1. “Brother” – Strawberry Runners. This is an incredibly tight indie-pop song. It ropes in influences from all over the place to build a tune that is catchy yet still contemplative, expansive yet intimate, and ultimately deeply satisfying. Highly recommended.
2. “Blue Cloud” – Wand. I’ve rarely heard an indie-pop/prog fusion in my life, but there’s a first time for everything. This 8-minute track takes listeners on a journey through an immediately familiar chamber indie-pop soundscape that only gets more alien as the song keeps going and going and going. Engrossing.
3. “Aloof” – BOKITO. There is an unbelievable amount of great moments packed into the 3:31 of this tune. It’s a mystic alt-folk tune, it’s a wild ’80s-influenced dance-rock song, it’s an unclassifiable indie-rock rave-up. Massively impressed.
4. “Clap Your Hands” – Brad Peterson. It’s hard to make handclaps sound sad, so Peterson doesn’t even try: this is an infectious, enthusiastic indie-pop song about clapping your hands. Clap on, friends.
5. “Collide” – Junkyardfieldtrip. A bouncy folk tune tempered by a raspy voice spitting some serious gravitas–at least until the chorus.
6. “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself” – Alex Lahey. It’s hard to write more than one great pop song per album, but it sure sounds like Lahey has multiple (including this one) on her upcoming debut. This is a massive power-pop tune that checks all the boxes for “great tune”: vocal tone, vocal melodies, big guitars, fun auxiliary instruments, and big quiet/loud moments. Love it.
7. “Out Among the Sheltering Pines” – The Helio Sequence. Starts out as an old-timey folk tune with a lovely acoustic arrangement, then bursts open into an indie-rock tune. Fantastic.
8. “I Need Somebody” – Glasspop. This a fun, thoroughly danceable dance-rock tune. No frills, just the goods.
9. “As Long as I Can See” – Broke Royals. Has that easy anthemic quality that Bastille has almost trademarked.
10. “Heat (it covers everything)” – the fin. A head bobbing, gently grooving track that lands somewhere between indie-electro and indie-pop. It does seem to mimic and interpret a hazy, thick heat wave.