The Roundup – March 2015

via A Buzz in My Ears – The Roundup – March 2015 

Hello again, world! Things have been somewhat busy as of late, so I haven’t been able to update as frequently as I would like. Regardless, I’ve decided to compile a 20-track Roundup highlighting some of the best finds of the past month. 2015 is shaping up really well, and I’m excited to continue discovering great talents in the indie, alternative, and DIY worlds. Read on for the track-by-track, and scroll to the bottom for the full playlist!

Eskimeaux – “Broken Necks”

Mid-March yielded the pleasant announcement of new music from Epoch artist Eskimeaux. Her next album O.K. will be released by label friends Double Double Whammy on 5/12. “Broken Necks,” one of two singles featured this month, is an upbeat sounding number, similar to Frankie Cosmos. The other, “I Admit I’m Scared,” has a slower acoustic build, yet is equally rewarding.

Beauty Pill – “Dog With Rabbit In Mouth Unharmed”

Beauty Pill craft exceptional experimental folk, definitely for fans of Califone or Over the Rhine, There’s a lot of sonic texture on “Dog With Rabbit In Mouth Unharmed,” the first single from the band since their 2004 record The Unsustainable Lifestyle. Their next album, Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are, is due 4/21 on Butterscotch.

Blahvocado – “Winner”

I’ve already gushed about singer-songwriter Matt Pignatore’s latest release Suck Up All Your Guts (out now on Bandcamp), but I want to focus on “Winner”, my favorite track on the release. This one is, like the rest of Pignatore’s output, incredibly catchy with a nice pop sensibility.

Young Fathers – “Shame”

Young Fathers sound somewhere between TV on the Radio and Bloc Party, with a bit of their own craziness thrown in for good measure. “Shame” is an absolute standout from the band’s upcoming release White Men are Black Men Too (due 4/7, but streaming right now over at Noisey).

Rocky Votolato – “The Hereafter”

Rocky Votolato sounds like a mix between Brandon Flowers and The Boxer Rebellion. The veteran singer-songwriter is set to release his eighth solo record Hospitals & Handshakes on 4/21, via No Sleep. Single “The Hereafter” has a punchy alternative feel, not far off from The Boxer Rebellion, The Killers, or Nada Surf.

Nudity – “White Hot Gold”

Time for a retro-rocker. Nudity is an odd, bombastic rock band from Olympia, WA, set to release their latest record Astronomicon on 4/7 via Iron Lung. “White Hot Gold” has it all: soaring guitar lines, pummeling bass lines, and fiercely strange vocals. The synths recall Supertramp, yet the sound is akin to Kiss, and Thin Lizzy. The vocals lie somewhere between Geddy Lee and Dan Bejar. There’s a lot to take in, but it’s all rewarding as heck.

Marching Church – “King of Song”

Marching Church is formerly the solo project from Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, the lead singer of Iceage. However, on new album This World is Not Enough (out now via Sacred Bones), Rønnenfelt has expanded the group to full band status, featuring members from Choir of Young Believers and Lower, among others. I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s Plowing into the Field of Love, and am glad to hear that single “King of Song” does not disappoint one bit. It captures that same distant, wispy nostalgia, between the pumping bass line, the frothing saxophone, and Rønnenfelt’s affected vocal.

Downtown Boys – “Monstro”

Singer Victoria Ruiz has a voice (both musically and lyrically) that completely demands your attention,  kind of like Meredith Graves. “Monstro” is a blisteringly political punk song that feels a bit like a grade school food-fight: it’s a tad messy and uncomfortable for the uninitiated, but once you get your hands dirty, there’s much fun to be derived from the sheer chaos. I even hear a note of Operation Ivy in those drums, which brings me back to my earliest days jumping around in my sister’s bedroom. Good times.

Girlpool – “Ideal World”

The drumless Philly duo Girlpool is captivating, angsty, insular, vulnerable, and all at once warm. Their debut album Before the World Was Big is due 6/1 via Wichita, and “Ideal World” is one of the choice tracks to hit the blogosphere. Despite the lack of drums on “Ideal World,” the lyrics and guitar interplay have more room to captivate. The segment “I was taught what to believe/Now I’m only certain that no one is free,” communicates a sense of sacrificing your own individuality for the supposed appearances others expect. There is pain in this introspection, but it is real and relatable.

Karman – “I’ve Never Felt So True”

OK, a bit of cheating. “I’ve Never Felt So True” is not so much a single, but rather a 25-minute mix from Beverly Hills producer Karman. I’m not so in tune with today’s DJs, but I can tell that Karman has a natural knack for blending and synthesizing sounds. The follow-up to his debut 2005Forever, “I’ve Never Felt So True” blends familiar melodies (“Paparazzi” from Lady Gaga), and foreign sounds (“Snaerisendar” from Sigur Ros singer Jonsi). It’s tough not to include it, because it’s so unbelievably beautiful. Karman dedicated this mix to a girl he likes, and the sentiment shows in the wash of sound.

Pfarmers – “The Ol’ River Gang”

Pfarmers are somewhat of an indie super-group, featuring Bryan Devendorf of The National and Danny Seim of Menomena. “The Ol’ River Gang” is an odd, trippy indie pop number that blends the two talents together with excellent horns from Dave Nelson, and lush synths. Seim’s vocals feel reminiscent of UK indie vets Elbow, and the track sound is indubitably similar to Say Hi’s “Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh”. The trio’s album Gunnera is due out 5/12 via Jurassic Pop.

Crying – “Patriot”

Chiptune-pop-punk group Crying are the last band you’d expect to have such a strong reverence for prog rockers Rush, but it also makes perfect sense. The sheer energy both have, the soaring nostalgic feeling enveloped by both, and the clear connection to synthesizers make it a hard similarity to ignore. “Patriot” is strange yet captivating, so much fun, and the perfect tune to soundtrack video games like Gunstar Heroes or Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I feel transported to my childhood when I hear this.

Sheer Mag – “Button Up”

Sheer Mag screams indie rock, but I hear notes of doo-wop and soul in the vocals. There’s an influence of another time here, which is apparent in the Philly group’s reverence for Thin Lizzy and the Runaways. “Button Up” is on the band’s upcoming 7″ (due later this year via Katorga).

Hop Along – “Waitress”

I’ve long been drawn to the ferocity and pop sensibility of Hop Along, tracing back to their last record Get Disowned. “Waitress” is one of two cuts from their upcoming release Painted Shut (due 5/4 via Saddle Creek). The feel is 90s-nostalgic, but incredibly angsty. I love how raw Frances Quinlan’s vocals can get, and how honest this music feels.

