Diving Past the Algorithm:

A music review of alternative options.

By: Hannah Bonanducci

Waltonian | The Waltonian Source: Pexels

I’m sure that I’m not alone in my desperate search for new music that isn’t one of Tik Tok’s latest hits or a Taylor Swift song that has resurfaced and reached the Top 10 on the charts (no offense to the Swifties). Finding music recommendations that I actually like can be complicated, considering that music services like Spotify have commercialized their recommendations, allowing artists to pay for more suggestions. Generally, pop songs and songs with the most clicks will get recommended to everyone, leaving little room for individuality in music tastes.

This being said, I have recently stolen some song suggestions from good friends that have led to a turning point in my music taste and recommendations. Around this time last year, I found myself getting into more folk and alternative/indie bands such as The Oh Hellos, The Gray Havens and The Arcadian Wild. And while an in-depth review and analysis of The Oh Hellos “Dear Wormwood” album is certainly tempting, I wanted to share some of my recent finds with my fellow alternative/indie and folk-loving friends.

One of the first recommendations I received was a folk band called Upstate. While I have yet to listen through one of their albums, I’ve been hooked on their mixture of folk and alternative/indie sound in upbeat songs like “Show You My World” and “How Far We Can Go.” With a perfect blend of kick drums and electric guitar with some good ol’ claps, it’s the type of music that makes you want to create a music video about your life. (Queue a possible new Instagram reel trend?)

Another hidden gem that I’ve found recently is an alternative/indie artist named Dom Fera. His song “Breathe” immediately hooked me in as a powerhouse song with strong vocals. Another song, “The Reckoning,” could very easily be a radio staple if given enough attention. His flawless blend of piano and electric guitar creates a synth sound perfect for the alternative world. He’s one of those artists that I consider “pop with flavor”- songs that could be your general pop radio song but with enough zest to make it unique.

As for the singles, it’s hard not to just throw out every song on my playlist. “Marigolds” by Raynes is another upbeat folk song with wonderful harmonies. Haunting songs like “Explore” by Prince of Spain, “Back to Autumn” by Tall Heights and “Circles” by Steve Benjamins all have simple backtracks that highlight their wonderful haunting melodies. Or for a good alternative folk song with great background guitar, “Mausoleum” by Seryn will certainly jolt you out of your seat.

Lastly, despite my criticisms of hunting through algorithms for music, I do have to praise a favorite song of mine that apparently has received a lot of Tik Tok exposure – “Stick Season” by Noah Kahan. With a simple guitar, some drums and incredible imagery of loss through the seasons, I’m so glad this folk-pop song managed to break through the algorithm and make it to the top 50 on Spotify’s charts.

I’m certainly no music connoisseur. My recommendations on Amazon Music will show you that I’m still a sucker for the top charts pop songs and those nostalgic Y2K hits. However, for the alternative/indie and folk lover in me (and maybe in you too), I just had to share some staples in one of my favorite playlists. And hey, if you’ve managed to dive past the algorithms and find some hidden gems, I’m always looking for more suggestions.

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