Here we see middle-aged white hipsters in their natural habitatZoran Veselinovic

Landfill Indie: UK phrase referring to the amount of generic guitar-based bands. It is characterised by:

  • Complete lack of rhythmic invention.
  • Weedy vocals.
  • Millions of songs about how *weird* the world is.
  • [the band] having gone on about twenty-five years too long.

— Urban Dictionary, ‘Landfill Indie’

Back in the summer, I read a Vice article listing the 50 Greatest Landfill Indie Songs of all time. It stuck with me, because despite being incredibly critical of my entire music taste, and by association, my entire personality, it also opened up my eyes to the true dreary nature of the genre that is blanketly called ‘indie’. At this point I had spent years thinking of bands like Razorlight and the Kooks as talented, alternative guitar bands that betrayed convention. I had completely missed the fact that the vast majority of my Spotify playlist was made up of the same pale, middle-class, all-male four-pieces, with floppy hair and larger-than-life plaid shirts, playing the same power chords to the same beats.

At a glance: The top 15 landfill indie songs

15. ‘Six Days in June’ – The Fratellis (2020)

14. ‘Burn, Camden, Burn’ – Razorlight (2020)

13. ‘Drunk and Broke’ – LongDayLateNight (2020)

12. ‘All I Want to Hear You Say’ – Sea Girls (2018)

11. ‘Anything Could Happen’ – The Academic (2020)

10. ‘Mess’ – Noah Kahan (2019)

9. ‘The Great Escape’ – The Lathums (2019)

8. ‘LAIDBACK’ – RAT BOY (2019)

7. ‘Want Me’ – Baby Queen (2020)

6. ‘Blame it on the Summertime’ – Miles Kane (2019)

5. ‘Sarajevo’ – The Ks (2017)

4. ‘Hannah, You’re Amazing’ – The Halloweens (2020)

3. ‘Hate You’ – Spacetoast (2019)

2. ‘15 Years’ – Vistas (2020)

1. ‘Here’s the Thing’ – Sports Team (2020)

Click to show

My initial reaction was to reject indie music, and snobbishly skip through the View, Little Man Tate, and Maximo Park in my playlists to get to the ‘real music’ of the Who, the Jam, and the Kinks. It was only later when Vistas’ Stranger appeared on my Spotify Daily Mix that I rediscovered my love for everything indie; I set about embracing every guitar band, or middle class attempt at grunge that came my way. In doing so, I have compiled a list of fifteen of my favourite indie songs from the past few years, which prove that these days there is much more to the scene than just resuscitations of the tripe of the past.

15. “Six Days in June” – The Fratellis (2020)

I want to start this list with one of the more iconic landfill indie bands of the ’00s. Back in 2006 the Fratellis released Costello Music, the debut album that brought us “Chelsea Dagger”, the unofficial anthem of every sporting event ever. Since that classic album, the Fratellis became more lowkey, their music gradually became more and more developed, cultivated and yet no less catchy. In my opinion, this peaked with the release of “Six Days in June”, the first release from their latest album, due for release this spring. An embrace of the modern country-feel that the Fratellis do so well, it has the sound of a legitimate successor to “Chelsea Dagger” – although it has garnered nowhere near as much as attention – and has the sound of a much more matured, experienced band behind it.

Landfill Rating: 4/10. Although borne of an all-male Scottish indie rock band from the early ’00s, this is a reinvention of a classic sound from an incredibly adept band, now well into middle age – hardly landfill at all.

14. “Burn, Camden, Burn” – Razorlight (2020)

From the ultimate landfill band, who brought us such tedious drawl as “Golden Touch”, “Before I Fall to Pieces” and “In the Morning”, comes an embarrassingly good track which, like “Six Days in June”, reinvents the band’s classic sound in a much more adept way. That being said, with their long hair, trilbies, and skinny jeans, this song is more continuity than it is originality.

