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.
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The Gaslight Anthem – “Autumn”
Jersey alt-rockers The Gaslight Anthem are on the cusp of their first album in nearly a decade, History Books. Back from hiatus and having wrapped up a lengthy tour, The Gaslight Anthem are reunited and reinvigorated; that much is apparent in the music itself, as heard on the latest single, “Autumn,” which is a perfect distillation of the heartfelt lyricism and winsome melodies this band is known for. Springsteenian in scope and earnest in execution, “Autumn” is a pure delight.
Truth Club – Running From The Chase
North Carolina’s indie rock scene is booming right now. From Indigo De Souza to Wednesday, there’s a lot of exciting stuff coming out of its Asheville hub. Over in Raleigh, however, something else is brewing: Truth Club’s sophomore effort, Running From The Chase, buttresses North Carolina’s burgeoning reputation as a new indie rock haven. The post-punk quartet, composed of Travis Harrington, Yvonne Chazal, Elise Jaffe, and Kameron Vann, spans Dinosaur Jr.-esque, discordant alt-rock (“Blue Eternal”), meditative folk (“Uh Oh”), and moody, proggy slowcore (“77x”). As Running From The Chase demonstrates, Truth Club is a compelling shorthand for robust arts regionalism.
Short Fictions – Oblivion Will Own Me And Death Alone Will Love Me (Void Filler)
The Pittsburgh emo band Short Fictions meets the middle point between the arty catharsis of Home Is Where and the jubilant, suburban nostalgia of Origami Angel. With the ever-nebulous taxonomy of emo and its sundry “waves,” claiming Short Fictions as representative of this current fifth wave would be facile. Rather, Short Fictions is an idiosyncratic band forging an exciting path forward for the genre. The group’s third album, Oblivion Will Own Me And Death Alone Will Love Me (Void Filler), is a fitting showcase for why. Take the glockenspiels and sweetness (get it?) of early highlight “Reno Nevada, January 2020,” or the Jeff Rosenstock-indebted, nihilistic hooks all over lead single “Wasting,” or the drop-D fuzz permeating “To Loved Ones Lost in Pursuit Of Foolish Passions.” From start to finish, Short Fictions ride a wave of emo that’s completely their own.
Sufjan Stevens – Javelin
Sufjan Stevens is one of the greatest songwriters of the 21st century; each of his records establishes its own sonic identity without losing sight of Stevens’ undeniable gifts as a composer. Billed as his first “singer-songwriter” record since 2015’s grief-stricken Carrie & Lowell, Stevens’ latest proper studio record, Javelin, is an unequivocal tour de force. From the gentle finger-picking of “A Running Start” to the melodic lamentations of “Will Anybody Ever Love Me?;” from the sprawling penultimate track “Shit Talk” to the mechanistic electronics of opener “Goodbye Evergreen;” the Detroit-born artist once again proves his prowess. But he didn’t even need to.
Laura Jane Grace – “Dysphoria Hoodie”
Laura Jane Grace, the former front-woman of late-aughts punk luminaries Against Me!, is known for her riveting and complex explorations of gender dysphoria, the pitfalls of capitalism, and political vacuousness. Grace’s new single, “Dysphoria Hoodie,” is the first preview of her second album as a solo artist. A 6/8, acoustic guitar-led jaunt, “Dysphoria Hoodie” reckons with rampant bigotry (“Stay away from the city / it’s full of assholes / but out in the country is where fascists roam”) and finding comfort in familiar routines (“On a Saturday morning with weed and coffee / a feeling of safety is blanketing me”).
Fanclubwallet – Small Songs Vol. 1
Naming your sub-10-minute EP Small Songs is incredibly on the nose. The new EP from Fanclubwallet (AKA Hannah Judge), the first volume of the Small Songs collection, comprises five brief tunes, all of which feature almost nothing save for Judge’s hushed murmur and her trusty Casio keyboard. Minimalist in conception, Small Songs Vol. 1 is an endearing example of the Ottawa songwriter embracing her humble origins.
Sleater-Kinney – “Hell”
Returning with their first new album since 2021’s Path Of Wellness, Sleater-Kinney will release their second album without longtime drummer Janet Weiss early next year. The lead single, “Hell,” adopts the classic ’90s alt-rock formula of extraordinarily quiet verses and extraordinarily loud choruses and, somehow, makes that contrast even more extraordinary. “Hell don’t have no worries / Hell don’t have no past,” Corin Tucker sings in the opening moments, barely audible. When the chorus hits, though, she erupts into a snarl, a wall of distorted guitars backing her up: “You ask / Why like there’s no tomorrow.” Assisted by the legendary indie producer John Congleton, the forthcoming Little Rope is shaping up really well.
Babehoven – “Chariot”
Right as they head off on tour with Slow Pulp, the duo composed of Maya Bon and Ryan Albert, otherwise known as Babehoven, have shared a new single. “Chariot” is a mesmerizing swirl that blends the glacial pace of slowcore with the reverb-drenched guitar tones of shoegaze, two subgenres that have recently re-entered the zeitgeist. The Hudson natives, however, go beyond pastiche; it’s an arresting track that’s as face-melting as it is restorative.
Health – “Children Of Sorrow”
Alongside the announcement of their upcoming record Rat Wars, industrial rockers Health have shared two new singles, “Children Of Sorrow” and “Sicko.” The former aptly highlights why industrial figurehead Trent Reznor gave them a cosign. Although this band leans heavier (literally) into metal sonics and aesthetics than Nine Inch Nails ever has, the group’s combination of grueling riffs and punishing electronic beats places them at the vanguard of industrial’s latest iteration.
Mutual Benefit – Growing At The Edges
Bucolic, disarming, and downright enchanting, Jordan Lee’s fourth album under the moniker Mutual Benefit signals a period of immense growth. Fittingly titled Growing At The Edges, it’s easy to understand why Lee took five years to toil away at it. The tranquil piano that grounds this record allows the Brooklynite’s musicianship to blossom and flourish on standouts like “Season Of Flame” and “Wasteland Companions.”