1. “The House” – Air Traffic Controller. Is it too early to call this the song of the summer? This crunchy pop song has hooky verses, an enormous chorus, great lyrics, and did I mention the enormous chorus? I’ve been telling everyone I know. It’s that good.
2. “Masterpiece” – Big Thief. Like All Dogs if they had signed to Saddle Creek (as Big Thief has), “Masterpiece” is a crunchy, female-fronted rock track that has a serious country/folk sentiment running through it in the vocals and the drums.
3. “Codes” – JPhono1. Wandering back and forth between minor and major, this acoustic-led indie-rock track twists expectations in clever ways.
4. “Troubles” – Ego Death. An insistent acoustic guitar is accompanied by ominous banjo, floating flutes, and subtle pizzicato to create an acoustic tune full of tension and release.
5. “Mother” – Ulli Matsson. A pleasantly wavering, flowing, idiosyncratic voice leads this punchy, inspired two-guitar acoustic song.
6. “like a feather or a pawprint” – Field Medic. Combine Iron & Wine with The Tallest Man on Earth, and you’d have the sort of tenderly romantic lo-fi fingerpicking with enigmatic lyrics that Field Medic espouses here. A charming little tune.
7. “When U Come Home” – Kate Walsh. A dramatic acoustic-pop track gets an upgrade with a smooth electro beat and bass line.
8. “Midnight Runner” – Emilio Bonito. A warm, inviting acoustic guitar instrumental complete with tapping percussion, harmonics, and mood shifts.
9. “Chamber of Sins” – Gonzalo Varela. Do you remember the old F-Zero games for Nintendo? The frantic rhythms and 8-bit melodies of Varela’s unique slice of post-rock reminds me of the tunes from that old space-racing game. (Also reminds me of Anamanaguchi, which more people might be more familiar with.)
10. “No Glitch” – One Girl Symphony. The up-front placement of a big, fat, plodding bass line tells me right away that this isn’t a typical instrumental performance. The rest of the tune delivers, landing somewhere between funk, country, and post-rock. Get adventurous, y’all.
11. “Lucid” – Dreamless. The instrumental hip-hop designation usually seems a little presumptuous, but “Lucid” has the swagger, confidence, and even melodic flow that make me think, “yes, this is what they were looking for.”