Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

July News: Orphans, Youtube, and Allison Weiss

July 12, 2014

Here are some neat things that are happening in the music world.

Singer/songwriter Aaron Hale (whose music IC is quite fond of) is now part of The Orphan Care Network as the head of artistry and advocacy. Helping orphans through art? I would say that’s pretty much in line with everything I want to be about. He is currently booking house shows in the Texas/Arkansas/Tennessee/Alabama area. If you want to host/attend a house show, get more information, or support him financially, you can e-mail him at aaron@orphancarenetwork.org.

Andrew Judah is the best singer/songwriter you’ve never heard of (and I hadn’t heard of, until recently). He’s put up all his incredibly complex, unique and engaging work for free on Bandcamp so that you can get to know him better ahead of his upcoming release Monster (which I am absolutely thrilled for). So if you don’t feel like supporting artists but wants lots of music, this one’s for you!

Post-Echo Records created a movie called Passage, and then they created a remix of it that you the watcher can control. That’s pretty incredible. If you’ve ever read Choose Your Own Adventure books…

Julianna Barwick and Dogfish Head Brewery are two of my favorites at their respective games. (Julianna Barwick might be the only person in her loop-one-voice-into-dozens game, but the approval still holds!) They’ve teamed up to make a beer and an EP named Rosabi; the EP includes the sounds of the beer being made. The beer, however, does not come with a download of the album (wishful thinking!). You can pick it up wherever Dogfish Head is sold; it just went on sale 6/20, so hopefully there’s some left at your local store of choice.

Youtube just got way more music-friendly: Paste and Music Vault are now hosting their own channels. The Music Vault contains Daytrotter sessions, as well as a veritable treasure trove of historical finds. Go nuts, y’all.

Soundsupply continues to hone their niche in the punk/emo/hardcore world by featuring Say Anything and the beloved-by-pop-punkers Allison Weiss. (Allison Weiss is also beloved by Independent Clauses for being one of the most forward-thinking businesspersons in music.) Go get tons of music for relatively cheap and support artists!!

It was bound to happen at some point: a service called ARENA has busted out a “rent-to-own” plan for music. I have no idea whether this will catch on, but there is a quantifiable difference between a song I played once for research and listening to “Wild One” by Flo Rida 30 times because I run to it. Will keep you posted, if anything happens because of this service.

Speaking of running, IT’S TIME FOR THE RUNHUNDRED MONTHLY LIST!!! —Stephen Carradini

The Top 10 Workout Songs for July 2014

This month’s top 10 list plays host to an eclectic bunch of established and upstart musical acts. On the international front, you’ll find a reggae hit from the Canadian band Magic and a platinum single from Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz. Elsewhere country artists Jarrod Niemann and Lady Antebellum document their nights on the town. Finally,you can check out the latest from newcomers Tune-Yards and Charli XCX alongside chart regulars Katy Perry and Shakira.

No matter where your interests lie on the musical spectrum, there should be something for you below. So, if you’re looking for a few new tunes to liven up your summer workouts, this month’s playlist will give you 10 great places to start.

Here’s the full list, according to votes placed at Run Hundred–the web’s most popular workout music blog.

Nico & Vinz – Am I Wrong – 121 BPM

Katy Perry – Birthday – 124 BPM

Charli XCX – Boom Clap – 93 BPM

Jarrod Niemann & Pitbull – Drink to That All Night (Remix) – 120 BPM

Magic – Rude – 72 BPM

Lady GaGa – G.U.Y. – 100 BPM

Shakira – The One Thing – 84 BPM

Tune-Yards – Water Fountain – 111 BPM

Far East Movement & Riff Raff – The Illest (Rell the Soundbender Remix) – 80 BPM

Lady Antebellum – Bartender – 101 BPM

To find more workout songs, folks can check out the free database at RunHundred.com. Visitors can browse the song selections there by genre, tempo, and era—to find the music that best fits with their particular workout routine. —Chris Lawhorn

The Ridges' Daytrotter session shows a folk band on the move

January 17, 2012

In the brilliant Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991, author Michael Azerrad describes Beat Happening as flaunting “rudimentary musicianship and primitive recordings, a retro-pop style, and a fey naivete in a genre that became known as ‘twee-pop’ or ‘love rock.'” Twee would continue on through the ’90s, and its fey naivete would become a driving force in indie-pop (which was twee without the junky recordings). Indie-pop begat indie-folk of Iron + Wine and Sufjan Stevens, which crashed into the singer/songwriter genre just as the latter was trying to differentiate itself from Lilith Fair and alt.country. Thus, the two sides of indie-folk met in the middle to create a new aesthetic, and that (along with a little bit of bluegrass and some Great Depression imagery thrown in along the way) is how we ended up with Mumford and Sons.

