It’s that time of year again when everyone is busy compiling lists of the best albums and songs they’ve heard all year. It was another great year of music, and the indie category certainly provided plenty of greats to pick from.
This year, we saw local artists like the Hawthorne-based Cuco really take off as he went from playing back yards to Coachella in just 1 year. This indie-fusion dominated the sounds as bands like Triathalon, Boy Pablo, The Marias, Clairo and more jumped to the forefront with sultry, R&B inspired, jazzy indie rock.
At the same time, the post-punk scene flourished with groups like Nothing and Idles, and Beak> releasing strong albums. And while when releasing top lists there’s always that feeling of “I’m sure there’s something I didn’t discover this year that would absolutely be in here had I … discovered it,” I got through a decent amount of indie releases, and here’s what really stood out:
30. Porches – The House
This album has one of my favorite songs of the year, the short and sweet “Country” which is soulful, sad and deliberate.
29. A Place to Bury Strangers – Pinned
Another great post-punk, noise rock album, Pinned is dark and industrial. “Never Coming Back” is a strong opener that transfers me back to their sense-shocking performance at Desert Daze.
28. Cuco – Chiquito
While not quite as well rounded as previous albums, Chiquito still deserves recognition for shimmering love songs like “Sunnyside” and the fun, hip-hop influenced “CR-V.”
27. Ian Sweet – Crush Crusher
This album is heavy and dreamy. “Holographic Jesus” is definitely one that’ll get your attention.
26. Boy Pablo – Soy Pablo
This Norwegian-Chicano artist is putting out songs reminiscent of Cuco, with a more guitar centered focus.
25. Hovvdy – Cranberry
One of my favorite softer, simpler albums this year, songs like “Late” a perfect for a road trip.
24. Holy Wave – Adult Fear
These psych rockers produced some strong songs on this album including the self-titles, “Adult Fear” and the dreamy “Habibi.”
23. Shame – Songs of Praise
Another stunning post punk album coming from the UK, Songs of Praise is filled with punk attitude on songs like “One Rizla” and “Tasteless.”
22. GUM – The Underdog
With members of Pond and Tame Impala coming up with songs like “Serotonin,” this album is begging to be noticed.
21. Wild Nothing – Indigo
Wild Nothing continues to grow and put out solid albums. While each release since Gemini has needed time to grow on me, Indigo has some lovely songs like “Canyon on Fire.”
20. Vive La Void – S/T
This atmospheric album by Sanae Yamada of Moon Duo is a nice piece of work from front to back. “Devil” is a beautiful, driving krautrock song.
19. Suuns – Felt
I didn’t get to spend as much time with this album as I would have liked, but the opening song “Look No Further” is one of those with a line that just gets stuck in my head all too often for this album to not make the list.
18. Still Corners – Slow Air
Still Corners slipped in a delightful album this year with the soft, sultry Slow Air. The lush “The Photograph” is one of my favorite songs this year.
17. Kali Uchis – Isolation
This album is a wonderful blend of fun pop, soul and jazz fronted by the diva that is Kali Uchis. Songs like “Flight 22” and “Your Teeth In My Neck” are catchy and thoughtful.
16. Blood Orange – Negro Swan
This soulful album was a personal, powerful statement from Dev Hynes. Songs like “Charcoal Baby” and “Nappy Wonder” really stood out to me.
15. Part Time – Spell #6
A strong album all together from local outfit Part Time, Spell #6 is absolutely enchanting. “I Didn’t Know” is easily one of my favorite songs this year.
14. Heaters – Suspended Youth
I liked this album from the very first listen. It’s filled with strong, spacey, jangly psych rock that’s sure to please your ears.
13. MGMT – Little Dark Age
Probably the best “comeback album” of the year, Little Dark Age is filled to the brim with catchy, ’80s inspired beats and melodies including “Little Dark Age” and the lighthearted “Me and Michael.”
12. Kevin Krauter – Toss Up
Kevin Krauter’s 2019 album came on the scene strongly. Dreamy, jazzy numbers like “Lonely Boogie” and “Toss Up” have charming lo-fi qualities with strong melodies that’ll make you want to sing along.
11. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
This punk album is strong from beginning to end, with plenty of surprises thrown in with songs like “Back to Earth” and “Wide Awake” which goes into a funk style.
10. The Holydrug Couple – Hyper Super Mega
This album was another on my heavy rotation when it came out. Shimmering psych rock takes center stage again on spacey songs like “Forever End.”
9. Beach House – 7
7 was produced by Sonic Boom, thus creating a heavier sound than most Beach House albums. I absolutely adore the lush melody of “Drunk in L.A.” and the marimba in “Black Car.”
8. Nothing – Dance on the Blacktop
This album took a few listens to get into, but songs like “Plastic Migrane” and “I Hate The Flowers” really got through to me. The album is rooted in shoegaze, with equally heavy and dreamy elements.
7. Boogarins – Lá Vem a Morte
This album from Brazilian act Boogarins is not only all in Portugese, but is one of the more impressive dreamy, psych rock albums released this year. “Corredor Polones” is a stunning song on its own, and the whole album will have you in a dreamy haze.
6. Idles – Joy as An Act of Resistance
When I first heard the lyric “I kissed a boy and I liked it” in the middle of “Samaritans” I was like “whoah.” This album is filled with raw punk energy but really centers its message around self-love and acceptance.
5. Beak> – >>>
This album really made a strong impact on me. It’s dark and minimal and just gets more and more intriguing with each listen.
4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food
Sex & Food really pulled on my heartstrings with some of the strongest songs of the year including the tender “Hunnybee” and lyrically and melodically stunning “We’re Not In Love We’re Just High.”
3. The Marias – Superclean Vol. II EP
Even though this one is sort of a continuation of last year’s release, Superclean Vol. I, Vol. II EP stood out on its’ own with stunning, jazzy songs like “Over The Moon.”
2. Trialthalon – Online
Triathalon really blend genres in Online, which is basically an R&B album for people who normally gravitate to all things indie. The sultry vocals, shimmering synths and inspiring melodic riffs made this one of my go-to albums this year.
1. Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage
This album is strong from beginning to end and had one of my favorite songs I’ve heard all year, the brilliantly strange “Desert Horse,” which starts in psych rock, then diverts into vocal outbursts and eventually falls into a faster, krautrock beat. Melody Prochet’s sophomore album takes great risks in several songs on Bon Voyage, each of which are incredibly catchy on their own.
And if you’re more into playlists, here are some of my top songs of 2018:
What were your favorite albums this year? Feel free to share below!