As we grew closer to the halfway point of 2016, it was starting to feel as though no one was going to release music worth remembering by the time our “best-of” lists came around (Lemonade aside, of course). However, with the help of Radiohead, Chance the Rapper, and James Blake, the last few weeks have really helped the year turn a corner. But it’s been a good past few days for bands with less than a million Twitter followers too. Here are a few great songs you might have missed.
A Dead Forest Index – No Paths
This two-piece band creates a vast, ethereal soundscape that is much more powerful than any simple guitar, piano, and vocal motifs should be. Relaxing, immersive, and at times unnerving; acts like this are what will continue raising the bar for the old indie rock genre.
Listen if you like: Fleet Foxes, Swans, Chelsea Wolfe
ISLAND – Spotless Mind
First, this song lures you gently in, then it catapults you into atmospheric energy. The confident, assured dynamics found here are rarely found in a band yet to release a debut album.
Listen if you like: Local Natives, Vampire Weekend, Tokyo Police Club
Sithu Aye – Constants and Variables
Sithu Aye creates technical and progressive instrumental metal that stands apart with upbeat melodies. It’s expansive, fun, and innovative.
Listen if you like: Periphery, Animals as Leaders, David Bowie
KAYTRANADA – GLOWED UP
This celestial club jam is only accentuated by Anderson Paak’s harmonizing flow. The track will meet you where you’re at and immediately improve that moment.
Listen if you like: Kendrick Lamar, Anderson Paak, The Internet
Yes We Mystic – Undertow
Complex, delicate, and confident indie rock. This band dodges the pratfalls many fall victim to in this genre, presenting a dynamic, melodic powerhouse of a track.
Listen if you like: Arcade Fire, The Antlers, Frightened Rabbit
Beach Skulls – Baby’s a Liar
This band exemplifies their prowess in garage pop with this single. Catchy melodies, memorable riffs, and a whole lot of shoe-gazey groove. Beach Skulls has enough energy in their own brand of surf rock to make some major WAVES(!).
Listen if you like: Real Estate, The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys
Plants and Animals – No Worries Gonna Find Us
This song slowly builds its commanding percussion, progressive psych-rock guitars, and anthemic vocals to a kinetic summer jam that anyone could boogie down to. The sounds feel familiar and comfortable — so much so that you can almost miss just how unique it all feels.
Listen if you like: Death Cab For Cutie, The Shins, Modest Mouse
The Dirty Nil – Zombie Eyed
A gut-punching primal punk rock anthem that showcases raw, scratching vocals with unorthodox technical guitar work. This track can get you yelling along with the chorus by the end.
Listen if you like: The Replacements, Fugazi, Husker Du
Braids – Companion
This song will pitch you into angelic electronic waves that crush you, drain you in their expansive swells, and just when you think you are at the point of breaking, will gracefully ease you back down with painstakingly subdued piano notes. This is not so much a song as it is an experience. Embrace this one. It wants to embrace you.
Listen if you like: Purity Ring, Grimes, Beach House
Tingsek – The Fiddlers
This is an outstanding display of the increasingly popular blend of electronica and traditional soul. Add that to the entrancing falsetto vocals, and you have yourself an act to watch out for this year. Solid stuff.
Listen if you like: James Blake, Sufjan Stevens, Marvin Gaye
Caleb Groh – Vocelot
Experimenting with sounds unrecognizable to most ears, while maintaining tempo and flow that hold you close — Groh brings a serious attitude to music that would make most other artists jealous. This track seamlessly blends pop, trance, funk, electronic, folk, and hip-hop to create an adventurous, yet comfortable experience.
Listen if you like: Frank Ocean, Bon Iver, Son Lux
Messenger – Celestial Spheres
Psychedelic and progressive rock undertones, countless layers of brooding musical patterns, dynamic guitar, and vocal work. This is a fantastic modernization of the power and talent bands like Pink Floyd and Rush showcased back in the ’70s.
Listen if you like: Muse, The Mars Volta, Pink Floyd
Sylvan LaCue – Fall From Grace
Formerly known as QuESt, this Miami artist claims it was time to drop the persona and grow up with his music. This track exemplifies that maturation. Strong trap influence blended with a powerful church organ and soulful church choir.
Listen if you like: Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Logic
Dead Slow Hoot – I Hope You Never Say A Word
Commanding rock and roll that expands multiple generations of influences with its buzzy doo-wop backbone plunging to pounding riff-laden bridges. These guys may only have a couple dozen listeners, but there is talent here that deserves more attention that that.
Listen if you like: The White Stripes, The Animals, Interpol
Jason is the cofounder of the iconic non-profit Invisible Children which was founded to increase awareness of the horrendous activities of the LRA in Central Africa. Jason was also the director of the iconic Kony 2012 film that took the world by storm. In this two-part interview Jason and Branden talk about what it means to create a movement, what Jason experienced during his breakdown and subsequent recovery, and Jason’s experience in the world of theater.
Aharon Rabinowitz is the head of marketing for Red Giant based in New York City. During our conversation, we discussed the importance of work life balance, his start as a production intern at Sesame Street and why artist’s feel personally offended when you reject their work.
United gets their cheap on, fake news, and Trump hired who?
Welcome to Episode IV. This week, Dan spends some time with his favorite singer/songwriter, Matthew Perryman Jones. Matthew and Dan talk about panic attacks, growing up in Atlanta, the way music is informed by pain and suffering and the way music gives freedom.
If you have spent any time watching television in the last decade you have most likely heard one of Mattew’s songs on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, One Tree Hill and many others. His insightful writing and voice have drawn comparisons to Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley, and he is on the short list of songwriters who skillfully weave the deeply philosophical and the vivid utterly human without ever losing sight of either.
To get his new album Cold Answer, (which features the three songs from him you heard on this episode), visit MPJmusic.com.
Branden sits down with writer and speaker Tyler Huckabee days after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States to talk about empathy, justice, listening, and where we go from here.
Special Election Edition, President Trump to legalized weed and everything in between.
This week we reflect on the election and discuss our strategies for staying sane.
Luca and Ilenia are the founders of Illo, a studio based in Turin, Italy. During our conversation, we discussed their self-driving video bot named Algo, how Illo was formed and how they’ve crafted a unique office culture.
This week we discuss Beyonce’s night at the CMAs, last minute election plans and how SNL might save us all.
We appreciate everyone sticking with us through this long hiatus but are planning our return even as we speak, with a bunch of new goodies and an updated format. In the meantime, here’s a brief primer on Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange — just so you can go into the movie knowing what you’re getting yourself into.