Category: Indie Pop

20-something Aledo, TX-born, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Sloan Struble is the creative mastermind behind the rapidly rising, critically applauded indie rock/indie pop project Dayglow. The project can trace its origins to Struble’s teenaged years, growing up in a Fort Worth suburb that he has referred to as a “small football-crazed town,” where he felt irrevocably out of place. Aesthetically and thematically, the project finds Struble crafting material centered around a hard fought, hard won optimism.

Much like countless other hopelessly out of place young people across the globe, Struble turned to music as an escape from his surroundings. “I didn’t really feel connected to what everyone else in my school was into, so making music became an obsession for me, and sort of like therapy in a way,” Struble said in press notes. “I’d dream about it all day in class, and then come home and for on songs instead of doing homework. After a while I realized I’d made an album.”

Working completely on his own with a minuscule collection of gear that included his guitar, his computer and some secondhand keyboards he picked up at Goodwill, Struble worked on transforming his privately kept outpouring into a batch of songs — often grandiose in scale. “Usually artists will have demos they’ll bounce off other people to get some feedback, but nobody except for my parents down the hall really heard much of the album until I put it out,” Struble recalled. With the self-release of 2018’s Fuzzybrain, the Aledo-born, Austin-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer received widespread attention and an ardent online following — with countess listeners praising the material’s overwhelming positivity. 

In 2019, Struble re-released a fully realized version of Fuzzybrain that featured Can I Call You Tonight,” a track that wound up being a smash-hit lat year, as well as two previously unreleased singles “Nicknames” and “Listerine.” With the two new singles, the album further establishes Struble’s reputation for illuminating emotional pain in a way that not only deeply resonates with listeners but while managing to make that emotional pain feel lighter. 

Struble kicked off 2021 with the infectious and sugary pop confection “Close to You,” a track indebted to 80s synth-led soul — in particular Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald‘s “On My Own” Cherelle’s and Alexander and O’Neal‘s “Saturday Love” and other duets, but imbued with an aching melancholy and uncertainty. He then made his national late night TV debut on Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he, along with his backing band, played “Can I Call You Tonight.

Continuing upon that momentum, Struble’s highly-anticipated Dayglow sophomore album Harmony House is slated for a May 21, 2021 release through his own Very Nice Records and AWAL. He’d been writing new material after the release of Fuzzybrain and at the time, he found himself drawn to piano-driven soft rock from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Simultaneously, he was also watching a lot of Cheers at the time. “At the very beginning, I was writing a soundtrack to a sitcom that doesn’t exist,” Struble recalls. And while actively attempting to generate nostalgia for something that hadn’t ever been real — as well as something most of his listeners had never really experienced — the album’s material thematically is about growing up and coping with change as an inevitable part of life.

“Woah Man,” Harmony House‘s third and latest single is a carefully crafted, slow-burning ballad. Featuring an airy, soft rock-inspired arrangement of strummed acoustic guitar, electric guitar and atmospheric synths, “Woah Man” is centered around lyrics informed by personal experience and newly acquired wisdom — and Struble’s unerring knack for writing an incredibly memorable hook. Interestingly, the song reveals a young artist, who is readily accepting that the only certain thing in life is change and that moving forward often means letting go and experiencing the ride for better or worse.

“’Woah Man’ is one of my favorite songs I’ve written so far. I initially wrote it for a friend who was going through a hard time, but then later realized that I was really writing about myself,” Struble explains in press notes. “In the middle of so much change, growth, and responsibility, I found myself feeling a lot of pressure. After months of feeling like I had the world on my shoulders and that I was growing up too fast, I realized that in order to grow, you have to move on sometimes. You have to let some things go. And for me, what I needed to let go of was the feeling of being in control of everything. I had to let go of holding on (very meta, I know). I just remember finishing the song and feeling so much relief and clarity about who I am becoming. The song has continued to help me through so many different stages of growth in my life— I hope it does the same for you.”

