As 2018 is coming to an end, it’s time to review this year in Indie music. With social media and more affordable music-making technology, Indie music is alive and well as artists that never would have made great music are coming to share their wonderful talents and share the space with bigger artists! Today, I want to highlight my favorite Indie Folk songs of this year, careful to choose an even mix of more well-known ones with the small hidden gems that might have gotten missed by people. So, in no particular order, here are my top 10 favorite Indie Folk songs:
“Raindrops” by Jesse Pedersen
Like the name of the song, Jesse represents raindrops with the various strings being plucked all at once. You get easily lost in a sea of notes accompanied by a voice and the occasional trickling of piano. There’s a beautiful amount of reverberation and multi-tracked voices that will bring tears to your ears as you close your eyes and listen to the music. You’ll feel like you’re soaring, just as Jesse describes he wants to do in this song. It’s a lush love song full of life that describes how you feel everything all at once when you’re with someone special.
“Beautiful” by Rosemary & Garlic
Rosemary & Garlic take another look at relationships, touching on the fact that they can often make two great people into something more amazing and beautiful than they ever can be on their own. Filled with a mixture of a supporting guitar, flighty piano, percussion, some brass, and a light voice full of life, it’s an orchestra of calm sounds that results in something wondrous and gorgeous.
“Glory Days” by James Ollier
James talks of the fear and excitement of leaving a small town in his song “Glory days”. Reflecting on old loves and other tales, James is humbled and quieted by everything he’s leaving behind, perhaps feeling some hesitation before deciding it’s time to leave. It’s a song filled with unknowns, with one of my favorite lines:
“We are the risk we take”
It’s a beautiful reminder that we have this one life to make things happen, so do what you can to follow your dreams.
“Realistic City Living” by Beta Radio
Beta Radio’s “Realistic City Living” is short and simple, much like the lives we lead that they discuss in this song. Filled with simple guitar chords, an improvisatory piano, and buttery vocal harmonies for the first half, they discuss our human obsession with finding purpose all while knowing that you and everything around you will all end at some point in the future. It’s frightening, but once you accept it, it’s calming in a macabre sort of way. The void comes calling in the form of the beautiful playing of banjo and violin that appears towards the second half before ending as all songs must.
“Waves of Galveston” by Iron & Wine
Sam Beam’s “Waves of Galveston” reminds me of the fear of growing up and never leaving a small town. He paints a picture of a place you’ve grown up in all your life and feel tied to, even if not much good has happened there. My favorite part is how Sam slowly layers in each element, beginning as he started many moons ago with just a voice and guitar before bringing in elements such as percussion and mandolin.
“I Don’t Feel Fine” by Fat Heart
Dominated by gentle guitar strumming and speech-like vocals, Fat Heart talks about the times when you feel like garbage but pretend in public like everything’s fine. You know you should really say how you’re feeling, but you don’t really know who would listen. The song ends on a positive note, with the thoughts of a loved one who you know you can talk to about this. Maybe they’re not here right this second, but you can’t wait to be able to see them soon and just vent.
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