Indie First Listens: Rock and the Unclassifiables

With the birth of the internet, it became very easy to have a music career. The inventions of streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify and Soundcloud offered more access than ever for musicians who wanted to get exposure. Even established record labels have been overwhelmed by the tidal wave of content emerging from their amateur competitors. Just recently Jan. 24 ten albums were released by separate underground labels. However, we’ll only be focusing on three.

The first album for consideration is “Get Tragic” by British rock duo Blood Red Shoes. This is what you think of when you think “indie music”: a slick combination of rock and modern pop. The opening song, “Eye To Eye,” is the best example of this, combining electronic production with rock. However, it leans more to the side of rock, with fuzz guitars and an aggressive delivery from front woman Laura-Mary Carter. All in all, it’s a sweet dose of rock with a bit of a kick to it.

The second record up for analysis is “amo” by British rock group Bring Me the Horizon. The production of the album was entirely handled by frontman Oliver “Oli” Sykes and keyboardist Jordan Fish. This is surprising, because the album has no unifying sound, with a tendency to adopt various different genres. The debut single, “MANTRA,” is a powerful hard rock starter. The third song, “nihilist blues,” sounds like a straight-faced pop song. The fifth track, “wonderful life,” is a metal song featuring Cradle of Filth founder Dani Filth. The sixth track, “medicine,” sounds like a song The Chainsmokers cooked up if they had talent. On their individual merits, all of these songs are great. All of them adhere lyrically, at least. Put in the context of the album, however, and it feels messy and disconnected. Please choose a sound and stick to it. The album isn’t bad, it’s just incoherent. If this is an issue for you, be sure to skip.

The final album up for criticism is “Highway Hypnosis” by Washington DC solo act Sneaks. This is probably the strangest offering of the lot. The album’s unifying sound can be best described as “What if Billie Eilish made trap music?” The album barely has any coherent songs or a unifying theme. It seems to exist just to let you vibe on it, in the same way you’d groove on psychedelic rock. If that was the goal, it’s extremely effective. It’s a good background noise for working or exercising. Recommended if you’re looking for something different.

There’s so much good music we often don’t hear. Either it doesn’t get radio play or the artist doesn’t have a fanbase big enough to draw attention to it online. We should be actively searching for new material, supporting talented, creative artists rather than let them drop into obscurity. We should get outside of our comfort zones, browsing Metacritic, Apple Music and Spotify for different options. If we never do, we might miss out on our new favorite song.