Indie Roundup | 40 Songs To Keep You Occupied This Weekend (Part 2)

Keep the action going with The Hold Steady, Morello & Tankian, GBV & a lot more.

The Hold Steady get heavy, Tom Morello and Serj Tankian gang up, Guided By Voices find heaven in disguise, Gravesend come to the end — and there are still more goodies to be found in the back half of your Friday Roundup. Are you picking up on what I’m putting down, Chester?


21 | The Hold Steady | Heavy Covenant

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:The Hold Steady release Heavy Covenant, the second song from the band’s eighth studio album Open Door Policy, arriving on Feb. 19. “Heavy Covenant is a song about travel, technology, and human connection,” says singer Craig Finn. “The song came out of two different music pieces that THS piano/keyboardist Franz Nicolay brought in, and with the help of producer Josh Kaufman, we combined them. It came together quickly, and when our friends Stuart and Jordan came in and added the horns to the chorus it really seemed to bring it together. To us, this song is a great indication of where the band’s sound is at in 2021.”

22 | Tom Morello & Serj Tankian | Natural’s Not In It

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This new version of Natural’s Not In It is the first single from the album The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four, set for release in May 2021. It’s a double album of tracks written by Andy Gill and Gang of Four, all newly reinterpreted and recorded by artists whose own unique contributions to music were enriched by listening to Gang of Four. Says Tom Morello: “Andy Gill was one of a handful of artists in history who changed the way guitars are played. His band Gang of Four were just incendiary and completely groundbreaking with Andy’s confrontational, unnerving and sublime playing at the forefront. His jagged plague-disco raptor-attack industrial-funk deconstructed guitar anti-hero sonics and fierce poetic radical intellect were hugely influential to me.” Serj Tankian says: “It was a real pleasure to work on this track with Tom and honor the legacy of Andy and Gang of Four at the same time.”

23 | Cub Scout Bowling Pins | Heaven Beats Iowa

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Cub Scout Bowling Pins are a new secret identity of super-heroes Guided By Voices, turning up the craziness knob by 10%. First song Heaven Beats Iowa is an insanely catchy power-pop tune, distinctly different from GBV with a Farfisa organ chug, by jingo!”

24 | Gravesend | End Of The Line

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Gravesend arise with ill intent like a foul emanation from the aging sewage filled rot slowly winding its way beneath the city’s vast concrete walls and pavement pathways; a New York of discarded needles, noxious fumes, scavenging rats, broken bottles, and cracked minds. An aural manifesto of urban blight and disgust, theiri album Methods Of Human Disposal is the appropriately grotesque followup to their cult-revered Preparations For Human Disposal 2020 demo. The LP works like a lone killer stalking the streets, internally seething with rage, preparing to cast off the last remnants of restraint. Bear witness to savage black/death metal with a hellish grindcore fixation, searing warped speeds, and the slowly swelling carnage of a derailed subway pileup.”

25 | Dead Exaltation | The Transformation

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Indian technical/progressive death metal trio Dead Exaltation release the second single from their upcoming album Despondent, accompanied by a lyric video for The Transformation that showcases specific elements of the artwork. The album features the absolute finest of South Asian extreme metal musicianship and songwriting, balancing a progressive approach with old-school atmosphere.”

26 | Pure Obsessions & Red Nights | Burned But Not Consumed

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In the third act of Pure Obsessions and Red Night’s Mr Strangler trilogy published in 2020, the serial killer lost his life, condemned to death. Shortly before his execution, Mr. Strangler became a messiah for an enigmatic community called The Stranglings and led by The Guide. Traveling from city to city, the community continues to grow, joined by a growing number of people fleeing the modern world in search of a better life and meaning in their existence. Now a new trilogy begins: The Stranglings Trilogy. For this new opus, the band teamed up with Chris Vrenna, legendary drummer of Nine inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.”

