Live in the Moment – Portugal. The Man
From the band that produced “Feel It Still,” a single that has broken through Rock and Pop charts, “Live in the Moment” builds upon their previous success. Featured on the latest FIFA videogame, the song demonstrates a unique musical elasticity. Replete with swagger, “Live in the Moment” seems perfect for the idyllic sports moment or car ride.
Icon – Jaden Smith
Naysayers are not as pronounced as they once were with the release of Jaden Smith’s album Syre. Although “Icon” departs from the concept-driven musics lain down by earlier tracks, Jaden Smith decides to recreate a “Ultimate”-esque banger. While I still cannot understand the opening sample nor what “all your verses sound like dirty dishes” implies, Jaden Smith’s brags and boasts will always have a special path to my heart.
Lay It On Me – Vance Joy
After almost two years since releasing an album, Vance Joy’s single “Lay It On Me” tells a vivid story. Unlike the sea of acoustic-songwriters that seemingly have taken over the pop scene, Vance Joy’s distinct voice and story-telling ability breaks the norm. The sultry acoustics that underlay the track lends the song a sense of casualness and peace.
Atlas – COIN
COIN, a synth-pop from Nashville, released its album on June 8th, yet will probably preserve its shine throughout the winter. Through upbeat and enthusiastic tempos, COIN compiled an album that makes it hard to not yell all of the lyrics. “Atlas,” the album’s opening soundtrack, guarantees tasteful elements of funky bass and rhythmic beats that sets a tone for the rest of the album.
Mykonos – Fleet Foxes
“Mykonos” has become one of the Fleet Foxes’ most notable classics, and deservedly so. The song meshes the gentle voicings of lead singer Pecknold with the natural riffs of the acoustic band. Released in 2008, the Seattle band seems as influential as ever following the fame of “Mykonos” and the rise of folk and indie-rock in the pop scene.
Bower – Inner Wave
Inner Wave is an indie group located in Los Angeles, California. There’s not a lot of information out there on the interwebs, but from what I gather they are made up of either four or five members who trade off between playing drums, guitar, bass, keyboard, and a lot of crazy synth. I really enjoy the group because of their unique sound, and also because they’re just really, really talented musicians. The weird keyboard riffs and guitar solos never fail to catch me off guard, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when listening to Inner Wave. My favorite part of “Bower,” off their recently released album Underwater Pipe Dreams, is the lead guitar, which carries the melodies throughout the song and finishes the track off with an amazing solo. Other songs I like from the album are “Nice One,” “Eclipse,” and “Buffalo.”
November – Tyler, the Creator
I am admittedly a little late on this song given that we are nearing Christmas, but after listening to it so many times through the month of November, I thought it would be fitting to include. In his most recent album, Flower Boy, Tyler fully completes the realization he began with Cherry Bomb. We saw hints of his untapped talent in Cherry Bomb and finally, with Flower Boy, Tyler has blossomed into a true musical visionary. I’m always impressed with how the LA native can intertwine hip-hop and rap with completely different genres of music, like orchestral groups or jazz vocalists. Tyler combines his personal narrative with the voices of others, presumably his friends, which gives the already diverse song another layer to consider.
Wanted You – Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks is a 5-person indie rock group from Chicago. I honestly don’t know a lot of their music or about the group, but I heard this song and I’ve been hooked on them ever since. The track features melancholy guitar chords and vocals, and I think the mood fits this time of year when we’re transitioning from the warmer days of fall to the bleak, early-sunset days of winter. The song focuses on the speaker’s love life, which is filled with frustration and longing—as you can tell, he’s having a pretty tough time; however, he recognizes that change will come, and things will get better. Whether it’s love, or other personal problems, or really anything in our lives that we struggle with, I think everyone has gone through this kind of experience at some point in our lives, and we can relate to the emotions that Twin Peaks is going through.
Skating – Vince Guaraldi
If you haven’t heard Vince Guaraldi, you’re missing out. But you probably have, if you’ve ever watched Peanuts or A Charlie Brown Christmas special, because he composed a lot of the music for the shows! In my opinion, he is one of the greatest jazz pianists/artists of all time. All of his musical is so lively and beautiful, and this piece is a classic Christmas song. I was brought up on Vince Guaraldi during the holidays, so this holiday season, turn off all those new Christmas pop songs, and turn on some classic Guaraldi jazz.
Kids – Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
Although “Kids” isn’t really a song, I couldn’t help but include it because I’m having Stranger Things withdrawal after finishing the second season. You would probably recognize this song from the emotional parts of the show, especially at the end of an episode, like when Mike is thinking about El, or Hopper is driving down a foggy road through the woods in his police truck, gazing longingly into the darkness. This piece of the Stranger Things Season 2 soundtrack is one of a whopping 109 songs written by the composers to create the soundtracks for the two seasons thus far. If you’ve watched Stranger Things, you know how integral the music is to developing each scene, and I truly think the show would not be as good as it is without the musical expertise of composers Dixon and Stein.