Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The Final Electrovibrations of 2015

January 1, 2016

1. “Undercover” – Lane 8 (feat. Matthew Dear). How can one not resist the amorous Matthew Dear lyrics, “Dancing with you, undercover/Feels like there are no more lovers, lovers, lovers, left to discover”? This beautifully melodic house track embodies that magnetic energy pulsating between your mouth and the person’s lips you’re desperately trying not to kiss.

2. “World Away” – Kasbo. There are some songs in which the artist has injected emotion of the highest degree. Kasbo’s ambient, thrilling, intoxicating “World Away” is just that; the drops literally take your breath away, and the pulse pulls and pushes all at once.

3. “Turn Your Back” –  Colder (Patrice Bäumel Remix). I imagine my alien abduction to sound like this: a nebula of disorienting static and electronic pulsing that jolts me towards a black hole of deep house, where I’ll likely never return.

4. “Claim” – Jojee. “You don’t want my heart/You just want to claim me,” Jojee sings over catchy, indie pop that automatically enlists this track in the army of college ladies’ pre-game ballads.

5. “Step 2001” – Wiley feat. Zomby. If you have yet to listen to UK-based rapping, this should be the track to take that virginity. With industrial-sounding production that pops and grinds, like gun shots in a videogame, and tarantula-like vocals that dart with alarming speed, this is grime at its finest.

6. “Baila Como Yo” – District 78. Does this belong in the opening credits of a Western spoof, or a trap-inspired, Latin dance party? “Baila Como Yo” is like a Dillon Francis moombahton track during a birthday party, but with a piñata bursting open with bass when it drops to the floor.

7. “Take Two” – Dave Eleanor feat. Marena Whitcher. If you have a fetish for ____ pauses and heavyweight bass music, you’ve found your match in the slow-mo, dim-lit rattlesnake ring with “Take Two.”

8. “Someone in the Sky” – AFFKT feat. Sutja Gutierrez. Dizzying, disco-like vocals, and lively piano over a techno beat somehow gave me the best song deja vu I’ve ever experienced. It was like I heard this in a dream before…

9. “Kimono” – Submotion Orchestra. “Kimono” sounds like droplets dripping and ricocheting within a vibrating, electronic cylinder; majestic, wind-chilled, and mysteriously exotic; an electronic rainstorm. 

10. “On the Shore” – Luke Top. With brawny, retro-styled vocals similar to The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, Luke Top’s dream-pop track should be served chilled with a lime.

11. “The Parade” – Band of Gold. Alternative, Norweigan duo Band Of Gold radiates supreme optimism in this catchy, ‘90s-esque anthem. With a theme about determinedly “getting to the core,” this track should accompany your drunken scribbling of New Year resolutions.

12. “Love Dies” – Club 8. From the newly-released album Pleasure, “Love Dies” glimmers with a spacey pop sound, teenage nostalgia gliding through effortless female vocals, and a lullaby beginning that, instead of building, stays elegantly reserved in high altitude.

13. “Occasional Magic” – Yppah (Ulrich Schnauss Remix). Lush, frond leaf-type music, perfect for soaking in the natural hot springs of Costa Rica or lighting up in the comfort of your back patio, “Occasional Magic” twinkles and pulses with gorgeously hydrated sounds.

14. “Magic Johnson” – Max Graef & Glenn Astro. From the recently-released Magic Johnson, this throbbing title track has a Flying Lotus vibe, with its groovy bass and stylish synth work. The track creates bounciness and a chill-out atmosphere simultaneously.–Rachel Haney

Mint 400's Christmas contributions are worthy

December 25, 2012

It’s not just XKCD that has noticed a lack of popular Christmas songs written and/or recorded after 1980. Shane Vidaurri of The Ashes noticed this as well, and pitched the idea of a Christmas compilation album to his record label, Mint 400 Records. Label owner Neil Sabatino (Fairmont) agreed, and now we have A Very Merry Christmas Compilation to bring cheer in.

The comp is excellent because everyone here turns in a stellar effort. None of the seven bands phone in it or get schmaltzy. These are honest-to-goodness Christmas tunes, worthy of being replayed on radio until no one remembers who the artist is anymore and no one cares. This would especially work because the comp doesn’t stick to one genre, but ranges from The Duke of Norfolk’s folky “Lovely Winter” to Fairmont’s jangly “This Song is Your Christmas Gift” to the ‘50s style rock ‘n ‘roll of The Ones and Nines’ “I’m Gonna Lasso Santa Claus.”

The lattermost is a perfect opening track to the compilation, as it sets a jubilant tone for the album. It’s like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and I love it. Adam N. Copeland apes the Killers’ tradition of putting out a soaring, modern pop tune for the holiday, with a tune that reaches to the same vocal heights as Brandon Flowers’.

There’s some melancholy as well: The Ashes’ “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” can’t even staunch the somber elements of the tune with an almost island-flavored take on the tune. “Sorry I’m Broke” and “This Song Is Your Christmas Gift” are both about the stress of being poor at Christmas.

No compilation would be complete without a hymn or two: The Duke of Norfolk’s “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” brings banjo and beatboxing together for an overall reverent take on the classic. I know, that sounds weird; you’ll just have to check it out.

A Very Merry Christmas Compilation takes Christmas music seriously, and the results are some incredible originals and traditionals. Since it’s varied in genre, you can put it on the stereo and let the wildly varied emotions of the season wash over you. If you sprinkled the tunes into your current list of standards, they wouldn’t stand out at all; they’re that good.

Full disclosure: I worked on The Duke of Norfolk’s tracks as a set of critical ears.

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

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