While 2022 has been full of ups and downs, one of the things that has remained consistent throughout the year is the exciting under-the-radar musical talent. With live music performances and other in-person music industry events returning to normal, new album and single releases are flooding in, and we are here for it.
As more artists reveal their creative projects they’ve been working on since the lockdown and get back to performing and touring, the amount of moving music has been overwhelming in the best way possible.
After reflecting on the past six months, we’ve compiled a Top 10 list of indie pop and rock releases that stood out to us.
10. Alysia Kraft – “Little River”
Indie-rock songstress Alysia Kraft released her inspirational single, “Little River,” back in mid-April. A song influenced by her harrowing near-death experience where she almost drowned in a small river, Kraft’s recent single offers liberation from the past in the motivational lyrics, driving drums, and dynamic guitar. This song was the perfect introduction as the single for her album, First Light, which released on June 17th. It is a collection of songs featuring similar overarching themes of self-reflection over a full-band sound and lilting vocals. Her triumphant and visionary music video for this song made with the 53:14 Music Experiment also offers well-executed insight into the struggles and victories this track represents.
9. The Hamptons – “Clouds”
On cloud nine after releasing their single “Clouds” in February, The Hamptons offer an upbeat electric-pop flavor to their full band sound and romantic lyricism. The Nashville-based indie group draws inspiration from bands like The Killers, The Beatles, and Foster the People, and created this single with the objective of lifting spirits, and sonic experiments to develop a nostalgic and positive atmosphere. Amassing over 9,000 streams, “Clouds” is one of The Hamptons’ most popular songs as it delivers their edgy and optimistic vibe with electric guitar driven melodies, creative vocal production, and dynamic bass.
8. LASKA – Endless Patcher
Harmonic, folk-pop vibes take an interesting turn in Endless Patcher, an organic and atmospheric album by sisters Bex, Mookie, Hannah, and the additional band members of LASKA. Currently touring across the country to perform the mellow acoustics and dynamic layered vocals that distinguish this album, LASKA released this 10-track banger in June. The release is ripe with raw emotion and dreamy cadences. LASKA’s release of music videos for their album singles “Funhouse” and “Dog Bite” execute their vocal and musical ranges from upbeat to slow while featuring natural scenery and production. The striking storylines in songs like these define Endless Patcher as refreshing in its honest lyricism and natural ambience, giving you something to chew on while taking in the rich vocals and earthy textures of the band.
7. Katy Guillen & The Drive – “Set In Stone”
Katy Guillen & The Drive’s single, “Set In Stone,” takes you on a rugged ride, complete with a punchy guitar riff and powerful vocals that put the rock in indie-rock. The band is made up of singer-songwriter and guitarist Katy Guillen and drummer Stephanie Williams who have devoted themselves to “establish their guitar driven indie-rock style, and evolving from their previous sound as Katy Guillen & the Girls.” Their recently released music video for “Set In Stone” features the strong and sultry performance of the two-woman band in action, transporting the ear to a groovy dimension. With their Fall 2022 album release Another One Gained on the horizon, Guillen and Williams are likely to produce a collection of even more tasteful tracks.
6. The Love-In – “Spotlight Starlet”
Lighting up the stage with a “sneaky electric guitar line and seductive vocals”, indie glam rockers The Love-In released their electric single “Spotlight Starlet” just last week. A precursor to their upcoming EP, also named Spotlight Starlet, the single demonstrates lead singer-songwriter Laurel Sorenson’s sultry vocals on top of the band’s groove-ridden and energetic beat. In an effort to “blend introspection with sensuality”, The Love-In’s creative process for their emerging EP involves storylines and melodies inspiring passion, confidence, and self-reflection while exploring their unique sound as a band.
5. The Bergamot – “Breakdown”
Emmy-awarded married couple Jillian Speece and Nathaniel Paul Hoff have been performing and creating music together for years under their band name The Bergamot. Their newest single, “Breakdown,” features their synthetic sound and organic harmonies as they express the pain of a breakdown and the necessity of vulnerability and communication in hard times. With slow keys and a steady beat that crescendos to an upbeat chorus break, The Bergamot’s harmonic vocals cradle the ear and demonstrate rising above challenges in their melodic range. Their music video for this song visualizes struggle and victory with images of a “scenic mountainous landscape with the subject immersing themselves into it” and “a glowing moment of acceptance”.
4. Juniper Vale – Suddenly What?!
With an emotional and reflective take on uncertainty and the future, indie-pop artist Juniper Vale uses her experiences as an artist during the pandemic to inspire her latest album Suddenly What?!. This record includes optimistic, lively synth-pop beats and also includes Vale’s collaborations with many other artists like Vian Izak and Paden, which emphasize her bright vocals and upbeat sound. Vale’s message rings true throughout each song with “a deep faith that things will indeed be okay” despite intimidating obstacles and obscurities. Any of these whopping 16 tracks just might overtake your playlist suddenly with sweet melodies and vivacious vibes.
3. Bobby Halvorson – “Nothing Feels Like Home”
Before releasing his album Parasympathy in May, Bobby Halvorson released a few singles, including “Nothing Feels Like Home” in January to kick off the new year. Through haunting vocals, poignant lyrics, and a descending synth melody, Halvorson sonically depicts his battle with anxiety and mental health. His education in music composition and involvement in the music industry prepared him for his solo career where he uses music as an outlet for his lived experiences, and his unique sound stands out among the crowd.
2. The North Country – “Procrastinator”
Alt-pop indie band The North Country dedicates themselves to experimenting with their sound and exploring the unique and unpredictable world we live in through their music. Their April single, “Procrastinator,” features an overarching theme of relationships and love as the band described their recent music as “a testament to the importance of having people in your life who you care about.” With soothing vocals and organ notes combined with a frenzied drum line and guitar riffs, “Procrastinator” encapsulates the idea of hesitation as perceived by each member in their instrumentation and vocals. Their upcoming album, Born at the Right Time (Exquisite Corpse), which will be released this month, further illustrates the necessity of companionship and their maverick musicality that challenges the status quo.
1. Ali Angel – Ali Angel
L.A.-based indie pop songwriter Ali Angel delivers a soulful pop ambience in her latest, EP Ali Angel, displaying funky and high-spirited compositions. Angel’s cadenced vocals paired with her impressive range and syncopated, groovy beats throughout this EP have heavy shades of R&B and soul, while adding a flavorful pop twist. Her lyricism deals with themes of complexities in love and relationships draws attention to relatable storylines and is underscored by unique instrumentation in the form of brass instruments and a beachy electric guitar. Angel’s multi-faceted style brings an adventurous and romantic sound to the table that “makes you want to sway in the warmth of a loved one’s arms on the dance floor”.