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Bandcamping: The 25 Best Underground Albums of 2016

Bandcamping: The 25 Best Underground Albums of 2016

Kanye West, Beyoncé, Solange, David Bowie, Chance The Rapper, Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver, Anderson Paak., Radiohead… Listed in no particular order, these artists created some of the most listened to, talked about, and beloved albums of 2016, and odds are, you’ve heard to at least a couple of them or at least seen them on year-end top album lists; we sure have.

As readers of this column have come to expect, though, when we step into this space, we put big names like that aside, in favor of the little guy, in favor of the laptop producer in New York City, the start-up garage band in Seattle, the psychedelic group from Portugal you’ve never heard of. If there’s one thing this year has proven, it’s that people are looking for an alternative from the establishment, whether that be pre- or post-election, so we’ve rounded up what we feel are the 25 best underground albums that appeared in Bandcamping this year.

25. Geometry by Mountain Projector
Genre:
indie rock, dream pop, psychedelic pop
If you like: Vetiver, Nada Surf, The Clientele
Original post: Week 10

24. JFK Boulevard EP by JFK Boulevard
Genre:
indie rock, dance-punk
If you like: Foals, Vampire Weekend, Young The Giant
Original post: Week 20

23. Naive Boy by tetanman
Genre:
indie rock, alternative
If you like:
Mac DeMarco
Original post:
Week 7

22. Famous Men by Magnolian
Genre:
folk, indie rock
If you like: The National, Bon Iver
Original post: July

21. Nurse Corkscrew by Bobbie Peru
Genre:
rock, garage rock, post-punk
If you like:
The Pixies, Sonic Youth, Dead Kennedys
Original post:
Week 18

20. Ugly Robot by Ugly Robot
Genre:
alternative, indie, comedy
If you like:
Randy Newman, Ben Folds, Father John Misty
Original post: Week 26

19. Something Songs by Lovers Touch
Genre:
indie rock, indie folk
If you like: Mac DeMarco, Pavement, Ariel Pink
Original post: October

18. The F-word by Froströyk
Genre:
indie rock, ambient pop, post-rock
If you like: The xx, Lady Lamb, Bon Iver
Original post: Week 18

17. Lake County Rain by Lake County Rain
Genre:
alt-country, folk rock
If you like:
early Wilco, Jim Croce, Bob Dylan
Original post:
Week 3

16. Graphism by Pale Hands
Genre: indie rock, synth pop, electronica
If you like:
St. Vincent, MGMT, Tegan and Sara
Original post: November

15. Demain est une autre nuit by Essaie Pas
Genre:
electronic, minimal techno, indie pop
If you like:
LCD Soundsystem, Chromatics, Lindstrøm
Original post:
Week 8

14. Last One In is a Dreamer by The New Investors
Genre:
indie rock, dream pop
If you like: Real Estate, The Cure
Original post: Week 25

13. Tonight Is by Jagged Jaw
Genre:
indie rock, indie pop
If you like: Tame Impala
Original post: Week 9

12. What a Joy by Ellie Herring
Genre:
electronic
If you like: Todd Terje, Lindstrøm
Original post: November

11. Three by Diners
Genre:
indie pop, indie rock
If you like: Ariel Pink, Peter Bjorn & John, Real Estate
Original post: September

10. Record 2016 by Madd Comrades

madd comrades

Genre: post-punk, indie rock
If you like: The Walkmen, Interpol
Original post: August

If opening track “PT SOOM” isn’t enough to get you hyped, then your body just doesn’t produce adrenaline in a normal way. It’s a frenetic post-punk roller that won’t slow down, because the wailing vocals just won’t let it. It’s a firecracker of an album, although there are plenty of more reserved moments to create that loud-quiet dynamic and normalize the energy.

9. 1.6.16 by Mark Mills

'1.6.16' by Mark Mills

Genre: electro pop, indie pop
If you like: Chromeo, Geographer, early MGMT
Original post: Week 1

Mark Mills is in the vein of Hot Chip, in that he produces quirky pop that strives to experiment and almost reinvent the stylistic wheel with every track. It all falls under the same indie electro pop umbrella, but it’d be wrong to call any track here facsimile of any other, and they’re all pretty inventive in their own regard.

