If you’re a fan of indie rock or guitar pop, you might not have heard of the Dutch Guitar Pop scene. But let me tell you, it’s been thriving for over 25 years now, thanks in large part to Excelsior Recordings. This independent label, based in Amsterdam, has been at the forefront of the Dutch indie scene since the mid-90s. And they’ve been responsible for some truly great albums.
In fact, I’d say that the Dutch Guitar Pop Renaissance is one of the best-kept secrets in indie music. These bands have a sound that’s uniquely their own, blending jangly guitars with catchy hooks and a healthy dose of nostalgia. And while the scene might not be as well-known as some of its counterparts in the UK or the US, it’s produced some truly fantastic albums over the years.
So if you’re looking for some new music to explore, I highly recommend checking out the Dutch Guitar Pop scene. And to get you started, here’s a rundown of the ten (well, 12) best albums from the scene’s renaissance era. From Moss to Johan to The Maureens, these albums are sure to delight any fan of indie rock or guitar pop. Get ready to discover your new favorite band!
Here is the Spotify Playlist with all the 12 albums.
And, yes, you want more.
1 Johan – Pergola (2001)
Johan has captured the hearts of music lovers worldwide since their formation in the late 1990s. Their sound is characterized by melodic, guitar-driven pop with introspective lyrics that speak to the soul. But there’s something truly special about their second album, Pergola, released in 2001. The 12 songs on this album are simply breathtaking. Each track is a masterpiece in its own right, showcasing the band’s incredible talent and musical prowess. If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Pergola, I highly recommend that you do so. It’s a true gem in the world of indie pop music that will leave you feeling moved and inspired.
2 Daryll-Ann – Weeps (1996)
When it comes to musical comparisons, being mentioned in the same breath as Neil Young, The Byrds, R.E.M., and The Beach Boys is no small feat. And yet, that’s exactly what the press did when they reviewed Daryll-Ann’s Weeps. However, it’s not just the similarities to these iconic bands that make Daryll-Ann stand out. Anne Soldaat’s guitar playing is truly one-of-a-kind, with a peerless skill and creativity that adds an extra layer of depth and emotion to the music. And then there are the songs themselves – with an unprecedented quality that is hard to match, Daryll-Ann has truly carved out their own unique sound that is both familiar and fresh at the same time. It’s no wonder that they’ve garnered such high praise from critics and fans alike.
3 Alamo Race Track – Black Cat John Brown (2006)
“Intelligent pop with endless imagination, as rich and adventurous as pop music can be”, wrote De Volkskrant about Alamo Race Track. The German press compared the band to Fleet Foxes and Mercury Rev.
Black Cat John Brown is extremely beautiful and the title track is second to none.
4 Moss – Strike (2017)
Moss made some wonderful albums before Strike. Never To Be Scared/Don’t Be a Hero (2009) will be considered their masterpiece by many connoisseurs, but Strike is simply better. Gone is all the bravado that often comes at the expense of the songs. Here all thirteen songs are heavenly good. The chorus of Bored to Death is the most beautiful chorus.
Setlist: The Promise, My Decision, Bored To Death
5 Personal Trainer – Big Love Blanket (2022)
Willem Smit has tried his hand at various bands, but he has never hit the mark like with Personal Trainer. Amsterdam bluff and rambunctious indie pop have often proved to be a winning combination, but rarely have you heard so much fun as here. Big Love Blanket is new, refreshing, cheeky and wild.
6 El Pino and the Volunteers – s/t (2016)
The Americana sound that El Pino and the Volunteers had been wielding since 2006 was over in 2016. The self-titled farewell is the kind of catchy, rootsy pop that Ryan Adams makes on a good day.
7 Lewsberg – In Your Hands (2021)
8 Simmer – Mothertongue (1997)
Simmer’s Mothertongue is a forgotten album. It’s a personal favorite, though, and I’ve only recently found out why that is. Well? Because the choruses of the up-tempo songs are so similar to the choruses of the songs on Sloan’s early albums. So that’s why.
9 Caesar – No Rest for the Alonely (1998)
My kids know Pavement but they don’t know Caesar. Someday they will know.
10 Elephant – Big Thing (2022)
Laurel Canyon on the River Maas. West Coast Pop perfected.
11 Do-the-Undo (Anne Soldaat) (2007)
After the break-up of Daryll-Ann, Anne Soldaat’s solo career began. Before he started making albums under his own name, he debuted with Do-the-Undo, one of those records that pop heroes make when they are in top form.
12 The Maureens – Something in the Air (2019)
The best Dutch Power Pop band.