Covid cases continue to rise, and as we stay physically distanced from others, we have to do our best to maintain positivity in what, for many, is a dire situation. In addition to our families and friends (and their health), if there's one more thing to treasure this year, it's the music that has been made. Artists have been busy with more time in the studio, and Indie Discotheque has been a hotbed of amazing music to enjoy.
1. FM-84 - Maverick
My favorite FM-84 tracks are those with vocals, but “Maverick” sure is a reminder of how fantastic the band’s songwriting capabilities are. The soundscape that has been created here is absolutely gorgeous and wraps you like a warm blanket that lifts your spirits on a cold day.
2. WhoMadeWho & Michael Mayer - Hamstring
I considered putting this one in the indie dance chart, but the synth work and the vocal processing in “Hamstring” is much more fitting for this one. There are sounds applied to the arrangement that could be played on the theremin; a WhoMadeWho performance worth seeing.
3. Emil Rottmayer - Simulate
I have always been impressed with the sound design put forward by Emil Rottmayer, and “Simulate” carries on with this consistency. This is sound that fills the mind, and the songwriting includes continued variation across the track that maintains interest from start to finish.
4. Khamsin - Keep You Safe feat. Blowsom
The staccato elements and the light feel of the synth work in this Khamsin track is given further context and reason with an almost Coldplay-esque vocal performance from Blowsom, who is also included on this month’s indie dance chart. “Keep You Safe” is synthpop for the masses.
5. Capital Soiree - Pop Band
“Pop Band” has been in my head for weeks, and it will likely stay there for many more. This is a stellar Capital Soiree song with a confident vocal performance that is easy to sing along to. The accent guitar applied across the arrangement does an excellent job tying the song together.
6. Tensnake - Overnight feat. Fiora
The vocals in “Overnight” is what makes this song great for me, which is presented in a consistent octave-duet fashion with Fiora. This performance shines over the mid-tempo richness found in the synth textures, and is my favorite track from the latest collection from Tensnake.
7. Tobacco - Headless to Headless
Slow in tempo and opening with a grinding guitar that demands your interest from the first note, “Headless to Headless” is a song that made me exclaim a verbal “wow” once the synth was laid bare as the wall of sound had parted, and emphasizes the talent within Tobacco’s songwriting.
8. The Bad Dreamers - Unspoken, Unbroken
The latest from The Bad Dreamers is a fast paced synthpop track with a powerful vocal performance that emphasizes range and complexity. The saxophone features are limited in scope and the guitar solo fades out, but the pulsating synth textures provide great depth.
9. Vhyce - Permanently Temporary
Vhyce really has me giddy over the bounciness of “Permanently Temporary,” which is an uptempo dancefloor filler that has a vocal sample with vocal distortion that I’m all about right now. This is a song that could be best performed live on the keys with added improvisation.
10. Marie Davidson - C’est parce que j’m’en fous
There's an electronic mood in the latest from Marie Davidson; the Kraftwerk influence in “C’est parce que j’m’en fous” is massive. The production of the track is primarily beat and vocal centric, with synth textures that add atmosphere. Best experienced with headphones.
11. Gryff - Waiting Up
Calypso Drip has been an album in the works for years, but Gryff has finally let it drop, and one of the best new tracks on the collection is “Waiting Up,” which has no actual waiting at all. This is a steady tempo synth jam with cutting synth stabs, guitar accent, and bouncing bass.
12. Sinclaire - Coolman
Sinclaire has one of the most memorable voices in synthpop right now. Everytime I hear a new track I am drawn to the voice, which is always wrapped in a fantastic production of synthpop. The layering of this track will pull you into the dancefloor, but his voice will keep you there.
13. Motel - Feel
The deep pulsation of the synth in the introduction of “Feel” is true to its title, with a transition into a gorgeous vocal that conjures images of a massaged atmosphere. You can feel the beauty in Motel’s music which floats above a foundation of steady drum patterns and staccato harmonies.
14. I Am Boleyn - Another Me
The pattern of the arpeggiation is an instant attention grabber, steady across the entirety of the song, providing continuity across I Am Boleyn’s vocal that seems hesitant at times, but the sound from the synths include a wall of sound, chords that act as a contrast, balancing power.
15. Tomas Tomas - Elizabeth
Wait up, we’re not done yet! Rounding out the chart this month is “Elizabeth,” a track by Tomas Tomas that is filled with a steady stream of beautiful chords, simple synth melodies with sparkle and a vocal performance that lets us know how stuck in the middle we can feel sometimes.
Let's listen to it all together in one playlist: