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 was anchored by a boisterous new song from Alex Lahey, the introspective songwriting of Julia Jacklin, and the happiest song that Strand Of Oaks has ever written. Yeah, it was a pretty great week for new indie music.
Gary Clark Jr. — This Land
From guitar prodigy to a full-blown star. Don’t let Austin rocker’s Saturday Night Live appearance or massive upcoming tour dates, including a headlining slot at the Hollywood Bowl, do all the talking, his new album does plenty of that. Gary Clark Jr.‘s new album incorporates hip-hop like never before, resulting in a singular work that redefines who he is as an artist, and what he is capable of.
Julia Jacklin — Crushing
Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin follows up her 2016 debut Don’t Let the Kids Win with another full-length that runs the emotional gamut. In a statement about the new collection, she said, “This album came from spending two years touring and being in a relationship, and feeling like I never had any space of my own. For a long time I felt like my head was full of fear and my body was just this functional thing that carried me from point A to B, and writing these songs was like rejoining the two.”
Alex Lahey — “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself”
Speaking of Australian songwriters, Alex Lahey also marked her triumphant return this week with the peppy, infectious single, “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself.” Writing about the tune, Uproxx’s Leah Lu wrote, “‘Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself’ is an homage to ambition. The track does the rare work of giving success the recognition it deserves, but it also serves as a flip of the bird to our productivity-obsessed, burnout-inducing culture.”
Strand Of Oaks — “Ruby”
It’s not surprising that Strand Of Oaks mastermind Timothy Showalter collaborating with most of My Morning Jacket has resulted in music that sounds like, well, vintage My Morning Jacket. What is surprising is how that has brought out the best in Showalter, who feels more at peace in his art than ever before. He says this is the “happiest song” he’s ever written, and that alone is reason to cheer.
Sleaford Mods — Eton Alive
Sleaford Mods might be a band you have to see live. A two-piece, the duo features vocalist Jason Williamson who lets his enthusiastic delivery do the talking and backing musician Andrew Fearn who does nothing live besides pushing play on a laptop and grooving to the tunes. The prolific band is once again making politically charged tunes on their latest, music by and for the working class that speaks specifically to the issues in their home of England and in the greater world.
Thelma — The Only Thing
Thelma is the project of Brooklyn’s Natasha Jacobs and she’s just a couple years removed from her self-titled debut album. On her latest, Jacobs confronted health issues that threatened her career with an album that boasts more hopefulness and optimism than ever. At the center of it all is Jacobs’ voice, which takes off with a singular vibrato that makes all of her compositions distinctly her own.
Palehound — “Killer”
Boston songwriter Ellen Kempner has been making music as Palehound for a while now, with more and more attention gradually coming to her indie rock project. But “Killer” feels like a big next step for her, as the song takes the rage that violence breeds and harnasses them into an earned revenge fantasy. Speaking about the song in a statement, she said, “Quite frankly, this song is about the murderous fantasies I have about all of the people who have abused my friends and how they continue to live their lives unpunished.”
Jess Cornelius — “No Difference”
It’s wild the amount of great music coming from Australian artists these days. But Jess Cornelius is more than just part of a trend. Her new song, “No Difference,” finds a songwriter with a distinct voice finding her place in a crowded indie world. Writing about the tune, Uproxx’s Chloe Gilke noted Cornelius’ move to Los Angeles, saying “In the spirit of massive, cross-Pacific moves, the song is both nostalgic and longing for a fresh start.”
Stephen Malkmus — “Rushing The Acid Frat”
Yes, this is the album cycle for Stephen Malkmus’ electronic album. And yes, unless you’d read that press release, you’d probably not guess it from the actual song. This tune, inspired by a frat that Malkmus recalled from decades earlier, uses some electronic textures as a jumping off point for a homespun tune that’s as inspired as anything he’s done in the last couple decades.
Pure Bathing Culture — “Devotion”
On their new song, Pure Bathing Culture finds a remarkable marriage between atmospheric dream pop and twangy, ’70s songwriting. The resulting tune bridges the four years since the band’s last album and recontextualizes it to fit with contemporary indie, where Fleetwood Mac and Dire Straits are just a viable of touchstones as the Pacific Northwest songwriters that they consider their contemporaries.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.
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