Now that the online music distribution services have made sharing new music a snap for indie artists around the world, building a list of the best music to come out this year has become a daunting task because there are so many great choices.
The following artists, in no particular order, have received accolades on a variety of sites dedicated to the indie music scene such as Pitchfork Media, making them an excellent place to start if you are interested in burning a blank CD-R to give away to friends and family members who are unfamiliar with the popular indie scene.
1. Bon Iver
Founded in 2007 by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon, Bon Iver is one of the hottest indie folk acts to come out recently, and this year’s self-titled album is considered by reviewers to be his best. Vernon has one of the most original voices in indie music, and has an interesting history as well, having recorded his first album in a backwoods cabin in rural Wisconsin after a series of misfortunes. His latest work is more experimental but also more mature.
This indie pop duo fronted by Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin was formed only last year, yet their music has spread like crazy. After quickly getting picked up and signed by Colombia Records, they released their first self-titled album this June. Cults possesses a pop aesthetic that reminds listeners of teen acts from the 50s and 60s.
3. Arcade Fire
While Arcade Fire has not released a new album this year, they have become one of the most famous indie acts around today, having won the Grammy in 2011 for Album of the Year with The Suburbs. Their latest album attempts to capture the nostalgia that everyone feels about the past as they reach maturity, and is said to have shown influence from Bruce Springsteen.
4. Smith Westerns
Smith Westerns charmed music lovers over a year ago with their “lo-fi” garage-rock sound, and though the sound of Dye It Blonde reflects higher production values, these artists are still considered to capture a youthful form of 90s British pop bands such as Oasis.
For those who want to return to the synth sounds of the early 80s, Destroyer’s Kaputt strongly evokes that era with its blend of smooth jazz and new romantic pop. Fronted by Dan Bejar, Destroyer’s latest release successfully captures the glamour and decadence of early 80s nightclub culture.
6. The War on Drugs
Slave Ambient, the second full-length album from this Philadelphia group, represents a more experimental departure from the traditional rock sound that has enabled reviewers to compare them to artists such as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. It combines elements from Krautrock and electronica with folk and country sounds.
Christopher Owens, the frontman for Girls, often receives press due to his childhood upbringing in the Children of God cult during the late 60s, and this latest album Father, Son, Holy Ghost reflects some of these religious influences. Indie fans love the way Girls is able to play just about anything, from the surf rock style of “Honey Bunny,” to the heavy metal influences found in “Die.”
While there are many great indie artists who haven’t been covered in this list, these will turn a blank CD-R into the perfect introduction for this ever-changing scene.
Brandi Tolleson graduated with her master's degree in 2007 and is now writing on the web about all sorts of topics.