2020 has been a terrible year so far. Kobe Bryant tragically passed away on 26th January, we’ve witnessed the catastrophic effects of the Australian bushfires, and Iran pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal because a US drone strike killed top Iranian security and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani outside Baghdad airport in Iraq. That’s not the end of it; we haven’t talked about the dreaded COVID-19 (or coronavirus) yet, a disease that has spread dramatically around the world. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The pandemic is bringing out the best in all of us. Only last week in the UK, more than half a million people volunteered to help and assist individuals self-isolating by delivering food and medicine. Beautiful.

We want to do our bit. If you’re feeling lonely or need a chat, email us at listen@independentmusicnews.com. We’ll give you a call and talk about music. If you’re not up for having a chitter-chatter, we’ve created a playlist of the best songs to keep you entertained. Have a dance to Venus Demilo, headbang to SHEAFS, you can even parade naked to David Shurr, just enjoy the tunes and stay safe.

SPQR ~ Just Sumfin

In Just Sumfin by SPQR, the signs are good. From the first medium shot of the music video as it tracks frontman Peter Harrison, the bright lights will dazzle you. Visually striking using the white palette, I was especially impressed with the ability to access the movement of the band and to feel like I was inside the song using one continuous shot. The record is a beautiful piece of modern pop utilizing enough melody to compliment the newer sounds, while the guitar and bass work well off each other, especially in the second verse and chorus. A rich, melodious track which requires more than one listen, I would recommend anyone play it even if it’s not their type of music.

Mark Mochan

SHEAFS ~ Total Vanity

One interesting side effect of the current lockdown has been the number of individuals that have exposed themselves as self-obsessed. Not only are the bulk-buyers currently drowning in spoiled milk and stinky eggs, but there are droves of people who see a killer virus as their perfect opportunity to go viral. Quite ironic. Anyway, that was just a minor rant I thought I’d throw in here based upon the title of this next song, Total Vanity. An absolute banger by SHEAFS, this track has hit over ten thousand plays on Spotify and been recognised for its greatness by BBC Radio 1. In a time when the pitfalls of consumerism start to seep like an open wound, bands like SHEAFS are essential, with lyrical content that tackles how we live. But we all know that great lyrics don’t make up for boring music, which is lucky for us as their sound is incredibly catchy, with hooks that stick in the brain long after you first hear them.

Total Vanity is a personal favourite of mine, and a tune I have no doubt will be played again and again.

Daniel Fagan

TV COMA ~ TheWorldIsClosingDown

Everybody is going crazy because of the corona. No, not the beer. The virus, you bloody numpty. From stockpiling adult nappies to baby wipes, TV COMA have written and produced a song to document our demise. That’s lovely. Titled TheWorldIsClosingDown, expect bedroom pop, naughty lyrics and a hard-on. Sorry! That was inappropriate. I’ll let myself out. Thanks. 

Daniel Thomas

Naoise Roo ~ Sick Girlfriend

Sick Girlfriend is full of catchy melodies, powerful lyrics, and is reminiscent of Anna Calvi and Amanda Palmer’s best works. Naoise Roo sings about the depiction of female mental health issues. It’s easy to romanticise “damaged women”, but when it comes to the reality of the situation, anyone who has experienced these things first hand will understand there’s nothing romantic about it. A strong, effective piece of music that leaves you thinking long after the final chord rings out, this song deserves a place on all of our playlists.

Daniel Fagan

Slender Pins ~ Rough

Rough by Slender Pins presents itself as a blend of classic rock and punk. The guitar maintains high energy throughout the song, only leaning back to give the listener an interesting juxtaposition of Ash Burt’s voice mixed with a thick, chugging bassline. It’s hard to sit still while listening to this track. The drums keep the listener head-bobbing with their constant, high energy rhythm mixed with an occasional, surprise auxiliary percussion feature. Burt’s unique vocal tone is undoubtedly the star of the song, fusing indie rock and punk. 

Liam Sloan

Blake Mills ~ Vanishing Twin 

Grammy-winning producer, composer, guitarist and songwriter Blake Mills released Vanishing Twin on 20th March, and it’s a masterpiece. One of those songs you need to listen to alone to appreciate its glory, Mills’ voice is a treat to behold and is accompanied by a sinister and dramatic background sound, which complements the overall tone of the track very well. 

Taken off Mutable Set, out on 8th May via New Deal Records, you can pre-order the record here

Daniel Thomas

The Caress ~ The Grave

London-based alternative-rock band The Caress released The Grave a few weeks ago, and I’ve had it on repeat ever since. 

Haunting from the first chord and soaked in reverb, The Grave progresses with intricate guitar parts, well-placed drums and a deep bassline. The emotional depth in the vocal performance sets this track apart; you can really hear the melancholy.

Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon, go check it out and get it on that summer playlist you may or may not have started making.

Michael Saeed

IS TROPICAL ~ Calling Out

The vast array of sounds used in Calling Out is an absolute pleasure to behold. This is a track that had me dancing at my desk like a fool. We might be stuck indoors, but listening to this song transports you to a place of neon lights, dancing and shady corner-dwelling characters. It’s a record that would be just as suitable for a summer festival as a nightclub. As it stands, we’re using it to help the long days go a little quicker, and it’s certainly helping.

With smooth harmonies and unforgettable melodies, Calling Out is a song that needs to be played again and again. 

Daniel Fagan

Venus DemiloPenniless

If you’re looking for something relevant, relatable and uplifting to flail around your house to, Venus Demilo have got you covered with Penniless. The alt-pop Liverpudlians have tapped into their inner emo to remind us all that, although times are bloody tough, let’s keep the faith. Harnessing a fresh, upbeat, dynamic sound, the quartet shine a light on a very current, yet relevant subject matter – being skint. The lads say: “We know it’s hard, but keep plugging away. It’s the only way to live with no regrets”. An inspiring, empathic message delivered in a fun and vibrant way. Just what we all need! Definitely worth a listen.

