1. “Alabama Dissonance” – The Bowling Alley Sound. As a person who has felt the tensions of being an outsider living in Alabama, I can affirm that there is a lot of Alabama Dissonance. The instrumental post-rock track here displays some of those emotions via a jarring, off-kilter, start/stop tune full of found sound and sudden shocks. There’s also a banjo, for good measure. It’s a wild, unusual experience.
2. “The Things We Let Fall Apart” – Sontag Shogun and Moskitoo. Fans of Jonsi’s most ambient work will love the wide-eyed, child-like wonder encompassed in this track. Makes me think of roaming through a wide, bright valley up between two mountains.
3. “Better” – Cayden Wemple. Sort of like Bright Eyes meets Sam Smith, this tune from Wemple has a folk-singer’s lyrical complexity, an alt-folkie’s lyrical specificity, and well-done contemporary acoustic singer/songwriter sonics. A very exciting track–Wemple’s one to watch.
4. “Vultures on Your Bones” – Felsen. Pushing back on the technological imperative narrative is deeply important to the work that I do outside this blog, so it’s with great interest that I heard this folk-rock tune asking for just that. The tune itself will be a hit with fans of old-school Dawes, as the melodies and instrumentation are a fantastic American roots rock melange.
5. “Lurking from the Sidelines” – Ira Lawrence. Lawrence returns with his “haunted mandolin”–punchy tunes created by distorting, manipulating, looping, and layering a single mandolin to the max. This, as you might imagine, creates a very unique sound with little bass and lots of open space. This particular track is an impressive demonstration of all that Lawrence is going for. Adventurous listening.
6. “First Day of My Life” – All Deep Ends. I very rarely feature covers at IC, but this one is such a giant transformation that I felt it worthwhile. ADE takes Bright Eyes’ delicate, tentative love song and gives it the full-on Deep Elm emo treatment: distant vocals, distorted guitars, thrashing drums, and a sense of desperation. It doesn’t sound over-the-top, as massive transformations can sometimes feel. Instead, it’s impressive.
7. “Wander” – Trevor Hall. I’m not sure I would have put Indian raga vibes, trip-hop influences, folk fingerpicking, glitchy vocal sampling, autotune, and raspy proto-rapping in one track, but Hall does that all excellently. That’s why Hall writes ’em and I don’t.
8. “Forget Forgive” – Someone. Intimate, close-quarters production allows the bass guitar and vocals to jump out of my headphones with an urgency that contrasts with the walking-speed tempo of this indie-pop tune. As a huge fan of deconstructed songs, this punches a lot of buttons for me.
9. “Sister, I” – Jesse Marchant. Marchant continues within his oeuvre of expressive, mesmerizing, slowly-unfolding singer/songwriter tunes. Quiet but intense, soft-spoken but with deep stores of emotion beneath the veneer, this tune (and Marchant’s work) is more than meets the ear at first. Dive deep.
10. “Maria Come Home” – Kevin Pearce. A subtly yearning, churning folk tune that celebrates Maria Callas, the famed soprano opera singer. The tune has a dense arrangement but a light feel overall: the tensions are beautifully resolved by strings that float above it all and tie the tune together.
11. “Secret” – Circumnavigate. If you’re the sort of person that gets super-excited about a cappella codas, you’re going to be all over this svelte folk track with just that type of ending.
12. “For They Who Had to Go I” – Klangriket. This solo piano elegy for those lost in the Stockholm terror attack this spring is a fitting tribute: mournful yet hopeful, light yet with heaviness around the edges of the lines, stark but also warm.
1. “Boys Will Be Boys” – Stella Donnelly. The spartan songwriting here gives a perfect contrast to Donnelly’s powerful vocals. The song itself is a knockout without even considering the lyrics; pairing the song with her harrowingly honest lyrics about rape creates a tour-de-force moment for Donnelly and what should be a deeply sobering reality check and call to action for all men (myself included).
2. “Maria También” – Khruangbin. This unclassifiable, incredibly cool instrumental track features elements of Middle Eastern music, some vaguely surf-rock overtones, and found sound celebrating the role of women in pre-1979 revolution. The band notes that the video continues the celebration of that time and place via the performances of “a large network of artists, singers, dancers and songwriters who have been either exiled or silenced since the revolution.”
