Middle Part – Busy

After experiencing a major adversity, Brooklyn-based singer Andrew Selkōw moved to Alaska for a while to find himself. Being alone and surrounded by nature rekindled his love for literature and music and planted the seed for Middle Part to be born. Inspired by both 1990s and early 2000s alternative bands, Andrew composes sincere music that connects with you at many levels. On December, Middle Part released his debut EP, I Wish I Was Alive, which compiles the singles he had published already.

One of those singles is Busy, a laid-back tune that relies on hazy vocals, acoustic guitars, and soft synths to deliver a message of vulnerability. Influenced by artists like Natalie Imbruglia and Michelle Branch, Middle Part wrote Busy to warn us about the problems ego brings to friendships. I don’t know if it is because of the guitar, the vocals or the steady beat, but somehow this song reels you in and doesn’t let go until long after it’s ended.

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Xavier Valdez – Bear

Xavier Valdez is a singer/songwriter from California who debuted as a solo artist in 2020. However, he used to play bass and provide backup vocals on LA-based band MR CALL, so he wasn’t a neophyte to the music business. His style is indie rock with nice pop touches that make it really enjoyable. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that his sound is completely unique, but it’s certainly distinctive enough to be refreshing.

After releasing a few singles in early 2020, Xavier compiled them into his debut EP, Sun, in August. Then, in November, he dropped a brand new single, Bear, that really reflects everything I said above about Xavier’s sound. While Bear is the track I am recommending today, check out the Sun EP too. Xavier Valdez is certainly a talented artist who knows how to make appealing indie music.

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Josh Stevens – Hello Darling

Josh Stevens has either been nominated or won quite a few awards, including the Grammys, mostly as a music producer. He got all that success working with dance and/or hip-hop artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Steve Aoki and Pitbull. So, naturally, he now sings and writes indie rock songs. And, let me tell you, he’s quite good at that.

Late last year, Josh released a superb track called Hello Darling, which he wrote for her daughter. It is an upbeat and anthemic song with neat production and great, emotional vocals. The track even features some sleek guitar riffs that are just the cherry on top. Quite simply, it is a really great tune.

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Smallpools – A Real Hero

Last month, when I featured A Real Hero by College feat. Electric Youth as that week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry, I mentioned that I was planning to feature one of its many covers too. This great cover by Smallpools, released in 2015, is the one I was referring to. It is different enough to the original to seem a brand new song while maintaining its essence. I just love its atmospheric vibe and the guitar chords in the intro, as well as how the whole track goes in crescendo. Pro tip: if you have some high quality headphones or speakers, use them with this song.

Smallpools is a synth-happy 3-piece indie pop band from L.A. formed in 2013. Their debut single, Dreaming, got featured on the FIFA 14 videogame, which gave them a lot of exposure. Another single, Over & Over, was used in a promotional video for Snapchat. While their subsequent singles haven’t replicated the success the aforementioned tracks had, I think they have all followed a similar blueprint of indie pop. I believe what they did with A Real Hero is completely different to anything else they have done. While their music is generally good, gorgeous tracks like this cover are what could set them apart. They should do more of them,

almost sex – charmer

Nick Louis, who is a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumental singer songwriter who’s been involved with other bands and is skilful at writing catchy hooks, met HW LaSota, who is an architect and writer, online basically by chance. That led to several months of remote collaboration and eventually to the formation in 2020 of almost sex, which they describe as “a folky alternative post punk rock indie pop duo“. Nick is the lead singer and instrumentalist while HW writes the lyrics. provides harmonies and plays several instruments. They haven’t told me this but I guess the band’s name is meant to imply that their music is almost as good as sex. Clever.

The duo has released two singles so far. The first one, Knockoff, was more acoustic, revealing the folky alternative side of almost sex. The second single, on the other hand, relies more on a groovy electronic soundscape that hypnotizes you for the duration of the track, helped in no small part by HW LaSota‘s subtle harmonies as her voice combines pretty well with Nick‘s. Charmer is inspired by the story of the snake and the charmer (hence its cover art above) and closes with a cool coda that contrasts nicely with the rest of the track. Let me put it this way, this song could have been part of The Neighbourhood‘s debut album and been one of its highlights, that’s how good it is.

Pay attention to almost sex because they really got a promising future.