New Video: Rising Vancouver Duo IAMTHELIVING and Teon Gibbs Release a Hilarious VIsual for Two-Step Inducing Bop “Boxes”

Rian Peters is a rising London-born, Vancouver-based soul vocalist, best known in music circles as IAMTHELIVING. As a child Peters green up listening to the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince and Steve Wonder — all of which have influenced his work. Following his musical destiny, Peters relocated to Vancouver, where he’s developed and honed a distinct yet versatile sound.

Teon Gibbs is a rising Botswana-born, emcee and producer, who as a child spent time living in South Africa, Angola and the UK before eventually settling in Vancouver. As an artist and producer, Gibbs has developed and honed a sound and approach that blurs genre lines.

The duo met in their adoptive hometown and quickly started a successful collaboration that resulted in a handful of attention grabbing singles including “Puppa” and “Between The Groove” and “The Distance,” which quickly established the duo’s sound — a dance floor friendly mix of 90s R&B and 2000s British R&B. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the duo will be releasing their seven-song debut EP together JNGL. Slated for release in June 2, 2021 release through Tiny Kingdom Music, the EP reportedly finds the duo continuing to craft dance floor friendly pop based on a meeting of the minds between two artists from very different yet simultaneously very similar backgrounds.

“We wanted to create a project that embodies who we are, where we’re from, and shows what we can do. The word “JNGL” just seemed to capture it all. Being from Botswana, the word jungle has followed me around my entire life, and IAMTHELIVING is originally from South London, which is the concrete jungle – this project is those worlds meeting…” Gibbs explains in press notes. ” “The sounds on this project are big and diverse but at the same time we really took a grassroots approach to making it, I think that’s why even though the sound fills the room it can still resonate with the listener’s core.”

But along with making folks hit the dance floor, the duo collaboration is fueled by their desire to lead by example for other Black voices to connect in their city. “We really feel like we’ve created our own little lane and we can really shed light on how dope the Vancouver music scene is,” the duo say.

JNGL’s latest single, “Boxes” prominently pairs IAMTHELIVING’s silky smooth croon and Gibbs’ dexterous and dense wordplay and laid-back delivery over a vibey, two-step inducing production featuring a sinuous bass line, twinkling Rhodes, shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats and an infectious hook that may remind listeners of Montell Jordan’s “Get It On Tonite.”

Directed by Joseph Carney, the recently released video for “Boxes” is a gorgeously shot yet hilarious send-up of love, delusion (perhaps influenced by drugs and drink), longing, heartbreak and cruel rejection.

Lyric Video: Rising Paris-based Pop Artist Jenn Sarkis Releases an Infectious Feminist Anthem

Rising Paris-based singer/songwriter and pop artist Jenn Sarkis is a true global citizen with her music influences informed by her Lebanese upbringing, French education and a childhood spent in the United Arab Emirates — and her longing to define her own sense of identity.

Sarkis emerged in 2016 with her debut single “Breaking Boundaries,” which received airplay from Virgin Radio and playlisting on Spotify New Talent. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding her, the Paris-based pop artist released her debut EP, 2017’s Stay, which featured “Here We Go Again.”

The Paris-based pop artist’s full-length debut is forthcoming — and in the meantime, she released the album’s first single, “When A Girl Says No,” strutting and defiant feminist anthem, seemingly rooted in lived-in personal experience an featuring a slick club thumping and radio friendly production with thumping beats, squiggling Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, a sinuous bass line, Sarkis’ self-assured, take no prisoners and take no bullshit delivery and a rousingly anthemic hook. On multiple listens, I could easily envision the women in my life shouting along to the song while pregaming for a night out, while driving, when hearing the song in the club and so on.

“When a Girl Says No,” was written to support to the woman across the world, who are speaking up and screaming out “we’ve had enough!” — and then going out to change the world.

