The Guardian Indie

Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice
  1. (Anti-)
    The vocals are perpetually reverbed and the guitars are always twangy, but on his 10th studio album, the singer-songwriter stretches his legs a little

    A quarter of a century ago, on the song Windfall, Son Volt conjured a lyric that pretty much captures the modus operandi of M Ward: “Catching an all-night station somewhere in Louisiana / Sounds like 1963, but for now it sounds like heaven.” Over more than 20 years, Ward has developed and refined a style whose roots are planted somewhere between Elvis leaving the army and the Beatles coming to the fore, but whose branches and blooms are very much part of modern Americana.

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  2. (Musique Tops)
    Sophisticated production, nostalgic synths and gorgeous tunes … the Montreal band’s fourth LP features their strongest songs yet

    Music critics will often complain about how someone has got stuck in a rut and failed to progress their sound, but then reserve the right for certain artists to stick to one aesthetic and keep making more or less the same album over and over again. Annoyingly inconsistent, but there you have it.

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  3. Our Listener’s Digest series continues with the raw and anarchic songcraft of the two-time Mercury prize winner

    Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000)

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  4. As she releases her superb fifth album, Alabama musician Katie Crutchfield shows us around her native Birmingham, and explains how sobriety opened up her songwriting

    Katie Crutchfield pulls up in her dad’s rugged Jeep outside my hotel in a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. She grins when I voice my surprise at her ride. “I should have told you it was a ragtop with crazy tyres,” she says. It’s early March, and we head to a nearby coffee shop then she steers us into the city. As soon as I take out a notebook, the bumpy ride upends my pen. “Sorry,” she says. “I love driving it so much, but it’s a little wild.”

    With a licence plate repping the college football powerhouse Alabama Crimson Tide, the vehicle blends into Crutchfield’s home town. Her relationship to the place is more complex. One of the US’s sharpest and most acclaimed songwriters, she’s about to give me a tour of Birmingham as she viewed it as a teenager: through the lens of the underground punk scene. Now 31, Crutchfield about to release Saint Cloud, her fifth album as Waxahatchee, which finds her reexamining her southern roots with increased self-awareness. It’s one of the year’s most bewitching albums, the bristly indie rock for which she’s best known enhanced by country and folk, and the clarifying effect of new sobriety. “If you’re getting sober, you’re facing all of this stuff that has been shoved deep down and covered in booze for years,” she says. “And I’m like, oh my god, my brain is a scary place right now.”

    Related:Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud review – the best album of the year so far

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  5. In Listener’s Digest, our writers help you explore the work of great musicians. In this instalment, Pacific Northwest post-riot-grrrl rockers Sleater-Kinney

    All Hands on the Bad One (Kill Rock Stars, 2000)

    Related:Sleater-Kinney: ‘Music has always been the playground of men’s sexuality’

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