3. “Seattle” – Strangers by Accident. SbA has expanded from an acoustic folk duo to a folk-rock four-piece on the EP this cut comes from; this track, fronted by female and male vocals, features punchy drums, a speedy tempo, and even a mini guitar solo. But the highlight moment of the track is a breakdown to two vocals and an acoustic guitar, just like the old days–they haven’t abandoned their roots. It’s a strong hello to a new sound.
4. “So Kind” – Kat Myers and the Buzzards. Fans of easygoing West Coast country and female vocals will have a blast with this track. The tune slowly grows from a small tune to a rip-roaring country-rock track led by alternately blazing/delicate electric guitar and Myers’ confident vocals.
5. “Sail on the Water” – Molly Parden. A silky, suave ’70s-inspired singer/songwriter track that calls to mind Fleetwood Mac and other purveyors of dreamy, mystical work.
6. “Dominika” – Jordan Klassen. Somewhere between the woodsy folk of Fleet Foxes and the pristine folk arrangements of Mutual Benefit lands this lightly funky, somewhat proggy (!) folk tune. The video is a magnificent slice of ’90s tribute/parody.
7. “Shadow” – John Hufford. Timely and timeless, this acoustic track incorporates historic vocal harmony styles, contemporary lead vocal melodies, and never-gets-old synth/xylophone combo to create a song not quite folk, not quite indie-pop, and totally impressive.
8. “Throw Ourselves In” – Marsicans. Marsicans’ run of fantastic is unprecedented in IC’s hallowed halls–I’ve now covered six straight Marsicans singles, and they’ve all been amazing. This one has some ’00s pop-punk yells thrown into their peppy indie-guitar-rock for good measure. Everything else (insanely catchy melodies, big guitars, impeccable song structure) is still there. If you haven’t jumped on the Marsicans train, you need to do it as soon as possible. Preferably yesterday.
9. “Moments” – Everywhere. Dance-rock is tough to assess–sometimes over-the-top is great (think The Killers) and sometimes understated is boss (think Cobra Starship). This smooth, sleek track passes the basic test (“do you want to dance”) and also passes the higher bar (“is there something beyond a big dance beat going on”) with flying colors via an M83/Capital Cities-esque atmosphere.
10. “Superhero” – Fuzzystar. Power-pop that’s mellowed somewhat by indie-pop vocal aesthetics–but there are some mathy/emo-esque guitar theatrics to kick it back up a notch. Overall, it’s a fun, engaging pop tune.
Hood Smoke‘s “Depending on the Fool” is an evocative, downtempo tune that falls somewhere between indie-pop, soul, and Casio-pop. The casio-style beat creates a subtle groove, the arrangement lopes along like a lost tune by the Antlers, and the vocals are rich and soulful.
The results are a swaying, carefully-developed song that grew on me quite a bit over multiple listens. The contemplative pace and style to the tune echo the lyrics, which bandleader Bryan Doherty mentions are a touch melancholy: the track “comes from the idea that humans accrue moral and ethical debts as years add up; the song is an ode to an attempt to relieve any pressure acquired over time.” Between the arrangement, the vocals, and the lyrics, the idea of looking back in sadness and looking forward in hope is clear.
“Depending on the Fool” comes from Cannonball Porch, which dropsFebruary 23, 2018.
I am quite picky when it comes to music videos. The song and video have to go together–a good video can’t survive a boring song and vice versa. On top of that, I vastly prefer narrative-driven videos to performance videos. After 14.5 years of reviewing, I’ve seen hundreds (if not thousands) of performance videos, and they’re pretty much all the same. Given those facts, my recommendation of a performance video should be recognized as extremely high praise.
The Contenders‘ “Not Enough” performance video is that needle in a haystack. The song itself is folk-rock at its very finest. The guitar-and-drums duo knows how to make the most of their skills. Jay Nash’s songwriting is immediately engrossing, and his lead vocal performance is brash yet tempered with pathos. The chemistry between the two is palpable: the instrumental mesh is tight between Josh Day’s kit and the guitar, and the close-harmony vocals from both are impressive.
The most impressive note of the performance is what Day mentions at the end: Nash apparently improvised part of the song, and Day followed him hand-in-glove with harmonies. Now that’s impressive. (The ridiculous nature of their banter makes me think that their live show would be a blast too.) The duo clearly has the chemistry, charm, and chops of a hardworking, road-tested outfit.
