July is here, and now that the fireworks have faded away, we celebrate a full half year of independent music by taking a look at some of the best releases of 2014 thus far. The DJs of KDHX have picked their 10 favorites from the first six months of the year, with plenty of surprises in store.
Laying the fuzz bass on thick, Eric Elbogen, aka Say Hi, aims straight for your poisoned little heart with the minimalist, futuristic thumper "Such a Drag."
When you have a voice like Christopher Denny -- utterly distinctive, drenched in country, soul and rockabilly -- you don't need any help delivering a lush ballad like "Our Kind of Love." But when you have a singer like Erika Wennerstrom of Heartless Bastards on board, you have the making of a masterpiece.
Long-standing, avant-garde band Swans intricately weaves together an unwavering bass line, heavy guitar licks and discordant electronics and horns in "A Little God in My Hands" -- a sickly, unsettling yet mesmerizing seven-minute song.
Coming off of the Afghan Whigs' first new album in 16 years, "Matamoros" fuses an experimental, progressive-rock riff with whispering falsetto vocals to create a song that's both taunting and seductive.
London-based singer-songwriter Lyla Foy layers synthesizers and dreamy vocals to craft an atmospheric, intimate and eerily beautiful version of one of Tori Amos' most well-known songs, "Cornflake Girl."
Taking inspiration from Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, New Orleans-based Hurray for the Riff Raff blends American folk with soulful roots music on "I Know It's Wrong (But That's Alright)."
Richard Davies has worked as both a solo artist and with Eric Matthews for the group Cardinal, but the Australian-American musician got his start in the Moles, and he heads back to those strummy, acoustic-pop roots with the fetching "Beauty Queen of Watts."
Elliott Smith's influence over contemporary rock and folk music endures, but finding fresh ways of covering the late songwriter don't come easy. Edmonton, Alberta band the Provincial Archive manages to do just that on this imaginatively arranged take on Smith's "Son of Sam."
Eerie, acoustic and electronic, "The Highest Love" by Phoenix-based band the Holy Coast drifts and dances, with echoes of classic shoe gaze and mellow electro-pop ala Broken Bells.