With 2022 getting the music world back to track and so many put-on-hold projects being released we do feel we got lost in the process. Like any other year there are a lot of great songs released in the last months that we should have posted about earlier, and as usual, with this SGA list we do our best to homage them now. Yes, you may call this a best-of-list. Because when it comes to best-of lists they are all about what or which songs moved us the most. And these ones moved us throughout this year. And will continue to. We are sure of that.
Don’t expect your already favorite songs to be on this list though. Expect, however, to be surprised with great songs you never heard before that you will want to include in your favorites list.
4B2M – Ou (a) est le temps?
Where did the time go? This is the English name of the 4B2M track that probably moved us the most. Both internally and in terms of body movements. Part of their debut album with the band name “4B2M“, “Ou (A) est le temps” is a truly synthesizer anthem. The band – whose name is short for four brothers, two mothers – is highly energetic and bouncy, and a track that is inspired by holidays spent in France in the nineties, while the lyrics nonchalantly refer to Marcel Proust’s epic novel In Search of Lost Time. “An appropriate reference, as time did seem to pass more strangely in the last two years“. What can we say more, except this must be one of the best songs we heard all year? Oh, it’s bop, super groovy and catchy, and a really good tune to party to.
The first single from Boogie Belgique’s fifth album “Machine” is the somber, nostalgic, chilled-out trip-hop vignette “Mercury“. Described by the band as “a romantic song about losing someone you love” but simultaneously “Boogie Belgique’s eulogy to nature & the natural world as we know it”, Mercury gently guides the listener through a decaying forest of memories and nostalgia. “If only we had another day… Hold my hand, don’t let go” laments vocalist Emily Van Overstraeten, meditating on the loss of those things closest, both people and the natural world around us. The track announces a stylistic shift for Boogie Belgique, full of dusty, sentimental sample chops and serene, snapshots of the past.
Circle – Lost Greyhound
“Lost Greyhound” is a wonderful collaboration between Sydney based Circle and Sarah Bird. A track that from the first instance sounds gentle and light in terms of sonority until it eventually evolves into an atmospheric blend that has something dark about it that is not hard to decipher. Mixing elements that go from the indietronica spectre to the indie-pop one, there is a constant drum in the back that keeps pushing the listener more and more into the track. Sarah Bird’s vocals sometimes remind us of Chvrches sonority, but there is also an Angel Olsen vibe going on, and mainly a sense of building a melody in a way it sounds effortless and natural. The minimal electronics that first are very subtle evolve in a way that perfectly showcases Circle’s way of making music. A very unique way that makes this very hard to let go off track after you really get into it as a listener.
Sometimes our favourite song is not the one that is getting the most traction. Sure it happened to us all. Cupid Girl released her debut EP this year entitled “Stages of Healing“. Of all the tracks “Claustrophobia” is for us the standout of the EP. The vocals are not only outstanding but the indie meets R&B blend is perfectly achieved while still sounding very much lo-fi. The track naturally builds up to the notion of being captive of her own reality. Starting out ambient, the song embraces melodic guitar hooks followed by intriguing chord progressions. The vocals grow in intensity as the dynamics develop into a firework of a soundscape, all elements working in harmony to deliver the message.
Dirty D feat. D. A on da Beat feat. Dubl A – Boostback Burn
“Rogue International hustler and Saxophone player, bad judgment little to no chance for a future, I make my music from the heart to satisfy myself using all types of beats and techniques I play my saxophone like a rapper spits lyrics, like a singer belts a tune, like a bird sings its song“. This is how Dirty D presents himself. The artist combines multiple tracks of saxophones in various octaves and ranges to give a full sound that emerges unique and revolutionary (almost). We got entangled by one of his latest ones featuring D.A. on da Beat and Dubl A, “Boostback Burn” is a great smooth track that puts us in a lot of different distinct moods. “It has the exact amount of energy needed to perfectly stop our Orbital Velocity and bring us back to earth. We can now enjoy the re-entry and have a smooth landing at home and relax. This is the final part of our Solar Sail journey and lets us start over but keep the memories of relaxation and happiness“.
