There’s a certain really particular feeling in this moment, as we’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel of the terrible pandemic we’ve been in the grip of for more than a year now. Which is not to minimize the fact that there are big parts of the world who are still firmly in its grip, and where I’m guessing spring probably feels a lot different.
Like most, I’ve lost people I know in the past year. Some, but not all, to COVID-19. I caught the disease myself, and was worried for my life, and for my family’s health. I have managed to find ways to stay positive throughout this year, but it’s been hard. And I’ve watched others, close to me and otherwise, really struggle with the burden.
But things feel lighter now. And even though I recognize that there is still lots to do for us to ‘recover’ from this crisis, and it’s not at all clear that we’ll be able to do it in the right order, or at the right scale, it feels like we’re in a place where we can try, where things can happen.
I am grateful to have IMF, a community of creative people from around the world who I’ve shared some of this experience with. I’m looking forward to sharing the next phase of our common existence with that community.
And, it’s probably just projection, but I hear some new optimism in this month’s community playlist. It’s packed to the gills with some really unique and compelling music, and a really satisfying listening experience as a whole. Don’t take my word for it – press play and enjoy.
Thanks again to
Bug, who wrote blurbs for many of the tracks on this month’s list, and who is shepherding the Indie for a Cause project, which just released it’s Volume 2 compilation, which raised money for direct COVID-19 relief in India.
Also, I want to welcome new blurb-writer
Echo, who dipped a toe in this month’s blurby current, which is just terrific.
Please enjoy. Hope is yours for the taking.
FROM THE ARTIST: This track was the final one that Flora Lin and I wrote for our EP. As lockdown started last year, I settled into a rented office/studio in a basement that was to be my lockdown home. I sat there somewhat in shock for a week or two, then I made a beat, named it after the nearest object to hand – a club called “The Others” two floors above me, hit save, and sent it to Flora. She came back with this killer vocal and we quickly put together what we like to think of as a little time-capsule that captures some of the strange emotions of those early days. Enjoy.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Rich. Like a big gooey piece of delicious chocolate cake. With a glass of whole fat milk. Flora’s vocals just weave themselves through Televangeles’s dense synthy textures and minimal downtempo beat. The yearning is real in this one, but it’s far from bleak. There’s optimism between those thar beats.
FROM THE ARTIST: Does it ever feel like the world’s coming apart and no one’s coming to save us? Little River is a song about what happens when people give up. But if we work together, I believe we can save ourselves ❤
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Wonderfully resonant, bassy vocals deliver clever lyrics over a bright instrumental arrangement. Comforting and catchy!
FROM THE ARTIST: This is part of an EP surrounding a murder in a lake town
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Pultixima does mood so well, this track doesn’t need the film it obviously belongs with to tell its story. This track (and the EP it’s part of) is drenched in regret and mystery, underpinned by nagging fear and doubt.
FROM THE ARTIST: The lofi percussion, dreamy synths and emotionally gripping vocal make this track a dreamy and nostalgic experience
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: These vocals are really special – sweet & effortless. The track lives in downtempo, near the border with pop. So many little moments of waiting make the track feel like a story told while falling asleep, or in a dream.
FROM THE ARTIST: Coasting along near the lake as the sun starts to get low.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Trademark strong percussion from Popijininsky, the opening third is more reserved than his typical material, providing plenty of space before the hammers come down in the latter half. With a sticky, velcro bass and layers of squelching synth leads, “Sweet Sunset” is nuanced and textural, its tones dancing around the listener’s headspace with rich panning, providing new joys to be found with each listen.
FROM THE ARTIST: I wrote this thinking of how fast time passes and how unfair and cruel it can feel. Hope you enjoy it!
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Drama! The kind of track that winds up on a Disney soundtrack, and everyone’s humming it for the next three or four years. Also it’s metal…beautiful soaring metal.
FROM THE ARTIST: One of the first songs I wrote, I had vocals and a rough instrumental programmed with samples. I sent my vocals to Zyekali who felt inspired to create this beautiful arrangement, and we continued to work on it together. It’s an alt rock song about haunting obsessive love.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Rich and haunting… A classic Flora Lin track! The vocals, guitar, and drums create a driving trio of perfection that are perfectly complimented by the soul-stirring synth tones.
