Here’s the deal: The IC is putting up 10 questions about indie rock. Some will be answered on our site and some won’t. Your job is to figure them out and email the answers to Scott at redbassist66’comast.net. Some will be easy, some will be harder. The person who answers the most correctly on the first try will get a handful of albums I have laying around. The contest is open until Friday, October 21, 2005.
- What is the record label that two members of Braille created and what instruments do they play in Braille?
- According to Geoff Rickly of Thursday, why did he dye his hair black?
- What band on a Christian rock label has put out three records with three different lead singers?
- From Autumn to Ashes currently has how many full-length records out?
- What band from West Chester, PA, has had a member appear on Viva La Bam?
- What video was banned from MTV and VH1 in 2004 for its “anti-American” sentiments?
- What two writers from Independent Clauses share hometowns?
- What album did both Stephen and Scott agree was one of the top albums of 2004?
- Name He Is Legend’s first label.
- What Trustkill band broke up, then reformed with only one original member before releasing a full-length on Trustkill? (Bonus point if you can name the band that the drummer left to join.)
Knock yourselves out. If there is a tie between more than two people the IC will make up extra questions.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Waking Ashland / The Audition / Torn from Red / West Fairview / some other band whose name I can’t remember
The Championship, Lemoyne, PA
Probably the first thing you’ll notice about this review is that I couldn’t remember the name of the first opening band. This isn’t to say that they were so horrendously bad that I completely blocked them out of my recent memory; if that was the case, I wouldn’t have even listed this unknown band in the list of performers. The fact that I made the effort to mention that there was another band means that if they practiced every day for the next year, THEN played another show I attended, I would more than likely bother to remember their name. Another pet peeve that I had was that the lead singer, who looked like a 16 year old boy badly in need of a haircut, incessantly complained about it being excessively hot, yet didn’t think that this could be alleviated by removing or unzipping his hoodie. But that wouldn’t be the scene thing to do.
After this first nameless band that wanted to be Atreyu, or some equally as mediocre metal core band, West Fairview took the stage. I must admit, I didn’t expect much from them, based solely on listening to their purevolume site prior to attending the show. However, though their music was somewhat bland and formulaic pop-punk, their guitarist was quite talented, and his stage antics and enthusiasm managed to hold my attention for their set. A Christian band, Torn From Red, played next, and much like West Fairview, their music online was inferior to what I heard live. A self proclaimed “emotional driven rock and roll band”, Torn From Red lived up to their name, burning through an energetic set and ending with a touching ballad. While this strategy failed to rile the crowd like most bands do, it better served to bring a more fitting closure to their set.
The next band was one of Victory Record’s newest additions to their roster: The Audition. If asked how to describe their sound, I would put them on the spectrum of music somewhere between Fall Out Boy and Taking Back Sunday. I realize this is a small portion of said spectrum, but Victory Records only signs bands that sound like Fall Out Boy and Taking Back Sunday. Despite this, I find the song “Dance Halls Turn to Ghost Towns” extremely catchy. They play an infectious brand of tongue-in-cheek pop-rock that’s great to sing along with, and put on a great live show as well. The playful antics of the vocalist were a much needed breath of fresh air after the relatively sedentary vocalist of Torn From Red.
Lastly, Waking Ashland took the stage. I realized prior to the beginning of their set that they would have to rely heavily on their musical prowess and sing-along qualities instead of a stage show, being that their vocalist also doubled as their keyboardist. Despite the lack of movement, the energy of their set rivaled nearly all the other bands that performed. Their own brand of powerful piano driven rock held the attention of even the most inattentive audience member (i.e. yours truly) and the music itself sounded like a near carbon copy of their CD. While some might consider this a downside, in my opinion, it made their set all the more enjoyable based on my ability to flex my completely inept vocal abilities and sing along, without worrying about some odd change in the lyrics or music that could potentially make me look like an idiot.
Aside from forgetting a band name, and having to listen to sub-par purevolume recordings beforehand, this show was relatively enjoyable. Of course, having my eyes gouged out and having to swallow them down to my colon would probably be more enjoyable than the last show (link to http://www.independentclauses.com/id231.html) I attended. Cheers!