New Audio: mxmtoon Releases an Atmospheric Cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”

Maia is an Oakland-born and-New York-based singer/songwriter, YouTuber, gamer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project mxmtoon. The 20-something artist, who’s Chinese-American on her mother’s side and German and Scottish on her father’s side — but culturally, she grew up Chinese-American. The Oakland-born, New York-based artist became interested in music at a very young age: her brother took violin lessons and while in first grade, Maia joined him. A few years later, she began playing classical cello and trumpet.

When Maia was in fifth grade, she auditioned for her school rock band. Expecting to audition to cello, she was asked to sing Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and wound up joining as a vocalist, eventually singing Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.” The following year, her father taught to play guitar. The Oakland-born, New York-based first used the name mxmtoon on her Instagram account, where she drew cartoon sketches for her followers.

While in junior high school things got interesting: she started her YouTube channel and began playing the ukulele. She wrote her first song when she was 13, eventually recording her original material in her parents’ guest bedroom, creating percussion tracks with hair straighteners and GarageBand. In 2017, she began releasing her songs on YouTube as mxmtoon. After somewhat unsuccessfully attempting to write comedy songs, she started to write sincere martial that embodied her emotions and feelings.

Although she initially released material secretly to the public, Maia was compelled to tell her friends and family after her work started to go viral. Singles like “feelings are fatal,” “Falling For U,” a collaboration with Japanese producer Peachy have amassed over 55 million and 40 million Spotify streams respectively since their release. Maia released her mxmtoon debut 2018’Ss Plum Blossom EP to critical applause from the likes of Earmilk, i-D and Hypebeast — with the EP eventually amassing over 100 million Spotify streams by the following year.

After graduating from high school, the acclaimed Oakland-born, New York-based artist took a gap year to focus on music and on touring: Her first tour, which was initially scheduled for five US shows with fellow Californian Khai Dream wound up being extended to a full-fledged tours of North America and Europe, including opening for fellowYouTuber Cavetown in the UK. Last year continued an enviable run of success for the 20 something artist: she released her full-length debut the masquerade and its follow-up dawn and dusk EP to critical applause while singles like “prom dress,” “bon river” and “fever dream” were certified Gold by the RIAA.

So far, the 20-something artist has amassed over 500 million steams and more than 4 million followers including 1.4 million on TikTok, 846,000 on YouTube, 1.2 million on Spotify and 207,00 on Twitch, where she battled Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez in a live-streamed game of Among Us, which wound up being the first largest Twitch stream in its history. Interestingly, the past year has also seen Maia relocate to New York — and she made her NPR Tiny Desk debut, filming her set on the world’s largest desk.

Adding to a rather busy period, the 20-something artist and avid gamer announced her involvement in the next installment of the highly-anticipated Deck Night Games created, Square Enix published gaming series, Life Is Strange, titled Life Is Strange: True Colors. Maia will provide the singing voice for the game’s central character Alex Chen and provides musical backdrop for the game. Additionally, she contributes to the Life Is Strange soundtrack with a hauntingly cover of Radiohead’s beloved smash hit “Creep,” that replaces then guitars of the original with atmospheric electronics while retaining the song’s familiar melody. The end result is a cover that finds the 20-something artist grabbing hold of and pulling out the song’s desperate isolation, longing and self-deprecation in an eerie direction.

“Really excited to share my cover of ‘Creep’ by Radiohead!” mxmtoon says in press notes. “It’s nerve-wracking to make your own version of such an iconic and established song, but ‘Creep’ is a classic and i had so much fun being able to put my own spin on it. Hopefully other people can be inspired to make versions of their own favorite songs and put them out in the world to share as well.”

Steven Bamidele is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, has been developing and honing his sound and approach for the better part of the past decade, beginning his career performing as Mirror Signal between 2013 and 2017. In 2017, he decided to drop the moniker, to write and record with his real given name and his Nigerian mother’s maiden name. But regardless of what he called himself, the Brighton-based singer/songwriter has focused on crafting emotionally-driven music that meshes elements of soul and pop.

