Best of Genres

Best Indie Couples

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d make a list of the best indie music couples. It was a bit of a challenge for me to come up with a substantial list but I at least put the couples from bands that I adore. Most of the couples on this list have broken up so it’s not exactly the most romantic, pro-valentine compilation.

1. Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros- This couple made some incredible music in their day and had great harmonies and chemistry. They sang together for some songs and sang different parts in others, similar to the old folk and country traditions signature of Johnny Cash and June Carter. Their music was a wonderful blend of folk, roots, Americana, psychedelic pop and gospel. It’s sad that they broke up because they could have continued making amazing music for a long time. Definitely my favorite indie music couple to date and their music will always have a special place in my heart as it made an impact on me during my twenties. I also played them a lot at my wedding and my wife and I still cherish their songs.

2. Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw of Cotton Jones- This indie couple made some timeless and perfectly crafted folk music for a while before breaking up. Michael’s deep voice went really well with Whitney’s higher country style singing. Their music was a combination of psychedelic folk, experimental and vintage style country. I would have loved to see this couple stay together as they have one of my favorite sounds out there and Michael Nau’s solo work just wasn’t the same and lacked that extra layer that Whitney’s voice provided.

3. Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley of Tennis- One of the only couples on this list to still be together, this husband and wife pop duo makes 70’s inspired music with just the right amount of disco. Alaina does almost all of the singing and does a great job with her crystal clear voice. Patrick plays the backing instruments and adds to their sensual 70’s disco vibe. I’m very happy they are still married and making music because they have an amazing sound, style and chemistry.

4. Jack and Meg White of The White Stripes- This rock duo was huge during the 2000’s with their pioneer garage rock sound. Jack sang and played guitar while Meg provided the steady beat on drums. Their style was a mix of rock, blues, heavy rock and garage rock, with slight hints of metal. They created a huge movement of minimalistic rock music that was guitar driven. I was obsessed with this band for a long time and my wife and I actually dressed up as them for Halloween one year. Like most of the bands on this list, Jack and Meg broke up, but their influential sound still remains today and is seen in countless rock bands now.

5. Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee (Katie Crutchfield)- Kevin and Katie have been a romantic couple for many years and are still together. They both are solo artists and create their own folk music. Kevin’s music leans more towards the folk and experimental genre while Katie is much more country sounding. Kevin is by far one of my favorite artists with his signature deep voice and Dylan-like lyrics and delivery. Katie is not exactly my style as she leans too much into the pop country realm. Together they have made a few songs, Farewell Transmission and The Dark Don’t Hide It, which are both amazing. My wife is obsessed with the song Farewell Transmission and plays it often. It’s a beautiful song that really shows off their vocal abilities and chemistry. This song makes me wish they made more music together, which is likely as they just released a new song together called, One Paper Kid on Morby’s first soundtrack, Music From Montana Story. When I saw Morby live he sang a song for Katie who was watching from the crowd which was very sweet and cute. Let’s hope this couple stays together and creates some more amazing collaborative folk music for years to come.

Written by Adam

Best of Genres

Best Electro Pop Bands

I first discovered the genre electro pop in the early 2000’s with the band MGMT. I was immediately entranced by the synth-heavy riffs and catchy beats and I have loved the genre ever since, which originated in England in the 80’s. It has since grown into a huge commercial success around the world with acts such as Britney Spears and Lady Gaga popularizing the sound. The list I created dives more into the indie world of electro pop. The genre is known for its use of electronic musical elements like synth keys, computer-generated beats and effect-heavy vocals. 

