1. “Night Bunny” – Alister Fawnwoda, Suzanne Ciani, Greg Leisz. Pedal steel, synths, and what sounds like ocean noises come together to create a space of ambient bliss. Highly recommended.
2. “Training Montage” – the Mountain Goats. This indie-pop/indie-rock track is a return to Beat the Champ-era guitar grandiosity mixed with Transcendental Youth-era paranoiac lyrics and Heretic Pride-style melodic arrangements in the chorus. I haven’t been this excited for a tMG album off its first track since I heard “The Legend of Chavo Guerrero” blast out of my speakers. My wife and I danced around the kitchen to it. Highly recommended.
3. “Sunrise (Rumble) ft. Yonatan Gat” – Medicine Singers. A spacious, windswept track that merges slowcore/low-slung rock electric guitar with Pow Wow vocals and insistent drums to create an interplay of varied traditions. Very exciting work. Highly recommended.
4. “Prep Cook in the Weeds” – Fresh Pepper. Ooooh, the vibes here are impeccable: there’s some Windows 95 vaporwave, some ’80s-NYC-style downtown funk, smooth jazz, and casual sing-spoken lyrics that land somewhere between Paul Simon and CAKE in vibe (not in tone). This is a unique experience, y’all. I love it. Highly recommended.
5. “Birthday” – JoJo Worthington. Songs about friends are always going to get me because there are so few of them in comparison to songs about lovers. This one is a delicate indie-folk track that would make Seven Swans-era Sufjan jealous. Worthington’s breathy vocals fit the proceedings beautifully.
6. “So Close” – Aviva Jaye. A subtle, evocative indie-folk track that wisely lets Jaye’s low vocals contrast against the treble of the guitar. The production is spacious and smooth.
7. “For a Chisos Bluebonnet” – Cameron Knowler & Eli Winter. Knowler and Winter know their way around an instrumental folk cut, and this one is an exemplar take: the interplay of guitars is perfectly done that it points it sounds like one impossibly fleet single-guitar effort. The melodicism is impeccable, and the subtle sensitivities in volume and tone make the piece shine.
8. “When You See It” – Pill Super. Slowly unfolding low-key techno that moves from drones to structure to flourishes on the structure. It’s a headbobbing experience.
9. “The Ecstatic Dance” – MISZCZYK feat. Bile Sister. This one explodes borders: it’s a mix of trip-hop, gothy/culty vibes, ’80s electro, VHS visuals, modern dance, and more. It’s not what I’m usually into, but I kept listening to it too often to not include it here.
10. “Dynamo” – Benny Bock. An ambient-adjacent piece that operates in the space between pressing forward and lagging back, with subtly insistent beats competing against languid synths. The song opens up into a full-on instrumental downtempo indie-pop track midway through, complete with piano work, bass, and rhythm.
11. “Heat Haze” – SUSS. The ambient country outfit leans much more toward ambient than country here, convincingly squeezing their usual Western soundscapes into a form that convincingly represents the too-bright, fatigued, liminal space that is a high heat day. (Source: I live in Phoenix.)