5 Mellow Indie Albums

Daniel Morones

He’s in the News Again

L.A.-based musician Daniel Morones crafts orchestral indie pop. In fact, more than two dozen musicians appear on his latest release, He’s in the News Again. That’s an orchestra, right? The new album opens with “Straight Outta USA”, a short introduction, before the title track kicks into play. Here you’ll find an interesting juxtaposition: the grating, overlapping voices recounting gun violence, followed by the effervescent indie pop of Daniel Morones. It serves to inform the listener that while the music remains uplifting, the message hidden beneath is often serious. Morones draws from early pop influences – particularly those of the 60s and 70s – and, while that can be heard throughout He’s in the News Again, there is also a modern indie sensibility that is equally discernible in the sound. Daniel Morones created an album of subtle yet persistent beauty with He’s in the News Again. Give it a listen for yourself here…

Twelve Birds

Slave of Love

In just six tracks, Twelve Birds manages to create one of my favorite mellow indie pop albums to come out of Phoenix this year. The warm and genial sound has just enough texturing through added instrumentation to keep the tracks interesting without overwhelming the listener with unnecessary flourishes. Refreshingly thoughtful song constructing meets enlivening melodies on Slaves of Love. The title track almost has an electro-pop feel; as if Postal Service and the Beatles meet on a street corner and decide to hang out. “Together”, the closing track, has a BritPop feel that resonates with innocence. At the middle of the EP, you’ll find “King Nebuchadnezzar Summons Daniel” parts 1 & 2 – a melodic meandering through Biblical ruminations. Sean McCauley is the man-behind-the-band at Twelve Birds. Spend some time with Slave of Love below…


One in a Million

Texas singer/songwriter Jessica Kitowski performs her own brand of experimental indie pop under the moniker Jak. As soon as I started listening to One in a Million, the LP Jak released in May of this year, I was enchanted by the artist’s minimalist approach to electro-infused indie pop. One in a Million opens with “Rabbit Hole” which sets a meditative pace for the rest of the album. The overall sound comes dangerously close to homogenized – the album’s one fault – but Jak manages to avoid this pitfall through gentle permutations from sweet yet accusing on “Downward Spiral” to self-reflective on “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” to haunting on tracks like “One of These Days”.  All too often these days, artists who implement electronic elements in their music-making tend to over-indulge, creating a muddled sound, but Jak avoids all that. The result is tastefully minimal. Listen to One in a Million by Jak here…

Emby Alexander

Sound of Phoenix

This album may not be the sound of Phoenix but definitely sound in Phoenix and one worth knowing. I’m of course talking about the latest release from Emby Alexander: Sound of Phoenix. The bold name is matched by a bold sound. The band is not afraid to get strange in the name of experimentation and you can hear that on this release. “Rich as the Priest Asks” kicks off the album and listeners will immediately discern that Emby Alexander is not your typical indie act. They’re creating a droney, dreamy pop. And I don’t mean “dreamy” as in the bubbly  bedroom pop all the kids seem to love these days. No, Emby Alexander has a strange effect on the listener like that feeling you get after waking from an all-too-real dream and realizing you were in another world altogether. Tracks like “California Drugs” have me wondering if the band’s tendency toward experimentation extends beyond the recording studio, ahem. “Honey I Know” and “In Your Doorstep Bleeding” are favorites. As the names of these tracks might suggestion, there is a strong undercurrent of romanticism that scores many of the songs on Sound of Phoenix. These expressions feel authentic which makes them all the more compelling. Other acts should take a tip from Emby Alexander: go boldly after new sounds. Make it weird and find out what works. I listen to submissions all day, every day, and shit all starts to sound alike. Not this. Emby Alexander chases after a different beast. Listen to Sound of Phoenix here…

Christine Harazim

For Love

This four-track EP from Christine Harazim is both short and sweet, offering ruminations on love and loss and love once again. Harazim grew up on a farm in North Carolina, but relocated to Nashville after attending the Berklee College of Music. For Love provides four coffee shop-pop tracks that the 19-year-old coed who continues to live on inside of me would love to jam on the way to class. The EP opens with “Shine On” which, sadly, is not the best choice for kicking off the recording. A solid track, let there be no doubt, but not the strongest on the EP by any stretch. For me, it’s all about the carefree “We Just Sing Love Songs”, but the closing track, “No Boundaries”, is also a gem. Harazim possesses a sentimental side that shines through in her music. Give For Love a listen below…

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