  1. Inner Wave- This LA-based band is my favorite electro pop act and one of my favorite overall groups. They bring infectious catchy beats with synth heavy instrumentals and cool modern lyrics. After I first discovered this band I was hooked and couldn’t stop listening to them, which explains their cult following. 
  2. Mild High Club- This Chicago-based project formed by Alexander Brettin mixes jazz, hip hop, psychedelic pop and electro pop to create a perfect lo-fi sound. One of my favorite musical acts, Mild High Club is one of those rare combinations of genres that sounds so amazing when put together. 
  3. Men I Trust- This electro pop group from Quebec brings a smooth calm jazz sound, mixed with a steady synth beat and dreamy whispery vocals. They mix many genres together including dream pop, electro pop, jazz and indie pop to create one of my favorite sounds. 
  4. Sports- This electro pop group hails from the unlikely state of Oklahoma. Their style is a mix of David Bowie and Prince dance beats, dream pop soundscapes and ironic 80’s style pop. They use a lot of humor and love to sexualize their lyrics in funny ways. A very entertaining band, they captured my attention with their catchy songs and overall unique and cool personas. 
  5. Crumb- This Brooklyn-based electro pop group mixes together elements of jazz, electronica, indie pop and lo-fi hip hop. They have a calm smooth delivery and very hypnotic beats that make them highly enjoyable and addicting to listen to. 
  6. MGMT- One of the pioneers of mixing electronica and indie rock, MGMT became very popular during the mid 2000’s with their psychedelic dreamy sound. This power duo originated in Connecticut and have gone through slight sound changes throughout the years, from psychedelic indie rock to more of an 80’s new age sound. They remain one of the best bands of the 2000’s for their witty song writing, catchy songs and unique approach to modern music. 
  7. Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation- This Swedish psychedelic electro pop band mixes traditional 60’s style rock with modern synth heavy instrumentals. They are a very unique group and have had a lot of positive attention and critique for being a relatively new band. 
  8. STRFKR- This Portland-based band follows closely to a more traditional electro pop sound full of techno-style beats, long looping songs and colorful layered synth instrumentals. Don’t let their poppy exterior fool you as they are still very much an indie band who likes to stay out of the commercial spotlight. 
  9. The Marias- This LA-based electro pop band blends together jazz, psychedelic soul, Latin soul, R&B and indie pop. They sing in both English and Spanish in a smooth and velvety voice and love to use Latin jazz percussions, horns and guitar riffs to create a smooth, chill vibe. 
  10. Tame Impala- This Australian indie rock band didn’t start off being an electro pop group but slowly evolved their sound over the years. They grew to enormous commercial success after their album, “Lonerism” which paved the way for their new electro pop sound found in their next album, “Currents”. They are an amazingly talented band that blends together psychedelic rock, electro pop and indie rock to create a clean, well-crafted sound. 
  11. Badbadnotgood- This Toronto-based instrumental electro pop band is known for their production work but has an impressive number of jazz fusion songs. They mix jazz, electronica, hip hop and psychedelic rock to create a unique and dynamic sound. 
  12. Club Kuru- This London-based psychedelic pop group creates soft and subtle electro pop sounds full of catchy riffs and layered soundscapes. They have a unique style that takes from many different eras and genres. 
  13. Homeshake- This Canadian solo artist takes elements from hip hop and blends them with lo-fi indie jazz and electro pop. He has worked with fellow Canadian, Mac Demarco, and shares a lot of his style, with strange sounding guitars and synths. He has a great overall sound full of awesome bass lines and synthetic drum beats. 
  14. Meltt- This psychedelic dream pop group from Vancouver, Canada blends colorful, detailed soundscapes with indie, alternative rock riffs. This combination creates a truly breathtaking listening experience that has caught the attention of indie fans from around the world. 
  15. Paul Cherry- This LA-based musician, songwriter and producer has a funky style that pays homage to 80’s synth pop. He uses humor and satire in his work, which is highly addictive and entertaining to listen to. 
  16. Reptaliens- This Portland-based indie pop group is a nice combination of electro pop, psychedelic rock, art rock and dream pop. I have been a fan of theirs from the minute I first heard them and I’m hoping they grab the attention of a larger audience. They are smart and talented and draw from a wide variety of musical influences from around the world.
  17. Still Corners- This American/British band is a great example of traditional dream pop. They are probably my favorite dream pop bands behind the original dream pop masters, Beach House. They blend electro pop and psychedelic indie rock and flourish through their mellow, whispery vocals and echoing desert-vibes guitar work. 
  18. Tops- This Montreal-based indie rock band has a delightful 70’s disco style mixed with 80’s synth pop. Their vocal delivery shines and hits some wonderfully high notes while the background instrumentals are subtle, catchy and seductive. 
  19. Unknown Mortal Orchestra- This Portland-based mastermind of electro pop music has been creating experimental music for years. He finally received some recognition and commercial success for his album, “Sex & Food”. He has a mix of styles ranging from 20 minute experimental instrumental songs to pop songs reminiscent of Michael Jackson. 
  20. Video Age- This New Orleans-based retro pop band brings you back to the 80’s with their vintage style beats and primitive synth keys. They are on the border of being a cheesy 80’s style band, but somehow make a legit, worthwhile modern fusion sound. 
  21. Sunbeam Sound Machine- This Australian psychedelic pop project is led by multi-instrumentalist Nick Sowersby. He mixes elements of psychedelic rock with effect-heavy guitars, dream pop with trippy soundscapes and electro pop with a steady beat.
  22. Part Time- This San Francisco pop project was created by multi-instrumentalist David Loca. He recorded most of his expansive library of music in his home studio. He is a mix of primitive 80’s synth pop, soft rock, new wave and lo-fi bedroom pop. He really captures the essence of the synth pop era from the early 80’s. 

