Given that singer Moses Sumney‘s debut album Aromanticism ranks among our favorites of the year, we were very excited to listen to this recently released live performance at the NPR offices. The stripped-down and passionate 20-minute performance easily proves why Sumney’s star is quickly on the rise, thanks to gorgeous vocal melodies that drift over an elegant blend of harp, guitar, and keyboard sounds. (The official, shorter version is above.)
Ty Segall — “The Main Pretender”
Garage rock hero Ty Segall may have already put out an excellent self-titled record this year, but that won’t stop the prolific musician from releasing new tunes. On his latest song, “The Main Pretender,” we get a healthy dose of Segall’s signature fuzz, with a punchy drumbeat, distorted guitars, and even a shrieking saxophone solo midway through. As with much of the songwriter’s catalog, this one is meant to be played loud.
Sufjan Stevens — “The Greatest Gift”
Gently plucked strings open up this short and sweet winter single from indie icon Sufjan Stevens, whose soft voice floats gently throughout the 2-minute gem of “The Greatest Gift.” Hopeful and quiet, this is a warm musical morsel that will raise your spirits even during the coldest, darkest days of the year.
Day Wave — “Drag” (Live on KCRW)
A crisp drum groove and jangly guitars keep things moving during this brief but memorable cut from Oakland’s Day Wave. One of a few songs the band played during a recent appearance at Southern California’s KCRW radio station, the tune “Drag” is very well-suited to movement, whether that’s head bobbing along at your desk or taking it with you on your next cold-weather run. We found ourselves particularly enjoying it on the brisk walk home from the office.
Mikko Joensuu — “Warning Sign” (and more, live on KEXP)
This performance by Finnish musician Mikko Joensuu is one of a few musical gems that was recently recorded by the team at Seattle’s KEXP radio during their time at the Iceland Airwaves festival. The simple folk melody of Joensuu’s opening track “Warning Sign” is surrounded by a beautiful large ensemble, with layered strings, background vocals, and supple guitar joining together in powerful harmony.