Like everyone else, we’re taking a pause from travel to do our part in protecting global health. In the meantime, we’re working to uplift those affected by the pandemic—including our friends in the music world.
Although their tours have been postponed for the safety of their fans, support these under-the-radar international artists by adding their music to your quarantine queue.
With the need for social distancing necessary to slow the spread of illness, venues around the world have closed their doors for the foreseeable future, leaving many up-and-coming acts with canceled tours and festival gigs that would have introduced them to new audiences.
Luckily, the internet makes it easy to discover and support new artists from the comfort of our homes. (Plus inside, no one can judge you for your interesting singing and dancing). Although it may be a while before we can see them live and in concert again, these 16 would-be-touring international acts will help you upgrade your quarantine playlist while you wait.
1. Nap Eyes – Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
This Canadian band’s sunny, hopeful indie-folk tracks are just what we need to lift our spirits at the end of a long day in quarantine (their frontman and primary songwriter practices daily tai chi, and it shows). Nap Eyes’s fourth and most recent album, Snapshot of a Beginner, debuted on March 27th.
2. Son Little – Los Angeles, CA
Son Little’s music epitomizes the effortless cool Los Angeles is known for, and we have evidence: Not only was his latest record, Aloha, written in just 8 days, but the musician also plays nearly every instrument on the groovy, soulful album himself.
3. Hala – Detroit, Michigan
A new indie crooner to add to your lineup, singer-songwriter Ian Ruhala—known to the music world as Hala—dropped his latest high-energy single, Why Do You Want Anything to Do With Me?, along with mellow B-side Emotional R&B in late March. The former, an ideal afternoon pick-me-up; the latter, the perfect soundtrack to an apartment-rooftop happy hour (party of one, of course).
4. black midi – London, UK
Signed to indie label Rough Trade Records—who have also managed the likes of The Strokes, The Libertines, and Sufjan Steves—this British rock band released their most recent album, Schlagenheim, during the summer of 2019. If you need to release a little (or a whole lot of) pent-up energy, we’d highly recommend cranking up the volume and diving right in.
5. Jenny Hval – Tvedestrand, Norway
Jenny Hval’s haunting voice and experimental tracks have made her a hit on the alternative circuit since her debut. According to Hval’s website, she and her band are currently working on alternative ways to communicate her most recent album The Practice of Love (“The Practice of Quarantine? The Practice of Love in the Age of Corona?” she quips) in the coming weeks.
6. Kevin Krauter – Bloomington, Indiana
A founding member of indie group Hoops, Kevin Krauter released his first solo album, Full Hand, in late February 2020. This dream-pop album makes for easy listening with dreamy and light tracks themed around sexuality, religion, and memory.
7. Caroline Rose – Burlington, Vermont
It’s easy to get lost in the world of electronic dream-pop and creative storytelling that is Caroline Rose’s second LP, Superstar. (If you’re a fan of Marina and the Diamonds, try this next.) Drawing inspiration from society’s star-studded fantasies of Hollywood, Rose’s album follows the story of an anonymous protagonist who believes destiny has called them to chase after a life of money, power, and fame.
8. Sharon Van Etten – Brooklyn, New York
Sharon Van Etten’s echoey, thoughtful tracks are perfect for those nights when you’re feeling a little extra melancholy. The fact that her latest single, Seventeen, features the legendarily dreamy Norah Jones only sweetens the pot for us.
9. Why Bonnie – Austin, Texas
What better time to listen to classic bedroom indie-rock than while we’re hanging out in our bedrooms indefinitely? Why Bonnie’s earlier tracks will make you feel like you’re in the middle of a Coming of Age film—then, check out their latest single Athlete to hear them let loose with a full sound that will swallow you whole.
10. Andy Shauf – Toronto, Canada
This Canadian singer-songwriter dropped his most recent LP, The Neon Skyline, in early 2020. Starting off with a breezy indie tune of the same name, the title track sets the scene for a 34-minute narrative about love, loss, and a whole lot of alcohol on a night out in Canada’s largest city.
11. Shopping – London, UK
With razorlike guitar riffs accompanied by punchy basslines and drums, British trio Shopping holds 80s synthpop and punk in their hands, pushes them together, and declares, “Now kiss!” Their fourth album, All or Nothing, will get you up, dancing, and shaking off any quarantine blues in a matter of minutes.
12. TORRES – Orlando, Florida
It’s about time we associate Orlando with something other than theme parks, and we know just the place to start. Now based in New York, Torres’s moody and angular tracks make an excellent foil to the technicolor dreamland that raised her—including on her latest record, Silver Tongue.
13. Tropical Fuck Storm – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
It takes one look at the name to know you’re in for a ride with this Australian post-punk group. The first track of 2019’s Braindrops starts off slow and crawling before crescendoing into a tornado of sharp, wailing guitar solos that last minutes at once. The remainder of the album, a toss-up between the experimental and the classic, is equally as thrilling.
14. Ty Segall – Laguna Beach, California
Fact: Ty Segall has managed to release nearly 20 full-length albums since 2008. If this doesn’t impress you, his talent for genre-hopping will. (Take, for example, the charmingly indie My Lady’s On Fire versus funk-rock track Every 1’s A Winner versus garage rock Girlfriend.) Fungus II, released in February 2020, lends itself most to fans of hardcore music; use caution with your volume on the first track, unlike this editor did.
15. Sunny Jain – Brooklyn, New York
Forget the Youtube workouts you thought you needed to get through this quarantine: Red Baraat’s tunes will make you dance so vigorously you won’t even notice you’re exercising. Their dhol-playing leader, Sunny Jain, masters the art of distraction on his new solo album, too: As its name would imply, 2020’s Wild, Wild East weaves the cinematic soundtrack of a classic Western film into a dozen other genres for an experience unlike anything else out now.
16. RJD2 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
If you’re looking for something atmospheric to occupy your mind while you work from home, wind down for the evening, or knock out some (mandatory!) spring cleaning, RJD2’s chilled-out, instrumental-heavy songs make great company. Check out his most popular track, Ghostwriter, or his latest release, 20 Grand Palace, for a taste of what’s in store.