“Like a Painting” by Head Sound

"Like a Painting" by Head Sound
"Like a Painting" by Head Sound

Artist: Head Sound

Song: Like A Painting

Genres: #dreampop #shoegaze

Location: New York, United States

Influences: Slowdive, Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine

Release date: January, 2024

Comment: Memorable songs have a distinctive feature that makes them instantly recognizable. “Like a Painting” is one of such songs, and its distinctive feature is mesmerizing guitar line that hooks you from the first note. The incredible part is that this is the debut single of this fresh-faced band straight out of New York: Head Sound. Just imagine what magic they’ll create with more time playing together!

Influenced by icons like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, this shoegaze quartet crafts melodies that soar atop layers of lush guitars. “Like A Painting” is like their love letter to MBV, inspired by vocalist Richard’s deep dive into their music. But here’s the thing: Head Sound isn’t just about shoegaze: they also explore Americana and Experimental genres, showcasing their artistic versatility through alternate bands featuring the same members.

New Yorkers might recognize this song from local station WEXT, but the rest of us can join the party too! Listen to “Like a Painting” right here!

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“Shy” by Teo Salfinger

"Shy" by Teo Salfinger
"Shy" by Teo Salfinger

Artist: Teo Salfinger

Song: Shy

Genres: #neoclassical, #relaxingmusic

Influences: Max Richter, Ludovico Einaudi, Philip Glass.

Location: Leipzig, Germany

Release date: December, 2023

Comment: Teo Salfinger is a German composer who crafts neoclassical landscapes with a minimalist touch, where his melodies often carry a melancholic beauty reminiscent of evocative film scores. Just before Christmas, he released “Petite Dances“, his third studio album, with ten little gems encapsulating this. “Shy” is just one example, and the main reason why I chose it as the featured track over the others is that it is cello-based, and I have not written about many cello tracks here. If you enjoy the work of Max Richter and Ludovico Einaudi, two of Teo’s influences, I highly encourage you to check out the whole album.

“Shy” appears to have been crafted specifically for contemplative moments, when the entire world fades away and you are left with your own thoughts. Each cello strum paints a dream, a velvety realm of calmness and quiet understanding. This isn’t a song about grand pronouncements; rather, it’s a composition that celebrates the beauty of introspection. Close your eyes and enjoy!

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Top 25 songs that soundtracked my 2023

The Alternative Mixtapes: Top 25 songs of 2023

Top 25 songs that soundtracked my 2023

Happy Holidays.

Fueled by the fantastic year-end charts of Mr. Keith Law and Eclectic Music Lover, I was inspired to craft my own list of the 25 songs that soundtracked my 2023. To streamline things (and maybe sneak in a bit of personal indulgence), I’m focusing solely on releases after October 2022. It’s not strictly a “most played” list, but that undoubtedly cast a long shadow here. You’ll recognize some familiar tunes that were featured here this year, but I’ve sprinkled in some hidden treasures too. So buckle up and dive into my sonic journey through the past year! (scroll down for the Spotify widget with all these songs).

