Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The New House Highs and Lows

August 7, 2014

I just spent the better part of two weeks going through a house move and a computer crash. (Why do these things so often tag team?) As a result, I’ve got a very eclectic mix of tracks that I’m into right now. Usually I try to put some sort of theme together, but this one has it all. Good luck!

The New House Highs and Lows

1. “Icarus” – Silver Firs. If Grizzly Bear and Givers joined forces, I still don’t know if they could pull off this track. It’s like a more woodsy version of Architecture in Helsinki, which is my way of saying, “A+ LISTEN IMMEDIATELY.”

2. “Dean & Me” – jj. If you want to know what the world has come up with in 70 years of pop music, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example track than this one that incorporates vintage songwriting skills (even with a throwback reference!), traditional lyrics (with some existential twists) and sounds that are completely now. Just brilliant stuff.

3. “Blue Eyes” – The Rosebuds. You probably need some giddy, jangly, ooo-filled guitar pop in your life. The Rosebuds provide.

4. “You’ve Already Won” – Slow Buildings. Classic garage rock bass line, tambourine, and half-speed/mopey chorus make for a way fun tune.

5. “Scott Get the Van, I’m Moving” – Cayetana. If you’re not on the Cayetana train, that’s because it’s quickly becoming a bullet train and it’s hard to jump on those. But seriously. Cayetana’s female-fronted punk is blowing up just about as fast as they can get their sound into ears, so you should be on that.

6. “Hold Me Like the Water” – The Radio Reds. You want some churning, claustrophobic punk rock? You got it, chief. The Radio Reds’ latest track makes me feel like I’m in a cramped basement getting my younger self’s demons out through moshing and yelling all the words that the Radio Reds actually are singing. You know what I’m saying.

7. “Valkyrie” – CURXES. If the brittle tones of Sleigh Bells got somehow danceable, CURXES would show up at that party fashionably late and with a slightly higher-end alcohol than was expected of the soiree.

8. “All I Want” – SW/MM/NG. Remember in the ’90s, when one version of indie-rock was rock’n’roll music made with no pretenses of being radio-friendly or traditionally poppy? SW/MM/NG’s earnest, endearing, yelpy slacker psych is a band that escaped the Pavement vortex and made it forward in time 20 years.

9. “Another” – Greylag. Led Zeppelin had that way of sounding wild and adventurous in their acoustic tracks, and Greylag has that same feel. This exciting acoustic-fronted tune has that rolling, ongoing feel of travel.

10. “Rise Up For Love” – Sister Speak. I love dance-pop and EDM in moderation. I would love to see more classic pop songcraft on the radio, starting with Sister Speak’s beautiful, mature, classy, catchy tune right here. It just feels right in my ears, and it would sound so right on my radio.

11. “Pop Ur Heart Out” – Salme Dahlstrom. Have you ever wanted a female Fatboy Slim? Doesn’t matter, Dahlstrom fills the role with aplomb. Seriously, try to not think about “Praise You” during this tune. It’s impossible. I love it.

12. “Everlasting Arms” – Luke Winslow-King. Southern gospel is kind of like Western swing: distinct sound, not that many adherents. Luke Winslow-King is makin’ that traditional sound cool again, and I’m fully on board with this.

13. “Together Alone” – Hollie April. You ever have that moment where you hear a voice for the first time, and it knocks you back a little bit? Hollie April has one of those amazing voices that make me sit up and take notice. Keep watch.

February Video Drop (pt 1)

February 25, 2014

Rarely do I get absolutely transfixed by the visuals of a video, but the animated clip accompanying “World Send” by Eulogys is one of that rare breed. The minimalist, groove-laden indie-pop tune (reminiscent of Architecture in Helsinki and Peter, Bjorn, and John) is also impressive.

Bleeding Rainbow’s “So You Know” is also engrossing, but this time for the excellent narrative. I almost forgot the BR song was playing.

“Spirit” by Flowerglass is another narrative gem. Make sure to watch the whole thing.

The spastic, jazzy post-hardcore of “Astrionics” by Hyrrokkin give the filmmakers a chance to play with visual grammar. Certain images are pegged to certain sections of sound, and the expansion of those themes in the music leads to an expansion on the corresponding themes in the visuals. This is a fascinating piece of work.

Mesmerized by Cryptacize

April 23, 2009

There are some artists who don’t do anything more than retread familiar tones and grooves, and others who go so far out of their way to “challenge your perception of music” that the product becomes distinctly unenjoyable. In between those two extremes is a territory where musicians find a happy balance between the two pursuits. That territory is where you can find Cryptacize and their new album Mythomania.

Their sound includes familiar elements of rock, alternatingof artists like Radiohead, The Shins, and Architecture in Helsinki. Mythomania has two main elements constantly at odds – the guitar and drums providing a solid foundation on which the music is based, and light, floating vocals that see male and female vocals, and the periodic use of keyboard or organ. At various times they reminded me m to be almost the exact opposite of the instrumentals. “Tail And Mane” is a fun example of this, and gave me impressions of a boardwalk or circus scene. The instrumentals and vocals are sometimes on different time signatures, melting in and out of phase with each other. On the song “What You Can’t See Is,” this technique works to great effect.

In “Blue Tears,” the guitar is a standout, providing a wicked intro. Rhythm on this song is fascinating, and indicative of the quality over the whole album. It’s driving, fun, and fresh, providing great contrast against the vocals.

One of my favorite tracks was “The Loving Sun.” Heavily distorted guitar follows a keyboard opening. It’s paired with a soft female vocal part, and makes for a great sound. It’s a short track, but I love it. Male backup vocals and some great harmonizing seal the deal for this song.

In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t been able to listen to this entire album. I’m working out of China, with a somewhat less-than-stellar internet connection. I’ve gone through my three allotted downloads, with each of them failing. Frankly, it’s killing me. There are five tracks at the end of the album I haven’t been able to hear, but if the others are any indication, they’re probably really cool.

With Mythomania, Cryptacize demonstrates greater musical depth and capability than your average band. If you’ve got the scratch, this is an album well worth purchasing.

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

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