Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Top 5 Indie Songs of 2020 (So Far)

Here are the top rated indie songs of 2020 (so far):

1. Clem Snide — “Roger Ebert”

Eef Barzelay brings his indie-country band Clem Snide back after a five-year hiatus, and if it seems strange to be doing that with a song about Roger Ebert’s dying words (“This is all an elaborate hoax”), Clem Snide never did play it safe. It’s a soothing meditation on the mysteries of life, the perfect sonic cushion to ease our increasingly chaotic day-to-day.

2. Waxahatchee — “Lilacs”

There’s a cathartic sense of irony that comes with listening to “Lilacs” during a spring of unprecedented loneliness. With Dylanesque composition, Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield sings about isolation and the rejuvenating power of nature. “I wake up feeling nothing / Camouflage the wavering sky / I sit at my piano, wander the wild whereby / And the lilacs drank the water / And the lilacs die / And the lilacs drank the water / Marking in the slow, slow, slow passing of time,” she sings in the opening lines of the song. In hindsight, they read like an artist’s social distancing diary. But buried beneath the subject matter, the song has an easygoing complexion and an innate sense of hope. And this song certainly leaves the impression that things will get better.

3. Jensen McRae — “White Boy”

Over a lush, Mazzy Star-esque groove, 22-year-old Los Angeles singer-songwriter McRae takes us to a college party where an African-American woman finds herself code-switching for a charming white guy: “Twirl my hair, watch my voice jump the octave/I don’t like who I am for you, white boy.” She’s described her sound as “Tracy Chapman writing music for Adele while studying for the vocab section of the SAT,” and with an equally frank and stunning second single “Wolves” just out, we think she is poised to be massive.

4. Jason Isbell — “Be Afraid”

“Be afraid, be very afraid, but do it anyway”: The exact right message at the exact right moment. With the first single from his upcoming Reunions album, the alt-country firebrand makes the case for speaking your mind, especially if your voice is shaking. “We don’t take requests, we won’t shut up and sing/Tell the truth enough, you’ll find it rhymes with everything.” And for Isbell, it’s not just talk: on March 3rd, he did a Super Tuesday fundraiser for Alabama Senatorial candidate Doug Jones. He’s been overdue for a breakout, and this might just be the track that does it.

5. Andy Shauf — “Neon Skyline”

Andy Shauf’s songs are charming tales of everyday life. The vibes are good, like a friend telling a random little anecdote over a beer after work. It’s laid back, it’s harmless, it’s casually relatable. On Neon Skyline, every song works as one linear narrative, and its title track sets the scene and the characters, and establishes the laidback attitude that defines the set. It’s perhaps the least pretentious concept album you’ll find—and by the end of this opening track, Shauf has already made a great friend out of you. Just sit back and enjoy what he has to tell you. 



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