Think of all the music being uploaded to the internet right at this moment. Now think of all the music you’d be missing if you didn’t land right here on an Indie Dojo today. All wrapped up in a pretty little playlist just for you.
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After a full twelve months of sifting through submission emails, IMs and tweets from artists, and pages upon pages of SoundCloud, BandCamp, and Spotify, I’m finally ready to sum up 2016 with my absolute favorite tracks. Some I wrote about, others I simply enjoyed. But, none the less, these 16 tracks filled my headphones, car speakers, and SONOS system over and over again throughout this past year.
Ranging from alternative, to indie dance, to outright dance floor heaters, this year stayed true to my typical tastes. I’m all over the board, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Viola Beach’s debut album was one of my favorite collections of music in a long time, and I wholeheartedly believed that this budding young act was on their way to be the next big thing. As many of you know, all of these young musicians passed away in a tragic car accident on their way to a gig. But, the silver lining in all of this is that their music will live on forever. Throw on “Boys That Sing” and get ready to belt out the chorus.
Boys that Sing
If you’re not onto these cats just yet, it’s about time you start paying attention. Their inventive, quirky, and highly addictive style is spreading quick. They don’t take themselves too seriously, which is evident in the playfulness of “The Sneeze.” Definitely one of my favs in 2016.
I’m a huge fan of the gritty, heavy, and weird. Unfortunately, I don’t typically write up tracks that fit in that wheelhouse, just because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense here on TMN. However, Hidden Charms were a fringe act for me, allowing you to get a glimpse of some of my other musical tastes, while still fitting what we’re all about. It’s dark and hazy, with just a hint of pop, and to be perfectly honest, I still can’t get enough of it.
Ethan Burns is truly an old soul, as evidenced through his smokey, iconic, and downright dreamy voice. I’m usually a fan of artists who call on styles and influences from earlier decades, and this selection definitely has a 60’s soul feel that I just can’t shake.
Coming in on the calmer side of the equation, this emotive offering from Minnesota-based Morly caught my attention earlier this year. Blending together some future bass elements and traditional singer/songwriter/pop styling, it’s a creative offering that should have you quickly engaged. I know it did for me.
I can’t help but smile when “Butter” comes on. It’s weird and wacky, yet still maintains perfect pop sensibilities, giving listeners an unexpected thrill ride throughout. If you’re into quirky indie pop, look no further than WEIRDO.
I couldn’t have a “Best of 2016” recap without giving an emphatic nod to Gallant. Excuse me, I meant the GRAMMY nominated Gallant. He’s spread across the globe faster than one of Donald Trump’s poorly crafted tweets, and it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. He’s the new voice of R&B and there’s nothing else to really say.
To be perfectly blunt, I just really fucking love Tycho. His spaced-out, indie-infused, electronica comes through my headphones quite regularly, whether I’m working, writing, or just hanging around the house. His albums never get old, and this year’s release certainly showcases that once again.
I was a bit thrown off when I first listened to this track. Could this really be Pierce Fulton? The same guy that put out “Kuaga?” It is. It seems like Fulton has had a change of heart, chasing after music he’s truly passionate about. The end result? Definitely one of my favorite tracks and EPs this year. As an added bonus, this particular track features one of my artists to watch in 2017, NVDES.
If one track encapsulates an entire year, it’s this one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to it, or how many people I’ve introduced to it, or how many Moments I’ve experienced to it. It’s absolutely amazing and deserves the highest of praise.
To be perfectly honest, I could list a few tracks from Fantastic Voyage, but since I’m trying to spread the love to some other artists, I’ll just go with my fav. “What Do You Want” has had a heavy place in my regular rotation since the day it came out. I can’t wait to see what Justin Jay does in 2017.
This one flew under the radar a bit, coming in at just over 50k plays on SoundCloud, but it was fantastic, none-the-less. Silky, smooth, tropical, and perfect for a lazy day by the pool. I definitely blasted this out my windows throughout the last few warm-weather days here in Denver. And, I’ll be holding onto it for future summer playlists.