27 | Holly Santonato | Materials

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “A generation after Madonna professed to be a Material Girl, Toronto’s Holly Santonato turns the table and dispels more than a few myths with her sultry yet decisive single Materials. Built on an irrepressible groove that echoes R&B legends Lauryn Hill and Janet Jackson, the track explores the public’s incessant fixation with keeping up with the latest trends and how those obsessions can become outsized, deciding factors in what makes or breaks a relationship. “When you take a step back and look at what people share on social media, they’re always sharing the idealistic view of their lives. People like to show off and talk about the things they have, and more often than not that includes what makes them feel loved,” Holly says. “It’s terribly misleading because material things are not what love is supposed to represent. You can’t help but wonder if all those things are serving as a cover for something they don’t have within themselves. Are they comfortable with who they are or are all these material things trying to make up for something they might be afraid to acknowledge is lacking?”

28 | Jeff Pennachio | Interposition

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “New York’s Jeff Pennachio (guitarist for Design The Void) is releasing a three-track EP Setting The Stage on Jan. 22. The instrumental compilation shows off his musical mastery as he takes on the responsibility of guitars, bass, drums, and orchestral programming. These songs were composed during his time in a cover group The Stay when he decided to pursue an original songwriting direction. Armed with new ideas, he ran with them and formed the EP, which he intends to follow up with more music that is almost inspirational from soundtracks. He explains: “This piece was developed from a random keyboard riff that was partially inspired by an introduction of another song from the group Quantum (which, at the time, was our keyboardist’s main band). I believe this sound really brands what I was after from a compositional standpoint.”

29 | Gpayzzz | Freedom (ft. Velozo)

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Gabrielle aka Gpayzzz is a 20-year-old artist. Music has been as natural as breathing to her. She creates when she is happy, sad, excited, angry; because it’s her way to escape, her way to communicate. Freedom of expression by any means is what’s important to Gpayzzz. She fell in love with this next beat the second she heard it, she was inspired.  She met rapper Velozo through her cousin, and he immediately wanted to work with her. Mixed & Mastered by Magnanimous with a reggae flavour, Freedom is now available.”

30 | Needlepoint | Web Of Worry

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Needlepoint is a Norwegian group that straddle the border between jazz and prog in a unique and timeless way. Their upcoming album Walking Up That Valley is slated for release in late January. Today the band reveal the second single Web Of Worry. Guitarist and leader Bjørn Klakegg considered himself a jazz musician when he first met his bandmates, but his old British heroes from the ’70s such as ELP stepped out of the fog. Olaf Olsen and David Wallumrød were Nikolai’s unconditional choices to fulfill the lineup.”

31 | Rare Monk | Goodbye

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Rare Monk is a Portland indie band with a keen sense for writing songs with an Orwellian level of awareness. While writing the forthcoming and fortelling sophomore full-length Never Really Over, the future (i.e. 2020) had not yet arrived. Goodbye touts a vibrant, escalating rock sound — with hooky glistening apparent by the 30-second mark. The band’s statement on Goodbye: “Youthful birds needing a good productive kick out the nest to gain confidence or fail at flight. In an ideal world, we’d all get such a clearly defined point of success/failure. Instead in humanity, question and justify eternally. A case for the pro’s of a more dangerous world, or just a fun song about birds?”

32 | Virgo Rising | Headlights

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Virgo Rising like to describe themselves as “three sad girls making songs in Winnipeg,” but those familiar with the band know that this undersells the scope and depth of their vision. With a median age of 20, the band craft nimble bedroom pop that shifts forms and constantly plays with the unexpected. Their debut single Headlights is a subdued reflection on past conviction that veers into exciting sonic territory. It touches on common themes for the band, namely: growing up, self-love, self-contempt, and authenticity. “Headlights is about feelings we once had but didn’t cherish until we started reminiscing about them,” says Emily Sinclair, the band’s lead singer. “It’s also a little bit about Julia Jacklin.”

33 | Small Sins | Andre

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Following a decade of silence, Small Sins, the pet project of Canadian writer/performer/producer Thomas D’Arcy, is finally sharing new music. The curiously titled Volume II (his fourth release) is due out on Feb. 12 and includes the lead single Andre. The song began as a co-write with Dear Rouge. “I was trying to write songs their singer might sing, thinking that if I were writing to my husband Andrew, I would call him Andre in a song to not be so — I don’t know — something.” shares D’Arcy. ”Somewhere along the way, I realized the song would be perfect for my own needs and stole the thing back.”

