The Best Worst Voices In Indie Rock

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Last week we debated the best voices in indie rock. But there’s another kind of great voice out there—the kind that isn’t classically good, but its technical problems just make it more lovable.

Here are my picks for the best worst voices—you can listen below. Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

1. Will Oldham

Oldham has one of my favorite voices of all time because it’s so cracked and real, but let’s be honest—it’s pretty inconsistent.

2. Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel)

That nasally yelp at the beginning of “King of Carrot Flowers Part 2 & 3” gets me every time.

3. Karen Peris (The Innocence Mission)

She sounds like a little elf, bringing happiness wherever she goes.

4. David Berman (Silver Jews)

I would love to hear Berman’s vocal tracks alone. He sounds like some guy singing in the car—but that’s part of what makes his music so endearing.

5. Dan Bejar (Destroyer)

His love-it-or-hate it voice could carry a musical.

6. Joanna Newsom

Speaking of love-it-or-hate-it—Newsom’s screeches and squeaks are almost too much. But when it works, it works.

7. Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes)

Oberst used to sound like a goat pretty much all the time, but his voice has evened out in the past several years, and now he trembles at all the right moments.

8. Colin Meloy (The Decemberists)

Meloy’s voice is strong and consistent, but its distinct, enunciated sound is a turn-off for some people.

9. Emil Svanangen (Loney Dear)

His incredibly high-pitched voice is a beautiful instrument in and of itself, even when he’s singing off key.

10. Matt Berninger (The National)

The sound of his voice is soothing and perfect for The National’s moody songs, but Berninger’s range must be squat because he only sings low and a little bit lower.

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