The video itself is, yes, a performance video. But the space they’re in is more interesting than average: the wood-paneled walls give “Precision Valley” a rustic-modern feel that fits with the tune. Yeah, I know it’s not a ton, but when we’re talking about performance videos, any element that breaks the stereotypical mold of bands-on-stage is appreciated.
1. “Your Brand” – Mo Troper. Between huge guitars, emotive vocals, incisive lyrics, and a triumphant conclusion, everything good about power-pop is jammed into this 2:19.
2. “Invisible Man” – Cassandra Violet. Punchy ’80s vibes meet ’60s-style girl group vocals and some ’70s Fleetwood Mac dreaminess for a timeless, thoroughly modern pop track.
3. “High Enough ft. Propaganda” – The Gray Havens. TGH is usually a folk-pop duo, but they sound pretty slick purveying some low-slung, head-bobbing R&B/hip-hop. If you aren’t convinced by the beat-heavy arrangement, then take it from 1:40 when they employ some bars from Propaganda to great effect.
4. “Beat Wave” – The Holy Gasp. If you’ve never heard The Holy Gasp, this song is a pretty good place to start: frantic, chaotic, jubilant music that almost defies explanation. There’s some crazy surf-punk vibes, marimba, B-movie theatricality, cheerleader chants, Gregorian chants, and Benjamin Hackman’s howling baritone all thrown in together. If you’ve heard The Holy Gasp before: yep, they’re back. [Editor’s Note: the band noted that the instrument is a xylophone, not a marimba.]
5. “Cool Kids” – Shana Falana. The jumbo-jet-huge guitars here have some shoegaze influences, but they’re used in the service of vocals instead of obscuring them. The results are a big, arms-wide-open pop song with catchy melodies and a memorable arrangement.
6. “Every Decision Counts” – Russell and the Wolf Choir. I grew up on Transatlanticism, and wherever I hear that indie-pop vibe I turn my head. Russell & co. have the easygoing vibes, nonchalant guitar work (at least until the big push), and airy vocals that can make any fan of mid-era Death Cab for Cutie swoon. It’s a blast.
7. “Happy Pills” – Dirty Sunset. Somewhere between alt-country, funk, and jam lies this unusually groovy acoustic-led tune. The vocal delivery is particularly engaging.
8. “Hunt Your Love Down” – Royal and The Southern Echo. This bass-heavy folk-pop tune had a lot going for it, and then the horns kick in. Yes yes yes.
9. “Tulsa” – Pro Teens. This downtempo, relaxed psych-pop tune is named after my hometown, played by a band from my new city of residence (Phoenix). Chill in so many ways.
10. “Sims” – DROO. The battle between loopy casio-pop and skittering breakbeats creates a tune that isn’t quite either thing–neither aggressive nor relaxed, twee nor brittle. It’s an intermediate state. Very unique and interesting.
11. “Petal” – Hovvdy. If you’re into sleepy, rainy-day emo/indie, Hovvdy has a delicious slice of it for you.
12. “Beds” – Sierra Blanca. Just nails it: the sleepy folk vibe, the subtle bass groove, the world-weary vocals, the warm organ, the barely-there background vocals, they’re all there. Just great stuff.
13. “Leave It to Fate” – Emily Magpie. Delicate fingerpicked guitar, soaring vocals, tom-heavy drums, and wubby electro bass make for a unique, intriguing folk tune.
14. “Welcome to Being Human” – ODDA. A floating, lithe indie singer/songwriter track with a bits of Jonsi, Sufjan, and Frightened Rabbit mixed in.
1. “Holding Hands” – The Magic Lantern. Sometimes something comes along that has such a fresh perspective on things that I don’t have clear genre labels for it. Saxophones are lead players here, as well as Jamie Doe’s confident vocals. It’s sort of indie rock, I guess, or maybe indie-pop, or maybe deconstructed-acoustic-Bon Iver-type stuff. The song expands with a drum kit and grumbling bass, tying some of its beautiful meandering to a beat. But it never loses its beautiful quality. Totally wild. Highly recommended.
