1. “Spinning Wheel” – Chris Staples. This one’s a humble, earnest, solo acoustic tune that showcases Staples’ emotive-yet-calm voice.
2. “The Move” – Laura Stevenson. Pretty much my ideal form of folk song at the moment: fleet fingerpicking, chipper strumming, lots of lyrics sung quickly, and a strong vocal performance inflected with subtle emotion. Excellent.
3. “God Himself” – Matthew Smith. Videos don’t usually help me get into the song more, but having a wide variety of people “sing” the lyrics to this acoustic new-hymn drove it home for me.
4. “Raise Your Ghosts” – Velvet & Stone. A low-slung, sophisticated folk arrangement here floats lyrics about healing and redemption. The fiddle adds a bit of Irish flair to the otherwise very modern sound.
5. “Glowing Brightly” – Florist. Loopy, gentle twee-pop with an endearing vocal performance and the “could-fall-apart-at-any-moment” qualities that made and make twee so interesting.
6. “Should I Try” – Malena Zavala. Hazy, lazy, and laid-back, this indie-pop track floats along in a measured, chill environment of its own creation.
7. “Time” – David Ramirez. Ramirez stretches his boundaries effectively here: There’s some country overtures in the high-pitched guitar/pedal steel, but this one is mostly an indie-pop ballad with gently bouncy arpeggiator undergirding a plaintive piano line.
8. “Video Daydream” – Freedom Baby. This duo’s electro-tinged indie-pop tune isn’t really stuttering or glitchy per se, but something in-between. There’s a staccato, scattered vibe to the tune, which includes strings, snare rim hits, piano, trumpet, theremin (?), and synths all woven together into a unique track.
9. “Save Me” – Motherhood. The formula for this impressive tune is something like “Post-Vampire Weekend hectic indie rock + Cars-style ’80s new wave.”
10. “L.A. Sunset” – The Crowleys. The band offers up nearly six minutes of beachy, surf-laden indie-rock. The variety of moods throughout the tune is impressive.
11. “A Bright Flame” – Weatherboy. Towering, jubilant, major-key indie-folk of the mid-’00s school (La Strada, Bishop Allen) that features thick, choral/hollered harmonies and adventurous instrumentation.