Listen To This: The Jonas Brothers drop ‘Waffle House’

Listen to this week’s most notable singles from The Paper Kites, Arthur Russell and more.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

(Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

From the talk-singing of Cheekface to the subdued vocals of Albert Hammond Jr., this past week saw a slew of exciting new singles to usher in the exquisite warm weather. Whether your favorite spring activity is camping or contemplating what went wrong in your last failed relationship, at least one of the featured singles below will provide the perfect soundtrack. Read on for more.

“Popular 2” by Cheekface 

Ethan Beck, Staff Writer

“The future is now, unfortunately.”

It’s a fitting line for the Los Angeles trio Cheekface, a deliberately awkward, cheery and jittery indie rock band that focuses on the anxieties of modern living. On any of the first three Cheekface records, personal worries, systemic problems and online culture blur into a memorable swirl of witticisms, references and concerns. “Popular 2,” the band’s second song of 2023, is an ideal prototype for the Cheekface style. Vocalist Greg Katz speak-sings about “the movie you put on from the camera on your porch,” one of many astute observations about security and privacy that appear throughout the song. The tone is further set by the goofy Clavinet keyboards playing throughout the verse. Cheekface is definitely a band that asks you to get on its wavelength. If you can get past the band’s immediate dopiness, you’ll find a lot to love between Katz’s lyrics and the simple, fun grooves of the songs.

“Till the Flame Turns Blue” by The Paper Kites

Katherine Manatos, Contributing Writer

Composed of restful vocals and consonant, reverb-laced guitars, The Paper Kites’ new single“Till the Flame Turns Blue” is evocative of a warm, late-night campfire burning. The second release off the band’s upcoming album “At The Roadhouse,” “Till the Flame Turns Blue” reveals a theme of longing to find familiar comfort in people or places within the first two lines: “I wanna get back to you baby / I wanna get back to those times.” 

The indie folk group preserves its attachment to folk ballads in this latest release, encapsulating a burning desire within its emotive lyrics: “Cause we both know if we’re still trying / We could burn until the flame turns blue.” The track does a perfect job of emitting a somber calmness to listeners. Both “Till the Flame Turns Blue” and the band’s previously released ballad “The Sweet Sound of You” communicate a comforting, cabin-like feeling, and hopefully form a preview of the overarching themes on the upcoming album.  

“The Boy with a Smile” by Arthur Russell

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Arts Editor

On April 7, the record label Audika announced that an album of previously unreleased songs by the late American cellist Arthur Russell will come out in June. The announcement came with the premiere of “The Boy with a Smile,” the first single from the upcoming album “Picture of Bunny Rabbit.” The single offers listeners an all too familiar warble, as Russell sings about sustaining a smile during a joyful relationship. Whether the relationship in question is romantic or platonic is left to interpretation, as the musician’s proclivity to have his voice gradually lose clarity as his melodies swell buries any clear message beneath layered arrangements. His lilt sounds like that of a siren’s, an aged voice from another time and another place bubbling forth from an unknown depth to cradle anyone listening. As the song continues, Russell’s compositions sound like they’re somehow simultaneously coming undone and seaming together. It is a true demonstration of the artist’s knack for protean compositions, wherein songs don’t necessarily build in any given direction but rather morph freely to the whims of their makers. A harmonica spurt signals the song’s end, as the background instrumentals whittle down to silence, each releasing a final breath in Russell’s rapid work of vertiginous beauty.

“Waffle House” by The Jonas Brothers

Pritheva Zakaria, Contributing Writer

The Jonas Brothers released “Waffle House,” the second single of their upcoming sixth album, aptly named “The Album,” on April 7. This song is exactly what we needed as the weather warms up and people are coming out of their seasonal depression. “Waffle House” embodies the type of music the brothers have been releasing since their 2019 comeback such as singles “Sucker” and “What A Man Gotta Do,” upbeat tracks exploring relationship dynamics. 

“Waffle House” expands on this theme and resonates with many listeners. The Jonas Brothers are singing about a common occurrence in many of our lives — fighting but forgiving while at a chain restaurant. The trio sing about how there should always be redemption and forgiveness in a relationship, and Waffle House is the perfect location for such sentiments. Who doesn’t converse over a plate of food, especially comfort food like waffles? In the chorus, the trio sings, “No, don’t get stressed, it’s gon’ get figured out / Oh, deep conversations at the Waffle House / Headstrong father and a determined mother / Oh, that’s why some nights we tried to kill each other / But you know it’s always love.” 

