Silent Shout: The 16 Best Alt-Pop Songs Of 2016 So Far

Carl Williott | June 16, 2016 9:30 am

Silent Shout is our recurring dispatch from pop’s fringes. It may not be music for the masses, but — to paraphrase *NSYNC — this might be pop.

It used to be that the end of the year meant pop culture list time. But like the presidential campaign, list season keeps creeping up earlier and earlier. The end of the year look-backs begin before Thanksgiving, and half-year “so far” lists are an expected #content category. There’s no point in fighting it, so I’ve compiled a Spotify playlist of what are, in my estimation, the 16 best alt-pop songs of 2016 so far. No rankings, no commentary, just the tunes.

Each song has appeared in one of these Silent Shout roundups over the past six months — we’ve been flooded with really good, weird music this year, so it was tough to narrow it down. I couldn’t even include this and this because they’re not on Spotify.

So check out the playlist, and read on for five new alt-pop songs you should know about that, who knows, could make the year-end list.


Samaris — “T4ngled” I feel like Stefon describing this song, but it’s got everything: The Knife, Björk, Poliça, Chelsea Wolfe, Lorde, trip hop, dub. Iceland’s hottest hush-pop trio is Samaris. This is off their just-released sophomore album Black Lights.

Alex Cameron — “Take Care Of Business”

Last time we featured this dude he was doing a manic little dance number, but this time he’s channeling Suicide with a minimal keyboard dirge. Throw in his web 1.0 site and his lounge-y “Alex Cameron” character and you’ve got the winking Russian nesting doll antics of a Father John Misty channeled through spare synth-pop. His Jumping The Shark debut is out August 19.

School ’94 — “Common Sense” Glimmering new wave, bouyant dream pop, ethereal rock — for this ’80s-leaning Swedish band, use all the descriptors for music that gets your head into a cloud of nostalgia and romance. It’s a stark contrast to the sharper, more aggressive pop the country is known for, and the smeared smoothness is even more impressive when you realize they can do sharp and aggressive, too.

Local Natives — “Villainy”

Holdouts from the ’00s indie rock movement have struggled to assimilate into the guitar-free landscape we live in now. But not Local Natives. After three years away, they return with “Villainy,” the lead single off third album Sunlit Youth. It’s their first-ever song without a six-string, maybe because you don’t have to shake the rust off if you just ditch the old hardware. The squiggly synthetic sounds here, rather than coming off like an afterthought or a desperate ploy to stay relevant, are a stirring delivery system for the band’s songwriting and typically rich vocals.

Tyler Digital ft. Stefanie Santana — “Straight To The Head” This South Carolina-based producer splits the difference between dusky Drive-time pulses and the drift of chillwave with playful and hallucinatory verses that melt into an ominous rush of digital drones and bleats. The whole song is an exercise in ebb and flow, with Stefanie Santana serving as the emotional anchor. Tyler Digital’s debut visual album, Exit 8, is out later this summer.