Summer is almost here and it makes me wonder, what makes you move? Do the Valerians have to attack before you figure it out and go? Wake up, get out into that ocean and get higher to avoid the collapse.
Even if it's election season, it's not like you have to wait for the white foam monster to avoid the dead broke blues. You can't stop keeping your head up, Heather's invitation is here, so you'd better get going before it's too late.
1. San Mei – Wonder
This is a grooving rock tune that starts with this guitar riff that totally pulls you into the song. San Mei from Australia has certainly pinpointed her sound over the last two years, her voice is welcoming and makes you pay attention. Visions of youth and putting hands on hearts. The wonders of love and the feelings associated is the theme here. That guitar again, really keeps things going, making a grand statement. This is the kind of melodic indie rock that pulls me into that place of infatuation with others in my youth when I was still trying to understand love.
2. Milo Greene – Move
This is a song about infatuation, she’s the only one that gets her lover going even when all of the lovers of the past are still standing around, waiting, hoping to get them back. The song is a smooth groove, sultry, but also with a confident swagger that tells you she knows the is the one in control of the situation. I really like the bass in this track.
3. Vasser – Valerians
The song starts with muted percussion and a very exposed vocal, a contemplating lyric, please don’t go. I love the complexity of the arrangements in this song. The rise and fall of the musical textures, the seemingly haphazard but well-designed placement of bass drum kicks. Self-control makes its way out the window when I see your face is a great lyric. Even though the lyrical content is repetitive, the music keeps adjusting for different chapters in the story. It is such a journey listening to this song, starting and ending minimally with a vocal emphasis.
4. Top Bunk - Figure It Out
Such a fun indie pop song with a reserved big beat backdrop, flute-like synth chirping, and a satisfying guitar riff on the bridge. The message is simple, yeah, things can get routine, life and love can lose its luster, we make mistakes, but we'll just figure it out! Finding yourself again in the midst of a relationship can be its own form of therapy, in a way, and this song helps us explore that concept.
5. Poptone – Go!
The Tones on Tail classic revived, staying true to the original textures and arrangement but with a more casual, relaxed take on the vocal. While the classic has an intensity that doesn't let up, this version is matured, more subdued, and refined in a way that gives the song a cleanliness and clarity I never imagined it could have.
6. Fake Shark – Wake Up feat. Fionn
The song gives me an initial impression of having a Gorillaz “Feel Good” vibe, with the song groove and the vocal texture, then explodes into a falsetto disco jam that just feels good. The lyrics seem like they’re there for catch phrasing, something to sing along to, but they make the song fun and it’s a song that I would enjoy on the dancefloor.
7. True Tides – Higher
Starting out with a similar groove and tempo to the Lobby track, this song brings us a vocal of clarity and more of a pop sensibility. This is an inspirational song about pushing through, keeping your head up, not giving up, rising above all of the challenges that meet you.
8. Lobby – Collapse
This is a song that harkens back to ethereal alternative rock, the kind of alternative dance that was so amazing in the late 80s and early 90s. We are in a large echo chamber with this one, with subdued guitar work entirely reminiscent of Bauhaus and Joy Division. The tempo of this song is quick, almost too fast for the dancefloor, but in the right environment would be absolutely perfect with fog and a strobe.
9. Mute Choir – Election Season
I love the way this song builds and takes a journey from this upbeat staccato guitar pop into an arpeggiated synth jam with a gritty guitar overlay and passioned lyrics referencing funerals. Then we are launched into this open room of mental clarity full of vocal confusion, “can anyone tell me?” The strings and piano at the bridge are beautifully composed. There is so much going on in this song that you can’t absorb in one take. I love how it takes you from one chapter to the next, a story worth all seven minutes of runtime.
10. Tangients – White Foam
I love the chanting vocal on this track with that driving bassline and spooky guitar. Ethereal bliss at its finest, a vocal quiver to match the dissonant guitar chords, wavering off key that fits with the gothic rock greats. Think Siouxie Sioux, Switchblade Symphony. The gritty guitar scratches thrown in for texture in the bridge is just fantastic. It’s a song that is clean, yet dark and raw.
11. Mating Ritual – Monster
I love how each song Mating Ritual releases in this cycle builds on the other. While “Light Myself on Fire,” another song from this album I’ve featured, was steady and gritty, “Monster” bursts with energy and lets the guitar loose with energy and passion. This is one of those songs that keep growing in intensity, as with the vocal, screaming, pleading in the end.
12. Mid City – Dead Broke Blues
We’re not breaking any new ground with “Dead Broke Blues,” but this track by Mid City is just a good, clean, driving dance rock song that makes you want to move. Excellent guitar work throughout, its what really makes the song. Reminiscent of The Killers, at its premise, it’s a song about just getting out there and shaking off your troubles.
13. Kid Astray – Can’t Stop
I’m not sure if the muffled vocal treatment in the primary lyrics is beneficial on this track. It's a bouncy pop song that makes you want to smile, and I wish it was just a bit crisper. This might be because the song was uploaded in 48k audio quality, which is a real disservice when you're trying to get people to enjoy your music. Regardless, I love the beatbox groove of the song and the indie-pop sensibility.
14. Goosebump – Heather’s Invitation
This is pompous, confident dance rock with a 70s progressive flair in some unexplainable way. I’m not quite sure how to put words to it. I like the vocal treatment reminiscent of the style of the Talking Heads, almost like an animated commentary in song. A lot of impressive sounding guitar arrangement that would be a joy to see played live.
15. Half the Animal – Too Late
Such an upbeat, feel-good song about leaving it all behind, forgetting your past, moving on to the future and not looking back. This is the sing-along indie pop that'll make you want to put your hands in the air.