The links on this
page are to YouTube videos of songs released in the last four
years that I particularly enjoy. Many — but not all of them
— fall into the indie-pop genre. Where possible, I've linked
to official videos posted by the artist or the relevant music
I don't claim that the albums listed for each year are the "best" of that year; I don't listen to enough material to make that judgment. They're simply my favorites from among what I've heard.
Many of the songs are by artists from the U.K. or elsewhere in Europe, most of whom I learned about by listening on-line to the BBC's commercial-free 6Music radio station (thanks British taxpayers!).
For almost three hours (plus whatever comercials get inserted) of listening pleasure, here's the 2012 playlist of all 46 songs listed below. There's a 2011 playlist as well. [Note that, unfortunately, the volume levels vary from song to song.]
For music released prior to 2009, I have a ridiculously long and incomplete list of favorites, which by now includes many broken links.
Five Albums from 2012
Of Monsters And Men: My Head Is An Animal
Django Django: Django Django
Allo Darlin': Europe
(London; lead singer from Australia)
Best Coast: The Only Place
and two songs from each:
"Lose My Way"
"The Only Place"
"Let's Go Home"
|Thirty-Six Other Songs from 2012|
New(ish) non-U.S. Artists:
Bat For Lashes: "Laura" (London/Brighton, England)
First Aid Kit: "Wolf" (Sweden)
The xx: "Chained" (London)
Jake Bugg: "Lightning Bolt" (Nottingham, England)
Vaccines: "No Hope" (London)
Smoke Fairies: "Let Me Know" (Sussex, England)
Cheatahs: "The Swan" (London)
Two Door Cinema Club: "Sleep Alone" (Northern Ireland, UK)
Eugene McGuinness: "Lion" (London)
Michael Kiwanuka: "Home Again" (London; parents from Uganda)
Gotye: "Somebody That I Used To Know" (feat. Kimbra) (Australia; born in Belgium)
New(ish) U.S. Artists:
Milo Greene: "1957" (Los Angeles)
"Take A Step"
Santigold: "The Keepers" (Philadelphia)
Polica: "Lay Your Cards Out" (Minneapolis)
Friends: "I'm His Girl" (Brooklyn, NY)
Dum Dum Girls: "Season In Hell" (Los Angeles)
School of Seven Bells: "The Night" (New York)
Frankie Rose: "Know Me" (New York)
Allah-Las: "Tell Me (What's On Your Mind)" (Los Angeles)
Established (and Comeback) Artists:
Shins: "Simple Song" (US)
Patti Smith: "Mosaic" (US)
Jack White: "Love Interruption" (US)
Cat Power: "Manhattan" (US)
Regina Spektor: "All The Rowboats" (US via Russia)
Bobby Womack: "Stupid"1 (US)
Susanna Hoffs:2 "Raining" (US)
Bob Mould: "The Descent" (US)
Beth Orton: "Call Me The Breeze" (UK)
Dexys:3 "Free" (live; warning: f*** word) (UK)
Maximo Park: "Hips And Lips" (UK)
Florence + The Machine: "Spectrum" (UK)
The Cribs: "Glitters Like Gold" (UK)
Mokoomba: "Njoka" (Zimbabwe)
Amadou & Mariam: "Oh Amadou" (feat. Bertrand Cantat) (Mali)
1. Bobby Womack's album was co-producered by Damon Albarn (of Blur and Gorillaz fame).
2. Susanna Hoffs is the ex-lead-singer of the Bangles. Most of this fan-made video uses old clips, but the first photo in the video is the cover of Susanna's current CD. Yes, she's 54 years old, and she looks great.
3. You'll probably remember lead singer Kevin Rowland from when the band was called Dexys Midnight Runners (of "Come On Eileen" fame). This song is from the first album using the Dexys name in 27 years.
