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Essential Indiana Songs, Vol. 3

It’s fair to say we could all use a little distraction right now.

With quarantine life in full swing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all in search of ways to find solace in the comfort of our own homes. And while Hulu and Netflix provide plenty of entertainment, there’s no denying the power of music when times are tough.

In the last year, Seth Johnson has put together a series of playlists highlighting essential songs from Indiana artists. For his latest installment, Johnson compiled a collection of Indiana tunes meant to bring you comfort as we look toward that light at the end of the tunnel.

“Still Fine” by Diop

A seasoned veteran on the Indianapolis scene, Diop had his song “Low Key Low Key” featured in Spike Lee’s 2017 Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It. In this 2018 standout song, the multi-talented emcee shares a message of hope amidst hard times. “When I lost my mind, I was still fine, I was still fine,” he says. “When I lost my shine, I was still fine, I was still fine.”

“Cashin In” by Mr. Kinetik and Rusty Redenbacher

This pair of Indianapolis hip-hop staples teamed up for a collaborative album in 2011, aptly titled The Professor and the Hustler. On this grooving track, Mr. Kinetik and Rusty Redenbacher encourage listeners to “get your money right and hold your honey tight”—words that ring true no matter the circumstances.

“New Things” by FLACO

A regular performer at Indy’s Chreece hip-hop festival, Flaco showcases his eccentric delivery in this 2016 song. “I tried to show ‘em me , but nobody was watching,” Flaco says. “Trapping CDs, but nobody was copping.”

“Sun’s Out” by Hoops

After going on indefinite hiatus in July 2018, this much-loved indie rock band from Indianapolis made their triumphant return late last year with a fresh new single. On this radiant track from the band’s 2017 album, Routines, Kevin Krauter wistfully sings of love lost overtop of a shimmering guitar riff.

“Cruisin to the Park” by Durand Jones and the Indications

You’d be hard-pressed to find a song in the entire catalog of Durand Jones and the Indications that doesn’t emit at least a little comfort. Nevertheless, this 2019 single serves as a prime example of the Bloomington band’s classic soul sound, as drummer/vocalist Aaron Frazer sings of a soothing cruise to the park.

“Lavender” by Clint Breeze and the Groove

Consisting of several Indy jazz all-stars, this grooving supergroup unveiled their first release as a band in 2019 with Arrival. On this raucous track, vocalist Pernell from Pike leads listeners in a chorus of unity. “Can’t stop feeling the love all over the world,” he belts out amidst a sea of harmonies.

“The Station” by S.M. Wolf

One of the city’s most consistent bands of recent years, S.M. Wolf has made a name for themselves by writing thoughtfully constructed rock songs. On this single from 2018 album Bad Ocean, vocalist Adam Gross sings of letting the sunshine in — a sentiment that hits especially close to home while in quarantine.

“Citykids (Thermodynamics Reprise)” by Veseria

This Indy rock band is fronted by the husband-and-wife songwriting team of Jen and Patrick Roberts. Proud torchbearers of the Hoosier state, these “city kids” exemplify why their fan bas extends outside of Indiana with this ripping song from 2017.

“Welcome to the City” by Bigfoot Yancey

Led by vocalist Mike Angel, Bigfoot Yancey have established themselves as a pillar of Indy’s folk and Americana music communities, thanks to a series of impressive releases. Taken from 2019 album Early Years, this tune serves as a warm welcome to the rambunctious band’s catalog, as Angel sings of the trade-offs that come with city living.

“Soft Skin” by Amy O

Formerly a member of the duo Brenda’s Friend alongside Erin Tobey, this Bloomington-based musician writes sharp, guitar-centric indie rock. Taken from 2017 album Elastic, “Soft Skin” is one of Amy O’s more tender offerings, giving off an overall feeling of ease and serenity.

“Child Actor” by Busman’s Holiday

Brothers Addison and Lewis Rogers have made music together for over a decade under the name of Busman’s Holiday, enchanting audiences near and far with their effortless harmonies. With 2016 song “Child Actor,” the duo is in full swing, showing off their clever, tongue-in-cheek delivery in style.

“Garden View” by Hales Corner

It’s hard to deny the calming effect of a home garden. Whether you have one or not, this song from Indianapolis indie rock band Hales Corner can help your imagination get there. “That’s all right, I’m okay,” coos vocalist Wes Cook. “A small one-bedroom, but with a garden view.”

“The Lucky One” by Mike Adams at His Honest Weight

Those who have been to a Mike Adams concert know the Bloomington musician is equal parts rock ‘n’ roll ringleader and lovable dad. With this selection from 2016 album Casino Drone, Adams emits his warmth via an ear-grabbing chorus as he sings, “But I’m the lucky one / Out of the fog into the sun.”

“Walk Home” by Sleeping Bag

Since 2011, drummer/vocalist Dave Segedy has been at the center of this Bloomington-bred rock band. Known for churning out irresistibly catchy hooks, Sleeping Bag lays down the goods on this gem from 2012 album Women of Your Life.

An Indianapolis native, I love all things music, especially of the local variety. My other passions also include comedy, social justice, and the Indiana Pacers.
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