I don’t think I will be very good at describing Sufjan Stevens other than to say his music is beautiful, sometimes simple, often deep with feeling and allusions to important matters of the human spirit, and sometimes remarkably complex.
So there you have it. Ha! I think there are a few things to appreciate about this artist. First, he plays lots of instruments and his recordings often consist of him playing many tracks himself. This is where it can sometimes get super complex. When he performs live he needs a bunch of musicians with him on stage to even come close to reproducing what is on the record. (See the second video below.)
Next, he has produced quite a lot of music covering a wide range of themes. Some highly personal and some broad and far reaching. He works with lots of artists, but in a way he seems like a DIY (Do It Yourself) when it comes to putting it all together.
Finally, the feeling of his music is often spirtual or at least meaningful but Sufjan has been consistent in not attributing his music to any specific religion or philosophy. Nonetheless his music is often deeply moving.
So there you have it. Its simple, complex, beautiful, and certainly unusual.
In this playlist:
Venus – From the recent Planetarium album
Too Much – You must check out the video version – how many people can he fit on one stage?!
Should Have Known Better
YouTube playlist: Sufjan Stevens
Spotify playlist: Sufjan Stevens
Here is another band I just saw at Governors Ball who have been getting lots of play on Indie Rock radio and internet blogs. They are from New York and Texas and have been around about six years. They use a straight up guitar, drum and occasional keyboard set up. They combine rock guitar sounds, with tuneful songs, and a bit of punk rock attitude. The first two videos on this playlist show them live and give you a good idea of their sound and style and great guitar work. Hard not to like this all American band.
On this playlist:
Berlin Got Blurry – Stoned And Starving – Pretty Machines – Human Performance
YouTube playlist: Parquet Courts
Spotify playlist: Parquet Courts
The Orwells are some young guys who’ve just released a third album but they sound more like rock royalty. With guitars blazing, great driving bass lines and a manic lead singer these guys prove that straight up guitar rock is still great.
I took this photo yesterday at the Governors Ball music festival. The lead singer, oddly named Mario Cuomo, was intense and loving the festival atmosphere. He drove security nuts climbing all over the stage rigging and getting up close to the audience. Watch this space. These guys will keep blowing up.
In this playlist:
Let It Burn – The video gives you a sense of what one of their concerts can be like
Who Needs You – Classic rock is still being made
Black Francis – Nod to Frank Black (Pixies)
Heavy Head – From their 2017 album “Disgraceland”
Dirty Sheets – Also from Disgraceland
YouTube playlist: The Orwells
Spotify playlist: The Orwells
Sylvan Esso / Metric / Arcade Fire / Lykke Li / Decemberists / Animal Collective / Vampire Weekend / Middle Kids / Tame Impala / M.I.A. / Hinds / Chvrches / Neko Case / Temples / The xx / Lana Del Rey / The Orwells / Parquet Courts / Sufjan Stevens / The Kills / Best Coast / The War on Drugs / 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 / Daniele Luppi with Parquet Courts and Karen O / tUnE-yArDs / Ty Segall / Sleigh Bells / Beach House
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 / 15 Top Indie Songs of 2017 / Anticipation – New Indie Rock Coming in 2018 / International Women’s Day
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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
Blog on hiatus. I really enjoy doing it, but since most posts get seen by 1 or 2 people, it’s probably not worth it to keep going. I’m open to suggestions on what kind of indie music blog might be useful to a wider audience if you have any. In the meantime, enjoy what is here. The YouTube playlist is awesome – so much good music and lots of live videos of indie acts. See you at the concert.
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.
A bit of my own history: After the decline of Grunge I somehow lost track of what was happening in music. I wasn’t there for the first few years of what we now call Indie. But in 2007 M.I.A. released her second album and a song called “Paper Planes” blew up huge hitting #1 on some charts. Somewhere along the line I heard it. My reaction was “wow!” I looked into who this was and what it was and I heard. Someone said it was something called “indie rock.”
The rest is history, but I’ll forever thank M.I.A. for bringing me back to new music. M.I.A. was born in London and comes from a Sri Lankan family. M.I.A. puts politically powerful words to dance beats and does it with a unique sound that includes intense beats, electronic noise, and catchy bits. She innovated rhythms and electronic sounds that just blew people away. Since then many other artists and bands have imitated her style and had great success. The political aspect means I don’t agree with everything that comes out of her mouth, but I respect her and I do like to hear her point of view. One thing I can definitely agree with on is her fiercely anti-racist view. Agree or not, she is a great innovator and someone to pay attention to.
What is her style called? Wikipedia uses a term “avant pop,” I think the term “noise pop” is a good fit, but these terms are used to apply to so many old and new bands so I’m not sure they really work. Whatever you call it, M.I.A. has had a major influence on electronic, dance, and hip hop music.
Here’s a few songs to knock your head against. In this playlist:
Sunshowers – The song that opened me up to Indie
P.O.W.A. – From her most recent release to show you what she’s up to now
Jimmy – From 2009
Bring the Noize – Rad from 2016
YouTube playlist: M.I.A.
Spotify playlist: M.I.A.
I recently had the good fortune of seeing this young Australian band live in Brooklyn (my photo above) and I was incredibly impressed. For a group with only six published songs they have a sound and a power that is truly phenomenal. Maybe it’s from growing up “down under”, I don’t know; but, I think this band is going to have some huge success in front of them. The singer brings feeling and energy, the music is moving and exciting. I just can’t say enough about this band. Watch for their first full-length album and download it. I am a fan and a believer.
In this playlist:
Edge Of Town, Never Start, Your Love, Old River
YouTube playlist: Middle Kids
Spotify playlist: Middle Kids