“Heartbreaker” is one of the latest singles from Brooklyn’s dream-pop trio, Endearments. The song is a rollicking slice of new wave and post-punk and talks about going through the motions in a relationship you know is over,” explains Marksson. “The part of the song that hits me hardest is the chorus—I should have told you that I don’t want to love you anymore. It’s about coming to terms with what you need before you really feel it“. The addition of drummer Will Haywood Smith and guitarist Anjali Nair as full-time band members has allowed Marksson to step even more intimately into his role as bassist and singer. “Heartbreaker” is his most expressive vocal performance to date, ranging from rippling falsetto to aching whisper. Nair’s chorus-drenched counterpoints evoke bands like The Cure and Cocteau Twins, while Haywood Smith’s assertive drumming lays the foundation for the song’s propulsive energy.
Finches new single “Ooooo” continues to develop their unique style of insecure pop. By insecure they describe what they put into the lyrics but also a bit of the way their sonority mixes pop with RnB elements, electronic feels and many other bits and bytes. The track which is their second and latest single, paints a vivid picture of their own fragile masculinity, inviting listeners to embrace their own vulnerability. For us it is evident the great drums and the production that sounds just silky smooth. This is great also as it provides a sense of security in a song that reflects a sense of overwhelming paranoia, exhaustion and judgement from the outside on your relationship. In Finches’ words “I could change if you want me to, could you change if I needed you”. Fitting their influences from Radiohead, Stereophonics, Arlo Parks or Elliot Smith, this is a track made for the masses too. Gentle and unforgiving in the way it gets inside the listener’s brain effortlessly. And we should just thank them for that.
Fonteray – Floating Through My Head
Fonteray’s latest offering “Floating Through My Head“ expands upon the Melbourne-based (Naarm) artist’s unique blend of groovy, dreamy sounds that were introduced with his first two singles released last year. Driven forward by its colourful, groove-centric bed, this latest track continues to showcase the artist’s adoration for slinky basslines, vibrant synthesisers and a production style which marries modern and vintage sounds. Blending influences from neo-soul, funk and a signature sprinkling of psychedelia, the track took shape during Melbourne’s extensive lockdowns, before finally being laid down in January 2022 in an Abbotsford music studio with longtime collaborator Michael Beslar. On the track, McCarty states; “I think there was something about the groove and harmony of the song which made me sentimental. It ended up being an expression of those grander moments that stick with you, and how defining they can be even after being weathered by perspective, and made vague by time”.
Following the release of their debut, Pitchfork-approved, EP from last year Foyer Red returns with the twee and carefree freak-punk single “Flipper“. The track released 20 days ago continues the band’s brand of immediate and engaging “fuck-you crayon rock”, crafting fantastical and otherworldy realities in their stream-of-consciousness songwriting style. The track is playfully disjointed, with short, disconnected sonic arcs and lyrical vacillations between “reality” and Foyer Red’s dreamt-up post-apocalyptic world. Focusing on the satirical persona who drones on dramatically about hunger; the kind of silly girl (lead singer Elana Riordan) who goes to the bodega to buy more rolling papers and hangs out for a long while looking at snacks, waiting for something to happen. In its big, chaotic ending, the song’s narrator finds purpose, rage, and strength, in a way that will protect her for millions of years.
Free Daggers – Bobby, Don’t Blink
“Bobby, Don’t Blink” is the new single from indie-pop chameleon Free Daggers. The track will be featured in his forthcoming project “Young Love in America“. In a gorgeous mix of indie rock, indie pop and alternative rock with bits of RnB and even synth elements, the shining through is also done by the simplistic and very efficient vocals that feel groovy and very much Prince-like. “The song is about the languishing of the young and privileged during the pandemic, and revels in the apathy and mundanity that has pervaded urban society the past few years“. Lyrically as deep as the listener wants it to be, this is also a plus that proves his songwriting ability. Catchy for days, this is one to listen to for the entire year.
