Comment: Desert Life, a musical duo hailing from Tenby, Wales, has recently captured my attention with their debut album titled “Let It All Pass,” released last month. The album opens with “Future Dead,” a track that sets the tone for the entire album beautifully. It commences with acoustic folk instrumentals that set a tranquil tempo, soon followed by the melodic vocals.
The songwriting partnership, composed of the singer-songwriter Chris Swales and the multi-instrumentalist Tom Jordan, has expertly fashioned a sound that reverberates with their influences, particularly R.E.M (in my humble opinion). This is particularly palpable in “Future Dead,” where the emotionally charged musical arrangements and poetic lyricism delve into the shadowy recesses of the heart.
If you’re a fan of R.E.M. or similar bands, I wholeheartedly recommend giving “Future Dead” by Desert Life a listen. And if it resonates with you, I encourage you to explore the rest of their debut album as well; you’ll discover plenty more of what you love within.
Comment: In the realm of folk-infused serenity, “Better to You” by Elkvilla stands as a radiant testament to the power of musical introspection. With its heartfelt lyricism, masterful instrumentation, and the warm embrace of Elkvilla‘s soulful vocals, this song takes us on a contemplative journey through the intricate landscapes of self-empowerment.
The journey begins with the opening line, “I am the salt in your wound,” a poignant declaration that sets the tone for the entire composition. It’s a song about enduring pain within a relationship, choosing to stay, and ultimately finding strength through personal growth and introspection. The resilience of the human spirit is poetically portrayed through Elkvilla‘s evocative lyrics.
The instrumental canvas of “Better to You” is both minimalistic and richly textured, an artful balance that is influenced by the work of folk artists such as The Tallest Man On Earth and neoclassical ones such as Ólafur Arnalds. The musical backdrop feels as comforting as it is profound.
Elvilla is the moniker of Australian singer-songwriter and producer Adam Dudek. He often crafts his songs on his own in his apartment in Berlin. He started this musical project, which is named after a beloved childhood toy, in 2020 but took a break to improve his producing skills. “Better To You” marks his return, and you can see that he has done a great job producing it. Expect to hear new songs from Adam every 4 to 6 weeks. It will be quite a treat!
Comment: Mitski has been releasing music since 2012, exploring different genres and moods, from indie rock to synth-pop. She has played in big music festivals around the world, including Glastonbury in 2022. However, I hadn’t really registered her existence until I stumbled upon the wonderful music video she made for ‘Bug Like An Angel’ on Youtube. This was the lead single of Mitski’s seventh(!!) studio album, which was released just this week: ‘The Land is Inhospitable And So Are We‘.
‘Bug Like An Angel’ is a poetic song with religious themes that explore the concept of addiction. Musically, it is mainly an acoustic ballad sprinkled with sporadic and striking choral punctuations. The inclusion of a choir echoing Mitski’s words in a dramatic way was a masterstroke. The official music video, which you can watch below, features the artist, a choir, and an impressive dancer who portrays an alcoholic woman. It’s impossible to take your eyes off of her.
Mitsuki Miyawaki, aka Mitski, is undoubtedly a creative artist. Her originality shines through on this hauntingly beautiful song. It is one of the best tracks of 2023!
Comment: “Athene” by The Velveteins is a laid-back track that was inspired by Homer’s Iliad. The track emits an easy and relaxed tone with warm, effortless vocals, breezy guitars and a steady beat, creating an overall comforting atmosphere. The song also reminds me a bit of Augustana (songs like “Meet You There”, for example), which is never a bad thing. It’s easy to get lost in the mesmeric sounds of The Velveteins, where you’ll find yourself hitting repeat and staying along for the journey.
Nestled at the crossroads of past and present, The Velveteins emerged onto the scene in 2014, anchored by the creative partnership of frontman Spencer Morphy and co-songwriter Addison Hiller. “Athene” emerges as the third jewel from their forthcoming sophomore album, and it comes accompanied by a cool music video that features an excellent choreography and performance by Anya Allegra Saugstad. You can watch it below!
Comment: Some songs are truly special. From the moment you hear them for the first time, you know that they will become a fixture of your daily soundtrack for months to come. That was the case when I listened to “Egyptian Summer” by Good Strangers. The mind-blowing thing is that this is the band’s first ever single, released ahead of their forthcoming debut EP, ‘Adult Teenage Novels’, coming out this fall.
Good Strangers came into existence as a collaboration of Irish musician friends, united by their shared passion for music and a history of playing together in various bands and projects. The band’s two lead singers, Niamh Kirby and Conor Quinn, who are best friends since they were 3, formed the group in 2022 after returning from Berlin, where they were inspired by the vibrant indie folk scene in the German capital. They chose the act’s name as a celebration of community and the many good strangers the band has met throughout their time touring, travelling and attending festivals.
In “Egyptian Summer,” the Irish band paints a raw and poetic portrayal of the moment when a beautiful relationship begins to unravel. Connor wrote it after going through a tough breakup, reminiscing about a summer in Egypt and searching for signs that everything would go downhill afterwards. Musically, the track has a similar vibe to Of Monsters And Men‘s debut album, without sounding exactly the same. What it really sets it apart for me are two things: first, how well Connor and Niamh’s voices fit together, and second, the emotion that they are able to transmit with their heartfelt vocals.
