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Month: August 2023

August 2022 Singles 2

1. “Good Luck in Green Bay” – Maple Stave. This ripper is equal parts punk, post-hardcore, and post-rock. I love it.

2. “Flower Tail” – Dabda. Jubilant, soaring math-rock with soothing vocals that only add to the joy.

3. “Trucks to Gettysburg” – Equipment Pointed Ankh. A little bit jam, a lotta bit motorik, a little bit klezmer; this is a quirky, fun, interesting composition that goes places I did not expect.

4. “Zoetropics” – Setting. A gently churning and subtly ominous piece that melds folk, post-rock, and neo-classical composition to excellent effect.

5. “So Far So Good” – Michael Peter Olsen. Bustling, hustling cello is slowly subsumed into floating, spacy high strings and electronics for a neat composition that is fun and beautiful.

6. “Inside Minds” – Resavoir. Mash up Spanish guitar, vaporwave keys sounds, jazz, and low-key groove, and you’ll get an unusually cool and intriguing track.

7. “Have Mercy” – Paper Horses. I’ll listen to anything Sandra McCracken does. This outfit brings together McCracken, Leslie Jordan (All Sons and Daughters), Taylor Leonhardt, and Jess Ray, which is a pretty impressive collection of songwriting prowess. This one is a lithe, somber Southern folk jam (yes, somber AND jam), and it gets me very excited for the full record.

8. “Water Street” – Matthew Halsall. A luscious, watery, flute-laden piece of relaxing spiritual jazz that immediately brightens the mood of the room.

9. “Narrow Time” – Blurstem. A beautiful, delicate ambient piano composition.

10. “North” – Ross Christopher. Here’s an elegant, wintry composition that is heavy on legato strings and staccato piano, producing a lovely tension.

Premiere: Tracy Shedd’s “Let It Ride”

A woman with blond hair staring straight into the camera. One hand is on her head and the other is over her heart.
Tracy Shedd. Photograph by John Ciambriello

Ah, it’s good to be back. In particular, I’m very pleased to be working with Tracy Shedd and Fort Lowell Records again. When James Tritten sent over this song, he thought “it might be a little too ‘up’ for your interest.” Given that this is a mid-tempo indie-pop jam with good-times ’80s vibes, I think this is a sign that I’ve become a little dour in my listening interests.

Nevertheless, this track did indeed catch my ear. Shedd’s lovely voice cruises over a thrumming bass line, a solid electronic percussion backline, and some swirly/mystical guitars and keys. (Let it ride, indeed.) The solid groove stays on track the whole way. The outcome of the piece is a very summery track without a lot of the usual indicators of “summer,” which is a compliment to the songwriting: evoking the feeling without hitting too many tropes is a feather in the cap. If you like Generationals, Metric at their chillest, and Rilo Kiley (shoutout; I don’t know what the statute of limitations is on RIYL references is, but we’re probably past it on this one) will love this.

You can pre-save the single here. The song arrives August 18.

You can find Tracy at the digitals: Website // Bandcamp // Facebook // Instagram // Soundcloud // Twitter // YouTube

Fort Lowell also has ’em: Website // Bandcamp // Facebook // Instagram // Soundcloud // Twitter // YouTube

August 2023 Singles 1

So, Independent Clauses took a roughly six-month unexpected hiatus. There were several false starts at getting things running again, but I hope and expect that this one is for real. Apologies. On to the music:

1. “The Strings of Hope, the Puppets of Belief” – John Reidar Holmes. A great, misty cloud of acoustic guitar, reverb, defanged distortion, and other mystical vibes. Almost meditative in its mood, but a little more punchy than most require for that.

2. “La Taill​é​e” – La Tène. This Swiss band sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard. This is some wild combination of distinctive instruments (hurdy-gurdy, harmonium, bagpipes/cabrette), the long grooves of techno, the repetition of drone, and the subtle variations of minimalism. The results are ecstatic and mysterious, energetic and enigmatic, nerve-wracking and relaxing. Highly recommended.

3. “Dark Moon” – Okonski. Stately and yet exploratory, this composition falls somewhere between jazz (in its component elements) and trip-hop (in its rhythms and mood). Fans of GoGo Penguin will love this.

4. “Lord Sepulchrave, the 76th Earl of Groan” – Cabbaggage. This piano piece is the opening cut of an album that takes its inspiration from the 1946 gothic fantasy novel Titus Groan. I love a good concept record, and this one opens with a delicate, intriguing rumination with plenty of atmosphere.

5. “acceptances” – Lara Somogyi. An elegant and pulsing collection of delicate harp and thumping bass that makes for a lovely ambient work.

6. “Aurora” – Juffbass. A soaring post-rock tune that falls somewhere between the dark-and-stormy and the twinkly-guitar versions. Reminds me a bit of Ulrich Schnauss.

7. “Immaculate Inning” – Requiem. Stuttering, cool post-rock that’s heavy on bass and vibes.

8. “Welcome to London” – Penguin Cafe. A whirling, punchy, thoughtful piece of jazz/contemporary classical that does the legacy of Penguin Cafe Orchestra proud.

9. “December Dream” – Julian Loida. Drops into a peaceful piano-based groove, and then picks up the pace with quirky percussion and melismatic vocals. A lovely composition.

10. “Sea Wall Bench” – Vein Melter. A delicate, haunting performance of an acoustic guitar with distant reverb trailing behind.

11. “Brocken Spectre” – Kyle Bates and Lula Asplund. Evocative, round drones that make me smile.

12. “Slow Beethoven Radio Mix 1” – The TANK Center for Sonic Arts. Beethoven, but played in a giant resonant tank at a very slow tempo. Truly: ambient classical. It’s beautiful.