De-Synth: 12 Songs that Don’t Feature the Synthesizer

OCTOBER 17, 2013
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Tom Odell; Photo by Kathryn Schledwitz

Have you ever tried to learn to play an instrument? I have. In fact, I have tried to learn several. It’s not as easy as it looks. Despite hours and years of strumming the guitar, I still don’t hit every string just right, and that’s on the basic chords. “I can keep a beat,” I thought in high school, “how hard could the drums be?!” Well, when you are trying to keep four different beats with your arms and legs, it is pretty challenging. I did not get very far with the piano either, other than investing in a keyboard. However, one benefit of all this effort is my increased appreciation for these talents. When I go to a live show, I watch the drummer, pianist, and guitarist with a new level of admiration. Similar to how you may have been humbled at karaoke last weekend!

Yet, these talents are often being drowned out by the computers and synthesizers. Don’t get me wrong, I love the electronic sound of synth, and I frequently feature synth-heavy songs on Qlette’s Discover This master playlist. As Giorgio Moroder, Italian producer, so aptly says on a Daft Punk track, “Wait a second…I know the synthesizer – why don’t I use the synthesizer, which is the sound of the future?” I highly encourage you to take a listen, if just for the accent. However, there are so many great songs being made without (or with very little) synthesizer that I have not highlighted.

So as you enjoy the crisp fall weather, check out this new playlist, but don’t expect electro-pop jams. The list below includes sounds of the 70s, country, blues, folk, and phenomenal voices. Slow down, listen, and enjoy. For the extended playlist, subscribe to QL: DeSynth Playlist.

1. Tom Odell – Can’t Pretend

  • Sounds… singer-songwriter, who loves to jam on the piano
  • Like it? Check out: Grow Old With Me, Sirens, Supposed To Be, Storms or the entire album (certified Gold in UK)
  • Hails from: this youngen (22) is BRIT Awards Critic’s Choice
  • Tour Destinations: U.K. (Oct & Feb), Europe (Nov), Australia (Dec/Jan)

Vance Joy; Photo by Kathryn Schledwitz

2. Vance Joy – Riptide    

  • Sounds… folky
  • Like it? Check out: Snaggletooth
  • Hails from: Australia, where this single has gone platinum
  • Tour Destinations: U.K. (Oct)

3. Saint Motel – My Type               

  • Sounds… glam-pop with fiery horns
  • Like it? Check out: Benny Goodman, You Do It Well (not exactly synth light though)
  • Hails from: L.A., where the band members met in film school
  • Tour Destinations: U.K. (Oct/Nov) 

4. Ivan & Alyosha – Running for Cover     

  • Sounds… folk/indie-pop
  • Like it? Check out: Be Your Man
  • Hails from: Seattle!
  • Tour Destinations: Southeast (Oct), Texas (Nov 6-7), Nashville (Nov 10), Philly (11/12), Midwest (mid-Nov), SF (12/10), LA (12/11-12) & more!


5. Kopecky Family Band – Are You Listening         

  • Sounds… at times reminiscent of The Polyphonic Spree, with everyone singing along and playing lots of instruments
  • Like it? Check out: Heartbeat, The Glow, the album streaming
  • Hails from: Nashville, where the founders met at Belmont Univ.
  • Tour Destinations: Southeast (Oct), OKC/Little Rock/Nashville/ATL (early Nov w/ The Mowglis!), Canada (mid-Nov w/ Said The Whale!), then joining Lissie’s US tour (see below)

6. Lissie – Further Away (Romance Police)             

  • Sounds… like Fleetwood Mac
  • Like it? Check out: I Bet On You, Shameless
  • Hails from: Rock Island, IL
  • Tour Destinations: UK/Europe (Oct-Nov), Boston (11/22), DC (11/24), NYC (11/25), Chicago (11/29), Denver (12/2), SLC (12/3), Seattle (12/5), SF (12/7), LA (12/9), & more!

7. Danielle Bradbery – The Heart of Dixie                

  • Sounds… like she could be the next Carrie Underwood?
  • Like it? Check out: her album is set to release Nov. 19th
  • Hails from: Season 4 of The Voice (she won)
  • Tour Destinations: Nashville (11/12), NE, IL, MN & MI (11/14-11/23)

8. Roadkill Ghost Choir – Beggars’ Guild                 

  • Sounds… folky, featuring the bango
  • Like it? Check out: the EP, streaming here
  • Hails from: Florida
  • Tour Destinations: Harvest Music Festival (Oct 18), The Stuffing in ATL (11/27)

 9. Caitlin Rose – When I’m Gone                 

  • Sounds… old fashioned country, but for modern ears and featuring the pedal steel
  • Like it? Check out: No One To Call, Old Numbers, Waitin’
  • Hails from: Nashville
  • Tour Destinations: Australia (10/23-10/25), MI & OH (11/2-11/4)

 10. Tedeschi Trucks Band – Made Up My Mind   

  • Sounds… blues rock (Derek Trucks is a slide-guitar prodigy, who has played with Allman Brothers & Eric Clapton)
  • Like it? Check out: Do I Look Worried, Part of Me
  • Hails from: Jacksonville, FL, where the husband-wife duo resides
  • Tour Destinations: London (10/29), Canada (11/8-11/23), Cali (12/4-12/7), Seattle (12/10), SF (12/14), DC (1/25), Europe (Apr), & many more!

11. Ashley Monroe – You Got Me              

  • Sounds… country, Dolly Parton style
  • Like it? Check out: Two Weeks Late
  • Hails from: Knoxville, TN
  • Tour Destinations: Nashville (10/18-19), Chicago (10/25), Dallas (11/22), & many more!

12. Houndmouth – Casino (Bad Things)

  • Sounds… americana
  • Like it? Check out: On the Road, Come On, Illinois, Penetentiary
  • Hails from: Kentucky… I know, I got all Southern on y’all this playlist
  • Tour Destinations: Nashville (11/8), Philly (11/13), Boston (11/14), NYC (11/15-16), Chicago (11/22-23) & more!

And if after listening to this playlist, you are still craving some electro-pop, check out St. Lucia and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s new albums.

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