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 we got the beautiful Waxahatchee record, a reliable new effort from Pearl Jam, and a collection of brilliant love songs from Margaret Glaspy.
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Pearl Jam — Gigaton
The new Pearl Jam album sounds like a Pearl Jam album: Eddie Vedder’s thunderous vocal with soaring guitar solos from Mike McCready and Matt Cameron’s propelling percussion. While this isn’t groundbreaking in any way, it is reassuring in a time when almost nothing else is. As Steven Hyden put it in his review for Uproxx, “I like how normal life feels when this album is on. What more could you want from a Pearl Jam record right now? During a moment when nothing that we rely upon seems to be working properly, a Pearl Jam record that competently delivers abundant Pearl Jam-ness suddenly seems revolutionary.” Throw on Gigaton and sit back to forget about how insane the world around you is, if only for 57 minutes.
Waxahatchee — Saint Cloud
While the last Waxahatchee album, Out In The Storm, sounded a bit like modern alt-rock revivalism, Saint Cloud instead features “sparking acoustic guitars and soulful keyboard tones [that] echo through every track, with Crutchfield’s high, lonesome vocals positioned squarely at the heart of an understated country-rock mix,” writes Steven Hyden for Uproxx. The shift in focus here results in what is without a doubt Waxahatchee’s strongest record to date, a gorgeous and emotional testament to rebirth and loneliness.
Half Waif — The Caretaker
Half Waif’s latest LP comes at a pretty fitting time, when almost everyone across the world is concerned about the world around them. The Caretaker is something of a concept album, centered around “someone who has been entrusted with taking care of this estate, taking care of the land, and she’s not doing a very good job,” according to Nandi Rose. In many ways, the record serves as a reminder to take care of yourself and the place where you live. Sonically, the album is chock full of synth swells and Rose’s pristine vocal delivery, making for a truly captivating listen.
Nap Eyes — Snapshot Of A Beginner
On their latest full-length, Nap Eyes have delivered their most hi-fi project to date. While most Nap Eyes records have been tracked live in a room, they recorded Snapshot Of A Beginner with producers Jonathan Low (Big Red Machine, The National) and James Elkington (Steve Gunn, Joan Shelley) at The National’s Long Pond Studio in upstate New York. With higher-end production, the record showcases vocalist/songwriter Nigel Chapman’s knack for writing deeply personal and direct lyrics, like criticizing the pitfalls of social media on “Mark Zuckerberg” and built-in insecurities on “So Tired.”
Dirty Projectors — Windows Open
For the first Dirty Projectors release with a new lineup, Maia Friedman also takes the role of lead vocalist on the new EP Windows Open. Featuring the lead single “Overlord,” that Carolyn Droke describes for Uproxx as “a tongue-in-cheek critique of surveillance,” the four tracks that make up Windows Open depict a band entering a new chapter, one we’re really excited to follow along.
Margaret Glaspy — Devotion
After gaining fans’ attention almost four years ago with Emotions And Math, Margaret Glaspy is finally back with a new full-length album. However, where Emotions And Math was a big guitar album, Devotion is built around synths and more electronic elements. After taking time off from touring to focus on her education with classes at Harvard, Glaspy’s new effort is true to its name. According to Caitlin White for Uproxx, Devotion “features twelve love songs that unflinchingly delve into the tender heart and dark underbelly of relationships, commitment, and romance.”
Nine Inch Nails — Ghosts V & VI
Trent Reznor surprised us last week with a tweet casually letting us know that there were two new full-length Nine Inch Nails albums available for free on their website, continuing the Ghosts series that the band launched in 2008 and did not speak about again until now. “Hours and hours of music,” Reznor said in his tweet. “Free. Some of it kind of happy, some not so much.” Perfect for quarantine! A fun fact about Ghosts from Derrick Rossignol for Uproxx: “In more recent times, Ghosts I-IV has become best known for “34 Ghosts IV,” which was sampled on Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road.’”
Trace Mountains — “Me & May”
After the dissolution if LVL Up in 2018, Dave Benton didn’t miss a beat before pivoting to his solo project Trace Mountains, releasing an LP before the end of that year. Now, Benton is back with Lost In The Country, the sophomore album from Trace Mountains. “Me & May, the latest sampling from the album, is “a loose story about past-life connections,” Benton said in a statement. The track features reverb-soaked guitars, Benton’s supreme knack for vocal melodies, and a bunch of other goodies.
Moon Taxi — “Hometown Heroes”
Nashville band Moon Taxi recently made a promise to give their fans something to remedy their cabin fever. “Hometown Heroes” is that remedy, an alt-rock track that sounds like it was made for the radio. Much of the instrumental melody is rooted around a ukulele, while digital flourishes give the track a uniquely modern feel. “We’ve been so excited to put this song out since the day we wrote it,” vocalist/guitarist Trevor Terndrup said in a statement. “More than anything, it is inspired by our long-lasting friendships. Putting it out into the world feels like the start of a new chapter for us but also an idealized look back. We hope it brings good memories to mind for you until we can create new ones together in the future.”
Christian Lee Hutson — “Talk”
Christian Lee Hutson’s new album Beginners was produced by Phoebe Bridgers, and promises a barrage of emotional songwriting with precise delivery. “Talk” is the latest offering from Beginners, a track that is lush with texture from string arrangements from Bright Eyes’ Nathaniel Walcott and features a strong narrative through-line. Thematically, according to Hutson, “Talk” tells “the story of a person, on the verge of parenthood, coming to terms with their relationship with their own absent parent.”
Pet Symmetry — “SS Decompressed”
Chicago emo heroes Pet Symmetry have been very quiet since the release of the Reflection EP in 2018. “SS Decompressed” is a welcome return for the trio, a ripper that reminds us why they were so awesome in the first place. The track’s chorus feels especially pertinent in today’s world, detailing a nightmare health care scenario: “An insurance claim! Nah. No way. Get real. No way. What the f*ck? Saving up our good will for a storm and a stroke of luck. Nah. No way. Get real. No way. What the f*ck? A prized possession wrecked, when the marriage of our lightning struck.” While we don’t have any official announcement of a new Pet Symmetry LP, it would seem as if the trio have music ready to roll out once the world calms down a bit.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.