “Away From You.”

Opening with a choral arrangement not included in the streaming version of the track, the music video for “Patience” is a dreamland of pink blossoms — the cherry trees mentioned in the lyrics.

Fitting with the romantic imagery of the video, Dos Santos said “Patience” is “a song about love, and the most important yet hardest act, patience. It is a love story that took place in Japan, amongst the beautiful sakura blossoms, one full moon in April.”

“One More Night”
Ivy Sole, Topaz Jones

“One More Night” is the second single, accompanied by a steamy music video, from Ivy Sole’s upcoming album, candid. And candid it is, with Ivy Sole and Topaz Jones singing and rapping as they “pine for one more evening of passion with a person they shouldn't be giving the time of day (or night, for that matter),” according to a statement. Co-produced by Ivy Sole and Jones, the track is a smooth blend of hip-hop, R&B and desire.

Ivy Sole’s breakthrough album, Overgrown, was our Hip-Hop Record of the Month in April 2018. Since then, she’s released the EP SOUTHPAW and a handful of loosies.

Jones has had a busy year: In 2021 he’s released an album, Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Mamma — which made it onto our list of the best albums of 2021 so far — alongside a Sundance-winning short film. In addition to those feats, he’s featured on this track, as well as an earlier single from anaiis, “chuu.”

In an Instagram post about “One More Night,” Ivy Sole said, “[Topaz Jones] & I started this song almost 3 years ago to the day” and added, “grateful for your talent & heart, T.”

You can get a copy of the live reimagining of ‘Overgrown’ from the VMP store here.


Born-and-bred New Yorkers MICHELLE have released the latest single from their upcoming album, AFTER DINNER WE TALK DREAMS, “MESS U MADE.” The new track follows this year’s “SYNCOPATE” and the collaborative track “FYO” featuring CHAI. The collective, comprised of Sofia D’Angelo, Julian Kaufman, Charlie Kilgore, Layla Ku, Emma Lee and Jamee Lockard, have been performing genre-elusive soulful tracks in all caps since their debut album in 2018, HEATWAVE.

“MESS U MADE” is an R&B-tinged slow jam, showcasing the group’s signature layered vocal harmonies, spotlighting each of the four vocalists in what can only be described as angsty cries of “I can’t, I don’t, I won’t cry anymore … This is the mess you made.”

The music video for “MESS U MADE” is a filmed live performance from September of this year. The casual and intimate home setting adds to the raw authenticity of the song — including unexpected screams at emotionally poignant moments.

“Flip Shelton”
Surprise Chef

Surprise Chef — composed of Andrew Congues, Carl Lindeberg, Jethro Curtin and Lachlan Stuckey — are an instrumental soul group from Melbourne. “Flip Shelton” is a track off of their debut record, All News Is Good News, which was initially released on College of Knowledge in 2019. The first run sold out within a week, and drew the attention of the label Mr. Bongo, who signed the band and has reissued the sought-after record. According to a statement, the label “felt Surprise Chef had made something very special, a future-classic, and that needed to be heard well beyond those lucky enough to have bagged those limited first copies.”

“Flip Shelton” has a subtle animated visualizer that’s a perfect companion to this laidback groove.

And if you want the groove of Surprise Chef, but really want to dance, check out their recent remixes release, Masters at Work & Harvey Sutherland (Remixes).

You can pre-order ‘All News Is Good News’ in the VMP store here.

“Sean Price”
Fly Anakin

“Sean Price,” produced by Evidence, is the latest single from Fly Anakin — a rapper and producer from Richmond — and is a tribute to the late Brooklyn rapper named in the title. In the music video filmed in Brooklyn, both Bernadette Price, Sean’s wife, and RIM appear (in the description, Fly Anakin thanked them “for approving the song and appearing in the video.”)

Fly Anakin said, “Sean Price inspired me to stand on what I believe in and say whatever I feel no matter what type of beat it is. His influence put me in the driver’s seat, I grew wings and shit.”

He is the co-founder of Richmond rap collective Mutant Academy and one-half of FlySiifu with Pink Siifu. The duo recently followed up on their 2020 debut, FlySiifu, with 2021’s $mokebreak EP. Fly Anakin signed to Lex Records in October, and “Sean Price” is his first solo single with the label.

Snail Mail

Snail Mail’s sophomore album, Valentine, due out this Friday, is our album of the week. “The sentiments are clear in the opening song [and title track] — she loves hard, and it’s that deep love that sits at the center of the Valentine, opening up the gatefold of her heart and revealing the absolute vulnerability of human emotion,” Jillian Nguyen wrote in our review.

