The Guardian Indie

Latest news and features from, the world's leading liberal voice
  1. (Columbia)

    The debut album from 18-year-old Hertfordshire singer-songwriter Declan McKenna suggests that the “voice of a generation” hyperbole he’s already attracted might be a little premature, yet there is much here that impresses. He certainly stands out from his peers, his hook-laden indie coming with atypically socially aware lyrics, whether at a macro (Fifa corruption on Brazil) or micro level (the bullying of transgender teens on Paracetamol). There’s a pleasing maturity to his tunes, too, the verses of Make Me Your Queen echoing Roddy Frame at his best. The rousing Isombard is equally good, but the quality control isn’t maintained, his choruses occasionally sounding laboured. Still, there’s promise in abundance here.

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  2. (Marathon Artists)

    Childhood’s 2014 debut album Lacuna bore the psych-indie-pop, Stone Roses-lite hallmarks of that moment, as shared by artists such as Peace, Swim Deep and Gengahr to name but a few. Fast forward three years and – similarly to Birmingham’s Superfood – the Brixton five-piece are less aligned with specific trends, and are instead playfully tapping into old-school pop and retro soul for a free and pleasingly experimental follow-up, recorded in Atlanta.

    Californian Light – an ode to London, despite the name – boasts breezy beats and nostalgic falsetto of the non-boyband kind from frontman Ben Romans-Hopcraft, while Cameo taps into the euphoric, proggy side of psychedelia that their debut largely eschewed in favour of the introspective side. Elsewhere, Melody Says is unchallenging in terms of its Euro indie-pop form, but its Franglais (“Melody said she’s right / Melody avait raison”, with the occasional “C’est commeça” poking through) makes it effortlessly chic in a Breton-top-and-skinny-jeans sort of way. Likewise, the piano-led title track is sparkly but paredso far back you feel as though you’re there in the studio. While there’s still room to push it further, Childhood are clearly coming of age.

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  3. Nina Simone, Warren Zevon and Corb Lund are among the artists stuck in various states of mire for this week’s reader-curated playlist

    Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from hundreds of suggestions on last week’s callout. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.

    Sometimes, to extricate oneself from a sticky situation, it’s necessary to grasp the nettle and press boldly on without fear of let or hindrance. Accordingly, let me say from the outset that I don’t think there’s enough of the extended Cyrus family in the Marconium. While disappointingly there were no Miley or Billy Ray tracks nominated this week, young Noah Cyrus flew the flag – nailing the topic concisely with our opener: I’m Stuck. It’s a bit of an earworm, so, fittingly, should be stuck in your head all day.

    I’ll warn you, if cornered, I’ll scratch my way out of the pen
    Wired, an animal
    The claustrophobia begins.

    When you come I feelin’ better
    Sky is blue you say forever
    Ooh, ooh, I’ve been trapped by love.

    Can’t go west
    Can’t go east
    I’m stuck in Indianapolis with a fuel pump that’s deceased.

    The Chev got stuck and the Ford got stuck
    But the Chev unstuck when the Dodge showed up
    But the Dodge got stuck in the tractor rut
    Which eventually pulled out the Ford.

    Confined within these four walls I plan my great escape...
    And day after day you want me to do this once more... with feeling...
    Eat Work Sleep.

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  4. (Merge)

    A messy postmortem of a bad relationship, Katie Crutchfield’s fourth album as Waxahatchee is thrillingly alive with recrimination, regret and release. Opening with a storm of bright, serrated guitars, it’s also her best, most arresting collection yet. Recorded with Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth collaborator John Agnello, there’s no filler among these 10 songs, from the summer-breezily defiant Silver, via the grungy swing and swagger of Brass Beam, to the rueful Belly-ish balladry of A Little More. Among the best is Sparks Fly, a soft awakening in which Crutchfield sheds guilt and thrills in her single self: “I see myself through my sister’s eyes/ I’m a live wire, electrified.”

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  5. (Communion Records)

    It’s a music industry story as old as time: DIY folkie signs to major, becomes tired of compromise, leaves label and sets off on tour across South America, sustained exclusively by the food and makeshift beds provided by fans and their families. The “if you book me a gig, I’ll come and stay” method Lucy Rose employed throughout Latin America, where she has an unexpectedly healthy audience, rejuvenated her career, but her globetrotting exploits have had no influence on her willowy sound.

    There are flecks of the retro chic of noughties revivalist Rumer on Not Good at All, and the mellower end of UK noughties indie – Turin Brakes – on Soak It Up. Moirai quivers with smooth sentimentality, and the album’s highlight, Second Chance, is just the right dose of chintzy lounge pop. It may have been born from a place of disruption in Rose’s life, but Something’s Changing is unabashed easy listening to its core.

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