This will be a series of posts based upon old “indie” (or ‘independent’ for the savvy) albums released over the past few couple decades collecting dust and cobwebs in the vaults of our devices (or computers for those living in the past). Check out these 20 Indie Albums You Almost Forgot Existed and maybe discover something old that is now new again? Enjoy.
20. Adelaide – Over Tired & Ill Prepared
This album was surprise for me back in the day. As often as I would discover indie bands and the like, never judging a lesser known artist or those lacking in touring strength, I could still be surprised and taken aback by something new. This was one of those experiences I had with indie music and finding something new to appreciate. The east coast band drew upon influences like The Wallflowers, Counting Crows, Goo Goo Dolls, Better Than Ezra, Tonic, etc. you know that classic 90’s pop rock style but the would mix it in with a newer, current sound ala Augustana and create a sound all their own. Word Of Mouth Records had some great bands at the time like Sides of the North, The Roosevelts, and these guys. RIP to the original “Adelaide”.
19. Midnight Hour – Midnight Hour
I had followed the members of Anthym for years, moving from a melodic punk rock outfit and into forming this really exciting alt-rock band around the mid 00’s. They added a new singer in Bradley Lodge, adopted the name “Midnight Hour” and switched styles entirely to this melodic and engaging new alternative rock sound. It’s hard to say what came first, Midnight Hour or Neon Trees. They both had a similar style but I preferred Midnight Hour 100% more mostly due to the catchiness of every single song on this full length. The band eventually split apart with almost all original members departing leaving Brad and Tim to carry on. The band is still active now and even released some rarities from an unreleased follow up to this record on digital networks. Highlight of this band would be when they appeared on the show Ghost Whisperer and their song “Running Away” became a hit. Good times.
18. Pioneer – Pioneer
Forgive me for my forgetfulness over the years but I believe this band had a different name at one point then changed to “Pioneer” and signed to the same label (Slospeak Records) as Blood and Water and released this fantastic album. Indie/Emo/Alternative done in the most sincere manner and with a focus on soaring vocals set to catchy anthems. If you can find this album, get it.
17. Preson Phillips – In Our Winters
From the opening vocals of “Wayfaring Stranger”, you knew this was an album unlike anything else out there in the realm of “Christian” music. Preson Phillips had several indie titles released years before but this album marked a new start for him. It was a worship at it’s most raw and pure. Evoking sound and spirit from the O’Brother Soundtrack mixed with a little Mumford and Sons as well as blues and folk artists of the past. Perfect combo of firebrand preaching and comforting praise. Another forgotten hit from the past. Find it and consume.
16. Nate Parrish – Nate Parrish
This is a more recent release, in fact it just dropped last year. While the focus of this list is mostly on old forgotten hits I just can’t help but share this indie release with the world. It’s very rare that an indie artist hits the streets with 1 album that completely makes my jaw drop and heart pounding along to the unforgettable melodies and raw, gut busting punk rock spirit. Featuring an impressive amount of songs that I find it hard to skip past. It’s like every song is a pleasant morsel of joy to be enjoyed and consumed by the covid crowd. Give this album a listen and support what Nate does because I can guarantee this is only the beginning for him.
15. Olivia The Band – Where We Come From It Never Snows
This band is a highlight of my past. It’s like a snapshot of time, slipped into a smooth glass bottle floating at sea only to be discovered by some kid somewhere in a strange land, bringing a smile to their face for the first time. They remind me of so much of the good, the times of innocence and freedom from all the negativity. This band has a presence unlike other more cynical, jaded, and crusty old guys that smirk when they take take the stage. It was just pure fun and music that your lips would part to sing along with at full volume with fingers pointing high in the air. They had punk energy and preacher’s hearts. It was just the perfect combo and I am afraid to say wouldn’t make it much today in this cynical environment we’ve all let ourselves be influenced by. We don’t use lighters anymore so my phone light is held high from the comfort of home, in a darkened room surrounded by love. This is for you Olivia The Band, may your music live on. Oh, and for the record I did see them LIVE once at Biola University after the 2nd full length came out (before their 3rd and final one).
16. Cool Hand Luke – Of Man
This concept record from beloved indie kings, Cool Hand Luke, was beautiful from the start. Filled with haunting melodies and Mark’s unforgettable voice. I loved this album, still do. It was a part of a time period in my life where I needed hope the most. The concept for “Of Man” was centered around the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is a story set to music and offers up praise to our Lord. It may sound strange but it works, completely. Cool Hand Luke had like 2 indie releases, 2 releases and a greatest hits collection on Floodgate Records, then an indie album again “The Sleeping House” on Lujo, a Live album, and finally “Of Man” in 2011. The band followed this up with a more new wave like alt rock album in “Cora” which was good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t “Of Man”. I love Cool Hand Luke and especially Mark Nicks, find his music and listen at full volume.
