Band Name: People Chasing People
Album Name: The Dayglow Light of Sleep
Best Element: Replay value
Genre: Mellow indie, alternative
Label Name: Milquetoast Records (www.milquetoastrecords.com)
Band E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
While listening to The Dayglow Light of Sleep, it’s very easy to find yourself tapping your foot, sitting back, and relaxing- the ease with which one can listen to this album is awe-striking. With easily flowing songs and very agreeable vocals, People Chasing People have struck a treasure of an album.
Bouncy guitar riffs are common throughout the album, providing a solid flow without bad song spacing and dull, boring moments. Like the guitar, the drums and bass provide the same fun and enjoyable momentum with catchy beats and rhythms. Unfortunately, the lyrics struggle to contain the same catchy and fun elements as the instruments. Although the lyrics may be too much for some listeners, the melody lines are matched very well to the overall feel of the songs. The correspondence between the lyrics and singing is still done as well as possible, though- they’re not completely at odds with each other.
There is no struggle for great performance- this album is a strongly layered, quality album that every music lover could find enjoyable. Anyone looking for good listening can stop looking and check out People Chasing People’s The Dayglow Light of Sleep. It could easily be your favorite album of the year.
Band Name: Rachael Sage
Album Name: Ballads and Burlesque
Best Element: Honest, strong songwriting
Label Name: MPress Records (www.mpressrecords.com)
Band E-mail: email@example.com
I have two older sisters who, in my childhood, would play Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan and Ani Difranco incessantly from their bedrooms- one across the hall and the other next to the family room (where the TV was). Over that time, I learned to appreciate the female voice and begin to understand the viewpoint of a woman. Not girls, but women- women like Rachael Sage.
After Michelle Branch hit it big and Avril followed soon after, the world of women’s music digressed in maturity and complexity- and many who fought to make a statement in the 90’s with The Lilith Fair washed out. Jewel started making dance albums, Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos stopped making good albums, Liz Phair decided she wanted a piece of the Avril pie, and Sheryl Crow, well, I’m not going there. But Rachael, she’s different. She cares about integrity, creativity, and personal control. She’s not afraid to speak out and doesn’t have to be overly sexual or disgustingly cute. She can just be honest and that gives her grace.
The song on the record that really pulls this point across is the opener, titled “Sacrifice”. The song is a beautiful, well-crafted number with piano, organ, light drums, the whole bit. But the heart of the song lies in the lyrics. “Know that these are my own two arms” is the line that begins the idea across to the listener and introduces Rachael splendidly. In this life, we have to follow what our hearts tell us and sometimes that interferes with what our parents had in mind. Rachael is making the statement that she has achieved what she set out to achieve and did it without anyone’s help. This is the bottom line of independent music and it is slowly dying. Artists like Rachael Sage keep it alive with a mixture of integrity, work ethic, and creativity.
As far as a reference point for the sound, Ani Difranco is pretty similar- but these days, it would be hard to find a female singer on the indie circuit not influenced by Ani. Rachael has enough talent and wit to avoid being a clone and is creating a legacy of great music through independent releases. I would suggest Ballads and Burlesque to anyone who wishes to hear intelligent female music again.
Pop is the Word
This month’s singles center around pop and it’s forms- indie-pop, dream-pop, power-pop, and nu-wave emo (which is the new pop/rock). There’s also an indie track thrown in there for good measure, although it’s punky, so you could say that it’s pop-punk. I wouldn’t. But you might. Enjoy.
Song: From Daniel, Chapter 10
Label: Da Capo Aria Records
Bottom Line: Mellow, trance-inducing indie-rock that ends jubilantly.
“From Daniel, Chapter 10” starts off very unassumingly- a finger-picked guitar line and a very soft percussion thump bring in the song. The guitar has a very soft-edged tone, which is echoed when the vocals come in- very soothing and sweet, they meld perfectly with the sound. A piano and another percussion instrument are added, increasing the depth of this track. The track drifts onward in a very Pet Sounds-ish way until it spontaneously explodes in a jubilant outcry of a choir singing. As if to counterbalance the outcry, the next section is a very ambient one, completely composed of guitar and ‘ahs’. The trick ending is pretty cool, but I’ll let you find that out for yourself. A splendid indie-rock song that shows talent, diversity, and interesting songwriting ideas.
Band: Felix and Wolf
Bottom Line: Early track from a very promising solo artist.
Some people would look at Felix and Wolf and say “What is it?!” I look at Felix and Wolf and say “It’s the beginnings of something great!” The peculiar guitar style on “Dreamy” does give off a dreamy effect, but more so than the guitar playing is the vocal section included. In the middle of the song, the vocalist sings an acapella melody, then layers another melody on that, and then a third- creating a joyous hymn of ba-ba-bas. The song then reclaims its guitar roots and finishes out the song, leaving the listener in stunned silence at what has just happened. It may have a couple of wrong notes and a couple of vocal moments that aren’t top-notch, but the ideas behind it are great. Felix and Wolf has a bright future ahead. Definitely one to watch.
