It has been reported that 99 percent of all music streaming activity comes from just 10 percent of all available songs, meaning that the most popular tracks are pretty much all most people listen to. Even if those reported numbers aren’t completely accurate, that still feels true. That’s great for those artists, but what about everybody else? What about the folks who don’t have as much promotional firepower in their arsenal but are still releasing terrific material that ought to be heard? Well, this is my small attempt to help level that disparity: A list of this week’s finest indie albums that you may not have heard, or even heard of.
There were some solid releases this week, like Von Spar and Clinic, so check it all out below.
Von Spar — Under Pressure
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Fans of Stephen Malkmus deep cuts might remember Von Spar, who backed him for his performance of Can’s Ege Bamyasi album in 2012, which later got a limited release on Record Store Day 2013. The German group was clearly the right band for the job, and they’re still going strong on their new album, as evidenced by songs like the krautrock-influenced “Extend The Song” and the disco-leaning “A Dream, Pt. 2.”
Clinic — Wheeltappers And Shunters
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This UK group comes from a place of experience, and it shows on their latest (they earned a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album in 2003, but lost to Coldplay’s A Rush Of Blood To The Head). On their new album, their first since 2012, they prove they haven’t lost their psychedelic edge on songs like the kooky and fascinating “Laughing Cavalier” and the similarly off-kilter “Rubber Bullets.”
Meat Beat Manifesto — Opaque Couché
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Also from the UK, this group’s early work was influential in drum and bass and other forms of electronic music, and now they’ve quickly followed up 2018’s Impossible Star (their first album since 2010) with Opaque Couché. The group plays with compelling beats and synth sounds on “Pin Drop,” proving that even 30 years into their career, there’s still plenty left in their rhythmic tank.
Indianola — Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
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Indianola are veterans of the Nashville live scene, but now they’ve channeled their brand “American Gothic troubadour rock’n’roll,” as it’s been described, into their debut album. “Too Good To Be True” puts a contemporary twist on old school rock’n’roll, while “Everyday I Got The Blues” is a Strokes-like garage rocker and “Awkward Phase” sounds like a rock radio staple.
Holly Herndon — PROTO
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Herndon recently defended her dissertation at Stanford’s Center For Computer Research In Music And Acoustics (successfully so), so her journey as a doctoral student has ended as her life as a doctor begins. As is expected, Herndon is something of a wizard in the studio, which she proves on technicolor compositions like the percussion-focused “Frontier” and the experimental dance banger “Eternal.”
Big Nothing — Chris
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The Philly group features vocals from three of its members, the most notable perhaps being those of Pat Graham, who fronts Spraynard. Regardless of who’s singing, though, the group knows how to pump out catch punk rock with infectious hooks, like on “Real Name” and “Waste My Time.”