Albert DeMuth – “Finally Found a Job”

Here is yet another head-turner oddity. Albert DeMuth traces territory somewhere between Tindersticks and Small Wonder. “Finally Found a Job” begins with a dark, dismal guitar line and bass vocal, but soon develops into a full-band stomp that phases in and out. The phasing here makes the whole experience dreamy and wispy. The Providence, RI artist dropped his self-titled album on Bandcamp earlier this month, and it is up for streaming and purchase.

Shilpa Ray – “Pop Song for Euthanasia”

Some more cheating: the last five songs on this playlist are some of my favorites from my first Roundup this past month. I’m no stranger to weird female-fronted pop, and Shilpa Ray certainly delivers in that genre. Ray has an incredibly powerful voice, sounding somewhere between the yearn of Sharon Van Etten and the force of Debbie Harry. “Pop Song for Euthanasia” is a taste of what’s to come on Last Year’s Savage, due this May. 
Speedy Ortiz – “The Graduates”
The next single to be dropped for this Massachusetts band’s upcoming sophomore LP Foil Deer, “The Graduates” is a new favorite. Sounding like a follow-up to the incredible “No Below”, the track recalls past images of school infringing on current states. One of the best lines comes in the chorus: “I was the best at being second place/But now I’m just the runner-up/ At being the second one you think of every day/ Before you go back to one.” 
Hailey Wojcik – “XO Skeleton”
Here’s an artist with a voice similar to Sadie Dupuis and Annie Clark. Brooklyn-based Hailey Wojcik released her self-produced EP Book of Beasts in early March, which can be streamed right here. Wojcik released the video to “XO Skeleton” last month. This is an incredible, spidery, melodic adventure, one you’d be wise to take.
Pupppy – “Beans”
With a scene that brought out incredible acts like Mitski and LVL UP, I’m glad to see the Purchase, NY continue on with Pupppy. With an upcoming debut entitled Shit in the Apple Pie (due 4/21 via Father/Daughter), and lyrics like “I puke truth all over you”, there’s an uncomfortable, almost stomach-churning insecurity present here. Songwriter Will Rutledge is able to effectively turn these uncomfortable feelings into affecting aural moments.
American Wrestlers – “There’s No One Crying Over Me Either”
Finally, one of March’s highlights is the heartrending track “There’s No One Crying Over Me Either”, from lo-fi pop act American Wrestlers. The project of music industry veteran Gary McClure, this track is one of several to be included on American Wrestlers, the eight-song album originally released to the world last fall. American Wrestlers will be out 4/7 via Fat Possum.
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The Roundup – 3/6/15

via The Roundup – 3/6/15 

The Roundup is a weekly curated 20-track playlist, highlighting the best finds from the blogosphere in indie, DIY, and beyond. Scroll to the bottom for the full playlist, and read on for the track-by-track!

Pope – “Let Down”

We start this week strong with brand new music from New Orleans indie rock band Pope, who just dropped their debut album. Deemed by Noisey as “Your Older Brother’s New Favorite Record”Fiction is streaming in full over there. “Let Down” is a choice cut from the record, drenched in lo-fi ambiance and the dust of nostalgia. It really feels like an unearthed gem from yesteryear.

Shilpa Ray – “Pop Song for Euthanasia”

I’m no stranger to weird female-fronted pop, and Shilpa Ray certainly delivers in that genre. Ray has an incredibly powerful voice, sounding somewhere between the yearn of Sharon Van Etten and the force of Debbie Harry. “Pop Song for Euthanasia” is a taste of what’s to come on Last Year’s Savage, due this May. 
Bop English – “Sentimental Wilderness”
Definitely for fans of Woods, Youth Lagoon, or Foxygen, Bop English knows how to craft pop songs that feel retro and current. The project of White Denim artist James Petralli, Bop English is due to drop his debut Constant Bop on 4/14. The songwriting is strong, and one of my favorite lines here is a rumination on leading or following: “If you couldn’t afford a constitution, would you write one of your own?”
Speedy Ortiz – “The Graduates”
The next single to be dropped for this Massachusetts band’s upcoming sophomore LP Foil Deer, “The Graduates” is a new favorite. Sounding like a follow-up to the incredible “No Below”, the track recalls past images of school infringing on current states. One of the best lines comes in the chorus: “I was the best at being second place/But now I’m just the runner-up/ At being the second one you think of every day/ Before you go back to one.” Unfortunately, the release of “The Graduates” comes timed with the sudden loss of singer Sadie Dupuis’ father. Dupuis wrote a touching tribute to her father, highlighting his career in the music and entertainment industry, and his brilliant humor and advice. I offer her and her family my most sincere condolences, and with the addition of “The Graduates”, Foil Deer is shaping up to being one of my most anticipated releases of 2015.
Hailey Wojcik – “XO Skeleton”
Speaking of Speedy, here’s an artist with a voice similar to Sadie Dupuis and Annie Clark. Brooklyn-based Hailey Wojcik released her self-produced EP Book of Beasts this past week, which can be streamed right here. Wojcik released the video to “XO Skeleton” last month. This is an incredible, spidery, melodic adventure, one you’d be wise to take.
Passenger Peru – “The Best Way to Drown”
Brooklyn psych-rock duo Passenger Peru recently released the video to the track “The Best Way to Drown”, and it’s a strange one. With a sound that feels like the walls could come crashing down any minute, “The Best Way to Drown” is a choice track from the recently released LP Light Places
Ava Luna – “Coat of Shellac”
More excellent arty soul rock from this brilliant Brooklyn act! “Coat of Shellac” is the next track to be released from the upcoming Infinite House (due 4/14 via Western Vinyl), and it features solid vocals from singer Felicia Douglass. Douglass sang lead on “Prpl”, one of my favorite tracks from last year’s Electric Balloon, so I’m glad to hear her back on the mic for this cut. Check out the cool lyric video above!
Vetiver – “Loose Ends”
Folk-pop vets Vetiver are back with “Loose Ends”, from their upcoming LP Complete Strangers (due 3/24 via Easy Sound). The song is nice and jangly, almost reminding me of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers or The Traveling Wilburys. It has a nice, vintage feel. 
Pupppy – “Beans”
With a scene that brought out incredible acts like Mitski and LVL UP, I’m glad to see the Purchase, NY continue on with Pupppy. With an upcoming debut entitled Shit in the Apple Pie (due 4/21 via Father/Daughter), and lyrics like “I puke truth all over you”, there’s an uncomfortable, almost stomach-churning insecurity present here. Songwriter Will Rutledge is able to effectively turn these uncomfortable feelings into affecting aural moments.
Mitski – “Francis Forever (Ryan Hemsworth Remix)”
The latest remix from electronic producer Ryan Hemsworth, Mitski’s “Francis Forever” translates well in Hemsworth’s hands. It is invigorating to hear this track with more of an electronic edge, and Hemsworth’s production choices really make it feel like a sort of meeting of the minds.
Young Rapids – “Melt”
“Melt” is a standout from the upcoming Pretty Ugly, the sophomore release from DC act Young Rapids. The band sounds like something for fans of Tame Impala, or Thee Oh Sees. I am instantly impressed by this psych-pop band, and eagerly await more. You can stream their LP now over at Noisey.
Bosse-de-Nage – “A Subtle Change”
How about a not-so-subtle change, shall we? Black metal is a genre I rarely dive into, but acts like Deafheaven and Liturgy tend to pull me in, from the distraught vocals to the thrashing percussion. Bay Area act Bosse-de-Nage makes some oddly catchy, driving, and intriguing black metal, and “A Subtle Change” is a track that will certainly pull you in to the genre if you haven’t dipped your toes already. The band is set to release their third record All Fours on 4/14, via Profound Lore
DM Stith – “Imperial Leather”
Another strangely engrossing cut this week, “Imperial Leather” comes from former Sufjan Stevens piano player DM Stith. The voices jump around jubilantly between your speakers, and there is much to gleam from the production on this track. Personally, I was roped in from opening line, “Who invited her highness down to frighten us all again?”
Lucern Raze – “Stockholm Syndrome”
Here’s some catchy lo-fi garage rock for fans of King Tuff or Ty Segall. Developing out of a move from London to Stockholm, Lucern Raze is the new project of Sex Beet artist Luke Reilly. It’s a fresh, invigorating take on garage music, and the synth/vocal doubling towards the end is pure icing.
Blood Sister – “Ghost Pussy”
Time for some scrappy indie rock. San Francisco act Blood Sister combines a slew of guitar sounds together, from a clean reverbed guitar to distorted leads. The whole thing feels ghostly and somewhat haunting.
Outfit – “Genderless”
Sounding straight out of the new wave/post-punk era, Liverpool act Outfit make some hypnotic electronic music. “Genderless” is the first single from sophomore release Slowness (due out 6/15 via Memphis Industries). Things remain pretty calm and grounded for the most part, up until the last quarter of the song, where some distortion and noise set in like a fog to an already dark and stormy night.
Native America – “Dance with Me”
More vintage, please! Native America have a scrappy breed of psych-garage rock that is just immediately catchy. “Dance with Me” is a great cut from this New Orleans band’s latest release Grown Up Wrong (out now via Inflated Records). Dig it!
Boxed In – “All Your Love is Gone”
London producer Boxed In sounds somewhere between Kevin Drew, The Cure, and a wee bit of of Montreal. “All Your Love is Gone” bridges the gap between post-punk and indie pop. The track is complemented well by some driving percussion, and a retro guitar breakdown reminiscent of Rush.
The Rotaries – “On the Outs”
Here is some more local indie rock from New York band The Rotaries. “On the Outs” sounds similar to anthemic alt-rockers The Gaslight Anthem, but it has its own promise. It’s a catchy number from the band’s upcoming On the Outs EP. 
American Wrestlers – “There’s No One Crying Over Me Either”
We close this week’s edition with the heartrending track “There’s No One Crying Over Me Either”, from lo-fi pop act American Wrestlers. The project of music industry veteran Gary McClure, this track is one of several to be included on American Wrestlers, the eight-song album originally released to the world last fall. American Wrestlers will be out 4/7 via Fat Possum.
Until next week, keep your ears open!

