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.

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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

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Electronic & Synth-Pop

Got some good stuff this week! Unlike some of the previous lists where I’ve been sharing new favorites, some of these artists I’ve been a fan of for years. With so much music released week after week, it’s nice to do a little reflecting and see what’s stuck with you along the way (it helps my Youtube account is one giant music repository and I’ve been using it since community college). Without further ado, let’s take a look at some electronica and synth-pop!

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1. “2012” by Genki Sudo (WORLD ORDER)

Remember those men in suits doing the robot? Then you may know a thing or two about Genki Sudo. If not, his smooth and dreamy synth-pop single ‘2012’ is a good place to start. The Japanese group WORLD ORDER gained a notable Internet presence through their catchy tunes and choreographed dance routines a few years back, still going strong today with concerts, advertisements and periodic album releases. While their self-titled ‘WORLD ORDER’ is their most popular song to date, I thought I’d take a glance at a piece that might’ve slipped under the radar.

Soothing and gentle, ‘2012’ leans more toward the low-key with its synthetic violins and electronic notes. The video is just as beautiful, embracing the natural beauty of Mexico City both in its environments and downtown cultures. This group clearly loves what they do yet don’t take themselves too seriously, allowing the confused and delighted reaction shots of passerbys to permeate multiple shots. It’s not an easy balance to strike and Genki Sudo’s WORLD ORDER encourages it in spades.

Perfection is when we’re here

Perfection is where we’re going to

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Alternative & Chill-Pop

Alternative has always been a mainstay with me. It’s a slapdash of everything, the best of rock, pop, electronica, synth-pop, hip-hop and just about whatever it needs to hold your attention and lift your heart. A veritable delicious stew where you can’t figure out where one genre starts and the other ends. It’s just brilliant. If you’ve got a hankering for some quality soul and funk instead, check out my previous post here.

Since alternative is such a broad category, I’m going to switch it up a little with future Sharing The Goodness posts. Alternative and electronica or alternative and jazz, for example, are likely candidates for the future! ‘Til then, let’s take a look at the smooth and more relaxed end of things — alternative and chill-pop.

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1. “Sly” by Polographia ft. Winston Surfshirt

Double-feature time! I found this band pretty recently while browsing different playlists. With the political landscape getting more hectic by the second, I am in a constant need for something to slow down my heart rate and put me in a better headspace. Polographia’s fantastic old-school melodies and delightfully relaxed approach have since weaseled their way into my own ongoing playlists and I don’t think they’ll be leaving any time soon.

Don’t confuse relaxed with boring, however — their single ‘Sly’ has enough zest to get you moving, but is low-key enough to be as comfortable in a car radio while speeding down the highway as a temporary snooze on a warm beach. Alternative really is a little bit of everything! For those that want a solid first impression, ‘Sly’s throwback sound and vaporware music video are a prime place to start.

Who’s counting all the things you tried

Can’t remember how or why but in the end you’ve grown sly

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Soul & Funk

Last week we rounded up some good ambient and R&B tracks. Now we’re taking a look at soul and funk, my go-to genres if I want to feel both chill and inspired. Considering art anxiety is an emotion I still haven’t quite gotten over, these will make the rounds on my playlists when I pull out my tablet pen and get ready for a few hours of sketching. This list is going to have a double-feature, followed by a few artists you may of heard of and may not have.

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1. “Inhale, Exhale” by Nao

First impressions go a long way and I’m still pretty peachy over this one. I’m a huge fan of any piece that immediately hooks you in by sheer force of personality, so ‘Inhale, Exhale’ shoots to the top of the list for being characteristic right off the bat. I love the brisk pace, the punctuated back beat and halting delivery. The hook comes in with an entirely different swing and it’s just oozing funky goodness. You can’t help but bob your head to it.

Nao’s vocals are sweet and a little odd, hard to pin down and making you all the more grateful for it. I initially thought the lyrics were discussing a relationship with another person (the default assumption, no doubt), but upon repeat listens I’m actually thinking they’re describing a troubling relationship with alcohol. Even as she recognizes the foolishness of her actions, she finds herself falling back into the spiral of metaphorical oceans and rivers with every ‘inhale and exhale’. A stylish melody with abstract lyrics. I like it.

Glass empty or full

Quench my thirsty tongue, I’m drinking it

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Ambient & R&B

Time for the second round-up! The first Sharing The Goodness focused on indie and folk — this time we’re touching on some atmospheric ambient and R&B. Since art is malleable and not always easily categorized, a few of these are going to have some soul and electronica flavorings.

These songs have been kicking around on my playlists for months, so it feels good to take a look at why they’ve affected me so much.

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1. “Message” by Kelela

You can’t go wrong with Kelela. It took me a little thinking as to which song to choose for the list and I ended up picking the one I keep coming back to. ‘Message’ is a piece that invokes the subconscious and steady nature of breathing, incredibly minimalist and slow with its swaying backbeats and emphasis on a strong vocal presence. Coupled with a deceptively simple music video that later transforms into a lush animated experiment, Kelela is an artist that really doesn’t mind playing around with your expectations.

The lyrics are brutally honest. I’m 100% down with a woman who’s fed the hell up with a significant others’ callous behavior, creating a foundation for a song that can either act as smooth catharsis or a pretty warning sign depending on where you stand. Personally? It helped mete out a few of my frustrated feelings during a break-up. Thanks, Kelela!

When you look at me, you’re somewhere else

And all we know is all we got

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