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.
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.
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.
Casey Chen is a classically trained pianist and cellist who nowadays records and produces music from home as Tyzo Bloom. He has just released a new EP, Random Thoughts, with six very distinct tracks, going from straight pop like in Bedroom, to urban styles with Tom Cruise, and indie/alternative as with TV. The latter, which is a real earworm, is a collaboration with Pom Pom Squad, which is a female-fronted punk/grunge band from Brooklyn that had been recommended to me already by friend of T.A.M, GHST MDRN.
Mia Berrin, Pom Pom Squad‘s vocalist, got a silky voice that suits TV perfectly. I feel like I could listen to this song, which in essence talks about wanting to fix things with the person you love, all day. It also highlights how good of a producer/composer Tyzo Bloom is. The whole EP is full of nice loops and sounds that catch your attention. Don’t sleep on these two music acts, this won’t be the last time you hear from them.
The music business is tough. You could be the most talented singer/songwriter in the world and still fail to make it without some marketing and a little bit of luck. Social media helps with the marketing part, making it easier to reach a wider audience but, nevertheless, it still requires time and effort and not everybody is going to enjoy that work. It’s really hard to do something you hate, every day, when all you want to do is pick up your guitar and make some good music.
Dana Knox hates marketing and doesn’t even have a social media presence, but he surely got talent. He self-released a really good album in 2016 titled One Long Song that nobody listened to, mostly because few people were aware of it. Still, I guess that working so hard on an album only to get basically no traction can break you. When Dana reached out to me to make me aware of his music, I could sense that he was about to give up. He didn’t even think I would actually be willing to feature it here, he just decided to give it a try. I’m glad he did though because I really liked what I found.
Dana‘s album is available, for now, on some of the major streaming platforms. It consists mostly of his raspy voice and acoustic guitar-based melodies that can transport you immediately to the Great Plains of Montana, where he lives. Granted, it’s not the type of music that would top music charts constantly, but it’s good music that plenty of people enjoy, enough to make it feasible to do that for a living. Dana‘s style reminds me a bit of Frightened Rabbits had they been from the American Midwest rather than Scotland; and the song I decided to feature here today, An Old Song, actually reminds me a lot of early Counting Crows.
Unfortunately, An Old Song is not available on Youtube (the video below is a beautiful cover Dana did of You Are My Sunshine), but you can listen to it on the mixtapes at the bottom of this page. Definitely, check Dana‘s music out, not only to show him some support, but also because it’s pretty damn good.