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Three artists shaping the new music wave

BENEE, Orion Sun and Dora Jar set their own tempo and lead a new generation of passionate creatives.

After a turbulent year, especially for young people, music that gives a voice to our generation is more important than ever. Vulnerability, resilience and potential only begin to describe the musicians that broke out in 2020, and these women began this year with lightning projects that explore the breadth of our generation’s creativity. BENEE’s “LYCHEE,” Orion Sun’s “Getaway” and Dora Jar’s “comfortably in pain” are 2022’s most exciting EPs so far, overflowing with youth and style that deserves several playthroughs.

BENEE broke out in the early-quarantine phase of 2020 with “Supalonely,” an upbeat tune that defined a lot of the Gen Z pandemic experience. In her music since, the New Zealand native produced countless pop singles that are irresistible, unpredictable yet personal. “LYCHEE” stays true to BENEE’s history as she journeys through the optimism and nihilism of her 2021 in seven tracks.

“Beach Boy” is the standout single of the batch. It’s a tune perfect for warm weather, but BENEE dishes out some cold feelings toward an annoying lover.  Trapped between anger and desire, the catchy groove makes the emotion-imbued lyrics deceptive.

Who would have guessed turning down a proposal could sound so good? On “Marry Myself,” BENEE rejects the idea of life-long commitment to someone else with the low-energy declaration “I wanna marry myself.” Singing and self-love should be this year’s best couple – a marriage as perfect as the track’s fast percussive rhythm and BENEE’s dreamy vocals.

On “Doesn’t Matter,” BENEE exhales all her worries and doubts on a cloud. She floats carelessly along to the steady bass and snare, begging to numb her mind and declare nihilism the winner of her mental health. As sad as it might sound, this track reaches deep for those who struggled these past few years, and BENEE’s ability to connect to young minds and hearts will only strengthen her generational status.

Like her name suggests, Orion Sun makes you feel like you’re above the clouds with authentic storytelling and visceral visuals. Her two albums, “A Collection of Fleeting Moments and Daydreams” and “Hold Space For Me” are personal adventures on love, personal growth and young anxiety. It’s music that’s laid back yet refreshing, and I can only hope that her narrative style influences another generation of singer songwriters comfortable with clear, descriptive lyricism.

Her “Getaway” project, however, starts off with a heavy groove that grounds you for what the rest of the project will deliver. On the single “concrete,” she maintains her poetic style, and the verse “sprouting from the underground through the concrete” aptly describes Orion Sun’s journey. The song represents her fame through the lens of those closest to her. She’s vulnerable as she describes her intimate relationship, emphasizing how love intricacies mean so much more than surface love and sex. It’s good to know that the one you love is proud of you, and Orion Sun makes intimate and nuanced moments like this so enjoyable to listen to.

My favorite track on this project is “dirty dancer” for its infectious rhythm and wordplay. Orion Sun lists all the places she stands and waits while she thinks of that special someone. “I just want to be the one you want to dance with,” sticks to you, and it is another example of how love can be something as pure as moving along with one another. Like most of her tracks, this song is layered with slow percussion and guitar chords that makes the best of both r&b and bedroom pop.

If you’re looking for someone who is sure of what she wants, look no further than Dora Jar. She turns the very idea of genre on its head by mixing and matching as she pleases. Her eclectic nature makes her one of the most interesting artists in the bedroom pop space, and her words match her musical energy.

“You’re going to get me exploring everything I can do,” said Dora in her Wasserman Music artist bio. “That’s my ambition. I want to stay flexible and shape shift.”

On “comfortably in pain,” Dora Jar crafts a sampling of her broad talent that is fun yet moving. “It’s Random” is named somewhat like how it sounds. It begins like a folk ballad with comfortable guitar picking before turning into a head-smashing rock song and back. She switches between these two soundscapes effortlessly, which demonstrates how masterful her execution is on this track.

“Lagoon” starts slow and seemingly mundane, but Dora Jar’s musical swells bring the track to life. “My heart is a crustacean, can you come to crack it open” is a phrase I’d never imagine making so much sense, but she sings it like it’s part of any other heartbreaking love ballad on the market. From whispers to soaring vocals in a matter of seconds, she paints a fantastical, psychedelic portrait of love and intimacy that keeps me coming back.

 Guitar picking along to a synth wave intro is unexpected. That is, until you realize Dora Jar is singing about a scab on her leg. For “Scab Song,” words cannot describe nor defend her work better than listening for yourself. It’s filled with twists and turns, but the energy she delivers is unmatched. It’s clear to see how the intentional instrumentals, novel storytelling and creative directions make Dora Jar into a stellar musician for a generation that can’t be boxed into one genre.

All three artists are past their debut albums, so these EPs are delightful surprises that show their commitment to succinct, reflective and exploratory music. BENEE, Orion Sun and Dora Jar might be shadowed by the young breakout stars taking over the pop landscape, but their music reaches deeper and deserves global recognition. They’re young artists who take the world’s uncertainty and plot their own path toward authentic answers. If not already, their names and music will be on the forefront of our generation’s minds soon enough, so take an hour and listen to these three artists set to change the music landscape for the better.

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