BEST NEW INDIE LOVE SONG

It’s relatively well-worn territory at this point, so why don’t you go ahead and preemptively roll your eyes at the mere mention of some overly genuine white boy at a house party whipping out a guitar to regale all of those in attendance with his rendition of “Wonderwall.”

But acoustic guitars aside, there’s something magical about the communal experience of music, friends sitting around and sharing in song, knowing every word or hanging on the emotions of some impromptu kind of performance. These moments that are wanted and invited and everyone else is just trying to replicate when they whip out their best version of some overplayed cover song.

But when it is in welcomed originality or comes out of nowhere and brightens your night, that is more along the lines of what Rio Romeo’s songs feel like. Nothing at all like “Wonderwall,” but more so the transcendent moment of music shared in public spaces with smiles and laughter and shock at experiencing something so raw and unfettered. Maybe you wander into a coffee shop and hear these two tunes being belted out loud and you have to stay for just a little while longer after you’ve already finished your cortado and scone to see what is to come next.

Maybe these are songs meant to be played loud in cars with your best friends or partner, relatable, it feels, only to you. But me? I like to picture these songs as if Rio Romeo has just sat down at the piano in the middle of a party and the room quickly silences to make way for a song or two that’ll absolutely blow their minds. ‘Cause they will. Sitting in reverent awe. As if they just came out of nowhere. And they sort of did, didn’t they?

When asked about their genre, Rio Romeo says “The internet is still deciding,” but we are partial to what they have up on their YouTube profile with: ‘cabaret blues on an out of tune piano.’ Whatever the case, Rio Romeo’s songs are starting to speak for themselves. Sure there are other snippets and samples of unfinished songs on their TikTok and YouTube profile, but “Butch 4 Butch” signals the start of more official releases from the artist. This track is part musical theatre, part sea shanty, part cabaret improv, and all with a whole hell of a lot of heart. It’s anxious and funny and genuine and feels like an excited love letter of uncertain futures. We don’t know what the next steps may be but these are the feelings of right now and perhaps that’s all that matters. With “Butch 4 Butch” Rio Romeo puts their lyricism and songwriting on front display, and we’re connecting with this new voice and style no question. It feels natural, stripped down and full of vigor. Just how we like it. 

Where “Butch 4 Butch” rings of musical theatre, “Dyltgir?” screams more of behind the scenes chaos. This track is littered with interludes and asides and vocal layers and is never comfortable settling into one particular mode, stopping almost to a standstill for a laugh before picking back up where it left off with its building punk rock style sing along. Recorded on a USB mic and as voice memos, these seemingly errant ideas come together to create a fascinating bit of cohesive charm. Like, I want to be friends with the person that made this song. Rio Romeo, let’s be friends. I like your style. It’s honest in a time where it seems like everybody is lying just a little bit.

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