In conclusion, “Egyptian Summer” by Good Strangers is a sublime testament to the power of storytelling through music. It delves into the complexities of love, loss, and self-discovery, wrapped in an indie soundscape that feels both familiar and fresh. I honestly can’t wait for the debut EP!
“Remember that Egyptian Summer The fork lightning over the bay When we forgot everything We forgot our troubles When love was kind And the silence was noise But Underneath a marble sky I never seen you look so happy In your life.
And you were always cracking jokes And laughing at my funny ways And as the thunder rolled Well so did my sorrow We told lies We told them all the time But underneath a marble sky Nothing mattered.
I need a thunderstorm To distract from the pain Cause tomorrow might be the same damn sorrow I need something to happen The heavens to burst The sky to tear open The passion to run and flow like a river Out of my eyes Once it’s out of my heart It’s such a cold and desolate Happy ever when It’s such a cold and desolate Happiness never came.
We sat at the bar and we talked about the things we used to like And romanticised the pain Always remember it’s a crying shame Like reaching for the heavens but the heavens never came And I’ve played the victim long before you arrived These are not my people It’s not my scene not my style So I’m going back I’m going back to the city Please forgive me”
Comment: “Spanish Moss” by Against Me! is an energizing track from their 2010 album White Crosses. This punk rock anthem talks about the need to be who you are without feeling ashamed for it, which takes some extra meaning once you learn about the lead singer’s backstory, who back then was not known as Laura Jane Grace.
The music is catchy and powerful, with driving drums, soaring guitars and Laura Jane Grace’s passionate vocals. Given the fact that this great tune turned 13 last month, I thought it would be a good choice for #ThrowbackThursday. So turn up the volume, sing along and let Spanish Moss take you on a journey. You won’t regret it.
Comment: Brendan Scott Friel is a Canadian singer-songwriter who has been making waves in the indie scene with his honest and heartfelt folk songs. His new single, “Simon the Doubter,” is a catchy and clever tune that tells the story of a man who questions everything, even his own faith. The song features acoustic guitar, piano, harmonica, and subtle percussion, creating a warm and organic backdrop for his smooth and expressive vocals. The lyrics are witty and clever, using biblical references and metaphors to describe the protagonist’s doubts and struggles.
“Simon the Doubter” is the first single from his upcoming second album, Summer Moons, which is set to be released later this year. The song showcases his talent for blending folk elements with pop sensibilities, creating a sound that is both familiar and fresh. If you like artists like Passenger, Ed Sheeran, or Vance Joy, you might want to give this song a listen.
Comment: M. Byrd is a German-based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer who has been making waves with his debut album The Seed, a collection of songs that blend intimate moments with wide horizons, inspired by the Laurel Canyon sound and shoegaze aesthetics. The album is meant to plant a seed and encourage listeners’ evolution.
One of the standout tracks from The Seed is “Pyrrhula”, a song that showcases M. Byrd‘s ability to create atmospheric and emotional soundscapes with his guitar, synth and bass playing. The song starts with a gentle acoustic guitar strumming and M. Byrd’s soft vocals, singing about a fire in someone’s eyes and a longing for connection. The song is named after a genus of birds, also known as bullfinches, which are known for their bright colors and monogamous relationships. M. Byrd uses this metaphor to express his desire for a lasting bond with someone who can light up his world.
“Pyrrhula” by M. Byrd is a song that will make you feel something, whether it’s joy, sadness, nostalgia or hope.
Comment: I recently watched the movie A Good Person, written and directed by Zach Braff, who also wrote and directed Garden State, whose award-winning soundtrack has been referred to on multiple occasions here. There is a pivotal scene in the movie in which the main character, played by the scene-stealing Florence Pugh, attends a concert and the song being played when she arrives really grabbed my attention. It turned out to be “Stardust” by Cary Brothers, a singer-songwriter -Brothers is his surname- who was also featured on the soundtrack of, you guessed it, Garden State.
Stardust is a moody indie track that is simply stunning. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Comment: “Primary Colors” by Baseball Game is a catchy, upbeat anthem about finding hope in the midst of uncertainty. The song begins with a simple guitar riff that quickly builds into a driving beat. The vocals are clear and powerful, and the lyrics are inspiring and hopeful. The song is a perfect example of Baseball Game‘s unique sound, which blends elements of indie rock, pop, and electronic music.
The band started in 2019 and consists of Adam (vocals, guitar), Jason (guitar, production), and Ben (bass). The name “Baseball Game” came from a story from Adam’s childhood. When he was in T-ball, he played in the championship game. His team lost, and afterward he went to the wrong dugout. The other team sprayed him with red Kool-Aid and told him to get out because he didn’t belong there. Adam and Jason felt like this story was a metaphor for their band. They felt like their songs were very individual and didn’t necessarily fit together or belong.