It’s not uncommon for artists to drop singles and albums to kick-start the new year in the right ways, but 2020 is proving to be an exceptionally strong year. With new music coming at us at an exponential rate Indie Band Guru is here to help you sift through all of the noise. Every month our staff will be compiling their favorite releases across all genres for you to discover!
Keith’s Choice: “It Might Be Time” Tame Impala
The spacy psychedelic sound opens up my mind right from the first beats. There seem to be experimental noises coming from every part of my speakers. It also brings back memories of the classic psych-rock music my parents used to listen to when I was first starting to discover my love of music, especially the Supertramp inspired keyboards.
Sam’s Choice: “Simmer” Hayley Williams
There isn’t a thing that Hayley Williams has touched that hasn’t turned into perfection and her first solo release is no exception. Hypnotic and riveting, every second of this song gave me chills. “Simmer” gives you emotional depth and vulnerability with an edge in the way that only Hayley could deliver.
James’ Choice: “The Spook of Misery Hill” Half Deaf Clatch
I have a love for blues music with a traditional sound. I found 2019 disappointing that I was not able to find anything that scratched that itch. So, last week I dedicated some time to find something that really grabbed my attention. Luckily, it did not take long for me to discover the music by Half Deaf Clatch. From the opening seconds and hearing his use of the dobro guitar, I knew I was going to be a fan. After further investigation, I found he had a vast collection of albums including his recent release “The Saturation Sessions”. Since the discovery, I have been working my way through his albums and none has disappointed me. He storytelling quality with his trusty dobro guitar is a combination that has won me over.
Molly’s Choice: Manic – Halsey
It’s her third studio album and the tracks won’t leave my head! Manic breaks all of the traditional rules of music albums and Halsey experiments a lot with different sounds, genres and themes that she takes on in this album. She released a handful of singles from the album over the past year and the full album was released this month (01/17/2020). So often, we see mainstream artists “sell out” in terms of making manufactured music the further they get into their careers, so it was totally refreshing to see Halsey do the opposite! Halsey is completely in the driver’s seat with this new album as she explores country music, alternative pop and indie genres). My personal favorite is country track “You Should Be Sad” and I’m hooked on the video for it! She and her brother do an interpretive dance piece together in her video for “Clementine” which is also very worth watching! In addition to the songs and music videos, Halsey has also released a series of Youtube videos titled The Road To Manic, which give listeners even more insight into the making of this album!
Kelsey’s Choice: Magic City Hippies
My pick for January is Magic City Hippies. I was lucky enough to see their show at the Bowery Ballroom last Thursday with Jake Pinto and Tim Atlas. I had seen them perform once before and was ecstatic when the Modern Animal tour was announced to run January-February because they combine soulful crooning with psychedelic rock to create an unforgettably groovy show. Their most recent album, “Modern Animal,” was released in August 2019 and has been hot ever since, selling out shows not only in New York but also in Durham, NC and Atlanta, GA. Tracks like “Franny” and “SPF” give flashbacks of driving with the windows down, melting the whine of electric guitar with sunshine and summer sweat. Frontman Robby Hunter rocks a phenomenal range from the goofy, deep-set rumble of a 1950’s radio announcer to the shrieking falsetto of a true rock star. Play this group the next time you want to sing in the shower and you won’t be disappointed.
Dalila’s Choice: Mind the Moon – Milky Chance
I absolutely cannot stop listening to Milky Chance’s album Mind The Moon on repeat. It was released in November of 2019, but I only recently discovered the euphoric sound of Milky Chance a few months ago. Their psychedelic and dreamy sound takes the listener on an adventure and Clemens Rehbein’s mellow, soothing voice is a breath of fresh air. They mix reggae elements with groove rock, producing a nostalgia-invoking sound similar to that of Gorillaz, Tame Impala, and Bob Marley. The track-list fluctuates in terms of sound and mood, providing a special and meaningful experience with each song. My personal favorite is “Oh Mama” because of the funky elements mixed with Rehbein singing his heart out in the chorus, evoking the angsty spirit of the average kid getting through the ups-and-downs of life. The lyric that speaks to me most is: “Slowly we are falling through the cracks, it just feels like something we regret.” While there is a dismal aspect to the lyrics, the overall funkiness of the beat juxtaposes the somber nature of the song, and I love it.
Melanie’s Choice: “Under the Graveyard” Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne came out with a bunch of new songs this month but the one I love the most is “Under The Graveyard.” It is a song about him moving on from his crazy lifestyle and the music video is phenomenal because it features actors who look like Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. I was honestly moved to tears.
Colleen’s Choice: “Trust” Alina Baraz
I decided to go with a new single from Alina Baraz called “Trust”. She is a new find for me and I’m excited to see if she keeps releasing new music this year. Her last releases on Spotify were back in 2018 but one of her tracks featured Khalid. I love the airiness of her voice matched with the big, dramatic almost theatric instrumental backing in this one. It’s refreshing to also hear some lyrics that are positive vs. the typical break up/”missing love” love songs that are all over the radio. She started to put more out following her work with Galimatias in 2015 on an album “Urban Flora” that was a collection of remixes after the two parties found each other online and started to work together virtually.
This track could be a huge hit with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. If you’re looking for a romantic evening, this is a great, relaxing song to enjoy on your way out.
Xavier’s Choice: “More” Sorry
For mine, I decided to do something that came out on the 23rd from Sorry, a band I find incredibly exciting. The 3-track single release is called ‘More’. One of the most dynamic bands around right now, they’ve been songs with a really interesting blend of pop-synth rhythms and vocals along with some really fuzzed, post-punk type guitar riffs and effects. This release features two previously released singles, “Right Round The Clock” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” both of which really exemplify the group’s broad range instrumentally. The third, previously unreleased song, which is the first track on this is called “More” and features a really infectious trade-off between a digital drum/bass track and a really driven fuzzed refrain. The release is grounded in the nerve wracking beauty of the vocals, and definitely signals that the band is really settling into their sound, producing albums that blend their influences fluidly, rather than just having a lot of different types of styles across their discography. The way the guitar rock sensibilities of their early work and the electronic bent the band also tends to adopt is really clear, and they’re gaining a lot of popularity in a really flourishing club circuit in London for this type of music, as they have been playing a lot of shows with another band I love, Shame. Overall, a very exciting release filled with a graceful communication of indecision and dread.