Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

March MP3s: Pop

March 6, 2016

Pop

1. “Pigtails” – Sean Magee. This is the sort of throw-your-hands-in-the-air pop that makes 13-year-olds think of Bastille and 30-somethings think of the Ben Folds Five. This is just too fun. The video is also incredibly fun.

2. “I Really Love You” – Gibbz. Humongously catchy chorus, almost-equally-catchy verses, perky drum machines, crunchy guitars for emphasis, and the ability to sing curse words at the top of your lungs. HELLOOOOO SUMMER

3. “Can’t Stop Moving” – Sans Parents. An escapee from the mid-’00s moment where ’60s garage, dance-rock, and indie-rock all converged and became stuff like The Caesars. The chorus is just rad.

4. “Sport’s Drinking Again” – The Sharp Things. Next up in the “things I didn’t ever think I’d sing out loud” category: “I’m drinking again / alleluia.” Add in jubilant choir, triumphant trumpets, chamber orchestra, and full rock band, and you’ve got this enormous three-minute wonder.

5. “Nonnie” – Flaural. I don’t get out to many rock shows these days, but Flaural’s psych-rock has enough whimsical, Alice in Wonderland indie-pop sensibility in its guitar melodies that it hooked me.

6. “Ethics in Gaming” – Marc with a C. Marc is always able to wring meaningful lyrics out of goofy, sometimes-esoteric pop culture in his well-developed fourth-wall-breaking style. Then he marries those lyrics to ridiculously catchy power-pop. Everyone wins.

7. “Dream Catching” – Fell Runner. Like a deconstructed Vampire Weekend, Fell Runner slo-mos their way through effervescent pop. It is uniquely ear-catching.

8. “Burn Baby Burn” – Stevie Cliff. Prince would be proud of this sly, funky, sexy jam.

9. “High” – Breaking Heights. Sometimes you need a walking-speed, head-bobbing Brit-pop-inspired tune. Stay tuned for the surprise halfway through.

10. “Staying Awake” – Why We Love. Yelpy, chirpy, jumpy, hectic, super-fun indie-pop.

SXSW Thursday: Bastille / Charli XCX

March 15, 2013

On recommendation, I rolled out of bed and made it to Cedar Street for an early-start day show. Even with my (relatively) early start, I missed Olafur Arnalds’s set (!!). However, I showed up in time to watch Brit-poppers Bastille‘s piano-pop set. I unabashedly love Coldplay, OneRepublic and other bands of that stripe, so Bastille was right up my alley. Huge sung choruses supported by hammering piano, towering drums and arena rock moves like climbing the rafters are firmly within Bastille’s wheelhouse and my heart. The tenor vocalist did a great job of appropriating soaring vocals without getting yelpy, which was a blessing. The electronic touches that wove in and out of the sound were a credit to their sound as well. I expect to hear this band take over the radio within a year: “Pompeii” is simply too much of a feel-good anthem (despite its depressing lyrics; hey, if it worked for fun….) to pass up.

Charli XCX was up next on the same stage, so I stuck around. I heard of her through association with Swedish electro-pop michief makers Icona Pop, and Charli purveys a similar brand of electro-pop. Hers is less clubby hooks and huge synths and more Grimes-ian electro intricacies. At times it felt like I was listening to a pastiche of the last ten years of electro trends. This was largely a good thing: Charli’s pop sense was honed well enough to know where to cut off the trendy bits before they reached excess. At her best, she reached near the dancy pop bliss of Robyn’s work, although with a much hipper bent. It was a fun set to watch, if not exactly in my area of expertise (or in the right time and place, as it went down outside on a bright, sunburn-inducing Texas afternoon).

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

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