Welcome back to the Midweek Mixdown on bsideguys.com, your reliable pitstop for the discovery of potent, unconventional, and infectious sounds that break through the noise of mainstream music. This is where we draw back the curtain on an eclectic collection of tracks, carefully curated to awaken your senses in the middle of the week, serving as an oasis of fresh musical insight in the desert of the ordinary. With a blend of up-and-coming artists and established favorites, the Midweek Mixdown is your weekly dose of meticulously selected tunes, each with a unique story to tell. So sit back, get comfortable, and prepare to embark on a sonic journey that strays off the beaten path, bringing you the best music you’ve never heard. Let’s dive into this week’s assortment of auditory gems!
Subway Rat – “Rendezvous”
Dive into the bustling energy of “Rendezvous,” the debut track from New York City’s indie rocker, Subway Rat. Bearing a strong resemblance to the musical vitality of The Strokes and the pulsating danceability of LCD Soundsystem, this track seamlessly blends disco-infused drum patterns and earworm guitar riffs into an audacious love anthem. But it’s not all about the dance floor; beneath its effervescent surface, “Rendezvous” tells a story of longing, separation, and the desperate plea for a lover’s return. There’s a comforting nostalgia in Subway Rat’s (aka David Polanco) delivery that harks back to the classic rock choruses of Springsteen, making you want to chant along with the cathartic hook: “I want ya, yes I do. Come over, rendezvous.”
The poignant theme of the song is a nod to Subway Rat’s personal journey – a tumultuous breakup and an autism diagnosis. His ability to transform raw emotion into a rollicking indie anthem is a testament to his innate talent and resilience. There’s an infectious charm to the verses that pivot between yearning and the cheeky proposition of a “rendezvous.” Drawing on his influences from NYC’s vibrant music scene, Subway Rat molds his raspy voice and passionate storytelling into a musical narration that straddles the line between heartache and elation. There’s an earnestness in his lyrics, enhanced by the robust instrumental arrangement crafted by Grammy-winning engineers and producer Paco Lee. All in all, “Rendezvous” is a vibrant ode to the rollercoaster of emotions that heartbreak often brings, packaged in a joyous, dance-inducing tune that leaves you excited for Subway Rat’s musical journey ahead.
Coup Deville – “Run It Back On Me”
Buckle up and hit the road with Orange County-based Coup DeVille’s latest track, “Run It Back On Me”. This piece is an exhilarating ride through their blend of Southern Rock, Blues, and Soul. With its powerful, signature vocals and tightly constructed rhythm section, this song is an embodiment of the raw and resonant sound that the five-piece band has been cultivating in their basement jam sessions. The track, punctuated by deft guitar leads and solos, is as gritty and authentic as the bluesy lineage it derives from, with lyrics that unravel a compelling tale of heartbreak and regret.
The storytelling in “Run It Back On Me” is evocative, treading the well-worn path of relationship trials. “We’ve been fighting all night / But we still got no place to go,” the song opens, laying bare a fraught emotional landscape. As the narrative progresses, the lyrics oscillate between yearning for reconciliation and acknowledging the reality of a broken relationship. The repeated lines, “But it’s always / Running right back on me,” convey the relentless cycle of emotional turmoil that forms the heart of this lament. The singer’s voice ebbs and flows with the emotional intensity, capturing the desperation of trying to repair what’s beyond saving. “I’ve been walking around / Watching what I say to you / Yeah you walked right out / Over something so, construed,” these lines lament, painting a vivid picture of miscommunication and the resulting desolation. With its soulful musicality and heartfelt lyrics, “Run It Back On Me” is a journey through the highs and lows of love, offering listeners a poignant, introspective ride in the backseat of the Coup DeVille.
Alex Sanders – “call you soon”
Embarking on a melancholic and introspective journey, Alex Sanders presents “call you soon” from his debut album, “slow down.” Sanders, with his haunting vocal delivery and somber guitar strumming, belongs to a niche cluster of singer-songwriters who weave a tapestry of raw emotions in their work. The song, with its deeply introspective lyrics and stripped-back, understated melody, evokes parallels with Alex G, Elliott Smith, and Nirvana. Sanders’ angst-filled expression is similar to the emo-subculture ethos where self-exploration and vulnerability take center stage.
