Sober Spaceman is the second single from Australian synth-pop duo FancyNormal. It sounds like the 96th single from a seasoned altpop veteran. The tune is catchy as hell, the production is top-notch and the vocals are simply perfect for this kind of music. In fact, the intro reminded me a bit of “Already Gone” from Kelly Clarkson (co-written by Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic). Lyrically, the song is about conquering fear and living your life to its fullest. I’m telling you, I can’t find a fault on this song.
Influenced by Carly Rae Japsen and MGMT, the duo started during the pandemic and is formed by Noni, the lead singer and who is originally from Indonesia, and Jules, who plays most instruments and is in charge of the smooth production. Together, they are trying to create colorful music at a time when the world really needs it. If you give FancyNormal a chance, it will be easy for you to see they are succeeding at that. This is picture perfect indie pop music.
If you watched the second season of Cobra Kai, you may have noticed that during a party scene towards the end of the season, a cool song played for a few seconds. It caught my attention then and after a little research, I found that the song was Hold Steady by Justin Forrest. Now, he does have Instagram and Twitter accounts, but other than that, it is not much what you can find about him. He’s from Nashville and got three singles on the major streaming platforms, with Hold Steady being the most recent one. Nevertheless, Justin obviously got a knack for writing extremely catchy pop-rock songs and we should definitely keep him on our radar.
Hold Steady is definitely a #musicalcrush with an explosive chorus. Check it out below.
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.
In terms of acting, Cait Fairbanks got a successful career with Daytime Emmy-nominated roles and stints in Broadway. In 2018, she launched her music career under the moniker Ginesse, but it wasn’t until last November when she released her debut EP, Somewhere To Die. This EP consists of five tracks of hazy, melancholic indie pop that aim to transmit emotional pictures to the listener. Its lead single, LA Isn’t Somewhere To Die, is a testament to that.
Cait wrote this lead single as an ode to her friends who supported her after a tough breakup. The track got a haunting cinematic vibe that is also reflected by its music video (see below). Like any good movie, LA Isn’t Somewhere To Die does not lose its luster after you play it on repeat. I have no idea of whether Ginesse enjoys acting more than making music, but I seriously hope she doesn’t stop doing the latter as she got real talent for it.
Naked is the eponymous single of London-based indie pop artist Natalie Shay‘s debut EP. The song and even the whole EP were heavily influenced by 80s music but still sound modern enough to make it undeniable that they were released recently (last November). Naked, in particular, got a Cyndi Lauper vibe and despite the track’s subject revolving around the breakdown of a relationship, it is one of those songs that puts you in a good mood automatically. Its music video, which you can find below, it’s also worth a watch.
Regarding Natalie Shay, she’s just 21 and received classical training at the prestigious BRIT School. Even though this is her debut EP, she’s won multiple music awards at different competitions, which has generated some buzz for her already. Today’s pop music is sadly dominated by R&B and hip hop. There is a need for more pop music like Natalie’s.
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.
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.
If you visit The Break Plans Facebook page, you will find that they describe their music as “Rock n’ roll with an EDM soul” or “indie pop music you can dance to — with an alternative rock vibe”. After listening to some of the singles they’ve released so far, it’s fair to say that both descriptions are pretty accurate. This band from Freehold, New Jersey, started in 2018 when lead singer Colton Braun replied to an add the other two band members, Mike Jahoda and Phil E. Eichinger, posted on Craig’s List. Getting inspiration from bands like Walk The Moon, Coldplay, and The Killers, their songs are certainly catchy and fun.
Their latest single, Crossroads, is exhibit A of everything mentioned above. It is an indie pop track with hints of alternative rock, some cool synths and even some EDM vibes. A song about feeling incomplete without that person who complements you, Crossroads is one of those tunes you could easily play on repeat. If you don’t have an aversion to radio-friendly songs, don’t lose sight of The Break Plans and check their back catalogue out. You won’t be disappointed.
I can’t claim to know much about the work of electronic music composer and producer David Grellier, aka College, because, unfortunately, that’s not the case. His goal is to “synthetize into [his] music the emotions of [his] childhood”, reason for which his music is heavily influenced by ’80s pop culture. If you watched the movie Drive (2011), you should have heard his most widely known song, A Real Hero, co-written with Austin Garrick from Canadian synth-pop duo Electric Youth, duo that also features on the track. If you just listen to this song, you’ll quickly notice two things: a) It certainly has an 80s vibe, and b) It is a mesmerizing track.
Despite getting nominated to an MTV Music Award for ‘Best Music’ and becoming an underground hit, A Real Hero is still relatively unknown to the casual music fan. Even then, it has been covered multiple times by established and not so established artists (and I’m planning to feature one of those covers here soon). In fact, a fun anecdote is that a few years ago, while I was on holiday in Malta, one night there was a really good guitar player performing some music at the hotel we were staying. Near the end, he started playing a song that instantly reminded me of A Real Hero. I quickly dismissed that thought because surely that song wasn’t popular enough to be played randomly by a guitar player in a small island on the Mediterranean Sea. Well, it was A Real Hero and it was one of the highlights of that trip. Enjoy this tune as this week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry.
Crash Cathedral is a new alternative pop band from Philadelphia with an experimental side. While their music is radio friendly, the background the band’s members have is actually in metal, hardcore and industrial rock, which offers a unique twist to what they do, resulting in a darker-than-usual style of alt-pop. However, I’d like to make it clear that this is not a case of artists making music they hate just because it’s popular. Instead, it is an example of musicians finding the middle ground across the multiple and sometimes dissimilar styles that they enjoy.
Back in October, Crash Cathedral released their debut single, MoodRing, which centers around relationships with people who are not what you thought they were. Musically, it draws influence from ’80s new wave while still sounding modern. What sets this tune apart is its extremely catchy chorus. You will want to put it on repeat. If this is what their debut single sounds like, I can’t imagine how great their songs are going to be once they have more time working together.