With the meteoric rise of streaming platforms as the primary means of discovering and consuming music, the notion of “genre” has become almost obsolete. That leaves writers compiling year-end best-of lists in a bit of a quandary. How to define an “indie rock” album if the scene is constantly changing and evolving, as it borrows and incorporates sounds from all kinds of genres?
One thing does seem clear this year: guitar-driven rock music is making a comeback. Mind you, it never disappeared, but it seems it has been placed in the background in favor of pop, electronic and minimalist R&B experimentations for years. The majority of this year’s best indie rock albums feature guitars at the forefront. Whether influenced by 1970s folk and soft rock, 1980s post-punk, 1990s alternative and grunge music, or indie rock from the 2000s, guitars are all over this list. It’s been a difficult year, to say the least, but we hope that these carefully curated albums will serve as an escape and provide much-needed solace.