Exploring various textures of independent pop music in 2019

Matthew Mayfield – “S.H.A.M.E.”
-Fun fact: Matthew Mayfield is a major reason I became a blogger. This latest salvo from Mayfield shows off his exceptional songwriting chops yet again. The attitude is reflective of a rocky relationship, but the track will have a lot of fans relating to the emotions of the song. Are you the one who can unlock the door to shame? Basically, are you willing to love someone enough to get to know who they really are? It’s deep and moving with some great vintage 80s rock guitar work.

The Bergamot – “Young Again”
-There’s a creative energy to this track that feels like a blend of folk and pop rock. Of course with those two being at the core of the song, it got my attention. Then the vocal harmonies were on point, so I sat straight up in my seat for this one. The thoughtful lyrics about looking back on life are fabulous. It’s one of those songs that just smacks you right between the eyes, reflecting on where you’ve been and where you’re heading. The geographic section of the song made me think about where I’ve been as well. It’s an infinitely relatable song.

Becoming Bristol – “Premonition”
-If you’re looking for the kind of vocal that can really pull you into a song, look no further than Becoming Bristol. The power chords are solid as well. The overall sound is one that feels influenced by the pop rock of the 90s but carves out its own niche here. I appreciate the shifting style from the heavy guitar and shouted vocals into more introspective stripped down sections. The song is an adventure. I’m on board.

Kevin Scoma – “Dream in the Daytime”
-A hush fell over the crowd as Scoma played that first chord. I mean, it has to. The sound is so introspective and thoughtful you have to concentrate. But you’ll be glad if you give Scoma your attention. The harmonies on the chorus are divine. I really enjoy the kind of atmospheric vocal work that defines this track. It does feel “dreamy.” I am putting Scoma on my short list for up and coming songwriters. This is delightful.

Patawawa – “That Guy”
-This danceable nu disco track might not be what most people think of as independent pop music, but it absolutely is. And it kicks ass! This song is such a good time. The 80s synth and 70s beat mesh together for something that will have you hitting the dancefloor. The vibe of this track will have you feeling like you are living a wild and exciting life. It also makes me feel really old as a mid-30s suburban guy. But I am chair dancing like a fool right now… so I mean… it’s working.

Human Barbie – “We disappeared”
-I like this song so much I added it to my Soundcloud likes page. That’s rarified air, as they say. But you know why I like the song so much? It’s a brilliant example of psych and pop rock meeting in the middle. It feels timeless and engaging. The thoughtful philosophical lyrics give me all sorts of vibes that I don’t expect from a pop record. It sounds like a deep cut that someone dug out from the late days of Cream or the early days of Floyd. It’s wonderful.

The Brazen Youth – “Contemplation, Twilight”
-This song doesn’t open like a pop song, but stick with it. The chorus evolves into some sort of fascinating honky tonk meets mid-century rock energy. It’s definitely not a typically song, but that’s what we appreciate about the experimental style. The structural elements like the harmony and instrumentation are traditional yet the rhythm and lyrics are certainly unique. It’s certainly not top 40 pop music, but it follows a lot of the conventions of indie pop music.

Judy Blank – “1995”
-Blank is one of my favorite finds in 2019. There’s a sincerity to this composition that I find delightfully endearing. It’s certainly pop in a traditional sense. The song could certainly hold its own on a singer songwriter playlist, but it also has a place here in an indie pop list as well. I love the crossover appeal of the track. The age discussion in the lyrics is interesting, but it absolutely feels like the main character is stuck in a quandry. It’s real, highlighting a dichotomy of being both raw and polished at the same time. Give it a spin!

Paper Lions – “Don’t feel like that”
-The up tempo style of Paper Lions is one that I find infectiously enjoyable. For this sound to work, a band has to have a phenomenal lead vocal and some really pure guitar chord work. Paper Lions have both of these that work really well. We often tell bands in this space that we’re looking for something that sounds like Relient K. As a lifelong Thiessen fan, I can safely say these cats can hang in that company. Digging this track, this overall sound, and am singing along!

The Carbons – “Comforts that kill”
-So the lyrics of this song might just knock you on your ass. You’ve been warned! But the guitars will finish you off, even if the lyrics don’t knock you out. It’s a modern rock homage to substances that your grandma doesn’t want you to use. It’s the most polite rebellion you’ll ever hear in music. I appreciate the controlled aggression of the track. The gruffness in the lead vocal earns a great deal of credibility; the lyrics are the coup de grace.

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