  1. We Can Be Anything by Baby Queen. This is a total earworm that appeared here in September. Sadly, despite being a high point, it overshadowed everything else on her new album.
  2. “Goodmorningby Crusoe. Another familiar gem that’s bound to resonate with regular readers. In the realm of wordless electronica, this track sets the bar impossibly high.
  3. “Primary Colors” by Baseball Game. This song snuck its way into my top tracks without me even realizing it. It might not be the one I actively pick to play, but whenever it pops up, I can’t help but get completely drawn in. It’s that subtle magic you know?
  4. “We Are One” by Wild Youth. Wild Youth represented Ireland with “We Are One” in this year’s Eurovision contest. As you can expect from that show, it didn’t even reach the finals.
  5. “When We Were Young” by blink-182. I really loved blink-182’s self-titled album and this song wasn’t even the one I featured on this blog earlier this year. It’s also not the last one from that record on this list.
  6. “Godzilla” by Nanna. This solo offering from Of Monsters and Men‘s vocalist envelops you in a warm embrace of swirling melodies and ethereal vocals, proving that sometimes, the quietest roar can be the most captivating.
  7. “Bug Like an Angel” by Mitski. I didn’t love the Japanese-American artist’s latest album, other than this stunning tune, which I wrote about here before.
  8. “Sunbeams” by Michael FK. I didn’t have time to write about this enchanting song earlier, but I did write about this Moldovan artist back in 2020. I highly recommend checking out his work.
  9. “How Many Dreams?” by DMA’s. I’m gutted this Australian act has toured the UK quite a lot recently and I still haven’t been able to see them live. I mean, this isn’t even the track from their latest album I liked the second-most.
  10. “Childhood Eyes” by Yellowcard. As you can tell, I have a soft spot for punk-rock acts from the early 2000s. This release didn’t grab me initially, but it’s definitely grown on me.
  11. “Girls Are Mean” by Boyish. Lead vocalist India Shore and vocalist and guitar player Claire Altendahl founded this indie rock duo when they auditioned at Berklee College of Music. On “Girls Are Mean”, the mix of pop, rock, and electronic elements created a soundscape that was both familiar and fresh, keeping me engaged throughout the track.
  12. “Egyptian Summer” by Good Strangers. This is a song I raved about back in August, and honestly, my feelings haven’t faded a bit. This stunning debut track from their equally remarkable EP cemented my love for this Irish band. It’s truly special.
  13. “Under The Influence(r)” by The Summer Set. It isn’t all smooth sailing here- lines like “You made me want to call my mom” have me scratching my head. But the sheer energy and infectious melody are undeniable, and it is pure pleasure to have them back making music together.
  14. “Where Do I Sign?” by Weathers. When Weathers dropped “Where Do I Sign?” as their lead single, I expected it to be the crown jewel of their new album. Boy, was I wrong.
  15. “Nothing Is Perfect” by Metric. I feel I could listen to this song’s intro on repeat the whole day. It appears on their latest album, Formentera II, a follow-up to their successful record from 2022.
  16. “Jai Alai” by DMA’s. And there you have it! As I was saying, these guys are quickly climbing the ranks of my favorite bands. They got one more song in this list.
  17. “Trastevere” by Måneskin. I didn’t like this Italian band when they won Eurovision in 2021: their glam rock excess not quite clicking with me. But “The Loneliest” started chipping away at those walls, and “Trastevere” has brought the whole damn building down. This stripped-down masterpiece, with its achingly beautiful melody and Damiano’s raw vocals, is everything I ever wanted in an acoustic rock anthem. This is how you weave storytelling and raw emotion into a sonic tapestry that leaves you breathless.
  18. “Cool About it” by boygenius. It is not a groundbreaking track, but I just love this song. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the comfort it brings? Whatever it is, I keep hitting repeat.
  19. “Nothing To Say” by Weathers. Not quite my top spot on Weathers’ latest album, but “Nothing To Say” comes awfully close. The catchiness is practically contagious.
  20. “Amnesia” by M83. A truly impressive comeback from the French act. I loved it when it was released and I still love it now.
  21. “In One Ear & Out the Other” by Chicane. The eletronic music legend knows how to create ethereal soundscapes to lose yourself in. This one is no exception.
  22. “Kill Ur Vibe” by All Time Low. I just love this song’s rhythm. It’s a punk-infused chill pill. Not mosh pit, but midnight drives and quiet defiance.
  23. “21 Year Vacancy” by DMAs. Unsurprisingly, this was my favorite track from their latest album. A beautiful and emotionally resonant indie rock ballad about revisiting the past, acknowledging lost dreams, and finding peace with the journey taken.
  24. “One of a Kind” by Weathers. Here it is: my most played song of 2023. The soaring melody grabs me every time, and the lyrics pack a punch that keeps me hitting repeat.
  25. “Blink Wave” by blink-182. I never expected blink-182 to drop a synth-drenched, 80s-inspired track like “Blink Wave.” When I heard the rumors about it, I was skeptical, but let me tell you, this song blew me away. Who knew these pop-punk legends had an 80s synth masterpiece in them? It’s so good, the only reason it wasn’t my most played of 2023 is the album’s late November release.

