There are few things in life I enjoy more than proactively seeking out new music far away from the mainstream.
There is so much of it out there, created by so many off-the-radar musicians who are deserving of more recognition than they get, and I am always blown away by how many songs I can add to my regular rotation with just a weekend of patient but thoroughly enjoyable “work”.
Last April I posted a playlist entitled 17 Essential New Songs for Spring and now it is time to share this year’s playlist, officially titled Indie Christmas in July 2011 (name explained below), which features 18 terrific tunes, a nice balance of genres, and more than a few songs with truly spectacular videos.
I went through hundreds of songs at Indie Rock Cafe, Lost at E Minor, Waiting to Explode, and The Undercard, among others, to come up with this year’s list. It’s a rigorous process. Every song on the final list went through four or five different cuts. I even chopped two off after I thought I was done with cuts and ready to move on on the all-important song order. They didn’t fit anywhere though and weren’t knock-my-socks off awesome, so they got chopped; only the strongest survive.
So, needless to say, I’m very proud to present you with this playlist. I am quite pleased with it and excited to share (and listening to as I type this, of course). Even if you don’t like all of the songs, I hope you at least find one or a few to add to your music list that you might otherwise have never found. I trust that will be the case, which is why my 4th of July weekend labor of love was totally worth it.
Without further ado, here is Indie Christmas in July 2011.
[Note: Click on the artist name to learn more about them. Underneath the song, I provide a link to where I downloaded it from, except for the songs that were only available on iTunes.]
1. Candles on Open Water – 31Knots
This was the easy choice for the opener. To me, this is the most interesting song musically in the group. There is definitely a Yeasayer-type vibe to it that I quite dig.
2. Circuital – My Morning Jacket
I hesitated about whether to include this song, because My Morning Jacket is pretty well known now; but I found it at Indie Rock Cafe, and if they think MMJ is still worth of the indie label despite their increasing notoriety, I’m okay with that. Plus, it’s a great song, which is the most important thing of all.
3. Time Is of the Essence – Cold Mailman
I’m a huge fan of this video.
4. No Use in Runnin’ – Spree Wilson
My thanks to @AaronEPotter for alerting me to his blog The Undercard, which is where I found out about Spree Wilson. I downloaded his entire album and really like it. It was tough choosing just one song, but this one consistently made me turn the volume up and tap my foot, so it won out.
5. Fragile Bird – City and Colour
The great Dallas Green, aka City and Colour, is the only one to make last year’s playlist and this one. It’s not hard to see why: he’s a great songwriter and singer. Easy choice. Like My Morning Jacket, City and Colour is starting to get some pretty wide recognition, but for now Green still qualifies for this list.
This YouTube comment sums it up:
This guy is canada’s apology for justin beiber
6. If I Wanted Someone – Dawes
I absolutely love the honesty of the lyrics in the chorus:
If I wanted someone to clean me up, I’d find myself a maid;
If i wanted someone to spend my money, I wouldn’t even get paid;
If I wanted someone to understand me, I’d have so much more to say;
I want you to make the days move easy.
7. Wonder Why – Vetiver
8. Blacklight Horses – Matt Bauer
This is definitely the most haunting of the songs on this playlist, but it’s a beautiful song at the same time. This is one I wasn’t sure about initially, but it really grew on me.
9. Dancing With the DJ – The Knocks
10. Holy Grail – Tidelands
Incredibly, this video is comprised of over 1,000 hand-drawn watercolors. It is spellbinding.
11. A Conversation About Death on New Years Eve – Scattered Trees
12. Tarantula / Holding On – Delay Trees
13. Merrymake It With Me – The Republic Tigers
It’s hard to pick a favorite song, but as of this moment, I’d say it’s this one. That is subject to change though…
14. Turned Tables – Should
15. Madagascar – The Black Atlantic
16. Dig Down Deep – Vandaveer
17. Rising – Son Lux
Like “Candles on Open Water” this song has a very unique sound. It’s one of those I went back and forth on, but I ultimately had to include it. It’s unique, powerful, and it reminds me of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. See if you can figure out why…
18. Les Enfants Du Paridis – World’s End Girlfriend
As soon as I heard this song for the first time, I knew it would be the closer. No words, just right.
So…what do you think?
Which song is your favorite?
What awesome new indie songs can you add?
Your comments, positive and negative, are welcomed below, as are YOUR recommendations for new under-the-radar songs that everyone needs to be listening to.
I love supporting smaller, up-and-coming bands, so don’t hesitate to post links to bands or musicians you think are worthy.
Why the name “Indie Christmas”? For that, I must give credit to Edie and Nico, two of my best friends in the world, who four years ago started a tradition of making an indie song-laden Christmas CD that continues today. And because we all lived together in Indianapolis at the time, the name “Indie Christmas” had a fun, appropriate double meaning.
It is always one of my favorite gifts every Christmas, so I try to return the favor in the middle of the year. Their copies of Indie Christmas in July 2011 will be in the mail shortly.