Written by Adam

Best of Genres

Best Modern Psychedelic Rock Bands

Psychedelic rock grew to enormous popularity during the mid and late 1960’s with bands like Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and The Doors. I grew up listening to these 60’s bands and became obsessed with the genre. I loved the sound they created with their long effect-heavy guitar solos, trippy lyrics about mind-altering drugs, perception, the afterlife and mythology, and the overall style and rebellion they brought to the music industry. After many years of solely listening to 60’s psychedelic rock, I decided to branch out and listen to modern indie rock. I quickly discovered a whole new world of modern psychedelic rock with bands like Allah-Las, The Growlers and The Blank Tapes. Below is a list of my favorite psychedelic acts so far.

Buffalo Killers- This heavy psychedelic rock band was formed in Cincinnati, Ohio by the Gabbard brothers. Their style is not typical of psychedelic rock found on the west coast, but has more of a blues, roots rock and swamp rock sound. They have excellent vocal harmonies, tightly composed instrumentals and heavy, rich guitar work making them one of my favorite overall bands.

The Black Angels- This psychedelic rock band began in Austin, Texas. Their style is a combination of shoegaze and psychedelic rock. They like long repetitive songs with layers of effects backed by amazing Jim Morrison-style vocals. A great modern psychedelic sound that is hard to match.

The Blank Tapes- This psychedelic rock project was created by LA-based mastermind Matt Adams. He uses traditional 60’s style sounds with contemporary and witty lyrics. I have been a fan of The Blank Tapes for many years because of their humor, cool surf rock style and how closely they stay true to the 60’s psychedelic rock feeling and sound.

Black Mountain- This psychedelic rock band comes from Vancouver, BC and brings an array of psychedelic rock sounds ranging from 60’s pop and 70’s metal. They have a nice variety of styles but remain true to their psychedelic roots. A very complete sound that combines vocal harmonies and powerful guitar-driven acid rock ballads.

All Them Witches- This rock band comes from Nashville, TN and brings a fiery, electric sound. They are not the typical psychedelic rock band with trippy effects, but instead have a heavy blues influence and a slight southern rock sound. Nevertheless, they create a great powerful sound that is very much psychedelic in nature.

The Bright Light Social Hour- This psychedelic rock band from Austin, TX has a great sound that combines space rock, dream pop and classic rock. They have amazing guitar solos and bring their listeners to new dimensions through heavy use of effect pedals and trippy soundscapes.

The Growlers- This LA-based band mixes psychedelic rock, surf rock and garage rock to create a genre they call beach goth. One of my favorite bands, they have highly catchy songs that use humor and social commentary backed by dark surf rock instrumentals.

Magic Castles- This psychedelic rock band comes from Minneapolis, MN and follows closely to the traditional 60’s sound of The Byrds and Jefferson Airplane. They have a clean, smooth sound that is highly layered and structured and easy to listen to.

Allah-las- One of my favorite bands, this LA-based group mixes all of the best parts of 60’s music. They touch on jangly pop, like The Byrds, surf rock, psychedelic rock and even Latin bossa nova. They stick closely to the sounds and styles of the 60’s and were an instant obsession of mine the first time I heard them.

Levitation Room- Another great LA-based psychedelic rock band (yes, a lot of good bands are from LA) that mixes guitar-driven riffs, vocal harmonies and trippy electric soundscapes. They are a great example of modern psychedelic rock and stay close to the 60’s vibe.

Mystic Braves- This LA band travels through the 60’s and 70’s different styles, from surf style west coast rock to 70’s baroque pop ballads. I’ve always appreciated their vocal harmonies and layers of percussions that are classic west coast psychedelic rock.

The Nude Party- This psychedelic rock band is from North Carolina (finally a non-LA group) and brings a lot of Mick Jagger vocal energy and catchy 60’s rock and roll vibes. They are a large band, consisting of six members which you can really hear with their highly energetic and layered songs.

The Asteroid No. 4- This San Francisco psychedelic rock band has a large expansive library that weaves in and out of the different 60’s genres including folk, psychedelic rock, jangle pop and British pop. A very professional and polished band that stays true to their psychedelic rock identity.

Holy Wave- This psychedelic rock band hails from Austin, TX and is a major force in the local scene, creating a major psychedelic music festival called Levitation. They like to use a combination of organs and crunchy guitars with slow effect-heavy vocals. They give off a very chill and peaceful vibe and are important figures in the neo-psychedelia movement.

