The warm days are fewer and the leaves are starting to turn, but that doesn't mean we can't still look back on the end of the summer. There was so much music to listen to from September, it was really hard to put it all into a comprehensive list but this month I paired it all down a bit into the dancier tracks with a bit more grit, pomp, and discovery. Each has its own level of engagement, from the inward exploration of Skylar Spence's "Cry Wolf" to the commanding nature of At Pavillon's "Lions." We even got some great new music from Death Cab for Cutie, my favorite of which was their track "Northern Lights." Let's listen together as we explore Indie Discotheque's selections for the best tracks of September.
See past charts here.
1. Skylar Spence - Cry Wolf
I appreciate the sound of Skylar Spence, previously known as Saint Pepsi, and the direction the music is going in. This is a self-help anthem, what happens when you get in a rut and just can't seem to pull yourself out of it. Many of us have been there when you just can't be yourself and wallow in misery. There comes a time in this process where you realize you're in that place and you need to pull yourself out of it, so you do what you need to do to get help, but not everyone around you thinks you need it.
The music itself is light and playful, a contrast to the depth of the topic, the high that you observe swirling around you while you're at your low.
2. Liily - Toro
An uptempo track with an immediate intensity that builds into a powerful crescendo in the chorus. We hear of people who don't know or understand each other, mystery, dirty love, strangers, and a declaration of a takeover. This relationship could go anywhere. This track satisfies with a constant rise and fall that just feels right.
3. Milo Greene - Young at Heart
Heartbroken again, fears, propping each other up in relationships in our quest to get high in romance. There’s room to meet in the middle but you just have to lay it all out there. That’s the message laid bare in this upbeat indie pop song with some satisfying crooning, “we’re all just young at heart,” and gives the track a layer of maturity overtop these themes of inexperience.
4. Fidlar - Too Real
Right away we know this is a song with swagger, but it’s remarkable how quickly this song escalates and just rips raw. This is what I call a dance rock banger, something I’d completely rock out to on the dance floor, but still presents a no holds barred attitude that for one reason or another just doesn’t make its way across my feeds very often these days. It’s time to scream!
5. Death Cab for Cutie - Northern Lights
I’ve only seen the northern lights once in my lifetime and it's an experience I’ll never forget. I was camping with a friend of mine in northern Michigan in our early teens. After dark, we were walking on a dirt road along a farm field, and we looked out over the horizon. We stared with awe, and pondered, “what the (heck) is that?” We honestly had no idea. We were a couple of boys who had never heard of the northern lights before. It wasn’t until many years later I realized that is what we had seen.
6. Dansu - Love Is Ours
There’s something too real about the declaration that “Love Is Ours,” that it will never leave us, and that no matter what you can always look back on those moments we’ve loved and been loved in return. Those are truly are feelings that never leave you. This song explores that concept, that there really is no need to be afraid, there is someone there beside you, physical or not, that loves you.
7. Stumps - Conversations, Conversations
Stumps explores some really deep, serious conversations over wine. The production is clean, the guitar work satisfies, and the percussion really keeps us moving. The vocal style we get over this totally catchy dance rock is so deep and round sounding it makes me ponder whether or not it is natural or processed, but that can be debated later over a conversation with wine.
8. Wharves - Mo’s Desert Clubhouse
Playful musical elements are what distinguish this track from others. The sounds we’ve heard before are there but they feel right and give us what we need when we’re looking for a good, fun indie track for the dancefloor. I’m particularly attracted to the atmospheric, more spoken elements of the vocal and some really clean guitar work.
9. Catnip Cloud - Buried In The Snow
I can’t get over this song. I’ve been playing it a lot this month. The bass just buries us with warm tones and it’s contrasted so well with this high register, almost chime-like synth that conjures up the imagery of being in a cold, wintery atmosphere. You can see the snow falling while that sound is in your ears.
10. At Pavillon - Lions
Lions are beautiful, but even while they’re grand and gorgeous, they are at the top of the African food chain for a reason - they attack and fight for what they want. These are the leaders, this is why they are at the top. The music is just as commanding. The band simply runs with strong percussion and guitar work, and the vocal presentation is confident.
11. Rubblebucket - Donna
Swirling synth tones open the sky for us in this track, with beautiful bari sax providing a really well-balanced depth to keep the track grounded. While the vocal treatment is a bit too oceanside in its atmosphere, you can appreciate the sound more with your eyes closed, imagining how it's in your head, but they’re pleading for you to open your eyes.
12. Eckhardt and the House - Put Me in a Cape
This is a song for a playground, whether it's on a boat on the lake or in front of the band at the bar, you just can’t help from pretending you’re in a superhero cape and move your body, jump around, dance your ass off, whatever! What a fun song this is, with such a bouncy, catchy little melody that repeats throughout the song. I listen to this one on repeat.
13. The RPMs - Gotta Let Go
I put this track on when I get on the open road and drive as fast as I legally can. This is one of those windows down, turn it up as high as your ears will let you and scream along, “Let It Go, Yeah!” Totally a sing along jam. Simple catchphrases pepper this song all the way through and the blippity-bloop sounds that make its way into the song are a ton of fun, too.
14. Guerilla Toss - Come Up with Me
There is a lot of distortion happening in this track, and while that’s not really much of a surprise coming from a band like Guerilla Toss, I fell like it does this experimental, yet very well-written song a bit of a disservice. Vaporwave has ruined this effect for me. Meanwhile, with the return of cassettes as a sellable medium, people who want this sound can get it naturally - just buy the cassette and play it on repeat 100 times.
15. Viagra Boys - Up All Night
There is a place for a band of testosterone driven bros playing songs about being up all night. These guys know how to write songs to do just that, using already familiar sounds and structures but amping them up that extra bit, essentially turning it up to 11. The backing sax really makes this track along with the screaming and mumbling that reminds me of a hybrid between Jon Spencer and Iggy Pop.