Another week has passed, and as always, the ever-evolving world of indie and alternative music has dropped some fresh sonic gems to feast our ears upon. Whether you’re looking to discover a new underground artist or simply want to know what’s been making waves in the indie scene, our ‘Weekly New Releases’ is your dedicated guide. Here at BSideGuys.com, we’ve curated a list that encapsulates the sound, spirit, and innovation of the week. So, pop in your headphones, crank up the volume, and let’s dive into the latest musical offerings that deserve a spot on your playlist!
Izzie Derry – “Thank You”
Izzie Derry’s “Thank You” serves as a compelling reflection of a burgeoning artist finding her voice and learning to amplify it amidst the cacophony of external expectations and unsolicited criticisms. Channeling the haunting intimacy of Fiona Apple, the raw vulnerability of Alanis Morissette, and the profound lyricism of Laura Marling, Izzie’s track is an alt-pop anthem of empowerment and self-worth. ‘Thank You’ resounds as a declaration of self-acceptance, with Izzie finding solace in her evolution as both an artist and a woman. Derry’s growth is evident, her roots in indie folk unfurling into the expansive world of alternative pop, the track’s textured layers echoing the journey of her self-discovery.
Derry’s past forays into the music world, from the shores of Brighton to the heart of Coventry, have yielded an undeniable momentum, demonstrated by her radio plays from BBC platforms and lauds from various indie music review sites. But “Thank You” hints at a deeper maturity, a culmination of her musings during lockdown and a manifestation of her control over her craft. The sheer depth of the track, coupled with the anticipation surrounding her crowdfunded debut album, indicates that Izzie Derry is not just another face in the crowd, but a force poised to shape the narrative of alternative music in the years to come.
Cat Rose Smith – “Tough Luck”
Drenched in the sepia tones of a bygone era, Cat Rose Smith’s “Tough Luck” evokes the languid, sunburned landscapes of the 1850’s California Gold Rush. As if unfolding the yellowed pages of an old Western novella, Smith’s voice, reminiscent of iconic Americana voices like Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch, tells a somber tale of an indefatigable gold miner, trapped in the vicious cycle of fruitless endeavors and undying hope. With the whispering strains of dusty organs and the melancholy twang of pedal steel, the song is an auditory sojourn into the past, where dreams of fortune often remained just that – dreams. The emotive chorus, where Smith bemoans “tough luck’s got the better of me,” becomes a cathartic release, not just for our miner but for anyone who’s felt trapped by circumstances or beset by persistent misfortune.
Smith, an emerging luminary in London’s vibrant folk and Americana niche, continues to leave an indelible mark with her evocative storytelling and intricate songwriting. The recognition she’s earned from Spotify to Americana UK is not just a testament to her unique talent, but a harbinger of the influential voice she’s bound to become. “Tough Luck” is not just a song; it’s an experience, a step back in time with one foot firmly in the present, resonating with anyone who’s been met with life’s fickle hand. In the heart of London’s music scene and beyond, it’s clear that while the protagonist of her song may be plagued by ill fortune, Cat Rose Smith is striking gold.
Heatmiser – “Lowlife – ’92 cassette”
Heatmiser, the Portland-spawned luminaries of the early ’90s Pacific Northwest Indie scene, have long nestled in the affections of ardent music enthusiasts, not least for introducing the world to the hauntingly enigmatic Elliott Smith. Now, in partnership with Third Man Records, they are inviting listeners back into the raw dynamism of their fledgling days. Their new compilation, The Music of Heatmiser, is set to unveil a treasure trove of hitherto unheard gems, with the ’92 cassette version of “Lowlife” taking the vanguard.
The version of “Lowlife” from their 1992 demo cassette is Smith at his most stripped-back and visceral. The lyrics, rife with evocative imagery of stagnation and internal turmoil (“I’ve got a plague in my head, in my head/ Full of crap, I’m a landfill”), hold up a mirror to the anguish and introspection that would come to define his later solo work. The song’s refrain “Didn’t understand” resonates deeply, encapsulating a shared sentiment of miscommunication and solitude. The song’s stark rawness stands in contrast to its version on 1993’s Dead Air, allowing listeners to appreciate the band’s evolution from their fiery inception to the more polished sound they would later adopt. Heatmiser’s intricate dance of contrasting songwriting styles—Smith’s folk-rock balladry juxtaposed against Neil Gust’s darker, more jagged compositions—made their discography a riveting, if sometimes jarring, listen. Yet, it is precisely this interplay of light and shadow, of melodic serenity and punkish fervor, that cements their legacy as one of the era’s most underappreciated acts. With the posthumous rise of Elliott Smith as an indie icon, this compilation stands as a testament not only to his genius but to the collective brilliance of Heatmiser—a band that, in its prime, burnt with a fierce, indomitable spirit. This new release is not merely a nod to nostalgia but a reacquaintance with one of the most compelling bands of its time, sure to resonate with diehards and neophytes alike.
