Far West – Make It Up

Artist: Far West

Song: Make It Up

Genres: #altpop #indiepop

Location: Santa Cruz, United States

Release date: June, 2021

Influences: The 1975, The Cure

CommentMake It Up feels like the soundtrack to the memories of your most cherished summer holidays. According to Ryan Settles, aka Far West, it is a song about “trying to forget the bad and relishing in the good”. He played all the instruments and produced the track in hi garage in Santa Cruz, but the track’s aesthetics are so good that you would think it was recorded at some fancy studio. Definitely check this song out. You’ll have fun!

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The Last Arcade – When We Were Young

ArtistThe Last Arcade

Song: When We Were Young

Genres: #altpop #synthwave

Location: Liverpool, United Kingdom

Release date: June, 2021.

Comment: Synthpop bands are quite popular nowadays, but very few of those bands can actually stand out. If their debut single, When We Were Young, is an indication, I think that The Last Arcade will be one of them. It helps to have band members with plenty of experience in the music industry: lead singer Steve McNally had some hits in the early 2000’s as a member of the band BBMak; rhythm guitarist and songwriter has even supported Bryan Adams, among others, on tour; and producer and songwriter Steve Erickson has been creating music since the early 1990’s. All in all, it is clear that they know what they are doing and we should pay attention.

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Imagine Dragons – My Life

Artist: Imagine Dragons

Song: My Life

Genres: #alternativerock

Location: Las Vegas, United States

Release date: September, 2021.

Comment: I remember when Imagine Dragons used to be this alternative band few people knew about. It wasn’t that long ago. Then they hit it off at some point and became so successful that nowadays some people dismiss them for being too mainstream. In my opinion, that would be a mistake because they are actually quite good. For better or worse, they’re not afraid to experiment while they could just repeat the same song again and again and still sell million of records anyway. Their experiments don’t always work out but when they do, they strike gold. Case in point, I only liked two out of the 12 tracks in their new album, Mercury – Act 1, but one of them, My Life, is insanely good. Just listen to it and when you get to that instrumental bridge at 2:25 you’ll see what I mean. On top of it, the lyrics, that talk about mental health struggles, are outstanding as well.

Enjoy your Friday listening to this #musicalcrush.

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Still Charles – Wembley

Artist: Still Charles

Song: Wembley

Genres: #indiepop #indierock

Location: Milano, Italy

Release date: May, 2021.

Comment: Wembley is a stunning single by Italian artist Carlo Aprea, aka Still Charles. The song is sang in Italian but it’s so good that you will enjoy it even if you couldn’t understand a single word (for the record, you should be able to catch at least a few words). Carlo says that Wembley, which he wrote during quarantine, is a love story told from beginning to end, inspired by a real relationship he had that ended because both of them were too proud. The track was produced by Riccardo Foresi, whom Carlo met in June 2020. Wembley has a beautiful music video as well that looks like a movie and that you can watch below. I hope you enjoy Wembley as much as I do. It’s quite a gem.

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Funeral Lakes – Solstice

ArtistFuneral Lakes

Song: Solstice

Genres: #indierock

Location: Ontario, Canada

Release date: August, 2021

Comment: I featured Funeral Lakes here exactly one year ago and now the duo is back with a brand new EP: Redeemer. As is usually the case with  this act, the songs in the new EP are all filled with social content. It explores themes such as the tension between faith and justice from the moment Solstice, the first track, starts playing. It is a captivating song that sets the tone for Redeemer. I wouldn’t call it a radio-friendly tune yet it keeps your attention with its moody melody and thought-provoking lyrics. Check it out.

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School of Seven Bells – Ablaze

Artist: School of Seven Bells

Song: Ablaze

Genres: #indiepop #dreampop

Location: New York City, United States

Release date: February, 2016

Comment: The story of School of Seven Bells (SVIIB) is, sadly, a tragic one. It was formed in 2007 by sisters Alejandra Deheza (vocals, guitar) and Claudia Deheza (keyboards, vocals), and Benjamin Curtis (guitar, synthesizers, vocals), but then Claudia left the band in 2010. Unfortunately, Ben, who was Alejandra’s romantic partner, died in 2013 from sudden-onset lymphoma and, as a tribute, Alejandra took some demos Ben had written prior and during his illness and completed the band’s fourth and last studio album, SVIIB, which was released in February, 2016. It is a wonderful album which, despite the circumstances in which it was created, is actually full of hope and even joy.

To me, the best among a collection of great songs is Ablaze, the first track. It’s a cleverly produced song that features Alejandra’s ethereal vocals and sweet lyrics that become even more beautiful knowing the context in which they were written. If you are only going to listen to one SVIIB song, listen to Ablaze, this week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry. You will be happy you did so.

As a bonus, I’m leaving below the link to the video of SVIIB’s cover of Joey Ramone’s I Got Knocked Down (But I’ll Get Up) (it is not available on streaming platforms). It was written by Alejandra and Ben quite literally while they were ‘sitting in a hospital bed’ and released just before SVIIB.

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Michael Lane – Good Times

Artist: Michael Lane

Song: Good Times

Genres: #indiefolk #singersongwriter

Location: Germany

Release date: April, 2021.

CommentGood Times may sound optimistic and upbeat with its acoustic folk vibes and catchy melody, but it has a serious and deep message: having a nice house or a nice car does not necessarily make you happier in the long run. German-American artist Michael Lane has transited the road less traveled to get to where he is today as an artist, having served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a US soldier during his twenties. He’s had two top 50 songs in the German charts already, so he’s well-known as a musician in some European countries. It is time for him to get noticed in other latitudes too.

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Montrell – Simpler in the Dark

Artist: Montrell

Song: Simpler In The Dark

Genres: #indierock

Location: London, United Kingdom

Release date: April, 2021.

Comment: This band –and particularly this song– reminds me of the softer side of fellow British band JET. Despite talking about the desire to sleep with other people when you are in a serious relationship, Simpler in the Dark is honest and delicate. It has been played by Elton John in his radio show, which shows that Montrell have been turning heads in the UK. The band has just released a 3-track EP called Angel, which includes Simpler in the Dark, and is getting ready to start playing live shows again next week across the south of England. Something tells me we will be hearing from them quite a lot pretty soon.

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Said The Whale – 99 to the Moon

Artist: Said The Whale

Song: 99 to the Moon

Genres: #indierock

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Release date: July, 2021.

Comment: The song that introduced me to Said The Whale, one of Canada’s most successful indie acts, was 2013’s I Love You, which remains one of my favorite tracks from that decade. I’ve been following them closely since then and I’m happy to report that they will release their seventh full-length album, Dandelion, in October. 99 to the Moon is one of the lead singles and it is the perfect love song for a band like Said The Whale: charming and quirky at the same time. According to the press release, “the song title can either be interpreted as the year 1999, until forever or as the 99 B-Line (a bus that runs east-west in Vancouver) to wherever you are going“. I have to say as well that the music video below is the perfect companion for such a sweet song.

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Aonian – Hideout

Artist: Aonian

Song: Hideout

Genres: #chillout #electronic

Location: London, United Kingdom

Release date: April, 2021.

Comment: As suggested by his moniker, Aonian (real name: Alkis Livathinos) is originally from Greece and you can certainly perceive a Greek influence in his music. This London-based electronic music musician has composed pieces for brands such as Louis Vuitton and will soon release his debut full album. A problem I have with electronic and chill-out music is that many of the tracks tend to sound similar to each other but that’s not the case with Hideout, Aonian‘s second single. This piece is testimony of the artist’s talent and creativity. Listening to it will transport you to a beach bar in Mykonos.

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