1. Clouds and Thorns bring us lush, dreamy harmonies that combine beautiful picking and ambient synths -- the best of both worlds.
2. I'm always a sucker for good songs about New Orleans. Tony Manard's "Walking Down Magazine" is one of those songs that honors the beauty of the city without fetishizing it. It also features the talents of a certain Stephen Chopek, who is no stranger to these parts.
3. Them Jones bring a late 60s jangle to this banger of a songer. "Grow" proves that rock isn't dead.
4. William the Conqueror bring folk sensibilities to wall-of-sound indie rock with "Tend To the Thorns." It's a song that's both comforting and inspiring in the face of pain.
5. Carol Kay's "The Most Beautiful Thing" feels like it's out of a fairytale. After leaving her jobs and a boyfriend behind in Toronto to seek fame and/or fortune in Nashville, Kay lost both only to win the grand prize for the John Lennon songwriting contest. The song is dedicated to the first person who bought the subsequent EP, with whom she quickly fell in love with.
6. Grover Anderson and his pal Jimbo Scott spent a night writing a song that's perfect for back porch sing-alongs. If you only listen to one song on here, it's this one. The album is linked to on Spotify there, but I'll have a review up for the album in the fall.
7. Similarly, I can't resist a good song about Philly. Dillon Tucker's "Franklin Ave" captures the bar band feel of one of my favorite bands writing this blog, The Sparklers (also of Philly.) Tucker illustrates what makes Philly the overlooked but more deserving younger sibling of I-95, even as it draws more attention from the kinds of people who shouldn't be there.
8. Rathbone's confessional "This Heart of Mine" addresses the complexity of wanting to be vulnerable but being afraid to open up. It's a Catch-22 that I know most of us can relate to.
9. Evan Moynihan brings a wistful, Dylan-esque performance to his "Rolling Mill Hill."
10. "Everything Right But Timing" is Ava Suppelsa's gentle, witty observations of a breakup. This is the kind of breakup song I've been looking for -- that frustration with knowing that sometimes two people just aren't in the same place at the same time, no matter how well they seem to match.