Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Whiskey Shivers put good vibes and good musicians on display

October 28, 2014

whiskeyshivers

So I was listening to WKNC during a radio show about country music released from the 1920’s through the 1970’s, and I heard the funniest country and western song I’ve ever heard: David Alan Coe’s “Dakota the Dancing Bear Part 2.” It’s a rollicking, ridiculous, good-humored bit of country storytelling that has to be heard to be believed. Whiskey Shivers could get along with Coe quite nicely, as their self-titled album reps the old-school country and western sound with a gutbusting sense of humor.

The band has mad chops: they throw down rolling, fingerpicked banjo; swooping violin; upright bass; earnest vocals; and even some whistling. And instead of employing them in the service of exclusively serious tunes, they mix up their lovelorn ballads with goofy tunes. The relatively modern sounding “Angel in the Snow” calls up the Avett Brothers at their country-est both in sadsack lyric and melodic style, while “Hot Party Dads” is a million bpm hoedown tune about …. the title. “Pray for Me” and “Long Low Down” bring that old school Southern Baptist gospel sound into the mix, while opener “Free” doesn’t take itself too seriously in its rapidfire delivery. (They’re really fond of playing as fast as possible, which is fun all its own–even if it isn’t explicitly humorous.) These guys would get along with The Parmesans really, really well.

Old school country and western is due for a glance from indie music; here’s to hoping that Whiskey Shivers find their people and make rowdy, alcohol-fueled string band music for a long time.

Some CMJ’ers: Brook Pridemore / Blake Brown

October 24, 2014

brookpridemore

I tell every band that will listen that the long press cycle is a real thing. You’ve gotta get content out there at periodic and consistent intervals so that press people remember that you’re there and then therefore tell their readers. This means dribbling out content in ways that don’t necessarily fit with the last 30 or so years of music history (but actually fit real nicely with methods of the 30 before that; truly nothing is new under the sun).

There is no one who is a champ at this more than Brook Pridemore (person and band). Between 11 videos, a teaser EP, and a live release that started all the way back in early 2013, I feel like I’ve been listening to Gory Details for years already because I have. At its worst this could produce burnout, but with Brook it basically just makes me love the album. I mean, who doesn’t like an album where you can sing along with half of the songs the first time you press play?

It helps that Brook Pridemore’s work perfectly matches my favorite styles of music. Gory Details starts with the energetic strum of folk-punk, layers on impressively thoughtful lyrics sung via infectious indie-pop vocal melodies, then arranges the whole thing with an excellent band and even some horns. It’s like Andrew Jackson Jihad mellowed out into The Mountain Goats with some Josh Ritter thrown in for good measure (“Damage Control”). The weird way I’ve heard this album kind of skews the review: my favorite tracks are the tracks that were already my favorites. “Oh, E!” is tons of hyperactive, travelogue fun with an earworm melody; “Listening to TPM” is awesome for its horns as well as its tight control of mood. “Celestial Heaven or Leap of Faith” has a great instrumental hook and an urgent vibe throughout; the intelligent set of lyrics make it seem somewhat like a super-powered version of a Johnny Flynn song. “Brother Comfort,” one of the more aggressive tracks here (and new to me), is also fun in its neat complexity.

Gory Details is, above all things, a ton of fun. Brook Pridemore has a lot of things going for them on this album, and all the complex pieces have come together to make an album that transcends them all. Great lyrics, mature vocal control, excellent production job, solid contributing rhythm section; all of it comes together to make tracks like “Oh, E!” seemingly obvious songs: when has this not existed? When was it not amazing? To steal a song title, no one belongs here more than you. Of course you’re one of my favorite songs. Of course you are. You always were, as soon as I knew you existed. You need more Brook Pridemore in your life.

