Indy singers/bands recommendations

I’m looking for new music and would really like to support some indy bands or singers.

I’m feeling a bit mellow and folky right now, so I’m especially looking for things with cultural relevance, political is fine. Something with emphasis on lyrics.

Or, great music that’s none of the above is fine, too! I’m pretty catholic in my tastes and love having my horizons expanded. The only genre I hate is Kenny G and his evil ilk.

My preference would be bands that have a song or two I can hear in their entirety and places where I can download or buy single songs.


In case you’re not already familiar with it, here’s the inevitable link to KEXP. They stream audio live and have a number of their shows archived.

I tried to limit this to artists that are, by some stretch of the definition, folky and either indie or small label:

  1. Tegan and Sara – Identical Canadian twin sisters. They have pretty distinctive nasally voices and their music is a kind of clangy and twangy indie pop. They’re also lesbians but that’s not really a part of their music.

My favorite song of theirs is “Living Room”.

  1. **Regina Spektor **-- A classical pianist and an anti-folk singer songwriter born in Moscow, but living in the Bronx. She has a very eclectic sound and uses a variety of instrumentation or vocal effects, including beatboxing, but is mostly piano based

My favorite Regina song is probably “Hotel Song” or “On the Radio”

  1. Charlotte Martin – A singer-songwriter that got her start singing opera while attending college in the late ’90s. She sounds a bit like Sarah McLachlan with some very minor electronic influence.

“Veins” and “Every Time it Rains” are my favorite songs.

  1. Vienna Teng – Another pianist. She’s a folky chamber pop artist. **garygnu **asked her to prom.

Her best songs by far are “Between”, “Gravity”, “The Tower”, and “Blue Caravan”.

  1. **Mirah **-- The most folky of the artists I’m listing. She’s got a very stripped down aesthetic, and many of her songs seem like journal entries set to music.

My favorite song is “Recommendation”, though I also love “Apples in the Trees”.

  1. Imogen Heap – A British singer-songwriter with a very strong voice and strong electronic influence. She’s sorta, kinda, vaguely like Amy Winehouse, but not really.

My favorite songs are “Angry Angel” and “Airplane”. Also “Sweet Religion”.

  1. Pretty Balanced – A chamber pop/dark cabaret act. Their music has lots of classical instrumentation, but with electronic influence and irreverent lyrics.

“My Mind is a Box” is amazing.

  1. Thea Gilmore – My latest musical crush. She has an incredibly soulful and warm voice that sounds like a 40’s lounge singer’s. She’s spectacular.

My favorite songs are “Mainstream”, “The Gambler”, and “Old Soul”.

  1. Grand Ole Party – A three piece art-punk band from San Diego. The lead singer is also the drummer. They sound like a cross between Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, and The White Stripes but ten times as awesome. I discovered them at Bonnaroo this past June and have worn out their only album over the past four months.

“Gypsy March”, “Look Out Young Son”, “I.N.S.A.N.E.”, and “Troubadour of the Water” are their best. is a nifty site to check them all out.

Some others:

Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst really wants to be Bob Dylan)
The Walkabouts (vary their style, but tend to be vaguely country-flavored)
The Transmissionary Six
Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter (alt-country)
Bobby Bare Jr. (alt-country)
The Willard Grant Conspiracy
The Cave Singers
Laura Veirs
Damien Jurado

Nice. I like that a lot. They are one group from your list I recognize.

I recognize this name, too. Dang, that “Hotel Song” is catchy.

Not my favorite on your list.

She reminds me strongly of someone. Very pretty.

Dang, those are some short songs. I like her voice but haven’t decided if I like the whole package yet.

She’s the one with that very odd song they played on a whole bunch of TV shows, I think. “Hide and Seek”?

I like that a lot.

I LOVE that voice.
10. Grand Ole Party

“Gypsy March”, “Look Out Young Son”, “I.N.S.A.N.E.”, and “Troubadour of the Water” are their best.