2. “Baltimore (Sky at Night)” – Kevin Morby. Morby is an even more expansive, good-natured, easygoing Josh Ritter. This song sounds like Morby’s sitting on the back porch and also the Silver Bullet band is somehow with him there too.
3. “Before This There Was Everything” – Big City Cough. Here’s six minutes of rolling, exploratory instrumental acoustic guitar with an occasional supplemental instrument or two. If you need a moment of zen amid the chaos of your day, here’s an option.
4. “In a Galaxy Far Away” – Mixtaped Monk. This ambient track is much less Star Wars and much more Hubble Space Telescope: a swirling aura of pad synths featuring subtle motion and development.
5. “Idea of Order at Kyson Point” – Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno. Keys tumble over keys like a babbling brook or a tiny waterfall, a cascade of pure, lovely sound that soothes and excites.
6. “Summer Is Away” – Easy Wanderlings. This delicate, gently dramatic acoustic folk tune has overtones of Joshua Radin, Billy Joel, Paul Simon and more. It’s a lovely, lilting tune.
7. “Where the Morning Glories Grow” – Dear Nora. It’s a testament to both the original songwriting and the brand-new arrangement that this 100-year-old folk tune sounds fresh, vibrant, and relevant in 2017 at the hands of Dear Nora. The vocal style and the clear respect for the subject material really make the tune what it is.
8. “Third Time” – The Flowerscents. The guitar-forward alt-country of the Old ’97s crossed with the vocals-forward approach of ’90s Brit-pop creates a thoroughly entertaining rock song.
9. “Him” – Silver Liz. The song opens with reverb-laden vocals of indie-pop layered on top of minimalist drumming and sawing synth before expanding into a ghostly-yet-towering indie-rock arrangement. Then it dramatically disappears. We barely knew ye.
10. “Cold Caller” – Julia Jacklin. The best of the ’50s revival filtered through hazy indie vocals and deeply confessional lyrics about the uncertainties of growing older and having different responsibilities. The video is oddly, endearingly intimate.
11. “December” – Yumi Zouma. Feathery, new-wave-inflected indie-rock that seems to glide along effortlessly.
12. “Infinite Space” – Young Mister. Young Mister is leaning into the pejorative term “soft rock” by titling his new EP with it. I must say, it’s not a bad term to describe YM’s music (especially if you stripped all the connotations out and just went with denotations). This particular track is a little more soft than rock, as bandleader Steven Fiore focuses the tune on an acoustic guitar and his lazy, hazy vocal performance. It’s a warm, inviting track.
13. “When January Comes” – Greta Stanley. The uplift that rushes in with the chorus makes this feel like a spring wind breaking across a wintry field. (Although, because Stanley is Australian, this sonic interpretation doesn’t fit with the lyrics–January is summer down under.) It’s an impressive, exciting folk tune that includes a big, post-rock-esque conclusion.
14. “Old Kisses” – Dan Michaelson. A lovely, sweeping, dramatic singer/songwriter tune that uses strings in a way that doesn’t feel maudlin or tired. It’s also really, really sad, but you probably guessed that from the title.
1. “Good Advice (feat. Jeff Goldblum)” – FEVERHIGH. Come for the “what? for real? Jeff Goldblum?” (Yes, it actually is.) Stay for the female-fronted, Fatboy Slim-esque dance music.
2. “Window” – Magic Giant. The folk-pop-rave mash-ups that Magic Giant creates are just ludicrously fun. Add to this a simply ridiculous (in the best of ways) music video and you’ve got a undeniably fun experience waiting for you.
3. “Gentleman” – The Curious. Thank goodness that the UK turns out a steady stream of perky guitar-rock bands a la the Arctic Monkeys and The Vaccines. This tune has crisp, chiming guitars and soaring vocals in spades.
4. “Eliza” – Lauran Hibberd. Fans of Laura Stevenson’s blend of folk, indie-pop, and indie-rock will immediately recognize the enthusiastic songwriting of this track. Hibberd’s sensibilities are finely tuned here to pull in the best of each genre and discard the overdone elements of each. The result is a sort of super-charged Regina Spektor or a new tour mate for Stevenson.
5. “Move On” – The Brixton Riot. This punchy, high-quality guitar-rock that is carefully written, perfectly played, and expertly engineered (J. Robbins). It’s crunchy without being relying on distortion as a crutch. The vocal performance is stellar as well.
