The other day, I covered my top 10 favorite 10+ minute long indie songs. Today, I want to give nod to ten more lengthy tracks that didn’t make the cut simply because they didn’t quite reach the ten-minute mark.
Dig into my video covering the list below:
1 | Built to Spill: “Broken Chairs” (8:41)
It was hard to pick a single track by Built to Spill. They have quite a few — like The Decemberists, they tend to have about one 8+ minute track per album. I’ve shared previously how Perfect From Now On had a huge impact on me growing up. “Untrustable (Pt. 2) [About Someone Else]” is up there, just shy of 9 minutes. But my pick goes to “Broken Chairs” off their 1999 LP Keep It Like A Secret, which was my first ever brand new piece of wax, purchased in 1999, which comes in at 8 minutes 40 seconds.
Want more? See: “Goin’ Against Your Mind” off You In Reverse and “Comes a Day” off 2022’s When the Wind Forgets Your Name. The latter was a top 3 album of mine for 2022.
2 | Woods: “With Light And With Love” (9:07)
Bend Beyond saw Woods as a band in transition, moving from away from the lo-fi components of their psychedelic folk sounds and injecting a bit more rock. With Light and With Love saw them strengthen these convictions and cemented Woods as a truly powerful force in indie rock. The focal point on that album was the whopping 9 minute 7 second title track “With Light And With Love” which had great vocal hooks, solid guitar melodies, and an excellent instrumental breakdowns and guitar solos.
It has long been one of my favorite long songs.
Long ago, I stated that “With Light and With Love” might be Woods’ best song ever. Check out that post here.
3 | Mount Eerie: “Pale Lights” (9:59)
I covered Phil Elverum’s project Microphones in my 10+ minute songs blog post and video for the 44 minute 44 second track “Microphones in 2020.” His other project is Mount Eerie. “Pale Lights” may be why I pulled this one together, as the track comes in just one second shy of 10 minutes.
Mount Eerie finds this great duality between albums that are stripped bare with minimal instrumentation and experimentation — acoustic works with an emphasis on melody — and crushing noise-based experimental works that flirt with post rock.
“Pale Lights” fits the latter and comes from Ocean Roar, one of two such albums he released back to back in 2012, the other being Clear Moon.
4 | Jeff the Brotherhood: “Mary of Silence” (9:23)
If “Mary of Silence” by Jeff the Brotherhood sounds a little familiar, there’s a good reason. It’s a cover of a Mazzy Star song off So Tonight That I Might See from 1993.
Listening to Mazzy Star’s original, which barely tops 6 minutes, I’m continually reminded of how much that band dipped their toes in the hazier side of psychedelic rock, blending in traits you’d often find in drone-centric stoner rock, dream pop, and shoegaze.
Jeff the Brotherhood, on the other hand had oscillated between gritty garage rock prominent on albums like Heavy Days and Wasted on a Dream and the psychedelic-tinged stoner rock of Global Chakra Rhythms. I’m a fan of both sounds, but there’s really something special about what they created on the latter. And that’s where you find “Mary of Silence.”
5 | Modest Mouse: “Stars are Projectors” (8:46)
One of a handful by Modest Mouse topping 8 minutes, “The Stars Are Projectors” opens side C with a prolonged intro that swirls and distorts reality before sliding into a familiar and catchy melody. The intro serves as sci-fi breakdown before Modest Mouse serves up their quirky late 90s style of Pacific Northwest indie rock.
Of course, I say late 90s even though this is on The Moon & Antarctica, which was released in 2000.
6 | Destroyer: “Rubies” (9:25)
My introduction to Destroyer stemmed from Electric Version by The New Pornographers, of which Destroyer frontman Dan Bejar was a member. I became a fan the following year after he released Your Blues thanks to the powerhouse track “Notorious Lightning.” Destroyer’s follow up to that album, the 2006 LP Destroyer’s Rubies found me getting even more obsessed with the band.
And kicking off that album is the 9:25 song “Rubies.”
As found on the best Destroyer tracks, Bejar’s lyrics are a meandering poetry conveyed atop a folk-rock base that is more rock than folk yet has still has traits of both. “Rubies” doesn’t have a consistent beat, and like the meandering vocals, the music goes back and forth between a driving beat and rhythm, and sparse breaks.
7 | LCD Soundsystem: “How Do You Sleep?” (9:12)
First, I must note that this is NOT their epic track “45:33” which is as long as the title of the track. Forty five minutes and thirty three seconds. However, in terms of power and impact, “How Do You Sleep?” off the band’s 2017 LP American Dream became my obsession when I first heard it. It tops 9 minutes.
I love this track, though most LCD Soundsystem fans would probably highlight “Dance Yourself Clean” as their favorite. That one chimes in a just shy of 9 minutes.
8 | Kevin Morby: “Harlem River” (9:15)
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year is Harlem River, the debut solo release by Kevin Morby, who’s projects prior to going solo included The Babies with Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls and a stint as bassist for Woods, who I talked about earlier on this list.
Ten years later, the title track to this album remains Morby’s longest track, spanning 9 and a quarter minutes.
You don’t often see music videos for long songs, but that’s not the case here. In fact, despite its length, “Harlem River” remains Morby’s second most-listened-to track on Spotify. The video below is a bit truncated at just 7 minutes, though.
9 | Songs: Ohia: Blue Factory Flame (8:30)
I would rarely consider mellow, laid back Americana conducive to long, drawn-out tracks. Yet, I can rattle off a number from Jason Molina and his projects Songs: Ohia and The Magnolia Electric Co. that fit the bill. In fact, the near 12-minute track “Not Just a Ghost’s Heart” almost made my 10+ minute list.
However, I find “Blue Factory Flame” off Didn’t it Rain to be a little more powerful.
I remember seeing Molina live back in the mid to late 00s at the Seattle Folk Festival, and was blown away by his performance. Despite being quite minimal in nature, Molina was always a captivating musician. He is greatly missed.
10 | Fleet Foxes: The Shrine / An Argument (8:07)
Fleet Foxes doesn’t seem like a band to create a particularly lengthy song, but with “The Shrine / An Argument” they do just that. In fact, to my knowledge, this 8:07 song is the only one they’ve given us that tops 8 minutes. And it’s a stunner!
This one includes a few movements including a truly spectacular, somewhat experimental, saxophone improv solo. Were it not for that component, I don’t think this song would hold the power it does. Everything works together, from the first movement — AKA “The Shrine” — to the breakdown and conclusion in “The Argument.”
The second and final track to have a music video, check out “The Shrine / An Argument” below:
It’s a Wrap: My Top Long Indie Songs
That concludes my two part list of Indie Epics, with part 1 focused on 10+ minute songs and part 2 being this one featuring greats that don’t quite hit the double-digit mark.
What would you add to this list? What amazing song tops 8 minutes but is shy of 10? Let me know in the comments below, and if you haven’t yet, check out my list of top songs over 10 minutes right here.