* Willolux * Cecilia Bellisimo * Em Lucia *

Willolux “The Gift”

Willolux is on a prolific run of excellent songwriting. “The Gift” is her latest stunner of a musical masterpiece. The performance and production are so unbelievably good that she stands like a giant over her contemporaries. I would like to say “VERY NICELY DONE” (yes, in CAPS) to Daniel Klenner (The Space Studios, Vancouver) and all those who contribute to Willolux recordings. Each release is a sonic surprise. Enjoy “The Gift” — an ethereal tune about a daydreaming artist.

 
 

Cecilia Bellisimo “No Starting Over”

Cecilia Bellisimo had us at castanets. Add a baritone guitar, and we are hooked. Bellisimo is an LA-based teenage artist with a wall of sound and talent. She has a voice and vibe that will soon be swooning its way onto your favorite indie rock playlists. “No Starting Over” has a sixties touch with contemporary swagger. The guitars chime at all the right times, and her vocals float atop the arrangement like a lovely lamentation. She is totally worth spinning and keeping an ear on.

 
 

Em Lucia “Signs”

Em Lucia achieves what most songwriters cannot — she writes simple, irresistible arrangements. The first time I heard “Signs,” I felt like Bob Keane discovering Ritchie Valens. It was raw, emotional, and lovely. Accompanied by what sounds like a tenor or baritone ukulele, her voice croons and cracks at all the right times. Fans of Angel Olsen will dig “Signs,” but there is more going on. Em Lucia has the soul of a classic songwriter, and her catalog is just getting started. Excited to hear more.

 
 

* Oh He Dead * Kimberly Townsend * Leah Nobel *

Oh He Dead “This Time Around”

Oh He Dead is fronted by the soulful duo of Cynthia ‘C. J.’ Johnson and Andy Valenti. “This Time Around” is their latest release and it is sure to get your feet shuffling. The production has a crispy Daptone vibe, featuring smooth vocals with just enough rasp, and swagger that is hard to beat. Arrangement-wise it is confident and keeps the listener nodding along, right up until the 2:48 mark drops to tremolo Rhodes/Wurlitzer, before bringing the listener back to a groovy bookend closing.

 
 

Kimberly Townsend “How I Got There”

Kimberly Townsend gives us a wake-up call in her new tune, “How I Got There.” With an honest voice and a curse, this song is delivered from a sincere and straightforward songwriter. A NYC-based artist, Townsend wrote “How I Got There” after a “period of stagnation.” It is her battle-cry to live in the moment, and the steady delivery of the hook keeps the message front and center. A clean version is to follow, which is great because this song has monster licensing potential.

 
 

Leah Nobel “Earth and Sky”

Leah Nobel is one of the most talented songwriters penning tunes today. Her voice and ability to relay stories is top-shelf artistry. For those new to Nobel’s material, I suggest spinning a few songs in her catalog. Each one seems to be better than the last — and they are all worthy. “Earth and Sky” is her latest release from Running In Borrowed Shoes — an interview-inspired album due out in February 2019. In anticipation, enjoy this “pop-tinged tribute to the wonder of nature.”

 
 

* Jo Wedin * Matt and the Skeleton Crew * Salem *

Jo Wedin “Maybe Not Tomorrow”

Jo Wedin will get you bopping and swaying with “Maybe Not Tomorrow.” The tune is catchy with a refreshing production that blends retro and modern pop vibes. There’s a hint of 60s/70s/80s and contemporary melodies throughout. The jangly surf-like guitar, the pumping keyboard, and the sugary vocals all add up to a fun listen. The chord progressions are a nice change of pace and each dynamic shift in the arrangement keeps the listener grooving along with this gem of a pop ditty.

 
 

Matt and the Skeleton Crew “Merry Go Round”

Matt and the Skeleton Crew rattle the speakers with their new tune, “Merry Go Round.” Fronted by multi-instrumentalist/producer Matt Silverstein, these Boston indie rockers know how to write a hook. “Merry Go Round” is hum-worthy from start to finish. The tune really lifts when the chorus hits — forming a wall of loud guitars, Mellotron, and swinging drums. With a polished production and performance, Matt and the Skeleton Crew’s debut Odds & Ends is out now.

 

Salem “Impatient”

Salem is a new face to the pop music scene, but with songs like “Impatient” she is off to a strong start. Radio-ready and produced to perfection, “Impatient” has all the elements needed to hit the Top 40. It is a bouncing electro pop tune, with a strong hook and vocals comparable to the leading artists out there today. The use of clock-like clicking is one of the many layers and crafty arrangement moves that make this tune stand out, and Salem is the perfect voice for it.