You can get more Brook Pridemore by going to his CMJ set at Muchmore’s in Brooklyn on Saturday.

blakebrown

Maybe it’s the World Series, but there’s all sorts of baseball metaphors I can make about Blake Brown and the American Dust Choir‘s Three EP. The band’s straightahead alt-country could be called a fastball straight down the pipe, because you know exactly what you’re going to get and you can smash a home run off it. You could also call it a change-up, since the band prefers mid-tempo, Jayhawks-style work as opposed to the hectic Old ’97s style. If I were really reaching, I could point out there are only a few baseball teams left that use organ as prominently as Blake Brown’s outfit does.

The first two tracks of the three-song outing are the sort of pedal steel/harmonica/organ/acoustic guitar fare that is most recognizable as ’90s-era alt-country. The band doesn’t give in to Wilco-style minimalism or Drive-by Truckers’ rock-oriented guitar walls; they just stay in the pocket and do their work on vocal vehicle “Get Out.” The band is tight and clean throughout the track, notably so. The band gets a little funky on “White Rose” (check those Wurlitzers!). But the standout here is the subdued, late-night mope “Surrender (La Di Da),” which allows Brown to show off his melodic sensibilities and nuanced arrangements. Brown and co. manage to glue me to the track that never gets faster than a mosey and never raises louder than speaking voice through a beautiful electric guitar tone, distant droning organ, and thoughtful percussion.

If you’re in the market for some alt-country at CMJ, I’d look up Blake Brown on Saturday at Wicked Willy’s. (He’ll be there with M. Lockwood Porter, too!)

News and stuff and October

So here’s the news!

Classic-rock new kids Greylag, who have a single that you should listen to, put together a Spotify playlist of songs that influence them. The concept in itself is pretty cool, but their list is even cooler: aside from obvious influences Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, they’ve got Sonic Youth, Cocteau Twins and Kurt Vile. Get hip, y’all.

Singer/songwriter Stephen Kellogg is doing a PledgeMusic campaign to fund a four-album cycle based on the four cardinal directions. I’m all for ambitious projects and crowdfunding, so go jump on it.

Nate Allen (of exuberant acoustic-punk outfit Destroy Nate Allen!) has a solo project coming out that also is looking for some crowdfunding. Allen’s campaign is for dat vinyl.

The diverse Mint 400 Records, home of the band I manage, just released a free tribute to Lou Reed. You can download the short EP by clicking on this link.

A deluxe edition of Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain is getting a Nov. 11 release from Secretly Canadian. As a fan of Jason Molina’s work, this is exciting to me. Even more exciting is the new song released in celebration of the event, “Ring the Bell – Working Title: Depression No. 42.”

Here’s to you, Mr. Molina.

Videos videos videos!

October 23, 2014

Andrew Judah’s amazing clip for “I Know You Know” gets the pop-up fact treatment. The facts are cool, but mostly I’m putting this up here so that you have to listen to it again.

The Gray Havens sing their infectious, memorable folk-pop song “Songs in the Night” … in the night. It is great.

The ominous folk/country sound of Suzanne Jarvie’s “Spiral Road” is worth your time.

The Lone Bellow has a whole lot of motown horns and soul band members backing him up, making his moniker questionable and his tune impeccable.

I have no idea what’s happening in this Purmamarca clip for “I Don’t Need Your Love,” but it’s compelling to watch.

Ed Prosek’s video for “Hold On Tight” is gorgeous cinematographically.

Singles 3: It was a dark and stormy … club

It Was a Dark and Stormy … Club

1. “Substance” – Germany Germany. Moving from clubby electro bangers to artsy, flowing dance-rock isn’t a huge jump. But when the results are this infectious, it feels like a revelation and a turned corner in Germany Germany’s career.

2. “Never Easy” – We Are Magnetic. Gotta love a big “Midnight City”-style chorus.

3. “Recycled Words” – Lectures. Twinkly/angular guitar leads backed up by pounding chords, thrashed cymbals, and anguished vocals in a high tenor? No chorus, just one long line of song? This is early ’00s, Deep Elm-style emo, my friends. I am so down with this.

4. “Boxing Day” – Carroll. Carroll’s making their indie-pop darker, dancier, and more electro-heavy. I feel like we should all be dressed in our best clothes for this one.

