But even in a down year, the genre is just so wide ranging in terms of the styles, sounds, and textures that fall under its umbrella, it still produced one of our most compelling themed mixes of 2019.
So settle back, and enjoy the lighter rock vibes of the fading in significance but still intriquing indie movement. Here's the Spotify link.
1. Please Won't Please - Helado Negro: We start with the opening cut from Ecuadorian-American, latinx artist Roberto Carlos Lange's magical sixth and best album This Is How You Smile (enthusiastic Solid Recommend), a Best Of The Best worthy album whose songs just seemed to play better here. As much electronic as indie, this so relaxed in feeling (though not message) album follows a pair of brothers as they go on a weekend stroll, with the older brother passing on all manner of little life instructions along the way. The conceit becomes a brilliant framework for thoughtfully exploring all manner of political, class, and identity issues, most anchored from a brown perspective, without ever becoming confrontational. One of 2019's essential listens, we'll hit another track from This Is How You Smile later in this mix.
2. Harmony Hall - Vampire Weekend: I think Nancy liked what was arguably the best indie album of 2019, Vampire Weekend's Father Of The Bride (Solid Recommend) even more than I did, grabbing both This Life and the Danielle Haim collar Married In A Gold Rush for her Vol 1 - Nancy's Favorites mix. Luckily though, we had different favorite tracks from this album, and the bouncy, multi-passaged Harmony Hall, with its stellar gospel-tinged chorus was unquestionably mine.
5. Gallipoli - Beirut: If like me, you were a fan of Beirut, one of the freshest and most appealing twee-indie acts of the mid-aughts, then there surprisingly solid 2019 release Gallipoli is going to feel like reconnecting with a great old friend after a long time apart. There's nothing particular new here, just that classic Balkanized, brass-heavy Beirut song, applied to a super sturdy set of tunes. We're highlighting two numbers from this winning effort, starting with the title track.
6. Sunday - Strange Ranger: Originally hailing from Montana as the band Souix Falls, now based out of Philadelphia, Stranger Ranger was hard at work in 2019 keeping the spirit of old school indie-rock and jangle pop vibrantly alive on second release as Strange Ranger Remembering The Rockets. Here we profile the album's strongest ballad Sunday.
11. Death In Midsummer - Deerhunter: From Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? More coming soon.
12. Fashionista - CHAI: We've already spotlighted high-energy J-Pop act Chai's sugar rush of positivity Punk (enthusiastic Solid Recommend) in Vol 2 - Best Albums Left. Here we take a listened to the album's most popular track, Fashionista.
25. Sympathy - Vampire Weekend: Our second inclusion on this mix from Father Of The Bride is a bit of an outlier for the band, far edgier and clanky than what one typically associates with Vampire Weekend, but the shift made a mark with the critics, as it ended up the top rated song from the album on many year end polls, most notably Pitchfork's best songs of 2019.
29. Varieties Of Exile - Beirut: One more fantastic number from one of the most surprising late career albums of 2019, Beirut's Gallipoli.
31: Leona - Strange Ranger: One more track from Philly-based indie-rockers Strange Ranger's Remembering The Rockets, this time the album's best song, Leona.
34. Imagining What To Do - Helado Negro: Tough call narrowing down to a second song from This Is How You Smile. Also considered the album's biggest hit Running and the fabulous Two Lucky (both on Vol 9 - The Next 100), but ultimately settled for Imagining What To Do here.