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 a new EP from Finn Wolfhard’s new band The Aubreys, the highly-anticipated punk onslaught of Dogleg’s debut full-length album, and another new track from Sufjan Stevens and his stepfather.
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Grouplove — Healer
On their fourth studio album — and their first new music in four years — Grouplove got a little political, without being too heavy-handed. Instead of leaning into outright criticisms of the current administration throughout the record, Grouplove funnels their pent-up aggression into genuine ear-candy inherently political in its existence. The exception here is “Promises,” which centers the record as a protest song, inspired by the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border.
Code Orange — Underneath
13,000 people tuned in to a live stream of Code Orange’s album release show after the in-person event was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. Over the last few years, Code Orange have found themselves at the forefront of a new wave of heavy metal, and on Underneath, they took about half of the songs to lean in a direction that can be considered a bit more “commercial.” Instead of Jami Morgan’s guttural howls that the band made their name on, this handful of tracks channels industrial greats like Nine Inch Nails, with a sprinkle of Marilyn Manson, making for a uniquely rewarding experience. It’s a balance that’s definitely needed, as the rest of the album is an absolutely brutal listen.
Vundabar — Either Light
Vundabar say that their new album was written whilst watching The Sopranos twice through in its entirety. You can kinda hear its influence, mostly in the way that frontperson Brandon Hagen echoes Tony’s existential and oft-nihilistic outlook across Either Light. For their fourth studio album, the Boston band took two weeks to hunker down and make the best record they could, both from a performance and production standpoint. While Either Light doesn’t have a conventional “radio hit” on it, most of these songs will find themselves reverberating around your quarantine brain in the days and weeks to come.
Dogleg — Melee
Dogleg wrote an album for end-times, and that’s exactly when they released it. Melee is built upon a foundation of anxiety, and was released the same day that the band’s tour in support of the album was canceled due to the coronavirus. Although the band’s financial future remains up in the air, as documented in a Stereogum story, Melee‘s punk rampage can keep fans company during their time inside, a prescient document of uncertainty.
Bartees Strange — Say Goodbye To Pretty Boy
The debut EP from Bartees Strange was born after he attended The National’s tour and observed a lack of Black faces in the crowd. Say Goodbye To The Pretty Boy is a direct response to this realization, with Strange covering a handful of National songs, while also presenting original tracks to showcase his strength as a songwriter. “Battling erasure has been a big part of my journey as an artist,” Strange writes in the EP’s description on Bandcamp. “This black dot [on the EP’s cover] represents attempts to undersell the contributions Black people have made to genres like indie rock music. Despite the lack of credit, we’re still here and we’re adding to these scenes everyday.”
The Aubreys — Soda & Pie
“We went into it wanting to be a mix of Kiwi pop-rock, even though we’re not from New Zealand, mixed with a crazy band like The Flaming Lips, mixed with a really gentle band like Wilco,” Finn Wolfhard told me in an interview for Uproxx. That’s more or less exactly what we get on The Aubreys’ debut three-song EP Soda & Pie. The music on the three tracks is instantly recognizable in its influences, but there is a sense of originality that remains. Perhaps it is the youth of the band’s two members that allows them to incorporate sounds they love, but also push forward to innovate and build upon what they know. Keep an eye out for The Aubreys in 2021, when Wolfhard’s acting schedule slows down a little bit to allow for more extensive touring.
Sufjan Stevens And Lowell Brams — “Climb That Mountain”
It’s been five years since we got a proper Sufjan Stevens album — Carrie & Lowell was released five years ago already, in 2015. That doesn’t mean Stevens hasn’t been steadily releasing music, however, and his upcoming project Aporia sees him collaborating with his stepfather Lowell Brams (yes, the Lowell from Carrie & Lowell) on a new age record. The latest sampling of that effort is “Climb That Mountain.” As Derrick Rossignol explains for Uproxx, “the song title, evocative of a climactic journey, is appropriate here, as the track comes from humble synthy beginnings to reach an epic peak.”
Fenne Lily — “Hypochondriac”
Fenne Lily’s first song for Dead Oceans is heavy in its subject, but presented in a more subdued and light manner, building to a glowing climax across its three-minute runtime. As the title might suggest, “Hypochondriac” is about what Caitlin White describes for Uproxx as “the fears of physical health and complexities of mental processes that can impact that relationship in a negative way.”
Porter Robinson — “Something Comforting”
While Nurture, Porter Robinson’s first album in five years, still doesn’t have a release date, Robinson has already begun to tease the project. “Something Comforting” is the latest taste of the album, and was built around distorted synths and vocal melodies. It’s a dynamic track on which Robinson, as described by Carolyn Droke for Uproxx, “sways between heavily layered production and subdued instrumentation.”
Sasami — “Mess”
Sasami only released her debut self-titled album a year ago, but she ended 2019 with a brand new holiday-themed EP and now she is back with yet another new track. “Mess” is about all of the time that has elapsed between when Sasami completed the writing on her debut album, the new people she’s been with, the relationships she has severed and healed, and found herself happy. “I wanted to end the year of my first album campaign with one last sentence before I crack into the stone slab of my next album,” she said in a statement. Consider us excited for what’s to come with her sophomore effort.
Gleemer — “TTX”
A few years ago, we premiered a track from Colorado’s Gleemer on the site, which we said exists to “paint vignettes of the existential drama held within American families.” Now, a little less than three years later, Gleemer is back with another Will Yip-produced album, and “TTX” is the extremely promising first taste. It brings frontperson Corey Coffman’s vocal melodies into the spotlight, with dynamic drums that give the track a solid backbone and foundation upon which they can build to new heights.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.