Anyone who knows me or has read my posts knows that I am a big fan of indie artists. I include in my definition of “indie” any artists who are not readily discoverable, artists who are or were unsigned or independent artists, and any artists who heavily influenced modern indie genres. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite indie artists of all time and what work by them I enjoy.
One of my favorite 80’s bands, Sonic Youth, helped shape a generation of modern indie artists and created some amazing music in the process. Now a very popular band, they extended their influence despite humble beginnings within the American underground, and went on to influence the sound of indie rock for years to come.
Neutral Milk Hotel
Jeff Mangum and his band created some of the most interesting albums in this world. “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” is a quintessential indie album. I had the pleasure of seeing NMH on their very last tour and can attest to the raw talent the band has and the amazing experience provided by their artistry. Definitely check them out if you haven’t already.
Smith was a very talented musician and songwriter who also helped shape the sonic environment of indie and related genres. Smith also definitely created some of the most somber and melancholic discography of related artists. I recommend both his “Either/Or” and “Elliott Smith” albums.
Sufjan Stevens is one of the best artists of our time. Much of his discography is entirely produced, written, and played by him solely. His albums typically follow complex concepts, some of the best of which reflect religion, the grieving process, and childhood. The artist began from nothing and has built up enormous success in the indie genre.
I have mentioned this band a lot in previous posts but want to ensure that they are recognized. Their music is extremely compelling – emotional lyrics, shifting musical influence, and entertaining media and live performances make the band incredibly unique. Their best album, hands down, is their electronic-based “Innocence Reaches,” but I also really enjoyed their newest release “UR FUN” which has more rock & roll influence.
Honorable mentions include: They Might Be Giants, Toro y Moi, King Krule, Angel Olsen, and Soccer Mommy.