Songwriter Semler knocks it out of the park on their new EP Stages of a Breakdown. Overall the 5 song collection highlights the artists impressive vocal talent with atmospheric, ethereal indie pop that leans indie folk in the vein of Bon Iver. That vibe is on full display on the single Raise Up, when like Vernon the artist employs samples known to electronic music over a folky musical base. The picture perfect vocal recalls Phoebe Bridgers, as Semler’s delivery is relaxed and soothing, with all of the energy reserved for emotion instead of just trying to hit the notes. Singers like this, with impeccable accuracy, are allowed to feel in a way that challenged vocalists envy.
Additionally, Semler also displays an infectious catchy pop side like on Don’t Tell Anyone, capturing a vibe known to Barrie, Holly Humberstone, and Charlotte Day Wilson. These comparisons don’t come lightly, as Semler makes good company next to some of our favorite emerging artists in indie. It’s no surprise that Semler toured with fellow NPR buzz act Katie Pruitt, getting valuable national exposure and considerable press and recognition. Semler shares Pruitt’s oft-country affection on songs like Twenties.
Overall Stages of a Breakdown casts a wide indie net that should appeal to thirsty music lovers as a whole. There is mainstream potential in a subtle feel good vibe, while also serving hipster intellectuals searching for something deeper.
The intoxicating vibe is supported by introspective lyrical concepts. Semler shares a lot of themself in this tight 5 song package. The songs connect with a generation trying to process a culmination of social pressure, historical guilt, and cultural acceptance. This is a record for anyone who loves a lot but still can’t tell who their friends are. This sentiment jumps off on the opening track, the direct You’re Not My Friend, and carries through in subtle doses throughout the records progression. Semler is eager to show their crew a better way, and they package this discovery in a sweet musical package. For older listeners, it’s all about a vibe, but for younger people, Stages Of A Breakdown is anthemic.
Enjoy Don’t Tell Anyone now on our Best New Indie playlist.
A minimalistic project at its essence, the duo embellishes I’m Sorry with a mixed format orchestrated arrangement. Synths and samples intersect with strings in this modern big sound. Pulled from the archives of Phil Spector’s mind, the arrangement is meant to inject more emotion and drama into the moment. Not only does it achieve its affect, but it is propelled by the singers believable voice. Full of passion and soul, he is received as genuinely apologetic. He utilizes spatial phrasing, channeled from the vault of 60s soul rockers Otis Redding and Wilson Picket. That style was later adapted into the indie world by Ray LaMontagne. Like LaMontagne, Wil embraces a raw smoky delivery and leans into analog gains for added texture. I’m Sorry also connects with passionate works by Hamilton Leithauser and how he dresses his indie rock soundscapes with an energetic, unhinged raspy croon. Outlaw crossover Nathaniel Rateliff also has something in common with this work, and fans of all three singers will dig the stand alone vocal effort.
It also has heavy connections to masterful arrangers like Father John Misty and Arcade Fire, artists inclined to produce a big sound over an indie canvas.
Dating back to 2007, Wil has ventured into the multiverse of indie, consistently producing interesting releases full of intellect and care. Their works are cinematic artifacts encapsulating heavy vibes that span the soundtrack of our lives. I’m Sorry is very direct in it’s intention, and it succeeds impressively. A song for heartache and regret dressed in a gorgeous musical package, hurt never felt so good. One of our favorite discoveries of the year.
Find solace in I’m Sorry, now on our Best New Indie Playlist
The spiritual revelation known as ALMAHATA paints an electro folk dream on the new single Black Hair, For You. Warped textured guitars and shimmery percussion reimagine the poetic urban songwriting known to Feist and Sharon Van Etten. Derived from iconic vibes celebrated by 80s Springsteen, ALMAHATA conjures a unique update, feeding off our craving for nostalgia but offering that necessary sonic ambiguity to remain solitaire. Altogether ALMAHATA’s own expression, her unique token in arts musical world. Like Tash Sultana and fellow UK newcomer Natalie McCool, ALMAHATA reinvents our understandings of guitar’s place in this world. Able to see the instrument in a new light, it suggests so much untapped possibility.
The inventive presentation supports this captivating, smoky vocal. Equally comforting and sultry, you want to nestle beneath the warm affect of their voice. It calls you to love slowly, carefully, or to be loved charitably and to accept these gifts gracefully. These words of admiration and anecdotal musings found in Black Hair, For You, a love song for those who know its complicated depths and the sacrifice to submit yourself completely. “And it’s all for you, I wanna be so open.” ALMAHATA leaves themself open to a world of musical possibility. Only their third release, there is infinite potential.
Enjoy Black Hair, For You now on our Best New Indie playlist.
London Rockers Modern Guilt kick 2022 off in style with their new single Joy Control. The catchy high energy release is defined by undeniable swagger. The singers cool kid attitude will draw instant comparisons to Lou Reed. The dry vocal brings a raw aesthetic, mixed low to match the vintage attitude, pulling from the classic sound design of Exile on Main Street and how the Stones mixed Jagger to cut into the mix with sexy affect. Crafted with indie sensibility, it recalls more upbeat works by Wilco, and the guitar solo has the sonic appeal of Spoon. Indie rockers that occasionally dip into a retro aesthetic.
Joy Control craft a smart arrangement. Anchored by a dynamic bass line that grooves though the chords, creating movement in the vein of McCartney and Jamison. Pushing through the bass, the double time drum pattern demands the band drive through, keeping this soul train rolling. The guitar alternates between sloshing chords and calculating leads, leaning into mildly dirty tones that still let these notes ring through. They avoid the lure of over processed fuzz. In that manner it recalls The Strokes and The Libertines, acts that revived guitars simple origins and brought tube amps back to the mainstream.
These black leather school punks have pop art style. They get a rare kudos for their retro graphic conceptual album art. These classic patterns should crush a proper merch spread. Tied together with the music, it gives the overall project a sense of time and place.
Enjoy Modern Guilt, now on our Best New Indie playlist.