With so much music coming out all the time, great albums are bound to fall through the cracks. But that’s probably even more common for pop-leaning artists who are on indie labels, often eclipsed by the huge campaigns surrounding the massive pop stars, even if their music is just as good, if not better. Occupying this strange space between the ultra famous and more established indie stars can be tough for emerging artists — or career ones — who exist in the middle realm.
Luckily, it’s my job to keep a lookout for these albums that are bubbling just under the surface, and I’ve collected ten of them to get you through another month of staying indoors. Music is a great way to mark time, so maybe throw a couple of these records on this month to help make the days go by. There is an end in sight, and staying positively distracted with a good soundtrack is a good way to keep in a healthy frame of mind. Check out these records you might’ve missed below.
Anna Burch — If You’re Dreaming
It would be easy to describe the steady, peaceful pacing of Anna Burch’s second album, If You’re Dreaming as, well, dreamy. The twelve-track follow-up to her 2018 solo debut, Quit The Curse is a departure from the jangling, guitar-rock that put her on the map, pushing outward into slower and hypnotic tunes that are perfect for zoning out and stretching out. Written in part as a self-soothing exercise after many long months on the road and a series of tumultuous housing situations, these songs are beyond dreamy, they’re lullabies for a turbulent world. They’re more lucid than dreams, and better for it.
Half Waif — The Caretaker
Nandi Rose Plunkett’s exploration of loneliness and self-care unfolds on her surreal, swirling new album, The Caretaker, another strong entry — if not the strongest — into Half Waif‘s already formidable discography. Decamping from Brooklyn to live upstate on a rather remote estate, Nandi’s character of the caretaker is self-informed, but with enough room to bring the mesmerizing world of the country’s strange wildlife and mythology into play. This is an album full of such deft self-excavation that listeners might find themselves uncovering forgotten layers of themselves, too.
Jordana — Classical Notions Of Happiness
Initially released on Bandcamp as a collection of the early thoughts, feelings, and musical ideas of 19-year-old Jordana Nye, Classical Notions Of Happiness quickly caught the ear of the internet, and after co-signs from Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop and Pitchfork, Nye landed herself a record deal with the New York-based label, Grand Jury. The label not only re-released Nye’s DIY demos, but incorporated three new tracks from the wunderkind, who is quickly outgrowing her dewy bedroom synths for some freewheeling psychedelic warbling on the album’s closer, “Crunch.” On Happiness, Nye contains multitudes, and listening to her expand feels almost like doing it yourself.
Shoffy — Flash
An Uproxx fav from 2018, LA-based producer Shoffy is back with another collection of electro-pop that undeniably grooves. His last release, Lenses, was a completely independent album, with no guests or features, but this year’s Flash includes a number of welcome — and surprising — guests. From emerging R&B singers like Sabrina Carpenter, who sings on two songs here, to the Soundcloud veteran producers RAC, the new voices and sounds help Shoffy build on his smart, sweet synth-pop sound.
Galantis — Church
Galantis is the kind of EDM group who can bring together everyone, from Dolly Parton to Passion Pit. The DJ duo of Christian Karlsson (of Miike Snow) and Linus Eklöw know how to craft the kind of epic dancefloor hit that can turn your living room into the club — at least until the end of the song. Throw this on for ultimate jams that are catchy and ebullient enough to make the outside world disappear, and make dance the universal language of recovery. Sometimes, all you need to survive the night is to dance till the drop hits.
Allie X — Cape God
Allie X is one of the unsung pop stars of our time, but she comes through like the world’s biggest star on her newest album, Cape God. With features like Mitski (!) and Troye Sivan, the Toronto-raised/LA-based singer/songwriter released her second studio album in February of this year, quietly building momentum off the gloomy pop bops like “Devil I Know.” Writing songs from the perspective of characters in the 2015 documentary, Heroin: Cape Cod, this sometimes dark, sometimes campy pop exploration is as weird as Lana, and as experimental as St. Vincent.
Caribou — Suddenly
Every record that Dan Snaith releases as Caribou seems to top the one before, and Suddenly was a welcome addition to the producer’s oeuvre. It’s hard to say anything tops his last record, Our Love, but maybe because it’s been six years since that one dropped, it makes Suddenly all the sweeter. No one can spin a single synth sound and a whisper-sung lyric into a soothing, soulful song like Snaith can, but the moments on this album that get jittery and weird are just as welcome, like when “Sunny’s Time” ventures into a strange jazz freakout. Standout track “Home” brings an old soul sample in alongside glitchy and comforting production that never veers off course or gets too heavy-handed, a feat only Snaith could pull off.
Caitlyn Smith — Supernova
Walking the tightrope between the folk/country and indie/pop worlds is harder than it looks, but Caitlyn Smith has pulled it off to great success on her latest album, Supernova. With fiery anthems like “Damn You For Breaking My Heart” and bleary, string-laden ballads like the title track, Smith showcases her work as an inventive, flexible songwriting who pens songs that supersede genre. Smith knows how to make songs smoke and let them burn, but she’s also an expert at barely stoking the embers, and letting a song’s heat catch flame at just right moment, as showcased on “I Can’t,” a brassy sigh of exasperation that I’ve been returning to during crises big and small.
Elliot Moss — A Change In Diet
Following up his impressive debut, Highspeeds in 2015, Elliot Moss has been racking up comparisons to the likes of Bon Iver and James Blake as one of the great emotion-driven songwriters who can convert those feelings into electronic production. Following up the shorter EP-length release Boomerang in 2017, his second full-length, A Change In Diet opens up his songwriting and production even farther into post-Yeezus territory. Falsetto vocals, slithering beats, and flickering synths make this a must-listen for rainy nights and long, grey days.
Torres — Silver Tongue
After splitting with her former label, 4AD, Mackenzie Scott quickly signed with the legendary North Carolina label Merge Records, and prepared a full departure from her 2017 release, Three Futures. This year’s Silver Tongue is best described by Scott herself: “I feel like I’ve lived an entire lifetime in the three years since recording Three Future. This new record documents the significant fruits, for better or worse, of some terrifically delusional pursuits.” While it might be more meandering and abstract than some of her past work, it’s a gorgeous, strangely dark reminder of what a songwriting force Scott has always been. Listen for mythic, dark-pop reflections on just about everything.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.