Five Albums from 2011
Abigail Washburn: City of Rufuge
(all over the U.S.; now Nashville)
Emmy the Great: Virtue
(Hong Kong; London)
PJ Harvey: Let England Shake1
Veronica Falls: Veronica Falls
Wild Flag:2 Wild Flag
(Portland; Washington, DC)
and two songs from each:
"Last Train" (live)
"Paper Forest (In The Afterglow of Rapture)"
"The Words That Maketh Murder" (live)
"The Glorious Land"
"Something Came Over Me"
|Twenty-Eight Other Songs from 2011*|
New(ish) non-U.S. Artists:
Laura Marling: "Sophia" (London)
Vaccines: "If You Wanna" (London)
Wombats: "Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)" (Liverpool)
Florence + the Machine: "What The Water Gave Me" (London)
Those Dancing Days: "I'll Be Yours" (Sweden)
Katzenjammer: "I Will Dance (When I Walk Away)" (live) (Norway)
Young Galaxy: "We Have Everything" (Vancouver/Montreal)
New(ish) U.S. Artists:
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: "Heart In Your Heartbreak"4 (NYC)
Lana Del Rey: "Video Games" (New York; Connecticut)
Dum Dum Girls: "Bedroom Eyes" (California)
Canasta: "Mexico City" (Chicago)
Smith Westerns: "Weekend" (Chicago)
Madeline: "Hurry Up Pronto" (um...)
R.E.M.: "It Happened Today" (um...)
Paul Simon: "Rewrite"5 (New York)
Arctic Monkeys: "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" (Sheffield, Eng.)
Brett Anderson6: "Crash About To Happen" (West Sussex, England)
Gruff Rhys7: "Sensations In The Dark" (Wales)
Foo Fighters: "Dear Rosemary"8 (Seattle)
Robyn: "Call Your Girlfriend" (Sweden)
Tinariwen: "Imidiwan Ma Tenam" (Toureg people; Mali)
Vieux Farka Toure: "Sokosondou" (Mali)
And a Holiday Song:
Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler9: "Home For The Holidays" (England)
Too Pretty or Too Powerful to Omit (some artists already listed):
The Decemberists: "January Hymn"
Emmy the Great: "Trellick Tower"
PJ Harvey (vocal by John Parish) : "The Colour of the Earth"
Military Wives Choir10: "Wherever You Are"11 (two British army bases)
* This list has been slightly edited since it was first posted. Technically, a couple of these songs were released in 2010, but I first heard them in 2011.
1. Let England Shake is the consenous music critic's choice as the top album released in 2011. In PJ Harvey's words, the album is the result of viewing herself as a "war songwriter" capturing the experience of soldiers in a way similar to what a war photographer does.
2. Two of the members of Wild Flag were in the band Sleater-Kinney.
3. On David Letterman, a live version of Romance that lead Paul Shaffer to call Wild Flag his "new favorite band".
4. This song is also on my 2010 list; the single was released in 2010, the album on which it appears in 2011. 5. The higher-pitched string instrument on this song – the one that sounds a little like a harp – is an African instrument called a kora.
6. Brett Anderson has released four solo albums, but was the singer and one of the songwriters for the five albums released by Suede.
7. Gruff Rhys has released three solo albums; he was also the singer and songwriter for the ten albums released by Super Furry Animals.
8. Featuring Bob Mould. On Conan O'Brien, a live version with Mr. Mould.
9. Tim Wheeler is also a member of the group Ash.
10. The Military Wives Choir grew out of a BBC television show; here's Billboard's version of the choir's back story.
11. Here's the Military Wives Choir making everybody in the audience cry by performing this song at a Remembrance Day concert.
Six Albums from 2010
Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
Jenny and Johnny:1 I'm Having Fun Now
Laura Marling:2 I Speak Because I Can
Local Natives: Gorilla Manor
Standard Fare: The Noyelle Beat
Two Door Cinema Club:3 Tourist History
and a sample song from each:
"We Used to Wait" (Montreal)
"Big Wave" (Los Angeles)
"Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)" (London)
"Camera Talk" (Silver Lake, California)
"Philadelphia" (Sheffield, England)
"Something Good Can Work" (Northern Ireland)
|Thirty Other Songs from 2010*|
New(ish) U.K. (and Ireland) Artists:
Erland and the Carnival: "Trouble in Mind" (various U.K.)
