music, review

Indie & Acoustic

Let’s face it. It can be really hard getting through the week with so much bad news pouring through social media and public programs like a stubborn leak. The kind of music I like to listen to in order to further my mood during rough times varies quite a bit — sometimes I want pounding, angry rock to offset hopelessness, while other times I seek out sugary pop to perk me up. As of this week? Indie and folk can be the ticket you need to pull out all those seemingly elusive artistic emotions when you need to create or just get a good cry going.

I’ll be putting a touch more emphasis on the acoustic part of folk in this list, if only because we all could use some low-key, wind-down music once in a while. If this is a genre that tickles your fancy, check out my previous indie and folk recommendations.

1. “Wanna Be On Your Mind” by Valerie June

With one of the most charming set of pipes I’ve ever heard, Valerie June is a new favorite that’s found a permanent place in my playlists. You could even say she’s regularly on my mind! I’ll stop.

Her work is a vibrant blend of country and folk, leaning toward the latter with certain pieces and leaning back with others. If you’re like me and aren’t overly fond of country’s general sound, rest easy knowing Valerie June is versatile enough to cover a wide variety of approaches while retaining a strong identity. ‘Wanna Be On Your Mind’ is a jaunty acoustic-folk number, the almost earworm hook supplemented with a gentle keyboard and quirky chimes. I’ve even put on this song for a few friends and their organic head-bobbing only confirms what I already know.

I wanna be on your mind, stay there all the time

You can’t call my name

2. “Astral Plane” by Valerie June

Where ‘Wanna Be On Your Mind’ swings with its perky production and lilting hook, ‘Astral Plane’ is a distinctively calmer journey through Valerie June’s particular brand of charming. I did some checking and was disappointed to find out this song hasn’t been used to back up a romantic comedy trailer or something. It has that rare sentimental feel to it, a tender mood that can so easily be overdone to the point of being corny. Not Valerie June, who knows how to pull at your heartstrings with a simple crack of her voice.

This woman is one hell of a songwriter, to boot, able to go from blunt to fantastical at the drop of a hat. Check out this interview if you want to learn more about her thought process when creating singles.

Dancing on the astral plane, all the water crimson rain

Floating through the stratosphere

3. “The Obvious” by Elephant Revival

One of the indie genre’s most startling staying powers are the raw emotions it invokes, be it through visceral lyrics or poignant instrumentation. You haven’t heard a gutwrenching violin ’til you’ve sat through Elephant Revival’s folk single ‘The Obvious’. I found this while browsing blogs and, I have to say, I’m really glad I took a spare minute to hit the play button.

Rather simple in its intro with soft drums and picking guitar, the song immediately shot up my list of ‘Songs To Listen To On Vicarious And Shameless Loop’ through its beautiful, goosebump-y outro (while a hot shower gives me goosebumps too, using up my hot water four times per day is just not feasible). It’s the kind of song I love to put on when writing fantasy or science-fiction stories for the raw atmosphere it invokes. If that’s not a high compliment I don’t know what is.

It’s obvious, by the moon light we rise, awakened

Knees not shaking, sharp and shaping down

4. “Open” by Rhye

Quiet, almost unassuming, ‘Open’ is a piece that takes its time telling what it wants to tell. Despite any fears that may arise from this being another boring and meandering alternative indie piece, this is easily hummable while remaining stolidly in low-key territory. The singer’s distinctive, breathy vocals go a long way in creating a strong song that leaves an impression.

Faint horns pepper the hook, giving it a personality that might have been otherwise absent. It feels contemplative, rather peaceful, as it considers a potential relationship that very well could be reality somewhere in the future. It’s not nervous or even too hopeful. A song that just feels like distant thoughts in the back of your mind.

I wanna make this plain

Oh, I know your faded

5. “Shiver” by Lucy Rose

Let’s round off the list with a sweet little song that reminds me a lot of the acoustic singles I listened to growing up. The sentimentality can easily be felt by the piece’s delicate and gentle approach to a subject matter that can range from difficult to not-quite-so depending on where the listener stands. Its build-up feels genuine and there’s something about the latter half that makes me feel some type of way.

Lucy Rose talks about a relationship she’s given up on, going on to seek out similar emotions and experiences with another person entirely — I’m a big fan of the song’s constant use of the word ‘shiver’, invoking those little sensory inputs we tend to take for granted in any sort of relationship. Instead of a song simply regretting a lost romance (not that those don’t have their time and place), it’s interesting to hear a piece that straddles the line between nostalgia and an eagerness to move on. How a good thing doesn’t have to come from a single person.

And I’ll shiver like I used to

And I’ll leave him just for you

Like any of the above songs? Got any recommendations? Join me for the next Sharing The Goodness where I’ll round up some of my favorite hip-hop songs!

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