The Roundup – 2/27/15

via The Roundup – 2/27/15

Hello world! The past week has been a busy one, so I haven’t had time to provide this week’s batch of posts (but I did scrounge up a ton of ideas). Anyhow, the past week had so much good music to discover, so I couldn’t pass up another Roundup. That being said, here is a curated playlist of 20 of the best finds from the past week. And yes, you can expect another Roundup at the end of this week. Score! Scroll to the bottom for the full playlist, and read below for the track-by-track:

The Wombats – “Greek Tragedy”

The Wombats are back stronger than ever on “Greek Tragedy”, a track that sounds more like The 1975 than anything else. That’s not a bad thing either, as the extra polish adds a lot to the band’s sound. This is an especially poppy number, with an extra-creepy NSFW video involving the band and their “number one fan”.

Naps – “Floral Mattress”

Sounding somewhere in the female haze of Waxahatchee and Yours are the Only Ears, Tallahassee four-piece Naps craft fabulous twee-pop that begins somewhat slack and sleepy, but sounds more urgent towards the distortion-laced end (“I hope this scares you sober”).

Leon Bridges – “Lisa Sawyer”

This man manages to sound vintage and current all at once. The steady R&B here is parts Otis Redding and Frank Ocean, and I love every part of it. The doo-wop backup singers, the linear melodies, and the lilting 6/8 beat are just parts to a much greater sum: this incredible track.

Death Cab for Cutie – “No Room in Frame”

The latest from indie rock veterans Death Cab for Cutie is also the opening track of their upcoming eighth record Kintsugi, and if “No Room in Frame” is any indication, this is shaping up to be a great album. With clean guitar sounds fresh out of “A Movie Script Ending”, the whole thing feels like trademark Death Cab. Be right back, eagerly anticipating this record in the corner.

Wet Leather – “Astral Projection”

Coming off as a more soulful and less arty Ava Luna, Wet Leather craft great indie rock (or as their Facebook page says, “anxiety pop”). The band recently premiered the video of their new track “Feel” over on Tiny Mix Tapes, so go ahead and treat yourself. You’ve earned it.

Blind Mice – “Nervous”

Massachusetts pop-punk/emo outfit Blind Mice recently premiered their Sunday Songs EP (due 3/17 on Animal Style) over at BrooklynVegan. Opening track “Nervous” is chock full of angst, anger, and tension.

Honeyblood – “No Big Deal”

Scotland duo Honeyblood create 90s-tinged indie that most readily sounds like EMA meets Waxahatchee. With swooping vocals from Stina Marie Claire, and a clean comping guitar, the whole thing feels older.

Alexei Shishkin – “Goodbye Chile”

A DIY artist sounding close to Alex G and Real Estate,  Portland’s Alexei Shiskin is a promising new artist. “Goodbye Chile” is an insular and minimal bedroom pop track, but one that creeps into you. There is a multitude of sounds here, and it feels crafted with much care. The track is part of Shiskin’s upcoming release (the dog tape) (due out 4/14). Keep your ears peeled for this one.

PURPLE – “Extinction”

Berlin producer PURPLE makes music that feels like Blood Orange meets Rhye. “Extinction” is an incredible example of this artist’s range, from spoken word segments, to recurring R&B vocals (“There’s a sin in my heart”). PURPLE’s debut release Silence & Remorse is due out this spring via WeDidIt.

