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 gave us the fractured return of Sleater-Kinney, two new (Sandy) Alex G songs, and another stellar new track from Brittany Howard.
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Sleater Kinney — The Center Won’t Hold
The Center Won’t Hold doesn’t sound like anything Sleater-Kinney have released in the past. Parts of it are darker and sludgier than we’ve heard from them; other parts are brighter and poppier. It feels like the album should have been a watershed moment for Sleater-Kinney, a moment that allowed them to attract an entirely new fan base whose interest lies in more conventional pop-rock structures than we’re used to getting from the band.
Instead, the album’s title became a self-fulfilling prophecy when drummer Janet Weiss made the announcement that these new songs were sending the trio “a new direction” that essentially forced her foot out the door for good. Two months before the record was released, it had essentially been condemned by the band’s own drummer. You can tell why — The Center Won’t Hold is chock-full of electronic stomps and drum machines. But it also features tracks like “Love,” which beautifully illustrates what we could expect from the new era of Sleater-Kinney. It has the same pogo fervor as the band’s earlier tracks, but with the clear weight of St. Vincent’s hands on the dials that clearly unlocked a creative playground for Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker.
From its first seconds, The Center Won’t Hold is wrought with tension that you can hear. Perhaps it was always supposed to be that way. Either way, Sleater-Kinney still proves themselves a force to be reckoned with in their most fractured state.
Oso Oso — Basking In The Glow
Hype is a force to be reckoned with, and there was no band more hyped in the indie-emo community than Oso Oso after the release of their debut album The Yunahon Mixtape. Even our own Steven Hyden called it “the best old school indie album of 2017” at the time. It didn’t take Jade Lilitri very long to pump out a new Oso Oso record, and Basking In The Glow benefits from the polish of a professional studio, delivering giant shimmering hooks and riffs for days. It’s a great record to throw on in the car with your friends. Give it a shot — I promise you won’t be disappointed.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard — Infest The Rats Nest
Ever-prolific, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard decided to try something different on their second 2019 effort Infest The Rats Nest, so they went ahead and made a thrash metal record. Yes, you read that right. I mean, this thing sounds filthy, like Motörhead meets Black Sabbath. Opening track “Planet B” features a handful of great guitar solos, and lyrics that decry the incessant monetization of our planet while “Venusian 2” chugs along like a freight train. It’s awesome.
The Hold Steady — Thrashing Thru The Passion
Although The Hold Steady have been releasing singles on Bandcamp over the last few years, Thrashing Thru The Passion is the first proper album from the band in half a decade. Thrashing Thru The Passion was well worth the wait, giving us everything we’ve come to love about the Brooklyn band. It also clocks in as the Hold Steady’s shortest album to date, following the “all killer, no filler” approach.
Death Cab For Cutie — “To The Ground”
Unlike his surprise appearance on Chance The Rapper’s The Big Day, it takes almost 90 seconds for Ben Gibbard’s voice to kick in on Death Cab For Cutie’s new song. But, as Derrick Rossignol writes for Uproxx, “Death Cab have shown before that they can thrive when they take their time.” The latest taste of the band’s new project The Blue EP, “To The Ground” follows in the footsteps of the project’s first single “Kids in ’99,” also finding Gibbard recollecting the intense experience of learning about the three children who lost their lives in the 1999 Bellingham Olympic Pipeline explosion in Seattle, Washington.
Alex Cameron — “Far From Born Again”
Australian singer-songwriter Alex Cameron is gearing up to release a new record called Miami Memory on September 13. The latest taste of the record is, according to Chloe Gilke for Uproxx, “an empathetic, deeply human anthem” that takes detailed look at the life of a sex worker, aiming to educate people about the profession and, in turn, lift some of the stigma. The video has a similarly powerful message, featuring several breaks in the music where women are given the opportunity to speak directly into the camera.
(Sandy) Alex G — “Near”
While we have known (Sandy) Alex G to be experimental in his work, the latest previews of his new album House Of Sugar have shown a version of the songwriter that goes further into the avant-garde than ever before. “Near” is probably one of the more insane songs I’ve heard this year, with an arhythmic vocal melody that feels almost stand-offish. Derrick Rossignol puts it nicely for Uproxx: “There’s a lot of mumbling and garbled speech that isn’t easy to interpret.” But isn’t that what makes (Sandy) Alex G so special? You truly never know what to expect.
Brittany Howard — “He Loves Me”
Earlier this year, Brittany Howard announced she would be taking a break from the Alabama Shakes to work on a solo record. Jaime is named after Howard’s sister, who passed away from cancer as a teenager. The loss of her sister had a profound effect on Howard’s faith, but her new track, “He Loves Me” recounts “a realization that brought her closer to God,” according to Derrick Rossignol for Uproxx.
Whitney — “Used To Be Lonely”
With their sophomore album Forever Turned Around due later this month, Whitney have been sharing new music consistently for the better part of the last six weeks. “Used To Be Lonely” is the fourth number we’ve heard from the Chicago band, with horn swells and slide guitar. It “starts out gentle, as many Whitney tunes do, before blooming into a blissful catharsis,” writes Derrick Rossignol for Uproxx.
Vivian Girls — “Something To Do”
It’s been nearly a decade since Vivan Girls released music, but it seems that time has paid no mind to the Los Angeles-by-way-of-Brooklyn band. “Something To Do” is an excellent fuzzy garage rock track with vocals drenched in reverb, one that will remind you of the unique beauty you discover at an all-ages basement show. The world is greater now that Vivian Girls are back.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.