Franny London – “Metal”
With a hypnotic blend of dream pop and alt-pop soundscapes, California’s experimental art-pop savant, Franny London, dives deep into the tumultuous sea of desire with her latest single, “Metal.” Building on the momentum from her critically hailed debut EP Cold Water, London beckons us into a cinematic reverie where desire becomes the central motif, constantly oscillating between magnetic attraction and melancholic detachment. The song, interlaced with lush synths, dynamic drum patterns, and harmonic guitar strums, conjures an image of a twilight drive along Mulholland—where each beat captures the allure of fleeting romance and the echo of a spy thriller’s chase scene. London’s ethereal voice, reminiscent of genre stalwarts like St. Vincent and Caroline Polachek, dances between the layers, casting a spell that transports the listener into a cobalt and ultramarine dreamscape.
“Metal” isn’t just a song; it’s an exploration—a dive into the maelstrom of emotions, the shifting power dynamics of passion, and the impermanence of yearning. Describing the track as a “sexy, spy-movie version of a chase scene,” London effortlessly melds the vivacity of newfound love with its inherent capriciousness. The song’s sonic brilliance is a testament to the synergy between her, Sam Irving, and Sebastian Jones, even as they straddled the two coasts. Having amassed a significant online following, it’s evident that London’s artistry is resonating, capturing the zeitgeist of a new pop era that thrives on introspection, innovation, and unbridled emotion. As she carves a niche within the labyrinth of electro and dream pop, Franny London stands as a beacon, illuminating the path for pop’s evolving narrative, with “Metal” shining brightly in her luminescent discography.
Bobby Emmett – “See No Evil”
amalgamation that is bound to echo through the annals of rock and soul. His latest offering, “See No Evil,” is a gritty testament to this multi-instrumentalist’s expansive sonic canvas. Channeling the ethereal vibes of Plastic Ono era Lennon and blending them with the distinctive grunge of early Funkadelic, Emmett crafts an anthem that audaciously confronts the deceptive puppet masters of society. The track’s undeniable fervor is only intensified with contributions from the likes of JT Cure’s riveting bass lines and Chris St Hilaire’s pulsating beats. The soundscape, dripping with Motor City nostalgia, fuses effortlessly with a contemporary rock cadence, reminiscent of The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys.
Emmett’s roots, spanning from Nashville’s glitz to Detroit’s raw energy, are palpable in every note he strikes. The very fabric of “See No Evil” reveals a musician who has not only witnessed the evolution of the genre through various lenses—from accompanying Sturgill Simpson’s acclaimed trajectory to earning his accolades as a producer—but has also imbibed these experiences to curate his own distinct sound. His illustrious collaborations, including his stints with legends like Alice Cooper and John Prine, have enriched his sonic palette, while his love for his home turf keeps him grounded in the timeless essence of Motown and classic rock. As “See No Evil” unravels, what emerges isn’t just a song; it’s Bobby Emmett’s declaration—a seasoned musician stepping into the limelight, fully embracing his well-earned moment, and signaling an exciting new chapter in rock’s rich tapestry.
Christopha – “Doubts and Fears”
East and North London’s very own Christopha emerges from a self-imposed hiatus with “Doubts and Fears”, the seventeenth gem from his ambitious 26 Miles and Running project—a dedication to consistently deliver a track every two weeks in 2023. It’s a poignant reflection on personal growth, confronting vulnerabilities, and the innate human fear of stepping back into a world that may have seemingly moved on. Rooted deeply in the annals of UK Hip-Hop, and tracing its lineage to the raw grit of early grime, the track stands out as an intimate journal entry from a seasoned artist. It’s imbued with the rawness of confronting oneself and the resilience it takes to leap beyond the confines of comfort.
Christopha’s journey, from grime MC to an established business leader in the tech world, resonates with the evolution of his sound. As a storyteller, he seamlessly stitches narratives of street lore with sagas of corporate boardrooms, underpinned by the conscious rap ethos that informs his artistry. The recognition as a Future Name by BBC Introducing and accolades from UK rap legends like Ty and Skinnyman attest to Christopha’s undeniable skill and impact. With “Doubts and Fears”, Christopha isn’t merely reintroducing himself; he’s declaring an unyielding commitment to his craft, and by extension, inviting listeners to join him in this musical marathon, where each track pulses with authenticity, introspection, and the heartbeat of UK’s vibrant Hip-Hop culture.
Keste – “Better Decisions”
Out of the sun-kissed alleys of San Diego emerges Keste, the introspective musical brainchild of Matt Aukerman. With the release of “Better Decisions”, the flagship single from the 3-song EP “The Goldmine Record”, Keste takes us on a deeply stirring journey through the mazes of remorse, self-awareness, and the complexities of human relationships. There’s a raw melancholy dripping from the lyrics, a sentiment that evokes images of broken mirrors, tremulous nights, and an incessant longing to turn back time. The refrain, “I keep thinking about when I made better decisions,” isn’t just a lamentation on personal choices; it’s an anthem for anyone who’s stood at the crossroads of introspection, holding onto fragments of a past they wish they could rewrite.
