Every week, I scour the vast sonic universe, delving into hidden gems and emerging voices to curate a playlist that’s as eclectic as it is electric. From indie whispers to roaring rock anthems, Caleb’s Weekly Favorites on B-Side Guys are more than just tracks; they’re stories waiting to be heard. Tune in, turn up the volume, and let me be your guide through the rhythmic realms of undiscovered brilliance. Welcome to a musical journey that promises surprise at every beat. Welcome to Caleb’s Weekly Favorites.
Jason Mirek – “I’m Looking Up”
Jason Mirek’s “I’m Looking Up” is an authentic journey of introspection, resilience, and a deep yearning for reconnection. Brimming with the heartland pulse of Americana, it’s easy to detect the influence of artists like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in the track’s earnest narrative and romantic sentiments. Mirek’s lyrics resonate with an evocative clarity that touches on life’s detours and the overarching desire for home and the familiar. “I’m powering up all my special forces / All my lost and found resources,” he croons, signaling a man gathering the broken fragments of his past, intent on mending and rediscovering a sense of belonging.
In the context of the broader narrative of Mirek’s personal evolution as an artist – from casual songwriting to embracing his musical journey in the vibrant venues of Western New York – “I’m Looking Up” stands as an emblem of the artist’s growth and resolve. The lyrics’ cyclical refrains of “I’ve been looking all around / For what I’ve lost, won’t stop until it’s found” capture the ceaseless quest for self and purpose, framed by the romantic allure of reunion and redemption. With its chill, contemplative moods layered over the rustic tapestry of Americana, the song feels like a soulful paean to endurance, personal evolution, and the timeless pull of home. It’s a testament not just to Mirek’s musical artistry but also to his spirit of tenacity and hope.
The Americans – “Kingdom”
“Kingdom,” the electric sophomore single from The Americans, dives into the depths of longing with a feral intensity, articulating the raw pain of unrequited affection. The rousing energy of the track is brought to life by frontman Patrick Ferris’ commanding vocal delivery, underscored by Zac’s sharp guitar riffs and Jake’s fluid basslines. The lyrics, steeped in rich metaphorical imagery, paint a vivid portrait of vulnerability and desire. “You being alone after dark / Draws every werewolf near,” Ferris croons, emphasizing the magnetic pull of attraction and the inherent risks it brings. The haunting refrain, “You hold the key to the kingdom / Wrapped ’round your wrist like a weapon,” acts as a battle cry, illustrating the power dynamics in relationships, the allure of what’s just out of reach, and the weaponization of desire.
Having played with a constellation of star musicians, The Americans are no strangers to melding their unique sound with diverse influences. This is reflected in “Kingdom” and the forthcoming EP, “Strays.” While there are shades of Bruce Springsteen’s anthemic heartland rock and Nathaniel Rateliff’s soulful passion, the band draws deeply from early folk and blues, imbuing their music with an age-old spirit. The juxtaposition of modern rock instrumentation and vintage lyrical themes crafts a timeworn texture, making “Kingdom” both a homage to rock & roll’s roots and a fresh, invigorating step forward. It’s a masterclass in blending the old with the new, delivered by a band firmly entrenched in rock’s rich tapestry.
Elliott Fullam – “Remember When”
In a poignant exploration of youth and the inescapable weight of loneliness, 18-year-old Elliott Fullam’s “Remember When” takes listeners on a wistful journey down memory lane. The track, a precursor to his forthcoming LP “End Of Ways,” gently weaves Fullam’s introspective musings with a stripped-down acoustic ambiance that feels both intimate and timeless. His voice, soft yet laden with an unspoken ache, resonates deeply as he recounts the juxtaposition of sunny days with relentless rainstorms, echoing the dichotomies of childhood—innocence intertwined with desolation, joy marred by abandonment. Lines like “It rained all back then” and “Where were my friends” delve into the harrowing realization that the past was not as idyllic as it often appears in hindsight.
The song’s recurring chorus—”I’ll have to wait a real long time, I’ll have to go far back in time”—serves as a poignant reminder of the temporal chasm that separates Fullam from those formative years. These lyrics evoke a palpable yearning, a desire to bridge the gap between the past and present, to understand, and perhaps reconcile, with one’s memories. Given the overarching theme of “End Of Ways” focusing on the traumas of escaping an abusive household, it’s evident that “Remember When” serves as a melancholic meditation on moments that shaped him, both light and dark. Balancing his music with a notable presence on platforms like YouTube and TikTok, and his cinematic forays into the realms of horror and children’s entertainment, Fullam solidifies his position as a multifaceted talent. Through “Remember When,” he masterfully channels the soul of indie folk, delivering a haunting ballad that lingers long after the final note has faded.
jake minch – “strip mall”
Emerging from the melancholic corridors of youth, Jake Minch’s “Strip Mall” delivers a tender reflection on the interplay between longing and nostalgia, paired with the acute pains of growth. At a mere 20, the Connecticut-born songwriter crafts a tale steeped in a bittersweet yearning for simpler times—a yearning made all the more potent by the intangible quality of memories lost and souvenirs of the past, like that iconic t-shirt from a bygone relationship. With a delicate acoustic backdrop, Minch’s voice unravels a series of memories tied to that shirt, its existence a persistent reminder of a love that once was. He muses, “I hate that I hate what you do, I love being younger with you,” beautifully illustrating the duality of resentment and fond remembrance. While the song is laden with evocative recollections of teenage summers, FaceTime calls that stretch into the wee hours, and the quintessential experiences of adolescence, its narrative strength is in its authenticity. It’s neither an ode to a lost love nor a bitter reminiscence; it’s a sincere acknowledgment of a chapter that has shaped him profoundly.
