Justin Forrest – Hold Steady

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.

Featured on the following mixtapes:

Nate Adamson – Grace

At 5:32, Vancouver-born Nate Adamson‘s debut single, Grace, might appear to be too long but it is not because at 04:06 it switches up a gear and goes from being a good song to an outstanding one. I simply love those guitar riffs that complement the song so well. And did I mention that Nate did absolutely everything related to this song? Besides writing the song, singing and playing each instrument; he also recorded and produced every element using the studio he built from the ground up. Pretty impressive, if you ask me, for somebody who is just starting.

This singer-songwriter started listening to legends like Johnny Cash but later discovered more contemporary acts like Kings of Leon and Phoebe Bridgers, which is what ended up motivating him to create his own music. That being said, Grace reminds me a lot of Duncan Sheik, not just in style but also because of the soothing vocals. A bright song the artist wrote for the daughter he would like to have someday, it brings us hope by telling us that no matter how dire things might look right now, everything will be all right in the end. With more songs like Grace, I could totally believe that.

P.S: Since I wasn’t able to write a post on Monday and Wednesday this week, there won’t be a #ThrowbackThursday entry this week. Hopefully, it will return next time.

Featured on the following mixtapes:

Middle Part – Busy

After experiencing a major adversity, Brooklyn-based singer Andrew Selkōw moved to Alaska for a while to find himself. Being alone and surrounded by nature rekindled his love for literature and music and planted the seed for Middle Part to be born. Inspired by both 1990s and early 2000s alternative bands, Andrew composes sincere music that connects with you at many levels. On December, Middle Part released his debut EP, I Wish I Was Alive, which compiles the singles he had published already.

One of those singles is Busy, a laid-back tune that relies on hazy vocals, acoustic guitars, and soft synths to deliver a message of vulnerability. Influenced by artists like Natalie Imbruglia and Michelle Branch, Middle Part wrote Busy to warn us about the problems ego brings to friendships. I don’t know if it is because of the guitar, the vocals or the steady beat, but somehow this song reels you in and doesn’t let go until long after it’s ended.

Featured on the following mixtapes:

importmedia, Key One – Playa São Paulo

importmedia is a Venezuelan lo-fi music producer who happens to be friends with fellow countryman Blure. In fact, I found his music when he liked a post I made on social media when I wrote about Blure back in September. He has been releasing music since 2018 and his last name is Gómez. Other than that, there is no much information online about him. Just his music, which, by the way, you will love if you like the lo-fi genre, even casually like me.

Last year, importmedia released the third entry into his Lovely Bumps series, which consists of 14 mesmerizing tracks, highlighted by –in my opinion– Playa São Paulo, which is a collaboration with Mexican music producer, Key One. This outstanding piece got some Brazilian vibes (as suggested by its title) that complement the electronic beats wonderfully. If you are looking for a soothing track to chillax to during these crazy times, this is as good as it gets. Enjoy!

Featured on the following mixtapes:

Eve 6 – Inside Out

Do you like the ‘heart in a blender’ song? If this question does not ring a bell to you, then you are not following Eve 6 on Twitter and, therefore, missing out on what has become one of the most entertaining accounts on that social media platform. Max Collins, the band’s frontman, became hyperactive with the account towards the end of 2020, tweeting whatever comes to his mind, from stories about other ‘nineties bands’ (as he usually refers to them) to his opinions about any subject. Sometimes he is joking and sometimes he’s telling the truth but often it is not obvious to figure out which tweet is which, with Max even referring to the whole stuff as a form of art. One of the funny things he’s been doing is asking different personalities and celebrities, from Kamala Harris to Taylor Swift, if they liked the ‘heart in a blender’ song. The Rolling Stone magazine even wrote an article about it.

Inside Out is the heart in a blender song and let me tell you, I’ve always liked it. It was part of Eve 6‘s debut album from 1998 and reached the number one spot on the Modern Rock charts. The band from Southern California broke up in 2004 but luckily got back together in 2012 and released a very nice album that year, Speak In Code. While they haven’t published any new music since then (other than a live album), they’re still together, although with a new drummer. Hopefully, there is some new music coming song. In the meantime, enjoy this week’s #ThrowbackThursday tune.

I would swallow my pride, I would choke on the rinds

But the lack thereof would leave me empty inside

Swallow my doubt turn it inside out

Find nothin’ but faith in nothin’

Want to put my tender, heart in a blender

Watch it spin around to a beautiful oblivion

Rendezvous then I’m through with you

Eve 6, Inside Out

Featured on the following mixtapes:

Xavier Valdez – Bear

Xavier Valdez is a singer/songwriter from California who debuted as a solo artist in 2020. However, he used to play bass and provide backup vocals on LA-based band MR CALL, so he wasn’t a neophyte to the music business. His style is indie rock with nice pop touches that make it really enjoyable. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that his sound is completely unique, but it’s certainly distinctive enough to be refreshing.

After releasing a few singles in early 2020, Xavier compiled them into his debut EP, Sun, in August. Then, in November, he dropped a brand new single, Bear, that really reflects everything I said above about Xavier’s sound. While Bear is the track I am recommending today, check out the Sun EP too. Xavier Valdez is certainly a talented artist who knows how to make appealing indie music.

Featured on the following mixtapes:

Ginesse – LA Isn’t Somewhere To Die

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.

Featured on the following mixtapes:

Josh Stevens – Hello Darling

Josh Stevens has either been nominated or won quite a few awards, including the Grammys, mostly as a music producer. He got all that success working with dance and/or hip-hop artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Steve Aoki and Pitbull. So, naturally, he now sings and writes indie rock songs. And, let me tell you, he’s quite good at that.

Late last year, Josh released a superb track called Hello Darling, which he wrote for her daughter. It is an upbeat and anthemic song with neat production and great, emotional vocals. The track even features some sleek guitar riffs that are just the cherry on top. Quite simply, it is a really great tune.

Featured on the following mixtapes:

Natalie Shay – Naked

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.

Featured on the following mixtapes:

Smallpools – A Real Hero

Last month, when I featured A Real Hero by College feat. Electric Youth as that week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry, I mentioned that I was planning to feature one of its many covers too. This great cover by Smallpools, released in 2015, is the one I was referring to. It is different enough to the original to seem a brand new song while maintaining its essence. I just love its atmospheric vibe and the guitar chords in the intro, as well as how the whole track goes in crescendo. Pro tip: if you have some high quality headphones or speakers, use them with this song.

Smallpools is a synth-happy 3-piece indie pop band from L.A. formed in 2013. Their debut single, Dreaming, got featured on the FIFA 14 videogame, which gave them a lot of exposure. Another single, Over & Over, was used in a promotional video for Snapchat. While their subsequent singles haven’t replicated the success the aforementioned tracks had, I think they have all followed a similar blueprint of indie pop. I believe what they did with A Real Hero is completely different to anything else they have done. While their music is generally good, gorgeous tracks like this cover are what could set them apart. They should do more of them,