“Call you soon” is a stark, existential dialogue with oneself that unfolds beneath the vastness of the night sky. The lyrics are poignant and foreboding, as Sanders murmurs “don’t be afraid to die / just close your eyes and lie / and the world will be just fine.” The undercurrent of loneliness and alienation persists as Sanders sings “shadows lurk behind me / as I’m waiting for somebody to call.” This agonizing wait for a call, an echo of human connection, morphs into the refrain: “I’ll call you soon.” It’s not just an endearing promise, but also a testament to the loneliness that pervades the song’s landscape. The admission of self-hatred – “sometimes I hate me / sometimes I hate you too” – is painfully relatable, exposing the songwriter’s emotional rawness. With “call you soon,” Alex Sanders strikes a chord by transcribing universal emotions of longing and isolation into a tender, soul-baring anthem.
Fallon Cush – “Grain of Salt”
Sydney’s alt-country indie rock ensemble, Fallon Cush, breaks a three-year silence with their soulful new single “Grain of Salt.” Marking a shift towards a more acoustic and expansive sound, the track explores the universal human desire to connect, a poignant theme that seems to echo louder in our collectively experienced times of isolation. Drawing favorable comparisons to the likes of Beck, Ryan Adams, and Dawes, Fallon Cush demonstrates their signature blend of heartfelt songwriting and musical virtuosity in this new release.
“Grain of Salt” is an open-hearted plea for understanding, the rawness of its lyrics complementing the sparsity of the musical arrangement. Lead vocalist Steve Smith implores, “If I came straight out with it / Looked you in the eye / Said that I’m really struggling to get by / Would you take it with a grain of salt / Or would you listen to me?” The vulnerability in these lines resonates throughout the track, echoing the familiar human experience of seeking validation and empathy in times of struggle. The recurring refrain “Would you take it with a grain of salt / Or would you listen to me / Cos I really need you to” underscores this longing for genuine connection, transforming it into an anthem of honesty and emotional openness. “Grain of Salt” is more than a song; it’s a sonic narrative of the human condition, expertly delivered by Fallon Cush, promising more captivating musical stories in their future releases.
Tractor Beam – “Sex Appeal”
Tractor Beam’s lead single “Sex Appeal” from their debut album “Turtles All The Way” is a captivating exploration of the human ego and identity. Steeped in the Y2K indie revival style and 60’s songwriting influence, the track is an insightful peek into the mind of a performer finding their footing in the ever-evolving music scene. Masterminded by the Toronto-raised, Vancouver-based producer Sasha Balazic, the band’s flexible membership model, drawing from Vancouver’s growing indie scene, echoes the broad-spectrum aesthetics of Broken Social Scene and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
“Sex Appeal” represents an intriguing blend of vulnerability and confidence. Balazic’s songwriting shines, revealing a sense of self-awareness that is refreshing in its honesty. The track lays the groundwork for Tractor Beam’s promising future, marking a significant milestone in their musical journey. With a debut album tour confirmed for 2023 and the band’s transition to Brooklyn on the horizon, Tractor Beam is poised for a remarkable year. Their music radiates with the energy of youth and the spirit of DIY indie, which encapsulates the revival of the indie music scene. It’s an earnest exploration of nostalgia and coming of age, set to the rhythm of anthemic indie rock, cementing Tractor Beam’s place in the heart of the contemporary indie scene.
Colton Cerny – “The Duke”
With his new track “The Duke”, Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter Colton Cerny paints a potent portrait of frustration and disillusionment. Drawing on influences from Willie Nelson, Charley Pride, Van Morrison, to Waylon Jennings, Cerny infuses his music with a signature blend of rock, roll, and country soul. The song lyrically pulls no punches, criticizing the hollow pageantry of someone masquerading as a cowboy for the spotlight while neglecting the sacrifices made by the real heroes.
Cerny’s robust storytelling aptitude comes alive in “The Duke”. His pointed lyrics expose the pretentious posturing of the subject, subtly highlighting the dichotomy between genuine dedication and self-centered showboating. The track conveys a biting disappointment, implying the subject’s indulgence in fame and alcohol while true heroes give up their lives. Through his sharp commentary, Cerny examines the culture of empty celebrity and the authenticity often lost amidst its glittering façade. A sense of resentment resonates through the music, encapsulating the listener in its raw, emotive power. In the landscape of contemporary country music, Cerny has crafted a pointed critique that resonates both musically and culturally, displaying his mastery of the genre’s quintessential storytelling prowess.
J Hacha De Zola – “Do You?”
Dripping with raw desire and unfulfilled yearning, J Hacha De Zola’s “Do You?” offers a tantalizing taste of the New Jersey-based artist’s distinctive “Urban Junkyard” sound. Described by the artist himself as a “thirsty little ditty,” the song steers clear of saccharine love song cliches, instead opting for a darker, more nuanced exploration of love and longing. Layering Motown-esque vibes over lyrical sentiments of amorous desire and clueless disconnection, “Do You?” sees De Zola deftly straddling the line between earnest confession and wistful aspiration.
