The pop of Maggie Szabo‘s “Touch the Ground” straddles a few tangential genre lines. There’s the subdued drums and piano of soft rock, there’s the riffing associated with a radio-ready take on soul, there’s the slight twang and shuffle of country and bluegrass. In other words, it’s pop in its purest sense, a style that draws from everything around it and reflects what people are listening to. Szabo is a uniting force, a singer who appeals to disparate groups of listeners, and that bringing together is always a force for good. Music is better when it’s shared.
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Terribly Yours’ “Golden Age” is a synth-heavy piece of rock crusted with scuzz. It’s a relatively straightforward indie rock song, but it sounds like it’s being tuned through a staticky TV set, an atmosphere of fuzz weighing down its otherwise light instrumental. The guitar solo near the middle is serene, shining brightly through the muck. If you’re looking for a low-key way to kick off your Wednesday morning, this should do the trick.
Mail the Horse’s sun-baked indie rock rolls like endless plains on a cross-country road trip, relaxed nearly to the threshold of sleep. “Backlash” wavers under a sheet of dust, psych-rock guitars noodling over the twang of a subdued country backdrop. It’s the kind of rock as at home in a Williamsburg bar as a Topeka barn, a universal style meant to unite. This sort of county-fair indie will stay in our cultural consciousness until the day the last guitar is smashed onstage, so it’s a relief that “Backlash” proves we still have a ways to go before we hit the bottom of the barrel.
The Brevet are a part of an ever-popular poppy flavor of folk rock, a genre spearheaded most publicly by Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers. Their newest video, a live one-take of their “Hold On”, hews closely to the former of these, anthemic acoustic guitar driving the song forward with verve. There are a lot of similarities between Brevet and Mumford — the heavily accented baritone vocals, the tamped-down drums, the close harmonies — but, most importantly, the two bands intersect in terms of their undying energy, a massive and effusive stage presence. It’s loud, it’s proud, and it’s uplifting in the most melancholically positive way.
North Carolina’s Estrangers’ last record, Season of 1000 Colors, was a bittersweet sunburst of power pop released back in 2013. Now, the band is prepping their sophomore record, and the first single from that release is “Croc Rock”. The song marks a few shifts in the band’s sound. The song isn’t afraid to murk up and complicate the band’s shimmering pop sensibilities, to leave a bit of coal dust on the diamond. Jangling guitars clash nicely with airy keys over a lean rhythm section that gives the song a pulse while giving its parts space to echo outward. “What would it take to chip your armor?” singer Philip Pledger wonders at the beginning of the song, and then the music answers, cracking its own pop sheen with dusty, scuffed-up guitar solos punctuating each chorus. There’s a lucid-dreamy feel to the track, as if it’s stuck somewhere between the physical and ethereal, between the grit of the earth and some rare shine mined from it. And if the textures of the song weren’t sweet enough, the chorus is stick-in-your-ear catchy and the song bursts with infectious energy. It’s an impressive introduction to the new album, and one that should build some anticipation for its upcoming release.