Hector Gachan is a Bosnian-Australian musician currently based in Edinburgh. His debut LP “Untitled ’91” released in the winter of 2017 cultivated a cult following from around the world. Since then he has gradually worked on his sophomore LP “Care 2 Share”. The eponymous track and second single of this album was released about two months ago and is a sick mellow indie track that sounds nothing short of genius and spot-on for high feels. In a clever mix of synthesizers and guitar riffs that create a mellow indie-pop ballad, the main guitar riff is something that Hector had originally written 10 years ago after first hearing legendary tracks like “Footsteps in the Dark” by The Isley Brothers and “Hung Up On My Baby” by Isaac Hayes. The vocals’ chilled sonority balanced with the funky guitars are probably the main recipe of this gorgeous track, however, the more you listen to it the more elements and bips we can notice, and that only makes it feel more like a treasure.
Gloomy indie singer/songwriter from Philadelphia, Jackson Vincent presents a unique and grungy mix of rock, pop, folk, and indie influences. The beginning of a musical movement being dubbed “music for ghosts” with acts such as Bon Iver, Hozier and Elliot Smith. In 2021 he released a debut EP entitled “Foxtrot” and in 2022 his only single to date is the marvellous “Untitled (Grace)“. This is a tragic story loosely based on true events and real people he once knew. The track was initially written and recorded during the sessions that would become his debut EP and that gets the light of the day about a year later. His first ever track with no guitars involved features a somber piano and some very well purposed heavy autotune. The song did remind us of Elliot Smith, but with a more modern twist. It’s something very peculiar from the US indie scene and we love it as it is very emotional
A traditional signifier of sadness, Jill Lorean took the idea of the “Black Dog” and spins it into a mythical realm, like an Ancient Greek fable. Jill explains the story as, “a lucid dream-like adventure where a godlike figure attempts to grant all of a person’s wishes by carving them all kinds of exciting things out of the clouds. But a sad dog keeps appearing so the deity swallows the sky not understanding that the person wanted to confront the whole spectrum of their emotions, including the sad dog chasing them around”. The track that is part of Jill’s debut album “The Rock” is a reminder that to truly live an honest life you have to confront your full gambit of emotions, not hide behind superficial happiness and adorn yourself with only life’s pretty, shallow trinkets. Heavily felt at times, and others superbly inspired by a cadence of a drum and a quick guitar drift the track makes us fly. Is also a track that surprises us by the way it is lengthy but not ever tiring or sounds less than consuming (in the best sense possible) and will make you want to sing beyond the end and very much inside your heart.
Releasing his first ever song in 2021, and releasing two more this year, Justin Nech’s “Daddy Issues” is the perfect showcase of why he is gaining a solid group of listeners on digital platforms. With a soul-funk vibe, very simple at first listen but evolving gently and without the listener noticing it, there is a very nice flow that makes us feel good while listening to it. Even if the song talks about daddy issues we still feel comforted and accompanied while listening to it. He says the track is about “my girlfriend who has daddy issues” and follows on the track by stating that her dad also hates him. Overall this is a really catchy tune where everything sounds great. Reminding us a bit of Rex Orange County and also a bit of Tom Mish. We expect great things to follow.
Hull six-piece and this year’s official SXSW artist Low Hummer unveiled 3 months ago their hypnotic single “Talk Shows“. A track that goes from post-punk to indie-rock and other alternative vibes, without the listener ever noticing it. Bustling with wiry guitars, off kilter synths and pulsating percussion the song is a cautionary tale disguised as an electrifying tirade on the mind-numbing monotony of Saturday night TV. The similarities with Courtney Barnet are quite evident but there is a fresher alternative rock side to it that feels both spicy and unique. Catchy too. Very very catchy, and the drums on this are evidently genius.