Quilt- One of the only bands on this list from the east coast, this psychedelic rock group is from Boston, which gives them a different sound compared to the typical sunny California flower power grooveness. They have some serious talent and many of their members have had good solo careers, including John Andrews who has made some amazing albums. One of the best modern psychedelic rock bands, they use all of the great techniques but with a modern twist.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre- This highly influential and impressive psychedelic rock project was founded by Anton Newcombe in the 90’s. He has been making music for decades and has a vast and delicately crafted library of songs. He really lives and breathes the 60’s and is one of the closest sounds you’ll find to the original psychedelic pioneers.

The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound- This guitar-driven psychedelic San Francisco rock band has some amazing electric guitar solos and riffs full of wah pedals and trippy reverb. They definitely lean more to the acid rock and heavy rock genres which I personally love listening to.

The Vacant Lots- This New York City based duo blends psychedelic rock, shoegaze, post punk revival and synth pop to create a remarkable, unique sound. Their style is a blend of dance, electronica and psychedelic rock, with heavy use of effects and echoing vocals. They have collaborated and toured with The Growlers, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Black Angels and have made their mark on the neo-psychedelic movement.

Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin- This guitar driven psychedelic rock band from San Diego brings to mind the simple and pure sounds of 60’s rock. They have a hint of The Doors and Led Zeppelin. They don’t try to complicate their sound with tons of layers but instead stay true to some amazing guitar riffs and solos.

Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation- This Swedish band blends together psychedelic rock and electro pop to create a truly amazing and unique sound. They are a great example of how to use classic psychedelic rock fundamentals with modern electronic techniques.

Weird Owl- This Brooklyn-based psychedelic rock group draws heavily from folklore and mythology and is a nice mix of 70’s metal, space rock and stoner rock. They bring a heavy fuzz sound full of trippy guitar solos and slow mythical lyrics.

The Sadies- This Toronto-based band began making music in the late 90’s. Not your typical psychedelic rock group, they instead blend together folk, country, jangly pop, western, surf rock and psychedelic rock. They sound a lot like The Band and have often been compared to them. They also have a jangly pop sound similar to The Byrds. Regardless of who they sound like, The Sadies are one of the best Canadian rock groups of all time and belong on this list because of their undeniably unique psychedelic style.

Gold Celeste- This Norwegian psychedelic pop band creates layers of effect-driven guitars and organs to create a chill trippy sound. They also have great vocal harmonies that mix well with their complex soundscapes.

Vinyl Williams- This LA-based psychedelic rock band is led by multi-instrumentalist Lionel Williams. He creates rich and colorful soundscapes that are modern and vintage at the same time. He has a unique psychedelic sound that is full of layers of electronic synths and guitars. He also has really cool abstract album artwork.

Sugar Candy Mountain- This Oakland-based psychedelic pop and rock duo is a great blend of 60’s style psychedelic surf rock and tropical inspired funk. The band is made up of Will Halsey who plays the drums and Ash Reiter who plays guitar and sings. Together they create a groovy 60’s inspired psychedelic pop sound that is very Californian.

Midnight Sister- This LA-based duo is not your typical psychedelic band with guitar heavy riffs and trippy effects, but they are definitely psychedelic in the mood they create. They are a mix of chamber pop and psychedelic pop and have a cinematic style full of strings and orchestral sounds. Juliana Giraffe, the main singer, has a deep sensual singing style that brings to mind dark disco music from the early 70’s. One of my favorite underground psychedelic bands that I hope gets more attention and praise as they continue to make music.

Kikagaku Moyo- This Japanese psychedelic band was formed in Tokyo in 2011. They are a highly influential band in Japan and have played a large role in the Japanese psychedelic music scene. Their music is mostly instrumental but occasionally they sing in Japanese or English. They use a variety of instruments ranging from flutes and sitars to traditional Japanese folk instruments to modern electric guitars. Their music is diverse and varies from long trippy instrumental songs to psychedelic folk to hard psychedelic rock guitar-driven songs. They are definitely a band worth checking out if you are a fan of psychedelic music.

King Buffalo- This heavy psychedelic rock trio is from Rochester, NY. Their style is a combination of psychedelic rock, blues, stoner rock, metal and space rock. Sean McCay is the vocalist and guitarist and is one of the best modern rock guitarists I’ve ever heard. He is fast and very technical and comes up with some really trippy sounds. King Buffalo’s music is complex and full of intricate layers of heavy fuzz guitars, synths and powerful drum work. Definitely an amazing psychedelic rock band that is both modern and pays homage to classic rock.

Written by Adam