The track, which finds kinship with the emotive chord progressions of Kings of Leon and the piercing lyricism of Dashboard Confessional, unravels the tapestry of past indiscretions with unapologetic honesty. It’s easy to get lost in the metaphorical landscapes Keste paints – from the haunting image of spiders in the cracks of the floor to the plea for divine intervention. Matt Aukerman’s vocal delivery, a juxtaposition of anguish and hope, finds perfect harmony with the song’s atmospheric instrumentals, echoing the sentiments of those who’ve walked the tightrope of regret and redemption. “Better Decisions” isn’t merely a song; it’s a cathartic experience, a mirror that Keste holds up, beckoning listeners to confront, reflect, and perhaps, find solace in shared human imperfection.
Samantha Margret – “Deja Vu You”
Samantha Margret’s “Deja Vu You” is a deep dive into the chiaroscuro (learn a new word every day) tapestry of love and its often haunting remnants. With a sonic atmosphere reminiscent of alt-pop mavens like Billie Eilish and Melanie Martinez, the track juxtaposes the playfulness of its production with a profound sense of melancholy. The song’s lyrical framework speaks of an incessant, almost haunting, reminder of a past lover – in haircuts, cars, and the chilling embrace of winter. “Dim lights, true lies” – Margret captures the essence of a love that was shrouded in secrecy and ambiguity, and her realization that perhaps that’s not how love should be. With lines like “You’re like a permanent marker, You made my life darker,” the song unfurls a narrative of the indelible marks left behind by past relationships and the cyclical nature of searching for familiarity even in new encounters.
Emerging from the shadowy corners of alt-pop, Samantha Margret continues to carve her unique niche. Her gift for merging dramatic, bass-heavy production with poetic lyricism creates an enigmatic aura that sticks with you, much like the song’s theme itself. The duality of her artistry shines bright, particularly with her voice that, at times, feels like a gentle whisper, and at others, a haunting echo, much like memories that refuse to fade. “Deja Vu You” is not just a song; it’s an evocative journey through the labyrinth of memory, love, and loss. It’s for those midnight drives, where the world blurs into introspective silhouettes, and the rearview mirror reflects past shadows, beckoning for another listen.
Shane Barry – “Get the Love”
In “Get the Love”, Shane Barry plumbs the depths of fractured relationships and the ensuing division. The track is a sonic tapestry of introspection, drawing from a well of human emotions that surface when ties disintegrate and allegiances are divided. Every chord and lyric lays bare the complexities of human connection, while hinting at the broader question: can the love ever be truly reclaimed?
Stepping out from the 70s shadows of Shane Barry and the Distractions, Barry’s foray into solo territory heralds a maturing of his sound, blending synth-pop, ambient, and alt. country, while never straying too far from his foundational influences of McCartney and Costello. The sonic evolution is palpable; hints of Wilco’s indie twang meld seamlessly with the raw, emotive cadence reminiscent of Paul Weller. As “Get the Love” spirals through its narrative, one can’t help but acknowledge Shane’s musical metamorphosis – from the retro influences of the Distractions era to an eclectic fusion of contemporary genres. The track stands as a testament to the universality of love, loss, and the sometimes painful journey towards self-discovery and musical reinvention.
Ty Pow & The Holy North – “Shake On It”
Hailing from the icy heartlands of Minnesota, Ty Pow & The Holy North bring a blistering warmth to their blues-rock sound that evokes the sweat-soaked grit of a humid Southern summer night. “Shake On It” plays out like a vintage record unearthed from a crate in a forgotten Southern juke joint. The raw, soulful inflection marries the reverence for vintage gear and the insatiable thirst for old-school Americana flair; their craving for a “Fender ‘65” and a ride in a “long car limousine, Cadillac” are more than mere material wishes—they’re emblematic of an era where rock was pure, unfiltered, and profoundly alive. The poignant line about ending up a “body bag on the outskirts of Nashville” serves as a somber, grounding refrain, juxtaposed against the raucous energy of a night in town and the evocative imagery of “nudie suits” and jamming to James Brown.
Drawing on their rich influences—be it the neo-soul revival of Nathaniel Rateliff or the garage blues of The Black Keys—Ty Pow & The Holy North have crafted a sound that’s both familiar and refreshingly novel. With a history steeped in the diverse traditions of their respective past bands and a decade spent mastering both covers and originals, the band’s collective experience is palpable in every gritty guitar riff and impassioned vocal delivery. “Shake On It” stands as a testament to this ensemble’s dedication to the craft, offering a tantalizing taste of their debut album, “Rhubarb ’93”, and promising listeners a musical journey grounded in authenticity and brimming with soulful nostalgia.