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Top 10 Albums from Mom + Pop Music

We celebrate a decade of great records from one of our favorite indie labels

Mom+Pop 10th Anniversary Ben Kaye Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett, photo by Ben Kaye
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Mom + Pop Music celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2018, marking a decade of truly great music from the NYC indie label that will last well into the future. Never an indie publication to miss a chance to champion another little guy making good, Consequence of Sound decided to look back on the very best releases during that first decade and reflect on the many memorable sounds courtesy of Mom + Pop. Listeners can only wait for the label’s next move, but their first years have been something incredibly special to rockers, ravers, and skaters alike.

–Clara Scott
Contributing Writer

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10. Ingrid Michaelson – Lights Out (2014)

Ingrid Michaelson - Lights Out

From the very first track on Lights Out, singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson is self-assured in her quest to uplift and to be uplifted. “Home” is a stunning opening track, a fast-mounted promise for the rest of the album to fulfill, and followed immediately by the pop hit “Girls Chase Boys”. However, even as the album carries on and dips into its mellower and more introspective moments, Michaelson never relinquishes the soothing surety that so distinguishes her music on Lights Out. She never loses the edge that accentuates songs like “Warpath”, even as she travels through a layered examination both of herself and of the world around her. It seems as though, by the time an artist reaches her sixth studio album, she might have little left to say — or, at the very least, little left to prove — but Michaelson uses her experience to her advantage, reinventing at every turn and proving that she has plenty yet to say and do. –Laura Dzubay

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09. Lucius – Wildewoman (2014)

lucius - wildewoman

Lucius’ 2014 record, Wildewoman, was the full-length studio debut for the Brooklyn five-piece, presenting the twin voices of vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig to the world for their first endeavor into the LP. The album is a carefully grown piece of art in every sense of the word, placing folk ballads like “Two of Us on the Run” next to ’60s-inspired girl-group pop hits like “Turn It Around” to form a very interesting mix of genre and tempo that somehow just works together in a natural way. The product is a work that frames Wolfe and Laessig’s voices in different lights that all focus on one common strain of longing, an emotional core of truth that shines through every track. Wildewoman was an outstanding second release after the group’s initial EP in 2013, showing audiences the strength and power of a woman’s voice through the mouths of two expert musicians. –Clara Scott

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08. Sleigh Bells – Treats (2010)

Sleigh Bells - Treats

Treats introduced the world to Sleigh Bells, and what an introduction it was. Eclectic and unabashed, metallic and sugary, Treats unifies bubblegum pop and noise rock so thoroughly that their melding almost feels like a tradition already established. Vocalist Alexis Krauss wields sighs and whispers like weapons, and guitarist Derek Edward Miller tracks powerful beats through tracks like “Infinity Guitars” and the inimitable “Rill Rill”. M.I.A.’s influence is all over this album, but Miller and Krauss take care to find their own direction, constantly switching up vibes over the course of the sparse half-hour-long album. The result is a record that sounds like the robot revolution meets a pep rally meets an action-packed party — the sort of party you’ve always wanted to go to, with crazed characters and the fun sort of danger, but you’d never been invited before. –Laura Dzubay

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07. Wavves – Afraid of Heights (2013)

wavves - afraid of heights

“No hope and no future,” Nathan Williams sings on “Demon to Lean On”, and indeed, that is largely the vibe that he and the rest of Wavves give off on their fourth studio album, Afraid of Heights. “Mystic” is industrial, stripped-away and chaotic; “Beat Me Up” is deceptively careless and perkily self-dismissive; “Paranoid” embodies self-doubt and, yes, paranoia. Yet, for an album so intensely focused on negativity, Afraid of Heights does carry a kind of exquisite feel to it, from the peppy, straightforward distress of “Lunge Forward” to the ghostly drama of “Everything Is My Fault”. Each track is wholly self-aware, and while not all of the record’s moodiness can be labeled ironic, so much of it is layered and self-referential that the emotions the surf rock group are mining come off consistently as raw and distinct from one another. Wavves’ venture in this album may be a dark one, but it is also fully realized and fully true. –Laura Dzubay

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06. FIDLAR – FIDLAR (2012)

fidlar album cover Top 10 Albums from Mom + Pop Music

FIDLAR’s 2012 self-titled album sounds like an incredibly old leather jacket feels — cracked, full of patches, host to years of spilled beer and cigarette smoke, but undeniably comfortable, no matter how you cut it. FIDLAR is not a record for the faint of heart, but it’s a significant release for the skate-punk band, fusing their rough sensibilities with a slightly more polished approach to production. The group jumps between tracks like “Cheap Beer”, a frenetic romp about the virtues of terrible drinks, to “No Waves”, a surprisingly melodic reflection on addiction and fun with a roundabout hook, countering their extreme roots with a modern indie rock edge. The album is a perfect intro to FIDLAR’s music, because it offers the listener a tasting menu of the LA band’s different approaches to rock through the lens of punk, grunge, hardcore, and various mixes of the three. –Clara Scott

