BEST INDIE SONGS - WEEK 5

1/27/20
Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

It's that awkward time of year when I have to act like I've seen the GRAMMYs, when in reality I'm writing this on Sunday morning before the ceremony has even aired. Just know I'll only be tuning in for ROSALÍA's performance and Vampire Weekend pulling an Arcade Fire circa 2011 and winning Album of the Year (come on, speak it into existence with me!). Anyways, who cares about Music's Biggest Night when we have the RADIOHEAD PUBLIC LIBRARY to keep us busy?

Check out this week's edition of We Are: The Guard's Best Indie Songs, featuring Hayley Williams, ROSALÍA, Cage the Elephant, and more!

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HAYLEY WILLIAMS – SIMMER

She recently set Twitter on fiyah with the news she'll be releasing a solo album, and now we finally have the first taste of Hayley Williams' Petals for Armor: “Simmer.” As the title suggests, it's an intensely brooding cut that couldn't be further from After Laugher's candy-colored pop, with Radiohead-like syncopation flanking a quietly searing, vengeful Hayley.

 

ROSALÍA – JURO QUE

Having made a household name for herself in 2019 with pop bangers à la “Con Altura,” ROSALÍA is returning to her Spanish roots with “Juro Que.” The song is dizzying flamenco spectacle written from the perspective of a woman longing for the release of her incarcerated lover, with ROSALÍA taking on the lead role with dramatic mob-wife finesse.

 

SOKO – BEING SAD IS NOT A CRIME

Soko celebrates both the highs and lows of life on the groovy “Being Sad Is Not a Crime.” “Being sad is not a crime/So don't make me the bad guy/Don't make me the bad guy,” croons the French chanteuse on the song – a psychedelic slow jam that gradually pulls you into its loving embrace with its blend of gooey, viscous guitars and comforting vocals.

 

MITSKI – COP CAR

The Turning wasn't exactly at the top of my must-see movie list, but Mizz. Mitski may have just changed that with her eerie contribution to the soundtrack. “Cop Car” is a ferociously cinematic composition that makes use of grunge's quiet-loud dynamics to evoke a gradual mental unraveling, with Mitski presiding over the haunting swirl like a disembodied spirit.

 

CAGE THE ELEPHANT (FEAT. IGGY POP) – BROKEN BOY

Bowling Green's Cage the Elephant join forces with the legendary punk icon Iggy Pop for this remix of “Broken Boy.” Listen as Iggy – who returned with his eighteenth album Free last year – contributes both a verse and backing vocals to the Social Cues opener, with the 72-year-old injecting the cut with a vial of his seemingly interminable raw power (geddit?).

 

THE NAKED AND FAMOUS – BURY US

Having returned last year with the utterly ecstatic “Sunseeker,” The Naked and Famous are continuing to bring joy into 2020 with “Bury Us.” It's the kind of song guaranteed to give you a burst of dopamine – even on a Monday morning – with the lyrics touching on the explosive chemical cocktail one feels when falling in love: “Heartbreak/Bliss, hysteria!”

 

YUMI ZOUMA – COOL FOR A SECOND

Coinciding with the announcement of Truth or Consequences – due out in March – Yumi Zouma have shared the pillowy “Cool for a Second.” The follow-up to “Right Track / Wrong Man” hears the New Zealanders continuing to refine their soft, dreamy sound, with frontwoman Christie Simpson's featherlight dulcet tones singing about a long-distance relationship gone wrong.

 

WYE OAK – FEAR OF HEIGHTS

This is sublime. Wye Oak explore the fragility and vulnerability that comes with giving yourself over to another on “Fear of Heights.” Built upon a metaphor that compares falling in love to climbing a tall building, and the “fear that increases with every step upwards,” “Fear of Heights” is a glorious poem that resonates deeply in the chest long after listening.

 

BROOKE BENTHAM – CONTROL

Ahead of the release of Everyday Nothing in February, Brooke Bentham has shared the engrossing “Control.” While its crunchy guitars and thumping drums are very much rooted in the early 90s, the song's subject matter couldn't be more modern-day, with Brooke's lyrics viscerally bringing to life the soaring paranoia of getting ghosted in the digital age.

 

ST. FRANCIS HOTEL (FEAT. PORTUGAL. THE MAN) – MILKSHAKE

St Francis Hotel enlist Portugal. The Man's John Gourley for the silky “Milkshake.” According to a press release, this sparklingly soulful, funky groover was inspired by the recent trend of throwing milkshakes at right-wing figures, with smooth basslines assisting John as he sings: “Could I offer you (a milkshake)/For you and your goons?” Delicious...

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Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

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Jess Grant is a frustrated writer hailing from London, England. When she isn't tasked with disentangling her thoughts from her brain and putting them on paper, Jess can generally be found listening to The Beatles, or cooking vegetarian food.