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Overlooked Indie Albums Vol. I

I got to reminiscing over a lot of older gems in my music library, some with a ton of personal meaning. It started to get me thinking about some of the albums I routinely forget about, and how much better they sound when I revisit them because the novelty still hasn't worn off. Here's 10 of my absolute favorite under- the-radar indie albums, with explanations (some taken straight from old reviews of mine, I'll admit) that hold a special place in my heart. I hope that if you haven't heard a handful of these, you'll at least pick 1 that sticks out to you and give it a spin. You might be surprised with what you find.
1Papercranes
Let's Make Babies In The Woods


Hailing from Gainesville, Florida, Papercranes is not exactly a household name in
folk/alternative rock. In fact, everything about them begs to be left alone. Their raw sound
doesn?t aim to please anyone besides themselves, and their work is an indication of the
reclusive style that they integrate into their music. They seem to march to the beat of their
own drum, and their albums are undoubtedly better off for it. Papercranes? sophomore effort,
Let?s Make Babies in the Woods, is a spiraling stream of consciousness expedition into front
woman Rain Phoenix?s mind, a black and white soundscape of hurt and abandonment. With
folk and psychedelic influences as the impetus, everything from Phoenix?s tortured wails to the
music?s underlying depression is put on full display during this unpolished gem.
2Steve Mason
Monkey Minds In The Devil's Time


This only came out a year ago, and even though it was easily afforded a top 5 position on my
end-of-year list, it seemed to pass by the rest of the populace largely unnoticed. The best
way I could describe it is "progressive indie", even though that's not exactly a style you hear
about. Sometimes his vocals remind me of Roger Waters, set to a mid-2010's theme of
sprawling, gorgeous instrumental work and depressed, borderline suicidal lyricism. It is also
a very worldly album, touching on topics such as the British government and police brutality.
This is one of those albums that if the entire face of the Earth is wiped clean by an enormous
asteroid and only one album survives for future evolved species or settling aliens to discover,
I sure as shit hope it is this and not the new Ariana Grande.
3Mimicking Birds
EONS


So maybe this one just hasn't had a chance yet. Released earlier this year (2014), it just
doesn't seem to be getting the exposure it deserves. There's a distinct alt-rock atmosphere
akin to Modest Mouse or Brand New, but its heavy acoustic reliance simultaneously allows it to
enter the Sam Beam arena of folk. It's as hard of an album to pin down as any, but that's
part of what makes it so damn engaging. I can't predict whether or not you'll love EONS, but
I can promise you two things: (1) you'll get lost in it and (2) you won't be bored.
4The Milk Carton Kids
Prologue


The Milk Carton Kids have crafted a masterpiece of minimalist folk. The magic of this record
doesn?t lie in the technical prowess of the musicians - not because they lack the skill - but
because they find ways to inject the album with the subtle qualities that a classic is made of:
sad-but-hopeful vocals, winding guitars reminiscent of a river bend, and melodies capable of
bringing an entire genre to its knees. And all of this is written, performed, and accomplished
in the most unassuming way; in a fashion reminiscent of ?good old indie?, before the scene
became a breeding ground for every man with an acoustic guitar and clever one-liner.
Prologue possesses the atmosphere of a rural indie-folk album and the alternative edge of an
Elliott Smith record. Always instrumentally intriguing, Prologue remains close to your heart
while it sweeps over you with layers of brilliant harmonies and chords.
5Horse Feathers
House With No Home


House With No Home is like a winter spent in the countryside. A fresh blanket of snow covers
the hills; horse-drawn wagons trot along in the street, leaving a trail of tiny hoof prints
behind. It?s very rural, it?s very wintry, and it?s all contained within a dense, tangible
atmosphere. Careful acoustic strumming and swelling violin sections make the visualization of
that atmosphere simple, all the while gracing your ears with some of the most breathtaking
soundscapes to be found since Bon Iver?s For Emma, Forever Ago. The music allows you feel
every snowflake that lands on your face, as well as the glow and warmth of a fireplace as you
settle into the most comfortable nook of your quaint log cabin. House With No Home is, for all
intents and purposes, a quintessential indie winter album that should not be overlooked by
fans of soft, acoustic-driven music.
6Hey Marseilles
To Travels and Trunks


"I will sit back, relax and watch the mountaintops burn?Our lives are lonely enough without
destruction." The previous excerpt is from Hey Marseilles? ?Hold the Morning?, an anthem
surging with optimism and an unprecedented blend of emotion, quaint indie-folk, sweeping
strings, and good old rock n? roll. It is the kind of song that is personalized enough to make it
feel like it was written just for you, but comprehensive enough to make sappy film writers
gush with praise. The band?s soft-pedalled debut To Travels & Trunks is a vessel for that kind
of song, delivering one confident but modest gem after another. From the gorgeous, ice-
dipped pianos on ?Marseilles? to the eccentric, swaying orchestral rhythm present on ?From a
Terrace?, Hey Marseilles just might have created one of the most effortlessly rewarding
albums of the past few years.
7Annuals
Be He Me


As a whole, Be He Me can best be described as refreshing. It may borrow influences from
very popular icons (the aforementioned Animal Collective and Broken Social Scene, as well as
a dash of Arcade Fire), but it still sounds completely genuine. The album?s sound alternates
between woodsy, folk-inclined indie and bouncy, quick-witted pop, and although it may not be
twelve tracks of pure gold, it still has more gold than anyone could possibly complain about
receiving. Annuals have created an outstanding, if not essential, record for indie music fans.
Between its rich, enveloping atmosphere and its ability to simultaneously get you tapping your
feet, Be He Me really is an album that won?t fade from memory any time soon.
8Armistice
Armistice


At just five songs spanning a mere sixteen minutes, the debut EP by this gifted pair of indie
musicians is easily digestible, and it is bursting at the seams with reggae, mariachi, and
flamenco influences that give the album a tropical atmosphere. There is not one moment that
lacks intrigue, catchiness, and exotic imagery; and all of the songs are connected with the
flow and grace of a soundtrack to a classic film. Lush and confident, Armistice will sweep over
you like a salty beach breeze, evoking a love-drenched feeling akin to watching the sun set
with a beautiful woman by your side. In the meanwhile, the ice in your fruity cocktail begins
to melt and slowly trickle from the lime wedge down the side of the glass, creating a dark ring
in the sand below. Let Armistice transport you to this destination - a place where warmth is
everywhere, from your sun-stained cheeks to the love swelling deep within your heart.
9Quiet Company
We Are All Where We Belong


This album is different from most of the others on this list because it's almost pop-punk. It's
not though. It's like if Jimmy Eat World, Mae, and Death Cab For Cutie morphed into one
completely humble and unassuming super-group. Everything about this album is genuine, and
you can tell by the down-to-earth lyrics. On top of that, it possesses tremendous flow and
balance. You can rock out to We Are All Where We Belong just as easily as you can go for a
quiet nighttime drive down city streets with it. It doesn't have one overriding characteristic,
which makes it an excellent listen whether you're feeling up, down, or somewhere in between.
10Great Northern
Trading Twilight For Daylight


One would be hard-pressed to find an album that is as soothing, memorable, and exciting as
Trading Twilight for Daylight. It is an essential indie album in just about every aspect, and it
rarely (if ever) falters into recycled ideas or trends. The record is all-encompassing; from the
basically perfect vocal combination of Bixler and Stolte to the restrained, yet free-flowing
instrumentals and overall production. Trading Twilight for Daylight feels like a wintry dream.
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