Every now and again it’s good to take a step back and ask yourself what’s going on, to gain some perspective and get a sense of the bigger picture. In terms of indie music, that means not getting caught up in the hoopla of whatever artist or group who happens to be basking in their fifteen micro-minutes of internet fame. It means instead of obsessing over any single act, detach. Take a macro approach and look at the entire indie music scene from the top down. Then ask yourself this question: What are some of the biggest indie music trends going on at this very moment?
I think it’s fair to say that one of the biggest trends we’ve seen over the past couple years is an explosion of female/male indie duos. Not always, but usually, their music is electronic and the female takes lead vocals while the male produces the music. Think Phantogram and Purity Ring. In 2013 and 2014, this type of band (if you can even call them that?) has reigned supreme in the indie music blogosphere.
Looking back, I’m excited to think about the future. What does the indiesphere hold in store for us in 2015? With any luck, more of the same.
Here are a few of my faves, five synthy songs from female/male indie-electro duos, which have all been released within the past couple of years.
Young Wonder – To You
Although it’s next to impossible to pick, this track is my absolute favorite on the list, if for no other reason than because of how unique it is. Mixing electro-bagpipes with thumping African bongos, “To You” is a remarkable re-imagining of what’s possible inside of a synth song. Rachel Keonman and Ian Ring, who hail from Cork, Ireland, released this sonic stunner on their sophomore EP Show Your Teeth (which dropped in May 2013). With this distinctly different wonderpiece, they achieve something close to mastery.
IYES – ‘Til Infinity
IYES (pronounced “eyes”) is a British duo consisting of Melis Soyaslanova and Josh Christopher. After having previously released a two-track demo that was well-received by the blogosphere, “‘Til Infinity” is the first single off of IYES’ first studio album. Melis takes the lead with her otherworldly vocals, giving a glowing hauntedness to the electronically focused composition, while Josh lends support with his hushed cooing. The tangled male/female vocals feels especially like the xx, while the anthemic hook-heavy production is reminiscent of CHVRCHES.
Coves – Last Desire
A fantastically fuzzy electronic track with a psychedelic glittery pop edge, Beck Wood (on vocals) and John Ridgard (on instruments) remind me of a dreamier, less rockish version of The Kills. This alluring single, released in March of 2013 (off of Coves’ freshman EP Cast a Shadow) is garage-psychedlia done right. I love Beck’s reverb-drenched vocals, which, coupled with the undulating bass lines, make me just as woozy as the song itself.
The Boy & Sister Alma – It’s You
With its big beats, euphoria-inducing synths, and overall pristine production, you’d think this one would have come from Scandinavia. But you’d be off by about five thousand miles. This one comes from, of all places, Montana. Not exactly where you’d expect to find hypnotic electrobeats and futuristic retrowave, but the duo’s synthpop sensibilities are spot-on. I especially dig Jennifer Murphy’s Goldfrappesque vocals, which gracefully handle long, sweeping turns in the chorus.
Broods – Bridges
And finally, yet another track by a female-male duo. This immaculate creation comes from New Zealand sister/brother act, Georgia and Caleb Not. It’s the lead single off their début album, which was released in October 2013, and produced by Joel Little, best known for producing Lorde’s Pure Heroine. This one is much poppier than the others on the list and Georgia and Caleb have signed to Capital Records in the US, so it’s not technically indie. But what can I say? “Bridges” is an electro-ballad about unrequited love, and I’m a sucker for gloomy romance.