Top 5 indie albums that got me through this pandemic
By Hermie Ocenar, Contributor
The year 2020 proved itself to be a year ripped out of some twisted sci-fi dystopian novel. With the rise of COVID-19 and provincial-wide lockdowns going into effect, the one thing that kept people’s heads straight is music.
A year later, and here we are, still at the mercy of a global pandemic but still rocking out. Here are the top five indie albums that helped me get through the toughest year of my lifetime.
Rearrange Us by Mt. Joy
Prior to being kept a prisoner in my own home, I had a job with co-workers I adored and a social life that had me out every weekend. Then just as fast as the night changes course, I tune into the news and Alberta had declared a state of local emergency causing the closure of non-essential businesses and classes to be cancelled.
Enter the band Mt. Joy. Greeted with the smooth twang of guitarist Sam Cooper and accompanied by the vocals of lead singer Matt Quinn, I knew this album would keep me company for the next few weeks.
Mt. Joy’s album Rearrange Us is about recovering from a relationship you so badly wanted to work, but ultimately, we all know how the story ends.
As Quinn sings in “Let Loose,” “Wonder if I’m ever gonna come back for you, Stuck in the groove like I don’t know what to do,” I was reliving experiences from my past instead of looking forward to my tomorrows.
Life was not the same and the relationship I had with myself was going through trials and tribulations, but this album served as a couples counselor. It made me feel a little more human and a little more forgiving of my frustrations of the unknown future.
Honeymoon by Beach Bunny
For a lot of young university students, surviving a pandemic looks like being forced to move back home and spending time in your childhood room that now doubles as your classroom. Standing in the middle of my childhood bedroom, the familiar feeling of teenage angst quickly crept up on me, except I’m well into my twenties. With nowhere to go except the grocery store, I felt like I was back in my teens, aching to live out the last drop of my adolescence.
With sincere and honest lyrics sung over unrefined instrumentals, Beach Bunny’s album Honeymoon let me tire out my inner teenager and finally let her rest. Influenced by the earlier years of alternative pop-punk, this Chicago-based band touches on topics of self-doubt and anxiety caused by childish fears and loneliness that ensues from being on your own — a concept many are familiar with.
Dream Girl by Anna of the North
I was quick to exhaust all my creative outlets, and the activities I enjoyed doing in my spare time were no longer fun since all I had was free time. Forced to relearn what the definition of fun means to me, I knew it wasn’t flipping between Netflix and Youtube or re-listening to the same audiobook. I was in desperate need of a change in scenery.
Anna of the North’s album Dream Girl opened the door for all my daydreaming adventures and wisped me away with the smooth keys of a 90’s synthesizer and the charming vocals of Anna Løtterud.
Dream Girl is an uncomplicated, smooth and easy listen. As Løtterud sings in “Used to Be,” “When all that really makes you happy are the things you can’t see.” You can’t help but count the little victories life has given you in spite of the current state of the world.
Conversations with myself about you by Lovelytheband
You never think about how being laid-off will affect you until you actually get a call from your boss saying you’re no longer employed. No one teaches you how to handle the emotional roller-coaster it sends you on.
My emotions bounced from relief since I was able to spend most of my time catching up on missed assignments to absolute fear of unemployment.
Conversations with myself about you by Lovelytheband seemed to be the only album that could keep up with my emotional outbursts. Navigating through the complexities of human emotion, Lovelytheband explores vulnerability, attachment, heartbreak and loneliness.
Peel back the layers of your emotional baggage and let yourself feel everything you need to feel in order to move on. From “idwgtyp” to “when you’re lonely – interlude” this album hits the right spot for nights you want to spend being sad.
Ugly Is Beautiful by Oliver Tree
Like a baby who has just woken up from a nap ready to create chaos, I had all this energy built up inside of me and with nowhere to go, it started to eat me alive. Following the same at-home routine for almost three months definitely led me to the brink of insanity and it was clear that I needed to direct that energy somewhere else.
Ugly is Beautiful by the self-proclaimed “living meme,” Oliver Tree, invites you into his own fever dream of a universe with this 14-track album. It’s the album you love to hate but it’s everything you need to forget about every issue you have, even for just a moment.
This album tackles the touchy subjects of depression, bullying and self-respect, but does it in a way that makes you want to dance. Tree has his middle fingers up to his haters with Ugly Is Beautiful and invites you to do the same.