1. “Haze” – Angelo De Augustine. Anyone looking for a post-Iron & Wine flagbearer for the whisper folk crowd wouldn’t do too badly getting behind De Augustine. This is tape-hiss-and-honesty at its finest.
2. “Friends” – Marsicans. Marsicans are in the midst of an incredible run of singles, with each building on the last to create a sterling resume of indie-pop-rock that reads like a slightly smoothed-out Tokyo Police Club. The chorus here is a fist-pumper.
3. “Nothing Makes Me Happy ft. WILLA” – Said the Whale. You coulda fooled me. This tune, while not exactly a ray of sunshine in its crunchy guitars, is a dance-rock workout that certainly makes me happy.
4. “Paresthesia” – Wild Ones. Slinky yet also fun, this electro-inflected indie-pop tune manages to appeal to a lot of different audiences with a subtly complex arrangement and an immediate vocal performance.
5. “Fade On” – Tree Machines. Fans of Sleigh Bells will find much to love in this thumping, stomping hip-hop beat (complete with arpeggiated horns) married to heavy distorted guitars and adorned with soaring, desperate-sounding vocals.
6. “Say You” – Strange Relations. Joyfully off-kilter, this bass-driven rock tune has all sorts of moving parts and unusual conventions going on. It’s like a math-rock song slowed down by half or a deconstructed punk rock song. Fascinating.
7. “Talk About” – The Lonely Biscuits. Just a great indie-pop song. The vocals, the instrumentation, the lyrics, the vibe, it’s all on point.
8. “Only for a Moment” – The Shades. Some songs just sound like the open road. This folk-pop/country tune is packed full of the stuff that lends itself to rolling down the windows: a major key, great percussion, strong melodies, and lots of harmonies.
9. “Dangerous Times” – Jesse Terry. A big, stately alt-country tune with a solid vocal performance and a timely lyric.
10. “Yellow Bird” – Ben Stevenson. Fans of Parachutes-era Coldplay will fall in love with this cloudy, ethereal acoustic cut.