15. Life In Your Way – Kingdoms
This 3 EP set of songs was a perfect follow up to their last album on Solid State Records, “Waking Giants”. The band released 2 indie releases in the early 00’s before joining Solid State and releasing the best hardcore/metal album of 2007. The band went on hiatus and returned a few years later, resurfacing on Come & Live with this 3 part series of songs that blew most people away. A lot of others don’t know it exists. While I missed out on the vinyl for this amazing album, I am happy to have my song files and Spotify as well. “Who I Am” is like a heart pounding, spirit filled hardcore song that lifts up as much as it ignites the soul. This is such a great collection of songs. The fact that this band isn’t bigger than they are is an absolute travesty. I love “Waking Giants” and I love this album as well.
14. Man Alive – A Light Goes On
I’ve always been the biggest fan and supporter of Man Alive throughout their existence. I first heard “Foreign Concepts” in 2001 which was their first official full length on Men of Israel Records. How often do you find a punk band from a far off, Middle East land (Israel) that holds similar values and plays from the heart? This was their final album, released in 2013 independently. The band had quite a storied career with albums spanning a bunch of record labels and companies. They were on The Militia Group for a brief time, I think they had an Ep on Smart Punk, they released stuff on indie labels, foreign labels, and independently as well. Front man, Guitarist, and Lead Vocalist James Hilsden now plays in Miqedem, which is an Israel based world music sounding, middle east focused, Hebrew praise band. They are totally unique and you should give them a listen as well as Man Alive. Highlight of my experience with them was meeting the guys in San Juan Capistrano back in 2002 when they played my “I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2” release party.
13. Kept On Hold – Promises
Released in 2015, this project of Andrew Alojipan of We Are Leo, came at me with a full on candy coated, sonic drop of music proportions. Andrew’s voice is unique and this album fits perfect in the pop-punk/emo realm, unlike anything in the metal obsessed Christian market. It’s like drawing from the sounds of those classic 00’s indie pop bands while incorporating a fresh and inspiring soundtrack of their own. For fans of The Dangerous Summer, We The Kings, Yellowcard, Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, Mae, and The Juliana Theory. Andrew is working on new music for this project and I have a feeling, call it intuition, but I think Kept On Hold might just be the biggest thing in a few years.
12. False Idle – Threat
Pure punk rock with fast beats, raw and cutting guitar work, and tons of group vocals. You can almost define this as Hardcore Punk with some Skate Punk thrown in for good measure. In 2013, this was one of my favorite punk rock albums and they still remain a personal favorite of mine. Thumper Punk Records never gets as much credit for what they’ve done for punk music or Christian music in general so this is my opportunity to bring a spotlight on the label and this band. This always reminded me of Anti-Flag meets The Bouncing Souls meets Rise Against and even a little Social D. The song “Where Do We Go” is an instant classic and really defines the spirit of this band. Sef Idle is a prolific song writer and he is now mostly doing solo work under that name (just released a new 4 way split).
11. Craig’s Brother – The Insidious Lie
Wow, how do I even define the love I have for this band in written form here on this website. I have been a fan of CB since 1998 when I first heard “Homecoming” from Tooth & Nail Records. So many classic songs and albums released before this remarkable full length in 2011. This was the band’s first independent full length since they started in 1995. The band released 2 full lengths and an EP before they went on hiatus for several years only to reemerge in late 00’s with new music. Songs like “The Thousand Yard Stare”, “Freedom”, “The Problem of Evil”, “The Aaronic Blessing (Peace on Earth)”, serve as a reminder that you can’t keep a good band down. Ted Bond has an unforgettable voice and one that definitely defines the music of Craig’s Brother. This album was the best the band had ever done up until that point. The band is back and released “Devils In The Details” in 2019 through my lame label (IVM). They are independent now and are releasing a mega hit record featuring 18 songs in the near future. As soon as a lead single is released I’m sure it’ll be the absolute best thing punk rock has ever heard. This band is unlike anything else out there. They straddle the line between Faith focused and politically charged, socially conscious punk rock anthems meant to get people thinking, finger pointing, and gasping in disbelief. “The Insidious Lie” was packed full of nothing but pure quality and the best punk rock that exists out there now.