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Five Days North – Take Me Higher

Five Days North must be the band with the highest aggregate IQ. Really. Most, if not all, of the members of this five-piece act from Manchester are scientists or doctors. I don’t think there are many bands out there that can claim that. Their specialty in music is indie pop and they’re quite good at that, even winning a few competitions for unsigned bands in the UK.

Take Me Higher is just exhibit A of the knack they got for catchy melodies. The track, which was written as a collaborative piece amongst the band members, got colorful synths and incisive bass lines that make the whole song really hard to resist to. Released in 2020 after the lockdown, Five Days North have not been able to play it live yet but it will probably become one of the highlights of their live gigs once that becomes a thing again. In the meantime, you can improve your day by listening to this cheerful song below.

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Manuel Bellone – A Case Of An Endless Blue

Happy New Year! Today is not blue monday, but given the fact that for many of us it is the day we return to our daily routines/work after the holiday season, I’d say it comes pretty close in second place. If you’re like me, in days like these you’ll prefer to listen to sad/melancholic songs instead of happy ones, and if that’s indeed the case, I got the perfect song for you. A Case Of An Endless Blue is the latest track from Italian folk-rock singer/songwriter Manuel Bellone, who got inspired by the difficult year we all had in 2020 and being stuck at home for os long. Manuel got a raspy voice that is just perfect for the type of music he makes, including this track.

Despite being from Palermo, Sicily, Manuel got his roots in styles of music that are traditionally associated with America, such as folk, blues and country. Influenced by the likes of Ryan Adams and Neil Young, his goal is to sound classic but unique. He’s been releasing music and touring Europe with his band rather successfully since 2013, with plans to go out on tour again soon and release a new album this year. Give a chance to this true musician and hopefully A Case Of An Endless Blue will get you get through this day.

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HD Bradley – Enough

This is likely to be my last post of 2020 so I’m going to make it count by featuring a song from a talented artist who cares more about his music than himself. If you visit HD Bradley‘s social media pages, all personal info you’ll be able to find is that he’s from Chicago and likes coffee and dogs. I got his real name, Bradley Dean Honeyman, from looking at his songs’ credits on Spotify. His music gets all the spotlight.

HD Bradley is a singer/songwriter who just started releasing singles this year. Most of them consists of just an acoustic guitar and his voice, with a few exceptions. Enough, for example, got some really nice electric guitar in the bridge and backing vocals. However, the important thing to highlight here is that Bradley‘s voice is really satisfying, perfect for this type of music, and his melodies are always nice and interesting. You can listen to them all day long without getting tired. Start with Enough right here and then continue with his back catalogue. Hopefully, he’ll continue making great music in 2021.

P.S: You might notice that some of the mixtapes have fewer songs now. That’s because I have moved their songs to 2020-specific playlists, that way the mixtapes won’t become too big.

P.S2: Hope you are all enjoying the holidays break and have a much better 2021 (the bar is not too high). Thank you for your visit and see you in Jan!

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Kendall Street Company – In A Little While

Remember The Shrugs from early November? One of its members, saxophonist Jake Vanaman, also plays in another Virginia-based band called Kendall Street Company, who released recently their fourth studio album, The Stories We Write For Ourselves (I love this album name. Not only do they have a similar vibe to The Shrugs, but they even invited Abbey Potter as a guest vocalist in some of the tracks, like lead single Lady In Green. That being said, the tune that caught my attention was track #11.

In A Little While is a folk rock song with an acoustic charm and great storytelling. The vocals from lead singer Louis Smith are also perfect for that kind of music. However, do not make the mistake of thinking all 15 tracks in the album (including a prologue and epilogue) sound the same. There’s a little bit of everything, with bits of classic and experimental rock mixed in here and there. KSC are becoming a popular jam band in the Virginia region. Don’t be surprised if that starts being the case in other states too.

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Deep.Sleep – You and I

Deep.Sleep is an indie rock band from Newcastle upon Tyne that, at least before 2020, was turning heads touring the UK and even The Netherlands pretty successfully. Their music is generally upbeat and anthemic, not that different to bands like The 1975. The Geordie band has spent this year honing their craft, resulting in the release of their latest single, You and I. It is a song about anxiety, specifically the one frontman Dan Frend felt a few years ago when his then-girlfriend moved away to study and the fact that he felt he had to tough it up because of the toxic masculinity mindset that surrounded him. He managed to find a way to make it a light-hearted and catchy tune, and that in a nutshell represents what is great about this promising young band.

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