Now Hear This! This week’s offerings range from the strange, alluring sounds of Kosmetika, the alt-pop of Marlena Dae, the psych-rock of Night Walks, and the instrumental surf rock of Agent Octopus. These under-the-radar and largely unnoticed new releases will, hopefully, titillate your ears and trigger an emotional response.

We’ll bring you a new post each week, songs from which will regularly be added to our accompanying “Now Hear This” Spotify playlist.

Kosmetika – Illustration

Art-pop/noir-pop outfit Kosmetika, which hails from Melbourne, Australia, recently dropped their sophomore album, Illustration. Kosmetika translates to ‘cosmetics’ in Uzbekistan.

Co-founded by Veeka Nazarova and Michael Ellis, Kosmetika was not able to work on the new album as a band, so Nazarova and Ellis began the album at home. A blend of shoegaze, new wave, art-rock, and dark synth wave, as well as hints of Russian gothic pop, the songs on the album are innovative, pensive, and mysteriously engaging.

Standout tracks include “House,” “Institute of Kosmetika,” “Rosaleen,” and “Growing Up,” although the entire album recommends itself.

Marlena Dae – A Delicate Storm

New York-born, Berlin-based artist Marlena Dae’s new EP, A Delicate Storm, was written at a cusp of transition and reveals a portrait of emotional unravelling.

Beginning with the new wave/sophistic-pop-flavoured “no place to hide,” which culminates with the sound of thunder, and then segues into “delicate storm,” there is a marked emotional shift. As the meteorological storm hits, Dae undergoes an internal storm.

“emotionless” narrates her trying to flee her feelings; while on “home,” she discovers a peaceful place, symbolizing acceptance. Yet it doesn’t play out, for on “i never loved you,” she displays her residue of pain, leading to self-destructive tendencies.

The opener, “no place to hide,” is without a doubt the best track on the EP.

Night Walks – “Sidelines”

Night Walks, the psych-rock/indie-rock band from Baltimore, Maryland, just dropped their debut single, “Sidelines,” a track conjuring up suggestions of U2. “Sidelines” is from the band’s upcoming debut album.

Night Walks got together at the height of the pandemic and comprises David French (guitar, vocals), Shawn Korkie (keyboards, synths, vocals, percussion), Sam Hughes (bass, vocals, percussion), and Alex Kohler (drums, percussion).

Opening on low-slung humming, thrumming colours revealing the aching throb of longing emotions, French’s vocals imbue the lyrics with haunting timbres.

Agent Octopus – From Atlantis with Love

From Atlantis with Love, the latest EP from Orlando, Florida’s Agent Octopus, features dazzling, reverb-heavy guitars, along with the cello of Grammy-nominated Chloe Mendola.

The rest of Agent Octopus is Art Svricek (baritone, rhythm, acoustic guitars), Jim Colby (baritone, rhythm, bass), and Chuck Sabo (drums).

Slick and brimming with glistening colours and impeccable guitar licks, From Atlantis with Love revels in an array of stylish surf flavours.