“Cold Blue Light,” by Kynsy—Hailing from the cultural epicenter of Dublin, Ireland, Kynsy composes music for static moments of consciousness in the middle of a bustle: sitting outside of a busy bar, walking to a third party fifteen minutes away or looking off of a balcony. “Cold Blue Light” is unarguably soon for the radio, and Kynsy is a name quick to be on every DJ’s radar.
“Plant Trees,” by Chappaqua Wrestling—Receiving support from BBC Radio 1, the members of Manchester-based rock band Chappaqua Wrestling are the freshest faces to come out of the brick-and-mortar music capital of the U.K. Many compare their sound to some sort of mid-2000s revival of garage rock — especially with the incredible performances of their vulnerable and nasally frontman.
“Backyard Wrestling,” by Voodoo Bandits—“Backyard Wrestling” is a disgustingly sweet, indie pop-rock anthem that sounds like it should be as famous as Kings of Leon or Franz Ferdinand. According to their own bio on Spotify, Voodoo Bandits capture the essence of “a blue sky riding on a skateboard” — and, frankly, that’s a better description than anything I could’ve come up with.
“Doomer,” by Obscura Hail—Obscura Hail is edgy, loud and emotionally open — all in the best ways possible. Vocalist Sean Conran formed the band as a response to his deep-seated fear of Alzheimer’s. Obscura Hail was Established by three Wollongong, Australia natives as a platform for their collective anxieties, Obscura Hail introducd an inevitably personal connection between audience and artist.
“Road Head,” by Japanese Breakfast—As the only official member of Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner writes intimate and deconstructed pieces of art-pop that, like many others on this list, hope to expose the musician’s own anxieties and fears to bond and relate with their audiences. Making waves with her 2016 release Psychopomp, Zauner aided in inspiring the next generation of bedroom artists to be as vulnerable and open as possible — a trend we see on the up-and-up as more and more artists are able to push their music on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Bandcamps.
“Train Love,” by Your Old Droog—Droog has been a big name in the underground hip-hop sphere since he set the Internet on fire by silently releasing his self-titled project in 2014 and disappearing almost as quickly as he came. Since then, he has intermittently released full albums, keeping him an elusive figure. Perhaps the most important characteristic of Droog’s raps is his continuation of storytelling as a musical form (think Andre 3000 or even Pac and Biggie). That being said, “Train Love” is about the potential to form new connections and relations and the anxiety that comes with it.
“Bigger Than Me,” by Zelooperz—Detroit-based Walter “Zelooperz” Williams doesn’t just rap; he converses, he shares and he questions. “Bigger Than Me” speaks to feelings of hopelessness as issues that compound and pile up, but Zelooperz promises that “you can overcome them.… It’s about the time, it’s about the essence.”
“Cherish the End,” by Flowervillain—Flowervillain is an independent enigma that produces and samples some huge names in rap to create entirely new experiences; for example, on “Cherish the End,” he takes verses from both Tyler, the Creator as well as MADVILLAIN — an artist that is clearly a big inspiration for Flowervillain. Between practically ripping off album art and using entire verses from other artists in his own work (probably without clearing sample rights), Flowervillain represents a new wave of artists that ignore rules and do what they want to do.
“Lockdown,” by Koffee—Grammy Award winner Mikayla “Koffee” Simpson is a multi-talented musician from Spanish Town, Jamaica, bringing dancehall and reggae into a contemporary space. “Lockdown,” as the title suggests, speaks to the worldwide emotional response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m Not Daddy,” by Whu Else—Coming from a post-ironic lens, Whu Else is a master of the craft, constantly referencing how he has “a brain bigger than most” and making banger after banger. Comical, repetitive and fun, Whu Else really stumps any sort of description, but he manages to push the boundaries of hip-hop and incorporate elements of pop.
“BABY BLUE,” by Fishmans—Psychedelic, spacey and completely out-of-the-box, Fishmans formed in 1980 and has been powering through projects since the group’s conception. With a vehement fanbase in their home nation of Japan, Fishmans otherwise is unarguably of cult-following fame with some select circles citing them as some of the most important contemporary neo-psychedelic musicians out right now.
“America,” by Bekon—Sampled on Kendrick Lamar’s “XXX.,” Bekon’s “America” elaborates on the systematic inequalities that our nation exemplifies, making it a topical and important contemporary listen. Outside of this song, Bekon has established himself as one of the biggest producers around, rubbing elbows with Lamar as well as Dr. Dre, RZA and Snoop Dogg to name a few.
“Kalimba Funk,” by Sango—Sango has been a producer for practically most of his life at this point, working with names like Drake, The Weeknd and Nas among others. “Kalimba Funk” is simply a show of his expertise.