FROM THE ARTIST: A different kind of breakup song
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Described as “a different kind of breakup song”, the very composition of this track accurately captures the complications of relationships – there’s a lot going on, combinging beautiful melodies with at-times sporadic instrumentation that weaves in and out of the track, perhaps symbolic of the waves we experience in relationships. With a lush vocal performance from Atlantic Canyons and compelling, varied production by Popijininsky, this collaboration has a lot to say, and you’ll be listening time and time again to catch all the details.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: The bass sounds like a pool rippling from the perfectly panned raindrop sounds. Fresh vocals provide an effortlessly cool flow over this minimalist perfection.
FROM THE ARTIST: Fully Charged is a hip-hop/rap song which draws inspiration from the likes of Jack Harlow and Big Sean! It has got hard hitting bars and a catchy flow! With a bouncy beat, empowering lyrics and a danceable and confident like flow, this song is a banger which one can enjoy and it brings energetic and uplifting vibes upon the listener!
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: True to its name, this track is full of bold energy. Strong vocal delivery, fresh samples, and a catchy beat make it one for the books.
FROM THE ARTIST: Eurodance from another world
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: This track is like nothing else, and a short blurb of text is a disservice to the amount of creativity and artistry on display here. Refuel your rocket and prepare for blast-off, because this truly is eurodance from another world, and it’s blissful.
FROM THE ARTIST: alien grandmammie made you a plate of fresh shellfish cookies from Uranus
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Squishy and odd. Like Devo replicated by AI trained on degraded source material. It’s surprisingly boppy.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Few can compare to MindHotel’s production – yet again, another track that is as pristine as it is effortless. Filled with enough ear candy to make dentists drool, this is a gorgeous pop track that checks all the right boxes: catchy vocal performance, huge sidechained bass, and brass, oh, the brass!
FROM THE ARTIST: I’m trying to get Ted Kaczynski into electronic music.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: This may be what people decades ago imagined music would sound like in a dystopian year 2021! A dynamic beat and carefully orchastrated, complex arrangement of synths and samples make this a remarkably fun and fresh track.
FROM THE ARTIST: a lofty re-contextualization of the Jay Reatard tune “Fading All Away” in the tradition of the Cardigans’ “Iron Man” and Helvetia’s “Hybrid Moments”. Taking a brash punk tune into new territory, analog lofi lullabye land.
FROM THE ARTIST: The first single from an upcoming EP due May 7th by Fried Monk and beautiful-fortune. For fans of Gorillaz, Grizzly Bear, and Kid Cudi
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Spacebop. It’s cute, sunny. Earwormy saturated vocals and guitar hooks. Soundtrack for a trip to the moon, in case you were looking for one.
FROM THE ARTIST: Nightcore Remix of my track Electrolyte
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Mukherjee’s remix of Electrolyte makes a catchy and uplifting song even more catchy and uplifiting! Sporting a brand new pitch and tempo, as well as brighter percussion, this version packs a punchs and deserves to be played at any party or celebration.
FROM THE ARTIST: A hymn of deference to Clippy, ancestor of our modern digital assistants.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Sometimes Semaphora’s lyrical content recreates Shakespearean; othertimes, we’re treated to an ode to everyone’s favorite office assistant, Clippy. A beautiful and intricate composition, it’s less of a single track and more of an entire journey, as theatrical as it is rocking. Each instrument stands on its own, expertly written and performed, and yet there’s no competition amongst the elements – each facet of the song deftly comes together to help us remember Clippy in the best way we ever could.
FROM THE ARTIST: A song about my absolute disgust with human behaviour at such a critital time as a human species.. Like.. Get YOUR SHIT TOGETHER! How can people be so wilfully blind, it grinds my gears dammit! Production is meh, chorus i find catchy
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Heavy blues rock inflected metal. The pumping compression and long vocal delay gives it an unexpected touch of dance music propulsion and swing. I have no idea what the lyrics say. Probably something terrible, with a name like Manfilth. I ain’t scared.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Evokes a (probably adorable) digital ghost, haunting the airwaves to find the mysterious and fascinating voices of spirits being broadcast around the globe… An exceedingly fun and catchy tune featuring excellent production!
