Each quarter, Utne Reader presents free, downloadable music gleaned from current and upcoming releases on independent music labels. This sampler was curated by  editor-in-chief Christian Williams and associate editor Ben Sauder.


Spring 2017

Artist:  Shugo Tokumaru
Record Label: Polyvinyl
Latest album: TOSS (out April 28)
Featured song: “Lita-Ruta”
Why we like this song: 
In a similar vein to Cornelius, Shugo Tokumaro layers samples, horns, marimbas, guitars, vocal harmonies, and more to craft a baroque-pop gem.


Artist: SOFTSPOT
Record label: Arrowhawk
Latest album:
Clearing (out April 7)
Featured song: “Heat Seeker”
Why we like this song:
With big, dreamy guitar chords and Sarah Kinlaw’s washed-out pop vocals this track would fit comfortably on 80s radio.


Artist: Deathlist
Location:
Portland, OR
Record label: XRAY
Latest album:
Deathlist (out April 7)
Featured song: “Dream Of”
Why we like this song:
Jenny Logan, aka Deathlist, plays all the instruments on her debut LP apart from drums on a couple tracks. The acoustic guitar riffing on “Dream Of” is unexpected but goes surprisingly well with the vibe of the other instrumentation.


Artist:  Taylor Haskins
Record Label: Recombination Records
Latest album: 
Gnosis (out now)
Featured song: “Hazy Days”
Why we like this song: 
Acclaimed trumpeter Taylor Haskins latest album is an amalgamation of pre-programmed synths and improvised trumpet that meld jazz and EDM. “Hazy Days” is an excellent example of what you can expect from the rest of the self-produced album, on which Haskins played nearly all of the instruments in his home studio.


Artist: Bod
Record label: Swoon Records
Latest album:
True Cinnamon (out April 14)
Featured song: “True Cinnamon”
Why we like this song:
“True Cinnamon” feels like several sonic worlds fused together with a lead guitar riff reminiscent of Radiohead’s “My Iron Lung,” a quiet Mellotron bridge, and a squealing rager of an outro.


Artist: Desert Culture
Location:
Austin, TX
Latest album:
They’re Not Gone (out April 28)
Featured song: “Elva”
Why we like this song:
Simple, and catchy as hell, “Elva” employs the traditional instrumentation of a surf song — reverbed guitar, organ, bass, drums — but singer Daniel Vega takes the song to a different level with an impressive hook on the chorus.


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