“Walking the Cow,” by Daniel Johnston — A pioneer in outsider music and lo-fi, Johnston excelled in the underground and unconventional, dispersing his music via cassettes and promoting his artistry through zines. “Walking the Cow” comes from his celebrated 1983 cassette Hi, How Are You, a collection of sonically diverse, childlike ditties dedicated to his struggles with mental illness.
“Post Modern Fade,” by Cottonwood Firing Squad — A frequent name on this list, Billi Rodriguez propels lo-fi sound into the modern age with complex one-man instrumentality, simultaneously maintaining the true DIY grit that’s become a staple of the genre.
“Vomets,” by Standing On The Corner — A collaborative avant-garde New York City supercrew, Standing On The Corner are simply beyond genre, making use of experimentality that could only be found in the hodge-podge of NYC’s underground music scene.
“nail i couldn’t bite,” by SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE — Hailing from Philadelphia, neo-psychedelia crew SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE dabbles in noise pop, indie rock, indietronica, and shoegaze to name a few of their ventures.
“Peppertree,” by Armand Hammer & The Alchemist — Hip hop duo Armand Hammer, composed of underground superstars billy woods and Elucid, teamed up with legendary producer The Alchemist (as well as Earl Sweatshirt) to produce their recent 2021 release Haram, a brutal and eclectic postcolonial project that highlights the broken and bent rules of society that the upper class takes liberty in manipulating. In some ways, this is Alchemist at his most dense, cerebral, and experimental in terms of productive experimentation; this album is simply a must-listen.
“Ugly Brunette,” by Horse Jumper of Love — Slowcore trio Horse Jumper of Love are lethargic, melancholic slackers in the best way possible. Although many find the group’s sound annoying or fake, those who enjoy HJL embrace the raw lyricism and find comfort in the sheer pessimism.
“Cooking,” by Duster — A huge name in slowcore and adjacent genres, Duster first released their breakout album Stratosphere in 1998 and have been reaping in the profits ever since, even reemerging with their 2019 project Duster as a victory lap.
“Holy Fucking Shit: 40,000,” by Have A Nice Life — Taking notes from My Bloody Valentine, Joy Division, Swans, and Nine Inch Nails has clear merits for Have A Nice Life, a post-punk band formed by Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga in 2000. Their 2008 release Deathconsciousness has recently entered conversation as one of the best shoegaze projects of all time, making it a necessary listen for those willing to dive into an incredible post-industrial noise-adjacent drone.
“Pangaea Girls (Magic Feeling),” by Candy Claws — Much like the previous artist, Candy Claws tends to delve into the more “wall of sound” aspects of shoegaze, however approaching the notion with notes of dream pop and psychedelia. Their 2013 Ceres & Calypso in the Deep Time has similarly entered critical circles as a notable underground release from the 2010s.
“I’ve Wasted So Much Time,” by Enjoy — Hypnagogic pop artist Enjoy employs all aspects of the genre in his nostalgic sound that uses lo-fi production, analog synths, and retro FX.
“Kimochi Warui (When? When? When? When? When? When? When?), by Car Seat Headrest — Slacker rock king Will Toledo has been an ever-looming presence in Car Seat Headrest, a lo-fi outfit that started back in 2010 with their aptly-titled album 1 — an otherwise unimpressive venture in singer/songwriting. How to Leave Town, however, hit the scene in 2014 to roaring applause, incorporating elements of electronica and space rock and allowing Toledo his own creative license.
“Stoned Again,” by King Krule — Coming off of Archy “King Krule” Marshall’s 2020 album Man Alive! is “Stoned Again,” a somber and atmospheric dive into Archy’s attempt at neo-psychedelic art-rock. In typical King Krule sense, the vocals are raspy, the music is dense and depressive, and for some reason, there’s a saxophone.
“Athoth a Go!! Go!!,” by Machine Girl — Matt Stephenson started Machine Girl in 2013, pushing out various indietronica before taking on percussionist Sean Kelly to play drums. Albeit the duo makes their own variation on electronic punk, the term “industrial” fails to fully encapsulate the disgustingly raving breakbeat nature of what Machine Girl has come to represent in the ever-expanding EDM soundscape.