 
 

* Jet Luv * Albert and His Dreamboats * Dino Mansik *

Jet Luv “Rebel On The Run”

Need a power pop rock and roll fix? Jet Luv’s “Rebel On The Run” is an upbeat number that is sure to get you grooving along. The vocals are doubled, with harmonies playing nicely throughout the verses, leading up to a chorus that has melodic stylings of sixties groups like The Zombies and Beatles. Fans of Superdrag and Fountains of Wayne will also dig the modern meets retro vibe. The guitars are loud, the bass and drums pound along and “Rebel On The Run” is one cool tune.

 
 

Albert and His Dreamboats “Cheap Beer”

Crank the jukebox and crack open a tall can of cheap beer with Albert and His Dreamboats. “Cheap Beer” is a feel good tune that plays like a fun time at your favorite bar or backyard barbecue. While many artists would leave it at “I love drinking cheap beer," Albert and His Dreamboats add “with good people.” This clever hook is backed by a top shelf production and performance with an arrangement that closes via a late night wobble. It’s a stunner of a tune that sure brings a smile.

 
 

Dino Mansik “Iso ja tuntematon”

As an English speaker, I can only guess at what Dino Mansik is singing about, but “Iso ja tuntematon” has my toes tapping. Translated, the song title means “Big and unknown,” which is a good way to describe the dream-pop soundscape. The Finnish duo is led by Mikko M. Koskinen and Johanna Koskimo and their tunes are both epic and ethereal. It’s almost like hearing a cross between The Pet Shop Boys and The Killers — a transformative sound that is pleasing to the ears.

 
 

* Vetle Forsell * Gentle Ivanhoe Death Skulls * Tali * The Mistoos *

Vetle Forsell “Adventures”

Vetle Forsell has one of the most pleasing voices (if not the absolute best) my ears have heard since reviewing music. His approach to songwriting is soft and sentimental, touching on personal yet familiar emotions and feelings. “Adventures” is a beautiful. Plain and simple. It is a song worth checking out, and from a songwriter/producer standpoint, "Adventures” is a masterpiece. It rises and falls, with hints of classical music and sixties folk: “Which leads me to that place we used to read of in books.” I look forward to hearing more from Vetle Forsell in the near future.

 
 

Gentle Ivanhoe Death Skulls “A Clubber Lang Fan”

Gentle Ivanhoe Death Skulls find a sweet spot with saturation and harmonies in their new tune, “A Clubber Lang Fan.” The song is crispy and grooves along with doubled-tracked vocals and pleasing melodies throughout. It’s a laid back listen off their new album Beaches, on Hidden Bay Records, and a cassette release. This seems like a nice fit for “A Clubber Lang Fan,” as the distortion lends to the vibe. Fans of The Raveonettes will dig this, as will anyone looking for music to chill to.

Tali “Comfortable In Another Bed”

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage…Tali! With a stunner of a debut single, Tali shows off her vocal chops with “Comfortable In Another Bed.” It is a solid performance, backed by a top notch production. Everything from the vocals to the drum programming and tasteful musical arrangement is impressive. To complete the package, Tali has also released a stirring music video. She is most certainly a real deal talent and I am looking forward to hearing more from Tali.

The Mistoos “Girl (I Need You)”

Oh, snap. I dig The Mistoos. They have a sound that is undeniable California swagger rock and roll. “Girl (I Need You)” is a Beatle-esque Vaudevillian rock and roll tune with a contemporary tip of the hat to songs of old. Anyone who has missed The Thrills will get down with The Mistoos. Fans of Phantom Planet and Rooney will also find a soft spot for these fellas. Lush harmonies, clever musical chops, and a bouncy burlesque meets honky-tonk saloon piano make this song one of a kind.

* No Aloha * The Busks * Meg Blumberg * The Paz Band *

No Aloha “The Big One”

No Aloha is super duper groovy. These Oregon indie rockers know how to write a catchy tune. “The Big One” is a shimmery number that has us humming. According to singer/songwriter Brette Irish, the song is about being in a big earthquake and only being able to worry what your crush is doing.” Unique concept, and if this release is any indication, No Aloha’s forthcoming full length will be met with solid reviews in 2019. Brette Irish and Blake Ferrin have something cool going on.

The Busks “Butterfly”

Shimmy and shake to The Busks. These fellas make our favorite kind of indie pop — cool and current, with a retro tip-of-the-hat. While sunny and innocent in sound, the song is actually about adult dancers. Va-va-voom! “Ring the bells” is a catchy lyric and made even better with “Sound the chimes, one, two, three, four times.” Off The Menagerie (an animal themed album, “Butterfly” has all the sugary goodness of sixties bubblegum rock. We dig it and hope it gets you swaying along.

