Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Mid-October Singles, pt. 2

October 15, 2016

1. “Papernote” – Tigertown. I had the same reaction to this song as I did the first time I heard The Naked and Famous: “whoa, now that is an electro-pop song.” Big, giddy, skittering all over the place; be still my heart.

2. “The World Is a Gumball” – Heavy Heart. Heavy Heart’s song-a-month project continues with a mid-tempo rock piece that blurs the boundaries between ’90s alt-rock and early ’00s female-fronted emo by dint of some shoegaze-y guitar textures. Hazy, dreamy, and yet oddly propulsive (thanks to the bass).

3. “Basic Instructions” – Gleneagle. Unhinged, permanently-threatening-to-come-apart alt-country is attractive because it always barely manages to stay together: here the vocals threaten to dissolve into an uncoordinated rage, only restrained by the carefully coordinated guitar rock going on behind it. The cathartic/jubilant conclusion is all you hope it will be from the first time you hear Bryden Scott’s vocals.

4. “Only at Night” – Candysound. Somehow strikes a warm, comforting balance between jaunty and subdued, like Bloc Party chilling way out or Vampire Weekend on downers.

5. “Revolution (feat. First Aid Kit)” – Van William. Everything that First Aid Kit lends their voices to immediately becomes 4 times better than it was before. This was a good folk-pop song with charming trumpet before their vocals come in; after their vocals, it’s a great song. Straight up.

6. “Life 101” – Sonoride. Shuffle-snare percussion, walking bass, rolling guitar and wistful vocals come together into an excellent folk tune.

7. “All We Do” – Daniel Trakell. The soaring vocal melody in the chorus of this acoustic-pop song just takes off and pushes this song to a whole new level.

8. “That’s All You Get” – Chaperone Picks. Raw, enthusiastic, lo-fi singer/songwriter with some country overtones. For those days when it seems like no one doesn’t use autotune and maxxed out production values, Chaperone Picks is there for you. Realness.

9. “Runaways” – Gabriel Wolfchild and the Northern Light. I feel an expansiveness in my soul when I listen to this song, not unlike that which I feel during Gregory Alan Isakov’s “The Stable Song.”

10. “Agata” – Sam and the Black Seas. This acoustic tune has serious gravitas and yet remains a floating world of a song, barely over two minutes.

11. “Alstroemeria” – TOLEDO. A dignified, composed, carefully constructed piece of acoustic music that shows off the male vocal tone and the ability to make all the pieces fit together intricately.

12. “I Found a Home” – Brooklyn Doran. The pristine guitar playing features an intriguing bass line. The guitar fits between Doran’s Adele-esque vocals and chord-heavy piano playing, creating a strong pop song.

13. “When We Were Young” – Anna Atkinson. Dramatic high alto/low soprano vocals and fiddle duet for the first chunk of this tune, evoking solitary, yearning mountain folk songs. The introduction of guitar somehow amplifies those feelings instead of diminishing them.

EP: Brooklyn Doran

March 6, 2015

brooklyndoran

Brooklyn Doran‘s There’s a Light On shows off a clear, bright, unadorned voice and arrangements of corresponding class. Doran has a singer/songwriter’s heart, but she’s got enough vintage torch in her songs that muted trumpet, stand-up bass, gentle bongos and staccato piano play a big role.

Four of the five tunes stick to the smoky lounge club vibe: “Cold Outside” and “Look Away” sound like the club is in 1920s Brooklyn due to the arrangements, while “Lansdowne” and “S.S. Calamity (Sink This Ship)” sound like the late ’90s or early ’00s in their gentle, piano-forward approach. “S.S. Calamity” builds into a show-stopper musically and vocally, while “Lansdowne” builds its emotive core off her evocative vocals. They’re all slow, smoldering, yearning.

Then there’s the title track, which is a perky, charming neo-trad-jazz tune with a great vocal melody and an infectious vibe. “There’s a Light On” uses modern background vocals, that muted trumpet, and fun percussion to really sell the song. It’s short and simple, but the songwriting is excellent: it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and it gets me to push play again.

Brooklyn Doran’s debut EP There’s a Light On puts forward remarkably mature songwriting, arranging, and production. She’s got that special something, and it’s not obscured in any way on this EP. These five songs pass quick, but they won’t be the only thing you hear from Doran. You should get to know the work of Brooklyn Doran.

Videos Videos Videos: Acoustic, etc.

February 12, 2015

Brooklyn Doran’s jazz-standards vibe brings a classy aura to Lake Street Dive-esque charm. The band knows how to hit it and quit it, as Doran and her crew mesmerize in less than two minutes.

Mann Friday are trying to get the booker at Glastonbury to book them by dedicating a video to her. “Say Yeah (Emily Eavis)” might mark the only time that the booker of a festival has been immortalized in song. The acoustic-fronted pop-rock song is pretty great too.

Jen Chapin’s “Gospel” pays homage to historical and current protest movements around the world.

Acoustic fingerpicking; versatile, powerful female vocals; an intimate performance–what more could you ask for? Courtney Marie Andrews is impressive here.

Ryan Culwell’s “Red River” is a desolate, stark, moving tribute to the people and land of South Texas. Shades of Jason Isbell, but for a different people.

As they say on Imgur, “Always upvote Cancellieri.”

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

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