Genre/Style: Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Cut and Paste
FFO: Arcade Fire, Dirty Projectors, Cornelius
Summary: As their name implies this band is made up of people in different parts of the world all lending their talents to make a one-of-a-kind musical experience. These are indie pop songs at their core but they’re outfitted with all manner of vocal effects, audio clips, nautical sounds, and unique electronics. These songs twist, bend, wiggle, and slide through different styles and vibes, all lead by Orono’s delightfully deadpan vocals. This is a groundbreaking debut from a band that, if all goes to plan, will consume us all into a giant hive mind.
Genre/Style: Hip Hop, Jazz, R&B
FFO: Chance the Rapper, Jamila Woods, Saba
Summary: “And y’all thought a b**** couldn’t rap.” Chicago rapper Noname made waves with her 2016 debut Telefone. Emerging from the same scene as the likes of Chance and Mick Jenkins, Noname has established herself as one of indie hip hop’s great new talents. She pushes that even further on her sophomore album, expanding the instrumentation in surprising ways. The lyrics feel more personal and socially insightful, often delivered with a joy that can be heard in every word.
The future and the past
Genre/Style: Indie Rock, Pop, Soul
FFO: Julia Holter, Jenny Lewis, Neko Case
Summary: On her sophomore album the singer/songwriter maximizes her sound with warm horns, funky basslines, and gorgeous orchestration. Inspired by the political climate, Prass pens accessible sentiments and pushes her soft voice to it’s peak with impassioned performances. These songs will not let you go, they’ll wind up in your head and lead you back to this artful album.
Be The cowboy
Genre/Style: Indie Rock, Pop
FFO: Girlpool, Waxahatchee, Car Seat Headrest
Summary: On her third album Mitski continues her streak of incredible hard-rocking albums. Her signature style of deceptive, explosive rock is definitely present, yet she embraces her pop sensibilities more than ever before. These are her biggest, most ambitious songs and the lyrics feel even more personal as she desperately searches for love and connection (and kisses). This album is bursting at the seems with energetic tunes, but get your tissues ready for the tender closing number.
Listen: Nobody (Official Video)
Bark Your HEad Off, Dog
Genre/Style: Indie Rock
FFO: LVL Up, Charly Bliss, Speedy Ortiz
Summary: On their fourth album the philly rock band keep their raw rocking edge while making their songs more tight and polished. They redefine what can be accomplished with the basic four member rock band setup. This album is both playful and powerful, with fun guitar riffs leading into vulnerable verses. Frances Quinlan’s one-of-kind voice breaks and re-forms, remaining wholly unpredictable and highly emotive.
Listen: How Simple (Official Video)
Genre/Style: Indie Rock, Punk
FFO: Titus Andronicus, Vampire Weekend, Okkervil River
Summary: Chicago singer/songwriter Ezra Furman released a masterstroke of a record entitled Prepetual Motion People. Now he follows it up with an epic concept album about an angel and his lover on the run from those who seek to destroy them. His last album was already and incredibly orchestrated rock album and now he pushes his resourcefulness even further bringing different sounds to each track. Furman’s voice slips from soft and shaky to wild and scratchy as he injects personal anecdotes into the fiction, with heart-wrenching lyrics about unrequited love, gender identity, and desperate rebellion, all weaving this grand narrative.
Genre/Style: Indie Rock, Experimental Rock, Gospel, Art Rap
FFO: clipping., Let’s Eat Grandma, Algiers
Summary: In 2015 this Scottish band landed on my radar and made their presence known as an innovative, un-categorizeable musical force. On their third album they attempted to make themselves more palatable, while retaining their experimental charm. Seemingly sterile electronics unfold into inescapable jams, with lyrics vague yet rooted in social commentary, often adopting the point of view of some not so savory characters and examining the darkness that lies within us all.
Watch: In My View (Official Video)
Genre/Style: Indie Rock
FFO: Phoebe Bridgers, Jay Som, Julien Baker
Summary: On her 2016 debut Lucy Dacus established herself as an evocative songwriter with some raw rock grit. Now on her sophomore album, she expands her sound adding horns and more elaborate orchestration. Lucy chronicles her own history of past dreams and lovers, while working in social statements. The fuller sound only makes her passionate performances more affecting, and her songwriting is more rousing than it’s ever been.
Watch: Addictions (Official Video)
Genre/Style: Hip Hop, Experimental Pop, R&B
FFO: Moses Sumney, serpentwithfeet, Flint Eastwood
Summary: One of my favorite albums of the year comes from my home state of Michigan. On his sophomore full length, Flint native Tunde Olaniran blends brooding hip hop electronics with warm pop hooks, soaring gospel anthems, and cocky rap songs full with nerdy references and clever wordplay. He can have you laughing on one song and crying on the next. This album is all over the place in the best way and Tunde further demonstrates his innovate spirit and incomprehensible vocal range.
Watch: I’m Here (Official Video)
Will this do?
Genre/Style: Indie Rock, Alternative Rock
FFO: Lucy Dacus, Swearin’, Gabby’s World
Summary: Lily Mastrodimos, formerly of the band Jabreaker Reunion, delivers a stirring and hard-rocking debut album. This album is eclectic while staying in it’s established lane of hard-rocking heart-wrenching tunes that are just as catchy as they are powerful. Her thoughtfully crafted lyrics offer sentiments of collapse, catharsis, and redemption. This is an amazing debut album, songs constantly haunt me and drive me to return to this album time and again.
Watch: Elizabeth (Official Video)