 
 

Meg Blumberg “Wading”

Meg Blumberg’s music is breathtaking. Blumberg understands melody in a way that makes other songwriters jealous. A firm grasp of craft allows her to communicate emotions through thoughtful piano-led pieces that feature just enough instrumentation to get the feeling across. This neo-classical contender is on her way up the ranks and deserves a spot among the Olafur Arnalds of the world. For another heartfelt piece, check out “Happenstance” and become a fan of Meg Blumberg.

 
 

The Paz Band “Old Bag Of Sand”

The Paz Band is really something else. A bit of The Beatles, a dash of Flloyd, and entirely unlike any contemporary artist we have heard. “Old Bag Of Sand” is a smokey indie rock tune with a heap of psychedelia and swagger. The production is smooth and remarkable the entire way through. This tune is a perfect example of how arrangement and artist performance can carry a song from start to finish. The Paz Band is a unique and well-worth listen, and you will dig them.

 
 

* Type 4 * Lauren Sanderson * Ish Marquez *

Type 4 “88s & Beatbreaks”

We DARE YOU not to bop along to Type 4. “88s & Beatbreaks” is a throwback hip hop tune featuring solid pop melodies and hooks. With a production most producers can’t touch, this song is masterfully arranged and pulls out all the sampling stops. Any group that throws Looney Tunes and Pee Wee Herman in the mix is cool in our book. These Bostonians make “hip hop for grown ups,” but anyone can get up to the sound of Type 4. They are classic craftsmen and we dig it.

Type 4 “Rusty Rhymes”

Type 4 commands attention from the moment you press “play.” Just in case “88s & Beatbreaks” didn’t get you bumping up and down (check your pulse), “Rusty Rhymes” comes at the listener like a welcoming uppercut. It shows off the “golden age” vibe that Type 4 is all about. Fusing hip hop, pop, and reggae, these fellas have cooked up a timeless party tune that kicks off their forthcoming album, “4 Feet High and Rhyming.” Good time music. “Chromali”… awesome.

Lauren Sanderson “Electric”

Lauren Sanderson’s talent is ferocious. It is no surprise she was chosen as one of Vevo’s DSCVR Artists To Watch 2019. Her live performance of “Electric” shows off a worthy contender in the pop music world. Sanderson has undeniable star power, and a voice that cracks at all the right times. Backed by solid, roomy-sounding drums, she sways and grooves along to a powerful tune that could climb Top 40 and propel Lauren Sanderson to arenas and international stages. We are impressed.

 
 

Ish Marquez “Gin Is Not My Friend”

Certain songs seem to come from another time and place. “Gin Is Not My Friend” by Ish Marquez is one such song. It is stylistically unlike anything we have heard before — an almost guttural punk sound with a touch of folk and hip hop. The tune was originally released on Rough Trade’s Anti Folk Volume 1, which seems fitting. A spin of Ish’s catalog shows “Gin Is Not My Friend” fits right along with his other tunes. With little but an acoustic, Ish Marquez crafts lyrical songs worth checking out.

 
 

* Remington Super 60 * Jason Saltiel * Sofa City Sweetheart * Fascinations Grand Chorus *

Remington Super 60 “A Winter Song”

Remington Super 60 sounds like a soft sweater worn with a pair of velour pants. Part lounge music, part muzak, these Norwegian indie-lounge poppers are kitsch, catchy, and cool. At almost twenty years of existence, they are still great listening with multiple releases and achievements to their lengthy credit. “A Winter Song” is a fun tune to shake a snow globe to, and their latest in a series of seasonal offerings. Cozy up with a mug of hot cocoa and enjoy Remington Super 60.

 
 

Jason Saltiel “Devil Woman”

Jason Saltiel has worn many musical hats, and “Devil Woman” is a wide-brimmed beauty of a tune. With an indie country twang, the distorted open chords strum through until the 2:20 mark. It is here we are met with a surprising treat. Sporting a Christopher Owens and Ben Kweller charm, Saltiel breaks us down before a last round of rocking, riffing, and rolling. The guitars are joined with Hammond, harmonies, and a lyrical breakdown. “Devil Woman” is a story from start to finish.

 
 

Sofa City Sweetheart “Stop The Thinking”

Sofa City Sweetheart is Un-be-lievable. I’d like to say thank you to Juan Antonio Lopez for stoking the indie power pop flame. Just when you get all bummed out because Fountains Of Wayne and Superdrag are done, someone like Juan comes along and offers up a one-two sock it to ya dose of catchy rock and roll. “Stop The Thinking” is a gem. Electric chugging, acoustic strumming, doubled vocals, and BAM…the trumpets. Glorious stuff. I will listen many, many times. Then again.