If You Want To Learn…
This month’s editorial is very short. This is not for lack of time, as I am writing this weeks in advance- this is purely because I found something more interesting, more informational, much more important for you to read than me (hard to fathom, I know). But seriously- if you want to learn about where indie-rock started, where it is right now, and where it is going, as well as all the sub-genres, read these two articles and click all the links.
That is all. Have a good month.
What about all those other bands?
It is really a pity that every band which deserves attention and press doesn’t get it. You can go out to hundreds of shows and see hundreds of great bands, but only some of those bands will get attention- just because the music scene is so saturated with bands. This is one of the reasons I started working for Independent Clauses- but even when you go out of your way you can’t review or give press to every band out there that deserves it.
This month I have gone through all my music and I have found a few of bands (in no particular order) that should at least be listened to, because no matter how impossible I know it is, I still want to give each band a little bit of press. So here goes:
I usually don’t go for Christian stuff like this but Sam Kim is a really great guitar player and great lyricist. I actually got the chance to play with Sam this summer, which was a great experience. He’s young but he will end up doing something that will blow everyone’s mind.
Time and Distance (www.timeandistance.com)
I’ve really been enjoying acoustic stuff lately and these guys really deliver the goods. Signed to I Surrender, these guys deserve every bit of successes they get. It’s emotionally charged acoustic rock that just really hits home sometimes. Maybe I’m a sap but I like it.
Full Surrender (www.fullsurrender.com)
I never thought anyone would be able to take good post-hardcore and make it acoustic without leaving out the screaming. Full Surrender does it well. Just another that you will have to check out.
(in theory) (www.intheorymetal.com)
Part spaz-core, part post-hardcore. One song will be a brutal, “kick you in the teeth and laugh” song that would rivial the likes of Fear Before the March of Flames or 7 Angels 7 Plagues and the next song will be reminiscent of Funeral for a Friend. They may be slightly bi-polar but they put out a great product.
Band Name: Brian Amsterdam
Album Name: The Sore Score
Best Element: Consistent songwriting mood.
Genre: Indie Singer/Songwriter
Label Name: Aeria Records (www.aeriarecords.com)
Band E-mail: email@example.com
While it is clear that Brian Amsterdam has a well-versed history in music, it is also clear that his album The Sore Score is a debut album. There are some shining moments, but there are also some mishaps that will most likely be ironed out with more practice as a songwriter.
The actual instrumentation of this album is the upside to this album. Based around an acoustic guitar, but not afraid to feature fuzzed-out electric guitar, electronics, reverbed electric guitar, or breakbeats behind it, Brian Amsterdam’s music has a rather unique stamp. Songs such as “Sidewalking” and “Waking Up (Equinox Mix)” clearly display that Amsterdam is an aspiring DJ in addition to being an indie-rock artist- the almost abrasive breakbeat in “Sidewalking” contrasts very nicely against the acoustic guitar, while the lush strings, bass, and fuzzed-out guitar of “Waking Up (Equinox Mix)” form a backdrop that ambles somewhere between trip-hop and shoegazer.
There are simple songs (the melancholic guitar/vocals shuffle of “Silence Kills”) and complex ones (the indie-techno groove-lite of “Spiders); fast ones (the bouncy, dance-infused “See You Soon”) and slow ones (the standout “Farms + Arms”) and everything in between (the booming “You Didn’t Lose” and the delicate, intricate “I Give Up”).
The album has a lot of consistency in its songwriting, as the songs flow well with one another- it’s very easy to set this on ‘play whole album’ and just chill. In this manner, Amsterdam owes a lot to Beck- the same mid-fi production ideals, the same laid-back, “anything goes” musical attitude, and the same deceptive musical maturity. Amsterdam’s musical maturity is highly refreshing in songs such as “Farms + Arms” and “Don’t Sleep Tonight”- songs that could’ve gone wrong with too much tweaking, but were allowed to stay a little underproduced, adding an extra bit of charm.
