10 Best Indie Songs 2009
The 10 best indie songs of 2009 were dominated by a small group of artists. In the indie scene, 2009 is generally accepted as the year that 5 or so bands came out with monster, spectacular albums. Accordingly, the following is a pretty clear cut cross section of the best indie music that 2009 has to offer. None of the singles below were one-hit wonders or flukes. In a fantastic year for indie music, each band proved its merit and then some.
- “Two Weeks” – Grizzly Bear. “Two Weeks” starts off with an earworm of a piano lick, and its rolling, stumbling rhythm section is an interesting and appealing musical idea. The verses are succinct, and the harmonies in the chorus are fantastic. In short, this song is perfect.
- “My Girls” – Animal Collective. As a heavily experimental freak-folk and electronic outfit, Animal Collective is not really known for its pop sensibilities. But “My Girls” is a very noticeable exception. Its complex, cascading melodies and harmonies combined with a downright danceable beat made it one of the most acclaimed indie songs of the year.
- “Lisztomania” – Phoenix. An indie rock and pop band out of France, Phoenix’s big album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” hit the shelves in 2009. Arguably its best song, “Lisztomania” takes a poppy chord progression and layers in a series of cool musical nuances and eccentricities. It’s appealing on first listen, and impressive on successive ones.
- “Useful Chamber” – Dirty Projectors. This band refuses to be pinned down, as its best descriptor is experimental indie-something. The genius composition of lead guitarist Dave Longstreth and sheer skill of the band’s supporting singers and rhythm section are an abrasive, complex, and at times thrilling powerhouse. “Useful Chamber” is the magnum opus of their 2009 album “Bitte Orca”.
- “Sleepyhead” – Passion Pit. Passion Pit’s “Manners” was one of those rare indie albums to catch on in the mainstream. It did so on the back of sickeningly sweet, rich sounding electro-pop. No song demonstrates this better on the album than “Sleepyhead”.
- “Islands” – The XX. 2009 was a year of big-sounding music and even bigger production for indie music. The XX deserves credit for going in the exact opposite direction. Their song “Islands” exhibits their masterful use of space and tension without the need for sweeping anthems.
- “Laughing With a Mouth of Blood” – St. Vincent. This band, led by singer and guitarist Annie Clark made a big splash with the 2009 album “Actor”. Her music is hard to pin down, as it is avant garde, pop, and a movie score all at once. A perfect example of this is the track “Laughing With a Mouth of Blood”. You’ve never heard anything like it, though you’ll wish you had by the time it winds down.
- “Two” – The Antlers. An indie rock band based out of Brooklyn, New York, the Antlers made a beautifully depressing album entitled “Hospice” in 2009. Its lead single, “two”, is a blend of great instrumentation and atmosphere, with a heavy subject matter added in. If you’re looking for something achingly deep, “Two” is the perfect track.
- “The Walls Are Coming Down” – Fanfarlo. This song came off of indie pop group Fanfarlo’s debut album “Reservoir” in 2009. It is a great combination of pop style drumming and guitar playing garnished with interesting instrumentation including a violin, trumpet, and ukulele. If you’re in the mood for something uplifting “The Walls Are Coming Down” is a great choice.
- “Cannibal Resource” – Dirty Projectors. The experimental indie rock band Dirty Projectors makes their second appearance on the list with “Cannibal Resource”. It may not be as epic or interesting as “Useful Chamber”, but its great guitar riffs and unique structure opened up the experimental rock genre to many listeners in 2009.