Song: Hidden Clouds
Band: Negro Fluo
Bottom Line: Dreamy, lo-fi pop that soothes with impressive songwriting skill.
Built more on layers of sound than verse/chorus/verse, the clarity with which “Hidden Clouds” is accomplished is impressive. Starting with a wavering synth line, then backed with a clicking, ticking digital beat, this song grows depth without ever seeming too fast paced. Each element is so weighted and measured that by the time you notice it, it’s already there- entrances are never noticed. The ebb and flow of this song only improves when the vocals come in- fey and high-pitched, they are reminiscent of Ben Gibbard without being annoyingly so. The song progresses very easily, retaining the otherworldly quality that all good dream-pop has. The only downside to “Hidden Clouds” is that there is not a well-defined vocal hook. The song ambles along in a very enjoyable manner, but there’s no strong vocal hook to close the deal, leaving the listener a little bit abandoned as the song fades out. It’s about the only thing there is to criticize in “Hidden Clouds”- the rest is extremely tight, captivating dream-pop.
Song: [Insert Long and Winded Song Title About Immaturely Longing for a Girl’s Love Here”>
Band: Shorthand Phonetics
Album: Tsefuelha EP
Label: Tsefula Records
Bottom Line: Short, sweet, and worth the time.
“Insert….” is a short blast of indie-punk energy. After a quirky intro, the song pulses to life, setting a punky riff against a rapid-fire vocal performance reminiscent of such caustic vocalists like Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse and Jack White of the White Stripes. Lead Singer Abalil Ashari doesn’t reach the manic heights of White or the deranged tones of Brock, but he gets close enough to make this song worth listening to repeatedly. The vocal explosion at the end is great- a reminder of why yelling/screaming was incorporated into music in the first place. The breakdown in the middle falls victim to a lo-fi recording, as it is mostly obscured, but the rest of the song revels in low-fidelity goodness. With a little more practice, Shorthand Phonetics is really going to be something.
Song: Let’s Leave This
Band: The View Between
Genre: Rock/Nu-wave Emo
Album: Promo 2005
Label: Royal Empire Records (www.Royalempirerecords.net)
Bottom Line: A song that you want to hear on your radio.
The View Between starts out “Let’s Leave This” in a very strong way- instantly establishing very heavy yet hooky guitars. The riff is nothing new to the rock/nu-wave emo genre, but it’s good enough that you’ll want to hear it again. The vocals throughout are extremely well-done, capitalizing on the fact that the lead singer’s tone is not high or whiny. The background vocals are done well also. The song flows along in a pretty strong way until the breakdown, which is strong musically, but falls down vocally. The melodies just don’t establish anything new. The transition from the bridge to the chorus does save some face, though- they throw in a spoken word section and really connect well. The inclusion of screams only at the end of the song for emphasis also really helps this song. If I heard The View Between on the radio, I’d definitely call back and ask them to play it again- it’s the type of song that would make radio fun to listen to again.
Band: 4 Points West
Album: Lonesome Demise…EP
Bottom Line: Really good power-pop from OKC.
I think a power-pop scene is forming in Oklahoma City- first I heard the stellar Falcon Five-O, and now I’ve met the rapidly rising 4 Points West. A comparison between the two bands is possible- both have mid-tempo guitars that push the focus towards the vocals, as well as the same general feel-good mood. 4 Points West doesn’t have as good of a chemistry as FFO does, but that’s because they haven’t been a band as long. They still have some really good ideas- the best part of “32” comes when the vocals and bass duel (yes, you read that right). The lead guitar has some really cool melody ideas, especially towards the end of the song. The chemistry will come with time, making their good ideas into great songs, but for right now 4 Points West has a lot of good ideas and average accomplishment of those ideas.
Band Name: The Box Social
Album Name: Blown To Bits EP
Best Element: Fun music.
Genre: Loud Pop/rock
Label Name: No Karma Records (www.nokarma.com)
Band E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I love liner notes. They often set the mood for an entire album, and for the Box Social’s latest EP, this couldn’t be more true. After the hand-written, hilarious, starkly honest intro to the band by the ‘almost-band-member’ Bob Gun, they proceed to thank some hilarious people, and give this note under the “all rights reserved. or something” tag [asterisks mine”>: “Don’t steal our sh*t. Matt is cut like a steak, and he will hunt your a** down.”
If this band didn’t have good-natured, hilarious music, I would be concerned. But, lo and behold, Blown to Bits is full of hilarious lyrics, loud pop-rock, and a general ‘who cares?’ attitude.