Landfill Rating: 9/10. Sure, it’s a good song, but that is not enough to save it from Johnny Borrell’s droning voice and the generic London whiteboys that make up the band. Again, ultimate landfill band.

13. “Drunk and Broke” – LongDayLateNight (2020)

This song is the product of a fairly unknown four-piece band from Newbury, Berkshire, but it has been a stalwart of my music taste for months. It is an exciting track, and catchy beyond all measure. However its shouty lyrics, typical guitar riffs and suburban origins mean that, no matter how much I love the band and the song, I can’t help but include it in this list.

Landfill Rating: 6/10. Pretty landfill at face value, but it’s modern and has a wry charm about it so I’d feel bad scoring it any higher.

12. “All I Want to Hear You Say” – Sea Girls (2018)

Don’t let the name fool you, they aren’t real girls – it’s just a cool-sounding name appropriated by four men. Don’t worry though, I’ve looked hard and later on we see brief glimpses of diversity eventually, albeit nowhere near as much as it perhaps should be. This song is a true modern landfill dirge. More electronic sounding than its predecessors, but equally as generically catchy as any cult classic. In fact, I even got it confused with another song when I first wrote it down.

Landfill Rating: 8/10. Incredibly catchy, but it fits the above definition way too well to get anything less than an 8.

11. “Anything Could Happen” – The Academic (2020)

Reminiscent of The Enemy’s duller albums, this is another group effort to make the most normal sounding song possible, a bemoaning of the dreariness of everyday urban life. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but I can easily see why others wouldn’t.

Landfill Rating: 9/10. The band seem like a great bunch of guys to be fair, so I’d still recommend listening to them. Maybe try “Bear Claws” instead though, it’s a much better song.

10. ‘Mess’ – Noah Kahan (2019)

I’m crossing over to the States for this one. Noah Kahan is what you’d get if Hozier had a really high voice instead of a really low one. Much like with Hozier, Noah is the kind of musician you want to listen to when you’re feeling particularly down.

Landfill Rating: 6/10. Rather than being four teenage guys from the southeast, he’s a solo artist from Vermont, which is basically cultural diversity given the pure homogeneity of this list.

9. “The Great Escape” – The Lathums (2019)

This is one of my favourite songs at the moment, perhaps best described as ‘if Arctic Monkeys wrote Rocket Man’. The biggest musical talent to come out of Wigan since the far-more-generic the Verve, the Lathums are more like the pre-landfill era indie bands of the north and made NME’s 100 Essential Artists for 2021.

Landfill Rating: 5/10. They’re different to most of today’s guitar bands, but I can’t quite put my finger on why, so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt.

8. “LAIDBACK” – RAT BOY (2019)

A former arts student from Chelmsford, RAT BOY (note the all caps) is the natural successor to Jamie T for our generation. If it wasn’t for his incredibly wholesome Instagram page (laced with tributes to his girlfriend, his artwork and his activism) you’d be mistaken for thinking he was another forgettable pseudo-edgy Soundcloud artist, but the musical genius of his album SCUM marks him out as a very capable and legitimate musician. “LAIDBACK” is his most iconic track, although “REVOLUTION” is equally as good. Even I can’t be that cynical about him, apart from the mildly irritating caps lock he always seems to have on.

Lanfill Rating: 4/10. Brilliant though he is, the eery similarities between him and Jamie T mean he still deserves a 4.

7. “Want Me” – Baby Queen (2020)

Baby Queen is kind of like a British reply to Billie Eilish, but that may be doing her a disservice. Being the answer to the question ‘what if Kate Nash and Taylor Swift had a baby(queen)?’ Baby Queen is not the typical floppy-haired-four-piece trope. Rather, she is an iconic female solo artist, whose sardonic and captivating track “Want Me” has been on repeat in my head in recent days.

Landfill Rating: 6/10. If I’m going to be cynical, the track itself isn’t as unique as I had convinced myself it was and is a fairly classic brit-rock track. However, songs don’t need to be complicated to be great, and this is an example of that.