Bamidele relocated to Brighton back in 2018 and over the following year, he played as many shows as humanly possible, earning a foothold in both Brighton and London. With the COVID-19 pandemic putting live music at an indefinite pause, the Brighton-based artist has been busy producing music for other artists in home studio, as well as working on new, original music — including his debut EP, which is slated for release later this year through Park The Van. (I should mention that Bamidele is the first non-rock signee to the label, as well.)

In the meantime, Bamidele’s latest single “What Happens Afterwards,” features Dave Bryce on an expansive, slow-burning, neo-soul-inspired track centered around twinkling Rhodes, shimmering synths, a sinuous two-step-inducing strutting groove, Bamidele’s achingly tender falsetto. Interestingly, the song is a heady mix of longing, wishful thinking, regret and a desire to move forward that captures how complicated and confusing love and lust can be.

New Video: Sarah Walk Releases a Cinematic and Feverish Visual for Her Cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U”

Sarah Walk is a rising Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist who currently splits her time between Los Angeles and London. Walk’s full-length debut, 2017’s Steve Brown-produced Little Black Book found the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist crafting piano-based ballads.

Last year’s Leo Abrahams-produced sophomore album, Another Me was a radical change in sonic direction for the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist with the album’s material finding Walk going towards shimmering and contemplative synth pop centered around percussive arrangements and soaring melodies. Another Me was inspired by a period of immense challenge and transformation, and thematically, the album touched upon marginalization, survival, death, misogyny, vulnerability, reclamation of oneself, learning how to be bold and take up space and the unique challenges of being a queer woman.

The Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist follows up the release of Another Me with a slow-burning and spectral cover of Prince‘s “Nothing Compares 2 U” centered around atmospheric synths, twinkling keys, brief and subtle bursts of strummed guitar, Walk’s achingly tender vocals and supple and soulful bass lines. Featuring guest spots from Abe Rounds and the acclaimed singer/songwriter and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, Walk’s cover deconstructs the song’s melody but in doing so, pulls out the song’s bitter loneliness, yearning, confusion but imbuing the proceedings with a complete detail and inability to move forward.

Walk has wanted to cover Prince for some time — partially because she’s a Minneapolis native; but also because Rounds and Ndegeocello played at the Purple One’s Paisley Park studio in the past. “Truthfully, it had been a really long time since I heard ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’” Walk says in press notes,” and I thought that may work in my favour — I didn’t want to get too inside the other versions that already existed because I wanted to make sure I approached it my own way.

“I recorded the main wurly piano part first and sort of just improvised that ending build up – I liked the idea of repeating the title over and over, almost trance-like, with these ominous chords and angry guitar sounds building up behind it. I kept seeing this visual of me singing that repetitive lyric on stage, almost trying to convince myself I was okay… while the curtain opened up behind me without me knowing it, exposing all of the memories and anger and heartbreak I was really feeling but not able to accept or admit yet.”

“Sometimes I think Prince would want everyone to play his music and sometimes I think he’d want it to never be played again, but I knew Sarah was the kind of spirit who would make it her own and she does,” Meshell Ndgeocello adds.

Directed and edited by Daniel Smith Coleman, the recently released video for Walk’s cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” is a slow-burning and cinematic fever dream of loneliness, regret and loss — all while nodding a bit at Memento with some of the video’s occurring in reverse.

New Audio: Los Angeles’ Bass Race Releases a Space-Age Take on Neo-Soul

Los Angeles-based indie pop act Bass Race — Steven Mertens and Laura Benack — features a highly accomplished duo: Mertens formed his first band Satan’s Rats when he was 13 with elementary school friends. That project led to two decades of tours and collaborations. After studying Studio Composition at SUNY Purchase, Mertens joined The Moldy Peaches in 2001 — and he eventually went on to direct videos for an eclectic array of artists including Regina Spektor, Lil Peep, Benee and Sheryl Crow. He has also collaborated with Blood Orange and Here We Go Magic. Benack, who started playing piano when she turned four comes from a deeply musical family: her grandfather was a bandleader, her mom is a vocalist and her father and brother are jazz musicians.

