The Guardian Indie

Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice
  1. The frontman of Vampire Weekend on a hilarious movie review show spoof, the Obamas’ new film and African country music

    Born inNew York City in1984,Ezra Koenig studied English atColumbia University before becoming a teacher inBrooklyn. In 2005/6 he formedindie rock bandVampire Weekend, of which he islead vocalist and guitarist. Since their 2008 eponymous debut album, the band have released three more, including 2013’s Grammy-winning Modern Vampiresofthe City and this year’s Fatherofthe Bride. Since 2015 Koenig has presented a fortnightly radio show,Time Crisis With Ezra Koenig. Vampire Weekend play London’s Alexandra Palace on13 and 14 November.

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  2. (Moshi Moshi)

    Indie bands have done R&B before – you will have heard of the xx. Now, with genre boundaries more porous than ever, swapping lo-fi pop for R&B shouldn’t feel like an audacious act. This album does. One record ago, Girl Ray were a fresh-faced, lo-fi pop three-piece whose videos featured games of rounders. Now, their second outing suggests a burgeoning north London version of Haim or, perhaps, Broadcast playing the songs of Everything But the Girl.

    Show Me More, released last summer, may have found Poppy Hankin, Iris McConnell and Sophie Moss still riding bicycles in the video, but their disco tune offered vastly increased quotients of slinkiness and soul. The hazy title track, meanwhile, nods to Tom Tom Club, with a swirling keyboard motif underlining how much has changed in this trio’s outlook. House piano, a rapper – PSwuave – and, on Beautiful, a reggae lilt, all have their place on Girl. These moves are still tentative, and talk of artistic progression is often the kiss of death, but Girl Ray have moved out of a place of limitations into more kaleidoscopic musicality.

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  3. (Moshi Moshi)
    The British trio have pivoted from jangly indie to pop, but the best bits of their second album lie in the spaces in between

    Girl Ray’s 2017 debut album, Earl Grey, was a very particular kind of record: an indie album in a style that would have been completely familiar to someone tuning in to Radio 1 at 10pm on a Monday night in the mid-80s.

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  4. (PW Elverum & Sun)
    A set of disconcertingly painful songs about the end of his first relationship after the death of his wife finds Phil Elverum at sea in sadness

    It is the least of the unfairnesses to befall Phil Elverum that a late-career popularity surge came thanks to his candour about the death of his wife. As the Microphones, and then Mount Eerie, he had spent 20 years pushing lo-fi songwriting into profound and unwieldy places. Then, in 2016, Geneviève Castrée died from cancer. A 2017 album, A Crow Looked at Me, was uncharacteristically prosaic: the arrival of a backpack that Castrée had ordered for their infant daughter spelled out his desolation. Like Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree, the album’s beauty attracted morbid sympathy from outside the usual quarters.

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  5. (KOLA Records/!K7)
    The Bloc Party frontman’s fourth solo album takes in Grenfell and Windrush to make the political personal

    Kele Okereke has lived many musical lives. In his early 20s he was the frontman of indie rock band Bloc Party; as he neared 30, he transitioned into a lo-fi dance producer with solo records The Boxer and Trick. At 35, he became a father and opened his heart on the folk LP Fatherland. This year, he even wrote a musical, Leave to Remain, which advocated for equal marriage against a backdrop of dance music and west African high life. On 2042, his fourth solo record, he goes some way to combining all his personas in one place for the first time, fusing genres as he spans themes that are both intimate and universal.

    So named to reference the year that census data predicts ethnic minorities will become the majority in the US, 2042 is perhaps Okereke’s most directly political work to date. There are references to Colin Kaepernick and Grenfell – the latter on the surging, growling standout track Let England Burn. But with 16 tracks of disparate genres and themes, the album feels disjointed at times. Catching Feelings, with its breathy falsetto and romantic guitar riff, is a disarmingly lovely song about being commitment-phobic – and after it fades out, the listener is plunged straight into David Lammy’s famous speech on the Windrush scandal.

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