If the Beatles psychedelically strode across Pavement’s indie rock obscurity and checked into the Neutral Milk Hotel, the sonic result would groove in the same vein as McKay’s single, Unplugged.
The indie folk punk outpour of raw striking rancour inhibits nothing as the track veers from kaleidoscopic psychedelia to gritty instrumentation and lyrical volition that allows you to feel the inward visceral frustration that encompasses our inability to be a perfect portrait when the landscape that surrounds us warped by increasingly digital dystopia.
I’m pretty sure we can all relate to the exposition of how toxic dopamine habits compel us to stay hooked up to all the wrong lifebloods and leave us at further odds with ourselves. Given the evocative immersion Plugged provides, it is no surprise that McKay has become one of the hottest indie acts in the Nashville scene.
Plugged will debut on September 14; stream it on SoundCloud.
With tones that will do as much for your nostalgia-seeking soul as songs from The Beatles, The Maccabees, and The Violent Femmes, the debut album, Flowers Recomposing, from the Chicago-hailing alt-folk outfit No Lonesome is a Tour De Vintage Force.
Between the blissful timbres of the harmonies and the serotonin that spills from the foggy with euphoria horn stabs, the standout single on the album, It’s, is the perfect introduction to the ingenuity of No Lonesome, which can be tracked through the distinction in the production that melds the quirky intimacy lo-fi with higher fidelity instrumental recordings.
If you were under any illusion that fresh alchemy can’t be squeezed out of amalgamating folk, 60s psych-pop and indie Americana, the seminally sticky-sweet LP will prove you otherwise as soon as you slip into the hazy catharsis.
The debut album from No Lonesome is now available to stream via Spotify.
Bridging the sonic gap between Neutral Milk Hotel, Mumford and Sons, and Bob Dylan is the confessionally exhilarant indie folk single, Bad Liar, from the storytelling four-piece, McKay.
While the vocal melodies prove all too well that McKay know how to hit their harmonised vocal notes with euphonic precision and honed cadence, Bad Liar favours the visceralism of raw spoken word expression, allowing the meta lyrics to hit harder than a candid meteor from space.
With each progression, the single drifts from different eras of folk, while the harmonica timbre will throw you right back to the 70s, the folk-punk energy and massive indie folk choruses fast-forward through the decades at breakneck speed.
The Nashville-hailing outfit may be best known for their passionate performances during live shows, but thankfully, for all of us across the pond, their insightful lyricism and dynamic presence resonate just as well on record.
With subversive references to While My Guitar Gently Weeps in the lyrics and a touch of Neil Young to the lightly timbered sentimentality in the vocals, the standout single, The Final Hallelujah, from Number One Babe Team’s debut LP, See You Later, is a euphonic reverie of nostalgia, which more than has its place on contemporary airwaves.
As alluded to by the indie band’s moniker, Number One Babe Team doesn’t take itself too seriously, making their soundscapes, which also incorporate shoegaze-y guitars and touches of Elliott Smith in the songwriting, infinitely sweeter.
If Neutral Milk Hotel honeyed their soundscapes to the nth degree but still maintained the quaint humility, the result wouldn’t be too far removed from the sonic signature scribed by the Salt Lake City premier act, which has become an integral part of the touring circuit since their 2022 debut.
Stream the full LP, which hit the airwaves on June 9, via Spotify.
South Korea-based singer-songwriter, Gwac, unveiled the quiescent alt-indie-folk melancholy in his debut EP, MOHO, on December 19th. Narrating themes of loss, denial, regret and acceptance, the 4-track EP flows through the grief cycle, hitting the most visceral spot on track two, Stacks.
With hints of Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea paired with the monoculturalism-shattering world music motifs, innovation mellifluously spills. The accordance set up by the angular guitar work and woodwind instrumentals fed through torrid effects reflects the storms we weather before we arrive at a state of mind where we break through the listless frustration and arrive at a place of acquiescence.
“Throughout the making of this EP and digging through past experiences, I learned that sadness has a lot of dimensions for me. Some of the saddest memories are sometimes the most beautiful things I know. There’s no need to try and erase them or run from them. By just letting it be, I see a bit of light in my unsettling mind”.