6. “Opinionated” – New Luna. Reminds me of old-school Bloc Party: frenetic vocals, carefully constructed rock arrangements reminiscent of late-night urban environs, and a healthy dose of paranoia.
7. “35 Year Olds Dancin’” – Romeo Dance Cheetah. Being closer to 35 than to 18, I appreciate this fantastic glam rock parody of the not-so-pretty transition from hipster to hip injury.
8. “Aphrodite” – Zorita. Try to create a triangulation between ska, klezmer, and indie-rock, and you’ll end up with this svelte, suave track. The low-toned vocals in the chorus are evocative and addictive.
9. “Big G” – Neosho. Here’s a really fascinating mix of spacey synths, trap-inspired beats, electro-pop vibes, lush instrumental arrangements, and rhythmic vocals. The band pulls off this unusual sound in a totally sophisticated and impressive way.
10. “For the Last Time” – Two Sets of Eyes. Mashes together the plaintive emotion of ’00s emo, the saxophone of smooth jazz, the cascading guitars of indie rock, and a few surprises I won’t spoil into an impressive, unique stew. I’m very excited for their future work.
1. “JUNGLES” – Rina Mushonga. The sort of exciting, carefully-crafted electro-pop tune that always has one more trick up its sleeve, from Mushonga’s engrossing vocals to unexpected synth melodies to sudden stop-start mechanics and more.
2. “Eghass Malan” – Les Filles de Illighadad. An all-female trio from Niger, they create music in the tende genre: it’s desert music, shifting, sinuous guitar work over stripped-down percussion. The vocals are impressive as well. This will appeal to people who like West African sounds, sitar (the melodic structures bear a resemblance), and adventurous listening.
3.The Wave– Los Colognes. This is a 43-minute long continuous video for a whole album. It’s such a gutsy, unusual move that the sheer audacity alone is enough to get it on this list. The space-rock-meets-psych-flutes indie rock of the opening track is a convincing bit as well.
4. “Bombay – Nairobi – London (Repeater)” – Holy ’57. Alex Mankoo’s exuberant indie-pop project makes a left turn on this track, a groove-heavy fusion of worldbeat, funk, and electro-indie capped off by a horns-waving brass line. The lyrics are an interview with Mankoo’s grandmother about her immigration to London (as reflected in the title). You haven’t heard anything like this in a while.
5. “Scarlet Fever” – Skye Wallace. The lyrics are about long-distance love in the steamboat/gold rush era, but the music is 100% mid-to-late-’00s hyper-enthusiastic indie-rock. Anyone who still pines for Ida Maria will absolutely love this track. It’s a total blast.
6. “Big Boys Don’t Cry” – Melissa Bel. Fans of the ’50s pop revival that seems to have been percolating for years but never hitting critical mass will enjoy the Meghan Trainor-esque tune here. The handclaps, hammering piano and skronking bari sax all pitch-perfect, while Bel’s vocals are thoroughly modern.
7. “We’re Alive” – Rivera. The chorus of this tune features the sort of well-written hook that I find myself humming absent-mindedly days later. It’s a pop song, but it doesn’t go for the “big anthemic explosion” type of chorus–there’s some subtlety involved, which I like. h
8. “No More Stones” – Oh Geronimo. Sort of like a cross between Manchester Orchestra and Frightened Rabbit, this song dances back and forth over the minor/major key line. The alternating moods of jubilance and melancholy create a fascinating blend.
9. “Americo” – Americo. A poem about WWII spoken against a solemn, pensive, keys-led post-rock backdrop. Americo is mostly a distortion-laden rock band, which only makes this atypical, impressive track stand out even more.
10. “Song of the Highest Tower” – Cut Worms. Sounds like the lost link between Simon & Garfunkel/America-era folk and mid-nineties lo-fi indie-rock, which is pretty rad.
11. “Never Be” – Meg McRee. Close harmonies in an almost rap-sung style over a turbulent adult-alternative arrangement create a tune that’s close to an alternate-universe Jason Mraz song.
12. “Bus” – Woochia. Starts off with a hypnotic acoustic guitar line and slowly turns into a smooth, bass-heavy instrumental electro track. The marriage between the electronic and acoustic is impressive here.