Maejis Mind is a solo music project by James Beasley, a musician originally from Philadelphia and currently based in Los Angeles. Maejis Mind’s psychedelic sound is a blend of driving guitars, modulated synths and echoing vocals. “Watch The Rain” is a song that marked the start of a new style for him, one that is more R&B influenced with storytelling components while maintaining some of the psychedelia. The track was written and recorded by himself who made a purposed of wanting for the tracks on it to sound like they were underwater: “The outro jam section was designed to sound like a downpour of rain, bringing cleansing/healing and opening up at the very end of the song“. Definitly organic and unique, the whole vibe of the track sorts of feel like enchanting us and make us to let go and go with the waves that transpose from it. The guitar vibes in the end and certainly a gorgeous highlight worth the wait every single time we listen to the track.
Matthew Liam Nicholson has tapped his creative well, steadily releasing new music since late 2021 with much more in the pipe. The California-based Australian composer recently released a lush instrumental guided meditation album entitled “Nine Movements“, an immersive and profound 39 minutes with central contributions from Los Angeles experimental-jazz seers Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Carlos Nino. “Time Machine” is a near-six-minute sweeping epic track that perfectly blends lo-fi rock with folk, pop and country elements. There is no uncertainty in the path the song lays out before the listener – lush guitars, earnest pedal steel, gorgeous string arrangements flourish and recede – the vocal harmonies a cleansing breeze. “Time Machine” is a pastoral, classic psychedelic work – a portal to timeless rolling hills with meadows and groves of trees in bloom – and the vista from above – the “40,000+ foot view” and then some.
Mercvrial – Be That Someone
Following on from 2019’s “The Stars, Like Dust” EP, post-punks’ four-piece Mercvrial are back with a brand debut LP entitled “Brief Algorithms“, out April 29th on Crafting Room Recordings. “Be That Someone” was the first taster taken from their debut album, and one that did not make us indifferent. The amount of Depeche Mode vibes is what we first noticed but then the track evolves and suddenly we feel more inside a Django Django track. From start to end, this is a track that overcomes those transitions like they are nothing. The deep vocals and gentle transitions are incredible and make us stay hooked as listeners for much time after the track ends. And just like that, we get the feeling we were listening to a nostalgic track, but at the same time we feel refreshed. Clever songwriting and good taste all around from this Mexican recording project that combines elements of post-punk, dream pop and neo-psychedelia.
Oh Bummer! – Going Out of My Mind
Teaming up with seasoned producer The KickDrums (50 Cent, Kid Cudi, Freddie Gibbs), Oh Bummer! keeps constant themes of vulnerability and humility in his music. His third and latest single, “Going Out of My Mind” features horns by Kelly Pratt (David Byrne, Arcade Fire, Beirut) and provides us with a gorgeous chilled and ironic vibe that feels as relaxed as entertaining. Tanner goes on to explain it: “This is the closest thing I made to a “quarantine anthem” during the first few months of the pandemic. The irony is that even before the stay-home mandate, crippling anxiety kept me home anyway. Here’s to everyone who felt stagnant, lonely, and like they were missing out on the last couple of years. And here’s to making up for lost time! The original beat I made for “Going Out of My Mind” was acoustic guitar-driven, so I was pleasantly surprised when The KickDrums sent back this beautiful sample-based beat.” With a debut EP around the corner, the project is set to turn easily into a no-brainer all around the world, and that is easy to explain with how easy this sounds to listen to multiple times.
Pure Intruders – Just Like Everybody Else
Sensibility, deep vibes and gorgeous 80’s sounding pop-rock elements: sometimes everything we want is delivered by a piece of music. That’s truly what Pure Intruders‘ latest track “Just Like Everybody Else” gave us, and still continues to give. This is a technicolour tune with cashmere-soft keys, sparkly synths and lush vocals with lyrical candour and emotional realism. They also describe it as “warmly approachable” but “strikingly original” in some way recognizing how difficult it is to achieve this combination. There are a gorgeous Stranger Things sonority to it and maybe that must be something to do with its charm too 3 months after the release.
