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.
Aria Pullman Ostrander has done a little bit of everything. She’s been a model; an actress, appearing on numerous tv shows and films and on her own comedy show on Youtube with her friend Alexandra Holden, who you might remember from Friends); a songwriter, writing for herself and also for fellow artists, with several of her songs featured on films and tv shows; and a singer, which is the reason I’m talking about her today. By the way, the Ostrander in her name comes from being married to Josh Ostrander, better known as Mondo Cozmo, for whom she co-wrote several songs in both of his albums. Naturally, he returned the favour by helping her produce her debut solo album, Life Out Loud(LOL).
As a solo artist, Aria uses the moniker AO and her music style is moody indie pop in the same vein as Lana Del Rey. They even have a similar tone of voice, which makes the comparison unavoidable. My favorite songs in LOL are Heaven and Through The Storm, ultimately choosing the latter one because it had a lyric video. It is an entrancing and atmospheric track that couples Aria’s ethereal vocals with layers of sounds that give it a rich texture. This is not a song to sing along or dance to, but you can enjoy it in silence all day long without getting tired. Through The Storm pulls you in like a dream you don’t want to wake up from.
Two friends from Sweden, one a house music producer, John Dahlbäck, and the other one a 3D animator, Erik Ande, decided to work together on a music/motion art project as a way to abstract themselves from their hectic lives that involve, according to them, too many children and dogs around. This project is heartaake, and as you can probably guess already, its music style is basically #lofichillout. John and Eric say that their biggest influence is the silence that surrounds them when they make music.
However, unevershowmeløv –I got no clue what it means but the song is about taking it easy– is not your typical chill out tune. It has personality. Sounds and a melody that make it easily identifiable, which is not something I can say of many chill-out tracks. Also, at just 01:46 minutes, it does not overstay its welcome. As implied by the animation below, unevershowmeløv is a great track to listen to while driving. The artists behind heartaake say that this music is their chill zone and I think they manage to transport the listener to that place as well. What else could we ask for? Welcome to the chill zone!
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.
Alex Urwicz is a classically trained pianist and composer based out of Paris. In 2020, he co-created a label called WUCA Records that specializes in classical and neoclassical music, on which he released his debut EP, Couleurs, earlier this year. In addition to that, Alex has worked a composer, arranger, and producer on films, documentaries and advertising for the past 5 years. He clearly knows a thing or two about making music.
Couleurs consists of four tracks inspired by colors. Ardoise, for example, is the French word for a bluish shade of gray. It is the first song in the EP and also my favorite. You could say this of the four tracks but Ardoise is particularly soaked in sweet nostalgia that will transport you to your childhood or another time that you remember with fondness. It reminded me of the stunning soundtrack of the great movieAmélie (I should write about Yann Tiersen at some point). The bottom line is that Alex Urwicz is a talented composer that you should follow if you like sweet piano-based melodies. You won’t regret it.
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.
For a long time, London-based multi-instrumentalist Jack Beech has been producing music for other artists, but after contracting COVID-19 in January this year, Jack felt the need to create his own music and started writing an EP. That record, called Noctilucent, is available to stream everywhere already and consists of four delicate ambient tracks of different textures. One of them is the eponymous track that we’re adding to our mixtapes today.
The word noctilucent means something that glows or shines at night, and that’s what Jack tried to convey with this song and the whole EP album. Even our darkest times can result in something bright that gives us purpose. An atmospheric ambient song with a beautiful piano melody at its core, Noctilucent takes us on a haunting journey through the most gorgeous landscapes of our imagination. Please do give it a listen because you are not going to regret it.
For most people, buying a house is an important achievement that requires plenty of sacrifices. For Michigan-based artist Mark Swanson, that meant selling all of his instruments (he had been playing music for years). Well, all but his keyboard, which he tried to sell as well but could not find a decent offer for it. A few years later, when Mark felt the itch to play music again, he had to use the only instrument he still had: the keyboard, which not only explains how The Aquaerials started but also his sound. Influenced by artists who should be familiar to regular readers such as Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter, and Sigur Rós; Mark creates minimalist neoclassical compositions that are simple yet beautiful.
Insomniac’s Respite, the latest single from The Aquaerials, is an instrumental piano piece that was inspired by sleeplessness and a general feeling of anxiety. However, being an instrumental piece, each listener can interpret it in a different way. Composed, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Mark himself in his home studio, Insomniac’s Respite is a delicate track that is as serene as a lullaby. If you want to relax, this is the perfect track for you. Enjoy.
Andrew Land is a British multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer who was classically trained through his youth and then studied contemporary music on his own. This has resulted in a style of music that combines elements of both approaches, neoclassical music with traces of ambient and electronic sounds. It is not surprising then that one of his main influences is Oláfur Arnalds, who regular visitors should be familiar with. This year, Andrew is releasing his debut album, Relevant Matters, and he has given us some appetizers with a few singles and even an EP: (Making Good) Defects, all recorded and produced by the artist in his home studio in the Midlands, UK.
This EP contains three gorgeous tracks, including two versions of Defects: a stripped down version that you can listen to in the video below, and the regular, more atmospheric version, which you can find in the mixtapes mentioned after the video clip. Both versions are stunning and well worth your time. The track (s) got a cinematic vibe that evokes a feeling of peace and tranquillity. I fell in love with it and, hopefully, you will too.
Gilead may mean, among other things, “hill of testimony” and that is the meaning The Broken Cradle had in mind when he decided to use it as the name of his latest EP. It is supposed to tell the journey of our respective roads to Gilead in our search for happiness and purpose. The EP is a neoclassical and ambient album that starts with the aptly titled Road to Gilead, a piano-centered track with atmospheric pads that create a mesmerizing soundscape. Listening to the multiple textures in the song feels like scratching an itch and not wanting to stop.
The Broken Cradle is the solo work of Eric McLean, a musician from North Carolina with over 20 years of experience. With influences such as Brian Eno and Olafur Arnalds, it is not surprising that his music could fit so well in an album from any of those renowned artists. He is that good.