8 Graves – “Bury Me Low”
-We try really hard not to judge a band by its name or branding, but honestly when we saw “8 Graves” we figured it was some sort of death metal. Instead, the sound has this experimental vibe to it that you’ll not hear anywhere else. In fact, the tag the band uses is “future grunge” and that works. It’s unique but dynamic. Evocative, in a word.
Ritual Talk – “Plans”
-Call it neosoul if you must, but Ritual Talk are the real deal. There’s a crispness to the recording that will have you wondering if it’s a remastered Stax track from the late 60s. I dig the overall vibe on this one. Honestly if you can listen to this without closing your eyes and swaying, are you even alive inside? It’s sweet and will make you think of that special someone.
The Modern Strangers – “Red Strip Lights”
-I remember being in college when rope lights really took off. Guys would put them in the dorms and turn them on when girls came over for movies on the weekends. It was just bright enough to keep things lit, but dim enough to set the mood. I feel like this song does something similar. The beat is engaging and will get you moving, but it bends the indie electro genre enough to cross over into more mainstream pop. This one should be spinning on college radio stations for sure.
Godwin – “I know”
-The relaxed style here is something that we hear attempted often, but Godwin pulls it off well. There’s a believability to this track; it’s like he actually DOES know. The dynamic work with the electro elements feel unique and fresh, not derivative like so many others. It’s almost prayerful in the honesty of the lyrics, but it’s got a romantic direction. This is powerful.
American Spirits – “Cicada”
-I’ve been to a few punk shows in my life and one of the things I’ve always observed is that guitars win the day. If the guitars can make the ears bleed, people will come back for more. But what I love about American Spirits is that the guitars lay down a solid basis but the lyrics are central. The lead vocal has that quintessential “punk rawk” quality to it, but the literary style in the lyrics will keep them around for a long time. It feels like a more grown up version of some of the bands that I grew up on back in the early 2000s.
Dominique Pruitt – “High in the Valley”
-This is one of the most impressive lyrical tracks I’ve heard all year. The opening line is an absolute stunner and the imagery doesn’t stop there. From irony to just outright cleverness, it’s about the depths of sin and human identity but doesn’t feel preachy at all. In fact, it’s not a sermon at all, but it’ll teach you a lot about how to live your life. The Americana pseudo-throwback style is the perfect vehicle for it, too.
Upsahl – “The Other Team”
-Upsahl is one of my favorite artists that I don’t fully understand why I like. That sounds like a backhanded compliment, but really I love this music. I primarily listen to singer songwriters and folk music, but this infectious indie pop sound just soothes my soul. I find myself dancing, moving, and… to beat it all… smiling hopefully. I dig it.
Matt Nathanson – “Used to be”
-This track has kind of a Ben Rector positivity to it. I love the ironic hopefulness in the music that highlights some super sad lyrics. This is fantastic songwriting. The man clearly fell for whoever he is singing about and it’s actually quite exciting. I don’t remember anything this well, but the nostalgia is adorable.