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, of pop, or of 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 offered up great new songs from the likes of Blood Orange, Metric, and Iron & Wine, along with a surprise album from SoCal freaks The Growlers and Bay Area songwriter Tony Molina. It was a pretty great week for indie music.
The Growlers — Casual Acquaintances
Living in Southern California, The Growlers have established what is a virtual cult of fans. Their annual festival draws young people in costumes for an event that is less about the (usually great) lineup and more about the formation of a scene, so much so that it’s easy to forget that The Growlers are an actual touring band that puts out albums. This latest record features “demos, works-in-progress and other unfinished business from the band’s City Club sessions,” but that doesn’t make it an odds and sods offering. In fact, the band is boasting that its actually resulted in a coherent and vital offering that stands up to their previous studio offerings.
Oneohtrix Point Never — The Station and We’ll Take It EPs
Hot on the heels of releasing one of the best albums of the year, Age Of, Oneohtrix Point Never is back with a pair of new EPs featuring a trio of new songs. One of these new tracks, “Trance 1,” originally appeared in an edited arrangement as a tribute to The Voyager Spacecrafts’ Golden Records, while the others, “Monody” and “Blow By Blow,” are completely fresh. Sure, it might be more for 0PN completists, but what his recent output has argued is that maybe more people should file themselves into that grouping.
Tony Molina — Kill The Lights
The Bay Area’s Tony Molina takes a different path to grand statements on his lovely new album, Kill The Lights. Brevity is the name of the game, as he rattles through ten songs in fifteen minutes, with only a couple passing the two-minute mark. That’s enough time for a dive into jangle pop, ’70s-inspired piano ballads, and all-around locked-in songwriting.
Blood Orange — “Charcoal Baby”
Blood Orange mastermind Dev Hynes has quietly crafted a signature style that is unmistakably his own. As I noted in my write-up for his excellent new “Charcoal Baby,” he’s “an indie songwriter with a flair for pop collaborations, a man who makes every musician he works with better, and an artist writing about race and America in ways that are both original and illuminating.” Every new offering from him is another reminder of just how lucky we are to have him around.
F*cked Up — “Raise Your Voice Joyce”
Long before Deafheaven, Toronto’s F*cked Up were also taking what would be considered fringe aggressive music and making it more palatable. Hardcore punk is hardly considered accessible to the general public, but on 2011’s David Comes to Life, the band made a rock opera of sorts while bringing an element of grandeur and an ear for melody to the genre. Now in 2018, they are still down that rabbit hole, and nothing else sounds quite like them.
Helena Deland — “Claudion”
Montreal’s Helena Deland makes synth-pop that’s not easy to classify, if mostly because she can change moods or styles on a dime. “Claudion,” in particular, feels purified, her smooth vocals and classy production swooning lightly with the ebbs and flows of her emotions. For a song that is about the relief of anxiety, it’s not surprising that it functions the same way for the listener.
Ryan Pollie — “Pretty Girl” (Clairo Cover)
Bedroom pop is in a weird place. The genre existed comfortably outside the mainstream for years with excellent records released consistently through Bandcamp that were generally ignored by wider audiences. But suddenly, everyone from Clairo to Rex Orange County have figured out how to turn the aesthetic commercial even if it feels a bit like we’ve heard this sound before. That’s beside the point when Ryan Pollie, whose warm indie pop also began in a bedroom, covers Clairo’s “Pretty Girl.” The rendition feels like a bridge between two bedroom eras, and while Pollie has graduated to a bigger label and more fleshed-out sound, this song pays homage to his roots while passing the torch.
Mothers — “Pink”
If there’s anything that Mothers are proving with their latest album cycle, it’s that we’ve never really known Mothers at all. “Pink” is kraut-y and full of tension, reminding of something Deerhunter or Lower Dens might put out. But maybe the best thing about it is how well it delivers on its promise, exploding in its final act for an explosion of guitars and percussion. We often ask for growth between albums, and Mothers are proving to be virtual bean stocks.
Metric — “Dressed To Supress”
Canadian indie rock icons Metric have flirted with the mainstream, but for the most part they are the models of consistent, strong output. Still, “Dressed To Supress” feels surprising in how dialed in it is. Maybe that’s what happens when you’ve been good for so long, people are always ready for you to fall off. But as the band has been proving on their current tour with the Smashing Pumpkins and their advanced music from their upcoming new album, they are aging like a fine wine, and “Dressed To Supress” is a particularly fine vintage.
Mr. Twin Sister — “Echo Arms”
The words “summer single” is open for interpretation in terms of aesthetic, but in the hands of Mr. Twin Sister, their chilled-out disco may as well be definitive. These Long Island natives have long been cult heroes on the indie scene, and it’s easy to see why with this breezy bit of funky fun.
Iron & Wine — “What Hurts Worse”
Iron & Wine low-key had a magnificent, return-to-form album last year as Sam Beam went back to the Sub Pop label he started at. Now, with a new EP, Beam will attempt to keep that ball rolling. “What Hurts Worse” is a great start, hushed and intimate, letting his graceful voice carry the slow-building melody and layering on the instruments with precision. Part lullabye, part anthem, and wholly brilliant, Iron & Wine continues to show why he’s without many peers.