The Killers debut single Mr Brightside was arguably the first great song of the new millennium. It’s an extraordinary claim I know. You simply can’t overlook its impact on indie rock in the early 00’s. It had almost everything, soaring guitars, synth-addled textures and a rousing chorus about jealously and betrayal that we still hear today loud and clear. Fast forward some seventeen years and Indie music continues to evolve from the back-to basics guitar rock that emerged into the mainstream in the early 2000’s. From great acts like Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys to Big Thief and Phoebe Bridgers (and everything else in between) there is a reason why most of us wake up everyday to rejoice in its eclectic ethos. In truth I could talk about Indie music and the artists I love most until I go blue in the face. But for now I hope you will check out these three indie acts here below that are making waves this week. Enjoy!
Annie Hamilton – ‘Exist’.
Back in 2019 I had the opportunity to speak with rising indie musician Annie Hamiliton about her sprawling indie rock. In her short solo career so far, if there is one thing that comes to mind about the spirit of her music, it is definitely her sense of playful wonder and finding beauty in the chaos of everyday life. And so, two years on and at the heart of Hamilton’s new single Exist is a cathartic indie rocker that is both reflective and dreamy. Of the track, Hamilton says “I wrote this song in the middle of lockdown last year, about someone very close to me who was going through a difficult time. It’s about focusing on the small things when you cannot control the big things.”
For the record, yeah I’m a big fan of Hamilton. She’s slowly building a name for herself, not by luck, but by her sheer tenacity to succeed, and really would you expect anything less from an Australian?
Big Thief -‘Little Things’.
Far from being idle, Big Thief’s front woman Adrianne Lenker and guitarist Buck Meek both released solo projects last year after the pandemic put a halt to touring. While both released admirable projects, I personally believe they are better together than alone off on individual projects. Though I have to admit Lenker is courageous no matter what she does. That said, Big Thief, one of the best acts of 2019, only last week released Little Things, one of two new tracks (the other is Sparrow). Little Things interestingly follows acclaimed releases UFOF and Two Hands and builds upon the sound and vision encapsulated on both albums. Little Things is seemingly the perfect re-introduction to Big Thief’s indie rock sound. The attack of electric guitars with Lenker’s trademark aching vocals leads us through a journey of love and longing before disappearing into the ether. Of the track, Big Thief drummer, James Krivchenia had some interesting insights to share: “It’s in this sort of evolving free time signature where the beat is always changing, so Max [Oleartchik, bassist] and I were just flowing with it and guessing where the downbeats were – which gives the groove a really cool light feeling.”
The Killers – ‘Pressure Machine’.
The Killers have been around for some twenty years since forming in 2001. If they were to celebrate their 20th anniversary this year (I’m not sure bands still do that?), what a perfect way to do it with the release of their seventh studio album Pressure Machine. The Killers catalogue is crammed full of oddities, styles and homage to the great acts of the past such as Oasis and Bruce Springsteen. Crucially, the new album is another successful step in a different direction, one which sees them tread an Americana feel. Pressure Machine is a concept album born of lockdown seclusion according to frontman Brandon Flowers. The album reflect upon the nature of small towns, its people, outsiders and ideas of isolation. Arguably the coolest thing about the album are the audio soundbites you hear at the beginning of songs that captures the real-life stories of locals from Nephi, Utah. While it’s a lot less indie rock than you’d expect, it is nonetheless a great listen. What makes it great is the empathy we hear in its lyrics something that is synonymous with Americana and heartland rock. From the opening track of West Hills to Runaway Horse (which features indie darling Phoebe Bridgers), you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I’m saving the new Big Thief song until the album comes out. I’ve heard from other people it’s good too.
Three solid tunes here – I always pay attention to anything new from Big Thief these days and while I’ve steered way clear of the Killers for years I’m liking what I’ve heard from Pressure Machine so far
I really like “Exist”, and understand your affinity for Annie Hamilton. And I’m a big fan of the Killers, and adore Brandon Flowers’ voice. Have only had time to listen to a few songs off the new album, but will remedy that soon.