All that to say, there’s a serious side and a playful side to indie-folk, and The Ridges most definitely fall on the serious side. The band’s Daytrotter session shows them building on the strings-heavy folk sound that they crafted on their debut EP. The three EP tunes don’t stray much from their previously-recorded incarnations: “Not a Ghost” is still a rambling, shambling, catchy song with atmosphere; “War Bonds” shows a bit of their playful side with a bell kit, while still commenting on “dead friends”; “Overboard” is a sea shanty of merit. The upsides: the strings sound even more vital in these recordings, while the vocalist Victor Rasgatis gets unhinged. If you haven’t heard the Ridges yet, this is as good a way as any.

The real treat is the two unreleased songs. (I expect that a great many more bands will start sending me Daytrotter sessions of new music, because if a band’s up to one-take recording, that’s a five-song EP with no recording costs, yo!) “Dawn of Night” would have fit in perfectly with their self-titled EP, as a raw energy pulses through the tune, punctuated by ragged “oh-oh”s. The underlying intensity that The Ridges bring to the table is something that’s rarely seen in folk; there seems to be something truly ominous about their work, and not in a “ha! look! this is creepy!” sort of way. “Jackson Pollock” tones down the eerie for a four-on-the-floor fast song. Despite the speed, the arrangement is remarkably complex for a live recording, which makes me all the more impressed by The Ridges. The string melodies are especially solid.

The Ridges’ “melodic strengths are honed to a fine point” here, as I hoped in my last review. If you’re into serious indie-folk (Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Little Teeth), you should be all over this. Look for the Ridges to make a splash in 2012.

My Education/Theta Naught provides impressive collaborative improv

August 29, 2011

Although I don’t feature it very often on Independent Clauses, I love improvisational music. I was in an art-rock band for over four years that mostly did improvisational music, and thus acquired the taste. It’s very hard to do well: to end up with listenable improvs, the members of the band have to know each other well enough to predict familiar patterns in unfamiliar compositions. Band members have to read each others’ minds.

With tons of practice, lots of jams and a good knowledge of music theory, however, it is possible to create spontaneous music that doesn’t sound like a jumbled mess. My Education/Theta Naught proves it in their Daytrotter session, which (I’m told) is improvised.

But My Education/Theta Naught isn’t one band: it’s two collaborating. That makes this Daytrotter session even more incredible, as they definitely haven’t had the years that many improv units have to gel effectively. But the post-rock that the two bands collaboratively craft has builds and swells that lead into sections of near silence, all seemingly coordinated perfectly. “Careful With That Saw, Ryan” is a gorgeous piece of post-rock that could rival any of the major bands in emotive power, especially with the swooning strings.

But it’s “Dingerland” and “En Masse” that capture my attention, as they are complex indie-rock jams that move a lot faster than “Careful With That Saw, Ryan.” The amount of difficulty in composing these pieces on the fly jumps up exponentially when members have to make decisions very quickly and in a very loud situation. But the band handles it excellently, building to roaring conclusions that feel very right.

As a longtime improv guy, I enjoyed hearing the drummer move through natural progressions of pattern and volume to take the band to the conclusion of “Dingerland”; there’s little that’s more enjoyable than hearing something that you know should be happening happen correctly. In that regard, it was just plain fun to listen to My Education/Theta Naught’s collaborative Daytrotter improv: I was looking for the markers, and they were there.

If you’re into experimental indie-rock or improvised music, I would highly recommend this to you.

*ps: This is the first time I’ve ever reviewed a Daytrotter session, and I did it because of the nature of improvisational music: these songs don’t exist in this way anywhere else.

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

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