Beyond the lyrical depth, the raw, stripped-down nature of the track is reminiscent of Minch’s previous hits, like “Handgun,” with its equally introspective narrative. Yet, what sets “Strip Mall” apart is its ability to resonate with listeners across a spectrum of ages and experiences. The song isn’t merely a testament to young love and the pain of letting go; it’s an ode to a time when life was simpler, when days were longer, and the future was a broad canvas of possibilities. As Jake Minch positions himself on the precipice of stardom, joining stalwarts like The Head and The Heart on tour, it’s clear that while he may move forward, the memories of youth, encapsulated in songs like “Strip Mall,” will remain etched in his music and the hearts of his listeners.
Kim Panagsagan – “Something Good”
As the rich, soulful notes of “Something Good” by Maj Kim Panagsagan permeate the room, listeners are instantaneously transported to that moment of serendipitous connection. Featured in a special episode of the Artisan Air series, the track stands as an emblem of those fleeting, yet deeply profound moments when everything seems to fall seamlessly into place. Panagsagan, an Airman turned Guardian, intertwines her vast experiences, from deployments in Iraq to the resonating strums on her guitar during quiet moments in a Humvee. “Something Good” serves as a testament to these juxtapositions, capturing the innate human longing for connection and understanding amidst the turbulence of duty and service.
Recorded live in Austin, Texas, the song’s raw authenticity is palpable, especially as Panagsagan candidly experiments with its conclusion—offering listeners two distinct endings in the same breath. Her voice, both vulnerable and powerful, merges seamlessly with her instrument, acting as a bridge between her world of service and the universal experiences of love and serendipity. The track is not merely a song; it’s a poignant reflection of Panagsagan’s journey, from the military bases to the music stages, reminding listeners of the universality of emotions, whether in the heart of a war zone or the fluttering moments of a newfound connection. As “Something Good” concludes, one is left with an appreciation for the vast tapestry of experiences and emotions that define the human condition.
Beth Roars – “Wicked Game” (Chris Isaak cover)
Chris Isaak’s iconic “Wicked Game” has, over the years, been the touchstone for many artists looking to infuse their own sensibilities into its haunting narrative. Enter Beth Roars, who takes this timeless lament and paints it with even deeper shades of midnight. Casting the original’s sultry undertones into a cavern of dream pop ambiance, Roars’ rendition immerses listeners into a world that’s both chillingly familiar and distinctly her own. The song’s innate sense of yearning and heartbreak is heightened, translating its sentiments into a soundscape that’s as moody as it is mesmerizing. Those familiar with Isaak’s wistful guitar lines will find themselves adrift in Beth’s atmospheric reimagining, where each note resonates with a palpable sadness.
For her inaugural Spotify foray, Beth Roars couldn’t have made a bolder statement. Choosing “Wicked Game” as the song to cover showcases both her reverence for timeless classics and her prowess in reshaping them. The track is transformed, shifting from Isaak’s smoky intimacy to a vast expanse of melancholic dream pop, laden with reverberating echoes and soft vocal harmonies. Beth’s voice flutters above this sonic expanse, a phantom lamenting love’s treacherous terrain. With this rendition, she not only pays homage to a beloved classic but also signals her potential as an artist to redefine and reimagine. As the echoes of her voice fade, one is left with an aching heart and an eager anticipation for what Beth Roars might tackle next.
Bealby Point – “Coded Personalities”
Infusing the rosy nostalgia of youth with shimmering, modern indie riffs, Bealby Point’s “Coded Personalities” is a delightful aural dive into sun-drenched memories of long-gone summers. This North Vancouver-bred band draws inspiration from the neighborhood escapades of their formative years, crafting songs that echo the fervent pulse of Peach Pit and the raucous energy of Franz Ferdinand. The track unfurls with candid lyrics, reminiscent of teenage introspection — “That’s me in the middle / Trying to guess something you’d like.” It’s both a wistful look back and an earnest grappling with identity in the present, evoking the emotional highs and lows of burgeoning adulthood. Bealby Point’s signature twist, however, is the band’s ability to temper this introspection with breezy instrumentals and infectious hooks, ensuring the track remains a summer anthem contender.
“Coded Personalities” is an exploration into the dualities of youth, perfectly capturing the balance of vulnerability and bravado that characterizes the late teenage years. With lines like “Calm down baby it’s all a dream / Coded personalities,” the song delves deep into the perplexities of identity, relationships, and the transient nature of life. Yet, with the unapologetic optimism that courses through their music, Bealby Point manages to transform this existential introspection into a jubilant affirmation of the present moment — “Cause I’m yours for a while / And you’re mine right now.” As they gear up for an anticipated album and string of singles, Bealby Point firmly cements themselves as the purveyors of evocative, sunlit indie rock, sure to soundtrack countless summer memories for listeners old and new.
Scasca – “Glue” feat. Talipes Valgus
Drenched in the seductive melancholy of dream pop, Belgrade’s Scasca weaves a haunting soundscape with “Glue,” featuring Talipes Valgus. At its core, this track meanders through the maze of modern romance, with lyrics reflecting the agony of love’s pull – “Feels like a heart attack / When you disappear.” It’s a sentiment wrapped in the chill embrace of UK-influenced downtempo, reminiscent of George FitzGerald’s delicate electronica and Mild Minds’ expansive atmosphere. But what truly sets “Glue” apart is its lo-fi aesthetic, a choice that adds a raw, unfiltered lens to the track’s passionate undertones.
Each line, like “Want you to settle down / Like a glue to me,” drips with a yearning intensity, grounding the ethereal sounds in visceral emotion. Scasca masterfully creates an immersive journey, capturing the twisted roads and vein-rich intricacies of life and love. With influences that echo Joy Orbison’s rhythmic cadences, “Glue” feels like a slow dance at the edge of heartbreak – where the chill of electronica meets the warmth of romance.