1. Darwin Deez – “Bad Day”
Darwin Deez is a mystical creature I came upon a few years ago. This guy has this sound like he’s creating these songs by himself in the comfort of his own bedroom, but they’re so clean and catchy that this has to be impossible. His songs are simple and they always have some sort of beat and awesome guitar riff going on. His voice is unique but again, very unflashy. I can never get enough of him. This song is from an older album, but he just released an album in late September that I suggest you check out.
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (JR JR) – “War Zone”
Back in the day when I first joined this lovely group of writers, one of my first assignments was to review the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. album The Speed of Things. This song has stuck with me ever since. It’s not a main track, but it’s just a feel good tune. Maybe it’s the trumpets or the fun beat, either way, it always gets my spirits up.
3. The 1975 – “Love Me”
The band I have way too big of a crush on is back for more, with their first single in a long time, “Love Me.” It’s reeking of ’80s pop this time around. They have mentioned before that they take a lot of influence from that decade in their music, saying that they’re here to change pop music even if that means taking a step back in time. “Love Me” has got an irresistible snare going on and a great guitar solo, too.
4. Hayley Kiyoko – “Cliff’s Edge”
Ever since her music video “Girls Like Girls” went viral, Hayley Kiyoko has been under everyone’s radar. She’s a hip indie-pop kind of artist that is just the sound everyone is enjoying right now. This song is from the same EP, called This Side of Paradise. It’s a little less peppy than her single, but it rocks my socks off anyway with it’s brooding beginning and a haunting beat.
5. Hellogoodbye – “(Everything Is) Debatable”
So one day I thought I’d take a little visit to my band as a young emo tween ‘cause I haven’t heard anything from them in a while. Hellogoodbye is the artist behind the 8th grade dance smash hit “Here in Your Arms,” and when I went to their latest music which was from 2013, this gem came up. It sounds totally different than what I’m used to from them, but it’s catchy nonetheless.
6. Devendra Banhart – “Baby”
Devendra Banhart is someone I would want to be my friendly uncle, I think. It seems like all the music he makes is gentle and playful, even the songs that have a somewhat serious note, like he’s not actually mad. I think “Baby” shows what I’m trying to tell perfectly. It’s also one of his more popular songs. The guitar sound he’s using, in addition to his lumberjack voice, creates a very soothing atmosphere.
7. Elliot Brood – “The Valley Town”
With a Noah and the Whale-esque sound, Elliot Brood takes things into simpler forms with their ukuleles in hand and four chords with “The Valley Town.” All I really have to say about it is it makes me feel great and these two gentlemen sing like they’re one person, and that’s pretty awesome.
8. Bright Eyes – “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”
Probably one of the best opening keyboard notes I’ve ever heard in a song, “Lover I Don’t Have To Love” is an angsty favorite of mine. Looking back at this album, I want to say that Bright Eyes was one of the catalysts in making really long track titles. That aside, this song has genius and so does lead singer and writer Conor Oberst. The drum beat, the violins in the chorus, pretty much just everything going on, this song is, if I dare say, one of the greatest written songs of my time.
9. Fleet Foxes – “Grown Ocean”
There will always be a spot in my heart for the Fleet Foxes, and let me just keep hoping (even though they have stated multiple times it won’t happen) that they’ll get back together by the work of some miracle. This track is the last song on their last album as a group. It’s more fast-paced and has some wicked vocal harmonies at the end.
10. Dog Is Dead – “Do the Right Thing”
I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon Dog Is Dead, but they sort of sound like if Grizzly Bear and Local Natives had a bright, peppy baby band. That was definitely a poor way of describing it but it’s the only thing I could think of. This track is happy and it gives me a little motivation to “do the right thing.”