15 minute indie rock playlists – both video (YouTube) and audio (Spotify) by me is what you’ll find here. Some playlists focus on a single band – say “Grizzly Bear” for example – and some are just themes like “beach music” or “chill” or “psychedelic”. All built by me – an Indie Rock lover, concert goer, and downloader, to give you a nice intro to a new band, or a nice little escape from the rest of your day enjoying tunes for the mood you’re in.
Why am I doing this? Because sometimes you don’t have hours to check out the latest playlist or the time to search out music that you’ll like. 15 minutes of music curated by someone who loves Indie Rock can hit the spot. Catch up on a band you’ve been wondering about or just spend 15 minutes chilling before your next commitment. It’s all about spending just 15 Minutes Underground.
Sylvan Esso / Metric / Arcade Fire / Lykke Li / Decemberists / Animal Collective / Vampire Weekend / Middle Kids / Tame Impala / M.I.A. / Sleigh Bells / Hinds / Chvrches / Neko Case / Temples / The xx / Lana Del Rey / The Orwells / Parquet Courts / Sufjan Stevens / The Kills / Best Coast / The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile and Sharon Van Etten / Alt-J / Grimes / Warpaint / New Pornographers / Purity Ring / Courtney Barnett / Yeah Yeah Yeahs / St. Vincent / Belle and Sebastian / LCD Soundsystem / Strokes, Interpol, Arctic Monkeys / Grizzly Bear / Broken Social Scene / Fleet Foxes / Alvvays / Sleater-Kinney / Jagwar Ma / Yo La Tengo / Bleached / Foxygen / Cults
Play your instruments, don’t play WITH them / Guitars and Depression / Electronic Dance Music, Not EDM / When Modern Dance Meets Indie / Rock and Roll Front Women / Psychedelic Experience / Great Voices / Chill / Panorama 2017 / Live Guitar Rock Bands Thriving in 2017 / Summertime Beach Music / It’s All About the Feels / Indie Rock Wake Up! / Zombies! / Indie Rock Collaborations / Fall Concert Season Playlist 1 / Fall Concert Season Playlist 2 / Retro Influenced Indie Rock / Indie Halloween / The Softer, More Melodic Side of Indie / Indie Rock Nerds
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One huge YouTube playlist with all the videos from this site: Full YouTube Playlist
One huge Spotify playlist with all the songs from this site: Full Spotify playlist (work in progress)
(Note I am rebuilding this site and adding Spotify playlists to all posts. If you only see a Youtube playlist that means I haven’t gotten to that one yet – but I will soon.)
This one is just for fun. Here are some Indie Rock songs that lean a little on the nerd side. Why? Words like parallelogram, ion displacement and encryption don’t seem very likely in rock songs – but here they are. Great music – slightly nerdy words. Enjoy.
In this playlist:
alt-J – Tessellate – Tessellate: cover a plane surface by repeated use of a single shape, without gaps or overlapping
The New Pornographers – High Ticket Attractions – Use of the word encryption is here – along with reference to Mayans, the science of falling, and ignoring the warning – good enough to make the list
Vampire Weekend – Bryn – Not really a nerdy song except for the opening words: ion displacement
Certainty – Temples – making parallelograms cool again
Courtney Barnett – Elevator Operator – Courtney gets on the list for her reference here to SimCity – watch the video – cute – maybe not so nerdy
YouTube playlist: Indie Rock Nerds
Spotify playlist: Indie Rock Nerds
If you listen to the first song on this playlist and think – wait, is that the Beatles? the Moody Blues? – you’d be forgiven. In general Indie Rock is known for incorporating ideas from all rock times and genres. So I wouldn’t overdo the “retro” concept here. What stands out most about the Temples is their incredible talent as musicians and their dedication to their music. I hear bits of 60s, 70s, and 80s music throughout Indie. I think what is great about that is that in indie rock, people don’t feel that the only way forward is to invent the next genre. Instead, let’s look at all the ideas we can find and create something brand new, that’s never been heard before.
In the case of “Shelter Song,” it certainly has a big retro feel. I chose it for that reason. But listen to the rest of the Temples catalog and you won’t question their originality one bit. The picture here (and the top level picture in this blog) I took at their concert in New York in 2014. One thing that really stood out was their amazing guitar work. These guys are serious. Have fun.
In this playlist:
I Wanna Be Your Mirror
Mystery of Pop
YouTube playlist: Temples
Spotify playlist: Temples
The title may not be official, but never mind, she is the queen (and occasionally the king too). She is a consummate professional, a great singer, a feeling human being, and a serial collaborator. If she is singing, I’m listening. As someone in the YouTube comments wrote, “you don’t need auto-tune if it’s built in.” Neko is one of the lead singers of the New Pornographers but I feel I need to pay homage to her as a solo artist first because, well,… she is the queen.
