Ghostly Kisses – “The City Holds My Heart”
-There’s definitely a haunting notion to this band named after ghosts. The entire atmospheric quality of the song just fills the room with a kind of visceral fog. The understated vocal style fits perfectly in the mix. It’s about making it work but not really knowing if it ever will. Fantastic!
Grand Am – “Angels”
-The feel of this track, starting with the saucy syncopation in the opening, through the lead vocal and into the chorus all has a chill to it. It’s perfect for the crispness of October. The “ohh” vocals slide onto the top of the track, adding a tangible sense of distance between the layers. This is what good modern rock composition is all about; it makes you feel and it helps you chill all at once.
Mekong Express – “Common Knowledge”
-This song reminds me of early Chicago. It reminds me of some really fascinating instrumental work with a unique vocal. Vintage instrumentation and the willingness to experiment with the limits of those instruments seems to define this track. If you’re not drawn into this one, we’re not sure how to help. This is golden.
Gene Micofsky – “Fist for a hammer”
-I immediately put this track on an Americana playlist because goshdarnit this is what America sounds like. The vibe here feels equal parts bayou and inner city; it’s rusty, crusty, and ready for a fight. I love the “catch the mighty dollar, but the damn thing’s on the run” line. It’s an uptempo, fascinating track unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. The harmonies might not be haunting, but the composition sure is. What a track!
Sun Brother – “Slow Motion”
-This is an intricately balanced track with some really evocative harmonies. The execution makes this song seem “simple” but the layers of sound here are really impressive. The lead vocal is quality and the guitars help to fill out the chord structure. It feels a bit like a band we covered a while back called Branches… with a touch of The Oh Hellos. In other words, we’re loving the folksy pop elements a lot.
Sinnober – “Successful”
-Jazz is one of those genres that lends itself to “haunting,” but this track really nails that angle. It’s so hard to explain to people what kind of jazz we like, but really this is it. There’s a fusion of trad jazz and rock here that just pops for us. The vocal element dances beautifully with the horns and the rhythm. This composition is unrivaled and we’re eager for more from Sinnober.
Jon Reynolds and the Aches – “Tomorrow’s News”
-I can’t help but make the NeedToBreathe comp with Jon Reynolds and his band. They really put together an infectiously enjoyable sound. Not only do I think these vocals fit the “haunting” theme here, I believe in them enough to put them on the end of year candidate list. This track is killer, fun to sing with, and puts Reynolds in a rising star category for sure.
The Nice Nice – “Beached”
-When I first heard this song from The Nice Nice, I didn’t know what to say. I was flabbergasted. What, exactly, is it? Is this a folk song? Is it a pop song? But the closer I listened, the more I realized it doesn’t even matter. This is a broken heart in quarter and eighth notes; it’s the expression of a deeply severed soul and I couldn’t help but support the track. The vocal has a 60s sass and the electric guitars have a modern flourish; when it comes together, it’s a next level contemporary buzz track worth your time.
The Forever Agos – “Want and Need”
-I love the unique chord progression here. It’s a track with some real spunk to it, rolling from one frame to another with easy and yet a strong punctuated sense to it. The backing vocals give it a vintage style, even though the lead singer’s tone and inflection are thoroughly post-punk. But honestly I could listen to that guitar/piano part from the main melody for hours. It’s really great (and definitely haunting).
The Treble – “Eyes on Us”
-The band call this “alt rock” and I think I agree with that. What I love most is the way the chorus elongates into this fascinating anthemic style. It reminds me of some kind of arena rock. The sound feels much bigger than just a few members. The whole lyric of people keeping their eyes on us hits for me – we are definitely to live as an example for others. That stuck with me and the sing-a-long power rock style here works for me. I bet by the second chorus you’re singing along as well…