“Make Me Smile” by The Pulltops

"Make Me Smile" by The Pulltops

"Make Me Smile" by The Pulltops

Artist: The Pulltops

Song: Make Me Smile

Genres: #indierock #altrock

Location: Milwaukee, United States

Release date: November, 2023

Comment: The Pulltops, a duo from Milwaukee, just dropped their latest song, ‘Make Me Smile,’ which reminds me quite a bit of Semisonic — never a bad thing. It captures the simple yet sweet message: “You’ll always be the one to make me smile.” Hopefully, we all have someone like that in our lives.

Mark Pierret and Tom Crowell form the core of The Pulltops. With diverse musical tastes but always rooted in classic pop and indie rock, they bring in flavors from a wide array of styles, blending it all together to make a timeless sound that goes beyond genres. “Make Me Smile” is their seventh song this year, showing they’re all about putting out music. In fact, they are planning to release a new song every six weeks for the next two years and an EP every fourth single.

“I particularly enjoy the big chorus; it has a great melody that makes you sing along in no time. Between that and the sweet lyrics, it’s hard not to enjoy “Make Me Smile.” It’s one of those songs that can lighten up your mood whenever you need it. [Insert here a cheesy pun about how this song makes you smile.]

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“Sunlight” by RHODES

"Sunlight" by RHODES

"Sunlight" by RHODES

Artist: RHODES

Song: Sunlight

Genres: #indiepop

Location:  Baldock, United Kingdom

Release date: August, 2023

Comment: David Rhodes, known by his stage name RHODES (stylized in all caps), is an English singer and songwriter born in 1988 who embarked on his musical journey in 2013. He had a successful duet with Birdy and was featured on Kygo‘s debut album, “Cloud Nine“, but I don’t think he is that well-known yet. Chances are, this is the first time you’ve heard about him.

RHODES has been on my radar for a while, and he recently released a single called “Sunlight” that quickly became my favorite song of his. It’s one of those rare tracks where you might find the verses more captivating than the chorus. From the moment the first note hits, you’re drawn into a world of ethereal melodies and heartfelt lyrics that make you stop and listen. RHODES’ vocal performance is nothing short of mesmerizing. His voice, rich and emotive, carries the song, and the lyrics are relatable yet profound.

In short, I think this song shines as bright as its title suggests. Check it out!

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“DRIVE!” by Lockyer Boys

"DRIVE!" by Lockyer Boys

"DRIVE!" by Lockyer Boys

Artist: Lockyer Boys

Song: DRIVE!

Genres: #altpop

Location:  Thunder Bay, Canada

Release date: November, 2023

Comment: The Lockyer Boys, a project by brothers Will and Charlie Lockyer, have released their new single, “DRIVE!”, which is now available on all streaming platforms. The song is a vibrant, fast-paced production that brilliantly highlights the duo’s invigorating and uplifting pop style. DRIVE!” revolves around seizing opportunities, conveying themes of confidence, courage, and giving one’s utmost effort.

Hailing from Thunder Bay, Canada, the Lockyer Brothers have been immersed in musical collaboration since their early years. At the youthful ages of 19 (Charlie) and 21 (Will), this multi-talented duo has accumulated substantial studio experience, and that’s evident with “DRIVE!” production-wise. Their future is bright!

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“Wishing Well” by Sundara Karma

"Wishing Well" by Sundara Karma

Artist: Sundara Karma

Song: Wishing Well

Genres: #indierock #altrock

Location: Reading, United Kingdom

Release date: September, 2023

Comment: For those who are not familiar, Sundara Karma is an English indie rock band that originated in Reading, England back in 2011. The group comprises Oscar Pollock as the lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter, along with Ally Baty as the lead guitarist, Dom Cordell on bass, and Haydn Evans handling the drums. Their band name, derived from Sanskrit, translates to “Beautiful Karma.” In the years since their formation, they have been consistently active and have treated listeners to a series of albums, each offering a refreshing perspective on indie rock. Sundara Karma‘s distinctive musical identity is characterized by the fusion of emotionally charged lyricism with captivating rhythmic melodies, resulting in compositions that are not only enthralling but also profoundly relatable.

Sundara Karma‘s most recent offering, “Wishing Well,” is a good example of that. It presents an uplifting composition juxtaposed with verses that articulate the torment of dwelling on “what ifs.” It’s a track that leaves you contemplative, humming along, and eagerly hitting the replay button. Enjoy.

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“Ellis Island” by Actve Captve

"Ellis Island" by Actve Captve

Artist: Actve Captve

Song: Ellis Island

Genres: #indierock #altrock

Location: Austin, Texas, United States

Release date: August, 2023

Comment: “Ellis Island” is a new song by Actve Captve, a versatile band led by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Justin Han. The track draws its inspiration from Han’s personal experiences, expertly portraying the juxtaposition of bidding farewell to a beloved world while nurturing aspirations for a fresh start. As you may already know, Ellis Island, located in New York Harbor, served as the first port of entry for countless immigrants arriving in the United States by boat from Europe in pursuit of the “American Dream.” Over time, it became a symbol of hope and new beginnings.

“Ellis Island” features soulful vocals by Cassie Brandi, lending a gospel-like richness to the composition. This song effortlessly combines captivating melodies, powerful vocals, and anthemic choruses, resulting in a sonic gem that’s hard to ignore. Additionally, the inclusion of 1980s-like synthesizers completes the song flawlessly.

This track is the second release from Actve Captve‘s upcoming EP, ‘Saudaze.’ With Justin Han’s diverse musical background—he’s a classically trained pianist—I’m sure the EP will be filled with interesting tracks well worth a listen. After all, the band’s ultimate goal is to create music that resonates deeply with audiences.

