1. “Georgia” – Raccoon Raccoon. A stand-up bass, fluttery acoustic guitar, and a breathy duet come together uniquely: if this is where their sound is headed, they could carve out their own unique space between The Weepies, Josh Radin, and St. Even. Good, good stuff here.
2. “Un De Plus” – The Coconut Kids. You definitely need a lilting, suave ballad sung entirely in French and accompanied by Beirut-esque trumpet in your life.
3. “Lock & Key” – Mouths of Babes. Who can resist whistling in a chipper acoustic-pop/Americana tune?
4. “Over Romantic” – The Watanabes. Here’s a wistful, restrained, romantic acoustic indie-pop song about being too romantic. May it never be!
5. “LYM (Leave Your Man)” – Stevie Talks. Takes a well-turned adult-alternative vibe and transforms it into something different with a feathery Sufjan-esque vocal melody and arrangement in the chorus.
6. “Great Pumpkin Waltz” – Brad Myers and Michael Sharfe. This low-key, unassuming jazz trio performance of the Vince Guaraldi (Charlie Brown) tune retains all the wistful melodic qualities that Guaraldi was so keen on but also explores the spaces created by the translation of the piano-led work into a guitar-led one. Thoughtful and interesting.
7. “Left My Heart” – Matthew Leeb. Man, once upon a time I was big into Mat Kearney’s sound. Leeb’s smooth, soulful take on acoustic-based hip-hop pushes all those same buttons for me. Also, I always love an Oklahoma shout-out. Represent.
8. “Spanish Bird” – Common Jack. Think back to the first time you heard “Boots of Spanish Leather” by The Tallest Man on Earth: the blast of vocal enthusiasm, the charging guitars, the sunshiny mood of the whole thing. Now add some extra Dylan vocal intonation into that, and that was my experience of hearing this song for the first time. (And this song references leather boots and Spain!)
9. “Wake the Dawn” – The Frontier. A bold, brash, pop-rock-informed folk-pop tune that hits along Magic Giant lines with some Black Keys-inspired lead guitar work. Tasty.
10. “Romance Abroad” – -ness. I’m a sucker for a cool piano line, so of course the intro to this song hooked me. The anthemic, dramatic acoustic pop kept me after that. It should be noted that I was a fan of OneRepublic before I heard their stuff one million times in every possible public space, so keep that in mind as you listen.
11. “From Rest” – Cold Weather Company. The rushing, passionate piano that undergirds this track counterpoints (and then matches) the speedy guitar melodies here, resulting in a torrential whirlwind of a song.
12. “As Far as I Can” – Kylypso. Transforms a keyboard and an 808 into a smooth, lithe electro-pop track. It’s sort of like when you look at holographic plastic undulating slowly: a mesmerizing yet sleek experience.
13. “Police” – KING. I’m not going to lie, this has a lot of connection to “Lean On.” Also true: I had my hands in the air while I was sitting in my cubicle listening to this. (No shame.) That chorus tho.