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 — History Books
This is one for the history books: The Gaslight Anthem are back. It has been nearly a decade since their last LP, 2014’s Get Hurt, and History Books is a stark reminder of why we all loved this band in the first place. From the heart-on-your-sleeve opener “Spider Bites” to the mordant shredding all over “Positive Charge,” the New Jersey rockers come back swinging.
Wild Nothing — Hold
Wild Nothing’s Jack Tatum hails from a certain era of indie-pop, a class including the likes of Beach Fossils, Deerhunter, and Real Estate. On Hold, his first album since 2018’s Indigo, the dream-pop musician, newly a father, sounds once again rejuvenated. “Dial Tone” recalls the filigreed melodies of 2012’s Nocturne, and “Alex” re-contextualizes Britpop-esque guitar in a shoegaze setting. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from him, and it’s encouraging to hear Tatum reinvigorated.
Future Islands — “The Tower”
Samuel T. Herring is a very busy man. From guest starring on a Billy Woods and Kenny Segal album to making his acting debut on the Apple TV+ horror series The Changeling, it’s astounding that he still has time to make music with his synth-pop band, Future Islands. Recently, they announced their forthcoming album, People Who Aren’t There Anymore, slated for release this January, alongside a new single: the glossy, fun, and relentlessly catchy “The Tower.” It also marks their first time working with mixing engineer Chris Coady since 2014’s Singles. If “The Tower” is any indication, then the new-wave revivalists continue an impressive streak.
Katy Kirby — “Table”
2021’s Cool Dry Place was a remarkable debut from the Nashville singer-songwriter Katy Kirby. It felt warm, inviting, and lived-in, demonstrating a poetic aptitude that belied the disarming simplicity of the music itself. After sharing the lovely “Cubic Zirconia” back in August, the new Anti- Records signee is about to share her sophomore offering, Blue Raspberry, this January. Kirby describes its new single and closing track, “Table,” as an anomaly, one that points toward a light at the end of the tunnel that is her “god-haunted past life.” Citing artists like Andy Shauf and Lomelda as key points of inspiration, Kirby is shaping up to release an early highlight of 2024, and the brief yet arresting “Table” is surefire evidence of that.
Grandaddy — “Watercooler”
If you like pedal steel and Californian indie rock, then chances are you’ll be really into Grandaddy’s new single, “Watercooler.” Braintrust Jason Lytle has stated that the forthcoming Blu Wav, a linguistic nod to the album’s blend of bluegrass and new wave, will include a lot more pedal steel. In that light, “Watercooler” is the perfect thesis statement.
The Serfs — Half Eaten By Dogs
On “The Dice Man Will Become,” the penultimate track from The Serfs’ Half Eaten By Dogs, the Cincinnati post-punks operate in a newly ferocious mode. Whereas most of their songs exhibit an icy, frigid aura, laden with synths and echoey vocals, The Serfs stomp forward at a blistering tempo. It’s among the most exciting pieces of music The Serfs have created to date; it’s a major departure from the rest of Half Eaten By Dogs, an album that meets the middle point between accelerated post-punk a la Deeper and sterile, gothy synth-rock in the vein of The Sisters of Mercy. Across this new record, The Serfs put their artistic growth on full display, showcasing their range and finesse alike.
Charly Bliss — “I Need A New Boyfriend”
Charly Bliss is back with their signature power-pop panache, albeit with a slight twist on their new single, “I Need A New Boyfriend.” Conjuring the zeitgeisty, sugarcoated delivery of groups like 100 Gecs and the How I’m Feeling Now milieu of the other Charli, “I Need A New Boyfriend” is an enthralling new step for the consistently great Brooklynites.
Kurt Vile — “This Time Of Night”
On a new split single featuring Aussie indie songwriter Courtney Barnett, Kurt Vile covers Chastity Belt’s 2017 track “This Time Of Night.” In a press statement, Philly’s king of twang fondly recalls meeting Chastity Belt on Halloween 2015 in Amsterdam, and he felt that they were soul mates. As a celebratory gesture marking the 10th anniversary of Chastity Belt’s career, Vile’s cover of “This Time Of Night” is the ultimate gift.
Ragana — Desolation’s Flower
When you think of Olympia, Washington, you might think of indie bands like Sleater-Kinney, Beat Happening, or Bikini Kill. For a city that’s actually rainier than Seattle, the city’s most famous artists don’t quite reflect the dreariness of its environment. Ragana, the black metal duo comprising the mononymous members Coley and Maria, make music that feels as dark as their hometown’s skies. From the eight-plus-minute sprawl of the title track to bleak yet melodic “Winter’s Light Pt. 2,” Ragana’s debut for The Flenser, Desolation’s Flower, is a paean to unforgiving gloom.
Year Of The Knife — No Love Lost
2023 is the year of the Year Of The Knife. The Delaware quartet mixes metal and hardcore in a way that feels like seamless, miraculous alchemy. After surviving a near-fatal car accident as they were heading from Salt Lake City to Colorado Springs to play a show, they had to take time to recuperate and prioritize their health, especially front-woman Madi Watkins, who entered a medically induced coma. Consequently, they had to cancel their remaining tour dates and the rollout for their new album, No Love Lost. Fortunately, the album speaks for itself. With its combination of piercing screams, crunchy riffs, and battering drums, Year Of The Knife proves their mettle.