Our six favorite local songs from January

Introvert — ‘Shadowed Walls’
Opening with a somber drone with granular delay, “Shadowed Walls” starts off small and expands in deeply personal ways. It exemplifies the very best of electronic music, a fluid movement that transitions in extraordinary ways.There is an energy here that carries the track, a deep groove that builds and evolves almost as if it’s organic. There are a lot of comparisons to be made, although composer Dennis Stein has developed his craft well beyond homage. Still, you can hear traces of Richard Devine and Squarepusher, drum and bass elements that are as kinetic as they are wild, filtered and distorted often beyond recognition into something wholly fresh.

Quite Literally — ‘California’
With “California,” Quite Literally creates a landscape that takes you away, traveling music that puts you on a rural road, windows down as you look across the cornfields. The vocals are as gentle as a summer breeze, a reminder of better times, pining for love lost. When the lead singer sings,  “I wish I was brave,” it’s an earnest plea. We all know that feeling of regrets, both big and small, wishing for a better outcome. It’s that ease that draws you in as a listener, that makes you part of this intimate moment along with the band.

Ibbur — ‘Gallows Humor’
With Gallows Humor, Ibbur’s has crafted an indelible pop number, hook heavy and luscious. It’s that emphasis on texture where the band really shines, not for lack of chops with the composition, but for making it rise above the chaff. This is dense, a lush, textural landscape that yields new secrets at every turn. There are elements of psych and garage rock, overlaid with a detailed layering. At five minutes long, this track does not overstay its welcome, coming in as a concise piece that leaves you wanting more.

Quality Cable — ‘Old Age’
Pop music so infrequently surprises, weaving in and out of the same tropes. That’s neither a good or a bad thing, just a reflection of what works and what doesn’t in terms of music theory and popularity — dissonant or minor key notes rarely make for ideal hook material. Quality Cable knows a good turn when they hear one, and “Old Age” delivers something unexpected. The key changes are fresh, rarely going exactly where you’d expect. The band deftly performs their instruments, a reflection of their tutelage at the School of Music at UofL, leaning into the looseness of an indie band, rather than away from it. Singer Emma Treg has a sultry voice that perfectly mirrors the airiness of the track, in part light and easy, but with a foreboding undertone. As such, “Old Age” captures the experience of aging, the wisdom and remorse that comes with it — here through not only the chord structures, but timeless singing.

Southern Parkway — (‘Uncomfortable Silence’)
Pulled from the Experiments in Drone EP, Southern Parkway offer anything but the “(“Uncomfortable Silence”)” promised in the song title. Brian Eno’s maxim that ambient should remain “as ignorable as it is interesting” is evidenced here, as the track is reflective of your listening experience. Instrumental, the track is a meditative piece that taps into binaural frequencies. You can hear a variety of guitars harmonizing into a glorious drone, a trance-inducing union that, to my ear, imparts a sense of peace and relaxation.

Dr. Dundiff — ‘Skat’ Ft. James Lindsey
Dr. Dundiff’s jazzier leanings take the forefront on “Skat,” a track that features the incredible James Lindsey. Starting off with twinkling piano work, Dundiff wastes no time getting to the beat. Lindsey is on fire, stringing together a powerful narrative. The song concludes with a tribute to seminal hip-hoppers Arrested Development, as Lindsey sings the chorus to “Tennessee,” in what feels like an earned and natural payoff to the plight of the emcee.