Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Mix 2: Pop and Rock

September 10, 2014

Mix 2: Pop and Rock

1. “Growing Mould” – Ha the Unclear. I’m a big fan of yelpy vocalists that can find a foil for their tones. Ha the Unclear’s eccentric mix of throw-back pop crossed with mid -’00s indie-pop is a perfect fusion of instrument and voice.

2. “Repetition” – Kobadelta. If you’re a fan of the Doors or any band that has tried to emulate the Doors, you’ll be interested in Kobadelta’s bass-heavy psych-rock with a baritone vocalist and spot-on production. Check that sweet half-time breakdown.

3. “Coulda Been” – Sallie Ford. Get back to your ’60s and ’70s rock roots. Nod at your Grace Slick poster. Remember that the congas are a legitimate instrument. You’re fully ready to get sassed by Ms. Ford in this impressively rhythmic and cool track.

4. “Cellophane” – Adventure Set. Some synth-pop is really indie-pop with a synth. I actually think that Adventure Set wrote every part of this song except the vocals on synths. It’s simultaneously nostalgic and futuristic, wistful and giddy.

5. “Flederlaus” – Magnetfisch. Instrumental synth-pop? Why not? With its chirpy synth line and sassy guitar solo, this particular track feels like it should be the soundtrack to an old-school platformer video game. Sonic the Hedgehog was awesome, y’all.

6. “Adam’s Head” – Adam Rich. This bluesy, goofy, fun track closes Rich’s new album Streetlight Smile.

DIY Ditty: A little bit of Kickstarter

March 1, 2014

I love Kickstarter, and I hope to devote many more DIY Ditties to the joys and pains of Kickstarter. However, this time I’d like to briefly note a couple things before I head out for the weekend.

Adam Rich’s Kickstarter to fund a re-release of his mid-90s debut album, which was set for the small sum of $125, has just under two days left of funding. In a world where million-dollar Kickstarter takes are possible, it’s refreshing to see someone fund a little project. Chipping in 5 bucks here goes a loooooooong way.

The Musicians’ Desk Reference, which I have sung the praises of before, is doing a Kickstarter to re-launch their product. It’s an excellent product that helps bands make careers; it’s the best resource I’ve yet found. It has my highest recommendation.

Here’s my favorite “how to run a Kickstarter” article. It’s the longest that I’ve found and the best, in my opinion; I recommend it to every person considering running a Kickstarter project.

Finally, here’s a piece from Medium talking about why you might choose to cancel your Kickstarter. I don’t agree with everything in this piece (I think you should always run Kickstarters to completion, because you could get a pop at the end that pushes you over the hump), but this is something that people should think about in terms of goal-setting and overall project planning.

The Flavor starts to win me over to the blues

June 28, 2011

I don’t like the blues. I’ve tried many times to appreciate the genre, and I just find myself wanting to skip on to something else. Two of my cooler friends decided that someday I might like it if I keep listening to music. I felt this was sort of like them saying, “We’ll tell you when you’re older.” Sadz.

So I was naturally a bit apprehensive when I popped in the self-titled debut disc from The Flavor. I’ve reviewed other projects from musicians in this band, and I like to follow the musicians I cover. But my cringe was not necessary. The Flavor makes blues that are appealing to non-blues fans. I would guess that blues purists would have other comments, but from a pop music standpoint, The Flavor is way entertaining.

The members of the band make it clear from the very beginning of the album that they’re out to have a good time and ensure their listeners do too. The 14-song disc opens with off-the-cuff studio banter before launching into “Hot Sauce,” which is a rollicking blues-rock tune lead by an acoustic guitar and entendre-laden lyrics. It’s a bouncy, upbeat number that’s instantly appealing.

The band’s songwriting is tight; this definitely has to do with the multiple genres that the musicians have played in. You play long enough and you realize that no matter the genre, it’s about songs with hooks. And The Flavor’s got ‘em. From “The Truth” to “Short-Haired Women,” the four-piece shows that it knows its way around a melody. It’s the strength of that melodic knowlege that makes the solo sections that appear throughout the album not feel tedious. It’s also the reason why the near-seven-minute tune “Closer to You” feels solid instead of overbearing.

It’s not all perfect: “My Guitar,” even if it’s parodying songs about men who love their guitars more than their women, is too jokey. The songwriting of “Bleedin’ Soul” relies too much on vocals, and the vocalist oversings as a result.  Some of the jokes are a little on the silly side, but with how fun the music is, it can be ignored. I’d probably be drinking and dancing while listening to The Flavor, so i wouldn’t hear those bits live anyway.

But with only two real clunkers on a 14-song disc, they’ve done a great job. The recording job is to be commended, as well as the beautiful solo acoustic outro “End,” which made this folk fan’s ears perk up. (More of that, please?)

I’m really excited that I heard and enjoyed The Flavor. Maybe this release marks my entry into the world of blues. Maybe it will be yours?

Adam Rich's genre-hopping songwriting spans punk, metal, jazz and pop

December 24, 2009

Adam Rich‘s You Can’t Escape Life is a unique amalgam of punk, metal, pop and rock. It’s not specifically any of these genres; it takes ideas and moods from each genre and sticks them in the others. At its best the album unleashes some really unique and interesting songwriting; at it’s worst, it’s still an interesting experiment.

Instrumental opener “Frizzhead” takes the melodic ideas associated with metal and slaps them into as close to a pop song structure as you can get while still being instrumental. It’s one of the most intriguing tracks of the album, as the melody sticks precisely because it’s out of its usual field of mega-distorted guitars. “Perfect” is an Offspring-esque pop-punk song, down to the gang vocals, but it has a guitar solo and rhythmic breakdown, which is much more common to, you know, metal.  The title track drops next, and it’s a guitar pop song. It has occasional jarring riffs (the punk equivalent of the massive palm mute from “Creep”?), and develops a menacing undertone part of the way through the track.

The tracks continue through the course of the album, combining disparate genres in odd ways, seemingly just to see what would happen. The good news is that it works more often than not; even Rich’s experiment in country-esque sounds (“Glittery Eyes”) is entirely enjoyable. This is an incredible voucher of Rich’s instrumental prowess, as Rich’s scope is almost ridiculously large. For pete’s sake, “Big Blue” is a jazz bass and guitar meditation in the vein of Victor Wooten. And it’s still enjoyable!

This album is not like anything you’ve ever heard before. If you like musical experiments, you’d be well to pick this up. No genre escapes Rich’s genre-hopping songwriting, even though the predominant genres are rock and punk. It’s not for everyone, but it’s certainly got chops. I can’t escape the pull of You Can’t Escape Life.

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

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