While the fog rolls in and the rain falls over Milwaukee today, I figured it fitting to make my second mini-mixtape a collection of under-the-radar songs that will put you in a sunnier state of mind. From eclectic alternative to clean-cut indie pop to electronic, this mix explores many different elements that go into making a feel-good tune. As a wise man once said “everyone is fighting their own battle,” so I hope this playlist will help you shake off whatever is bringing you down today, while also discovering some new summer jams. Listen here to the entire playlist. Enjoy!
1. “Moscow” by Autoheart
In my personal music-listening history, there is not a single song that can cheer me up as much as “Moscow.” Autoheart, London-based indie-pop group, has a zesty yet well-groomed sound that will have you by the hair in the best way possible. “Moscow” has all the elements needed to be a super-catchy chart-topper, but for now, it is one of the music scene’s best kept secrets. The combination of guitars, a punchy piano melody and kickdrums make you want to get up and dance, while the astonishingly clever lyrics make you want to smile and sing along.
2. “Love Is All I Got” by Feed Me & Crystal Fighters
When alternative “folktronica” group Crystal Fighters pairs with bass-loving house music producer Feed Me, something magical happens. “Love Is All I Got” is a perfect contradiction of a song, incorporating acoustic strumming and an uplifting vocal melody with a heavy bass line and electronic dance beats. This is the song you will be blasting at your next summer party.
3. “Will You Be Sleeping?” by The David Wax Museum
The David Wax Museum, a band influenced by Mexican folk music, comes through with a song that is not your average alternative indie tune. The infectious, sun-drenched melody of “Will You Be Sleeping?” is enhanced by a dazzling amalgam of sounds including the fanfare of trumpets, an organ, and a Mexican guitar known as a jarana. The song’s Latin flair is matched perfectly by the lead vocals of David Wax and Suz Slezak that rise to a flawless falsetto in the chorus. No matter what the weather is outside, this song will take you to a sunnier place.
4. “Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance
Sometimes, less is more when it comes to a groovy dance tune. German folk-pop trio Milky Chance blends genres and techniques to create “Stolen Dance,” a song that embellishes a mesmeric beat with an understated folky texture. Building to a catchy fervor in the chorus, it’ll be hard not to sing along to this one.
5. “Wildewoman” by Lucius
Lucius is the brainchild of seasoned vocal powerhouses Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig. This irresistible tune from their 2013 debut album showcases the raw talent of these two musicians. In “Wildewoman,” Wolfe and Laessig harmonize, layer, and intertwine their voices with impeccable mastery. This lighthearted yet no-nonsense tune begs you to hum along to the playful verses and tap your toes along to the drumbeats of the cathartic chorus. (Since purchasing this song last week, I have played it over 40 times.)
6. “Radar Detector” by Darwin Deez
“Radar Detector” is an upbeat, eclectic song about young love that musically draws elements from the Strokes and Phoenix. Darwin Smith, lead singer for American indie band Darwin Deez, is the singular voice that drives this catchy song and somehow I always get sucked into his trailing melody and unusual song structure. Although I don’t think I would ever use the line “you are a radar detector” to compliment someone, this song will lift your spirits nonetheless.
7. “This Moment” by French Horn Rebellion
“This Moment” by French Horn Rebellion lies at the crossroads of electronic and disco. Pushing the boundaries of the indie-electronic genre, French Horn Rebellion stands out from the crowd with its Saturday Night Fever vibe, incorporation of big-band instruments, and consistently excellent vocals. “This Moment” is made to get people on dance floor.
8. “Philosopher” by We Invented Paris
We Invented Paris is a lesser-known band that has been producing sophisticated indie-pop since the early 2010s. “Philosopher” is off of their most recent album, Rocket Spaceship Thing, which was released this past January. This song is the perfect soundtrack for free-spirited activities like frolicking through a field with friends, dancing around a bonfire, or stargazing on a beach. With a hand-clapping chorus and smooth vocals, the song rises and falls with swells of perfectly-timed percussion. It’s the small details in this song that make it so delightfully flavorful.