Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

November Singles 2

November 10, 2016

1. “Georgia” – Raccoon Raccoon. A stand-up bass, fluttery acoustic guitar, and a breathy duet come together uniquely: if this is where their sound is headed, they could carve out their own unique space between The Weepies, Josh Radin, and St. Even. Good, good stuff here.

2. “Un De Plus” – The Coconut Kids. You definitely need a lilting, suave ballad sung entirely in French and accompanied by Beirut-esque trumpet in your life.

3. “Lock & Key” – Mouths of Babes. Who can resist whistling in a chipper acoustic-pop/Americana tune?

4. “Over Romantic” – The Watanabes. Here’s a wistful, restrained, romantic acoustic indie-pop song about being too romantic. May it never be!

5. “LYM (Leave Your Man)” – Stevie Talks. Takes a well-turned adult-alternative vibe and transforms it into something different with a feathery Sufjan-esque vocal melody and arrangement in the chorus.

6. “Great Pumpkin Waltz” – Brad Myers and Michael Sharfe. This low-key, unassuming jazz trio performance of the Vince Guaraldi (Charlie Brown) tune retains all the wistful melodic qualities that Guaraldi was so keen on but also explores the spaces created by the translation of the piano-led work into a guitar-led one. Thoughtful and interesting.

7. “Left My Heart” – Matthew Leeb. Man, once upon a time I was big into Mat Kearney’s sound. Leeb’s smooth, soulful take on acoustic-based hip-hop pushes all those same buttons for me. Also, I always love an Oklahoma shout-out. Represent.

8. “Spanish Bird” – Common Jack. Think back to the first time you heard “Boots of Spanish Leather” by The Tallest Man on Earth: the blast of vocal enthusiasm, the charging guitars, the sunshiny mood of the whole thing. Now add some extra Dylan vocal intonation into that, and that was my experience of hearing this song for the first time. (And this song references leather boots and Spain!)

9. “Wake the Dawn” – The Internal Frontier. A bold, brash, pop-rock-informed folk-pop tune that hits along Magic Giant lines with some Black Keys-inspired lead guitar work. Tasty.

10. “Romance Abroad” – -ness. I’m a sucker for a cool piano line, so of course the intro to this song hooked me. The anthemic, dramatic acoustic pop kept me after that. It should be noted that I was a fan of OneRepublic before I heard their stuff one million times in every possible public space, so keep that in mind as you listen.

11. “From Rest” – Cold Weather Company. The rushing, passionate piano that undergirds this track counterpoints (and then matches) the speedy guitar melodies here, resulting in a torrential whirlwind of a song.

12. “As Far as I Can” – Kylypso. Transforms a keyboard and an 808 into a smooth, lithe electro-pop track. It’s sort of like when you look at holographic plastic undulating slowly: a mesmerizing yet sleek experience.

13. “Police” – KING. I’m not going to lie, this has a lot of connection to “Lean On.” Also true: I had my hands in the air while I was sitting in my cubicle listening to this. (No shame.) That chorus tho.




Early November Singles 1

November 9, 2016

1. “Ours for the Taking” – Quinn Erwin. Erwin seems to be an endless fount of memorable melodies, arresting arrangements, and punchy mood. This mid-tempo indie-pop track leaps off the page, which is a tough thing to do.

2. “Laser Eyes” – Liyv. If M.I.A. were fused with a twee-pop band, the resulting staccato, bubbly, multi-colored, hiccuping track might sound something like this. Really unique.

3. “About the World” – Little Quirks. If the definition of indie-pop is pop songs that won’t get on the radio, this one is a perfect example. It’s a charming jangle-pop tune that has everything you could want: pep, charm, great melodies, fun arrangements, and an overall sense of wonder.

4. “Atlantic City” – JOA. For me, Bruce Springsteen is an artist that I appreciate more in cover than in originals. I have nothing against his originals, but the covers I hear of his work are often just spot-on. And JOA’s low-key electro-acoustic-pop version of “Atlantic City” is just that: excellent.

5. “Keep Trying” – Paul Cook & the Chronicles. With a little bit of funk, a little bit of soul, some handclaps, and a lot of indie-pop, Cook has turned out a head-bobbing, slinky tune.

6. “Blue Sky” – Internal Eye. This is a relaxing, harmonious, peaceful piece of work that blends the electronic and the acoustic beautifully and falls somewhere between the Album Leaf and Teen Daze. (Currently only available as a video on Facebook.)

7. “Mulberry Hill” – Almond&Olive. Weeping pedal steel, a male/female duet, soaring group vocals on the chorus, even a swooping fiddle. Almond and Olive take the pedestrian and make it shine, putting all these parts together into a majestic tune.

8. “A Girl Said Yes” – The Marrieds. Thought this was another romantic acoustic ballad from a married duo? Well, you’d be right, other than the slight punch of power-pop infused to the acoustic part. But boy, the songwriting and melodies are awesome. They know what’s up.

9. “New Streets ft. Caroline Saunders” – Ross Nicol. Floats above the chaos with a clear, bright duet anchored by solid piano chords and gentle percussion pulse (at least until the expansion of the arrangement in the coda, which is also lovely).

10. “Bound by Blood” – Hollow Twin. High drama acoustic work is a tough thing to pull off without sounding maudlin or bombastic, but Hollow Twin deftly manages the two extremes and comes up with some booming percussion, confident alto vocals, and carefully handled arrangements. It’s both intimate and stadium-sized, perhaps like Bon Iver.

11. “Clarity” – Ziegler Co. Descended from trip-hop and cousins with the Antlers’ style of cloudy neo-soul, this tune has subtle groove and tiny instrumental flourishes that make the work pop. The video has fittingly emotive modern dance.

12. “Sin Against Sins” – Joe & the Anchor. It’s as if Leonard Cohen and Jason Molina had collaborated on a dramatic, expansive, emotionally crushing piece of music. The lyrics are as poetic as the former and as spartan as the latter.



Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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