Playlists have quickly become the preferred method of music consumption for a generation, leading artists like Drake to toy with the idea of releasing music in a playlist format, and labels to turn to Spotify influencers as the new gatekeepers disseminating their artists to the masses. But not all playlists are created equal, just as not all curators have a keen eye on both a genre’s deep history and the breadth of music being released. For a music fan looking for the best Spotify playlists available, it can be a tiresome task to sort through them.
This list of the best indie rock playlists on Spotify is not meant to be exhaustive, but just a jumping off point for some of the best-curated lists for both music enjoyment and discovery. Some are constantly updated, others are completed works of art. But all of them contain great tunes from people that care about the music their followers are listening to.
I Never Learned To Drive by David Greenwald
David Greenwald is the former pop music critic for The Oregonian and a longtime contributor to the public music conversation, be it through his writing or through his social media presence. And, he’s also a playlist maker. I Never Learned To Drive is a snapshot into dreamy indie rock with shoegaze, twee, and synth-pop moments that was crafted in 2016, and hasn’t seen anything added to it since. But at 68 songs, it is a solid four-and-a-half hours of carefully considered indie bliss, with songs that speak to each other and make sense as a cohesive work. In a sense, it is what playlists should strive to be.
Best New Music ’18: Rock by Ryan Schreiber
Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber is very active on Spotify, including putting his name behind Pitchfork’s very popular list, What’s Good. But this genre-specific playlist, Best New Music ’18, feels like a part of the DNA on which the influential site was built. It’s a massive resource for basically everything new that is released in the indie rock world and has the ear of the blogosphere. And with multiple songs added daily, it’s a playlist that rewards return visits.
KCRW Top Tracks by KCRW
Los Angeles’ public radio station KCRW is one of the best in the business at discovering new talent and amplifying quality tunes, with its daily Morning Becomes Eclectic show receiving national attention for both its tendency to premiere essential new music and its intimate live performances. They veer mostly toward indie rock in their taste, and their playlist highlighting their top tracks is a great resource for fans of the genre. It’s only updated every couple months, but its 120 song length provides a portal to some of the best indie tunes of the past year.
Sweater Weather Music Presents by Rob Lowry
You may remember Rob Lowry from an interview Uproxx ran last year. He’s an ace music supervisor based in LA, responsible for music on shows like The Bold Type and Future Man. He also takes his playlisting very seriously, updating a new version of his Sweater Weather Music playlist every couple months or so. It’s not exclusively indie, but it leans on that genre or music adjacent to it. In his latest update, you’ll notice the abundance of songs with a female lead, which speaks to the forward-thinking nature of Lowry’s curation.
Crack In The Road New Music On Repeat by Crack In The Road
If music discovery is your mission and you are already pretty familiar with what the bigger websites are talking about, this playlist from Crack In The Road is the perfect solution. It gets updated weekly and has added 100 songs in just the last month. Better, though, is the fact that I’ve never heard of most of the artists included there. When so many of Spotify’s original playlists feel catered towards big labels and the same songs you already now, Crack In The Road has built something that is truly unique.
Undercurrents by Spotify
Of course, it wouldn’t make much sense to not focus on some of Spotify’s in-house playlists. One of their best across any genre is Undercurrents, which updates multiple times a week with indie rock that lies further on the fringe than most of what is already included on this list. Still, it’s a place you will find artists like Soccer Mommy, Speedy Ortiz, Calpurnia, and others who haven’t quite blown up to become household names, but aren’t unknowns, either. If you want to discover some new bands and artists, though, this is the place for you.
Women Of Indie by Spotify
Female-led is not a genre, but in a music world where women are hardly receiving equal representation, playlists like this are necessary to show the wealth of music created by women that deserves celebrating. The next time a festival has trouble finding ladies to make up their bill, this playlist might be a good counterpoint. It’s also a good playlist that doesn’t just round-up what is new, but also has eyes turned towards the history of indie rock, and some fringe stuff that might appeal to indie fans even if it isn’t technically rock.
All Songs Considered by NPR
If you need a playlist that will last you through a solid month of work hours, look no further than NPR’s All Songs Considered. Taking its name from the radio show, the playlist rounds up choice selections that the public radio station deems the cream of the crop. NPR has long been known for its strong tastemaking, and navigating your way through nearly 2,000 songs is a great way to both verse yourself in some of the best from the indie world, and discover what you might have missed. The playlist goes all the way back to 2012, but still sees songs added regularly, creating what might be the best snapshot of indie rock throughout the Spotify age that is available.
2018 Songpickr by Songpickr
Indie rock is such a large umbrella, and Spotify is a great place to delve deep into particular subsets within it. Songpickr’s playlist veers towards the rootsy with plenty of indie folk, Americana, and singer-songwriter stuff. It’s also a look into what indie rock does best, focusing on melodic songwriting and vivid storytelling. Probably best for listeners with more mature taste who are longing for warm, organic instrumentation.
Best Songs Of 2018 by Gorilla Vs Bear
Of all the music blogs to emerge this century, maybe none has as distinctive of an aesthetic as Gorilla Vs Bear. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what makes something a fit for Gorilla Vs Bear, but you know it when you hear it. It’s probably dreamy or smokey or lo-fi or just plain gorgeous. Beach House fits, and so does Amen Dunes, James Blake, or even MGMT. The roundup of their best 2018 songs includes these artists and many more, walking the line between what is cool and what is still waiting to be discovered by the masses.