Best of Indiepop 2018
Everyone has their own definition of indiepop; but I tend to ascribe to the original craft where DIY aesthetics and a softer response to punk were all the rage. But, to each their own. So I went through last year to compile what I think is a pretty all encompassing Best of Indiepop 2018; there’s no order, just a collection of really great indiepop. Some of the below are songs, some are albums, some are just bands or labels that were important. Click on for my picks and a playful playlist.
Fanclub – This band sprung out of Letting Up Despite Great Faults. Sticks to a similar formula with huge synth pop driven by jangling guitars…though this time around, they’ve got Leslie C. fighting their battles with her voice, her remarkable voice.
Tres Oui– Poised to Flourish –Okay, okay. Yes, I put out the band’s first EP with SoO, but this whole LP for Shrimper surpasses my expectations. Filled to the max with memorable hooks and wordplay, catchy as all get out…and just a faint sprinkle of Prefab Sprout.
Fantasamidi – “Mortal” – I’m pretty sure I can account for at least 75% of this song’s plays on Soundcloud. I listen to it at least once a week, not to mention all the times I play the whole LP on the frequent around my house. This is one of those brilliant Spanish indiepop songs filled with energy and hooks.
Say Sue Me – Where We Were Together – I think this album will most be remember for how incredible “Old Town” is as a single, but what amazed me was how diverse the rest of the record was; it had some heavier tunes that neared shoegaze, and then some really soft moments like the almost Western sounding “Let Me In.”
Monnone Alone – Cut Knuckle – It would only seem fair that everyone’s favorite Lucksmith would come good by bring out old friends and writing two incredible pop tunes. It’s a short collection, but an assured reminder at just how incredible Mr. Monnone’s work has been.
Matinee Recordings World Cup EP – This combined the best of two worlds: indiepop and soccer (football). It brought new tunes from Last Leaves, Red Sleeping Beauty and The Popguns, all with each act celebrating their own country. It’s a celebratory release, but one that shouldn’t be overlooked for the gems in there.
The Boys with Perpetual Nervousness – “Nervous Man” – A Feelies reference and a really warm sound combine to leave us with a casual touch of indiepop, the softer underbelly of the genre.
The BVs – “Every Story is a Ghost Story” – Light dancing guitar lines, and these vocals that feel just as worn out as everyone else in the world. Not sure any band captured a sense of longing as upbeat as this group managed to pull off for their latest 7″ on Cloudberry Records.
Indonesia’s Indiepop Scene – Now, I’ll be the first to admit I was only slightly aware of the phenomenon that is Indonesian indiepop, but it’s worthy of a mention as it’s vital to the genre. My knowledge was furthered by a few releases via Jigsaw Records (Kaveh Kanes and Sharesprings), which eventually led me to The Lousy Pop Group.
The Treasures of Mexico – Everything Sparks Joy – Out of the ashes of the Dentists we get our 2nd LP from Treasures of Mexico. Energetic and filled with melodies throughout, you can’t turn your ear away from the sugary joy that fills this up. “Super Cute” alone would be in my personal Top 10 tracks of the year.
Jetstream Pony – “Self-Destruct Reality” – I love the way the guitars tease you for the opening minutes, before they jump in with a more emphatic punch that has you tapping your toes and bouncing about your room like only the best young punks can.
The Proctors – “Crystaline Pt. 2” – Twinkling guitar lines, a dreamy synth line and this effortless cool in the vocals is sure to drive home the point of how lovely the band’s sound has evolved; I love the dual vocals during the chorus. New album on the way next year?
Alpaca Sports – From Paris with Love – Another album of kick-up-your heels and stomp on the floor indiepop. No one is writing tracks this undeniably catchy in the scene. The pair combine vocal harmonies to maximize the melody, each time, sending a dagger to my heart.
Lost Ships – Best Laid Plans EP – A few folks were raving about this early on in the year, and boy were they right. It’s the spritely version of indiepop, giving a bounce to harmonies and crafting charming lines about the mundane. It’s short, but should not be overlooked.
Hater – Siesta – Enough has been written about this band, but how does one ignore one of the best current acts in indiepop when they leave us with such an incredible album?
Young Scum – Young Scum – Take the best things about the Lucksmiths, combine them with the modern pop twists of bands like Literature, and you have what is probably my second favorite indiepop LP of the year. It’s great for repeated listens and drives on a sunny holiday.
A Certain Smile – Fits and Starts – Another debut LP that warmed my heart. It kind of reminds me of what the Pains of Being Pure at Heart would have sounded like had they stripped back their distortion on the first two LPs. It’s brilliant and belongs in your catalog.
Stephen’s Shore – September Love – The debut LP from Sweden’s Stephen’s Shore more than lived up to my expectations. It utilized crystalline guitar lines that meandered through soft melodies to worm their way through your eardrums. Plus, it was inspired by
Comet Gain – If Not Tomorrow 7″ – The band returns after a few years off with one of the better singles they’ve released in recent times. Perhaps I’m just easily charmed when this group comes to play.
The Smittens – City Rock Dove – How does a band have so many incredible songwriters all trading roles, and never skipping a beat. It’s a many-headed monster of delightful gems that you can’t pull away from.
The Suncharms – Red Dust 7″ – Part of the Slumberland 30 Singles Series, the legendary Suncharms returns with a couple of new tunes, not skipping a single beat since their inception in the late 80s. Always good to have a classic band return, and even better if the songs are this good.
Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten – This is the indiepop label of the year in my book. You have releases by various German acts, but you also get the heavy-hitters like Gary Olson of Ladybug Transistor, or Jetstream Pony. Not to mention the charming Pale Lights/Lake Ruth split 7″. Plus, it’s a collectors dream, as all the releases are super limited, so much so, that I only have the digital versions.