Spaceships – “Woodz”

Here is another slice of indie-slacker-rock-DIY that feels sloppy but lovable. Los Angeles rockers Spaceships sound like they’re paying homage to The Velvet Underground a bit, between the slightly ranty vocals and the similar chord progression. “Woodz” is the opening cut from Little Buddha (out now), a collection of previously unreleased tracks now seeing the light of day. Dig it.

The Tallest Man on Earth – “Sagres”

Kristian Matsson is back, and sounding more polished. “Sagres” is the first cut from his upcoming record Dark Bird is Home (due out 5/12 via Dead Oceans), and while the feel is cleaner and refined, it still feels like the talented artist we have come to know.

Ben Seretan – “Light Leaks”

Sometimes, there are artists that come and go, and sometimes there are ones that really blow you away, reminding you why you listen in the first place. Ben Seretan is, without a doubt, in the latter camp. “Light Leaks” is a sparse, sprawling 7-minute sonic trip, containing solely an electric guitar interspersed with great vocals. But man, does this guy fill that sonic space up. The artistry on here is brilliant, and Seretan’s guitar chops are incredible. The guitar lines flow almost effortlessly, ebbing and flowing, coming and going. Most powerful is the mantra that fills the final third of the song, acting as words to live by for anyone losing faith: “You will be stronger tomorrow/You will be wiser tonight/You will find new love without warning/You will find new joy with every breath.”

Fred Thomas – “Cops Don’t Care Pt. II”

Saturday Looks Good to Me member Fred Thomas takes it solo to make music that reminds me of Andy Sadoway. There are some great stream-of-consciousness lines here, namely this bit: “Life is so incredibly long/Like a kiss on a bridge between two nervous-ass kids/Terrified of doing everything wrong/Fickle, belligerent, fully existent”

Pillow Talk – “Room”

Proving that there is an emo sound for every era, Pillow Talk are to the 80s what Adventures are to the 90s. This Memphis, TN group are due to release their latest EP What We Should Have Said Was Nothing on 3/3, and “Room” is a solid cut. There is a lot of reverb on this track, but there is also a lot of atmosphere in general.

Eartheater – “Homonyms”

Easily the strangest, quirkiest, and most intriguing find this week. The psychedelic, R&B-tinged solo project of Guardian Alien’s Alexandra Drewchin, Eartheater sounds something between Grimes, Little Dragon, Sharon Van Etten, and Ava Luna. Just a bit artier than all of the above. Check it out!

Battle Ave. – “The Sun”

Here is another outstanding find: Upstate NY band Battle Ave. are due to put out a split with Arkansas group The Coasts this week, and “The Sun” is a great taste of what’s to come.The whole thing is powerful and moving, but also feels fragile, like it could break at any second. The wistful, weeping guitar lines are what stand out most to me, amid the worn, raw freak-folk lead vocals. This is a song in three parts: a clean guitar and vocal waltz-y intro, submerging into a tense, melodic middle, finally winding and building to a final anthemic instrumental segment.

Mumblr – “Got It”

When I was really young, I remember jumping around on my sister’s bed to random songs on the radio. One memory in particular was soundtracked by The Offspring’s “Come Out and Play”. Philly band Mumblr don’t necessarily sound like The Offspring, but they have a similar jump-around-on-your-sister’s-bed feel, right down to that punky chorus.

Little Wings – “By Now”

Some more good folk from the folks over at Woodsist. Little Wings is singer-songwriter Kyle Field, and “By Now” is the first track to be released from his upcoming LP Explains (due out 5/26). This feels right in line with other Woodsist output (Real Estate, Woods, Kevin Morby).

Doe the Band – “Late Bloomer”

This female-fronted indie rock feels most immediately like Speedy Ortiz, but not for the guitar parts. It’s more about the muscular, rhythmic feel. And is it just me, or does that backup vocal sound eerily similar to Amanda Palmer? Bonus points all around.

Beat Radio – “Invisible Cities”

Going to close this mix with a track from a local artist you should be aware of. Bellmore, NY artist Brian Sendrowitz creates solid indie pop as Beat Radio, and the production on this track is incredible. Sendrowitz’s vocals sound a bit more auto-tuned than usual, but that adds to the fun of this track. It feels breezy, and summery. “Invisible Cities” is part of a split release with Kid in the Attic (due out 3/10 via Sendrowitz’s own label, Awkward for Life Records).

Mix is below. Until next time, keep your ears open!

The Roundup – 2/20/15

via The Roundup – 2/20/15 

Another week gone. And yet, this week’s mix has some incredibly moving music. I’ve been drawn to the insular sounds of Los Angeles Police Department and Boduf Songs. The electronica of Buscabulla, Jack Garratt, and Algiers has crooked over my ear. And still, the noisy grunge of Mourn, METZ, and Never Young has drifted me back to my earliest memories thrashing about to the sounds of Tourette’s by Nirvana in my sister’s bedroom, aged 4.

As usual, I’ve curated a 20-track playlist of my favorite tracks to hit the blogosphere this week. Read on below for the track-by-track, and scroll to the bottom for the full playlist!

Broken Water – “High-Lo”

Lying somewhere between indie pop and punk rock, Broken Water have a sound that recalls Magnetic Fields, Sonic Youth circa Washing Machine, and Nirvana. Keep an ear out for this Olympia, WA act.

Los Angeles Police Department – “Water and Wine”

As Los Angeles Police Department, songwriter Ryan Pollie makes some incredible music. “Water and Wine” sounds somewhere between Real Estate and Big Scary, but all the while feeling all its own. Looking forward to more from this artist!

Mourn – “Otitis”

Mourn have been compared to PJ Harvey and Breeders, and I definitely hear the 90’s influence here. There is certainly a nostalgic feel to this act, one that I am consistently drawn to. The band just released their self-titled debut, and it’s being praised all over.

Buscabulla feat. Dev Hynes – “Métele”

Spanish for “troublemaker,” Buscabulla make intriguing indie pop. There is some solid production from Dev Hynes on this track, a standout for this week.

Denai Moore – “Blame”

Denai Moore delivers R&B vocals to songs that have a folk feel. Lying somewhere between Cold Specks and Sharon Van Etten, “Blame” is a delicate, full number.

Waxahatchee – “Under a Rock”

I’ve been eagerly anticipating Ivy Tripp since hearing about Waxahatchee’s signing to Merge, and first single “Air”. “Under a Rock” feels just as mature as that song, and it is exciting to hear Katie Crutchfield developing further as a songwriter.

The Weather Station – “Way It Is, Way It Could Be”

Here is some gorgeous, relaxing folk pop that calls to mind Damien Jurado, Sharon Van Etten, and Lost in the Trees among other acts. Bravo.

Radical Dads – “In the Water”

Here is some great indie rock for fans of Swearin’ and Screaming Females.

