Away From The Earth – The Secret is To Begin

As it happened to many others, Kyle Wright lost his job in the middle of the pandemic. After graduating college, he had to work as an Uber driver to make ends meet. However, he never stopped dreaming about a better future. Just one year earlier, he had started a solo musical project called Away From The Earth, inspired by his time as a guitar player during worship events and on local bands around Memphis. The events during 2020 motivated him to compose and self-record an EP he named Paint With Grey, See In Color that reflected what he was feeling at the time. Kyle defines AFTE’s music style as “somewhere between post-rock energy and ambient vibes”. I couldn’t agree more with him.

The EP is really good but I fell in love with its first track: The Secret Is To Begin, which is simply mesmerizing. Kyle says that it was based on the sound made by “taping bubble wrap to a fan and laying it over the strings of an electric guitar”, which I would never have guessed on my own given such a beautiful piece of #postrock music. The bottom line is that it is a spellbinding song that you will want to inject into your veins. Listen to it at your own peril.

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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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Jackfruit – stuck in ohio

Jackfruit is the moniker of Jack Braun, a 19 year old musician from NYC. He plays mostly piano and writes all of his music, getting help from Zach Benson on the mixing and production fronts. Jack’s musical style is basically bedroom pop –literally recorded in his childhood bedroom–, which may or may not be your cup of tea, but you’ll surely find his lyrics very interesting. Jack started making music during the start of the pandemic and released his debut EP earlier this year: when they find your body, which consists of four tracks, out of which the most popular one is gas leak with 4 times as many streams as the one in second place. That being said, the song that really stood out for me was stuck in ohio.

The thing that really attracted me to stuck in ohio was how vulnerable Jack’s delivery is on it. A song about an unrequited love, it feels like Jack really means every word coming out of his mouth. This is not a track to dance to or for karaoke night. It is a song to be felt and that’s the beauty in this piece from Jackfruit. I don’t know what the future holds for this talented artist, but it will be fascinating to find out.

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The Aquaerials – Insomniac’s Respite

For most people, buying a house is an important achievement that requires plenty of sacrifices. For Michigan-based artist Mark Swanson, that meant selling all of his instruments (he had been playing music for years). Well, all but his keyboard, which he tried to sell as well but could not find a decent offer for it. A few years later, when Mark felt the itch to play music again, he had to use the only instrument he still had: the keyboard, which not only explains how The Aquaerials started but also his sound. Influenced by artists who should be familiar to regular readers such as Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter, and Sigur Rós; Mark creates minimalist neoclassical compositions that are simple yet beautiful.

Insomniac’s Respite, the latest single from The Aquaerials, is an instrumental piano piece that was inspired by sleeplessness and a general feeling of anxiety. However, being an instrumental piece, each listener can interpret it in a different way. Composed, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Mark himself in his home studio, Insomniac’s Respite is a delicate track that is as serene as a lullaby. If you want to relax, this is the perfect track for you. Enjoy.

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Maggie Lindemann – Knife Under My Pillow

Being a young woman dangling with alternative rock and pop-punk, it is inevitable that Maggie Lindemann gets compared to the likes of Avril Lavigne and Hayley Williams (Paramore). However, in this case, that comparison actually makes sense because her tone of voice is not far from Avril‘s and some of her songs do have a Paramore vibe. There is nothing wrong with that, though. Those two are really talented and successful musicians and, on top of that, Maggie is also able to stand on her own. She could become just as big pretty soon.

She’s not a complete unknown either. In 2016, her breakout single Pretty Girl reached the top ten in several countries including Sweeden, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. I didn’t know her by name back then but that song does sound familiar to me. Early this year, this artist from Dallas, Texas, released her debut EP, Paranoia, which features Knife Under My Pillow as its lead single. This pop-rock banger is a song about fear and paranoia inspired by early 2000s horror movies (which also explains the music video, see below).

With grungy guitars, resounding drums, and a catchy chorus, this tune announces us that Maggie Lindemann has arrived and is here to stay.

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The Broken Cradle – Road to Gilead

Gilead may mean, among other things, “hill of testimony” and that is the meaning The Broken Cradle had in mind when he decided to use it as the name of his latest EP. It is supposed to tell the journey of our respective roads to Gilead in our search for happiness and purpose. The EP is a neoclassical and ambient album that starts with the aptly titled Road to Gilead, a piano-centered track with atmospheric pads that create a mesmerizing soundscape. Listening to the multiple textures in the song feels like scratching an itch and not wanting to stop.

The Broken Cradle is the solo work of Eric McLean, a musician from North Carolina with over 20 years of experience. With influences such as Brian Eno and Olafur Arnalds, it is not surprising that his music could fit so well in an album from any of those renowned artists. He is that good.

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Eighty Ninety – Forever

Forever is the latest single from NYC-based brothers Abner and Harper James, aka Eighty Ninety. I don’t know the exact reason why they chose that moniker but if you told me that it was because they wanted to emulate the style of indie pop music from the 1980s and 1990s, I’d believe you because that’s exactly how they sound like. As stated in their bio, they “fuse intimate storytelling, sticky melodies, and minimalist pop productions built on acoustic instruments and electronic sounds in a style they call ‘808s and telecasters‘”. They debuted in 2016 and even got Taylor Swift to add one of their songs, Your Favorite Song, to her official Spotify playlist with tunes she loves.

Forever will be part of Eighty Ninety‘s upcoming sophomore EP. It is a warm song in the duo’s signature chill-pop style . Even though the song’s theme is about unrequited love, it is actually pretty uplifting. The whole tracks feels like a daydream we won’t want to wake up from. Give it a listen below.

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Renay – Why

I was introduced to this song by the video below and I know it’s very “artsy“, but I have to admit that I don’t like this videoclip that much. It’s just not my cup of tea. The fact that I actually enjoyed the song is a testament to how good it is. I was predisposed to dislike it yet I didn’t. I don’t know, I found it hypnotic and the artist, Renay, got a nice voice and obviously knows how to use it. Why can certainly cast a spell on your ears.

Renay and Razteria are actually two monikers used by the same person: Renee Asteria. A singer-songwriter and producer/engineer based in the San Francisco Bay area with Bolivian and Dutch roots. She uses Renay for her pop-oriented work and Razteria for more experimental tracks incorporating different genres including South American music. A true artist, she wrote the first version of Why over 15 years ago when she was still trying to figure out herself. On this finished version, she’s learned to embrace all of her sides, good and bad. Check it out below.

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Au Gres – At Home In The Dark

I’m here for the outstanding guitar solo in the bridge of At Home In The Dark. It really elevates the whole song to another level: from nice to really good. The tune is the second single from Michigan based-artist Au Gres  (aʷ grā), which is the musical project of singer-songwriter Joshua Kemp, who conceived the whole project in his bedroom with, according to him, unimpressive equipment. Au Gres‘ music is a blend of indie rock with bedroom pop and that is particularly true in this new release, which Joshua refers to as being “indie pop with teeth”.

At Home In The Dark is also a love song whose theme is promising one’s partner that you will help them feel at home during the good times but specially during rough times too. You can read a wonderful review of this song at our friend Jeff‘s essential music blog: Eclectic Music Lover, or just listen to it right away at the links below. Whatever you choose, you won’t regret it.

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