The 90s were an amazing decade for indie rock. The last few decades have been hard pressed to produce the raw angst-ridden intensity that was embodied in artists like Archers of Loaf, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, The Pixies, hell, the whole Matador Records catalog, the incredible stuff on Touch N Go, etceter-friggin-a! It seems like the majority of what's passing for indie rock these days is just a bit too mushy gushy, smile everybody, now Pogo! Sure, I'm an old dude, but I consider myself very open when it comes to digesting new things. It just seems that something has been missing. Turns out, I'm wrong. Just wasn't looking in the right places. Take for instance:
1. Radical Dads - And their summer 2020 released "Paved Mountain". It's lo-fi, hi-fi, Brooklyn rawk played by an ex-member of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (though we won't hold that against him) along with husband and wife duo Chris Diken and Lindsay Baker, the three of which also played in 9 piece ensemble Uninhabitable Mansions, a group who played that happy-go-lucky indie pop stuff that I referenced in the opening paragraph, blegh. All I can say, is thank God they moved in the direction they did. Musically, if I had to make the inevitable comparisons (since that's ultimately what this article is about), I'd throw out names like Versus, (early) Yo La Tengo, Pixies, Sonic Youth and Superchunk. All good company to be in if you ask me.
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2. Girl In Red - I'm a sucker for moody shoegazey dream-pop when done right. Girl In Red is just that. Her name is Marie. She's from Oslo, Norway and writes and records all her songs in her room. There's a beauty to the lo-fi quality of the songs that would have sat really well along-side 90% of the Kill Rock Stars roster back in the 90s. She writes a lot about her love for girls and has found herself cast into a position of being somewhat of a spokeswoman for queer-positive indie rock. "They're so pretty, it hurts, I'm not talkin' bout boys, I'm talkin' about girls, they're so pretty with their button up shirts...cuz' I don't know, what to do, its not like I get to chose, who I love, who I love", she sings in her song Girls. I gotta admit, I'm really looking forward to more music from Girl In Red. If you, like me, were a product of the 90s indie rock andamp; shoegaze scene and are longing for some of that stuff that bands like Sleater-Kinney, Rilo Kiley, Lush and The Spinnanes would give us on a regular basis, check out Girl In Red. You'll be happy you did.
3. No Star - Mixing a bit of 80s andamp; 90s Alt-Indie ala Squeeze, Bob Geldof and XTC into a 2020 stew of modern indie-pop-rock that is some of the most listenable music I have heard all covid-year. Every once in a while you stumble across a body of music (not gonna call it an album, cuz that's soooo last decade) that you can only describe as "timeless". No Star might be misnamed. Once they are truly discovered this Chicagoland duo might be unstoppable as they literally reach across decades to provide a sound that is somehow classic and brand-new at the same time.
4. Confetti Sun - Josh Miller, aka Confetti Sun, wears his influences on his sleeve, and that's quite alright by me. Especially when those influences include the likes of Galaxie 500, The Flaming Lips, Built To Spill, Grandaddy, Beulah and Sparklehorse. I hear he kind of likes Tame Impala as well, but I won't hold that against him (I'm no fan). There's a little dream-pop here and a bit of the mellow Hope Sandoval type ethereal soundscape music, especially when he goes into a decidedly restrained version of Four Non-Blonde's hit "Whats Up" which I actually like a lot more than the original (which was always one of my favorites by the way, so this is saying a lot) Check out Confetti Sun at THIS LINK RIGHT HERE
5. DIIV - Over the past few years DIIV has become one of my absolute favorites in the whole "Newgaze" genre, if one were to pigeonhole them that is...I just did. Thats cool though, Newgaze is just shoegaze reinvented and shoegaze was arguably the best thing to come out of the 90s. If you like your guitars distorted and heavy on the effects, your melodies swirly and your vocals dreamy, you might like DIIV too. It's a little bit Jesus and Mary Chain, a little bit Ride, Slowride and Swervedriver. I'm low-key thrilled that this stuff is back and that there are so many great bands doing it these days. It gives me hope for the current state of music and where it's all going. Check out DIIV if you haven't heard them yet.
Thats about it for now, I promise to do more like this cuz I'm an old dude who likes to discover music and then share it with other people....In the meantime, follow our socials. We don't bite
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