Still Charles – Wembley

Artist: Still Charles

Song: Wembley

Genres: #indiepop #indierock

Location: Milano, Italy

Release date: May, 2021.

Comment: Wembley is a stunning single by Italian artist Carlo Aprea, aka Still Charles. The song is sang in Italian but it’s so good that you will enjoy it even if you couldn’t understand a single word (for the record, you should be able to catch at least a few words). Carlo says that Wembley, which he wrote during quarantine, is a love story told from beginning to end, inspired by a real relationship he had that ended because both of them were too proud. The track was produced by Riccardo Foresi, whom Carlo met in June 2020. Wembley has a beautiful music video as well that looks like a movie and that you can watch below. I hope you enjoy Wembley as much as I do. It’s quite a gem.

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Funeral Lakes – Solstice

ArtistFuneral Lakes

Song: Solstice

Genres: #indierock

Location: Ontario, Canada

Release date: August, 2021

Comment: I featured Funeral Lakes here exactly one year ago and now the duo is back with a brand new EP: Redeemer. As is usually the case with  this act, the songs in the new EP are all filled with social content. It explores themes such as the tension between faith and justice from the moment Solstice, the first track, starts playing. It is a captivating song that sets the tone for Redeemer. I wouldn’t call it a radio-friendly tune yet it keeps your attention with its moody melody and thought-provoking lyrics. Check it out.

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School of Seven Bells – Ablaze

Artist: School of Seven Bells

Song: Ablaze

Genres: #indiepop #dreampop

Location: New York City, United States

Release date: February, 2016

Comment: The story of School of Seven Bells (SVIIB) is, sadly, a tragic one. It was formed in 2007 by sisters Alejandra Deheza (vocals, guitar) and Claudia Deheza (keyboards, vocals), and Benjamin Curtis (guitar, synthesizers, vocals), but then Claudia left the band in 2010. Unfortunately, Ben, who was Alejandra’s romantic partner, died in 2013 from sudden-onset lymphoma and, as a tribute, Alejandra took some demos Ben had written prior and during his illness and completed the band’s fourth and last studio album, SVIIB, which was released in February, 2016. It is a wonderful album which, despite the circumstances in which it was created, is actually full of hope and even joy.

To me, the best among a collection of great songs is Ablaze, the first track. It’s a cleverly produced song that features Alejandra’s ethereal vocals and sweet lyrics that become even more beautiful knowing the context in which they were written. If you are only going to listen to one SVIIB song, listen to Ablaze, this week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry. You will be happy you did so.

As a bonus, I’m leaving below the link to the video of SVIIB’s cover of Joey Ramone’s I Got Knocked Down (But I’ll Get Up) (it is not available on streaming platforms). It was written by Alejandra and Ben quite literally while they were ‘sitting in a hospital bed’ and released just before SVIIB.

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Michael Lane – Good Times

Artist: Michael Lane

Song: Good Times

Genres: #indiefolk #singersongwriter

Location: Germany

Release date: April, 2021.

CommentGood Times may sound optimistic and upbeat with its acoustic folk vibes and catchy melody, but it has a serious and deep message: having a nice house or a nice car does not necessarily make you happier in the long run. German-American artist Michael Lane has transited the road less traveled to get to where he is today as an artist, having served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a US soldier during his twenties. He’s had two top 50 songs in the German charts already, so he’s well-known as a musician in some European countries. It is time for him to get noticed in other latitudes too.

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Holly Humberstone – The Walls Are Way Too Thin

Artist: Holly Humberstone

Song: The Walls Are Way Too Thin

Genres: #indiepop

Location: United Kingdom

Release date: May, 2021

Influences: Phoebe Bridgers, Damien Rice

Comment: Holly Humberstone is a young and immensely talented British artist who in just over one year has managed to make a name for herself in the alternative pop scene. She’s preparing to release her sophomore EP in November, whose lead single is the eponymously titled The Walls Are Way Too Thin. She wrote this song after moving to a small flat in London and it is a catchy piece of “dark pop”. If you were not aware of Holly Humberstone before, write her name down. This won’t be the last time you hear it.

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Illicit Ghost – Higher

Artist: Illicit Ghost

Song: Higher

Genres: #indiepop #indierock

Location: New York City, United States

Release date: April, 2021.

Influences: St. Vincent, Hole, The Killers.

CommentHigher is a bright and infectious indie pop-rock song from New York-based artist Illicit Ghost, who also play the violin here. This track could become a big hit if it received enough promotion. Quality-wise, it does not lack anything. Higher is quite a refreshing tune.

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BLÜ EYES – supposed to

ArtistBLÜ EYES

Song: supposed to

Genres: #indiepop

Location: Los Angeles, California

Release date: April, 2021.

CommentBLÜ EYES got a sweet voice that’s hard to ignore. That’s one of the reasons why she’s been collaborating with DJs and electronic music producers as well. However, she’s also a talented songwriter as evidenced by today’s song, supposed to. A humble indie pop track that is very pleasing to the ear. Check it out before this young artist becomes the next big thing.

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Will Naisbitt – Do It Again

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.

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AO – Through The Storm

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.

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Majozi – Close To You

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.

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