Music from independent and unsigned artists is going from strength to strength nowadays. The world seems to be shifting. Major labels are no longer required. This means more freedom during the songwriting process which results in something that is more original. It also means that there are some stunning gems to be found.
I’d like to take this opportunity to share 5 EPs/albums that have stolen my attention this year. This has not been an easy list to compile, the top two kept swapping places as both are huge personal favorites of mine. But, again, it showcases the caliber of music that the indie scene generates.
Time for my top 5…
This one was a surprise to me when putting this list together. Through the hundreds of releases that have gone through my ears, this EP has gained a lot of airtime with me. Honestly, this one did not have a huge impact on the first few listens but it was subtle in stealing my attention. There is something special about this collection of songs, which include stunning lyrics and impressive guitar playing. “Ivory” and the stunning “Saftey Vest” confirms this is a dark horse that you need to be aware of.
4) Keppoch 59 by Nuclear Lullaby
Released at the start of the year, this album has continued to stand out with its ’90s grunge rock vibe. There are so many musicians out there who have done the same but not with this level of conviction. These guys have created something that is raw and edgy, and they’ve done it with confidence. Not only that but what they create is far from one dimensional. “Upgrade” shows how this band can bring the noise but “One of Many” slow things down to give the listener something equally as special. This all killer no filler album says “Hey, we are Nuclear Lullaby and this is how good we are.”
There is nothing better when you listen to music that throws the rule book out of the window. To ignore trends or what is cool at the moment and create something that just feels right. Earlier this year, James Forest released his album which was like a breath of fresh air. This collection of songs takes you on a journey with an ever-changing audio landscape. This folk-filled soundtrack features so many enchanting stories which are told with his delicate vocals. Of the ones on offer, “Queen of Art” and “A Season Away” really showcase his songwriting magic. My full review can be found here.
For me, 2017 has seen the world of rock music deliver some stunning releases. The caliber of what has been produced shows that this genre is far from dead. Standing tall from this crowd is that latest offering from Idlewar. These guys have created something that roars but knows how to ease off the power to share something as equally special. This is a band of the truest sense as everyone is an essential cog in this machine. This album knows what it wants to achieve. It does so and it takes no prisoners. With no weak track to be found, personal highlights will fight for your attention. But you find “Sing Loud” and “Hang” will have a strong chance of winning. My full review can be found here.
Personally, the world of soul music seems to lack that quality that the classics possess. Don’t get me wrong, there are some exceptions out there and Half Mile Harvest by The Teskey Brothers is one of them. There has only been a handful of modern-day artists that have been able to capture the classic tone of this genre without it sounding karaoke. Josh Teskey is someone whose voice has that special something that really stands out. When you listen to him perform on “Crying Shame” and “Pain and Misery,” the emotion and control of his voice are stunning.
As for the band, everyone chips in to ensure their sound is nothing but amazing. “Reason Why” has a slow, sexy bluesy feel that pulls you in which is aided by some wonderful guitar work from Sam Teskey. This helps to show off the Teskey Brothers’ softer side but they have more to offer than that. They can then raise the tempo and bring some energy, of which “Louisa” is a great example. It is albums like this which is why I love music.
Thus concludes my top 5 favorite indie albums from 2017. This has been a great year for music but I know 2018 will be even better. This is because I have seen many new EPs and albums scheduled for release from epic artists. A few of which could be my number one for that year.
Remember that independent music needs the help of their fans to grow. So, go support those artists/bands that matter to you today.