1. “Anywhere, Everywhere” – The Singer and the Songwriter. This is top-shelf folk-pop that draws on all the tropes that make folk-pop so good but puts the band’s own spin on it. (Those vocals! Those stuttering horns!) Highly recommended.
2. “My God Has a Telephone” – The Flying Stars of Brooklyn NY. Impressively enveloping low-key indie-soul, like a slowed-down Alabama Shakes or an acoustified Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. Fans of Otis Redding and all that went on around him will love this track.
3. “Restless” – Common Jack. The confident folk swagger of Josh Ritter, the punchy melodies of the Lumineers, and a large dose of indie-pop enthusiasm create this fantastically fun song.
4. “Over There” – Dori Freeman. Trad-folk can sound a bit too dedicated to the past, but Freeman manages to evoke old-timey sounds and yet stay modern. Her clear vocals help, as does the immediate, bright recording style. If you like contemporary folk but can’t stand washboard, Freeman is a bridge between the two worlds.
5. “Wailing Wall” – Cameron Blake. A swirling pool of strings forms the backdrop for this emotional, dramatic singer/songwriter tune. Blake’s skills as an arranger and lyricist are on display here, as neither the standard piano or guitar lead the way; instead it’s just his voice, a small choir, and strings that lead the listener through.
6. “Get On” – The Northern Folk. Less satire and more bitter commentary, this folk tune swings punches left and right. Between the acid delivery of the lead vocals, the angry lyrics, a roaring vocalization section, and the unusual addition of saxophone into the horn section, this song has bite to spare. The horns do smooth it out a bit, in a jazzy way, but this one’s about being punchy.
7. “Gaudy Frame” – Monk Parker. More lazy, hazy, easygoing country for people who deeply miss Clem Snide.
8. “I Root (Trio Version)” – Michael Nau. The arrangement of a folk tune filtered through the melodic lines and recording style of a Beatles song results in a dignified, melancholy piece.
9. “Here We Are Again” – Ella Grace. This walking-speed alt-folk tune makes hand percussion sound intimate and personal instead of all of its other connotations. It also includes bird noises, gentle guitar, and Denton’s careful, almost speak-singing vocal performance. This will calm you down if you need it.
10. “Broken Bow, OK” – Aaron Rester. Fun fact: My home state of Oklahoma has a town called Broken Arrow and a town called Broken Bow, and they’re not next to each other. This alt-country/folk tune references the smaller of the two amid gravelly vocals, swooping fiddle, and plunking piano. The compelling tune lives in Americayana, an “alt-country/Americana retelling of the ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana.” Whoa.
11. “Sorry” – M.R. Bennett. Fragile, delicate, and yet ruggedly determined, this spartan apology (just occasionally plucked guitar notes, Antony and the Johnsons-esque vocals, and yearning strings for the majority) is on a sonic plane all its own.
12. “Motion in Field” – Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno. Rogerson contributes the delicate, exploratory piano elegance; Eno contributes the pulsing, sweeping arpeggiator work. The marriage of the two is luscious. (Fun fact: I’ve only used the word “luscious” two previous times in Independent Clauses’ 14 years.)
The downtempo indie-pop/folk of Little Shrine‘s “Stone” sounds way too polished and mature to come out of a debut. But what seems incredible is true, much to the listener’s benefit. The tune opens with a stark, staccato acoustic guitar that hooked my attention immediately; instead of filling the song with strums, the band lets space ring out. The feel is almost of a mournful stutter or hesitance.
That guitar announces the tune’s solemnity right from the get-go, creating a fitting mood for the lyrics of loss and redemption to further accentuate. When the song expands to include a second guitar, a wavering violin picks up the staccato motif to tie the song together. It’s not just a sign of impressive arrangement, it’s a clear marker of strong chemistry between the players.
It’s not all instrumental synchrony, though. Songwriter/vocalist Jade Shipman’s confident alto resonates with calm-yet-emotional melodic lines. Her voice, the lyrics, and the tight instrumental arrangement result in a song that sounds like a lot less work than it certainly was: it rolls out of the speakers with ease, despite the heavy subject matter. Fans of Laura Marling, Laura Gibson, and Cat Power will find much to love in this track.
“Stone” comes from the band’s Wilderness mini-LP, whichdrops 10/20/2017. Check out the latest news on their Facebook.
Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.