Mertens and Benack met in New York back in 2010. They started dating and immediately started a musical partnership, centered around their love of their craft — and of course, each other. With the help of friends and Benack’s brother on trumpet, they made a bunch of music videos, including for “Clowns Everywhere.” Determined to use every bit of their collective talents, they began combining their music with Mertens’ visual art in 2019 with Bass Race’s Instagram page, which fans have described as “magical” and “super amazing mega fantabulous.”

While the duo cites yacht rock, synth pop, jazz, funk and soul as influencing their sound and aesthetic, their latest single “Chasing the Sun” is a warm and easygoing retro-futuristic, neo-soul number featuring an infectious two-step inducing groove featuring twinkling Rhodes, shimming rhythm guitar, stuttering boom bap-like drumming, a sinuous bass line. Adding to the easy-going yet retro-futuristic vibes, Benack soulfully and suggestively sings lyrics full of playful space age double entendres and references.

“We were in Pittsburgh a couple years ago over Christmas to see my family and we visited our good friend Pete Mudge (Nice Rec) in his studio along with our friends Laura Herrmann and Blane Britt (GrandEar),” the duo recalls in press notes.”There was a snow storm, and it was freezing. Once we were inside, we started to warm up and Pete played us some beats he had been working on. When we heard the track that would soon become ‘Chasing the Sun,’ we all started smiling right away. The creativity started flowing and within a couple hours, I had recorded all the vocals and Steven laid down some guitars. The gray weather definitely inspired the song title, but the song lyrics detail the arduous process of overcoming writer’s block and chasing creative inspiration.”

The duo created a space-age visualizer that follows Benack and an amorphous, cosmic being traveling through space and time in a spaceship — and there’s the sense that our space traveling duo is grooving through the cosmos, as you might be while playing the song.

The duo’s latest album Tender Vittles is slated for a March 19, 2021 release.

New Audio: Montreal’s Ormiston Releases a Breezy and Funky Daft Punk-like Single

Nicola Ormiston is a Montreal-based singer/songwriter and producer, who steps out into the limelight as a solo artist with his recording project Ormiston. Ormiston’s debut single “Rebel” is a shimmering disco-tinged track centered around Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a strutting bass line, glistening synths and an infectious hook. And while the Montreal-based artist cites Toro Y Moi and MGMT as influences on his sound and work, “Rebel” to my ears at least, brings Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk to mind — in particular, the equally infectious and summery “Get Lucky.”

Ironically, the song’s breezy and infectious nature, “Rebel” possesses subtle yet very dark undertones. As Ormiston explains in press notes. “‘Rebel’ is a song about a turbulent relationship between two lovers,” the sort of passionate relationship that brings out the best and worst out of the people within it.


Sarah Walk is a rising Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist who currently splits her time between Los Angeles and London. Walk’s full-length debut, 2017’s Steve Brown-produced Little Black Book found the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist crafting piano-based ballads.

Last year’s Leo Abrahams-produced sophomore album, Another Me was a radical change in sonic direction for the Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist with the album’s material finding Walk going towards shimmering and contemplative synth pop centered around percussive arrangements and soaring melodies. Another Me was inspired by a period of immense challenge and transformation, and thematically, the album touched upon marginalization, survival, death, misogyny, vulnerability, reclamation of oneself, learning how to be bold and take up space and the unique challenges of being a queer woman.

The Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter and keyboardist follows up the release of Another Me with a slow-burning and spectral cover of Prince‘s “Nothing Compares 2 U” centered around atmospheric synths, twinkling keys, brief and subtle bursts of strummed guitar, Walk’s achingly tender vocals and supple and soulful bass lines. Featuring guest spots from Abe Rounds and the acclaimed singer/songwriter and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, Walk’s cover deconstructs the song’s melody but in doing so, pulls out the song’s bitter loneliness, yearning, confusion but imbuing the proceedings with a complete detail and inability to move forward.