Not really striking me today, but my tastes change about every 15 minutes. :slight_smile:

Thanks for all of the great pointers.

Thanks for the list. I’ll check them out tomorrow!

Mellow and Folky
Jay Nash
Sally Jaye
Garrison Starr
Shane Alexander

Mellow Pop/Rock
Libbie Schrader
Geoff Pearlman
Gabriel Mann
The Hereafter
Naimee Coleman
Shannon Hurley

Mellow Pop/Rock- slightly Jazzy
Quincy Coleman
Krister Axel
Jim Bianco

Paper Sun
Chris Pierce
Joe Greene

Power Pop
Saucy Monky

Dead Rock Wets

Oh, and if you so much want to support independent artists . . .
. . . it wouldn’t kill ya to support your good friend, bienville
now, would it?

They are. I’ve got about three dozen of her songs and few clock in at three minutes or more.

That’s the one. I actually discovered her through my favorite movie, Garden State. The song that plays at the end, Let Go, is by Frou Frou, which is a two piece act that she supplied vocals for. It’s a lot different than her solo stuff, but is also great.

Are you familiar with Buzzcocks, the punk band from the 70s? She does an absolutely breathtaking cover of *Ever Fallen in Love? *by them. Here’s a YouTube link. It gives me chills.

Hehe. They’re a bit of a digression. Had to throw them out there, though. :slight_smile:

Another artist I absolutely love (I recently drove 100 miles to see her play a half dozen songs for a band I was otherwise disinterested in) is Sarah Fimm, who’s a downtempo trip hop artist and has a voice befitting her homophonic pseudonym. I didn’t suggest her at first because she didn’t really fit with the rest but since I’m apparently doing pretty well at suggesting new music, I want to recommend her as well.

She has a very small internet presence, and most of her best songs aren’t online, but all the music on her MySpace is pretty good.

Fortuitously, my most favorite song, Virus, is on there; Mercury is probably the second best of the songs listed on her profile.

The short list

2nd Regina Spektor
These United States
The War On Drugs
The Walkmen
The Besnard Lakes
The Childballads
Sunset Rubdown
Mother Mother
The New Year
The National
Of Montreal (start with the Sunlandic Twins album)
Neutral Milk Hotel

and, most definitely,

Report back forthwith, and enjoy!

Hark! You rang? :wink:

Try this album, it’s very mellow, though not in a folky way.

You might like this song.

This is an artist who’s all about lyrics. Every song is about something interesting, and with a small handful of minor exceptions, has no “love/lack of love/oh baby you hurt me so bad” songs in a 20+ year, 11 album career. Even those exceptions have unusual twists to them, such as “Here and Hereafter” which on the surface sounds like a breezy love song, but a closer listen reveals that the song is actually about the deep fear of losing someone you love. In spite of her name (which is her real name btw) many of her songs are extremely dark and psychological. Many tell stories, such as “100 Years” which is about a sentient computer abandoned on a space station, or the cinematic “He Will Come/The Flight” about an immortal vampire pining for mortality, or “Down Down” about a submarine (inspired by Das Boot) or “Find Me” about a drowning woman, or “Charlie” inspired by Robert Crumb’s brother Charles (anyone who saw the documentary Crumb would get this song), or “Virus” which is a scathing condemnation of assholes in the record industry who tried to mess with her head and change who she was to be more “commercial,” while others are about psychological states. Without going overboard and getting in-depth, entire psychology courses could be taught using her songs as a springboard. She also has a very sly/dry sense of humor in songs such as “Runners” which is about the frustration that everyfrickin thing gives you cancer. It goes on an on. If it were just her phenomenal voice and music I’d still love her, but thankfully she cares about her lyrics too.

Here’s an album that’s very lush, layered and electronic.

Besides the above, there are songs here, here, here, here, and here (there are more songs that aren’t shown, but you have to use the scroll bar on the player).

Many many many songs can be downloaded for free at this page. Scroll down and there’s a good sampling of songs from every album. The only one that doesn’t have complete songs is the most recent album, otherwise they’re full-length songs.