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05. Flume – Skin (2016)

Flume - Skin

Flume’s Skin was a stellar sophomore effort for the DJ, an Australian wunderkind named Harley Edward Streten who has fought his way to the top of the charts with legacy acts like Diplo and Zedd on sheer talent and inventiveness alone. At only 24 years old, Streten produced Skin as a work of art, each song weaving together to create an interesting and glittery quilt of sound. The album is a perfect mix of classic EDM beats and catchy pop hits like “Never Be Like You”, a successful single that stuck in the heads of teenage girls and adults alike with singer Kai’s acrobatic vocals, while also countering the sugar with tribal tracks like “Helix” and softer, more atmospheric sounds on “Tiny Cities”, which features Beck. The record solidified Streten’s place in the electronic hierarchy for years to come, proving yet again that the producer could achieve the difficult balance between critical acclaim and pop success with a seemingly effortless touch. –Clara Scott

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04. Tash Sultana – Flow State (2018)

Tash Sultana Flow State Album Artwork Cover

Flow State is an album that knows the value of restraint. Where Australian singer-songwriter Tash Sultana’s voice appears, it is melodic and strong, but on tracks like “Cigarettes”, they often pull back and let the atmosphere do the walking. Burning guitar riffs, hushed drumbeats, and lush synths permeate the album, rising and falling and exploring the firm pathways that each song offers them. Songs like “Salvation” and “Mellow Marmalade” are brimming with attitude, while others like “Seven” anchor the album in hypnotic instrumentals. It’s clear that Sultana is soaking in influence from all directions and isn’t afraid of pursuing a momentous difference via deceptively quiet and easygoing channels. The album stays true to its name, flowing between various states of mind and heart and taking the listener along with it, often surfacing in striking moments of presence. –Laura Dzubay

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03. Metric – Fantasies (2009)

Metric - Fantasies

A fantasy can look like a lot of different things. On Metric’s fourth studio album, it looks like a sweeping journey through a new wave nightmare. “Help I’m Alive” opens the record on a startling high note, dread-infused but simultaneously clear, inspired, and focused. The lyrics on Fantasies from open to close are razor-sharp, and the Canadian band stretches their indie-rock classification in numerous different directions, demonstrating flexibility and an underlying creative yearning. The album clocks in at a tight 10 songs, each its own brand of standout; “Satellite Mind” flexes the intellectual reach of the album both in music and in verse while “Collect Call” redirects the album’s electric energy down softer, more confessional channels. Fantasies is a record you can dance to, but it also, at times, makes you want to buckle down and work toward something you’ve been needing to put time into: a fantasy beginning to take form. –Laura Dzubay

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02. Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory (2012)

Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory

Attack on Memory is truly an indie rock record to be remembered. The 2012 record from Cloud Nothings cemented their place in the rock scene with a sound that feels like the test-tube baby of Foo Fighters, The Strokes, and Radiohead combined. Lead singer Dylan Baldi’s droning yet melodic vocals dance over music that can be anything from morose to danceable, but always interesting. On Attack on Memory, the band reaches a creative peak, using dissonance and genius percussion to enhance their thought-provoking lyrics. Though indie rock has changed significantly since its inception, the core of grit and pure inventiveness that makes it different is present in Cloud Nothings’ music, especially within the songs on this record. –Clara Scott

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01. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel (2018)

Courtney Barnett's Tell Me How You Really Feel

Tell Me How You Really Feel is a tour de force for Courtney Barnett, to say the least. The album marked a departure from her typically languid, chilled-out songwriting and meshed the guitarist’s talent for lyrics and rhythm with a newfound sense of politics. In addition to poetic messages of anger, love, and loss, Barnett’s record is genuinely fun to listen to — it fuses her folk sensibilities with the grungy edge of rock to create truly memorable songs that walk the line between activism and satire. Tracks like “Nameless, Faceless” and “Charity” may seem to have little in common on a superficial scale, but they share a common core that Barnett is known for — a raw and soulful honesty. Tell Me is a highlight in Barnett’s discography because of its differences to her other work, but also for its transparency and unabashed declaration of the songwriter’s thoughts, tangled as they are. –Clara Scott

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