I’ll post the New Pornographers another time (edit: here now), but for now, just enjoy her performance, her voice, and if you feel the need, you may bow.
I took the blurry photo above at a free Neko Case concert in New York on the pier in 2012. I’ve seen her twice with the New Pornographers and I’m psyched to say I’ve got tickets for her upcoming solo tour in January. Neko Case rules. Check out the comments on YouTube to see some serious admiration.
For more examples search for her collaborations with Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, Elton John, and the album she did with k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs.
Song on this playlist:
Behind The House / This Tornado Loves You / Man / Magpie To The Morning / I’m An Animal
YouTube playlist: Neko Case
Spotify playlist: Neko Case
Indie music covers a wide range. For this Sunday afternoon, I decided to highlight the more melodic, soothing side of Indie Rock. Every few months someone reports the death of Indie, but I think what they are really mourning is a specific sound of the 90s and early 2000s. A harder, punkier sound. These articles are wrong in every respect. That sound still lives on in plenty of bands still playing from originals like Sleater-Kinney to newer bands like Bleached and The Kills. But Indie has branched out to so many more genres including electronic, Psychedelic, and much more. In this playlist you’ll hear some quite popular bands playing music that you can just sit back and enjoy. So take off your shoes, turn off the news, and relax.
On this playlist:
Alvvays – Dreams Tonite
Beach House – Zebra
Pinback – Proceed To Memory
Real Estate – Had To Hear
YouTube playlist: The Softer, More Melodic Side of Indie
Spotify playlist: The Softer, More Melodic Side of Indie
Chvrches is one of my favorite bands. Bits of “The Mother We Share” have been my ringtone for quite a while and it always makes me happy. They are smart, young, energetic, and love to play to a big audience. Lauren Mayberry has an infectious voice and a great stage presence. (My picture above.)
I started really enjoying their music before I saw them live and was at first taken aback by their setup. It’s all electronic. It didn’t take long for me to be a full-on convert. I see now that electronic instruments can make sounds you just can’t get any other way and it takes nothing away from the feelings.
On the video version of Recover I’ve included in the YouTube playlist there is a moment when Lauren sings, “you know you don’t need me” when the lights fade and you can pick up on the strong emotions of heartbreak in the lyrics. I don’t know – I just can’t get enough of this band. I hope you love them too.
On this playlist:
The Mother We Share – Their go-to encore
Bury It – Just a great song – check out the version where they pair up with Hayley Williams if you get a chance
Recover – The live video I mentioned above
Never Ending Circles – Dance it out
Dead Air – A great feeling tune they wrote for the Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack
YouTube playlist: Chvrches
Spotify playlist: Chvrches
(Updated with photos from live concert in New York Nov 7, 2017 and added 15 minute playlists.)
Some ten years ago or so if someone asked you to name an Indie Rock band, the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs would have been one of the first names mentioned. I haven’t posted them yet though because they haven’t had an album in four years. Today something happened to change my mind. They announced they would be headlining a music festival in Austin Texas in November and added, “Watch for more news coming soon.” (Update the festival got cancelled but they played two shows – one in L.A. and one in N.Y. last night.) This is exciting news. New album in the works? I don’t know, – stay tuned.
This is one of the first bands that really hooked me on Indie music. “Shake it like a ladder to the sun” is the opening line of the first song in the playlist below and they certainly did shake up the music scene. Karen O is a frenetic and exciting frontwoman and their live shows are said to be intense and ecstatic fun. (Update: Just saw them live – see pictures – and yes – she was high energy and fantastic on stage.) Their music is tough to describe so I’m going to steal a phrase from Wikipedia where it is described as a “edgy post-punk, dancefloor-friendly racket.” I like it.
Here’s hoping Karen O and great guitar of Nick Zinner and drumming of Brian Chase come back full force.
One more picture from list night:
YouTube playlist: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Spotify playlist: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Some bands are for listening to. Some, like this quartet of Spanish women, are for nothing but fun. Expect a lot of guitars, shouting, crowd surfing, probably a bit too much drink, and potentially a mosh pit. These girls may have only learned how to play and sing a couple years ago, but no matter. They have managed to create a unique sound, that is just pure rock and roll fun. I went to see them twice in their first tour because I couldn’t quite believe how much fun it was. What else can I say. Don’t expect polished artistry. Expect slightly off sounds, that make surprisingly good harmonies. I guess they are somewhere between the GoGos and The Clash (a bit more of The Clash). I think there is a new album in the works. Rock on!
In this playlist:
Chili Town, Bamboo, Warts, San Diego, Easy
YouTube playlist: Hinds
Spotify playlist: Hinds