From the beautifully titled, evenly-paced opener “Brontosaurus Blues” to the heavy, stomping title track to the bizarre, creepy “Scary Dream” to the ‘best of all possible worlds’ closer “Limb From Limb”, there is some very interesting stuff going on in this EP. “Hold the Phone” sounds a little too much like Weezer, which is why I didn’t include it in the list of awesomeness (although it’s a great song too).
“Limb From Limb” starts out with a solid, rather simple drumbeat augmented with a cowbell. The frantic, neurotic vocals come in with some dirty, Strokes-esque guitars, setting the song into a very nervous, jittery mode. The bass comes in, and the song is suddenly very, very dark. With the addition of one instrument, the song is now a nervous explosion, a creeping monster of a song. The chorus bursts forth with thick guitars and the pop backbone shows itself, but as they lead out of the chorus, their inner indie-rockers are exposed. The guitars come in hard and heavy, a solo rages, the bass pummels, and the drums are still solid. Then comes the breakdown, where the drums stay – you guessed it- solid, while the guitars do minimalist stuff over it. The tension builds and builds until it seems that I just can’t take it any more- and then the chorus comes back in, in all its jubilant glory and revelry.
That’s pretty much the formula for the rest of the album. And you know what? If a formula works, don’t mess with it.
The Box Social loves playing music, loves having fun, and knows a lot about how to build a good pop/rock song- that much is evident from this EP. What is not evident is how far this band will get when the rest of the nation catches on to the fun that The Box Social has and wants a piece of it for themselves. Long live The Box Social!
Band Name: Traindodge
Album Name: Torch EP + 2
Best Element: The instrumental breaks
Genre: Ambient/hard rock/I don’t know
Label Name: The Torch EP was released by No Karma Records but the band is signed to Ascetic Records.
Band E-mail: email@example.com
This band has one of the oddest sounds I have ever heard- period. They sound like what I imagine would happen if The Felix Culpa and Futher Seems Forever got on the same stage and performed at the same time with Tim McIlrath of Rise Against doing all the vocals. Yes. it would be odd, and probably give more than a few people seizures, but it certainly would be interesting. And just like that show, there is no question that his album is interesting.
The album is a “lost EP” from 2000 with the addition of two unreleased songs. This gives the first 4 songs from the original EP a slightly different feel from the other two songs because of the changes in style that occurred between the birth of the two un-released songs and the recording of the original EP. Though the style does change, it is interesting to hear how the band grew.
My favorite song on the EP is the 11 minute, completely instrumental “Cactus Flag”. This track is 11 minutes of flowing music that allows you to think and contemplate life and love and anything you want to.
The album is a great record to sit back and soak in; the vocals are rough but are used sparingly and allow for the music to take over.
Band Name: True Story
Album Name: Simplicity in Economy
Best Element: Nothing truly awful, but nothing truly incredible
Genre: Indie rock
Label Name: Two Bad Dogs (www.twobaddogs.com)
Band E-mail: n/a
True Story’s four-song CDSimplicity in Economy has all the essence of listening to a band play in a coffee shop while people converse and enjoy their company. It would serve as great mood or background music, but that’s all.
There really isn’t anything remarkable about this CD- nothing to reach out and grab the attention of the listener. True Story has the slow moving sound and monotone vocal style of bands like Coldplay and Radiohead, but without any energy and very uninspiring vocals and lyrics. The music itself is not bad, but there is nothing attention grabbing about it- each track sounds just like the track before it. Then there is the instrumental track, which is long, repetitive, and for the most part, quite boring. There are very few bands that can pull off a completely instrumental track and make it entertaining, and, simply put, True Story is not one of those bands.
The production quality of this CD also leaves a lot to be desired. There is a muffled quality to the sound throughout all four tracks, which makes it even harder to listen to. The guitar drowns out the bass and percussion quite often, which reduces the amount of audible depth.
If you’re just looking for something to put on in the background while you’re conversing with friends, or hanging out in a bar or a coffee shop, this CD might be something to consider. On its own, however, there is nothing attention grabbing or engaging to be found within this CD. It is not terrible- it is simply mediocre.
The Watch List
This is a new feature at the Independent Clauses- basically, it’s a list of bands that we’ve discovered over the month. It’s not exactly a singles review, but it’s close. This month the list features a pop band, two mellow indie bands, and three foreign caustic indie-rockers. Quite a mix, if I do say so myself.
Website: www.purevolume.com/avenueca + www.goodmorningcocktail.com/avenue
Bottom Line: Dynamic, fluid, instrumental indie-rock that changes moods on a dime and wows every time.
Genre: Spastic Post-hardcore
Album: You Run the Show, I Drive the Ambulance EP
Website: www.purevolume.com/plk + www.ploekband.dk
Bottom Line: Hardcore, circus music, and avant-garde indie rock weigh heavily on this band’s influences- making theirs a very original sound.
