Year From Hell In Review: Top 10 Nashville Indie & Alternative Singles & Releases Of 2020

It goes without saying that 2020 was a difficult year for many, the music industry especially.

In an era where so many artists are dependent on income made on touring or merchandise sales, the industry has taken massive losses, both financially and emotionally. This sentiment is especially true in the city of Nashville, a city where thousands of its residents are dependent on the music industry as a source of income. 

The city itself has been cut the deepest this year, from a tornado in March that destroyed beloved music venue The Basement East, to a devastating act of terrorism committed downtown on Christmas Day. All the while, the pandemic keeps on churning. 

Yet Music City’s spirit is yet to be crushed, and these ten singles released throughout this firestorm of a year prove that Nashville indie and alternative groups and artists still have plenty to offer. 

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Ron Gallo has taken on the pandemic by creating REALLY NICE FEST in March, a digital music festival for artists longing to get back to performing via livestream. The artist has released a series of singles throughout the year, pairing up with fellow indie artist BOYO to create “HIDE (MYSELF BEHIND YOU)”. This song’s haziness and distortion are right on trend for the era of bedroom pop and lo-fi production. 

9. Liza Anne “Desire”

Formerly a melancholy folk songstress, Liza Anne has taken a more alt-rock approach to her 2020 album, Bad Vacation. Not only does Liza reinvent herself in terms of genre, she also takes an introspective journey throughout the record’s lyrics as well. “Desire” is about taking a step back from nightlife, and using the time to focus on yourself — a message especially poignant during the sweeping season of COVID.

8. Jah Frida “Peaches N Cream”

“Peaches N Cream” is the lead single off of Jah Frida’s 2020 EP, Leap Year. While R&B might seem like a stretch from indie rock, Jah Frida blends the genres with ease — incorporating the rhythmic cues of the former, with the instrumentals of the latter. 

7. The Mango Furs “Shoes Untied”

“Shoes Untied” is a recent release from four-piece psych rock band The Mango Furs. The song has twinges of 60s nostalgia, but remains refreshingly hip. Its echoing chorus and hypnotic guitar solo are sure to satisfy the desires of surf rock fans and psychedelic junkies alike. 

6. Parrotfish “Make a Scene”

This indie rock band hails from Belmont University, and have released two EPs throughout 2020, their most recent being Old Man 2020. The four tracks nod to fellow indie rockers and Belmont alumni in the group COIN, but their twinges of funk is what makes Parrotfish stand out. “Make a Scene” exemplifies this blend the best, and its optimistic melody is a guaranteed indie rock staple. 

5. Chaz Cardigan “Losing Touch”

“Losing Touch” is a track off of Chaz Cardigan’s sophomore record, Holograma, an album where Cardigan had the opportunity to work with the songwriters/producers responsible for creating songs with former alternative royalty like The Naked and Famous and Lana Del Rey. The collaboration has once again paid off, and “Losing Touch” shows the indie pop artist has a lot to offer. 

4. Alexandra Sedlak ft. Warren Smythe “Sideways”

As one of the more somber entries on the list, “Sideways” sees indie rock artist Alexandra Sedlak pair with Warren Smythe to create a woeful acoustic duet. The two’s vocals melt together effortlessly, making this a perfect song for any local Nashville coffee house — one that’s practicing social distancing, of course.

3. Dance the Misery “Corvette”

Dance the Misery is the project of Matthew Green, a Kansas City-native who moved to Nashville to develop his music career. Green dropped his debut EP, Bad Feelings at Night, in 2020, featuring the song “Corvette”. It’s an expansive alt-rock jam well suited for windows-down drives at sunset or coming-of-age film credit reels, highlighted with its echoing electric guitar solo at the song’s bridge. 

2. Local Opener ft. BOYO “Oh You”

Local Opener is the side project of Johnny Fisher, a member of another Nashville-based indie band, Okey Dokey. “Oh You” is a dreamy indie rock song with a psychedelic twist, embellished with a mesmerizing vocal chorus.

  1. Dreamer Boy “Don’t Be A Fool”

While most indie artists consider any comparison to country music to be a death sentence, Dreamer Boy embraces his Nashville influences with pride. After opening for bedroom pop royalty artist Clairo, Dreamer Boy has gotten back to work in Nashville and released a string of successful tracks throughout 2020. His latest single, “Don’t Be A Fool” allows music elitists (myself included) to indulge in the nostalgia of the classic country instrumentation without the shame of being caught listening to Nashville’s current lineup of cash cows. Its dreamy lo-fi production combined with the melodies of the steel guitar prove that Music City still can pledge allegiance to its country roots — even without the pickup trucks and beer cans.

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