1. “Haze” – Grapefruit Moon. Comes barreling in with a bold, mature folk sound that does not let on that this is a debut. You can hear snatches of influences in the song if you try, but overall this is a bold sound with a clear identity that establishes them as one to watch.
2. “Understanding Light” – Florist. Listening to Florist is like standing outside looking at the night sky and realizing that the moon is slightly orange tonight, and it looks really pretty, and you don’t know why, but it’s too beautiful to pull out your phone and find out, so you just look at it some more. Maybe someone comes up and says, “What are you looking at?” and you just kinda nod that direction and they get it and you’re there together doing the staring and it’s the way things should be.
3. “Make Believe” – Ben Bateman. It’s a tough thing to make a single acoustic guitar sound vibrant and fresh (even with a stomping kick drum). Bateman pulls in characteristics from The Tallest Man on Earth and Brett Dennen to create a bouncy, thoroughly engaging, fresh acoustic tune.
4. “Wild, Wild, Wild Horses” – A. Savage. Lopes along with the idiosyncratic confidence of a person who doesn’t feel any need to be anything other than himself because he already has another band (in this case, Parquet Courts). This tune, a speak/sing ramble full of distant synths, is weird and lovely and unforgettable.
5. “I Won’t Sleep” – Caiti Baker. It’s been a while since back-up vocalists and marching-band horns sucked me in to a song so hard. This one has learned all the lessons of swaggering hip-hop and filtered them through an indie-pop sieve for a really nice cocktail.
6. “Too Good” – Marsicans. Are you sick of me praising Marsicans yet? Here’s another vibrant, bouncy slice of indie rock.
7. “And Such and Such” – The Forty Nineteens. Just a big ‘ol rock and roll song from the ’60s or ’70s school: no psych, no minor keys, just big riffs, snarly vocals, and speedy tempos.
8. “Now I Know” – Sono Oto. Riffs don’t have to be face-melting garage-rock theatrics to be awesome. This rattletrap, Beck-inflected tune has great guitar lines throughout that keep the vibe flowing.
9. “Listening to Devil Town” – Jacob Faurholt. This wide-open, reverb-heavy, ballad-esque indie-rock track is literally about the experience of listening to “Devil Town” by Daniel Johnston. If you haven’t heard that, you should listen to that, and then you should listen to this.
10. “I’m a Tree (Acoustic)” – JOY. A solid acoustic version of what sounds like it could be a promising rock track.
11. “Oceans” – Magana. A cover of a tune by the inimitable CHUCK, Magana takes the jittery enthusiasm that is his trademark and turns it into a mournful dirge. It’s quite the transformation.
12. “Brassy Sun” – S. Carey. Carey knows how to make a beautiful song. This serene piano-led piece is just majestic.