De Zola’s vivid, emotive lyrics compel the listener to grapple with the fundamental fears and insecurities that underpin romantic relationships. Through an earnest inquiry, he attempts to pierce the facade of his lover’s reserved smile, voicing the existential question of reciprocated desire, “Do you want me?” This relentless pursuit of affirmation is punctuated by the rhythmic repetition of the central question, adding an underlying urgency to the track. As De Zola’s pleading refrain echoes through the track, one can almost envision the narrator waiting for an answer, suspended in a state of anxious anticipation. A passionate plea for connection, “Do You?” is a testament to De Zola’s talent for transforming the trials of love into compelling sonic narratives that resonate deeply with the listener.
JACK HYPHEN – “Flee”
Embodying the restless struggle of extricating oneself from lingering thoughts, Manchester-based artist JACK HYPHEN’s track “Flee” delivers a sonic journey through the landscape of a mind in turmoil. The transformation of HYPHEN from a solo singer-songwriter to a robust, 4-piece alt-pop/rock outfit is apparent in the track’s expansive sound, which combines elements of indie-pop and alternative rock. Oscillating between delicate introspection and powerful, full-throttle choruses, “Flee” is an enthralling blend of introspective lyrics and atmospheric soundscapes.
The lyrics of “Flee” are raw, honest, and layered with vulnerability. HYPHEN explores the internal labyrinth of a troubled mind, voicing feelings of loneliness and longing in the face of unreciprocated affection. With the repeated line “I wish my thoughts of you would flee,” the song reveals an emotional tug-of-war, a desperate plea for mental liberation from an obsessive cycle of thoughts. As the song progresses, the music and lyrics work in harmony to mirror the ebb and flow of the narrator’s emotional turmoil – intensifying at the peaks of frustration, and softening in moments of introspection. By the end of the track, listeners are left with the echoing resonance of HYPHEN’s journey, having traversed the terrain of his emotional struggles alongside him. “Flee” is a testament to JACK HYPHEN’s talent for converting intimate, introspective experiences into relatable, resonant music.
CS Hellmann – “Up Til Dawn”
“Up Til Dawn” is a stark, powerful testament to the experience of facing an adversarial situation and the subsequent restless nights it brings. CS Hellmann, a Nashville-based indie rock artist, finds inspiration from real-life experiences, turning a legal dispute into a poignant anthem of resistance. As Hellmann weaves the narrative around a bitter confrontation and betrayal, the song morphs into a larger contemplation of trust, disappointment, and the struggle for justice. “Dancing with the devil and taking his lead” becomes a metaphor for a treacherous dance with deception, demonstrating Hellmann’s strength in translating personal trials into evocative songwriting.
The lyrics of “Up Til Dawn” perfectly capture the frustration and restlessness of the situation Hellmann found himself in. The insomniac refrain “I’m up til dawn with restless feet, my mind is racing and I can’t sleep” conveys the mental toll of the legal battle, echoed by the incessant rhythm and raw, urgent vocals. Meanwhile, the portrayal of the antagonist as a “wanted thief” further drives home the betrayal Hellmann experienced, adding depth to the overall narrative. By taking a deeply personal ordeal and fashioning it into a relatable indie rock anthem, CS Hellmann exhibits not only his songwriting prowess but also his resilience, showing us that art can often be the best form of catharsis.
Up From Here – “All For Nothing”
Up From Here delivers a compelling dose of modern pop punk with their single “All For Nothing,” an engaging exploration of love, ambition, and the resulting fallout. Imbued with explosive guitar work and soaring vocals, the song tells a relatable tale of a strained relationship, with one partner chasing their dreams while the other feels forgotten and abandoned. It’s an emotional tug of war rendered with an infectious energy that makes the struggle feel visceral and immediate. Produced by Dan Swank of All Time Low, “All For Nothing” is a powerful sonic blend of the genre’s past and present, striking a chord with fans old and new with its poignant narrative and addictive hooks.
“All For Nothing” is more than just an auditory experience; it’s a journey into the heart of a troubled relationship. The lyrics artfully convey the complex emotionality of such a situation, reflecting the distress of desiring everything but recognizing the necessity of sacrifices. Up From Here leverages the emotive power of pop punk to its full extent, amplifying the raw feelings of desperation and despair while maintaining an undercurrent of resolve and resilience. Coupled with catchy hooks that immediately grab your attention, the song becomes a captivating anthem of emotional turmoil and undying ambition. This all makes “All For Nothing” not just a noteworthy entry into Up From Here’s discography, but also a significant contribution to the evolving pop punk landscape.