Well, 2019 has been over for a while, but there were some great songs written by indie bands in my favourite rock and punk genres, so I thought it would be fun to share my top 2019 indie songs and highlight a few of my favourites. You can listen to the playlist on Spotify below or here.
So let’s shine the spotlight on a few of my top tracks for last year. First up, the first track on the Out of Nowhere playlist, Not the Only One by Minus Alive. This song has all the characteristics I associate with amazing songwriting. There’s a strong, easily recognisable riff that distinguishes this song clearly from any other the moment it starts to play. There’s a soaring chorus that rises on a strong emotional current and sticks in the listener’s head. The rhythm is both driving and interesting, Ollie Butler’s vocals are clear, strong and full of conviction, and the song has contrast; there’s a structure that the audience learns to anticipate, gentle soft sections and huge heavy sections. And finally, the lyrics have something to say. This is a song about mental health and Minus Alive built a story around it, letting everybody out there know that they’re not alone. I love to run, lift weights, bake, and get ready for challenges to the tones of this song. Learn it and sing along.
Next, Electric Souls by VISTA. VISTA are remarkable in that they are still independent despite some huge tours, hundreds of thousands of plays on some of their tracks, slick promotion and merch. They do all this themselves, aided by outstandingly skilled photographer Holly Turner, they seem dedicated to remaining unsigned, and I love that about them. Recently they have announced the addition of a drummer, Mikey G, and while I’m a little sad that they’re no longer a band I can refer to as a “fellow duo” for Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String, I’m excited to see what influence the presence of a third band member has on ex-duo Hope and Greg. Electric Souls is my favourite track that VISTA produced in 2019 because of its conviction and structure. It’s an epic love song or perhaps just a tribute to a highly effective creative relationship between two people who don’t fit the mould of societal norms. The chorus is catchy and the song builds and builds all the way to the end.
Adelaide band Colibrium produced a new EP entitled Carried in 2019, and on it is an absolutely rocking track called Capture. This song is on the more classic rock end of music that I can enjoy, but it’s simply written in such a way that when it soars you soar with it. The lyrics are uplifting ones too, with variations on the line “capture the sunlight, to remind yourself why you’re here on top of the world again.” It’s a call to take in the moments that matter, and to make the most of things, done in heavy, riffy big powerful rock that makes you feel like you could move mountains.
Now I’m going to do a little bit of a shameless plug for Feathers, Wood ‘N’ String here, because the track Grey from our 2019 EP From Nowhere is actually in my top few songs of 2019 which makes it very special indeed. Until very recently I couldn’t bear to listen to any of our own songs with my singing on them on my regular playlists. It just didn’t sound like “real” music to me. But this song I’m very proud of; it has contrast between subtle softness and angry grit. It has words you can hear, and I hope, identify with. Grey is about how human beings are not tick boxes, and you can read my full rant about that on my person blog at phdancer.wordpress.com, so I won’t ramble on about it here. But I do think you should hear this track, if you haven’t, yet.
And for the final song in my top 5, Cynical Serenade by Planet Mercury. This is the most punk-sounding of the five described here, and features catchy melodies, lovely harmonies, snappy little riffs that fit into the gaps in the chorus, and words about hiding behind a mask of false perfection and happiness. In our Instagram age, it’s a theme that resonates, and the super boppy, singalong melody fits perfectly with the words – “My life’s a mess, but I smile for the camera.” Yeah, doesn’t everyone nowadays? Planet Mercury are getting pretty big and doing just fine, thank you, but they also keep their eyes open for new music from indie bands themselves, with an honest recognition of how hard it is to be noticed in the Spotify ocean.
“Out of Nowhere” features my full top 20 picks produced by indie bands in 2019, plus 8 more to give you a good hour and a half of tunes. The songs range from softer indie rock to punk to relatively heavy alt rock. So if you enjoy discovering music, make a pot of whatever your favourite brew of 2019 is, and sit back and give this a spin. I’m looking forward to seeing what local and larger indie bands get up to in 2020, and hope you’ll join me throughout the year for reviews of bands I see out and about and discover new releases from. Happy listening!