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“Worse Than This” by Me Nd Adam

"Worse Than This" by Me Nd Adam

Artist: Me Nd Adam

Song: Worse Than This

Genres: #indierock #altrock

Location: Austin, Texas, United States

Release date: July, 2023

Comment: Me Nd Adam, the dynamic duo hailing from Austin, Texas, has carved an impressive path through the music industry, captivating audiences with their heartfelt anthems, engaging accessibility, generous merch giveaways, and their spirited, unapologetic demeanor. They’ve earned the moniker of pioneering trailblazers in the genre they call trash-wave.

Their latest offering, “Worse Than This,” is a standout track from their album “American Drip Part II (ADP2).” This sophomore release marks a significant evolution in their musical journey, weaving a tapestry of influences into a sound that’s unmistakably their own. The duo deliberately shifted towards a more organic instrumental approach, toning down the electro-pop elements that adorned their debut album, obviously: “American Drip Pt. I (ADP1).”

Back in November 2020, Me Nd Adam caught our attention with the release of “The More I Grow Up,” a single that swiftly amassed over two million streams. It also piqued the interest of the underdog indie label, Handwritten Records, based in Las Vegas. Since then, they’ve continued to garner acclaim and support from devoted fans and even rock icons like The Killers.

I highly recommend giving “Worse Than This” a listen. If you want to check out their new album afterwards, you can find it here.

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“Monster” by Grace & Moji

"Monster" by Grace & Moji
Photo credits: Steph Montani

Artist: Grace & Moji

Song: Monster

Genres: #altpop #indiepop

Location:  Los Angeles, United States

Release date: August, 2023

Comment: Beneath the sun-kissed melodies of summer, Grace & Moji‘s latest release, “Monster,” the second single from their forthcoming debut album, delves into the heart of our complexities, shining light on the shadows that coexist within us. As the dynamic husband-wife indie duo serenades us with their infectious indie pop duet, they unravel a universal truth – the duality of our beings.

In this enchanting anthem, Grace & Moji‘s harmonious voices dance harmoniously, a true testament to their musical unity. Grace Hong’s words echo in every note, reminding us that acknowledging our “Monsters” is an essential step toward understanding the nuances that make us human. Also, the vibrant instrumentation and infectious beats create a whirlwind of emotions, carrying us through the highs and lows of their melodic narrative.

In short, this groovy track is an indie pop gem.  Its easygoing tone, well-executed vocals, and captivating storytelling make it a standout piece that leaves a lasting impression. Check it out!

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“Cool About It” by boygenius

"Cool About It" by boygenius

Artist: boygenius

Song: Cool About It

Genres: #indie #indiefolk

Location:  California, United States

Release date: March, 2023

Comment: If you are a fan of indie folk and rock, you probably know who boygenius are. The supergroup, formed by Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus released their self-titled debut EP in 2018 and it was full of harmonies, emotions and exquisite songwriting. Since then, each member has been busy with their own projects, but somehow they still found time to release a new album, aptly titled ‘the record’, earlier this year. Even though it probably won’t be released as a single, “Cool About It” is my favorite new track and I’ve been meaning to feature it here for a while now.

The song is a slow-burning ballad that showcases the trio’s vocal chemistry and their ability to create a captivating atmosphere with minimal instrumentation. The lyrics are about trying to act nonchalant in front of an ex-lover, but feeling the pain and regret underneath. It’s a simple yet beautiful track.

Regular readers will probably remember that I’ve written about Phoebe before, but Julien and Lucy are just as talented and compelling, and together they form a powerful and unique musical force.


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“Find You” by New Friends

"Find You" by New Friends
Photo credits: Steph Montani

Artist: New Friends

Song: Find You

Genres: #altpop #indiepop

Location:  London, Canada

Release date: April, 2023

Comment: Back in April, Canadian band New Friends released their debut EP Camaro; it contains the catchy “Doomed”, which I featured here last year, and three other tracks. I listened to the EP without expecting to find a song I liked as much as “Doomed” in it, but I was wrong. Even though “Find You”, the closing track, is a different kind of song, it got me hooked just the same. The chorus is really something else. It makes you want to sing along.

“Find You” showcases impressive vocal harmonies and captivating guitar riffs, enhancing the richness of its sound. The production is polished yet tasteful, allowing the song’s essence to shine through. With its universal theme of longing for understanding and happiness, this track strikes a chord. All in all, the song sounds like a radio hit, but with a distinct personal touch. New Friends is unquestionably a band to keep an eye on in the pop rock scene.

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“NEED U HERE” by Airports

"NEED U HERE" by AIRPORTS

Artist: Airports

Song: NEED U HERE

Genres: #altpop

Location:  Brisbane, Australia

Release date: May, 2023

Comment: “NEED U HERE” by Airports is a profoundly moving song that delves into themes of loss and grief. The lyrics, raw and honest, vividly depict the pain of losing someone dear.

As the song progresses, it steadily builds in intensity, drawing you deeper into the artist’s emotional journey. That is partially thanks to some skilful production carried out on this track . The simplicity allows his voice to shine, further emphasizing the raw emotion behind each lyric. The vocal styles are different but I think it would be fair to compare “Need You Here” with the work of artists such as YUNGBLUD.

Airports, led by Brisbane-based singer, writer, and producer Aaron Lee, has gained recognition for his unique fusion of punk, drum n bass, and EDM. Beyond his solo endeavors, Aaron has demonstrated his songwriting and production skills working with other artists and collaborating with global brands such as Coca-Cola and Fanta.

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