Chelsey Turner

Daniel Trakell ~ Let Me Be 

Like folk music? Oh, you do! Well then, I’ve got a little treat for you, and he goes by the name of Daniel Trakell. Based in Melbourne, Australia, the singer-songwriter plays music that will cleanse your soul and melt your heart. There are no preservatives or additives in his songs; they’re all-natural and part of a healthy diet. Feeling upset? Listen to Wisdom/Boredom. Has your boss shouted at you for photocopying your arse? Don’t Bury Me In Love will help you out. Have you cheated on your cat by stroking the neighbour’s kitty? Play Trakell’s latest tune, Let Me Be, because let’s be honest, your pussy will be leaving you be for the foreseeable future. Sorry.  

Daniel Thomas

David Shurr ~ Mysterious Waves

Lancashire-based David Shurr has gifted us with the perfect track to carry us through this tough ass time. It is my personal lockdown favourite. Mysterious Waves is a beautiful, evocative, soulful song which lyrically reminds us of the small pleasures in life that can be found even in the strangest of times. The chilled, mellow vibe evokes a “take it easy” attitude, and the mention of “peace and quiet in a place where we can patiently wait” is wonderfully reassuring. The world may be wild beyond these walls, but this record works to remind us that there is light, joy and peace to be found if we refocus our attention to nature and all of those lovely, basic day to day things we can often take for granted. The sun is shining, folks! Open those windows, get out into the garden, soak up some vitamin D, wash your hands, and listen to this track.

Chelsey Turner

Katie Wood ~ Steve

New Romantic art-rocker Katie Wood wrote Steve while she was in the shower, and now I’ll be singing it in the bath when I’m listening to the Independent Music News self-isolation playlist. The circle of life. It’s a fantastic debut single, with Wood’s clear sense of identity shining through. The lyrical content is encouraging to those of us who struggle to recognize their own value and worth from time to time. You can always let go of a toxic relationship, whatever that may be with. If Alex Cameron and HAIM joined forces, you could imagine a song like this coming out, and Wood sits comfortably amongst these contemporary artists. The music video also feels like it’s come straight out of an eighties sci-fi fantasy film and features some fantastic visuals.

Daniel Fagan

Ruby Dutch ~ Listen To The Rain 

Ruby Dutch?! Is that rhyming slang? Is this all a practical joke? I hope not! Oh no, it isn’t. They’re actually a five-piece alternative-rock band from Brighton. My bad, my bad. 

The act formed in 2019, and since then, have released numerous songs and a four-track EP called Silk. I highly recommend you check it out. Their latest single, Listen To The Rain, is their best tune yet. It’s bizarre, unusual, yet has a beautiful nature. You won’t see it sitting on the popular table in the school canteen, playing American football or even doing additional homework to be top of the class. No, this is a rebellious song, and you’ll find it smoking joints behind the bicycle shed. Just watch out for Sandra, she’s always kissing Derek in that spot. 

Listen To The Rain is a whirlwind of emotions; one minute you’ll be headbanging along to the aggressive guitar riffs, the next, your head will be under a duvet as you cry along to Jess Searle-Healey’s vocals. All in all, it’s a great addition to any bipolar playlist. 

Daniel Thomas

Motel Carnation ~ Baby You’re A Nightmare

With sensual vocals and funky bass that oozes from the speakers, Motel Carnation’s brilliant tune, Baby You’re A Nightmare, will take you off to a dreamy world of psyche-pop. Reminiscent of Blossoms with a darker twist, this Newcastle three-piece deserve high praise. They’re the next big thing to come out of the ‘toon.

Daniel Fagan

Jake Isaac & The Kingdom Choir ~ Tomorrow

Tomorrow marries powerful, soaring vocals with “depths of the soul” lyrics and gentle instrumentation to create a soulful, mellow pop ballad sure to soften the blow of those lockdown blues. With reference to “days we just don’t want to be here”, and worries of tomorrow, this song is a reminder to us all to set those problems aside and to live for today. Let’s face it; if we’ve learned anything recently, it’s that none of us can know what the next day will bring so let’s make the most of what we have right in this very moment. 

Chelsey Turner 

Tino ~ 95 Tribe

95 Tribe is a song in which Dayton-based hip-hop artist Tino pays tribute to the 1995 Cleveland Indians, his hometown team who went to the MLB World Series that year but ended up losing to the Atlanta Braves. I’ve got to be honest; as a simple Scouse boy, I know very little about the sport of baseball. However, as a lifelong Evertonian and long-suffering season ticket holder, I understand how it feels to love a club that teases you with the potential of greatness and then loses it time and time again. The passion can be illogical, irrational and irresponsible, but there’s something about the unity we feel and those emotionally lifting moments that can never quite be topped. 95 Tribe accurately describes that feeling, and in the process, it takes you back to the mid-nineties with its sound and expert flow. A nostalgic yet modern track with an absolutely killer chorus hook, you need to check this one out.

Daniel Fagan

Ani Glass ~ Mirores

Ani Glass recently released her debut album, Mirores, and it’s full of absolute belters. One such classic is the title track itself. Before starting this project, Glass had little experience in the world of electronic music. It’s hard to believe that when you listen to this incredibly accomplished piece of music. It’s timeless, and yet you get a sense it could have only been made now. With beautiful soaring vocals and catchy pop melodies, this song is sure to keep you dancing through the tough times. The music video, directed by Carys Huws, is incredibly well made, with Ani’s alluring stage presence seeping from the screen as you watch. A record about movement and progress, let’s heed the message and keep going.

Daniel Fagan