The Music-Searching Mermaid's 25 Favorite Finds from September 2019
Every single month we kick off our music-searching roundup with something along the lines of “Damn, this has been a good month for music.” It’s always true — every month really does seem to be a great month. Music is just really good. We’re not surprised by it; just endlessly delighted.
So here we are in September. It’s officially Autumn. Music is good. Here are the top 25 songs we’ve been listening to and loving these past few weeks from indie cuties like Holly Rees to synth stars like Paper Idol to a whole lot more, from brand new singles to songs from years gone by.
1. “Benjamin” by Alex Mali: Brooklyn R&B artist Alex Mali’s debut EP Sweet and Sour is perfect. Every song on it is crafted to allow Alex to shine, but “Benjamin” specifically is special — a sexy, slinking slow-jam, it’s coated in shadows and begs to be added to your next Makeout Mixtape (it made it onto ours).
2. “Getting By” by Holly Rees: On her newest single, English singer-songwriter Holly Rees delivers a tongue-in-cheek fuck-you to depression decked out in clever wordplay, punchy percussion, and many pretty moments amidst the chaos that remind us that Holly really can do it all and does, over and over again.
3. “Cloud” by Kate Davis: Multi-instrumental mastermind Kate Davis makes it onto another one of our monthlys for good reason — “Cloud” is just so Kate. It’s sweet and steady, a feat, as always, of songwriting excellence, not to mention that the bridge in this song is one of the most beautiful moments in music ever.
4. “26” by Catfish and the Bottlemen: There’s no ramp-up period for “26.” Its first note hits like it’s angry, diving right into a crush of unrelenting percussive power and quick indie-rock rhythms.
5. “Take Care” by Chloe Tang: LA pop artist Chloe Tang has a ton of killer singles under her belt, but her latest is one of her best, a fizzy, sparkling singalong. It’s got major radio potential — big, anthemic beats — while maintaining Chloe’s gift for always giving a little something extra special.
6. “Runnin” by Dylan Dunlap: Making tunes and hopping on others’ work in all the major music cities, Dylan’s been “Runnin” a lot himself. On this single, he narrates a desperate, sudden kind of love told by his cool-toned voice and dizzying layers of bursting drum beats and synth slaps.
7. “Feel Real Pretty” by Paper Idol: With his project Paper Idol, Matan accomplishes something special — he designs a sound entirely his own. His latest single is an example of divine, buzzing, sonically fascinating experimentation only he can master — and has.
8. “Pheromones” by Havelock: Indie artist Havelock’s newest single “Pheromones” is addictive. It’s swollen in the most dazzling synth soundscape detailed by fizzy, fuzzy beats, all led by his soft drawl.
9. “Leave Fast” by Sam Fender: English singer-songwriter Sam Fender’s debut album is a roaring success so it’s hard to spotlight a standout, but “Leave Fast” is it — it’s got a gentle energy to it made impassioned occasionally by Sam’s impressively steadied howl and thick, searing strums that fade out in the fog.
10. “going thru changes” by joey maxwell: We have no idea what’s about to happen in joey’s new single until suddenly we’re smacked by the sheer weight and force of it sent barreling through the song’s unassuming opening. It’s powerful. It’s punchy. It’s pretty awesome.
11. “Let Go” by KidEyes: There are a lot of layers to “Let Go” — it shares the emotive fade ins-and-outs of, say, Kings of Leon, and sounds like if Michigander joined an underground indie-rock band, each influence merging to create a beautiful moment of tender alt-rock entirely KidEyes.
12. “SICK” by CXLOE ft. gnash: CXLOE has the voice — the one we’re always looking for in this industry, the one that can do everything at the same time. On “SICK,” she delivers. She gives us hush and howl, whispers and warcries, all amid an utterly addictive synth-pop arrangement built on percussive pops and electronic glitches.
13. “Good Things Fall Apart” by ILLENIUM and Jon Bellion: Sometimes songs are subdued at first listen but then suddenly they’ve sunk their claws into you and won’t let go. That’s “Good Things Fall Apart,” a song fueled by inimitable truth, an explosion of emotion.
14. “Pretty Lonely” by Half Wolf: Heard like a dirge, folk artist Half Wolf’s debut stuns in its stripped-back intrigue. Acoustic strums sway beneath vocals that give an eerie — and important, you can practically feel — performance.
15. “Tommy” by Sour Widows: On their new single “Tommy,” Bay Area bedroom rockers give us a sleepy alt-rock track drowsy with grunge rhythms and rich bass tones, combining their inherent spice with a little bit of sun.
16. “Drugs” by UPSAHL: UPSAHL is one of those artists who can’t be contained. It’s honestly weird that she’s not topping radio charts and filling stadiums, but one day she will, especially if she keeps dropping singles like “Drugs,” a gritty, glittering electro-pop track laced with her signature edge.
17. “Lucky Soul” by CLUBHOUSE: Columbus’ electro-pop band CLUBHOUSE’s new single is a mesmerizing world of palatable synth sound — it’s a lot but it’s never too much. The guys know exactly how to reign it in, leaving only a neat three minutes of tech-y twinkles.
18. “Mellow Drama” by Commonweather: Chicago alt-rock band Commonweather’s new single “Mellow Drama” is the kind of song you blast loud and yell along to with either your eyes closed or your hands on the wheel (definitely not both, please don’t do both). It’s an easily accessible alt-rock rager expertly sculpted by thoughful minds.
19. “RWLYD (Really Wanna Let You Down)” by MONOWHALES: From its very first note, “RWLYD” by Toronto indie-pop band MONOWHALES proves it’s a pumping electro-fueled eruption. Completely addictive, it’ll catch you off guard, but you won’t mind.
20. “Sky Dreams” by Bryce Kepner: Arizona artist Bryce Kepner has spent years working hard to make other people’s music heard but on his recent debut, he shines a humble spotlight on himself. “Sky Dreams” is a really interesting piece — it’s got some sort of magic magnetic quality to it that can’t quite be explained, so we’ll let the song do the talking.
21. “Won’t” by Tanerélle: Tanerélle is a force. She’s a poet, a stunner, a visionary. Her 2019 single “Won’t” depicts all of this about her — it’s like a slow-motion tornado of sexy darkness crafted by Tanerélle’s sultry drawl accompanied by orchestral details from both strings and piano.
22. “Your Eyes” by Marsicans: For a while, “Your Eyes” by UK indie band Marsicans is your typical upbeat indie-rock track — which is totally fine since we can’t get enough of those — but there are hidden details in it that proves that they are as thoughtful and adventurous as they are peppy and powerful.
23. “Porto Cristo” by BROTHER (Zerbin and Peter Mol): This collab is one of just a few releases by its creators but it feels much more advanced than its age and experience. “Porto Cristo” is a bubbling wave of honeyed surf-pop goodness.
24. “It’s The Fear” by Holy Beach: Off Atlanta hard-rock band Holy Beach’s debut album, this track offers an experience oddly soothing despite its aggressive percussion and ceaseless rock pounding. It still holds all of Holy Beach’s power in its hands, but it somehow (magically, we think) slows things down a little to keep it more contained, more reflective.
25. “Closer” by Club Paradise: Easily their best track yet, Newcastle-based band Club Paradise’s “Closer” is the kind of track you can’t bear to let go of so you just blare it at top volume and dance around like you have no choice. You sort of don’t — it’s bewitching, buzzing with synth sparkles and neon flavor.