Map Ref. 39° N 76° W Dec. 10: Top 10 in indie music

Map Ref. 39° N 76° W Dec. 10: Top 10 in indie music

It’s hard to point to any one trend—or any trends, really—in indie, because, as has been established here and elsewhere, the term “indie” really has no currency. The loose jangle of Real Estate and the stoney slackerdom of Parquet Courts (see both below) are indie, and so too are the wubbing R&B of FKA twigs and looped synths of Caribou.

For me personally, 2014 was one of the best years for my 2005 self. What I mean by that is two bands that were especially influential to me nearly a decade ago, Spoon and Interpol, released albums that had me falling in love all over again. And you know what? That gets some bonus points—especially because my old Interpol shirt was shoved to the bottom of my dresser as something of an embarrassment (yes, the self-titled album was THAT bad). With Spoon, 2010’s “Transference” missed the mark a bit and then its inactivity after that caused the band to kind of fall off my radar, despite the finely tuned body of work that came before it.

"They Want My Soul" and "El Pintor" brought back the sounds and elements—a precise, stylish coolness and an icy postpunk gloom, respectively—that first lodged in my head space and packaged them in a new way that felt fresh and immediate. Suddenly, something I had pushed to the way-back burner was all I craved in my listening. Naturally, I went back and revisited the older stuff, and realized, "Oh yeah, ya dummy, there was a reason you loved these so long ago." That cycle of rediscovery has its own kind of intoxication. There's a part of fandom that requires a certain measure of loyalty, but it's OK to admit when one of your favorite artists releases a clunker, because nobody is perfect and they inevitably will. It's all the more satisfying when they dust themselves off and get right back on the horse.

  1. Spoon, “They Want My Soul” (Loma Vista)
  2. Interpol, “El Pintor” (Matador)
  3. Real Estate, “Atlas” (Domino Records)
  4. Perfect Pussy, “Say Yes To Love” (Captured Tracks)
  5. Sun Kil Moon, “Benji” (Caldo Verde)
  6. Lykke Li, “I Never Learn” (Atlantic)
  7. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, “Enter the Slasher House” (Domino Records)
  8. Angel Olsen, “Burn Your Fire For No Witness” (Jagjaguwar)
  9. Wye Oak, “Shriek” (Merge)
  10. Shellac, “Dude Incredible” (Touch and Go)