The downside to this album is Amsterdam’s vocals. The quality of Amsterdam’s voice is a little bit too haphazard throughout the album, and his vocals frequently detract from otherwise enjoyable songs. The doubled vocals on “Farms + Arms” fit in perfectly with the song, making it the standout track on the album, but the very next song “You Didn’t Lose” has a repetitive vocal line that never quite has the emotional punch it aims for- it comes off as whiny and lame. Ballads “Silence Kills” and “Don’t Sleep Tonight” don’t get enough strength behind the vocals, turning them into crooning messes. It’s not so much the tone of Amsterdam’s vocals as it is the way he sings- in the pumping “Sidewalking”, he opens with a sinister, dark, forceful vocal line that fits perfectly. Once he starts getting more melodic with the vocal line, it all goes awry, as he doesn’t put enough force behind the vocals and it starts to sound unconfident, whiny, and unprepared.
It’s a tragedy that Amsterdam’s main flaw comes in an area that many people view as the most important aspect of the singer/songwriter genre, as his songwriting is unique and admirable. There are songs on here that are genuinely the entire package- but most of the songs on this album fall a little bit short of the mark. If you like Beck and don’t mind weak vocals, Brian Amsterdam’s The Sore Score is a must-buy. If you’re a little more discerning as a listener, you may want to wait until further releases from Amsterdam to get into his sound. He has a bright future ahead of him, as soon as he polishes his sound a little bit.
Band Name: Days of Contraband
Album Name: S/t
Best Element: Mosh-inducing rock frenzy.
Label Name: N/a
Band E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve been following Days of Contraband for a while. If you read this site enough, you’ll know that there’s a lot of bands that I follow. I’m a music freak, okay? Days of Contraband stuck out to me because of their punk-fueled post-grunge blast with the power to make you stand up and ask “who is that playing?” The only problem they had (and they had it for a long time) was no singer.
This actually helped them in the long run, because as they spent two albums gritting it out without vocals, they learned to make their music extremely exciting on its own. When you take the complex, intricate, exciting rock that they learned to make and add the ear-dazzling new vocalist Brandon Hall, there is no way that Days of Contraband can escape getting famous. It’s coming for them.
The reasons are all laid out in the stand-out track (and opener) “Crimson Death Sky.” The intro is sampled- sounds of war. You know you’re in for some rock. The dual guitars hit, and even though they’re winding and intricate, they rock. The verses are full of restraint, as a drum roll and some clean guitars accompany calm vocals. The chorus is amazing, as the distortion kicks in, two guitars lay out intricate lines, and the vocals burn with furious passion above them. The range is shiver-inducing, and you must sing along. The drumming is fantastic throughout- perfectly timed and extremely fast, it forms the backbone for this barnburner. They’re not done yet- there’s still a group-yell section (I love group yelling), and a signature DoC instrumental section that shows they haven’t lost their roots. It’s passionate, extremely creative, and it’s got ‘hit’ written all over it. I wish I ran the radio.
“The Great Escape” has the best instrumentals on the album, as the chemistry locks into place and Days of Contraband just tears up the song. The vocalist fits in right on top with his howling voice and it’s another great song. The inclusion of a hardcore breakdown and more group-yelling cements this one in my mind. “Heros and Legends” (sic) features the most complex instrumental arrangement on the album, with manic bass riffing, odd drum patterns, and weird guitar lines vaguely reminiscent of Coheed and Cambria. They even showcase some metal vocals on the closer “Bullets for Breakfast”, proving that Days of Contraband is at its best when it’s at its heaviest.
Although the highs are high, there are a few snags along the way. Hall is a good, strong vocalist, in command of a large range, solid tone, and a good scream. The downside is that if he’s backed up by music that’s too high for his range (“First Blood”, “The Love on Death Day”), he starts to revert towards the pop-punk singer tone. The flaw isn’t fatal, as he doesn’t go all the way into a trite whine, but it’s just enough to possibly turn off some potential listeners to the greatness that is Days of Contraband.
But overall, people will be floored by Days of Contraband. There’s not a filler song on this EP, and that’s extremely tough to do in the genre of post-grunge rock. Throw up your fist and start the mosh- Days of Contraband have what you want and they know it.
Band Name: Harris
Album Name: The Light Is Seeping Through The Cracks
Best Element: The next great modern band.