Fascinations Grand Chorus “Until I Found You”

1, 2, 3, Red Light. They had us at 1910 Fruitgum Company.

Bubblegum to the bone, Fascinations Grand Chorus pay tribute to sugary rock and roll with “Until I Found You.” Pulling production influence from Joe Meek and Phil Spector, the duo is speaking a language we hear loud and clear. “Until I Found You’ is a solitary pop ditty, released ahead of an album due out in 1910…correction, 2019. If the album is anything like this number, you better run, don’t walk, to your nearest record store and snag a copy from Fascinations Grand Chorus.

 
 

* Robb Westlund * Newborns * Pin Ups * Eva B. Ross *

Robb Westlund “Trees”

Robb Westlund will get you moving and shaking with “Trees.” Rock and roll guitars chime and chug along in a groovy mix of glam-pop and indie. Kind of like a Ben Kweller thing with a touch of classic rock licks. “Trees” is broken into several sections, each riffing and rolling along. There is a cool call and answer thing going on too, with a street-smart David Johansen confidence in the vocal delivery. We dig it and think this fella deserves a spot on your favorite playlist.

Newborns “Schoolyard”

Damn, The Newborns are cool. Any New Yorker will recognize a Ramones vibe — not just in the guitars, but in the lyrics and inflection — and a dose of New York Dolls. Rad. Listen to the way Schoolyard” bops and how the bass grooves with thumping drums. Classic NY punk rock. The guitars are panned wide and the vocals have just the right amount of space around them. Sending up a congratulatory bottlerocket for whoever recorded this. Nice work. Keep on rocking.

Pin Ups “You Make Me Feel So Sick”

The Pin Ups know how to shake a leg. We dare you not to shimmy along to “You Make Me Feel So Sick.” These boys know how to get things cooking. Their sound is fresh, fun, and filled with non-stop energy. The Pin Ups employ top notch audio and video production, which hints at big things ahead. It sounds like they are primed for the big stage in the days to come. They deserve all the good things coming to them because they know how to grab the listener’s attention and keep it.

Eva B. Ross “Messy”

Eva B. Ross has us snapping and clapping along to her latest single, “Messy.” This Los Angeles native is a songwriting dynamo. Her talent is clear as crystal on “Messy.” The tune is brilliantly performed and produced with a professional polish that is timeless and impressive. Each instrument, harmony, and flourish is perfectly placed. Eva’s voice is one of the most pleasing we have ever heard. It is classic and current, with a familiar warmth and delivery that is hard to beat. Enjoy “Messy.”

* Marlboro * Matt Siffert * CATL. * Jess Ribeiro *

Marlboro “Being Divine”

Marlboro is a town tucked in the Hudson Valley, and the namesake of a rock outfit worth your attention. For those of us who have lived in this area of New York, Marlboro’s delivery of “Being Divine” feels like a drive on the New York State Thruway. It is an easy going tune that explores the lamentations associated with coming of age. Peaceful, groovy, and filled with thought, “Being Divine” is a neat Grateful Dead meets indie offering from Marlboro’s latest album, Convertible Life.

 

Matt Siffert “Love, Again”

Matt Siffert delivers a stirring piece of music with “Love Again.” Off his latest album Bright Shadows, “Love Again” is an intimate song with a longing and reflective vibe. The weeping pedal steel and organic acoustic guitars set the backdrop for a soft and sincere vocal. The production is minimal, yet powerful. It is hard not to lose your thoughts while listening to Matt Siffert. His lyrics are transfixing and he knows how to arrange a song in a pleasing way that really gets you thinking.

 
 

CATL. “Baby, You All Wrong”

Catl. offers speaker candy with “Baby, You All Wrong.” With all the grit of timeless garage rock and the swagger to match, this duo of Canadian rockers will get you shaking a leg. Fans of Shannon and The Clams and King Khan and BBQ Show will flip over Catl. The saturation we all love and the attitude delivered by a Gretsch geetar and two-piece drum kit. Classic. Raucous. Rock and Roll. There is a hint of punk in there too, so shout along to “Baby, You All Wrong.”

Jess Ribeiro “Love Is The Score Of Nothing”

A Beehive hairdo and pastel galore are only two reasons we dig Jess Ribeiro and “Love Is The Score Of Nothing.” The song has an indie bop swing to it that’s hard not to sway to. Fans of Angel Olsen will dig it, as well as surf beat connoisseurs. Jess Ribeiro is an Australian on the radar of many indie playlists. One of our favorite tunes she sings is “Strange Game” — a total stunner. If you enjoy a songwriter who can tug at the heartstrings while making you sway, Jess Ribeiro is your ticket.