METZ – “Acetate”

METZ are back for some great noise rock, and “Acetate” feels like an extension of “Headache,” from their self-titled debut. Here’s looking forward to METZ II.

Yung – “Nobody Cares”

There is plenty of genre hopping on “Nobody Cares”, a track from a band that feels somewhere between the jangle of Spearmint, and a bit of the grunge of Nirvana (that vocal recalls Kurt Cobain, personally).

Screaming Females – “Wishing Well”

Here is another exceptional release from Don Giovanni. “Wishing Well” has been out since October, but the cut is from the New Brunswick trio’s recent album Rose Mountain.

Abram Shook – “Understood”

Western Vinyl continues to put out arty indie that challenges genres with Abram Shook’s latest. “Understood” feels a bit tropical, right from the guitar tone. It is breezy, chill, and perfect for summer days.

Peter Doherty – “Flags of the Old Regime”

Peter Doherty of The Libertines has dropped the video for this special track this week. Acting as a tribute to Amy Winehouse, “Flags of the Old Regime” is a sad number, but one that is arranged with care. The whole track sounds clean, pure, and beautiful, despite being somber.

Pocket Hercules – “Divers”

Pocket Hercules is an act to watch. Coming from Oregon, and now based in Brooklyn, the trio features River Donaghey, who apparently works at VICE (who premiered this track). The band is set to put out their self-titled cassette March 24th, via Seagreen Records.

Jack Garratt – “Chemical”

Sporting some great production, and sounding somewhere between James Blake, Disclosure, Rhye, and Rudimental, Jack Garratt is a talent to watch. The video for “Chemical” just premiered this week, over at The FADER.

Never Young – “Ur a Front”

Here is some more really darn good grunge to come out of the Bay Area. Sounding similar to METZ and FIDLAR, Never Young have really stepped up their sound since their last release. The band is set to release their next EP March 10th on Father/Daughter Records.

Living Hour – “Steady Glazed Eyes”

Here’s a very cozy, nostalgic track. This whole thing feels warm, like a family portrait of sorts. So it’s fitting that it will be released on 4-way split Family Portrait Pt. II via London label Art is Hard.

Lois & the Love – “Pinocchio”

London quartet Lois & the Love have a sound that feels ready to break into mainstream alternative. “Pinocchio” is a standout, the first track to be released from their debut album due this summer.

Algiers – “But She Was Not Flying”

Deemed by Stereogum as “gospel spook” (?), Algiers is the brainchild of Atlanta artist Franklin James Fisher. Whatever it is, it’s the best arty indie I’ve heard since Wise Blood. Dig it!

Boduf Songs – “My Continuing Battle With Material Reality”

Here’s a sad yet powerful number to end the week on: Mat Sweet put out his latest as Boduf Songs, and it’s a real winner. “My Continuing Battle With Material Reality” is a gorgeous and heartbreaking meld of Explosions in the Sky’s post-rock mentality with the electronic elements of Houses. Stench of Exist is available now over at Flenser Records.

Until next week, keep your ears open!

The Roundup – 2/13/15

via The Roundup – 2/13/15 

Here we are: another busy week over, and a lot of things going on. Between Beyoncé-Beck Grammy drama, Beyoncé-style album drops from Drake and Hidden in Plain Viewand the release of Fifty Shades of Grey (soundtrack featuring Beyoncé!), it’s clear a lot went down. But aside from the world-running of Lady Bey (both actually and spiritually), we’re culminating this week with another round of The Roundup. I’ve curated another 20 tracks that have been filling my ear-holes all week, for your enjoyment. Read some blurbs about each song below, and scroll down for the full playlist!

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Multi-Love”

Unknown Mortal Orchestra have always felt like a retro throwback act, and if “Multi-Love” is any indication, their next record is going to be as vintage as ever. The vocals here are the clearest they’ve been. Gone is the fuzzy, aloof nature, and what we have is a more mature sound. The band pays homage to the 70’s rock of bands like Electric Light Orchestra, but also finds a way to make this sound feel current in the indie realm. I personally can’t get enough of that minor chord change (“she wants to be your love”), followed by a quick, effortless drum fill. It’s not exactly clear who “Multi-Love” is, but does that matter? The name isn’t important, but the sentiment of heartbreak is. And who can’t relate to heartbreak better than comparing your downtrodden ticker to being trashed “like a hotel room”? Especially fitting for all the single ladies on Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Day.

Sun Breaks – “Turnstile”

Coming from different indie projects, Sun Breaks feels new in the indie world, but also like they’ve been here forever. I most readily compare this to the jumpy sounds of Mr. Bungle, even though it doesn’t hop genres nearly as much. It definitely has enough “indie” quirk and nonsensical nature to it that will certainly turn some heads.

Speedy Ortiz – “Raising the Skate”

“I’m not bossy, I’m the boss!” declares lead singer Sadie Dupuis on the band’s first single for their sophomore LP Foil Deer (out 4/21). Musically this feels so much like past tracks, kind of like a cross between the distorted percussion-heavy “Tiger Tank” and the 90’s R&B influenced melodies of “Shine Theory”. The song has a lot of nice touches, between the swooping reverb-ed vocal at the back end of each chorus, and the quick guitar thirds in triplets that close each chorus.

Red Sea – “Life Image Module”

I was ecstatic to hear that lead singer of Beach Fossils was starting his own label, so I’m glad to see some of the first artists being released getting their dues. The whole track here follows a Latin-tinged, almost Bossa beat, with some clean jazzy guitar comping. The vocals feel a bit reminiscent of Animal Collective, which makes for an interesting mix.

Soft Cat – “Somebody”

This is a lovely, delicate, string-heavy acoustic number. Sounding kind of like indie pop giants Owen Pallet or Magnetic Fields, Soft Cat makes comforting, nostalgic, and beautiful music. This feels sync-ready for the low point of a comedy-drama or prime-time TV show (too bad Parenthood’s no longer around).

Joanna Gruesome – “Last Year”

Here comes the fun. This is music that operates on two spheres. It’s punky and bratty, with ranty vocals that immediately recall Meredith Graves, but on the other hand, it’s poppy and sweet by the chorus. This fits right in for fans of Perfect Pussy, Speedy Ortiz, Dum Dum Girls, or Mr. Twin Sister.

Divers – “Tracks”

Compared to a pop-punk Arcade Fire meets The Gaslight Anthem, Divers make some nice, powerful indie rock. It’s a perfect summer song for good times on the Jersey Shore, and it makes me wish for summer in this dismal winter. “Give love a chance” leads off the chorus to a real anthemic, upbeat feel. While it doesn’t sound too far removed from its Jersey influences, maybe that isn’t a bad thing.

