Marissa Lorusso

Spend some time in Boston's indie rock circles, and the name Pile is bound to come up in awestruck tones. The acerbic, noisy rock band's four previous albums and ceaseless DIY tours have earned it local hero status among the leagues of die-hard fans who shout along to frontman Rick Maguire's every word. And Pile is well-known as an idol for its peers, too – just ask defunct Boston cult favorites Krill, who named an EP in the band's honor.

"I can't feel anything," Emily Reo sings meditatively through a vocoder on "Spell," a sprawling track about numbness. "I don't heal anything." The DIY pop artist's voice is fuzzy, filtered through digital manipulation, as she sings about emotional distance. But despite the haze, Reo creates an arresting emotional narrative over the course of the song's six minutes.

Thelma's music sounds almost otherworldly. Slightly spooky and often dramatic, it mixes the warm, human sensibilities of folk with slightly off-kilter electronic elements. The intensity in the music makes sense, given its origins: When Natasha Jacobs, the band's founder, began to focus on songwriting, she did so with a commitment to overcome her lifelong fear of performing. A few years later, while studying composition at SUNY Purchase, Jacobs began experimenting with electronic instrumentation.

Yohuna, the project of songwriter Johanne Swanson, began out of a sense of displacement. After moving to New Mexico (where she knew no one) armed with an old Casio, Swanson started writing and releasing her dreamy, synth-laden pop as Yohuna. As she kept moving — to Los Angeles, Wisconsin and Berlin — her music grew more complex and layered, thanks in part to her time spent learning about synthesizers, oscillators and hardware in Berlin's synth-pop scene.

Philadelphia power-pop songwriters Sam Cook-Parrott and Michael Cantor each helm their own bands: Cook-Parrott is the force behind Radiator Hospital, and Cantor's main project is The Goodbye Party. Both write songs that range from sparse and intimate to lush and joyful, driven by DIY aesthetics and thoughtful lyrics. Now, they're collaborating under the name The Afterglows, with a self-titled album due out later this summer.

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