Standout Track: No. 1, “Could Someone,” a moody bedroom-pop song with a hypnotic, repetitive melody and a steady beat. Incomprehensible whispers flutter in the background as sole member Chris Howard sings in an uninterested monotone: “She just wants a confident man/ who’s not afraid to hold her hand.” The song sounds cold and distant, but a feeling of longing grips tight. A human element persists even though Howard composed the song largely with Ableton.

Musical Motivation: “I just decided to make music I would listen to if someone else made it,” says Howard, 28. He’s written lyrics for several years, but became serious about his hobby when he began tinkering with music on his computer. When he bought a used guitar, things really started to come together. The Strangest Places is Howard’s first music project; before this, he only took a few junior-high guitar lessons. “It’s my fault if I don’t make music because I don’t rely on anyone,” he says.

Unconventional Beauty: Howard wrote most of the song on Halloween 2010. He writes from the perspective of a guy who knows what an “ideal” man is like but doesn’t identify with the archetype: “They say a sharp dressed man/ They say a well-groomed man/ They say a beautiful man/ is not what I am.” Then he poses a painful (or hopeful?) question: “Could someone like her want someone like me?”