Focus on indie pop, deep house material for upbeat Summer playlists

Brien Miceli || Contributing Writer

’Tis the season for the happiest, most upbeat music. Even though it’s not necessarily a genre, everybody knows exactly the type of music you’re talking about when you bust out the term “summer jams.” The specifics of summer music vary from person to person. Some lean more toward the happy-go-lucky alternative, others are country lovers, several have some lighter hip-hop tracks in mind, and many are into the classic rock side of summer music. While these are all fine and dandy, I’m going to focus on my own specialties: indie pop and deep house.

Indie pop is exactly that: independent popular. Whether the artists produce themselves or are produced under an independent record label, this description has become a genre of its own. Stemming from alternative rock, indie pop has developed from U.K. punk into the electronic-infused, bubblegum rock we know today. To be completely honest, indie pop is a meshing of many genres. Matt & Kim and Birdy are both considered indie pop, yet both of these acts are pretty different.

Indie pop is mainly characterized by catchy hooks, pop-sounding smooth vocals, guitars, synths, and simpler, beats from either a live drummer or a drum machine. Some of the more popular acts include M83, AJR, The Neighbourhood, Sia, The 1975, Grouplove, Fun., and countless others. Now, for this upcoming summer, many of these bands have released new music.

Smallpools, a classic example of an indie pop band, has just released their debut album entitled LOVETAP. Smallpools has a pretty uniform sound, characterized by synthesized guitar chords, heavy keyboard usage, and an indie dance beat (think Walk the Moon x Passion Pit). These guys are the kings of (actual) party rock, full of energy and catchy melodies. I recommend listening to “Dreaming” and “Mason Jars” initially, as these are two of their most popular tunes. The downside is that the sound is very cookie-cutter, and each song sounds a little too similar. But if you like the sound a lot, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Additionally, Twenty One Pilots is releasing their third album “Blurryface” on May 19th. There’s no doubt that this album will reaffirm Twenty One Pilots as one of the better indie pop bands, as they’ve expertly combined alternative rock with hip-hop and electronic vibes. Their last album, “Vessel”, saw each song on the album get well over a million hits on Spotify.

Let’s move on to the genre about to enter its heyday: deep house. I’ve been following the deep house wave for a couple years now, and while progressive house seems to be dying in popularity, deep house has seen a huge surge over the past year.

Deep house is characterized by a constant, pounding electronic beat and light synths with contemporary instruments to add melody such as acoustic guitar, ukulele, saxophones, and other various brass/wind instruments. It’s the perfect meeting point between electronic and alternative folk, resulting in music you can both dance and relax to. The surge started last year the release of Disclosure’s super popular album “Settle”, with contemporary releases by artists such as Klingande and Faul & Wad Ad continuing the trend.

Deep house has evolved even further, into several sub-genres including tropical, melodic, folk, and future house. These genres are the epitome of this upcoming summer, and don’t be surprised to hear pop radio riddled with hits from Kygo, Thomas Jack, and Felix Jaehn.

Speak of the devils, Felix Jaehn and Kygo have both released songs these last couple months which have achieved over 150,000,000 hits via Spotify. “Cheerleader” and “Firestone” respectively. Kygo just released a killer collaboration with Dillon Francis featuring James Hersey called “Coming Over” which is destined for popularity.

Bonus artists to look out for this summer include Vanic, an electropop producer who has released hit remix after hit remix on Soundcloud, including my favorite summer song of last summer called “Circles”. His latest remix of Tove Stryke’s song “Borderline.”

Additionally, Jack Ü, consisting of Skrillex and Diplo, has just released their incredibly well-produced debut album including tracks featuring AlunaGeorge, 2 Chainz, and a current top 50 track called “Where Are Ü Now” featuring Justin Bieber.

One more rising electronic, summery artist is Viceroy, who has been releasing originals and remixes up the wazoo. His most popular releases include a remix of “Ignition Remix” and an original called “Back at the Start” featuring rising female rapper K. Flay. There are many more terrific summer-themed tracks that I didn’t have room to mention, and many more will be released. Now you have no excuse for having nothing to listen to this summer.

Sophomore Brien Miceli is a contributing writer. His email is bmiceli@fandm.edu.

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