“Anhaga” by Mookee (Rushkeys Remix)

"Anhaga" by Mookee (Rushkeys Remix)
"Anhaga" by Mookee (Rushkeys Remix)

Artist: Rushkeys

Song: Anhaga

Genres: #chillout #downtempo

Location: Vilnius, Lithuania

Release date: December, 2023.

Comment: Germany-based artist Mookee released an album titled Alinea earlier this year, featuring a gorgeous downtempo track called “Anhaga.” The title, referencing the Old English meaning of “solitary one”, adds a layer of evocative depth to the music. Mookee then invited several electronic artists to remix tracks from “Alinea” for an upcoming record. Among them was the talented Lithuanian musician Domas Ruškys, better known as Rushkeys, who delivered a stunning reinterpretation of “Anhaga.”

The remix takes the original track’s melancholic beauty and infuses it with Rushkeys‘ essence. This is best explained by the artist himself: “I tried to interpret the tune through my creative voice by taking it somewhere slightly new. I did it by giving more tense electronics, faster tempo and floaty vibe while capturing its original spirit. In
the background of the track I used a recording of me walking through the
snow in the middle of nowhere from my trip in Iceland.”

The result is a track that deserves to be savoured, headphones on, eyes closed, letting the sounds wash over you and transport you to another world. If this doesn’t send you diving into both Rushkeys and Mookee‘s back catalogs, I don’t know what will. They’re undoubtedly artists to watch, each crafting sonic experiences that deserve your full attention.

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“The In-Betweens” by Colin Woltmann

The In-Betweens” by Colin Woltmann
"The In-Betweens” by Colin Woltmann

Artist: Colin Woltmann

Song: The In-Betweens

Genres: #indiefolk

Influences: Elliot Smith, Bob Dylan, John Prine

Location: Alabama, United States

Release date: December, 2023

Comment: Colin Woltmann, an emerging singer-songwriter from Alabama, draws inspiration from folk legends like Bob Dylan and John Prine for his latest single, ‘The In-Betweens.’ While often compared to Elliot Smith, the contemporary vibe of the song brings to mind the soothing style of British indie folk artist Passenger. With Colin’s comforting vocals and a pleasant acoustic guitar melody, the relaxation is total.

In the heartfelt lyrics of “The In-Betweens,” Colin Woltmann delves into the universal experience of internal conflicts. The sensation of not fully belonging, caught in the transitional space between the past and where we want to be. Woltmann‘s skill in portraying these emotions positions him as a resonant voice for those searching for connection in our sometimes isolating world. Because, in the end, there’s comfort in being reminded that we’re not navigating our struggles alone.

“The In-Betweens” is the first single of Colin’s forthcoming EP, “A Case of the Times”. I’m already looking forward to it.

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“girl in a china shop” by Caroline Romano

"girl in a china shop" by Caroline Romano
"girl in a china shop" by Caroline Romano

Artist: Caroline Romano

Song: girl in a china shop

Genres: #AlternativeRock, #Altpop

Location: Nashville, United States

Release date: November, 2023.

CommentCaroline Romano is back with a new single, “girl in a china shop”, and it’s, as they say in the UK, a ‘banger.’ Having written about her twice before, it’s clear that Romano is not just a passing phase, but a force to be reckoned with in the alt-pop scene.

The Nashville-based singer-songwriter has once again demonstrated her knack for capturing the essence of young adulthood in her music. “girl in a china shop” is an emotional rollercoaster, with an explosive chorus that contrasts beautifully with its reflective verses. In the lyrics, Caroline admits to feeling like she breaks everything she touches, and this song is her way of acknowledging that feeling.

