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Rewinding July | The Best Indies

Stand out from the pack with Gena Rose Bruce, Ada Lea, Purple Mountains & others.

Looking for something different? Look no further. There was no shortage of essential indie rock to hear in July. Here’s the best of the bunch, listed in alphabetical order. Just click on the cover picture to find the original review page (where you can also probably listen to the album in full):

Gena Rose Bruce
Can’t Make You Love Me

The umpteenth captivating pop singer-songwriter from Australia to arrive on these shores in recent months, Bruce (or at least her publicist) calls Can’t Make You Love Me “an intoxicating ride through love, lust, self-destruction and surrender.” I can’t top that — but I will add that those yearning lyrics and haunting vocals are accessorized with a rich array of gorgeous indie-pop melodies and inspired instrumentation that includes both the expected (strummy guitars) and the unexpected (throbbing keyboards). In other words: She can and she will.

Wild Billy Childish & CTMF
Last Punk Standing

The ridiculously prolific English singer-guitarist unleashes his umpteen-zillionth album of lo-fi, bare-knuckle garage-punk, surf-rock and indie-pop nuggets. There’s an old saying: If you’ve heard one Billy Childish album, you’ve heard them all. There’s some truth to that. But even if he is making the same record over and over, at least it’s a damn good one. He may not be the last punk standing, but he’s definitely still Childish after all these years.

Ada Lea
What We Say in Private

The Montreal singer-songwriter and visual artist’s distinctive debut grew out of a tortuous romantic upheaval that spawned months of introspection, emotional turmoil and self-analysis — not to mention lengthy bouts of insomnia. It sounds like your inner monologue set to stream-of-consciousness songcraft — Ada Lea’s airy vocals are buried in the mix and feel off the cuff, ebbing and flowing and meandering along next to her loosely structured, freewheeling songs. She might remind you of everyone from PJ Harvey to Liz Phair at times, but ultimately she sounds like no one but herself.

Particle Kid
Window Rock

Just call him The Red-Headed Stranger’s Stranger Son. Willie Nelson’s youngest boy Micah Nelson — also a member of Neil Young’s latest backing band — delivers another dose of skewed psychedelia, roots-rock trippiness and experimental soundscapes. Imagine Beck’s freakier moments — except Nelson’s tunes eschew sardonic silliness for topical and personal lyrics. And sometimes his nasal crooning reminds you a little of you-know-who. Strange but true.

Purple Mountains
Purple Mountains

Silver Jews leader David Berman returns from a decade-long self-imposed exile with a new band, new songs and a new dedication to his art and craft. Despite the years away, the 52-year-old singer-songwriter — who specializes in darkly wry, impressively literate and devastatingly razor-sharp confessions of loss, isolation and misery voiced in his deadpan baritone and set against a basic backdrop of folk and country — has seldom sounded more focused. A most-welcome return.

Summer Cannibals
Can’t Tell Me No

Take-no-prisoners singer-guitarist Jessica Boudreaux and her Portland crew rebelliously obliterate the line between ’90s indie-rock, fuzz-pop and garage-punk with in-your-face songwriting and a dynamic musical fusion of grit, energy and artistry. You won’t want to tell her no — even if you could.

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