1. “Sweet Potato Kisses” – Marchildon! There are not nearly enough songs of paternal love in the world. Marchildon! has set about fixing that in a small way, as this tune unabashedly celebrates the daily life of a father taking care of a child and the joy it brings (as well as the chaos, mess, and everything else). This is also a great folk-pop/indie-pop song musically–it consists entirely of acoustic guitar, shaker, and Marchildon’s great vocals. It’s simple, sweet, and very worthwhile. You keep on keepin’ on, Marchildon!.
2. “Go” – HYWAYS. Now this is an impressive piece of work. “Go” seamlessly blends country twang and harmonica, psych drone, folk fingerpicking, and indie-pop instrumental melodies effortlessly. This is masterful arranging. Highly recommended.
3. “Dance Around the Room with Me” – Ana Egge. More subtle than you might imagine for a tune of its title, this poppy, acoustic indie track reminds me of Lisa Hannigan’s work. There’s still quite a bit of joy in this track, but it’s displayed in restrained, delicate ways. The tiny synth, pizzicato strings and woodwinds that come in by the end of the track are all lovely.
4. “With You Every Day” – Anna Burch. The vocal lines here are almost hypnotic, turning a solid, low-slung, slow-paced indie-rock tune into an irresistible piece of work.
5. “The Islands” – Pale Green Things. Named after a song that I love by the Mountain Goats, this lo-fi indie-pop tune has a lot to love for fans of John Darnielle’s crew: distinctive strum patterns, a “lead bass” melody, and catchy vocal patterns. The whispery vocals and occasional ’80s synth distinguish PGL as having a lo-fi vision of its own.
6. “One More Wave” – Ellie Schmidly. Has a sort of effortlessly swaying, Beirut-esque other-ness to it created through a multitude of small ideas adding up. Subtle arrangement touches like male backing vocals, pizzicato strings, legato strings, restrained percussion, and staccato rhythmic bursts create a fantastic tune that begs to be listened to multiple times.
7. “White Lights” – JOYNER. “I’ve been bad / but never this bad before” is one of the more infectious, can’t-get-it-out-of-my-head chorus lines I’ve heard in a long time. The heavily-rhythmic approach to the vocals contrasts effectively against the smoothed-out, legato arrangement. It’s got shades of hip-hop beats filtered through a dream-pop filter. Really fascinating track.
8. “France (Grands Boulevards)” – Yumi Zouma. The soft, gentle synths create a comfy blanket around the dreamy vocals. The whole thing sounds like a warm springs burbling up from the earth, inviting you to come relax and rest. It’s not quite ambient, not quite indie-pop, and all interesting.