Pile – “The World is Your Motel”

Boston pummel-rockers Pile dropped another track from their forthcoming LP You’re Better Than This, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard them feel more like Les Savy Fav than before. It’s been said that some people don’t get the point of Pile, as documented here, but I don’t think there’s really much of a point regardless. This is music to escape into and let yourself go. It’s frivolous and nonsensical (“Dumpy woman in a tracksuit/It’s all the same to me!”), yet aggressive and cathartic. The guitar lines accentuate this aloof punk nature, and it’s easy to get lost in. Bonus points to that downhill plunge of a scream three quarters in.

The Rentiers – “Stories of Adam”

This act takes acoustic folk-punk to a new level. The song first takes form as an acoustic number that feels anthemic (with some nice organ/piano work in the background). The punk teeth show soon enough in the second verse, where we get nice backup vocals from Chumped singer Anika Pyle. The whole feeling seems like a love letter to adolescence, one the continues well into your twenties. The third verse sets a full band kicking in, with some more distorted guitar arpeggiation, and some solid backbeat drumming.

Cyberbully Mom Club – “FRIENDS”

Joining the ongoing thrush of female-fronted scrappy indie is Cyberbully Mom Club. The vocals feel vaguely like Amanda Palmer, but the whole sound is more in line with Free Cake for Every Creature, Diet Cig, or Band Practice. It’s also scathingly self-aware: “And I get so scared of all this madness/And how my songs all sound the same”.

LVL UP – “Somebody Kill Me Please”

I used to enjoy watching The Wedding Singer, until one summer where my mom watched it on repeat every day, to the point that I can’t stand to even think of it. So it’s exciting to hear that not only is Father/Daughter Records continuing their Faux Real compilation in lieu of Record Store Day, but also that slacker indie rockers LVL UP are joining them for a rendition of Adam Sandler’s “Somebody Kill Me”. If ever there was an indie band today to cover this, LVL UP would be the guys to do it. It fits like a glove.

Chris Weisman – “Backpack People”

Some more gorgeous, sleepy acoustic indie pop this week. This song feels fragile, and the sound of Weisman is most comparable to Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave. It’s a hushed observation, yet radiant and comforting. Definitely the aural equivalent of cozying up on the couch with a blanket, a cup of Earl Grey tea, and a good book. Which is interesting, given that the subject matter points more in the direction of traveling vagabonds than the agency of home.

Calypso – “Velvet Void”

This is some intriguing, mystical bedroom pop from French label Atelier Ciseaux. It feels foreign, with some almost Middle Eastern melodies going on. It reminds me of female-fronted acts of yesterday, namely Mazzy Star and Veruca Salt (mostly because of that third chorus with the distorted guitar). The song reaches an interesting point where I almost can’t tell if the time signature is changing or the structure is coming apart altogether. This makes for a fitting key change to a much more surreal sounding lower female vocal. It’s astonishing how much more ethereal this song gets on repeat listens, and by the end it’s a truly bizarre trip to look back on.

Maribou State – “Rituals”

One of two heavily electronic tracks this week, Maribou State seems to share a bit (beyond six letters) with electronic DJ Caribou. “Rituals” feels like a cut that could have fit perfectly on Caribou’s superb last record Our Love. The synths, the thin backbeat, the clean reverbed guitar, the stuttered vocals, the synth bleed. The whole thing makes for a convincing aural doppelganger, but at the same time it manages to be its own thing. Keep on the lookout for this act!

PWR BTTM – “Hold Yer Tongue”

After catching a splendid write-up of this queer punk duo on Stereogum, I couldn’t pass up including this. “Hold Yer Tongue” feels like a new spin on Krill meets Joyce Manor, which I love. Between strong falsettos, screams and overall punk embodiment, this is an act to watch. This shifts so fast between taunting lines (“I don’t like liars/No one likes a crier”), and tough, intense responses (“So what?”). Also gotta love that bluesy jam (7th chords, y’all) that closes out the song.

Rye Pines – “Pessimist”

“There’s no such thing as summer or spring,” begins this quick rough-and-tumble of a less than 2 minute indie rocker. This also reminds me of Krill, and to some degree early Modest Mouse. I like this feel all in all, and this is another one to play on cold days when all you want is for it to be warm.

Faith Healer – “Again”

Let’s get some more dream pop/retro feel in here, shall we? This feels very much like it’s caught in the 60’s or 70’s, with The Kinks. It feels very vintage, but also a little punky. I dig the backup vocals in the chorus, and the vamping guitar parts. The whole song takes off to a Blondie-esque rocking finish, with a driving drum rhythm and some nice noodling guitar leads. The cover art reminds me of a tongue-in-cheek take on The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The whole thing comes crashing to a halt with some skyrocketing guitar work. But it’s a good crash!

Kodak to Graph – “Los Angeles”

I’ve been digging these DJ beats from producer Kodak to Graph. The sound is a cross between Caribou, FKA Twigs, and even a little Com Truise. This feels funky, chill, and down-tempo, but also dance-floor ready. I really love the interpolated vocals on this thing, as well as the production overall. Some nice hand clap percussion enters at the minute mark, and about 1:20 minutes in we get more activity. Some nice synth bleeds join in, with more interpolation, and a sharper beat. The whole thing grows around two minutes in with more vocal sampling, and a driving bass beat. Some of the synths here recall sounds from Little Dragon and even Crystal Castles, sans distortion/noise. This makes for an excellent sound collage, between the various vocal drops, percussive meditations, and bells that close the track.

Kathryn Joseph – “The Bird”

Easily the greatest surprise to uncover this week (I found this on a fellow vinyl lover’s Instagram feed!), Glasgow singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph crafts delicate, raw, and gorgeous piano pop. Immediately recalling work from Joanna Newsom, Sharon Van Etten, and Agnes Obel (among others), “The Bird” is the exceptional opening number of Joseph’s latest record Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled. There is a dismal quality to it, but Joseph finds a simple beauty in sadness:(“It will be better/I do not know”). I’m hooked, and eager to hear more.

Braids – “Miniskirt”

Making another case for female-fronted bands, the latest from Canadian synth-pop act Braids is a bold, unflinching feminist statement. Between lines like “everything he touches is for him” and “my little miniskirt is mine, all mine”, this is a track that is as tough as nails. I’m eager to hear what will come next from this group on their next record, Deep in the Iris.

And…

BONUS: Beckyoncé – “Single Loser (Put a Beck on It)”

OK, OK. I’m not analyzing this as a serious piece of art or anything, but you have to admit this is pretty cool. And it comes off as the Internet’s perfect response to the backlash between all that Grammy drama that kicked off the week. Reactions to this track have ranged from “a truly beautiful peace of musical artistry”, all the way to deriding the anonymous mash-up artist as a “horrible person.” My verdict? While the songs are fairly obvious for both artists, there’s a sheer joy that comes from hearing two songs fit so well together. And the timing of this release is impeccable. Will we (should we?) be talking about this for weeks to come? Heck no. But in case you missed it, let this be a little something extra to help you chill out this weekend.