5. “Colors” – Dream Stretcher. Stuttering beats, hazy synths, and mystical female vocals power this late-night drive home electro jam.

Singles 2: You Play That Acoustic Guitar However You Want

October 22, 2014

You Play That Acoustic Guitar However You Want

1. “Old Hope” – Angelo de Augustine. It’s like Elliott Smith is alive. Maybe there’s some Joshua Radin and Nick Drake in there, but mostly the whispered vocals and style of acoustic guitar remind me of Smith.

2. “Amarillo” – Anna Vogelzang. Combine the charm of Ingrid Michaelson with the full arrangements of Laura Stevenson, and you’ve got a little bit of an idea of Vogelzang’s talent. She’s one to watch.

3. “Red River” – Tyler Sjöström. Fans of Mumford and Sons will love this theatrical, finger-picked folk-pop tune.

4. “Forever Gone” – Andrew Marica. The morose romanticism of Damien Rice + the distant reverb-heavy atmospherics of Bon Iver create this downtempo ballad.

5. “Delilah” – Tony Lucca. This one’s pretty boss: Wide-open, sneering, engaging full-band country-rock with an eye toward Coldplay-style, radio-friendly vocal melodies. Also, there’s some awesome saloon-style piano playing.

6. “Angel Tonight” – Peter Galperin. Musical adventurer Galperin moves from his bossa nova experiments towards ’80s country-flavored classic rock. There’s some Springsteen, some Paul Simon, and more all combined here.

7. “Time” – Night Windows. Acoustic-based indie-pop a la David Bazan that teeters on the edge between twee and melancholy.

8. “I Got Creepy When Lou Reed Died” – Red Sammy. The husky, gravel-throated country of Red Sammy gets an electric makeover for this tribute tune. The title a weird thing to chant, but you’ll probably want to sing along repeatedly to the mantra-esque chorus.

Singles 1: 9 p.m. Friday Dance-away-your-week Tunes

October 21, 2014

9 p.m. Friday Dance-away-your-week Tunes

1. “Lighthouse” – The Burgeoning. One of the most intriguing singles I’ve heard all year, this track combines the ambient uppers of chillwave with the melodic structures of Vampire Weekend and the frantic fury (and guitar noise) of a punk band. It’s a fresh, amazing combination. I’m looking forward to hear more from The Burgeoning.

2. “The Next Morning” – The Drafts. The energy and enthusiastic guitars of The Vaccines meet a reserved, pensive vocalist for a charming, infectious tune that you’ll want to hear multiple times.

3. “Where I Go” – Pistol Shrimp. If Passion Pit, MGMT, and Anamanaguchi had a basement dance party, this bangin’ tune would be the result. Pop gold, right here.

4. “Heartracer” – Cosby. Synth-laden, big-pop ’80s revivalism is going great this year. This fits right up there with Challenger for the best of the bunch.

5. “Recurring Dreams” – Shivery Shakes. The carefree nature of whistling in a ’60s surf-pop influenced tune gets me every time. You like The Drums? You’ll love this.

6. “Promises” – Barreracudas. If you make a metaphor that includes arcade games (specifically Donkey Kong), I will be immediately more endeared to you. Fun, poppy garage-rock here.

7. “Speed Date Yr Way to Fame” – Sweet Deals on Surgery. Starts off a thrashy, screamed, frantic punk song before taking a momentary break in pop. Then in blasts off again.

8. “Name on a Matchbook” – Springtime Carnivore. ’60s girl pop gets a slight sonic update, but the soul of this tune really begs for an -ettes suffix.

9. “Head Down” – The Ocean Party. Jangly ’80s indie-rock meets airy ’80s synth-pop. The peppy, fun results are less ’80s and more ’00s than you’d think.

September MP3s 4: Warm Breath

October 14, 2014

Warm Breath

1. “When You Think of Me” – Little Cinema. I was enjoying the Generationals-style pop AND THEN A WICKED SAX SOLO APPEARED OUT OF NOWHERE.