34 | Greer Baxter | Sleeping on the Couch

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Born and raised in New York City, Greer Baxter is the pop singer-songwriter not to miss in 2021. Written and produced by Baxter, Sleeping on the Couch is about just that — sleeping on the couch after a fight with the person you love. It’s about trying not to let a fight come between you and keep you apart. “I wrote this song about suddenly being at odds with the person you love and trying to make sense of it. We’ve all had a night sleeping on the couch and we wake up in the morning thinking: why would we let a fight keep us apart for the night? It’s about wanting to resolve it before falling asleep and wondering if the other person feels the same.”

35+36 | Soraia | Tight Lipped + Angel (ft. Jessie Wagner)

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Philadelphia rock quartet Soraia are giving fans new music for the start of the New Year: The single Tight-Lipped, with a B-side cover of Aerosmith’s Angel, featuring a cameo by Jessie Wagner. Frontwoman ZouZou Mansour says, “Tight-Lipped is about a woman who politely refuses to challenge the status quo and direction of her life. It’s a final recognition of the part she has played in her own oppressive censoring — a soulful rebuke of her former beliefs on how to live. But by the end of the song, it becomes a triumphant declaration of who she now is: Meet Ophelia — no more promises. I refuse to be so tight-lipped.”

37 | Storm Seeker | Deathwatch Beetle Party

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The nautical folk metallers from Storm Seeker present their single Deathwatch Beetle Party ahead of their album Guns Don’t Cry. Musical adventureres can expect the full explosion of nautical chants with a vintage sailor look and a new approach to their trademark sound. With their nautical theme, they serve up a rough and crushing soundscape that is entangled with the sweetness of jumpy folk melodies involving the hurdy gurdy, nyckelharpa, cello and recorder.”

38 | Kae Sun | Bright Lights

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Kae Sun shares Bright Lights, the first single off his forthcoming EP/short film project. Kae Sun is the musical side of Ghanaian-born, Montreal-based singer-songwriter and artist Kwaku Darko-Mensah Jr. He describes Bright Lights as “a hypnagogic and lyrical exploration of desire and belonging.” Kae Sun constructs lush soundscapes gliding along the boundaries of distinct yet related sonic worlds and rendering them into hypnotic musical ideas. Experimenting with eerie low fidelity sounds, soulful melodies and poetic forms, the artist has carved a sonic universe defiantly his own, earning a steady and devoted following in the process.”

39 | Georgie | Simple Things 

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: ““It’s about how important those simple things are,” says Georgie of Simple Things. “I felt through lockdown it was only the simple things that we could enjoy like watching TV or playing Fifa.” Centred around an emotive piano motif and sparse arrangements, Simple Things places the spotlight on the song’s honest and unvarnished lyrical observations, as delivered in Georgie’s characteristically dusky vocal. It was initially released as part of Georgie’s debut solo album At Home, a surprise digital album that was perhaps one of 2020’s more uplifting moments.”

40 | Evan Isaac | Incandescent Eyes

THE EDITED PRESS RELEAESE: “Pittsburgh synth-pop artist Evan Isaac draws from the moment when creating music. Time and energy flow bountifully towards the horizon leaving you feeling nostalgic and excited. The music exists somewhere at the intersection of power pop, psychedelic rock, hip hop and musical theater. In digging through the weeds of life he has discovered his voice in a way that feels fresh, vibrant and true. Delhi-based indie electronic artist Shoals collaborates for the second time with Isaac on Incandescent Eyes. The polished but raw sound, coupled with lyrics about enduring love, resonates with those who have been feeling the heaviness of emotions they have taken for granted. Says Evan: “The song comes from a real place for me although it isn’t exactly where I am now in my relationship. I have come from this place before (I think) or if not, I can certainly imagine it in a visceral way.”