Here’s the full playlist. Until next week, keep your ears open!

The Roundup – 2/6/15

Here’s a quick post for you all: I’ve compiled a playlist of my favorite tracks that hit the blogosphere this past week. I’ll give a brief rundown of what to expect from this list, and my aim is to produce a curated playlist every Friday, highlighting what may have slipped through the cracks. This being the first weekly edition of The Roundup, I’ve counted any songs I missed from the tail end of January as well. Scroll down to the bottom for the playlist. Onward to the track-by-track!

WOOF. – “My Device”

We start this list strong with the exceptional Montclair, NJ talent WOOF. Tackling the unavoidable connection we have with technology, the song is playfully upbeat and fosters a tongue-in-cheek feel. Some have likened singer Kelan Bonislawski to Julian Casablancas, but the delivery actually reminds me more of Spearmint (oddly enough).

HOLY – “Demon’s Hand”

Ready for a drum-machine-laced slacker jam that evokes vibes of Real Estate and Woods? Sure you are! Sweden’s HOLY have a relaxed feel about them, one that has notes of garage rock and psych.

Late Ride – “Swear”

This is a fun nostalgic trip for me. As one of the few electronic tracks on here, the sounds of “Swear” by Late Ride are probably best described as what would happen if Dan Deacon decided to create the game music for Sonic 3D Blast. The beat is strong here, and definitely reminiscent of Deacon’s “True Thrush”. The female vocals bring to mind Purity Ring, but also Deacon’s recent “Feel the Lightning”. I’ve made three Dan Deacon comparisons, so that should at the very least sway you Deacon-ites out there. Everyone else, check it!

Inventions – “Springworlds”

I was excited to hear that members of Explosions in the Sky and Eluvium were collaborating, and surprised to find out that a self-titled debut dropped last year, completely flying under my radar. I’ve been a huge fan of Explosions in the Sky since my high school days (Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever is still among my all-time favorite albums), so it is refreshing to see these musicians continue to grow and collaborate.

Alex G – “Sarah”

Suggested to be the greatest unreleased Alex G song no one ever heard, “Sarah” definitely fits that description. With production and instrumental sounds that lie somewhere between the recordings of Trick and DSU, it feels like an old friend checking in. And as an added bonus, “Sarah” is going to be one of the bonus tracks on the vinyl release of Trick, due out 4/6. Score!

Spazzkid – “Goodbye”

Some more electronic vibes for ya: Spazzkid is the electronic project of California producer Mark Redito. “Goodbye” was originally released last year on the Promise EP, but this week saw the drop of the official music video (NSFW).

ohbliv – “Whattup”

“I close my eyes and embrace the blackness of space” is the solid line that begins rap “Whattup”. The track has a chill, almost vintage horn and drum sampling, and it’s a good one to kick back to. Need some downtime this weekend? Put this one on.

all boy/all girl – “Glitters”

This one is incredibly theatrical and hammy. There’s something about the line “I want to take off all my clothes and run naked through the street” that makes you turn your head towards left field. It’s strange, sugary, sunny, fierce, and forceful.

Jib Kidder – “Dozens”

Existing somewhere between Peter Bjorn and John, Panda Bear, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Jib Kidder is one to watch. The moniker of Sean Schuster-Craig, the project feels nostalgic and dreamy. The track is from last month’s Teaspoon to the Ocean, which can be streamed here. The album features collaborations from Julia Holter and Laurel Halo, so expect good things.

Lower Dens – “To Die in L.A.”

Sharon Van Etten once waxed on about how Lower Dens is one of her favorite bands, and I can hear it on new single “To Die in L.A.” The vocals are yearny and the harmonies are gorgeous, a bit in the Van Etten vein. The whole track feels poppy though, kind of like Dum Dum Girls.

Jamaican Queens – “Joe”

Could you, like me, not get enough of “Kids Get Away”? Well here’s more from the band I liken to a cooler, more upscale Vampire Weekend. The band has just dropped their latest EP Bored + Lazy on their Bandcamp.

Dick Diver – “Tearing the Posters Down”

Hailing from Australia, Dick Diver is band that makes melodic, jangly indie pop akin to Real Estate or Twerps. This, however, feels more driven and straight ahead than those bands.

DOKO – “Lindsay Lohan”

Winning the award for “Strangest Track to Drop This Week”, this dubby, wobbly, synth explosion from “dial-up princess”, producer, and head of label Fright House DOKO. The track oddly enough sounds like the aural equivalent of the infamous celeb. Cool beats. #ParentTrap

Diet Cig – “Harvard”

This indie pop duo grabbed my attention last month with “Scene Sick”, a quick tumbling track exuding hedonism (“I just wanna dance!”). “Harvard” is a worthy follow-up, and I’m eagerly awaiting the Over Easy EP (due out 2/24).

John Andrews & The Yawns – “Pennsylvania”

Here’s a fun side project from a guy in Quilt and Woods: “Pennsylvania” is a steady, lilting jam that feels easily reminiscent of Woods. A good one to watch as well, and an excellent track for those taking it easy this weekend.

Radiator King – “My Starving Arms”

Radiator King (not to be confused with Radiator Hospital) calls to mind the folk rock moments of The Gaslight Anthem, or even Against Me! The band is playing shows with Pile (which is an unexpected pairing, given the sheer pummeling force that is Pile). But anyways, another one to relax to!

Twin Peaks – “In the Morning/In the Evening”

I had not paid much attention to this act last year, but this new single immediately evokes The Kinks and to some degree early Magnetic Fields.

Courtney Barnett – “Pedestrian at Best”

OK, this one is a LOT of fun. I’ve been eagerly anticipating new output from Australian artist Courtney Barnett since last year’s exceptional The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. “Pedestrian at Best” is a worthy successor, and I personally can’t wait for the new record Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, due 3/23. Barnett has this ranting, wordy vocal delivery that just hooks me in. Bonus: this recent music video starring Barnett as a clown.

Them are Us Too – “Us Now”

This synth-pop electro duo immediately reminds me of a similar synth-pop electro duo, School of Seven Bells. I love the shoegazing vibe here, and the whole track feels endlessly dreamy. The reverberating beats, coupled with the intermittent distorted guitar lead, make this another one to watch.

Trace Mountains – “Slow White Beams of Light”

To close this week’s edition is new music from Dave Benton’s latest solo project. Feeling like a ballad, this is Benton at a tender, simple, intimate moment. There are some beautiful female harmonies (is that Susannah Cutler I hear, perhaps?), and this makes an intriguing flipside to Benton’s recent output as LVL UP.

