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 anticipated new album from The Strokes, the announcement of a new record from Phoebe Bridgers, and the return of The Beths.
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The Strokes — The New Abnormal
On their first full-length album since 2013’s disappointing-but-then-reappraised Comedown Machine, The Strokes deliver some truly strange and ’80s-inspired synth-pop numbers, and a few undeniable bangers. While the band’s previous two LPs were criticized for documenting a band at their point of least engaged, Steven Hyden writes for Uproxx that The New Abnormal seems to have been “consciously constructed to be another ‘disappointing Strokes album’ that will sound better in about three years.” Now that’s a different, borderline genius type of forward-thinking.
Trace Mountains — Lost In The Country
After the disbandment of beloved New York indie rock outfit LVL UP in 2018, guitarist and vocalist Dave Benton didn’t take long to pivot to his solo sporadic project Trace Mountains. Lost In The Country is the debut full-length from the newly full-time project, and showcases Benton’s knack for catchy songwriting. Where Benton is usually writing about himself in his songs, the ten tracks on Lost In The Country see Benton turning the focus even more inward than on past projects.
Laura Marling — Song For Our Daughter
Song For Our Daughter marks Laura Marling’s fourth release since 2013, and seventh overall. Only thirty years old, Marling is still exceptionally reflective, perhaps aided by her pursuit of a master’s degree in psychoanalysis. Her newfound knowledge comes through in her music, and transforms Daughter into what Steven Hyden calls for Uproxx “a song cycle addressed to the child that she might have one day, in which the prospective mother unloads wisdom and warnings.”
Hamilton Leithauser — The Loves Of Your Life
You might know Hamilton Leithauser from his work with The Walkmen. The Loves Of Your Life is his second solo album, and each song was written about a specific person. In this way, the record works similarly to a photo album, documents of people, places, and things that you wanted to capture. It is chock-full of beautiful vocal melodies and harmonies that sound like they are soaked with love. Among the guest backing vocalists on the record are Leithauser’s wife Anna Stumpf, their daughters Georgiana and Frederika, and Lacrisha Brown, the girls’ former preschool teacher. More than an album, The Loves Of Your Life is a document of a tight-knit community.
Phoebe Bridgers — “Kyoto”
Phoebe Bridgers has been so busy collaborating with other artists recently — Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, Conor Oberst, and The 1975, to name only a small handful — that it would be easy to forget that nearly three years have elapsed since Stranger In The Alps landed in our laps, the best indie album of the 2010s. Finally, Bridgers has announced her sophomore solo LP, Punisher. “Kyoto” features a soaring chorus and orchestral arrangements courtesy of Bright Eyes’ Nathaniel Walcott. “This is Bridgers’ first solo album in a few years, but she’s not going about it alone,” writes Derrick Rossignol for Uproxx.
The Beths — “Dying To Believe”
The Beths’ debut album Future Me Hates Me was one of our favorite indie albums of 2018, and we can barely contain our excitement for its follow-up. “Dying To Believe” is a very promising entry to The Beths’ catalogue, a beautifully-arranged power pop number wherein “vocalist Elizabeth Stokes reckons with the distance that inevitably comes between friends as life passes by,” writes Carolyn Droke for Uproxx.
Varsity — “Runaway”
On their new album Fine Forever, Varsity decided to take some risks sonically. “Runaway” previews this approach, anchored by a driving bass line that lends itself to a dance-ready number with big guitars and shimmering guitars. Singer/keyboardist Stef Smith’s vocals really shine here, doused in reverb and complimented by a luscious saxophone solo.
2nd Grade – “Velodrome / My Bike”
You might be inclined to call 2nd Grade a Philadelphia supergroup, featuring members of Free Cake For Every Creature, Remember Sports, and Friendship. “Velodrome / My Bike” are technically two tracks, but they work together nicely, with the former flowing seamlessly into the latter. On the tracks, the band are “as honest as they are sarcastic,” writes Carolyn Droke for Uproxx. It’s this unique balance that makes 2nd Grade a band to keep an eye on in 2020.
Washed Out — “Too Late”
Although Washed Out has not announced a new album, “Too Late” marks Ernest Greene’s first new release since a handful of standalone singles in 2018. It’s a breezy, fun track that acts as a nice, temporary respite from the world around us. Maybe one day we’ll be able to listen to it on the beach, where it belongs.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.