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So while we love Rumours, Hotel California and Steve Miller’s Greatest Hits, there’s more to record collecting than r/vinyljerk’s hitlist.
Even though vinyl is a bit costly for most independent artists, it didn’t stop some of our absolute favorite acts from releasing really badass vinyl editions of their albums in recent years. In fact, there have been tons of albums released by numerous independent artists all around the world during the pandemic – and a few of our hand-chosen picks are below.
Editor’s note: if your band is looking for vinyl record pressing in LA – check out rates and options from Unified Manufacturing and see if their services fit the bill. We’d LOVE to see your next record on a cool colored slab of vinyl – be sure to send it our way for review and feature consideration in an upcoming issue!▼ Article continues below ▼
Anyway, the surge in vinyl output, especially when it comes to indie and underground artists, hasn’t always been this generous. Reading a short history of custom vinyl records will make you understand why only signed artists on majors were able to release vinyl back in the day. But we’ve come a long way, baby – and thankfully you can get records from most of your favorite indie acts and smaller labels today both at brick-and-mortar outlets and online platforms like Bandcamp.
That brings us to some recommendations – think of this is just a starter pack to introduce you to some of our top choices for indie rock music of the past year or so – which, along with hip-hop, is what made vinyl sales in the US overtake CD sales in dollars for the first time in decades.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best indie rock vinyl records of 2020 to see why they’re selling like hot cakes.
The band’s eponymous debut album was Joe D’Agostino’s first release since the disbandment of Cymbals Eat Guitars back in 2017. The album’s sound retained Cymbal Eat Guitars’ tense indie-rock style but this time with the addition of more sparse, nuanced arrangements.
During the first pressing, there were two sets of 250 copies on blue and white vinyl records which have already sold out.
Not to fear! The band recently added a second pressing, which in our opinion are even cooler — on half clear and half translucent green vinyl. And for those who want their music on-the-go, the album also comes with a high-quality MP3 download option included.
Porridge Radio is a British indie band that formed back in 2015, and they recently released their second studio album (their first under their new label, Secret Canadian) last March. The new LP, Every Bad, was pressed in two standard editions, one on standard black vinyl and the other transparent blue.
A additional super-special pressing comes with two records housed in a gorgeous gatefold jacket, featuring the artwork from the standard editions listed above.
The two records in this release are a mixture of purple and blue, mirroring an out-of-this-world nebula in space.
Sophie Allison, more professionally known as Soccer Mommy, released her confrontational and very personal Color Theory last February. You can read our feature interview with her right here, which was conducted around the album’s release.
The release of the album is especially cool, pressed in 3 different color combos that represent very different themes. Blue — which represents sadness and depression, yellow — which denotes physical and emotional anguish, and gray — which symbolizes darkness and loss.
And for this release, there were a total of 6 different custom vinyl pressings that featured these three-color moods.
What we have pictured here is an example of the limited editions, with its blue, yellow, and gray tri-colored records. Along with the custom LP is a poster and a set of stickers featuring the same color scheme.
4. POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH MUSIC by TIÑA
The debut record from London-based band Tiña was inspired by the idea of Sigmund Freud’s “Talking Cure” process of therapy.
The 11 tracks of the album demonstrate the process of self-examination, while touching upon themes of depression, anxiety, sex, fear, failure, isolation, and love along the way. Though it explores deep themes, the lively tracks are easy to digest and may even seem danceable to some listeners.
The vinyl release of PMHM contains one pink vinyl record housed in a pink vinyl jacket printed with matching artwork of a pink-hatted bird. Pink is known for being a calming color and we think that’s what the band was going for with this color scheme – helping to aid in self-reflection and tying together themes of better mental health found in the music.
The Cribs, Wakefield’s indie rock legends, returned last November with an exclusive ‘TV Test Card’ tri-colored edition of their 2020 album Night Network.
The group recorded the album at Studio 606, where they realized a more DIY approach to their career was the best approach for the band moving forward. Moreover, this is the band’s first fully self-produced album, and they sure are very proud of it.
As seen above, the tri-colored pressing is contained in a black and white printed inner sleeve and a single vinyl jacket. What’s interesting about this type of design is that it will have varying designs, so no two copies will be the same. It’s one of the coolest things that happens during custom vinyl pressings for most multicolored vinyl records – you always end up with completely unique copies so that every fan gets something no one else has.
Hannah is an exceptional new album by indie artist Lomelda, the fifth overall in their catalog. Lomelda blends stories of random ideas and people, as well as of herself.
This album is one full of confessions and transformations, which makes it relatable and a must-listen in today’s musical landscape.
If you notice the design of the album, it’s very minimal and full of white space, but we can still see the great artistic effort put into the record’s cover. The baby pink color of the pictured vinyl pressing matches well with the cover, too, as it elicits child-like feelings that play out in the LP’s moods.
Due to the members of the band Illuminati Hotties being clamped down by an immovable contract with a collapsing record label, they have been overworked with tour-tight schedules and more.
This resulted in Sarah Tudzin beginning her songwriting journey about aggression, claustrophobia, and loss, just everything she and her band members have been feeling being under that label.
After writing the songs, the band recorded and finally released the record in July of last year.
The vinyl edition of the album features a mugshot of Tudzin on the front cover and even has it designed on the center label of the vinyl itself. The ripple effect of the white and red colors on the vinyl, with white being in the inner circle, perfectly accentuate Tudzin’s red printed mugshot.
The War on Drugs is a band that needs no introduction in indie circles – but this one may have gone overlooked even by some fans. It’s a compilation of live interpretations of their songs as they toured all over the world backing their first few albums. The “Live Drugs” LP is just the first volume in a very long planned series of compilation albums.
The two vinyl records are both pressed in a dark red translucent color having different center label colors. But the beautiful thing about this album is the inner artwork of the gatefold jacket which showcases The War on Drugs’ devoted fans. What a crowd, huh?
The all-female rock band returned last year with brighter songs bursting with life that sound bigger, bolder, and more complex than their previous ones. Read our interview with the band from early in their career by clicking here.
Even with a new sound, they’re not completely shedding the old identity of the group, as they still champion female empowerment and write songs about themes of isolation and betrayal.
Along with the musicality upgrade, they also upgraded their custom vinyl pressing orders.
Instead of having only two colors for their vinyl records, they now have chosen three: yellow, orange, and red, as seen example pictured here.
Young Jesus’ exclusive colored vinyl is an edition of the band’s album Welcome to Conceptual Beach. The album was released on August 14, 2020 bearing a message of affirmation that change will always start with how we think of ourselves.
Both the artwork and the vinyl records are very colorful, showcasing how custom pressings are works of art in themselves.
The detailed drawing of a building is separated by different color spectrums. If you don’t look at it too closely, it would seem like two separate drawings and not just one composition colored in two different, complementary ways.
As you can see, most of these vinyl records are nothing short of awesome. We can’t blame fans for scooping them up as both collectible items from their favorite artists, and great ways to listen to their favorite tracks in the best format around.
**Editor’s note – portions of content in this article were provided by Unified Manufacturing.