10. The Roosevelts – It’s So Hard To Make A Sound
I didn’t know much about this band going into this record. I know they had made some indie releases before this one but that unfamiliarity and intrigue led me to discover this band’s music for the first time with an open mind. Their sound was like Weezer meets Ben Folds Five meets Vroom (remember them?). This too was released on Word of Mouth Records (See Adelaide above) and showcased a band that went from the soft to anthemic all in one album. It’d be like mixing those shoegazing songs from Joe Christmas with the more straight forward rock of Weezer. The band had a diverse sound and delivery that set them apart from the pack. It’s too bad they didn’t stick around longer. Those looking for their music will be disappointed with digital networks (not the same band).
9. Everything in Slow Motion – Phoenix
When HANDS broke up no one could prepare for what was to come. Everything In Slow Motion took all the best elements of Hands and amped it up a bit, really drawing upon the strength of Shane’s voice, making it the focal point rather than a BGV sort of thing. This album was and still is one of my favorite heavy rock releases. All 3 of their releases are amazing in their own right but this one set the bar high. I love the singing but I also like the heaviness. If you don’t know who Everything In Slow Motion is (or Hands for the matter), do yourself a favor and fire up that digital player on your media device to give this a listen. “Phoenix” is a special album and the songs hold immense meaning for me personally. It got me through some tough times as well.
8. The Hawk In Paris – His + Hers
Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay went on a hiatus from his rock band and started this 80’s synthwave driven alternative rock band in the late 00’s. They released this debut indie album a few years before their big debut “Freaks” came out. I remember it was given out for free through NoiseTrade.com and I instantly took a liking to it. I’ve always dug Dan’s voice, especially in those early Jars of Clay albums. This took the best elements of Jars of Clay, Dan’s voice, and added a certain flavor with influence from synth driven 80’s songs. It’s like Flock of Seagulls meets U2 meets The Cure meets When In Rome (The Promise) and Simple Minds (you know from that ‘Breakfast Club’ anthem 😉 The perfect combo of pop and rock and while holding on to the hope surrounding it all.
7. Light The Way – False Memory Syndrome
Ok so this is getting a little personal at this point. I discovered this band in 2016 and they were new, very new. The band dropped 2 eps in 2017, I got them some radio play with a couple singles, dropped some CDs, and launched on digital networks. It was the beginning of the end for IVM label days. It’s not because of any one band or any one particular instance of failure, it’s really just about over extending myself through projects I have no business handling. I can promote yeah, but I also have a real job that pays the bills. That “job” always should take priority over passion projects. So here we are. Light The Way are a personal favorite, always have been, always will be. They make pop-punk that is fun, fast, and melodic. They border a bit on the hardcore side which is cool but don’t stray so far to the heavy that they forget the pop side. The thing that separates this band from all the rest is their focus on spiritually engaging songs, music that inspires and leads one to set their eyes heaven bound. “False Memory Syndrome” was the band’s first full length record. It was recorded with a modest budget and released DIY style. Led by songs like “But My Mom Says I’m Cool”, “Thrillhouse”, “The Brkn Heart’s Club”, and lead single, “Holy Ghost”. They are like Set Your Goals meets MxPx meets old AFI meets Blink-182 meets The Swellers and Handguns. Don’t know who those bands are or think the others are overrated, well it doesn’t matter because Light The Way makes music their own way and on their own terms. I’ll always be proud I had the opportunity to work with a great band like LTW and had a chance to be involved in the music making process. Their new full length is going to be the best yet. Bring back pumpkin head!
6. My Epic – Broken Voice
My Epic did something entirely originally and a stark contrast from their more moody, heavy, post-hardcore like indie sound, by incorporating acoustic guitars, strings, and piano. It was their most diverse set of songs the band has ever worked on. I am afraid to say that the emotional connection I have to “Broken Voice” is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in the realm of underground music. It is a beautiful collection of songs. Haunting, brave, hopeful, with eyes set above, gripping a broken heart and crying out with tear stained cheeks. I’ve never been so at peace listening to music as I had/have listening to My Epic. Memories come flashing back and I hold these reminders in my hands while absorbing the notes, the voices, and feeling the hope spring to life. The pain I had in 2014 was wiped clean by so many songs on this record. I love My Epic and this album is unforgettable, some of the best they’ve ever done. I look forward to the follow up to this album some day.
5. Glower – The Circle Binds
This alternative rock band wasn’t afraid to show their love for 90’s alternative music and the sounds of yesteryear. This band featured a (former) member of Hands on lead vocals. He wrote the songs on this record and released this full length early last decade. Broken Circles put this out and I was lucky enough to grab the vinyl version which is quite beautiful I might add. Sadly, they disappeared not long after the release of this debut record. If you can find the songs on digital networks then do yourself a favor and give them a listen.
