After a period a bit longer than normal – do you already got all your Christmas gifts in? – the perfect Friday compilation is back focusing on the best releases of the last two weeks. Any Christmas songs? No, not yet! These are indie pop, indie rock, indie soul, indie electronic and much about any possible genre is present here in one way or another. Eleven tracks that are still well in time of being considered the highlight of your year (and ours).
EarthCry x Lavender Fields – Oneiro
If you ever find yourself stuck within track stuck within another track, looping around and around until you can’t even remember how you ended up there, “Oneiro” would be the soundtrack to that scenario. The track is the lead single of a collaborative EP between East Cost producer EarthCry and West Coast artist Lavender Fields.
“Oneiro” is total dissonance as a track. It relies heavily on its production job for that, as it crosses a line between Strawberry Jam era Animal Collective and Beach House’s dream pop. The synths sound playful but present challenges in every corner, as the instrumental floats (and makes you float) in its various forms and complexities, all soaked in a reverbed, slightly vaporwave atmosphere. A perfect scenario for the vocals of Lavender Fields to pop up and be the final piece of this dazzling and disorientating piece of sound.
Gina Jeanz feat. Jordan Baker – All Of Me
Gina Jeanz is what we can call a fast-rising producer and DJ. Hailing from Namibia she is releasing her debut album entitled “Lucid Theory“, from where “All Of Me” her latest single, is part. Infusing pop with electronic music there are hooks and bags and bags of flavour with a natural sensuality and the capacity to effortlessly feel the vocal elements. There is a natural R&B vibe that resembles a bit of Jessie Ware, and there is an overwhelmingly great production that makes it as commercial as indie sounding. Ultimately a romantic track, it is also a track that reflects on past love and about the capacity to stay in a one-sided relationship.
Jackson Dyer – Movement (ft. James Chatburn)
Sydney-born, Berlin-based singer-songwriter Jackson Dryer presents us with his third track of 2021. “Movement”, a collaboration with fellow Aussie and Berlin-based artist James Chatburn, is described as a song that comes up to the artists when “discussing the often challenging nature of the songwriting process” while “trying to overcome the feelings of futility or stagnation that can creep up with difficult productions.“
In its cross-over between alternative R&B and indie pop, “Movement” is a slick and groovy tune. It reminds us of Benny Sings in how the tune interpolates its more jazzy influences into the indie world. Culminating in a catchy and hooky chorus, “Movement” is a track that lives up to its name – dance we must when we listen to it.
Jinx the Fox – Headcanon
Jinx the Fox is an indie pop/rock trio – Nick Myers (vocals, guitar, piano), Alex Adams (guitar) and Gabriel Coffing (drums) – from Colombus, Ohio, who is preparing the release of their debut EP. The first single is out here and it is called “Headcanon“, an indie-pop gem “that wrestles with what it means to have free will in a deterministic universe“.
Despite its somewhat… thoughtful premiss, “Headcanon” is not a depressive tune. Very far from it. It’s a ridiculously fun song – we did not choose the word “gem” lightly here. Instrumentally, the song feels like a crossover between bands like The Postal Service and Foals. The guitars are jangly like the latter, but the synth work does have that Postal Service touch. And the influence of Ben Gibbard’s does not end here – there’s a very Gibbard-Esque sense to Jinx the Fox’s lead singer, where the influence of midwest emo does come through. And it all ends in a beautiful, emotional solo. In conclusion: don’t forget the name Jinx the Fox. They’re quite good.
LEISURE – Be With You
Released at the beginning of December, “Be With You” is the newest single from New Zealand five-piece LEISURE (we’ve written about them here and here) and part of their long-awaited third studio album “Sunsetter“, released on the same day on Nettwerk. The “wistful” track is the last track of the album and showcases once again the band capacity to make relevant pop-tronic music that feels sexy, relaxed, smooth and energizing while still delicate and unique. There are smooth variations around the track and a very (very) engaging chorus that makes us want to sing along and bounce from side to side. They say they are inspired by Japanese city pop and the Bee Gees, and there is totally a very cool vibe of that blend in this.
