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.
When someone tells you that a recently-released song got a strong 1980s influence, almost immediately you will think of synths of all types and shapes and, most of the time, you will be right. With Close To You, however, you would be very wrong because music from that decade was much more than just synths. Majozi is a South African #indiefolk / #indiepop artist who decided to push his boundaries further with his latest single by incorporating rhythms and sounds typical of tunes from the 1980s. Think Lionel Richie’s All Night Long with a folksy vibe and a sax-based bridge.
Majozi has been active in his home country for about 10 years and has even had several radio hits over there. He has grown a fanbase in South Africa due to his heartfelt lyrics written from his cheerful perspective of the world. Close To You is a good example of that because you will see that the track is pretty uplifting on its own. It’s the kind of music the whole world needs right now: the kind that will make you smile.
Shaun Riley is a solo #indiepop artist from Minneapolis that has just released his debut EP: Drive, written, recorded, and mixed by him at home. He also has a Youtube channel where he uploads acoustic covers of popular songs. In a nutshell, that’s all there is to know about Shaun in terms of biographic details, and, quite frankly, that’s all we need. Well, that and the facts that he got a really good voice for pop songs and can write a great hook or two.
Secret, the first track in Drive, is a great example of that. It’s an unpretentious song about feeling infatuated at the beginning of a relationship but good luck getting that chorus out of your head afterwards. On these short track reviews, rather than describing each element of the featured song, I just try to give the reader reasons for spending 3 minutes of your valuable time listening to a song. For Secret, I can’t think of better reasons than flawless vocals and how catchy the chorus is. Everything else is secondary.
We should definitely keep Shaun Riley in our radars.
Yume means ‘dream’ in Japanese and that is the reason why YumeMike chose that moniker, even though he’s actually Italian. He grew up playing bass in multiple #punkrock bands but, as a solo artist, he traded the bass for synths, creating an interesting variant of #indiepop with a strong #poppunk flavour. He cites The Naked And Famous and The Killers as influences, but if you want to have an idea of what he sounds like, think Owl City meets Angels & Airwaves. YumeMike’s ‘dream’ is to inspire and elicit warm feelings through his music. If you like positive messages, this is the artist for you.
Dream Out Loud is part of YumeMike‘s debut album, Light In The Mirror, released in February but that he started working on back in 2019. The track is perfectly on-brand with the artist’s style of uplifting synthpop music but I have to say that the overall production/musical arrangement is really impressive considering he worked on it alone. In fact, YumeMike just released an instrumental version of his debut album that is just as good too. This Italian artist is seriously talented and deserves to be on our radars. Check him out.
Nathan Mac is a cinematic pop artist from Ireland who is in the midst of releasing his debut album, Start of Something Blue, one song at a time. With a background in circus performance and stagecraft, and getting inspiration from sources such as Pixar,Studio Ghibli, and Kingdom Hearts (a videogame series), it isn’t surprising that one of his latest releases, The Boy Who Learned To Fly, feels like a song straight out of a movie from them. It is a beautiful and delicate tune about a child who sees his father cry for the first time. Based on Nathan’s relationship with his own father, the track tell us that it is OK to show vulnerability even when we are grown ups.
Without a doubt, Nathan Mac is a creative force that we won’t want to keep out of sight. We won’t wan to miss what he comes up with.
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.
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.
If you visit the instagram page of We Meet As Strangers, you will see that they’re now a four-piece act. It all started, however, when two school friends from Stuttgart, Germany, decided to start a band in 2015. Since then, they have released and produced themselves an album, an EP and two singles, always trying to merge different musical styles and instruments, including those typical of traditional German music like brass and strings. With influences that go from Neck Deep to Sufjan Stevens, you can see they have trouble getting defined by a single genre.
Their latest single, which for simplicity I’ll refer to as Everyone betrayed me (the full name is in the title of this entry), is the most 1980s song composed by someone who wasn’t even alive in the same century. Filled with analog synths and lush sounds, the track is about not being the one for the person you love and being OK with that. Something nice about We Meet as Strangers and this song is that they will donate all earnings from it to Doctors Without Borders in order to help those in the Moria camp on Lesbos. Listening to a good track is always nice but, if on top of that, you are going to contribute to such a good cause, it becomes a no-brainer. Check it out below.