Every month, Utne Reader presents free, downloadable music gleaned from current and upcoming releases on independent music labels. This sampler was curated by associate editor Ben Sauder.
Artist: David Bazan
Location: Seattle, Washington
Record label: Suicide Squeeze
Latest album: Dark Sacred Night (out now)
Featured song: “All I Want For Christmas”
Why we like this song: The dark and somber piano ballad combines two Christmas classics in a way that seems appropriate to close out 2016.
Artist: Serengeti & Sicker Man
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Record label: Graveface Records
Latest album: Doctor My Own Patience (out December 16)
Featured song: “Doctor My Own Patience”
Why we like this song: Opening with sustained minor piano chords, this song doesn’t go where expected, but the place it ends up is infectious and positive.
Artist: Serafim Tsotsonis
Location: Athens, Greece
Record label: Hush Hush Records
Latest album: She Swims (out December 9)
Featured song: “Cold Naïve”
Why we like this song: From a contemplative and dreamy opening, “Cold Naïve” falls into an upbeat, jazzy rhythm full of choral angels and horns aplenty.
Artist: Forth Wanderers
Location: Montclair, New Jersey
Record label: Father/Daughter
Latest album: Slop EP (out now)
Featured song: “Nerves”
Why we like this song: An entrancing and gritty guitar line weaves in and out of Ava Trilling’s beautiful vocal melody.
Artist: Adrian + Meredith
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Latest album: More Than a Little (out now)
Featured song: “Take a Boat”
Why we like this song: A tight rhythm section, soaring fiddle work, and a strong lead vocal by Adrian Krygowki are highlights of this recording.
Artist: Nude With Lyre
Location: Athens, Georgia
Latest album: Blood (out December 9)
Featured song: “Climbing”
Why we like this song: To this sober listener, this ambient track sounds like a mid-morning winter adventure into the dark and drippy bowels of a crystal cavern.