4. Names Without Numbers – Silos & Smokestacks
This band started in year 2000, released some EPs and a full length in 2003 but then broke up. The band reunited a few times and finally it stuck a few years ago. I connected with the band and released “Silos & Smokestacks” in 2019 on the now deceased Indie Vision Music label (IVM). This band completely took me by surprise. I knew they always good but not this GOOD! This was major label quality music on a diy indie small label. The band should have and still should be signed by a label like Tooth & Nail, Facedown, Spartan, heck even Hopeless, Equal Vision, or Fearless. The quality, pure quality that explodes from your speakers listening to this full length record is nothing short of extraordinary. One of the best indie bands our scene has to offer. Their cover of Taylor Swift’s “Style” was spot on and sounded phenomenal. The band’s new single “Empire on Fire” is out now and it features Matt Baird of Spoken. Did I say it was “good”? No it’s AMAZING!
3. Grandpa Loves Rhinos – Searching in the Sarchasm
Another indie band you may have never heard of. They have a name that turns heads but the music that they create is better than the majority of bands out there. When you find out it’s just a duo of Seth Hyde and his brother Paul Hyde, you can’t help but feel floored. The first Ep was great, I mean that with sincerity, especially led by the mega single “What We Used To Do” but it left one asking themselves, “I wonder what a full length would sound like”? Well my friends, the duo released “Searching In The Sarchasm” late last year and it is the best thing I’ve ever heard from an underground alternative-pop-punk band. This too is a major indie label like offering by a band you might not take seriously had they been a different style of music. “Gimme, Gimme”, “Fostering Patience for Patients”, “It’s Not Home Without You”, and the controversial “It’s Gotta Be The Gaming”, are songs that stick with you and make you a fan from day one. I’ve always been a supporter of these men and I will promote them till the end of times (Um, hopefully that doesn’t happen so soon). Go out and support these guys and listen/stream “Searching In The Sarchasm” today.
2. Hands – The Sounds of Earth
The band broke out big with their debut ep “The Everlasting”. You may have never heard it or this band for that manner but that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist, I mean if a Bear ___ in the woods…. anyway, yeah, most definitely Hands existed. Among us, the small indie Christian crowd, they were bigger than life and one of the most explosive bands to grace our ears. This was a concept record which was put out by Lobster Records, a label known mostly for melodic pop punk stuff (Over It’s early material). How they found Hands blows my mind. Anyway, Lobster released this incredible debut full length in like 2008 I believe and it lives on as one of the greatest post-hardcore/ambient metal debut releases ever dropped by a mostly unknown Christian band. They were soon scooped up by Facedown Records and they released “Creator” not long after. Lobster has a firm grip on the rights to this album still and isn’t letting up which is why it hasn’t been re-released. This and Give Me Rest are two of the strongest genre bending heavy releases I’ve ever heard. While I am sad Hands is done, I am grateful to have the music of Everything In Slow Motion as a replacement. Some of these songs were massively long but that only added to the scope and layers of inspiring music to be found on this record. Long live Hands and long live “The Sounds of Earth”.
1. Blood and Water – In Character
You probably knew, well at least some of you, that this band/release would end up in the top spot. Am I right? The album starts off with this straight forward alternative pop-punk rock guitar rock before jumping right into ska territory (upbeats) with “Sleep It Off”. I first got in contact with this young band right around the release of their Self Titled full length in 2008 and I was a super fan. They were all like teenagers when they started off but by the time they dropped “In Character” they had matured to the point where you wouldn’t notice age, instead focusing entirely on the music at hand. The album featured witty lyricism, sly references, and a sound apart from all the rest of the sound alike clones and metal bands permeating stages across the country. Maybe they came too soon, or maybe too late, either way they broke up and founded Talkie. Now while Talkie may have some good songs, I will forever be a Blood & Water fan and will die trying to get the band to reunite. Come on guys, you know your songs were better as Blood & Water lol. The reason this band and album takes my top spot is because of that special, unique connection I have to their music and the band in general. This is as catchy as they come and definitely one of the best indie albums you almost forgot existed.
In conclusion, forgotten music can be some of the best music. Why is it forgotten? Why do we lose track of our classics? Well, blame the labels, managers, and distributors for dropping the ball and closing up, taking good albums with them. Also, people tend to forget things, keeping their eyes on the future and forgetting the past. We let dust, cobwebs, and forgotten pages of memories lay buried in a closet somewhere only to be discovered later by a kid with an undying passion to seek out something new to be influenced by and reminded of a time long since past.
Thank you friends for reading this, for supporting Indie Vision Music, and for giving independent music a chance. There will be many more years of Indie Vision Music ahead despite loss, pain, disappointment, failure, and fear.
I plan to make this a series which is why some bands were left off this edition. Stay tuned.