2. “Carriages” – Li Xi. Fuzzed-out riffs get shoved under perky vocals, triumphant synths, and a shuffling beat, creating a memorably odd, dreamy indie-pop tune.

3. “Give a Little Love” – Lunchbox. Quirky, cheery, eccentric Elephant 6-style pop somehow morphs into a Burt Bacharach string arrangement and lounge vibes, which is an impressive trick.

4. “Drench You in the Sun” – The Watanabes. Not as sunshiny as you might think; way smoother than you probably guessed. Some real nice indie-pop with horns here.

5. “Sleep” – Summer Heart. Was the phrase hypnagogic pop a non-starter? If so, then here’s some great, peppy chillwave. Great melodies and vibes throughout.

6. “Age of Isolation” – Mystery Pills. Twee meets chiptune. SIGN ME UP.

7. “Worth Your While” – Wonderful Humans. Somewhere, Vangelis is rejoicing that his style is alive and well. Vintage ’80s synth-pop matched up with modern indie vocal lines and melodies. Awesome.

8. “Jack and the Giant” – A Love Like Pi. You know that lovely feeling when you’re about to drift off to sleep in the arms of someone you love, and all seems right in the world even if just for a moment? This is what that sounds like.

8. “Safety” – Jasia. Starts out as not much: spare clicks and pops meeting some keening falsetto. But Jasia molds, shapes, and crafts the parts into a booming, M83-like track by the end. Whoa.

9. “Wyn” – Ashan. Do you need eight minutes of ethereal ahs over clicky chillwave-inspired electro? Of course you do. I can see myself both chilling out to this and getting my dance on in a real hip club.

September MP3s 3: Twirling Arms

October 13, 2014

Twirling Arms

1. “The Balance” – Royal Tongues. Sometimes the RIYL is absolutely perfect. I got told this one was like Smallpools and Passion Pit. BY JOVE IT IS! EVERYBODY DANCE!

2. “Desole Pt. II” – The Gromble. This is like if the enthusiasm of Passion Pit met the restraint of The Naked and the Famous. You can dance to it and think heavy musical thoughts about post-punk to it!

3. “I Feel Sorry For You” – Bullybones. Always space in my heart for voice-shredding, garage-crushin’, surf-rockin’ tunes.

4. “Lisa Loeb Probably Never Pierced Her Ears” – Field Guides. Surf-rock meets indie-pop in a vastly enjoyable, really impressive way.

5. “I Told You So” – The March Divide. Early ’00s emo/punk is back, and that’s a really great thing. Let it emote, men. Let it jangle and emote.

6. “Black White Fuzz” – Coastgaard. Yacht rock + The Strokes? Why not? *head bobs frantically*

7. “Little Surfer Girl” – The Yetis. Do you love the Beach Boys? If yes, you love the Yetis.

8. “It Don’t Even” – ET Anderson. When you mix rubbery bass higher in the mix that crunchy guitars, you’ve got a very specific vision for your sound. ET Anderson’s vibe here is strong and impressive, like a slackery Spoon or something. I’m intrigued.

9. “Trouble” – Micah Olsan and the Many. Funk, indie-rock and shades of Hendrix psychedelia come together to make a pulsing, groove-heavy track.

10. “photograph” – crashfaster. Jamiroquai in outer space! Anamanaguchi at the bottom of the sea! Dance-rock with serious sci-fi vibes!

11. “Old Enough to Know Better” – Youth Mass. ’90s Brit rock vibes infused into dance-rock. I’m all about it.

SVALL, pt 4

Brook Pridemore’s “Oh, E!” clip is a humorous clip involving a literal house party and a metaphorical party that Pridemore wasn’t invited to. The noisy, literate acoustic-punk is a ton of fun too.

Jenny and Tyler have released a touching video for their tender, moving “In Everything You Do.” I don’t think there’s been a thing in the last three years that I haven’t enjoyed by J&T.

The Gray Havens’ “Far Kingdom” performance clip shows off a pristine guy/girl folk-pop tune. Their new album (Jan 2015!) is going to be great.

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

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