Genre: Indie Rock
Label Name: N/a
Band E-mail: email@example.com
Harris is frighteningly current and dangerously isolated. Their latest album The Light Is Seeping Through The Cracks takes all the conventions of the nu-wave emo/neo-wave dance/post-punk/indie-rock movements and spins them all on their head. The end result is a dazzling display of indie-rock firepower, but as with all great experiments, it doesn’t come without its share of naysayers.
The first thing notable quality of The Light Is Seeping Through The Cracks is that it is quite long. It is 52 minutes long- 52 minutes of complex music that runs the gamut from hit-it-and-keep-moving spazzing to slow-moving epics to self-contained mellow gems. Most bands couldn’t even attempt this type of indie-rock excess. Not Harris- they’ve got the spectacular chops to keep themselves entertained for the entirety of the album. In this behemoth amount of material lies the strengths and weaknesses of this album. Those approving of Harris’ unique brand of indie-rock will be ecstatic for all 52 minutes of it and possibly hail Harris as the next great modern band. The pessimists out there will find some tracks a little bit too much like the others and say that there’s just too much to digest.
All of those points have some degree of merit. It is hard to listen to the entire album all the way through- many of the songs have such a degree of complexity that it requires strict concentration to understand exactly what is happening (especially “Last Sentiment” and “Not What We Used To Be”). But then again, there are mellower songs like “New Color”, “Pace of Change”, and “Too Young to Go” that don’t take too much effort to understand. They’re still not your average mellow songs, but they’re a step down on the intricacy level for Harris, so cut them a break, eh?
And if you don’t engage for the entirety of the album, you’ll miss the intricacies that hit in the songs, and you’ll start to feel that the album has tracks that are merely filler. This is completely and totally a sham- there is not any filler on this 52-minute CD (ambitious statement, I know). From the slow-burning “Some Kind of Gospel” to the almost too-manic “Solid Ground”, every piece of this album contributes to a different part of the emotional spectrum that Harris displays. Even the distant drumbeat that connects “Carousel” and “New Kind of Color” has importance- linking the most frenetic opening section of the CD to the less-panicked majority of it.
And now to the part about “the next great modern band”. Harris knows it all- they have the stage-antic flailers, the scream-alongs, the mid-tempo feel-good songs, the herky-jerky indie-pop songs (“Silent Treatment”), instrumental brilliance reminiscent of my heroes The Appleseed Cast (the brilliant “Some Kind of Gospel”), and beautiful slow songs (“Captain”). They know how to set up aesthetics, burying critical parts that only show themselves after multiple listens. They know how to frame a vocal line, and they know when to turn the vocals into just another instrument. They are so good that they transcend genre barriers. Their songs are distinctly theirs, and when appreciated, you will hear the touches that make Harris into the band they are.
Harris is frighteningly current and dangerously isolated- they take everything that is in all the scenes and flip it on its head, becoming more than most bands will ever be. But they are dangerously isolated in the fact that there is not a scene for this- there is not a band that has a fanbase that they can easily latch on to. They will have to make their own empire, fan by fan. It’s a hard life being the best in the business, but the reward is at 4 minutes and 40 seconds in “Captain”: the entire band crashes in on a previously fragile heartbreaker and proceeds to rock out in a cathartic, unabashed manner, leaving it open for the listener to decide whether to care or not and leaving no doubt in my mind that Harris is, in fact, as good as I think they are.
Hiring? Why, Yes!!
The Independent Clauses is currently looking for writers. We need a CD reviewer (reviews CDs for us), a singles reviewer (someone who can listen to music online and give songs a quick review), a columnist (someone with a knowledge of music, an interesting take on things, and lots of ideas), and as many concert reviewers as possible (goes to local concerts all the time and reviews them). All of these positions are unpaid, but pretty much everyone ends up with free music, and the experience looks real nice on a resume. If you are interested, please read the IC Constitution below, then send a music-related sample of your writing to IndependentClauses@hotmail.com. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
The goal of Independent Clauses Music Magazine is to be the best independent music monthly magazine there is. We will accomplish this through the accomplishment of these day-to-day goals:
We want to provide coverage to bands that are little-covered or have never been covered before, and give them the same professionalism, courtesy, and interest that we would give to our favorite bands.
We want to provide coverage to as many bands as possible.