6.Blame it on the Summertime” – Miles Kane (2019)

Friend of Alex Turner and full-time ambiguous Gallagher lookalike, Miles Kane is not new to the indie scene. His work alongside Alex as their duo side project The Last Shadow Puppets is reflected in his very standard song, “Blame it on the Summertime”. A typical ode to hedonism, its lyrics and sound are just what you would expect it to be having seen just the name. However, they do say simplicity is the trick to good marketing.

Landfill Rating: 9/10. It is what it is, there’s little else to say about it.

5. “Sarajevo” – The Ks (2017)

Dangerously close to becoming one-hit-wonders, the curse for The Ks may well be the success of “Sarajevo”, their debut hit which has been streamed nearly four times as much as their second most successful song, “Glass Towns”. I love this track, but my only reservation is that it reminds me too much of a B-list Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out”. It carries the same love/WW1 metaphor, which is difficult to overlook when Take Me Out carries such cultural weight in the British indie consciousness and it isn’t half as iconic. That being said, it nonetheless has a brilliant opening riff that will have you wanting to play guitar extremely well just to show it off to impress people.

Landfill Rating: 5/10. Not necessarily original, but its aggressive more rock-based tones are way more contemporary and exciting than the majority of songs from the ’00s.

4. “Hannah, You’re Amazing” – The Halloweens (2020)

The retro duo made up of Vaccines bandmates Justin Young and Timothy Lanham, The Halloweens are the ultimate ’80s-inspired nostalgia-trip. This is definitely their most iconic track to date, and it’s one that you’ll listen to way too much for about a week before getting pretty sick of it and moaning whenever it comes on.

Landfill Rating: 7/10. Original sound, but they are still The Vaccines, and the lyrics are proper indie softboy garbage.

3. “Hate You” – Spacetoast (2019)

My favourite incredibly niche band of the moment, Spacetoast are a group from Leicester, who operate entirely from their shed. Writing this while balancing their music with their A Levels, it’s pretty cool that they have managed to outdo bands who’ve been in the game for years. They haven’t yet achieved stardom, but when they do, I’ll be proud to say I was one of the first to discover them.

Landfill Rating: 4/10. First off – there is actually female representation in this band in the form of guitarist Eleanor, already separating them from the generic herd. However, they call the Stone Roses one of their favourite bands, and that is true landfill behaviour.

2. “15 Years” – Vistas (2020)

Yet another Scottish all-male guitar band, one could easily fall into the trap of thinking Vistas will be like everyone else. Rather, they stand out as one of the giants of the scene, having grown massively over the past year. With an easy-going charm, these former school-mates do Twitch streams, constantly interact with their followers (the video to this song is entirely made from clips of fans singing along) and reached #2 in the Scottish Albums Chart for their debut album Everything Changes in the End. Their personality shines through everything they do, and you’re left in no doubt that the trio are just three normal, friendly guys like you and me.

Landfill Rating: 3/10. If any band on this list is going to break out into the mainstream consciousness, it will be Vistas, and if any track deserves to, it’s “15 Years”.

1. “Here’s the Thing” – Sports Team (2020)


Mountain View

Taylor Swift’s Surprise Albums: The Top 10 Tracks

To call any band ‘the next Smiths’ would be a bold claim, and some might even find the label offensive, given Morrisey’s questionable relationship with the far-right. I’m going to do it anyway and say that that’s exactly what Sports Team are, although I’m keen to point out that frontman Alex Rice is significantly less controversial than his Smiths counterpart. With their eccentric lyrics and frankly bizarre acts of madness (they released their address live on Annie Mac’s Radio 1 Show and invited everyone round their house for a show, for example) this band of Cambridge alumni are the ultimate post-punk reinvention of the indie scene. Their music is full of character, and their live shows are extraordinary.

Landfill Rating: 2/10. Full of originality, with a female drummer and several bandmates that don’t have floppy hairdos, these guys are the opposite of landfill. I mean, they’re still all middle class white southerners, but, you know, baby steps.