Lennie Rayen – Everything I’ve Ever Needed
Fascinating, fresh and still encompassing a mix of melancholy with happiness and positiveness, Lennie Rayen’s latest and 3rd single to date “Everything I’ve Ever Needed” is a gorgeous effort that feels as gorgeous as folk-pop can fuse with indie-rock. The vocals are incredible, the track surprises the listener at “every corner” and the guitar melodies and solos are fascinating, warm and cutting the monotony. There are vibes of Lana Del Rey in her voice, but there is also a capacity to sound much more moving and active and engaging with the instrumental melody. After “Like You Do” and “Me & You”, this new track shows that she is here to be a new sensation. And we are absolutely in love with her.
Pastel Blank – Picture Perfect
Art-rock and funk join hands in a marriage of stutter and groove, officiated by the band entitled Pastel Blank. Formed in 2019, the Victoria, BC-based project is led by the main songwriter Angus Watt. Pulling influence from the jerky rhythms and genre-blending curiosity of Talking Heads as well as the interlocking guitar-work of Canadian post-punk luminaries Women, the music of Pastel Blank cloaks experimentation in pop-minded song structure. This indie-pop gem is produced by David Parry of Loving, a multi-track analogue tape recording mixed by Pastel Blank’s drummer Oliver and part of a seven-song EP to be released in April 2022. It is not only “Picture Perfect” but pitch-perfect, we have the pleasure to add.
Psylhouette – An Age Found
Psylhouette are a duo hailing from Brighton, UK, who recently have released their sophomore LP, Psylhouette II. “An Age Found”, the opener to the record, has shown up on our radar this past week, and we had to mention it. It is a very peculiar piece of spaced-out dream pop, capturing the feeling of a hazy atmosphere crashing down on us via lo-fi production ala early Deerhunter or Candy Claws.
Lead singer Juli Holz’s vocals are one of the biggest selling points of the track, as she roams around the hazy landscapes of the tune like a master of the craft – a more understandable (but not as charismatic) Elizabeth Fraser. There’s a slight hint of krautrock influence on the track as well, as the beat (almost motorik) traps us amidst a foggy highway when the guide is Juli’s vocals. Now, excuse us, while we find out if the record is as solid as its opening track.
Raven Artson – I’m The One
“Raven Artson conquers with an authentic and charming sound”. The singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer, translates his multi-faceted personality as he states “Life swings us back and forth, and that’s ok because we’re not meant to think and feel linear. There’s beauty in friction.“. Those vibes are present on all his songs just like the latest “I’m The One“. With a mix described as a slow motion hyper pop and making proper use of auto-tune, Raven is readying a sparse sound with more space for breathing and reflection. Always breaking down barriers, Raven enlists Mucky (Sevdaliza) and BEA1991 as exclusive collaborators on the new single.
Shreyas and The Skinners – My My
Shreyas and The Skinners are not your common band. They don’t hail from a single place or town. In fact, they are more like a collective of artists who, from different parts of the world, united over their love for post-Beach Boys American pop music. The result is a remotely crafted EP titled “Flux“, whose track “My My” is a particular highlight. Riding the line between 1960s psychedelia and 1990s slacker rock, “My My” is a catchy and simple track. It certainly packs a punch for such a short track. The emotional vocals reveal the love for the genres, while the great – but mellow – guitar solo is the pinnacle of this simple, yet intricate tune. Sometimes, short and simple really is the best solution for music.
Royal Arch – La Nuit
The new generation of Greek Gods has just emerged, and it is with Royal Arch that we once again believe that rock will never die. The Greek band, composed of Elias Masri, Nick Kokkinos, Orestis Loukas, Elias Kokkinos and Vassilis Dousis, presents their first single, ‘La Nuit’, which anticipates their first EP, due for release in early 2022. The unfolding theme is based on an ode to our first love and the eternal way it is retained in our lives. In an irreverent and cinematic format, we are welcomed with a very powerful instrumental range, where rock is lord and master of the way, joining, in a perfect symbiosis, with the stunning voice of the vocalist, Elias Masri.