In bad reviews, we want to show at least one good trait about a band, if possible. If this is not possible, we will not review their CD, out of courtesy to the band.
We strive to have a creative take on anything we do, whether it be challenging interview questions, interesting story ideas, unique editorials, or thorough CD reviews.
We want to spread the news about these bands to as many people as possible. At the moment, we are a website- but this is a magazine. It will be treated as a monthly magazine.
Just as this website is treated like a monthly magazine, the writers will be treated like magazine writers. They will be entrusted with material to review in the trust that they will give a full review to each band and turn that review in on time. If there is a problem, it will be noted in advance, or as it comes up.
We don’t want to give lip service to the bands that have already been ‘discovered’- no Modest Mouse CD reviews, no Broken Social Scene articles, no editorials comparing the Toronto scene to the Chicago scene (unless you’ve experienced –first-hand- the scene in both places).
We want to be honest, courteous, and prompt in our contact with labels, bands, and other people who the IC comes into contact with, whether they be in person, by e-mail, or via phone.
The ultimate goal of Independent Clauses is to become an established, self-supporting, profit-turning monthly print magazine with a dedicated readership interested in discovering the music that isn’t talked about in mainstream channels. This can only be accomplished through hard work, responsibility, and love for independent music. We strive to employ people who have those traits.
Band Name: Edinbergh
Album Name: S/T
Best Element: Tight, well-coordinated songs
Genre: Emo/ Indie Rock
Label Name: N/a
Band E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me first start off by saying I am not a big emo fan- it just isn’t my style. But when I first listened to Edinbergh, I really liked their sound. Edinbergh has a sound that puts a creative spin on emotional hardcore while still blending in nicely with the emo crowd.
The band achieves a very heavy sound without extremely heavy instruments. The guitar parts are heavy, but not over the top to where you can’t hear the melody. This very tight chemistry is coupled by very good vocals- the harmonies give the songs a melodic tone that becomes trance-like, as the singer’s voice compliments the instruments perfectly. The lack of screaming also caught my attention- this makes Edinbergh’s music flow with a liquid-like quality that can be appreciated by anyone.
I really enjoy the entire album, as it is put together very well. The tracks flow into each other like they took one song and cut it into 5 smaller pieces. It’s one of those albums that you only have to hear once to know it is very good.
However, I did not like how most of the songs are arranged the same. They are comprised of the same verse, chorus, bridge pattern, which can get boring after a while.
Edinbergh can be described as a bad-ass emo band with a hard and edgy sound that will rock the house. They are true musicians who are not afraid to make good music for everyone to enjoy, although their future releases could use some songwriting diversity. If you are in the Tulsa area, definitely check out Edinbergh.
Band Name: It’s Revenge
Album Name: Demo
Best Element: The consistency of the instrumental parts
Genre: Wide-ranging rock
Label Name: N/A
Band E-mail: email@example.com
It’s Revenge has some of the most talented guys in the indie music industry, as they can and seem to be willing to play almost any type of straight-laced rock. Some songs are Green Day-style punk while others seem to be infused with Nirvana’s ideas. This is a hard album to review just because of the talent of the musicians and the range of styles that they play.
The album is extremely difficult to follow all the way through because each song is in a completely different style. For example, “New York Minute”, an up-beat song about grabbing life by the horns and not letting the world pass you by, is followed by heavier track “These Times.” This makes the album hard for me to sit through because of the way I listen to music. Honestly, this album is a lot like your extremely ADHD friend- he’s a hell of a lot of fun sometimes, but his mood swings can really get on your nerves.
The instrumentals on this album are some of the best I’ve heard out of an indie band for a while. Though they are relativity simple, relying on the same riffs in a few different songs, the band plays well and can play together, a trait that you find in fewer and fewer bands anymore.
Overall this album shows promise but I can’t see a huge market even in the indie scene for these guys. Though the songs “These Times” and “Going Home” show a more defined style than any other songs on the album, the album is too straight laced. There is no question that these musicians will go far, but I don’t see this band lasting with its current multi-styled bi-polar set-up.
It’s not the best but it is a fun, light album to listen to. I’ll be interested to see what happens as the band evolves.