With millions of streams already under her belt, and more music on the way, it’s clear that Caroline Romano is an artist whose star will only continue to rise. We can’t wait to see what she does next.

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“Future Dead” by Desert Life

“Future Dead” by Desert Life

Artist: Desert Life

Song: Future Dead

Genres: #indiefolk

Influences: R.E.M., Bon Iver, Ryan Adams

Location: Tenby, United Kingdom

Release date: October, 2023

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.

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“Last Days” by Grecco Buratto

"Last Days" by Grecco Buratto

Artist: Grecco Buratto

Song: Last Days

Genres: #Instrumental, #relaxingmusic

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Release date: October, 2023

Comment: In the ever-changing landscape of music, it’s refreshing to stumble upon an artist who dares to tread a different path. Enter Grecco Buratto, a Latin Grammy-nominated producer and seasoned guitarist, who has graced the stage with iconic artists such as Lionel Richie, k.d.lang, and Gwen Stefani. “Last Days,” is the first track from his second album, “Sem Palavras” (Wordless), released this month. This record also finds its place within a larger project, complementing Buratto’s first collection of poems, “Só Palavras” (Words Only).

“Last Days” is a minimalist masterpiece, drawing its emotional power solely from the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar. It embarks on a contemplative voyage, offering an intimate exploration of yearning, reflection, melancholy, and serenity. The song feels like a lullaby that lets you disconnect from a world that sometimes feels overwhelming. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the music!

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“hot girls in hell” by LØLØ

"hot girls in hell" by LØLØ
Photo credit: Luke Rogers

Artist: LØLØ

Song: King of Wands

Genres: #altpop #poppunk

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Release date: July, 2023

Comment: LØLØ, also known as Lauren Mandel, is a talented Canadian singer-songwriter, born in 1996, celebrated for her captivating blend of pop and alternative pop music. Her rise to fame was facilitated by her performances on TikTok, where she breathed new life into iconic music hits. Her musical style is a blend of pop melodies, sharp rock undertones, and angsty vocals that brings forth the bitter sting of heartbreak. Is it unique? No, but it is damn good.

A prime example of her prowess is her latest release, “hot girls in hell,” a fiery track that skillfully balances both fierceness and vulnerability. The track kicks off gently, gradually morphing into a pop-punk anthem that will have you headbanging in no time. This structural evolution mirrors the rollercoaster of emotions one experiences when a relationship comes to an end. In summary, check this song out if you are into indie pop. It is truly enjoyable.

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“All I Die For” by SWiiMS

"All I Die For" by SWiiMS

Artist: SWiiMS

Song: All I Die For

Genres: #indiepop #shoegaze

Location: Toronto, Canada

Release date: October, 2023

Comment: SWiiMS, an indie rock group hailing from Toronto, Canada, has unveiled their latest single, “All I Die For.” This dynamic trio, composed of Mai Diaz Langou on vocals and guitar, Colin Thompson on guitar and vocals, and Cian O’Ruanaidh on bass and vocals, has been crafting their musical synergy since the summer preceding the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their sound is an interesting blend of 80’s New Wave, 90’s Shoegaze, Indie Rock, Brit Pop, and Dream Pop. The result is vividly apparent in “All I Die For,” a composition radiating an infectious, upbeat energy. This single is a precursor to their forthcoming LP, “Into the Blue Night,” a project conceived and recorded amid the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

“All I Die For” revolves around the nascent stages of a romantic relationship – the way we embellish ourselves to captivate the interest of the other person. It encapsulates the emotional rollercoaster of new love, brimming with hope, euphoria, and a relinquishment of control. Production-wise, it’s evident that each element in this song has been meticulously crafted, from the captivating vocals to the finely-wrought clean guitar melodies.

In essence, “All I Die For” stands as a testament to SWiiMS‘ remarkable prowess in crafting auditory delights. With the resurgence of bands like Slowdive, SWiiMS might just be poised to ascend to the ranks of IT indie bands. They certainly deserve it.

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