With interesting lyrics and an upbeat sound, the song utilizes a formula exuding pop perfection, making for an absolute earworm of a tune. 

“100-99 (feat. GoldLink)” by Albert Hammond Jr.

Holden Lay, Staff Writer

The Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr.’s latest solo single displays the same melodic prowess the band toyed with on its last record “The New Abnormal,” but cut with a poppier edge. The artist has always succeeded in making his solo work feel distinct from the sound of The Strokes, and his new single is no exception. On “100-99,” clanky drum machines and plinky synths offer a quirky, miniature feel reminiscent of a children’s toy. The tone only highlights the sweetness of Hammond Jr.’s vocals. His monotone, cooly disaffected line delivery — admittedly very Strokes-ish — sounds terrific as he sings, “Who let you go / Wander through the streets, rows and rows / Maybe close your eyes / So you don’t / Wonder why it hurts to know me (Yeah).”

The inclusion of rapper GoldLink, while a talent in his own right, is a little puzzling on this twee, pop-rock track. Nonetheless, it is well executed and a lot smoother than other rap-indie rock collaborations this track may bring to mind.

“Never Felt So Alone” by Labrinth 

Afnan Abbassi, Staff Writer

Labrinth’s newest collaboration with Billie Eilish offers an ethereal addition to the soundtrack of HBO’s “Euphoria.” Beginning with a backing staccato beat similar to that of his 2019 songs “Mount Everest” and “All for Us,” the song is an amalgamation of cuts, computerized vocal edits, video-game-esque sound effects, and seemingly random noises of liquid pouring and records scratching. While Eilish’s whisper-singing temporarily hides behind Labrinth’s voice, she also finds the space to belt, with those brief moments seeming to be a form of catharsis for her: “Who knew you were just out to get me? / My whole world just fell apart.” This lyrical and auditory distortion alludes to a combined feeling of isolation and frustration, a narrative style that Labrinth often explores. 

“Everybody Needs Someone (feat. Vance Joy)” by Noah Cyrus

Pritheva Zakaria, Contributing Writer

Singer-songwriter Noah Cyrus released the single “Everybody Needs Someone” on April 7. The track features Vance Joy, the artist best known for his 2013 hit “Riptide,” and explores how, despite how little we may want to admit it, we all need someone to love, to talk to and to be with. Singing, “But don’t slip away before the dawn / Morning’s about to come / And everybody needs someone / And I’ll be here waitin’,” Cyrus pulls at our heartstrings with a country beat and vulnerable lyrics. Joy joins her on this track, perfecting the balance between her feminine, soft-spoken voice with his masculine, pensive one. It almost feels like a conversation is taking place between both artists, an acknowledgement that you could be at your lowest, but there will always be that one person who can bring you back up. This song is also about accepting someone for all of the intricacies that make them who they are. It is slow-paced, romantic, soft, sweet and definitely worth a listen.  

“Dare Me” by Beach Fossils

Katherine Manatos, Contributing Writer

After a six-year hiatus, Beach Fossils has emerged from the sand, releasing “Dare Me,” the second single from the band’s June 2 album “Bunny.” “Dare Me,” in addition to the other single “Don’t Fade Away,” reminds fans exactly why they fell in love with the band, perfectly encapsulating Beach Fossils’ signature surf-rock-meets-dream-pop style.

Starting with the merging of two melodic guitar riffs, percussive bass and a consistent beat, “Dare Me” builds itself with a fusion of dreamy instrumentals and soft-spoken vocals. The song’s tone is so alluring that it enchants listeners into overlooking the track’s focus on naive love. Within the verses, the lyrical composition explores the childish mistakes that surround early relationships: “You said ‘if you get yourself together, you’d be alright’ / But nothing feels better than wasting your time.” To balance this naive outlook, the chorus reveals the subconscious knowledge of the verses’ rose-tinted attitude: “Kill the cliche for a moment / and I’ll tell it like it is.” While the relationship flaws go recognized, the lyrics remain clouded in denial until the song abruptly ends with, “I think I need more than this.” Stepping back into the game with a well-paired second track, Beach Fossils is keeping fans interested in what’s coming next.

Contact the music desk at [email protected].