8. Horse Jumper of Love by Horse Jumper of Love

horse jumper

Genre: slowcore, alternative rock, shoegaze
If you like: Codeine, Deerhunter, ’90s alternative
Original post: Week 11

Horse Jumper of Love will remind you that grunge isn’t dead, but it’s also vastly different than it once was. The band’s eponymous album a nice slow(core) ride filled with alternative, Weezer-sounding guitars and deliberate song structures and pacing that’ll put you to sleep if you want it to, with enough edge to pump you up if you want that instead.

7. Dreamstate by Horace Bray

horace bray

Genre: jazz, jazz fusion
If you like: BADBADNOTGOOD
Original post: Week 21

Horace Bray is a young, adventurous composer and bandleader who makes jazz for the person who doesn’t consider themselves a jazz fan, whether or not that’s his intention. That’s not a disparagement, rather a testament to Dreamstate’s broader and more immediate appeal than genre-beholden jazz.

6. Upsweep by Hannah Epperson

hannah epperson upsweep

Genre: indie pop, electronic
If you like: Lykke Li, Four Tet
Original post: September

This album is all over the place, sounding alternately classical, glitchy, poppy, indie, and most other musical adjectives you can think of. It’s also very dense, likely a record that rewards repeat listens.

5. 11:11 by Tessa Dillon

teresa dillon 11-11

Genre: indie folk, indie rock
If you like: Warpaint, Your Friend, Lady Lamb
Original post: September

This album admittedly might not stun you at first, but it’s a haunting grower. The songs are super simple, and Tessa Dillon has an ultra soothing voice that pairs well with lo-fi production and an overcast day.

4. Yuhng by Toulouse

toulouse-yuhng

Genre: indie rock, psychedelic rock
If you like: Real Estate, Tame Impala
Original post: October

Toulouse could be categorized under the same heading as Real Estate, in that they have the kind of flexible sound that is accommodating and comforting while remaining engaging. There is a sunny drone that becomes mildly psychadelic in its repititions, so it is the perfect album to let mesmerize you.

3. Psychic Materials by Casey Mecija

Psychic Materials by Casey Mecija

Genre: indie pop, dream pop
If you like: Tennis, Beach House, Lana Del Rey
Original post: Week 2

Psychic Materials is a dreamy and satisfyingly poppy record that flew way too under the radar. This Canadian radio presenter knows how to dominate a microphone in more ways than one, and really ought to be on the airwaves in a non-hosting capacity.

2. SUI // RAP by youngster jiji

sui rap

Genre: alternative hip-hop, alternative, experimental
If you like: Tyler, The Creator, Death Grips, Yung Lean
Original post: Week 10

Hip-hop seems to have permanently adopted soul and R&B elements, but if you’re yearning for the noisey intensity of the Odd Future clan or Death Grips, here you go. youngster jiji is kinetic as all hell, and this is a record you could either bob your head to, or mosh with some hardcore fans to. It’s absolutely wild, so perhaps consult your cardiologist before checking this one out.

1. June by Pat Hull

pat hull

Genre: singer-songwriter, folk, alternative country
If you like: Brett Dennen, Kacey Musgraves, Wayne Newton
Original post: Week 26

Patt Hull has the greatest voice that you probably haven’t heard. The 60’s pop singer androgyny of his pipes work gorgeously in a indie folk/rock landscape, so this album, as well as his back catalogue, are absolutely worth a deep dive. His gentle folk missives feel like a time capsule to a lost era that or one that has yet to happen. In a word, June is otherworldly.

Thanks for taking that trip with us; It was fun for us, too. If you’d like to explore some of the albums that nearly made this list, you can find the Bandcamping archives right here. Enjoy the holidays, and we’ll be back with more under-appreciated music in 2017.

Featured image: Steve Snodgrass

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