The full playlist is offered up below. Have a listen, and until next week, keep your ears open!

The Roundup – January 2015

Alrighty, here’s what’s been filling my ear-holes the past month. If these are any indication, 2015 is off to a really good start, between some impressive debut acts, and promising follow-ups. Take a look at my favorites below:

Adventures – “Your Sweetness”

For starters, I’ve never been a huge fan of the pop-punk/emo genres. So it wasn’t until the recent “emo revival” that I was shocked to find myself becoming more and more drawn to much of that output. A lot of bands have been coming out of the superb Run for Cover Records, and the label is starting 2015 off strong with the upcoming 2/17 release of Supersonic Home by Pittsburgh group Adventures. Single “Your Sweetness” showcases the band’s grungy 90s-filtered alt-rock/emo in a splendid light, complete with fantastic harmonies from singers Reba Meyers and Kimi Hanauer. The song hits a high point at the affecting refrain: “The way things start always feels so inviting/But growth brings out the worst in me.” As a listener, I tend to be drawn to sad sounds, and there is something cathartic about this track. Keep an ear out for that screamed vocal refrain 3/4 into the song.

Natalie Prass – “My Baby Don’t Understand Me”

Here is a clear standout for one of my favorite new artists. Natalie Prass has this impressive ability to create music that is timeless, existing in the present yet hearkening back to the R&B/soul/folk of the 70s, and sound-tracked pop of years prior. The opening track of her self-titled debut is simply sublime. Most affecting is the latter half of the chorus, where Prass has a sobering meditation on the rift between her and her lover: “What do you do when that happens? Where do you go? When the only home that you know is with a stranger.”  Do yourselves a favor and check out her self-titled ASAP, because it’s filled with the best pop music this year has already seen.

TORRES – “Strange Hellos”

Wow. Mackenzie Scott (aka TORRES) is back with a bang. Sounding fiercer and grungier than her self-titled debut, “Strange Hellos” shows incredible promise for Scott’s sophomore release, Sprinter (due 5/5). Her sound has morphed, becoming at times dark, edgy, surreal, and raw. The song is a study of tension and builds, of attack and release. From the stark, palm-muted guitar that opens the track, things quickly become murky. There’s this whooshing sound starting around the 2-minute mark (I guess it would be a synth?) that leads into the C section, where the song gets its name: “Strange hellos are not my bag/Better never having had.” This build immediately returns us to the B section, where Scott is completely distraught: “I was all for being real, but if I don’t believe, then no one will.” The emotion on this track is pure, and an excellent taste of what’s to come.

Simon Joyner – “You Got Under My Skin”

Cited as one of Conor Oberst’s biggest influences, Nebraskan singer-songwriter Simon Joyner brings in some great folk in the form of “You Got Under My Skin”. You can clearly hear the influence Joyner has had on Oberst, and his baritone is also reminiscent of Lou Reed. The song feels like an American traditional, but a little turned on its head. The arrangements are definitely there, but the chord progression is at times deceptive (the change to the B section, in particular). A quieter one on this list, yet a good one.

Spirit Club – “Still Life”

Spirit Club, the scrappy nostalgia-dripping side project of Wavves’ Nathan Williams, has dropped the exceptional “Still Life”, easily one of my favorite tracks this month. Williams continues the musical trend found on Wavves’ last record Afraid of Heights, where poppy melodies were paired with violent lyrics. As we can hear, “Still Life” is no exception, right from the opening line: (“Cut my face in two/Put it back with glue”). Between the juvenile yet intuitive chord changes and the catchy drum rhythms, it’s difficult not to have fun with this one. Bonus points for being one of two videos this month to pay tribute to man, myth, and legend Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

Jessica Pratt – “Back Baby”

Yet another timeless sounding artist, Jessica Pratt brought in the superb On Your Own Love Again this month. Her voice does have a Joanna Newsom quality, but also an older quality too. It feels like a rainy day, sitting in your apartment with a cup of tea, reading a book while looking out the window, thinking of an ex-love from long ago. It is wistful and yearning, yet at the same time resolute and unemotional.

Oscar – “Daffodil Days”

Here’s a track that will definitely prep you for the summer (and it’s much needed, given the ongoing blizzard we’re in). The jangly guitar work is immediately reminiscent of Beach Fossils or The Fresh and Onlys, while the drum work recalls post-punk greats New Order or The The. The feel is whimsical and upbeat, so it’s no surprise that “Daffodil Days” has a back story that makes a perfect complement. The song was sparked from an autocorrect Oscar received when speaking with a friend about his day. Technology turning the frown upside down FTW. In 2015, what else would you expect?

Trust Fund – “Cut Me Out”

This Bristol indie pop act has left me with a raised ear for the latter half of this month. I like the jangle, and while the guitar work feels like nostalgic waxing a la Weezer, I was actually reminded of recent slack-rockers LVL UP upon repeat listens. Some of the guitar work is even vaguely reminiscent of Real Estate. Just vaguely. Keep an ear out for their new album No One’s Coming for Us, due to drop 2/9.

Yours are the Only Ears – “Fire in My Eyes”

I have been following the output of both The Epoch and Double Double Whammy in the past year, and I’m glad to see Epoch artist Susannah Cutler and LVL UP/Trace Mountains singer Dave Benton starting 2015 strong with this track from Cutler’s project Yours are the Only Ears. “Fire in My Eyes” teeters between warmth and reserve. The whole experience feels intimate, between invitations to “listen to music”, “sit on a hill” or just “make more coffee”, all the while feeling inside like we’re all inherently screwed: “Am I a good person?” I really admire this kind of work, because it’s the sort of song that makes you feel like you’re not the only one with this kind of interior monologue.

Band Practice – “Band Practice Theme Song”

I don’t think I would have ever taken a band named Band Practice seriously (nor would I have thought there be a band named Band Practice, but the indie/DIY world continues to surprise me in 2015). Anyhow, this duo (made up of Jeanette Wall and Ben Bondy) finds an excellent way to make cathartic, straight-ahead indie pop with male/female vocals. While that sounds like everything you’ve heard, it’s not. “Theme Song” is a bit messy at times, but in a good way. I love the male harmonies in the chorus, accompanying Wall’s swaying perspective from inside (“This is the hole in my mouth”) to commonplace objects (“This is a terrible couch”). It’s insular and flawed, but also feels like a big, warm hug. Sidebar: the Mark Paul-Gosselaar worship continues in the “Theme Song” video. All hail The Temple of Gosselaar.

Here’s a playlist with (most) of the songs from above, for your convenience:

What were your favorite songs in the past month? What albums are you anticipating in 2015? Comment below!