The Guardian Indie

Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice
  1. Our pick of the year’s finest albums gathers break-up heartbreak, barbed British rap, impetuous indie and utopian rave. Check in every weekday as we count down to No 1

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  2. The offbeat, mesmerising songs on this breakup record are both seductively gorgeous and designed to set your teeth on edge

    In a year when the concept of self-partnership entered the lexicon thanks to a viral Emma Watson interview, a cache of pop anthems soundtracked the fledgling “single positivity” movement, from Lizzo’s Truth Hurts (“I put the sing in single”) to Selena Gomez’s Lose You to Love Me. Those looking for a more contemplative and perspicacious tribute to solo life may, however, be tempted by the contents of All Mirrors, the mesmerising fourth album by the American singer-songwriter Angel Olsen.

    A breakup record that muses on the nature of relationships without romanticising them, All Mirrors sees Olsen drill down into the damaging power-play of past loves, interrogating how they have made her feel less-than, as well as the self-knowledge and peace their endings have occasioned. On the spellbinding opener Lark, she chronicles the effect of a patronising partner; the sweetly stoned Too Easy covers the stupefaction of early-days infatuation; the tinny, quivering synthpop of New Love Cassette the self-negation that stems from being a one-person support system.

    Related:The 20 best songs of 2019

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  3. In the late 70s, the city’s bands set out to create the sound of the future – while trying to avoid getting beaten up. Jarvis Cocker and other leading lights recall a revolutionary scene

    Sheffield in 1977 had a slight feeling of being the city of the future,” recalls Jarvis Cocker. “I didn’t realise that it was all going to go to shit. It was Sheffield before the fall.”

    That pre-fall year is the starting point for a new box set: Dreams to Fill the Vacuum: The Sound of Sheffield 1977-1988. Familiar names appear – Pulp, Heaven 17, the Human League, ABC – but they are joined by a wealth of other acts, such as I’m So Hollow, Stunt Kites, They Must Be Russians and Surface Mutants, spanning punk, post-punk, indie and electronic with that droll outsider energy particular to South Yorkshire.

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  4. Sugarmill, Stoke-on-Trent
    With joy and candour, the 19-year-old songwriter brings the charms of grungy 90s indie to a new generation

    ‘I wish I was Stephen Malkmus,” sings Bea Kristi AKA Beabadoobee, referring to the 53-year-old singer-songwriter of US indie outfit, Pavement. The 19-year-old is paying homage to the fuzzy indie rock that inspired her; 90s acts such as Pavement, Sonic Youth and Mazzy Star aren’t obvious bands for a teenage girl to listen to in 2019, although by reacting against what her label calls “music that’s been styled to death”, the Filipina Londoner is making an impact. A YouTube video of her song Coffee notched up 300,000 views and has led to a deal with the 1975/Wolf Alice label Dirty Hit, a Britsrisingstar award nomination and millions of streams.

    None of which has, admittedly, entirely translated to a chilly night in Stoke, where a respectable, very vocal contingent of mostly teenage girls have come to cheer her on. Kristi is headlining a Dirty Hit bill that also includes bedroom star Oscar Lang and 1975 collaborator No Rome and she exudes unfettered, candid charm. “I need a pee so bad,” she admits.

    At Arts Club, Liverpool, 12 December. Then touring until 20 December.

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  5. Victoria Warehouse, Manchester
    Carl Barât and Pete Doherty’s punk-rock singsongs may be out of step with today’s reality, but they still have their old vigour

    When the Libertines emerged in 2004, the Londoners’ knockabout rock’n’roll and poetic lyrics about a mythical England had real cultural impact. Frontmen Carl Barât and Pete Doherty’s trademark, post-Clash blend of leather jackets, tight trousers and trilbies popped up in the high street and numerous bands were inspired by their blend of the Smiths, the Jam, Chas and Dave and music hall – though few bands now create what is so defiantly and convincingly their own world. The quartet stride on stage to the wartime sounds of Vera Lynn and turn a cavernous northern warehouse into a punk-rock East End singsong.

    On-stage collisions, hurled microphones and fiery banter have given way to an unlikely development: a tightly drilled, almost – gulp – slick rock band delivering their songs with the care they deserve. Doherty’s problems with addiction are well documented – and this year’s exploits have ranged from arrests to being injured by a hedgehog – but his new haircut takes years off him and his singing is as beautifully crumpled as his suit. There are no new songs (ahead of a projected fourth album), but the 22 they play stretch across their catalogue and so many remain gems.

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