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Month: April 2021

April Singles

1. “Hall of Death” – Matt Sweeney and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Sweeney and Billy get a big assist from Mdou Moctar’s guitar outfit here, as what may have been a charmingly folky tune is massively elevated into an enervating, energetic, gleeful West African guitar race. The video is a declaration of chaotic freedom, sort of O Brother Where Art Thou meets Moonrise Kingdom starring the protagonists of The Mountain Goats’ “Psalm 40:2.” Highly recommended.

2. “Leave Someday”  – Kevo Muney (feat. Lil Durk). Kevo Muney’s single rips, displaying the connection hip-hop has with gospel music. Muney shows music’s power to lead the transition from racial injustice protests to lasting policy change. –Lisa Whealy

3. “Djourou” – Ballaké Sissoko, Sona Jobarteh. Two incredible kora players create a mesmerizing, lithe duet. Peaceful and powerful, this piece is a true wonder.

4. “Blinding Lights (The Weeknd Cover)” – X Ambassadors. Covers The Weeknd’s hit with stunning acoustic simplicity.  For those unfamiliar with the band’s story, keyboardist Casey Harris’ blindness has led them to support Two Blind Brothers. –Lisa Whealy

5. “I NEED YOU” – Jon Batiste. Jon Batiste’s single from the pre-order of his upcoming We Are shares the joy and  power of music to create love, community, and focused change. –Lisa Whealy

6. “Ouroboros” – Brooklyn’s Charming Disaster takes goth-folk to dark depths of brilliance with the Ouroboros available to-save.  Named for the mythical beast known to swallow its tail and thus its own finality, the musical descent drifts towards each potential hell or metamorphosis. Striking instrumentation evokes an otherwordly space, much like that created for the band’s weekly livestream danse macabre, transforming the global fanbase into a true community. –Lisa Whealy

7. “The Green Thing” – l’Orchidée Cosmique. Some songs land on the right day to be appreciated. I’m not having a great day, and a stomping, grumbling, menacing slice of guitar-driven post-rock angst is exactly what I want today.

8. “Tuck the Long Tail Under” – Nonagon. Nonagon is one of the few post-hardcore bands that I keep up with, as they strike the perfect balance of tight musicianship (check the bass work), expert mood control, and angry hollering. A blast, in so many ways.

9. “Aquarian Age (Instrumental)” – Lexxi Vonne. Splits the difference between chipper tropical house and gloomy Tron:Legacy-esque techno for a unique, compelling vibe.

10. “Pikakelauksella maailmanloppuun” – Kadonnut Manner. This acoustic guitar cut is a wild and woolly romp that indulges in reverb, fingerpicking, and enthusiastic melodic runs. It’s a joyous, ambitious, compelling track that stands a cut above most solo acoustic guitar work. 

11. “La Rêveuse” – Sweet Crude. This smooth, inspired indie-pop cut is given an almost awe-inspiringly wacky music video that calls to mind Napoleon Dynamite dropped into the absurdities of 2020–in Louisiana French. If you’re not intrigued, I’m not sure this blog can help you. Their video for the equally-inspired “Sun Sept” is almost as madcap; they make up for the slight (slight) downtick in gleeful absurdity with a brilliant chorus and lovely breakdown.

12. “Your Secret Place” – LIGHTS A.M. Throw the grandeur of goth, the icyness of dark techno, and the scope of classical composition into a blender and the results are this beautiful piece.

13. “Horizons (feat. Daru Jones)” – Hedge Hop, Takahiro Izumikawa. Elegant instrumental hip-hop with low pretensions and high levels of chill. This is jazzy cool.

Hemispheres’ diverse influences come together into a unique whole

Hemispheresself-titled three-song work blends Australian indigenous sounds and soulful jazz to create a beautiful, unique, genre-less instrumental suite.

Didgeridoo (from Paul “Groovy Lips” Boon), sticks, and ghostly flute from Susie Hodder-Williams (or, perhaps, flute-like synth from Sam Hodder) open the work, providing an expansive, pastoral opening. “Dawn” then mixes soulful jazz into the indigenous earthiness, giving Chris Caldwell’s smooth saxophones room to explore the terrain. The choral ahs give even more heft to the piece. Yet despite the serious approach, the vibe is never somber: the underpinning rhythms combine with the melodies to suggest gentle awe and subtle wonder.

“Adrenaline” bumps up the tempo for another take on indigenous earthiness, jazzy instrumentals, and evocative vocals. There’s lots of fun flute runs, baritone sax bleats, and punchy synths to go around. Clifton Bieundurry’s vocals are particularly memorable here, meshing perfectly with the backdrop and fitting into the unique space the group has invented.

“Dusk” is a much quieter work that feels and sounds like the tide going out. The didgeridoo once against sets the ground, while Caldwell gives a beautiful solo on soprano sax. Background sounds fill in the oceanic vibe. The piece slowly fades into its closing.

Ultimately, Hemispheres is a concise, elegant 12-minute experience that melds disparate sonic ideas into a unique creative experience. Due to the strong presence of the didgeridoo, this feels like an Australian companion to The River, a collaborative work between Taos Pueblo composer Robert Mirabal and string quartet Ethel. The well of creativity never runs dry, as long as people continue to seek out adventurous collaborations and push their own instrumental efforts farther and further. I hope this isn’t a one-off project, as it is expertly composed and wonderfully performed. Highly recommended. —Stephen Carradini

Independent Clauses, Vol. 1, on Spotify

Here at Independent Clauses, we pride ourselves on the eclectic space our digital music magazine holds. Stephen Carradini and I decided the time had come to create curated playlists highlighting the diverse artistry published in Independent Clauses. 

The first of IC’s 2021 curated Spotify playlists journeys through the sonic soundscape of indie songwriters, jazz artists, and alt rock musicians from around the world. We invite you to tune in and share your thoughts.

Photographer Herry Sucahya (via Unsplash) provided the artwork. We will feature Unsplash photography each quarterly playlist.

Artists included in this playlist represent global talent from Milan’s PINHDAR, Melody Duncan, Charles Ellsworth, and Neal Casal, to name a few. Rich, varied musicality makes up this eighteen song trip.

Check out the playlist here.–Lisa Whealy

Premiere: “Thought Slipping Away” by Good Morning Wave

Thought Slipping Away” is the debut single from Good Morning Wave’s debut album. Sharing a visual and sonic style with Chaperone Picks (who recommended GMV to us), this 102-second track uses CP’s four-track lo-fi style as a point of departure.

This one is at max a two-track jam, just chunky acoustic guitar and baritone vocals. There’s still some lo-fi tape hiss in the background, but the focus is more on the songwriting here than the lo-fi aesthetics. The guitar frames the vocals instead of sharing the stage, allowing the melodies and lyrics to come to the fore. The vocal performance is pointed and careful, with GMV giving nuance to the edges of words and whole lines. The titular refrain stuck in my head for hours after listening to it: it’s an earworm that doesn’t need to be long or detailed to do its work.

The lyrics are by turns concrete (“so sure I’d remember / but just like yesterday / thought slipping away”)  and conceptual (“big money / means elegant style / I’m on my own for a little while”). The blending of the big picture and the little picture makes for a compelling vision of a narrator struggling through social and personal information overload. If it weren’t so relatable, it’d be surrealistic. Ultimately, GMV impressively packs a lot into a little suitcase with “Thought Slipping Away.”

“Thought Slipping Away” is the opener of album Everyday, which comes out today, April 2. There’s more where that came from: GMV has new music coming out monthly on Bandcamp Fridays throughout 2021. I’m excited to hear what GMV will be up to this year