I’m in love with Goldwash, and everyone who’s around me knows it. “U Won’t” showcases everything I adore about this up-and-coming act, highlighted by his piano work, funk-laden beats, and gorgeous falsettos. I’m expecting great things out of him in 2017.
I first caught onto The Magician at UMF in 2015, and I haven’t looked back since. From his captivating sets, to his legendary Magic Tapes, to his curated artists on Potion, to his remixes and originals, I just love everything he’s got going on. “Shy” definitely had it’s place in my heart this year, often getting me revved up for a wild night on the town.
Being the huge classic rock nerd that I am, Bobby Nourmand always impresses me with his reinterpretations of iconic songs. It takes a confident artist to remix acts like The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle, and Billy Idol. There’s a lot that can go wrong. Fortunately for this LA-based artist, it always comes out right. Tastefully done and quite memorable.
This song is so subtle. So delicate. So sensuous. The vocal samples are so meticulously and creatively crafted and placed, creating an otherworldly experience. I could listen to it over and over again. And, I have.
Waterfalls (Dear David Remix)
After forming just a year ago. Sheffield-based indie act SHEAFS are on the right track. Highlighted by an iconic, guitar-driven sound, they’re quickly turning the collective head of tastemakers, bloggers, and some of our favorite emerging bands alike. And, it doesn’t look like there are any signs of slowing down.
Their style is one that fuses multiple genres and influences together, lead by dark and twisted lead guitar work. At times, it calls on associations of the legendary Surf Rock guitarist Dick Dale, if he were crafting the soundtrack to a sadistic horror movie. And, at other points, we can’t help but think of the Arctic Monkeys, if they were hopped up on too much caffeine and going through a bout of darkness.
Today, we’re bringing you the first look at their debut music video, produced by Sheffield Filmmakers Ben McFarlane and Jordan Carroll. Shot in the basement of Theatre Delicatessen in Sheffield, the story of “Nobody’s Watching” comes to life through a black and white treatment, an industrial background, and quickly shifting shots that keep up with the fast and furious tempo lead by impressive bass and percussion work.
If you’re feeling the haunting vibes from this tune and accompanying music video, we highly recommend visiting the other selections from their 4-track EP.
Photo Credit: Lewis Evans
Here it is. The last Indie Dojo of the year. It’s been a wild ride, dear friends, but here we are. We made it. And we are ready to face another next 365 days with 52 more indie dojos to put in our pocket. Cheers!
Nothing says “I Love You” or “I Like You” quite like making someone a playlist. So, if you’re one of those, currently scrambling to find a few last minute gifts for those fantastic people in your life, we’ll let you take credit for finding some awesome indie jams and placing it all into a wonderful little playlist for them. After all, it is the season of giving and we love nothing more than a little bit of giving.
Somewhere along Route 66 where decaying service stations quietly rest and rustling tumbleweeds cross regularly, “Sparrows” plays lightly in the background alongside cascading plumes of smoke from a Marlboro Red, the stale smell of old coffee, and rays of sunlight filtering through an aging strip of tint at the top of the windshield.
“Sparrows” brings to mind time-worn images like this.
The funny thing is, it just came out — yesterday, in fact. And already, it’s blanketing me with a delicate sense of nostalgia. I just can’t shake its gripping familiarity in an intriguing new package.
New Mystics and the man behind it are, perhaps appropriately, mysteriously shrouded, so there’s not much to disclose about this artist yet. That said, I’m certain that he has an old soul. The sheer power of these songwriting abilities feels like it would be at home on an old, dusty 45 getting broken out with a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle for one of those special occasions. The verses call on associations of one of the most iconic folk artists, Neil Young, while the choruses give way to memories of listening to Lennon and McCartney.
Its style beckons on the greats of 50 years ago, and the modern twist of the falsetto that floats in before the last run through the chorus brings this song solidly into 2017.
For both young and old music nerds across the globe, New Mystics is one to watch — open road ahead of you or not.