Johnny Flynn (with Laura Marling; live): "The River" (London)
Kurran and the Wolfnotes: "Your Four Limbs" (various; England based)
Slow Club: "Giving Up On Love" (Sheffield, England)
Smoke Fairies: "Hotel Room" (Chichester, England)
Frank Turner: "Try This At Home" (England (born in Bahrain))
Villagers: "Becoming a Jackel" (Dublin, Ireland)
New(ish) U.S. Artists:
Avi Buffalo: "What's It In For?" (Long Beach, California)
Best Coast: "Boyfriend" (California)
Maps & Atlases: "Solid Ground" (Chicago)
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: "Heart In Your Heartbreak" (NYC)
Warpaint: "Undertow" (Los Angeles)
Allison Weiss: "Fingers Crossed"4 (now Brooklyn)
The Orkids: "Paper Dolls" (now Atlanta)
Belle and Sebastian: "Write About Love" (Glasgow, Scotland)
Cee Lo Green:5 "F*** You"6 (warning: expletives!) (Atlanta)
The Futureheads: "Heartbeat Song" (Sunderland, England)
I Am Kloot: "Northern Skies" (Manchester, England)
Interpol: "Barricade" (New York)
Jonsi:7 "Go Do"8 (Iceland)
Manic Street Preachers: "Just The End of Love" (Blackwood, Wales)
Maximum Balloon:9 "Groove Me" (NYC; now LA)
Shakira (ft. Freshlyground): "Waka Waka"10 (S: Columbia (Fg: South Africa))
Teenage Fanclub: "Baby Lee" (Glasgow, Scotland)
Vampire Weekend: "Holiday"11 (New York)
Laura Veirs: "July Flame" (born Colorado; now Portland)
Yeasayer: "Ambling Alp" (Brooklyn, via Baltimore)
Afrocubism: "Para Los Pinares Se Va Montoro" (Cuban and Malian musicians)
Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate: "Sabu Yerkoy" (both Mali)
Khaira Arby: "Aigna" (Timbuktu, Mali)
* This list has been slightly changed since it was originally posted.
1. "Jenny" is Jenny Lewis (ex of Rilo Kiley); "Johnny" is Johnathan Rice, who has put out solo albums.
2. Several of the young British Isles artists included here — Laura Marling, Erland and the Carnival, Villagers, Johnny Flynn, and (probably) Kurran and the Wolfnotes — come out of the "underground folk" movement (which also includes Mumford & Sons and Noah and the Whale).
3. This group was originally on my song list, rather than my album list. That was because I didn't hear their whole album until 2011. One heard it, I moved the group here.
4. The song "Fingers Crossed" was released prior to 2010; the video, however, is from 2010.
5. Cee Lo Green has also been a member of various groups, including Gnarls Barkley.
6. Clean version: "Forget You" (and live).
7. Jonsi is a member of Sigur Ros.
8. As heard in a Ford Explorer commercial.
9. Maximum Balloon is David Sitek, who is a member of TV On The Radio.
10. Waka Waka was the official song of the 2010 World Cup; it's also the third-most-viewed-ever video on YouTube.
11. As heard in Honda commercials.
A Dozen Favorites from 2009
Bat For Lashes: "Daniel" (Brighton, England)
Camera Obscura: "French Navy" (Glasgow, Scotland)
The Cribs: "We Share The Same Skies (Yorkshire, England)
Death Cab For Cutie: "Meet Me On The Equinox" (Bellingham, WA)
Florence and the Machine: "Drumming Song" (London)
Gossip: "Love Long Distance"   (Searcy, AR/Olympia, WA)
Charlotte Hatherley: "Alexander" (London)
Local Natives: "Camera Talk" (Silver Lake, CA)
Metric: "Sick Muse" (Toronto/New York)
Morrissey: "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" (Manchester, England)
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: "Young Adult Friction" (NYC)
Tinariwen: "Lulla" (Tuareg people; Mali)
Eight Runners Up
Lily Allen: "The Fear" (London)
Animal Collective: "My Girls" (New York) Fleet Foxes: "Mykonos" (Seattle, WA; 2009 re-release) Mariachi El Bronx: "Cell Mates" (Los Angeles) Reverend and the Makers: "No Soap (In a Dirty War)" (Sheffield, Eng.)
The Very Best: "Warm Heart of Africa" (Malawi & London)
Allison Weiss: "Fingers Crossed" (Georgia)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: "Zero" (New York)