On that note, Gwac’s mind may be one of the most beautiful things I’ve encountered in 2022. His tangible songwriting and instrumentally conceptual talents are one thing; his ability to recontextualise pain and share a brighter philosophical perspective with his listeners is fundamentally requisite in these times.
With an acoustic guitar intro that rings with the same evocative timbre as Neutral Milk Hotel’s Two-Headed Boy before bursting into an art-rock arrangement, AJ Elkin’s indie folk single, Breathe In Breathe Out,is an emotionally-charged extension of sanctity.
The Nada Surf-Esque lyricism that sympathises with the trials and tribulations of the modern age becomes efficaciously consoling against the rugged progressions. The US singer-songwriter clearly has a knack for creating connective music; we can’t wait to see where his compassion and songwriting tenacity takes him – he is undoubtedly one to watch.
Breathe In Breathe Out is now available to stream on YouTube.
The same uniquely captivating feeling that confounded in the raw and confessional sound of Frightened Rabbit and Neutral Milk Hotel can be found in the latest release from the UK singer-songwriter Alexander Joseph.
The acoustic version of Summertime Compass starts with a bluegrassy Americana sun-bleached timbre from the acoustic strings before the summertime serenade builds into an upbeat indie earworm with lyrics that can lighten any perspective on the forthcoming months.
The start of Summer is usually when I roll my eyes with all the trite singles that bubble at the surface of the airwaves but Alexander Joseph definitively proved that there’s some room for endearing originality left in that market after all.
The acoustic version of Summertime Compass will officially release on June 3rd. You can hear it for yourselves via Spotify.
With two EPs under their belt, the up and coming alt-indie sensation, Juliya, has unleashed their fever dream of a high-vibe low-fidelity track. Power Lines is as sonically boundary-less as Sonic Youth and Radiohead, and just as ruggedly sweet as Neutral Milk Hotel and Elliott Smith. And there is plenty of room for their garagey no-wave alchemy in between the reminiscences.
There’s scuzz by the smorgasbord, yet, that doesn’t get in the way of the grip of the angular indie guitar notes atop of all the discord. It may be a short and sweet track, but it’s also a sure-fire hit of serotonin in a sentimentally blissful alt-90s time capsule. With enough tracks in the same vein as Power Lines under their belt and the right attention, there is no reason Juilya couldn’t climb the indie charts with ease. Give them a hand on their ascent and stick them on your radar.
Power Lines is now available to stream on Spotify.
If you recognise Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane over the Sea as one of the greatest albums of all time, you will want to get acquainted with up and coming indie folk-rock singer-songwriter Rhett O’Connor.
Through his latest two-track single, I’m a Galactophagist/Untitled 31 Retry, O’Connor revives familiar folk-punk tones while adding plenty more accordance to the instrumentals while his dreamy vocals lull you into the visceral emotion caged in the acoustic soundscape.
Galactophagist and Untitled 31 Retry are just as sweet as the most honeyed singles from the Maccabees to add yet another layer to his colourfully sonorous sound; there is a slight cosmic kick in the melodies.
Rhett O’Connor’s new singles will be available to stream from October 8th via SoundCloud.
Philadelphian alt-rock 4-piece Sh’Bang defines themselves as sweeter than punk and heavier than rock, based on their single, Bail Money, taken from their 2020 EP, The Woman Who Changed the World, we affably agree.
Any fans of Neutral Milk Hotel, AJJ, Harley Poe and Amigo the Devil will get caught up in the soulfully eccentric eminence of the single that carries the energy of punk paired with their pretence-less passion that makes no bones about utilising abrasively honest expression.
If you turn to artists such as Social Distortion for your serotonin, you won’t know what has hit you when you hit play on Bail Money. The volatile single delivers the efficacious reminder that eternal conflict is perpetual in many minds; your angst doesn’t alienate you; it offers commonality.
Check out Sh’Bang’s latest EP, The Woman Who Changed the World, via apple music.