There are 6 of her 11 albums on iTunes so of course single songs are available, but if you heard one that you wanted that wasn’t on iTunes or on the Samples page, I’d give it to you for free (and yes, I have her permission to do that).

Give me an inch… smile

Sarah Fimm is indeed quite wonderful. I’m still knocked out that she has HTR on her MySpace page. I have no idea how Sarah heard her, but it’s very very cool!

I love Tegan and Sara, but it amuses how often the “They’re lesbians, but they don’t talk about it” idea comes up whenever someone recommends them. Their Wikipedia entry even has a subject heading devoted to “Personal Lives” that has the single sentence “They’re lesbians, but they don’t talk about it.” (paraphrased)

It does pop up a lot and I’m not sure why. I just used it as a possible point of interest since I suck at describing music.

More mellow, folky slash alt-country slash indie goodness I’d recommend:

Sufjan Stevens (shiny happy folk music)
Cat Power (beautiul voice, ranges from Liz Phair style indie rock to sweet alt country depending on the album)
Amy Millan (female lead for Stars, which is also worth checking out though they’re less folky… start with anything Set Yourself on Fire, which is a gorgeous album from beginning to end)
Camera Obscura (like Belle and Sebastian, when they were still good)
The Decemberists (sea chanties for the hipster crowd)
Neko Case (stripped-down alt-country from the female lead for the New Pornographers, another one of my faves)

In keeping with the alt-country mellow folkie vibes,

I second Wilco
Neutral Milk Hotel
Bright Eyes

I will also add
Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos Skeleton Key
Ryan Adams - Come Pick Me Up I also really like the song “Hardest Part” but I couldn’t find a good video
The Weakerthans - A little more rocky, but incredible lyrics Aside
Josh Ritter - To The Dogs or Whoever
The Good Life - Album of the Year

Give 'em a listen, let me know whatchu thank.

“Indie” is kind of a blurry term in the music biz, perhaps jsgoddess would like to more narrowly define the scope of the Thread.
[li]Should “indie” only mean artists who fund and self-release their own albums and tour on their own dime?[/li][li]Artists signed to small labels who help with distribution only but no funding or tour support?[/li][li]Small labels who help with distribution as well as a recording budget and tour support?[/li][li]Small labels that have Major labels as parent companies providing the same distribution provided to acts signed directly to the major label? Are these artists still considered “indie?”[/li][/ul]

Without any criticism of the talent of the artists, I can’t help but raise an eyebrow at the mention of some of these artists in response to a recommendation for indie artists:

Tegan and Sara?
Regina Spektor?
Bright Eyes?
The Decemberists?
Ryan Adams???

“Indie” is an extremely blurry term, and I took it in its most fuzzy context; artists that do not get the radio and television play of their peers. She was looking for new music that she was not familiar with or did not have immediate access too.

No matter how established of an artist Jeff Tweedy or Regina Spektor are, they certainly do not compete (radio air-time wise) with the likes of Nickelback <shiver> or the Kate Winehouse / Lilly Nash clones.

But I think you might have known that already…

I think it’s pretty clear that in this case, OP was not using “Indie” to mean “independent.” The word has taken on a new meaning, and most if not all of the posters here get that.

Not meant to criticize, sorry if I came off too harsh. Just looking for clarification from the OP.

My own list includes artists who blur the line, so I myself was not applying the strictest interpretation of the term- and so did not want to seem I was imposing such strictness on other posters.

But, as it is a blurry term, I just wanted to get the OP’s opinion.

I will offer Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll confess to being high school friends with a member of each group but both bands, Vampire Weekend especially, have become quite popular in the last several months.

Mostly an attempt to get exposed to acts I might not find on my own. I know there are tons and tons of places to find music online, but it can be daunting (and time consuming) at the start.

So, by “indy/indie” I just meant “tell me about music that I woudn’t be as likely to run across on my own, and it can be as weird and non-commercial as you like!”

Does that clear it up or make it worse? :slight_smile: