Welcome to another riveting edition of Top Ten Tuesday here at bsideguys.com. As the week begins its stride, we once again sift through the overflowing sea of indie gems, spotlighting those tracks that have captured our ears and hearts. From brooding ballads to electrifying anthems, this weekly feature is your beacon to the world of underrated brilliance. Dive in, as we journey through ten sonic masterpieces, each with its own unique story to tell. Whether you’re here to discover your next favorite song or to champion the underdogs, Top Ten Tuesday promises a musical tapestry as diverse as our readership. Without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s curated selection!
The Soods – “Don’t Let Me Go (I’ll Only Float Off Into Space)”
In the vast expanse of indie songwriting, The Soods‘ new offering, “Don’t Let Me Go (I’ll Only Float Off Into Space)”, emerges like a distant star beckoning for closer examination. Drawing inspiration from an intriguing Karl Pilkington quote that touches upon the poignant solitude experienced by an astronaut during the moon landing, the track unfolds a narrative of existential angst, enveloped in a sonorous tapestry reminiscent of luminaries such as Guided By Voices and R.E.M. The melancholic introspection of lyrics like “I’ve been struggling hard to try / To separate stars from satellites” underscores the human endeavor to find meaning and connection in an ever-expansive universe. The celestial motif is accentuated with echoes of Spiritualized and Galaxie 500, as the song drifts between folk and country, crafting a soundscape that’s both moody and dark.
Amidst the weighty theme of cosmic isolation, the song’s refrain, “So hold me close my dear / For I fear that I’ll slip through the atmosphere”, serves as a grounding plea, rooting the protagonist’s sense of drift with a yearning for intimacy and anchoring. The juxtaposition of “That summer sun piercing through the air” with the stark confession “See I wouldn’t know since I’m made of stone” casts a shadow of perennial desolation, capturing the essence of loneliness amidst the vastness. It’s a tune that encapsulates the often unspoken abyss that separates individuals, even when they are close in proximity – an ethereal, melancholic ode to isolation and longing, and a testament to The Soods’ depth as artists.
Cody Lawless – “Grace”
When one thinks of the term indie-pop in 2023, the name Cody Lawless is poised to echo prominently. Unveiling “Grace” as the final video chapter from his album, the expanse of Lawless’s multifaceted artistry becomes even clearer. “Grace” emerges not just as a song, but as a captivating, audiovisual narrative—a melodic recounting of proximity to love and the ensuing whirlwind of emotions. The song draws you into a dreamlike reflection of affection, brought to life with the simple but powerful trio of guitar, bass, and drums. These basic instrumental elements, combined with Lawless’s evocative lyrics, paint a portrait of wistful admiration and the chaos of newfound feelings, making it evident why the song was chosen to put a conclusive, compelling mark on his visual journey.
Cody Lawless, the fresh moniker of the accomplished Cody James Henn, seems to have found a seamless and authentic pivot from his earlier project, KNOWN. His new direction, shimmering with the sunny warmth of jangly guitars, feels like a refreshing indie-pop breeze reminiscent of a lazy summer afternoon. His influences, such as Mark Foster and Sam Glick, weave their subtle touch into his music, but Lawless’s distinctive vocal style and personal tales make his work stand out in a crowded field. Behind the catchy hooks and melodies, there’s an intimacy, a raw openness that is quintessentially Cody—most evident when he talks about the transformative influence of psychedelics on his artistic perspective. With the release of “Sunshine State of a Happy Camper” earlier this year, under MNRK Music Group, Cody Lawless seems to have opened a new chapter, not just in his music but in the larger landscape of indie-pop. “Grace” serves as a testament to this journey, reminding listeners of the vast emotional landscape that Cody has traversed and inviting them to join him on this new adventure.
Shadwick Wilde – “Easy Rider”
Amidst a cacophony of evolving indie voices, Shadwick Wilde stands resolute with the serene ballad “Easy Rider.” The song weaves an intricate tale of devotion, anchoring it with comforting acoustic arrangements and introspective piano lines, reminiscent of the cozy confines of a lover’s embrace. Wilde’s lyrical journey delves into the tumultuous sea of relationships, juxtaposing the warmth of unwavering partnership with the anguish of moments lost in wistful reflection. It’s a poignant probe into the sacrifices and commitments of love, as Wilde croons about the landscape of emotions he wishes he could traverse with his significant other. The song not only highlights Wilde’s skill in evoking profound emotion through lyrical storytelling but also showcases his deft ability to balance raw vulnerability with musical sophistication.
Shadwick Wilde’s story is one of ceaseless exploration. His nomadic upbringing—spanning cities from San Francisco to Amsterdam—seems to have cultivated a restless creative spirit, which found its footing amidst the punk and hardcore bands of his youth. With the formation of the Quiet Hollers, a transition began from raucous to reflective, ultimately culminating in the sonic tapestry of “Forever Home.” “Easy Rider” embodies the essence of this album, a homage to enduring domestic comforts, with its sunlit glow enveloping listeners in the subtle charm of Wilde’s songwriting. This track, like the rest of the album, oscillates between sunny optimism and shadowed doubt, mirroring the ebbs and flows of life and love. With his piercing lyricism and unwavering commitment to his craft, Shadwick Wilde has not only cemented his status as a masterful songwriter but has also extended an intimate invitation into the quiet recesses of his heart and home.
Visit – “Laughing At The Past”
The delicate balance of embracing both the past and future is skillfully rendered in Visit’s “Laughing At The Past.” Tyler Burba, the mastermind behind Visit, crafts a temporal journey that oscillates between the haunting grip of yesteryears and the uncharted promise of what’s yet to come. The song’s arrangement is nothing short of a rollercoaster ride; it starts with a blend of melancholy and fervor reminiscent of rock’s heyday, swiftly transiting into a symphonic bridge carried by strings, only to be propelled again by a horn-driven interlude. Just when you think you have the song figured out, Burba submerges you into a dreamy realm of harp and strings, concluding in a crescendo of nostalgic rock. The song, in its many layers, embodies the duality of trepidation and exhilaration that comes with the passage of time.
Tyler Burba’s journey from gospel singer in the Pacific Northwest to the eclectic sounds of Visit mirrors the varied soundscape of “Laughing At The Past.” Early encounters with iconic figures like Allen Ginsberg not only instilled in him a love for literature but also steered him towards a path of introspection and self-awareness. With Buddhism’s teachings shaping his worldview, Burba’s music reflects a deep sense of existential exploration. Every note he crafts is a testament to his comprehensive musical background that spans from rock n roll greats like Elvis Presley to avant-garde endeavors. The duality in “Laughing At The Past” is mirrored in Burba’s own journey – a dance between academia and artistry, introspection and external observation. If there’s one thing to be said about Visit, it’s that it challenges the listener to not just hear, but truly listen, offering a soundscape that evokes memories of Arcade Fire’s grandeur, the brooding depth of Interpol, and the raw edge of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Faux/Fox – “A Place Of Great Undoing”
With “A Place Of Great Undoing”, Faux/Fox offers listeners an uncharted journey through a bleak, vast desert, harkening back to the ascetic pilgrimage of St. Anthony the Great. The song, fourth in line on the much-anticipated album “Heat Death”, moves with the stealth of a serpent, flowing placidly until its sudden, jarring transition around the 3:30 mark—much like the unpredictable and volatile nature of life itself. Its lyrics paint an austere landscape: the biting intensity of the sun and the dry desolation of the desert, juxtaposed against existential musings on light, love, and death. With poetic lines such as “The world, a perfect pearl, lost in the greatest depths,” the song delves into profound contemplations of purpose and identity, threaded with both doubt and affirmation. The use of the unique voice key, representing the varying “beings” that St. Anthony encounters, adds a layer of cryptic allure to the narrative, embodied notably in the haunting declarations of the satyr and centaur.
Emerging from Pensacola, FL, Faux/Fox’s nine-year trajectory sees them sculpting their distinct sound by blending the edges of indie rock, post-rock, and the heavier sonic realms into one. “A Place Of Great Undoing” personifies this fusion, intertwining the raw emotional intensity characteristic of bands like mewithoutYou and the expansive instrumental narratives reminiscent of Russian Circles. The track beautifully captures the album’s overarching themes rooted in the tales of St. Anthony—moments of introspection, spiritual struggle, and revelations. With phrases such as “Even in stillness chaos consumes,” Faux/Fox articulates a sentiment that resonates beyond the confines of the song, speaking to the human experience’s complexity and fragility. As listeners eagerly await the release of “Heat Death”, “A Place Of Great Undoing” offers a compelling and mystic preview of the sonic odyssey that lies ahead.
Lady Silver – “Chasing Pavements” (Adele Cover)
For many, Adele’s “Chasing Pavements” is already an anthem – a deep, emotive ballad resonating with the heart’s uncertainties and the perils of unrequited love. However, in the deft hands of Tel Aviv-based alternative indie rock band, Lady Silver, this familiar tune undergoes a transformative metamorphosis. Introducing a more modern sonic landscape paired with an avant-garde approach, Lady Silver’s rendition creates a fresh, vivacious auditory experience while retaining the song’s original poignancy.
From the outset, the vibrant harmonies of the guitars set an emotionally charged atmosphere, indicative of Lady Silver’s signature touch. And, as the deep timbre of the lead vocalist enters the soundscape, a tantalizing blend of nostalgia and newness emerges. While Adele’s version was introspective and tender, Lady Silver’s rendition boasts a robust energy, characterized by a rhythmic underbelly of dynamic drums and driving bass-lines. Come the chorus, and listeners are swept into a rapture of high-gain guitars that augment the track’s intensity. Drawing inspiration from contemporaries like Added Color and The Paz Band, the band does more than simply cover; they recreate, reimagine, and revitalize. The unexpected breaks and precision in the buildup add layers of complexity, showcasing Lady Silver’s unparalleled artistry, which has earned them accolades such as a 3rd place finish for ‘Album of the Year’ by BCFM Radio and Rock Radio UK. Their rendition of “Chasing Pavements” ultimately culminates in a fervent climax that lingers in the listener’s psyche long after the final note has faded – an ending that is as evocative as it is tantalizing. In merging the beauty of Adele’s original work with their innovative flair, Lady Silver has birthed a cover that is both homage and evolution – a testament to the timeless nature of great music.
Goldschatz – “I’ll Be Here In The Morning” (Townes Van Zandt Cover)
The poignant simplicity of Townes Van Zandt’s “I’ll Be Here In The Morning” has graced the ears of many, a bittersweet lullaby serenading the promises and heartaches of love. Yet, as Goldschatz takes on this classic, they infuse it with an enchanting duality, turning it into a mesmerizing duet. This Swiss-Canadian dreamteam, frequently likened to the iconic collaboration of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss on “Raising Sand,” unveils an interpretation that is both fresh and deeply reverential.
From the very first note, it’s clear that this rendition is set apart. Timothy Jaromir and Rykka’s voices meld in an intimate dance of longing and assurance, their harmonies weaving a tapestry of emotions, reminiscent of renowned duos like The Civil Wars and First Aid Kit. There’s a palpable tenderness between them, echoing the sentiments of the song — a declaration of unwavering presence amidst life’s fleeting moments. While the original by Van Zandt had a singular perspective, Goldschatz’s decision to transform it into a duet introduces a dialogue, a conversation between two lovers, reaffirming their commitment to one another. This blues-folk duo’s authenticity shines through, as they draw from their personal troves of musical treasures, sharing an affair of the heart with their listeners. Every chord and lyric is imbued with the genuine passion of two talents merging into one harmonious entity. Their cover of “I’ll Be Here In The Morning” is not just a tribute to an iconic song but a testament to the timeless nature of love, connection, and the magic that emerges when two voices become one.