While we’re all waiting to hear the follow up to Lindsey Jordan’s 2018 debut Lush in full, you can listen to the three singles from the project: the title track, “Ben Franklin” (both covered in previous weeks of Annotated On Rotation) and, now, “Madonna.”

The visuals have gotten progressively tamer since the bloodbath aka the music video for “Valentine” and the giant snake in the video for “Ben Franklin”, with a simple live performance video for “Madonna” filmed at The Armour-Stiner Octagon House.

Jordan said in a statement about “Madonna”: “I am excited to share this one! In summation it’s about why love can’t exist between a person and a concept of a person. Remove the pedestal and you might realize there was never anything there at all.”

Dreamer Boy, BENEE

Dreamer Boy, aka Zach Taylor, a former VMP Rising artist, has released the collaborative single “ARE YOU LETTING GO?” with BENEE. Since we featured his debut LP, Love, Nostalgia, in 2019, Taylor put out his sophomore record, All The Ways We Are Together in April 2021 and has already released two more singles this year, with “ARE YOU LETTING GO?” following “KEEP THE PACE.”

The 24-year-old Nashville artist teamed up with BENEE for the new track, the indie pop artist with the 2020 smash hit “Supalonely” off her debut album, Hey u x. Taylor and BENEE came together for a music video, which features the two driving around together, and a disorienting speedy slideshow of images, fitting with the at-times frenetic emotional energy of the song.

Taylor said in a statement: “‘ARE YOU LETTING GO?’ was written as a SOS or smoke signal to another person. I was very lost and feeling very far from someone I loved when I wrote this and sometimes the only communication you have with that person is not clear and leaves you hoping or longing. With this song, I wanted to express that unfamiliar and bewildering place of love, of not knowing, and the uncertainty of how the other person is feeling.”

Hippo Campus

“Boys” is the first single from Hippo Campus’ upcoming third album, aptly titled just LP3. The single follows their 2021 EP Good Dog, Bad Dream, the band’s first studio album since 2018’s Bambi — which made it onto our list of the most overlooked albums that year.

The indie rock band from Saint Paul, Minnesota, began as a group of middle school friends, comprised of Jake Luppen, Nathan Stocker, Zach Sutton and Whistler Isaiah Allen. Luppen, the lead vocalist and guitarist, told American Songwriter, “The first recorded version had a wordless chorus where I was basically singing gibberish, but it felt really awesome. A few days later Nathan and I sat down together and spent hours trying to find words that felt as good as the nonsense.”

In that same interview with the band, Sutton, who plays bass and keyboard, added, “We just couldn’t nail it down, production-wise. We all loved it and didn’t want to give up on it. It’s one of the more personal, direct songs on the record, telling Jake’s story of coming to grips with his queerness and finally talking about it in a song.”

The music video for “Boys” is partly a lyric video, with text overlaying footage of the band members, distraught and walking down streets alone, sometimes singing through tears.

You can pre-order ‘LP3’ from the VMP store here.

Hana Vu

The last single for Hana Vu’s upcoming debut, Public Storage, “Gutter,” is a heavy wall of sound, all grunge and guitar. In contrast, the other three singles from the record, “Maker,” “Everybody’s Birthday” and “Keeper” — featured in a past week of Annotated On Rotation — are softer and rely more on subtle synths.

Appropriate for the prevalence of instrumentation on “Gutter,” there’s an accompanying live video of Vu performing the song. The intensity of the guitars and percussion is matched by the moodiness of the lyrics: “Oh my god, knock me off from the cellar to the floor / I wanna be on the end of my rope / And I wanna fall off and at the chorus, “I keep score, screaming in the dark, like you wanted.”

About the inspiration for the song, Vu said in a statement, “I used to watch these YouTube videos called Tales of Mere Existence by Levni Yilmaz when I was in middle school and then rediscovered them while writing this record. I actually wrote him a letter when I was 12 … this song is based on one of his shorts.”

You can pre-order Public Storage from the VMP store here.

“Day Plan”
Izzy Heltai

Western Massachusetts singer-songwriter Izzy Heltai has released an EP in 2021, Day Plan (5 Songs Written 4 the End of the World, following up on his 2020 debut album Father. The title track is a simple walkthrough of a regular day for Heltai, with sonic references to Andy Shauf and Ben Folds.

The official lyric video for the song overlays the lyrics on footage of him driving, and is relatively uneventful, like the day the song describes.

Heltai wrote an essay published on Talkhouse about the track earlier this year, in which he explained: “I wanted ‘Day Plan’ to feel like just another day. ‘Go on get going with your day plan’ starts the song and ends the song, summing up the monotony I’ve been experiencing. Day to day, I oscillate between pure joy in the isolation I have, and utter hopelessness and uncertainty about the future.”

He added, “I think if I were to put it simply, this song is just about trying my best.”


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