Album: S/t EP
Website: www.purevolume.com/cedarwell + www.cedarwell.com
Bottom Line: Mature pop that emotes beautifully, sticks in your head, and is thankfully cliché-free.
Album: …Som Sagt EP
Website: www.purevolume.com/kvark + www.kvark.mymusic.dk
Bottom Line: Undeniably tight, clever indie-rock with Sigur Ros-like vocals and a guy reading poetry over it- in Danish. It doesn’t get more cool than this.
Genre: Melancholy indie-rock
Bottom Line: Hushed vocals, instrumentals that walk the line between ambient and anthemic, an end result that is just beautiful…and it’s only one song.
Album: Anthropomorphism EP
Website: www.purevolume.com/apatheiacz + www.apatheia.wz.cz
Bottom Line: Apatheia’s modern rock has an neo-classical, artistic side that is sorely missing in everyone else on the radio.
Band Name: The White Foliage
Album Name: Zurich EP
Best Element: Visionary songwriting.
Label Name: Fall Records (www.fallrecords.com)
Band E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This album, the Zurich EP by the White Foliage, nearly made this entire edition late. You see, I love the band. I love them a whole lot- but because they’re so amazingly good, I couldn’t figure out for the longest time how to adequately express the unique, dreamy, transcendent beauty that the White Foliage coaxes out of French horns, pianos, plucked guitars, samples, cooing vocals, and some deft inclusions of electronics. It’s so completely different than anything I’ve ever heard that it took me literally weeks of listening to be able to say something about it.
But I’ve figured it out. The White Foliage is a pop band that got bored with pop conventions- there’s absolutely nothing normal here. Choruses are rare, the vocals consist of ambient cooing, the instrumentation is extremely odd (as I’ve already noted), and yet, they make it sound amazing. The White Foliage would fall under the category of avant-pop, as they strive to make beautiful, accessible pieces of music- but the basis of “Drug Song” is built off a strong piano riff and a great French horn solo. The formational elements of the title track are (I think) a mandolin and brushed drum line (with some cello help), while “Dreams of the Silver Moon” employs a pulsing drum-beat as its spine.
Their lack of convention does not mean that they can’t turn a hook- the vocal hook in “Zurich” is undeniable, and the songwriting on “Nostaligia” (as close to a normal song as The White Foliage gets) is a beautiful instrumental ballad, bringing to mind a bit of the children’s song “My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean” while creating an aura of nostalgia (I don’t know why they chose to put an I in the title, but it’s their music, not mine).
That aura is present throughout this entire album, and it is the object that sustains this album. The mood is the best element here- the fact that all 6 of these songs deal in introspective, awe-struck, beautiful moods that will take you to a new place in your mind. It’s escapist in its purist form- there is nothing in indie-pop quite like The White Foliage, and that’s why you’ll love them so much. It’s actual innovation- a new sound. It’s truly amazing. I cannot wait to hear more from this extremely talented now-trio, because Zurich has proved that they are songwriters who are mature beyond their years.
Band Name: Wreckless Process
Album Name: Pull Your Own Weight
Best Element: Heavy, infectious rhythm
Genre: Modern Rock
Label Name: Vigilant Records (www.vigilantrecords.net)
Band E-mail: email@example.com
In today’s industry, where a new modern rock band is being churned out and promoted right to the top of the charts on a daily basis, it’s hard to look at another new band in that vein of music without some degree of cynicism. Then there are bands like Wreckless Process, which take this much-abused vein of music to a whole new level. With a heavy, driving sound and cleverly written lyrics, this Tulsa, Oklahoma, act shows that this genre is not dead yet.
With Pull Your Own Weight, Wreckless Process has taken the style of the darker rock bands like Chevelle, Tool, and A Perfect Circle and made it their own, coming up with a debut album chock full of high quality and incredibly talented music. There is nothing on this disc which disappoints, as it is high-energy, engaging, and remarkably well produced, courtesy of Ryan Wallace and Steven Egerton (of Descendents fame) at Armstrong Recording.
The two tracks on this CD which stand out most are “More to Believe” and “Room for Growth”. Both share a common theme of self-reliance and coping with the reality of life, with lyrics such as “This I ask of you/look for your own truth/inside you/never compromise” ( from “More to Believe”) and “Take pieces of the past/and keep them in your mind/use them as a guidance tool as you’re moving through in life/keep in mind/there’s always room for growth inside” (from “Room for Growth”). It is apparent that in spite of their darker sound, they are able to communicate a very real and almost positive message.
The eleven tracks on Pull Your Own Weight capture the essence of this band’s immeasurable talent, which is bound to garner them a national following.