Islands in the Stream: 7/9/24

Giving some love to artists who don't get enough of it

Islands in the Stream: 7/9/24
A stream and some islands and also some music

Islands in the Stream is a periodic series that highlights songs I've liked by artists who have a relatively low number of monthly listeners. It's like a public service with a dash of the thrill of discovery. What more could you ask for?

"I Could See It Coming," Minor Moon
Minor Moon is the band name adopted for what's been dubbed the "songwriting project" of Chicago-based artist Sam Cantor, who recently released his fourth LP under that mantle. "I Could See It Coming" is from the latest Minor Moon album, titled The Light Up Waltz, and based on the evidence presented by this particular two minutes and 57 seconds, he's got an impressive way with easy melodies and gently barbed hooks. This song makes me think of blue skies and warm breezes, which always ranks among my highest recommendations.

"Ones and Pennies," Johnny Franco
Johnny Franco apparently hails from Brazil and currently resides in Portland, OR. Neither of those locations left much of an apparent sonic imprint on "Ones and Pennies" — I think the most obvious takeaway from this track is that Franco has been listening to a lot of Dylan records and learning all the right lessons from them.

"Waterfall," Tom Fuller
Here's another Chicago artist, which will probably make Dave Lifton feel smug, but I'm willing to take that risk if it means shining a little extra light on "Waterfall," which sounds to me like Enuff Z'Nuff on their very best day. Extremely Beatlesesque with some extra snotty 'tude and a thin coat of power pop grime, in other words — and eminently listenable in the bargain.

"Road Untravelled," Paper Crown
Despite what Spotify seems to think, I have no particular affinity for Norwegian artists — although maybe the goddamn algorithm knows me better than I want to admit, because I keep dropping cuts from Scandinavian acts in these posts. Well, the algorithm wins again, because I can't argue with this gently addictive and utterly lovely little number. If you have a soft spot for soaring melodies over insistent, pounding drums, prepare to be won over.

"D'asporto," The Peeks
"D'asporto" apparently means "takeout" in Italian. This tells me nothing about whatever the Peeks are trying to say with this song, but that's okay, because I already knew I was a sucker for softly insistent rise-and-fall arpeggio riffs, and there's something about the vocal melody that makes me feel like I'm listening to a song about finding a crucial measure of hard-won peace and feeling pretty great about it. The song might actually be about pizza, but that isn't what it feels like, and that's what's important for this post.

"Somebody Loves You," Wreck Loose
The copyright says 2019, but "Somebody Loves You" sounds for all the world like it could have been pried from the second side of a lost classic from a '70s singer-songwriter who should have made it big but faded into obscurity. I say this not because the track goes out of its way to evoke that era, but because its lyrics, chord progression, and melodic construction would have fit right in, and the production is pretty timeless too. A song that will change your life? Probably not. But a song that'll make you feel like you might have heard it somewhere before, possibly a whole bunch of times, and leaves you sort of nostalgic for no particular reason? Perhaps.

"What It Is," Ian Lake
Ian Lake is apparently a member of the Locke & Key cast, which I cannot confirm because I've never seen the show and I don't feel like checking IMDb. Is he a great actor? Maybe, maybe not. But after listening to "What It Is," I think he might be a damn fine singer-songwriter — this is a wonderfully well-written, beautifully arranged, and smartly recorded tune. Primo shit that deserves a lot more than 114 monthly listeners.

"I Can Only (Come Home)," Ben Arthur
If you listen to the Record Player, you're familiar with Ben Arthur due to his repeat guest spots on the show — and if you're a longtime Popdose reader, you may also remember the time he cheerfully agreed to be interviewed with questions that had been written for Bea Arthur. This is Ben's first single of the year, and my biggest beef with it is that it clocks in under a minute 45. You couldn't write another verse, Ben? Doesn't a song this delightfully catchy deserve at least another minute? You selfish, talented cheapskate.

"Bones and Skin," Brian Chartrand
Just a slow pitch down the middle with this one — some moody, atmospheric, midtempo heartland singer-songwriter stuff. Nothing flashy, but enough to suggest that Brian Chartrand could be a twinkling star in the same galaxy occupied by Jason Isbell and the like.

"Being There," Nick Doneff
If I'd come across "Being There" and Nick Doneff in the late '90s, I think I would have gobbled it up with a spoon — I was listening to a lot of stuff cut from similarly tasteful cloth back then. Warm, kinda wispy vocals? Check. Gently strummed chords? Also check. Sparse, hopeful-sounding piano? Bonus check. This kind of thing might be a bit too khaki for some, but it sounds like waking up with the sun and a smile on your face, and there isn't anything wrong with that.