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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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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Holly Humberstone – The Walls Are Way Too Thin

Artist: Holly Humberstone

Song: The Walls Are Way Too Thin

Genres: #indiepop

Location: United Kingdom

Release date: May, 2021

Influences: Phoebe Bridgers, Damien Rice

Comment: Holly Humberstone is a young and immensely talented British artist who in just over one year has managed to make a name for herself in the alternative pop scene. She’s preparing to release her sophomore EP in November, whose lead single is the eponymously titled The Walls Are Way Too Thin. She wrote this song after moving to a small flat in London and it is a catchy piece of “dark pop”. If you were not aware of Holly Humberstone before, write her name down. This won’t be the last time you hear it.

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Illicit Ghost – Higher

Artist: Illicit Ghost

Song: Higher

Genres: #indiepop #indierock

Location: New York City, United States

Release date: April, 2021.

Influences: St. Vincent, Hole, The Killers.

CommentHigher is a bright and infectious indie pop-rock song from New York-based artist Illicit Ghost, who also play the violin here. This track could become a big hit if it received enough promotion. Quality-wise, it does not lack anything. Higher is quite a refreshing tune.

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BLÜ EYES – supposed to

ArtistBLÜ EYES

Song: supposed to

Genres: #indiepop

Location: Los Angeles, California

Release date: April, 2021.

CommentBLÜ EYES got a sweet voice that’s hard to ignore. That’s one of the reasons why she’s been collaborating with DJs and electronic music producers as well. However, she’s also a talented songwriter as evidenced by today’s song, supposed to. A humble indie pop track that is very pleasing to the ear. Check it out before this young artist becomes the next big thing.

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Five Days North – Champagne Shots

I didn’t check but I think Five Days North are becoming the first artist or band to be featured here three times. They totally deserve it as they have done nothing but consistently release pretty good tracks every three months or so, which is often enough to stay relevant without saturating us. Champagne Shots is their latest song and perhaps my favorite of them so far. It does sound like a Five Days North song with their distinctive synth lines and overall vibe, but the song’s melody stands out on its own. Just listen to the captivating chorus and you’ll see what I mean.

Lyrically, the song talks about those small bits of luxury we do enjoy from time to time and used to take for granted. After a year and a half of a pandemic, I think we all can relate to that theme now that even going to a restaurant or a live concert seems sumptuous. Champagne Shots is the perfect song to play the next time we do something we once considered normal.

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boy blush – Hell With You

Artist: boy blush

Song: Hell With You

Genres: #indiemusic #indiepop

Location: Los Angeles, California

Release date: April, 2021.

Comment: boy blush is the stage name of Dylan Stone, someone who always dreamed to release music but didn’t dare to do so until the pandemic arrived and some friends heard this tune and gave him a little push. I’m glad they did because if you told me that Hell With You was written by a seasoned songwriter with multiple hits under her name and recorded at a famous studio with a well-known producer, I could totally believe you. I really hope Dylan keeps releasing music.

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Will Naisbitt – Do It Again

Birmingham-native, London-based singer-songwriter Will Naisbitt is just 19 but already knows a thing or two about writing a hook. After cutting his teeth as a busker since he was even younger, Will released his debut single in 2019 and he hasn’t stopped releasing new songs at a steady pace. He’s been gaining notoriety and support from bloggers and radio stations alike, including BBC Introducing. I hadn’t heard of him until Do It Again dropped back in April, but that song alone is enough to make you think he’s got a promising future. If you take the time to check a few other tracks as well, you’ll be certain of that. Ed Sheeran got some competition.

Do It Again starts with some really infectious guitars and inviting rhythms. Will Naisbitt‘s vocals are really perfect for #indiepop music and that’s another reason why this track works so well. It is also pretty upbeat, even though it explores the difficult dynamics of lovers who enter a long-distance relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised if Do It Again became a summer hit but, at the very least, it should expose Will to a wider audience. This is just the start.

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AO – Through The Storm

Aria Pullman Ostrander has done a little bit of everything. She’s been a model; an actress, appearing on numerous tv shows and films and on her own comedy show on Youtube with her friend Alexandra Holden, who you might remember from Friends); a songwriter, writing for herself and also for fellow artists, with several of her songs featured on films and tv shows; and a singer, which is the reason I’m talking about her today. By the way, the Ostrander in her name comes from being married to Josh Ostrander, better known as Mondo Cozmo, for whom she co-wrote several songs in both of his albums. Naturally, he returned the favour by helping her produce her debut solo album, Life Out Loud (LOL).

As a solo artist, Aria uses the moniker AO and her music style is moody indie pop in the same vein as Lana Del Rey. They even have a similar tone of voice, which makes the comparison unavoidable. My favorite songs in LOL are Heaven and Through The Storm, ultimately choosing the latter one because it had a lyric video. It is an entrancing and atmospheric track that couples Aria’s ethereal vocals with layers of sounds that give it a rich texture. This is not a song to sing along or dance to, but you can enjoy it in silence all day long without getting tired. Through The Storm pulls you in like a dream you don’t want to wake up from.

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Julia Michaels – All Your Exes

Julia Cavazos, better known as Julia Michaels, made a name for herself writing hits for other pop artists such as Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, and Shawn Mendes, just to name a few. Then, in 2017, she wrote a song that she liked so much that she kept it for herself. That tune, Issues, became a hit and even earned her some Grammy nominations (whatever that’s worth). Julia is a established solo artist now and earlier this year released her debut studio album: Not In Chronological Order, which features the single being featured here today.

I hadn’t paid that much attention to Julia before because most of her songs tend to be mainstream pop tunes that are not typically my cup of tea. That being said, I happened to listen to All Your Exes and found it so good that I had to write about it here. It starts as a decent pop track led by an acoustic guitar and Julia Michaels‘ great vocals. So far so good but nothing to write home about. Then the chorus starts and it becomes a very different song, swapping out the acoustic guitar with a gritty electric one. The end result is one of the best #poprock tunes of the year, which comes accompanied by a fun music video that nods to a few psychological thrillers. Well worth your time.

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