Walk has wanted to cover Prince for some time — partially because she’s a Minneapolis native; but also because Rounds and Ndegeocello played at the Purple One’s Paisley Park studio in the past. “Truthfully, it had been a really long time since I heard ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’” Walk says in press notes,” and I thought that may work in my favour — I didn’t want to get too inside the other versions that already existed because I wanted to make sure I approached it my own way. 
 
“I recorded the main wurly piano part first and sort of just improvised that ending build up – I liked the idea of repeating the title over and over, almost trance-like, with these ominous chords and angry guitar sounds building up behind it. I kept seeing this visual of me singing that repetitive lyric on stage, almost trying to convince myself I was okay… while the curtain opened up behind me without me knowing it, exposing all of the memories and anger and heartbreak I was really feeling but not able to accept or admit yet.”
 
“Sometimes I think Prince would want everyone to play his music and sometimes I think he’d want it to never be played again, but I knew Sarah was the kind of spirit who would make it her own and she does,” Meshell Ndgeocello adds.

Athens-born, Barcelona-based singer/songwriter, classically trained pianist and visual artist Evripdis Sabatis is the creative mastermind behind the solo recording project Evripidis and His Tragedies. The project, which finds the Athens-born, Barcelona-based multimedia artist crafting devastatingly confessional, self-deprecating and often darkly humorous pop songs centered around a queer sensibility can trace its origins back to 2004. When Sabatis relocated to Barcelona, the Greek-born multimedia artist started playing solo sets, accompanying himself on piano in small local bars before becoming a fixture in the local underground scene as a performer, DJ and independent promoter.

Since 2004, Sabatis has been rather busy. He has released four albums 2007’s self-titled debut, 2011’s A Healthy Dose of Pain, 2016’s Futile Games in Space and Time, 2019’s Mia Triti stin Cantina and an EP . . . And It Was Good While It Lasted Baby while also writing scores for short films. Those releases were primarily melancholy, piano-driven indie pop with a joyous beat, unconventional song structures, lush chord progressions and vocal harmonies that found Sabatis collaborating with an eclectic and diverse array of local and international artists, including Sarah P., The Magnetic Fields‘ LD Beghtol, and fellow Greek artist Nalyssa Green.

Sabatis has opened for internationally acclaimed artists like John Grant, Jens Lekman, Peter Bjorn and John and Arab Strap. Adding to a growing profile, he has toured internationally, playing shows in Spain, the UK, Germany, France, the US, Portugal, The Netherlands and his native Greece. The Greek multimedia artist has also made the rounds of the international festival circuit making stops at Primavera Sound Festival, FIB Festival, Indietracks, Eurosonic Nooderslag and Synch Festival.

The Athens-born, Barcelona-based multimedia artist’s fifth album Neos Kosmos reportedly finds Sabatis crating material that goes in a much more decidedly straightforward and sparse synth-driven direction with lyrics written and sung in English, Spanish and Greek while still displaying his immense love of Doo Pop, 60s girls groups, New Wave, indie pop and bedroom pop. The album’s latest single “Bitter,” which features guest vocals from The Ballet‘s Greg is a decidedly 80s inspired synth pop confection featuring shimmering synth arpeggios, a propulsive motorik groove, and a razor sharp yet infectious hook. Interestingly, “Bitter” reveals a songwriter, who has an uncanny ability to write a song that’s centered around complex and contradictory emotions: through heartfelt and earnest songwriting dripping with a bit of campy sarcasm, the song points out the fact that that love — and the search for love — can be fleeting, capricious, embittering and exhausting. And yet, love is so necessary that you can’t quite give up on it either.

“I wanted to convey a little bit of the feeling that The Smiths‘ songs gave me when I was younger — this mixture of romanticism, cynicism, and humor that is kind of camp, but also deeply heartfelt.,” Sabatis explains in press notes. “I am, after all, bitter and hopeful, grumpy and funny, all together at the same time, and I wanted to connect with those who feel these strong contradictions. I invited Greg to sing with me because I imagined an encounter of two like-minded souls who never give up on love. “