Beach of Diamonds – “Up all night”
-Beach of Diamonds have an electrifying sound. There’s a pop punk energy at times that connects with my roots. I especially appreciate the way the chord progressions feel familiar but not over used. The intensity of this track is really fun while also having some exciting “sing along” hooks. I bet this would be a great band to hear live. Heads up to our UK readers!
The BrightSlide – “Ancestors”
-This track is a real burner. It starts simple but builds to a powerful, engaging sound on the chorus. There’s an intensity to it that feels just right. There’s a thoughtfulness in the lyrics that seems to be lacking in a lot of indie rock these days. It’ll have you thinking about tradition, ideology, history, and self identity. Why do you do what you do? What motivates and how does your background influence you? What an engaging style for indie rock! We could sure use more of this.
Political Lizard – “I found you”
-The sound of this track is just delicious. I really can’t think of a better word for how I feel about it. There’s something rich and satisfying in the lead vocal. Frankly, I can’t understand every lyric but the mood of the track feels so damn good it almost doesn’t matter. It’s part love song, part declaration of everything be okay. I like it.
Kat Meoz – “Don’t you worry”
-Disco’s not dead; it’s not even sick. That’s right, this modern disco vibe from Kat Meoz is here really exciting. It’ll have you dancing in your chair or, better yet, dancing with your friends. Honestly if you’re putting together an indie pop list for 2019 you really have to include this track. It’s fantastic. It’s about living a carefree life and making the most of what you have.
Alex Di Leo – “High”
-At the end of the first line, I make this involuntary and audible “mmhmm” every time I listen to this track. It’s part chill pop, part revving you up for a banger electro pop track. The way the track transitions dynamics is really powerful. It’s an interesting track lyrically because it might seem like it’s about drug use, but I think it’s actually about feeling good or positive. I think the writer is down because of something that happened, but wishes he didn’t feel that way. No matter your interpretation, it’s a track with a lot of energy and hopefulness and a made-for-live-shows sing along quality.
Common Jack – “Canyons in the dark”
-We have covered Common Jack in the past for the easy going folk rock style. This song is listed under indie pop because it definitely navigates that James Taylor and Fleetwood Mac style 70s easy going rock world. Maybe that’s pop, just from another era. No matter what you call it, this song has some engaging lyrics about the meaning of a relationship. It’s a sort of conversation about how everything can and should work out. I like the optimism and the familiar folk rock vibe.
Bryant Alama – “All the parties we had”
-The opening of this track feels a bit sparce, but once the energy picks up you can’t help but be surprised by the lyricism. I bet there are a lot of people out there who can relate to the deep personal lyrics here. It’s about being down, struggling with depression and struggling to make a new start for yourself. When the percussion and electric guitar finally drop, the song takes on some extraordinary new life. “Now focus in on what you want, you know it’s not this parking spot, suburban cemetary plot that hands you debt to hold you.” I’ll shut up now. Just listen to this prophetic voice of hope and change.
mini golf – “Summer’s Over”
-You might think the male-female folk duo deal is over, but trust us it’s not. I’m putting this one in with indie pop rather than folk because of the rich pop textures in the full composition. That said, the core of the song is in the male-female duos and sweet overall demeanor. Maybe the lyrics don’t fully fit the season we’re in, but the sound is infectiously fun. It’s too good to wait!
Matthew Garrod – “This Town”
-Followers of my writing on music know that I love artists in the vein of Matthew Thiessen (of Relient K). The harmony hook-laden pop rock flavor does my heart good. Matthew Garrod just came right out of nowhere and smacked me with a sound firmly in that pop rock tradition. Some of the harmony structures remind me of my younger days watching TRL! Yet there’s an authenticity to this track that feels like the nostalgia and provincialism are intentional. It’s about turning yourself to positivity when it’s so easy to be negative about who you are and where you are. I dig it.
Yoke Lore – “Chin Up”
-We have covered Yoke Lore in the past. There’s a creativity in this sound that feels like it’s really close to breaking out. They sound a bit like what I loved with Darlingside on their early stuff. It’s got layers of harmonics and nuance that we don’t hear very often in folk music. Once it all comes together in an indie pop vibe, it’s easy to hear how they could fill stadiums with this. It’s exotic, yet extremely accessible. I don’t know what the musical term is for that, but for now we’ll go with enjoyable indie pop.
Karkosa – “Mango Tree”
-I love the unpredictability of this track. It feels simultaneously like an homage to the 90s and 60s at the same time. I love the staccato parts on the chorus, the ranty vocal style, and the undying Brit pop style on the guitars. When it all comes together, especially the gang vocal on the bridge, just feels right. When we tell folks we’re looking for something “unique” in indie rock, this is what we mean. It’s fun, production is fantastic, and the lyrics are mysterious yet thought provoking.