Additionally, the music video is a playful, and light-hearted showcasing vocalist Madeline Smith walking around town and singing the lyrics while dancing in public spaces like strip malls, parking lots, playgrounds, and basketball courts treating the inconspicuous, unglamorous world as her stage. What respect to its meaning “the overall takeaway of the song exemplifies that life experiences can be many things at once: exciting, passionate, intimidating and ordinary“. Brilliance. Period.
SEKI – Need A Moment
Thai alt-pop newcomer SEKI is hoping to help the world reconnect with his dreamy synth-pop debut single “Need A Moment” released 3 months ago on independent record label Kaleidoscope BKK. With a merge of influences that spam from Tears for Fears to The 1975 and The Strokes, the sonority in SEKI is shoegaze-influenced but conducted by a clear indie-pop richness that perhaps finds the best hooks in the synth sounds, falsetto vocals, and lushly-layered harmonies. The track’s upbeat lyrics evoke the importance of living in the moment and taking the opportunity to celebrate those we love. After the impact of a now 2-year-long pandemic, the track’s mood is welcomingly uplifting – perhaps surprising given the personal toll of the impact on SEKI, who lost his job as part of Thailand’s drastic economic downturn. However, it was only after finding himself out of work that SEKI took to writing songs, seizing the opportunity afforded to him by the unexpected free time.
After a flurry of fresh and exciting cuts throughout this year, emerging artist Slimdan has unveiled his highly-anticipated debut EP “to anyone who cares“, alongside the new lead single “Magazines“. The track perfectly showcases his sonority with a distinctly sweet and laid-back approach, also offering a more lovelorn guise. Stripping back his usually broad and euphoric production for a simple piano-led melody, he serenades us with this warm and alluring gem that stands as one heartfelt effort:
“Magazines is one of those songs that I didn’t know I had to write until after the fact. My team had booked me for a session with a producer and another artist in North Hollywood. When the artist bailed last minute I found myself with a studio space, a chipotle chicken bowl, and for the first time in a minute – time to think. The other writer (Brian Brundage) and I decided to spend the day “writing for the sake of writing” and we ended up stumbling onto the most personal song I’ve ever written. When my wife (high school girlfriend at the time) and I started dating her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was the first time in my life I had experienced death, and I felt hopeless being the acne-ridden new boyfriend in the family dynamic. Going through that experience with her and her family bonded us in a way that I don’t think I was able to articulate until making this song. Brian had just gone through a similar experience with the person he was seeing and once the word “magazines” was thrown out of the room we both knew what to write about”.
This is one of those songs that we as listeners felt immediately connected with, just to feel it burning inside when we read what we had just read.
woods at nite – everything happens five a reason
Probably, from all the tracks we listen to this year, the most gorgeous track in the way it evolves can be “everything happens five a reason” from woods at nite. Described as a “song that takes a couple of journeys” the track lyrically starts with a sombre yet determined statement, “I will learn to cry without my mouth” then moves through little jokes breaking through the slog of office life, “Dial 9 anytime to speak to a friend“. Finally, we come out the other side into the serene, pseudo-zen, “everything happens and then everything happens“. From super lo-fi to the echoey piano, distant voice and acoustic guitar recorded on an iPhone — it opens up into more and more energy, all the instrumentation recorded to tape. “Like peering through a keyhole and then being pulled through into the house“. We could not describe it better. There are huge punches of indie sonority in this, and the sense that the track feels post-rock yet folky is also incredible.
“Wasting Time” is a cute, upbeat, quirky indie alt-pop song about the pull of codependency and the addiction of being with someone you want to waste all your time with. It’s light and energetic, with lyrics swollen in irony about the sacrifices you make by being in this phase. It was the debut release of Sydney indie alt-pop band youproblem, and the first of a ‘song every two months‘ sorta campaign, accompanied by a music video too (dropping a month after the single). Written, produced, and performed by Alistair Hayes and Alana Patmore, and mixed by Joel Quartermain, youproblem is set to crash onto the indie alt-pop scene, with a lot more coming up this year!