Indie pop music artists
As a genre, indie pop is tailor-made for year-end list-making. It’s a genre that cherishes secrets and whispers and close-held truths, where listeners and musicians alike treat their favorite music as a part of their personality, feel like a melody alone can create a community or save a life.
2014 saw new releases from many cherished indie-pop bands of the past: Close Lobsters, the Wolfhounds, the Popguns, and a new band featuring members of Trembling Blue Stars. Boyracer returned, Lunchbox put out a new album and Comet Gain released another. Crayon got reissued, along with the Aislers Set, the Bluebells, the Jazzateers and NME’sC86 compilation. What year is this again?
This year you could immerse yourself back in the music of the original UK indie pop scene, or of its American antecedents. And you’d be happy and love life and find much great music to listen to. You also could listen strictly to new bands that sound very much like all of those bands, and be happy. Or better yet, why not do all of that and more?
I find it hard to see how any lover of indie-pop could find the field of choices lacking in 2014. There were new albums by legends of music, new bands with their own fresh variation on past styles, and great albums by established bands who either refined their approach or introduced a new, exciting twist on it. The ten albums I’m highlighting as the best of the year are packed with color, drama, grace, anguish, energy and the high and lows of the human experience.
Yet these albums were just the tip of the iceberg.
A Sunny Day in Glasgow
Sea When Absent
Some eight years after the group started, A Sunny Day in Glasgow seem to have stumbled upon greatness. Stumbled is an appropriate word for the sound of Sea When Absent, which is ever flowing all over the place, collecting sounds dreamy and scientific, tuneful and abstract. Yet you know the group labored over every last sound on the album—apparently through transcontinental emails, mainly. Nothing was done haphazardly. The beautiful chaos of their songs—which sometimes feel like deconstructed indie-pop, at least until everything falls into place and they feel like anthems—should be irresistible to fans of melodic pop, “shoegaze”, dream-pop, and the myriad variations on those.
How is it that Literature, with its spunky, melodic shuffles, can recall Sarah Records-style shy pop while also coming off like bright new stars-of-tomorrow, the would-be heroes of an indie-pop version of That Thing You Do? At the same time, the band stylistically evokes film noir, French New Wave films, and diaries and love letters never sent. Literatures wears its heart on its sleeves while hustling its way up the theoretical charts. The band’s second album Chorus offers a big sonic upgrade from its debut, and a polishing up and refining of its sound. Literature sells us an infectious mix of youthful energy and introspection that feels both classic and new.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Days of Abandon