From the start, the most satisfying part of running Hey Nineteen, and the reason it exists at all, is to share new sounds. Discovering grassroots talent from up and down the UK and from anywhere in the world. It’s because of them, and their support, that we continue to do this. It’s not all slagging off Taylor Swift songs, actually. Here are ten essential indie and underground singles from 2019.
The Creature Appeal – No Fun
This is, quite on the contrary, a lot of fun. The Creature Appeal have hit on a indie-pop sound that truly shines: trop-pop licks, clean vocals. ‘No Fun’ is slick, well produced and well performed, but most of all just very easy to play on repeat. Stick them on a playlist ASAP.
Thank God It’s Not Friday – Stoke on Trent
A song from this Mexican duo about an imaginary Stoke is one of the best things we’ve ever been sent. Considering TGINF make music via the internet (one studies in Mexico, the other in Canada) it’s amazing how cohesive and natural the track is. It’s a laid-back extended jam session, with multiple parts and an expressive sound encompassing distorted guitar, bongo drums, hand claps and jazzy ascending keys.
The idea of creating a setting for your song based off of a city name is such a refreshing and fulfilling creative process. I have nothing but love and affection for this project.
They’ve done Stoke proud.
Heir – What You Haven’t Got
On ‘What You Haven’t Got’ Heir liquefy their grooves until they become squiggly, rubbery coils where the bass and synth lines become intertwined and inseparable. This elastic pop sound is the end result of their experimentation with sophisti-pop that has only grown more polished, more complex, more impressive. This yacht rock tune is hopelessly luxurious, a work of sheer panache that’s been coiffed and perfumed within an inch of its life. A pure and genuine pleasure to listen to.
Headclouds – Marmalade
‘Marmalade’ is a wonderfully smooth, mature and assured track about escaping mundanity with the help of your SO, whoever he/she may be.
It’s a sun-dapled late summer torch song. Vocally it’s sublime: a Dylanesque twang offset against an irrepressible optimism. The harmonies are gorgeous and really enhance the bittersweet and floaty sensation of the track, with a gentle groove that lilts at the chorus.
Askies – Subject To Change
The guitars on ‘Subject to Change’ absolutely pop. It’s a victory of both production and performance, and is at the heart of this magnificent moody slow-burner. It’s a mood-piece that avoids attention-grabbing theatrics in favour of a measured progression that proves more enduring. Each time you replay ‘Subject to Change’ some other detail jumps out at you. A minor-key indie anthem simmering with tension.
Francis Lung – Invisible
We were lucky enough to hear this live – it’s pure magic. With little more than his own hushed vocals and a simplistic riff generating tension beneath it, ‘Invisible’ casts a sort of spell.
It’s fabulously produced too, feeling quiet and intimate but polished and vaguely Phil Spectorish too. The sort of acoustic ballad perfect for a morning walk, or some other moment of quiet reflection. A fabulously whimsical love song.
Liimo – If You Love Me
Approximately 10,000 of the Spotify streams of this song are due to me personally. It’s pure ear candy, with a great hook and ticking trap hi-hats to entice playlist placement. It’s weird to call something this gloriously and shamelessly mainstream-directed ‘indie’, but it does nevertheless come from Scottish band Liimo, who have paid their dues on the indie circuit. Time for the big time.
Late Night Legacy – Blame
Hey Nineteen mainstays LaL can always be counted on to bring their best, and ‘Blame’ is it. Their love for live performance shines through on this; they sound fit to start tearing apart the recording booth one acoustic baffle at a time.
Pure energy and anger, ‘Blame’ is perceptibly sweaty. But crucially, following on from ‘Paddy’ (which also slaps) it has a little more to say than you might think. Essential listening.
Free Galaxy – Leave Me
Free Galaxy are quite simply one of the best and most consistent bands we’ve covered. Every single has been great – ‘Leave Me’ is their best. They’ve added to their repertoire of noisy, sludgy riffs with some pretty sharp harmonies, and a brilliantly immediate chorus.
A track you can return to again and again and find something new to like, we cannot wait for more.
Full Colour – Miles Apart
‘Miles Apart’ is great in so many ways and on so many levels I could spend this article itemising them. It would be boring to read, but at least it would be thorough. The beat is great. The singing is really great. The bridge is transcendental.
Any song from their debut EP could have been on this list. It’s temporarily unavailable as they’re in the process of changing name, but when it reappears we’ll be sure to share it. The best tune from the most exciting indie band we’ve covered in 2019.