Indie music has grown to include so much. It’s not just music that is released on independent labels, but speaks to an aesthetic that deviates from the norm and follows its own weirdo heart. It can come in the form of rock music, pop, or folk. In a sense, it says as much about the people that are drawn to it as it does about the people that make it.
Every week, Uproxx is rounding up the very best of the indie releases from the past seven days. This week we got the first-ever solo single from Paramore’s Hayley Williams, an early-2020 indie stunner from Andy Shauf, and the announcement of an impending new album from Porches.
While we’re at it, if you want more music recommendations curated by Steven Hyden delivered directly to your inbox every week, sign up for the Indie Mixtape newsletter.
Andy Shauf — The Neon Skyline
Canadian singer-songwriter floated onto our radar with his 2016 LP The Party. Now, on his latest effort The Neon Skyline, Shauf fleshes out what we loved about him in the first place, exploring universes built through song and depicting, in great detail, different stories across a single night in a single bar. “There probably isn’t a single review or feature profile written about Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf that hasn’t referenced some of the greats of wistful ’70s pop-rock: Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell,” writes Steven Hyden in a recent feature for Uproxx. If any of those artists pique your interest, then The Neon Skyline is a perfect album for your sensibilities.
Higher Power — 27 Miles Underwater
On their major-label debut, Higher Power dialed back the pure aggression of their previous releases and instead put that energy into finding the melodies and hooks that makes heavier — but still in the realm of mainstream — bands like Alice In Chains and Deftones so great. Tracks like “Low Season” and “Lost In Static” show echelons of growth to the band’s songwriting prowess, and 27 Miles Underwater proves that they can share the stage with bands across the spectrum of rock music, which is not something that can be said for many bands with a firm footing in the hardcore world.
Wolf Parade — Thin Mind
Wolf Parade’s fifth full-length addresses the impact of having constant access to information and a decreasing attention span. “The struggle to stay present, and to foresee a clear, sustainable future, feels very real,” reads the album’s description on their Bandcamp page. All of this is true, and the Canadian post-punk trio tries their best to piece together a path toward progress across the ten tracks that comprise Thin Mind.
Black Lips — Sing In A World That’s Falling Apart
For their new album, Black Lips embarked to the newly reopened Valentine Recording Studios in Laurel Canyon, which has hosted the likes of Beach Boys and Bing Crosby before shuttering in 1979. They spent very little money and recorded the album directly to tape without the help of any computers, forcing them to get back to their roots and just play. With twelve tracks that air much closer to the world of country than anything the band has released previously, Sing In A World That’s Falling Apart allows you to do just that.
Hayley Williams — “Simmer”
The debut solo single from Hayley Williams sounds more like Radiohead than Paramore. There, I said it. Where Paramore’s latest album After Laughter took influence from art-rock groups like the Talking Heads, Williams instead dialed back the explosive colors and has presented a more drab and narrowly-focused expression of angst in the form of what Derrick Rossignol calls for Uproxx “a dark, bass-driven pop track.” “Simmer” is the first song in a project that will be released in full come May.
Ellis — “Fall Apart”
After the strength of her self-released EP The Fuzz, Linnea Siggelkow a.k.a. Ellis found herself signed to esteemed indie label Fat Possum Records, known for their work with The Black Keys, Andrew Bird, and more. Now, Siggelkow is prepping her debut full-length album Born Again for the label, which is set for release on April 3. To prove that she is here to stay, Siggelkow shared what Uproxx’s Derrick Rossignol calls “a warm slice of bedroom indie-pop with influences from shoegaze and dream-pop” with “Fall Apart.” With a sound that combines the best parts of Hatchie and Slowdive, Ellis is certainly an artist to watch in 2020.
Porches — “Do U Wanna”
While Porches was pretty quiet with regard to new music throughout 2019, Aaron Maine is set to kick off this decade with a brand new album. Ricky Music is set for release in March, and we’ve already heard its first cut in the form of “Rangerover” a few months ago. Now, Maine has shared “Do U Wanna,” “a punchy alt-pop tune on which Maine does some self-examination,” according to Derrick Rossignol for Uproxx. If the rest of Ricky Music has this sense of rhythm, count me in.
Waxahatchee — “Fire”
Before getting to work on her new album Saint Cloud, Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield decided to get sober. The resulting project is an immediate reflection on the process of achieving sobriety, and is prefaced by what Derrick Rossignol calls for Uproxx “the Americana-leaning lead single, ‘Fire.'” Crutchfield calls Saint Cloud a bit of an enlightenment record, and its first track is a look into the vulnerability we can expect from its eleven tracks.
Nap Eyes — “Mark Zuckerberg”
Nap Eyes might get the award for being the first band to write a song about being scared of Mark Zuckerberg and the power of Facebook. Ahead of their new album Snapshot Of A Beginner, the Canadian band have shared a song that takes its name from the Facebook founder, with a video that features “an uncanny-valley-type 3D model of Zuckerberg exploring the world,” according to Derrick Rossignol for Uproxx. Personally, I’m glad to see that social media anxiety is making its way into the arts.
The Wonder Years — “Washington Square Park” (Acoustic)
To celebrate ten years of their iconic debut “official” album The Upsides, The Wonder Years shared a stripped-back reimagining of one of the album’s upbeat tracks. The resulting string-laden selection is built upon gorgeous vocal harmonies instead of pummeling guitar chords, allowing listeners to really focus in on the lyrics. “I’m nailing shards of hope together, to put something over my head,” Dan Campbell sings, instead of screams. This rendition of “Washington Square Park” is truly a beautiful entry into The Wonder Years’ increasingly dynamic catalogue.
Stephen Malkmus — “Xian Man”
Just one year removed from the excellent Groove Denied the ever-prolific Stephen Malkmus has announced another new album. Traditional Techniques is just that — focusing on the folk stylings of the artists who influenced Malkmus throughout his life, and marking the conclusion of an album trilogy that includes Groove Denied and 2018’s Sparkle Hard. The album’s lead single “Xian Man” is centered around Malkmus’ twelve-string guitar and an array of Afghani instruments, making for a number that doesn’t sound too far removed from what we’ve come to expect from the singer-songwriter, but also takes a step toward uncharted territory.
Snarls — “Marbles”
“Marbles” is a song about existential millennial dread. It’s a relatable experience — we’ve all felt it. The track is taken from Snarls’ debut album Burst, which is out March 6 and finds singer-guitarist Chlo White interpolating the famous plot device from the (excellent) film Hook where Arthur Malet wanders around looking for his marbles/memories. It’s another impressive entry from the Columbus, Ohio band that certainly cements Burst as a can’t-miss record for the indie scene.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.