FROM THE ARTIST: my first dance pop release, and also my first release of the year!
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Driving 90s-inflected electropop – sophisticated party music. You gotta sweat out those cosmos somehow, amirite?
FROM THE ARTIST: A hard rock tune with a relentless driving bass.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: The chord progressions are tasty and the distortion is just right in this epic track. Fantastic work from Minor Inconvenience!
FROM THE ARTIST: Club Mate remix with LOTS of synths
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: This is not a cover, or a remix, but kind of a through-the-looking-glass homage to Kelis’s classic late 90s pop banger. You really just have to hear it, like definitely press play right now.
FROM THE ARTIST: A synth jam recorded in one take. Lyrics are intended to be a mantra of self-love and affirmation. I am brilliant. I am brave. I am beautiful.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: This electro-affirmation is proof that earnest optimism never goes out of style. The world is a better place when we can focus on the better instead of the worse.
FROM THE ARTIST: PUBLIC FORUM:C.T. Lee (Famous American Philosopher) Will DiscussA Sinister PhilosophyADMISSION FREE
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: With its irresistably sinister beat, A Sinister Philosophy evokes the bad boss in a gnarly game. C.T. Lee creates an otherworldy space rich with fascinating sample arrangements and a very hooky melody. An instant classic!
FROM THE ARTIST: Play this song when you want chill romantic vibes that mesh various electronic genres (chillout, triphop, r&b, downtempo). The delicate melodies weave and vocals drift through a strong beat with a passionate culmination. Please enjoy As Light Breaks.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Yet another beautifully crafted electronic piece from Eliphosys, bearing many trademark elements of their sound – lofty chords; ethereal vocal chops; and driving, but not distracting, percussion. This is a track that floats around your head, its various melodies whispering to you as the song lulls you to a state of serenity; it captures inner peace.
FROM THE ARTIST: First electronic song attempted. Inspired by the Jack Atlas theme from Yu-Gi-Oh! Is an angry song about dealing with a drama queen.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: For a first attempt at crafting an electronic tune, Machlin hits it out of the park. A thumping house kick and synth arpeggios keep the groove going, making it impossible not to dance along as Machlin sings and riffs on his guitar. Bonus points for the Yu-Gi-Oh inspiration!
FROM THE ARTIST: sexy groovy megadeth vibes 🙂 sweet and short
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Snaky guitar and bright vocals contrast the muted bass and percussion to make a very catchy and unique track. This gives a major earworm and just begs to be played on loop!
FROM THE ARTIST: Raw and noisy track without a bass – boomy kicks take its place
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Interesting and nonconventional arrangement choices abound, not the least of which is intentionally leaving out the bass in favor of a booming kick. Noisy and sprawling, the track unravels layers of crunchy guitars and snarling leads. It’s a beautiful cacophony with a thunderous groove, sure to pull at the heartstrings of fans of ’90s indie rock.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Chillout electronica, but not tooo chilled out…more for staring into the distance on a yellow orange afternoon thinking about the future than for trying to forget the past.
FROM THE ARTIST: L’appel de l’Immortel (the call of the immortel) is an eletro track meant to be 100% drop. The result is closer to 95 😄
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Nonstop drop. Music to get real worked up to, like before doing crimes or whatever.
FROM THE ARTIST: one for all the dreamers ❤️
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Loping trip hop. Camoragi’s vocals float over other floaty things. The little piano licks remind me of old filmstrips, or the short films between things on public television in the 70s. Does anyone else remember filmstrips? I am old as dirt.
FROM THE ARTIST: Kpop inspired pop/dark electronic track
FROM THE ARTIST: Profound sadness isn’t generic. We all feel it differently.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Deep piano reverb grounds us in the rich emotion that we hear in the heartfelt vocals and poignant lyrics. Sparkling guitar and piano melodies are simple but heart-wrenching. Just beautiful.