Champion Sound – “Bullet Train Flow” (feat. R.A. The Rugged Man)
Champion Sound’s “Bullet Train Flow,” featuring the indomitable R.A. The Rugged Man, is a sonic freight train of energy that blurs the lines between eras and genres. It’s a nostalgic ride into the golden age of hip-hop, fortified with a modern pulse. The tune’s funky foundation, anchored in breaks reminiscent of Cut Chemist and the undeniable rhythmic styles of bands like Jurassic 5, reverberates with an urgency that demands attention. As the track unfolds, it’s evident that this is not just a simple throwback but a dynamic fusion of old-school cadences and contemporary flair.
R.A. The Rugged Man, no stranger to commanding a microphone, further elevates the track with his formidable lyrical prowess. His verses, sharp and incisive, cut through the breakbeat with the precision of a maestro, ensuring listeners are riveted from start to finish. The interplay of scratches punctuates the tune, paying homage to turntable masters and reinforcing the song’s rootedness in hip-hop’s rich tapestry. Elements of conscious hip-hop are subtly woven, a nod to the genre’s history of societal critique. “Bullet Train Flow” is a celebration, a head-nodding testament to the transformative power of hip-hop and its ability to evolve while paying respect to its storied past. Champion Sound, with this release, proves that the genre’s heart still beats strong, and its future, while ever-changing, will always have its roots deeply embedded in its foundational rhythms.
Guava – “Universal Angel” (feat. Maddie Ashman)
British producer Guava, known for his scintillating array of electronic productions, embarks on a fresh sonic journey with his single, “Universal Angel,” featuring the ethereal vocal stylings of Maddie Ashman. As the lead single off his debut album ‘Out of Nowhere’, it’s an offering that is both introspective and effervescent, straddling the fine line between the dreamy realms of shoegaze and the pulsing undercurrents of indietronica. Through the haze of swirling synths and understated beats, Ashman’s voice emerges as a beacon of clarity. Her refrain, “You’re my universal angel, But I know you can’t save me,” echoes the haunting duality of longing and self-awareness, creating a mood that’s both chill and evocatively moody.
Having previously graced iconic venues like Abbey Road Studio and BBC Maida Vale, Guava’s vast experience is evident in the meticulous production of the track. From its languid start to its immersive crescendo, “Universal Angel” crafts a sonic narrative about intense love and the poignant realization of its limitations. The track’s lyrical dichotomy, pivoting between dreamlike states and the stark awareness of reality, is beautifully amplified by its fusion of genres. While rooted in the shoegaze tradition, there’s an unmistakable electronic edge, giving it a fresh, contemporary vibe. With this single, Guava sets the stage for what promises to be a transformative debut album, making ‘Out of Nowhere’ one of the most anticipated releases of 2023.
Darling Darlene – “Something’s In The Woods”
On “Something’s In The Woods,” Darling Darlene charts an ambitious odyssey into the hinterlands of indie rock and alt pop, creating a compelling sonic landscape that shimmers with both the uncanny and the familiar. The track seamlessly weaves together disparate influences: the delightful disorientation of a King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard track, the expansive grandeur of Arcade Fire, and the ethereal mystique of Beach House. Yet, this shape-shifting pop rock ballad is uniquely Darling Darlene in its essence. It oscillates between bouncy waltz grooves, a kind of rock ‘n roll swagger reminiscent of 70s crooners, and an enveloping cloak of lush synth orchestrations.
The song is a cornerstone of their upcoming EP, “Lost at the Movies,” an audacious experiment birthed in the isolation of the Danish countryside. Through this track, songwriting duo Christian Popp Therkildsen and Johan Skjold Knudsen craft a narrative that delves into the human psyche, grappling with themes of egoism, indifference, and the haunting specter of dreams left unfulfilled. Their eclectic chaos production style becomes a defiant stand against the stifling norms of musical convention and fleeting fads. With this offering, Darling Darlene doesn’t just hint at their potential—they emphatically announce their arrival as a dynamic force in the indie scene, challenging and reshaping the boundaries of genre with audacious creativity.