FROM THE ARTIST: One of my first collabs and one of the more experimental songs since I’ve joined IMF. It showed me how great collabs are because Porkboii upped this song to another level! The song is about love that never happens
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: DHXP’s powerhouse production and catchy melody-making shine in this grungey, blues-y duet about unrequited love. The track develops in such unexpected ways, even employing some perfect death growls!
FROM THE ARTIST: A song about the stealthy way words choke and kill you. Words have power, and some people try to abuse them to turn you against yourself.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: The swirling panning of water sounds immerses us into this powerful song right off the bat. Unexpected pauses and breakdowns make the dynamic beat even more thrilling. And Camoragi’s vocals are exquisite as usual!
FROM THE ARTIST: It’s been a wild year. Who is sick of their family?
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Dubrow is a born storyteller with a knack for compelling song narratives with wry humor, and this track is no exception. A fun, bouncing romp, expertly crafted to make the most of its short runtime, and sure to get a chuckle around the campfire at the next family gathering.
FROM THE ARTIST: About going out with friends, and how complicated that can feel when your mental health is suffering. I also wanted to experiment with a slow song that builds into an epic conclusion.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Droning and muted…the dull edges of depression are here for the listening. And then it lifts into something bigger, and more open. Yulsy.
FROM THE ARTIST: This track layers different rhythms around a repetitive synth melody. The sounds give me a feeling of systematically searching through a new environment, hence the name
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: A minimal exploration of rhythm and polyrhythm. Soundtrack to a montage of robots working in teams.
FROM THE ARTIST: This is the single off our new EP that just came out. This group was really helpful in getting the mix down, I really appreciate it!
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: A workingman’s anthem, part of a long tradition of ‘struggles are real’ songs. Real pop songcraft in this one. Great accessible lyrics, crisp vocals, and a solid guitar-driven backbeat.
FROM THE ARTIST: 🔪 😵 “Kill the Messenger” is our latest single, released April 9th. This energetic dance pop / electro pop song has the word “KILL” 93 times in it. The fun, almost goofy beat definitely provides a unique balance here!
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: This bop hooks us the moment the beat drops! Dark lyrics juxtaposed with a bouncy beat and playful composition just make this so much fun.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Led by stunningly beautiful keys, “till the end” is as ethereal as it is hard-hitting, with a drastic beat switch following the track’s most serene moment. The contrast of the dreamlike melodies with the heavy percussion results in an effective and emotional rap ballad deserving of repeated listens.
FROM THE ARTIST: The F-use is a one man band 🙂
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Combining huge guitar riffs with ferocious vocals, The F-Use’s latest single, “Chaser”, manages to perfectly blend pop sensibilities with head-banging rock grooves. The track is filled to the brim with movement, effortlessly sliding between various riffs while maintaining an impressive – and cathartic – level of energy.
FROM THE ARTIST: Synth(y) Indie Rock. Riding the waves of synth and emotion
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Blissful and dreamlike wall-of-sound production remniscient of M83’s early material; the soundtrack to late night drives, dazed and hazy; a beautiful and comforting synthpop tune that envelops the listener and carries them to another plane, one where everything, for a moment, is alright.
FROM THE ARTIST: Out Days is the first single off my upcoming EP. All composed recorded and produced by me with a very DIY indie sound. My songs are very personal and inward facing. I let my stream of consciousness flow into the track whilst trying to create dreamy, chill and experimental sounds. If any amount of people connect to my music in a genuine way my goal has been achieved.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: A soft and emotional piece, the spaces throughout provide the listener ample opportunity for pensive reflection as the track builds and swirls around them, ultimately resulting in wistful, meditative peace.
REVIEWER SOUNDBITE: Punchy rhythms, crunchy guitars, and infectious songwriting – BEES! continues to combine the best elements of the pop-punk greats of yesteryear, alongside a groovy bass breakdown midway through the track, replete with a blanket of guitar noise from space, before closing with a triumphant hook.