1. “Just Like Moonlight” – Inner Outlaws. Mad respect for any band that puts the bassist at the forefront of the tune. Michael Cacciatore’s lumbering low-end powers this wide-open indie-rock soundtrack to the city at night, which is a deft mix between sparse environments and blown-out arrangements.
2. “The Devil” – Michael Feuerstack. There’s a certain amount of guts it takes to tell the bassist to play straight eighth notes for an entire song, as it naturally turns the song into a highway jam. Feuerstack’s road anthem is perhaps a demolition derby jam–an indie-rock song amped way up, reminiscent of the roiling, raging loudest moments of the Mountain Goats.
3. “A Little Ditty” – Sleaford Mods. There’s nothing quite like UK blue-collar rage taken out in spoken-word fury over a chugging post-punk backbeat. It feels timeless and fresh at the same time.
4. “Stationary Life” – Blis. Twinkly emo, yelpy vocals, references to parents’ house, underlying good-natured energy/aggression: Deep Elm would have been all over Blis. a decade ago.
5. “Dead or Alone” – Lull. “How loud can we play something and still make it sound sad?” “I don’t know, man. Let’s start from the noisiest and get quieter till we’re there.” In other words, shoegaze, indie-rock and emo revival all smashed together into mopey, angsty goodness.
6. “Heavenstay” – Shana Falana. Reverb-drenched, guitar-sculpted dream-pop reminiscent of School of Seven Bells, Ponychase, or other artists who try to engulf people in the sound of dreams.
7. “Open Water” – Lade. Trip-hop and The Verve-style Brit-pop collide in a twilight mix.
1. “Substance” – Germany Germany. Moving from clubby electro bangers to artsy, flowing dance-rock isn’t a huge jump. But when the results are this infectious, it feels like a revelation and a turned corner in Germany Germany’s career.
2. “Never Easy” – We Are Magnetic. Gotta love a big “Midnight City”-style chorus.
3. “Recycled Words” – Lectures. Twinkly/angular guitar leads backed up by pounding chords, thrashed cymbals, and anguished vocals in a high tenor? No chorus, just one long line of song? This is early ’00s, Deep Elm-style emo, my friends. I am so down with this.
4. “Boxing Day” – Carroll. Carroll’s making their indie-pop darker, dancier, and more electro-heavy. I feel like we should all be dressed in our best clothes for this one.
5. “Colors” – Dream Stretcher. Stuttering beats, hazy synths, and mystical female vocals power this late-night drive home electro jam.
Deep Elm Records, whose mail I have been getting since Independent Clauses first started in 2003, has done something entirely unprecedented with its 200+ releases: made them all pay-what-you-want. All of them. This is simply mind-boggling. 200 releases spanning almost 20 years? It’s a treasure trove of everything from raging hardcore to emo to post-rock to post-punk to dance-rock to garage-rock to indie-pop to folk-pop. If it has a guitar in it, Deep Elm has probably put it out. In honor of their 200th, as well as their generosity, here’s a list of my Top Ten Favorite Deep Elm Releases.
10. So Close to Life – Moonlit Sailor. “Hope” is one of my favorite songs of all time, although not my favorite Deep Elm song (that one comes later). A great post-rock album.
9. This is Indie Rock, Vol. 2. The second compilation that I deeply loved from Deep Elm, and they do have a ton of them to keep up with. That’s one thing I’ve always loved about Deep Elm–they go all out for their artists, and that makes them one of the best in the business.
8. Sunshine in a Shot Glass – 500 Miles to Memphis. This album literally does everything I want a country-punk album to do. It could be a blueprint.
7. Why Aren’t I Home? – Athletics. I used to run to this album at a really low point in my life. The dramatic tensions between beautiful and crushing, artsy and muscly, longing and being… This was a wonderful soundtrack to those days.
6. We’ve Been Here Forever – Merkabah. Churning, roiling emo-rock: a blast from their early ’00s past displaced into the early ’10s. This album will have your fists in the air and your throat hoarse.
4. Nuet – Dorena. Deep Elm has gone on a serious post-rock bender as of late. Although Lights and Motion is deservedly soaking up tons of press, Dorena’s latest album just blows my mind.
3. There Should Be More Dancing – Free Diamonds. Way on the other end of the spectrum, this spazzy dance-rock masterpiece has some of the most impressively frantic (yet hooky!) bass lines I have ever heard.
2. Mare Vitalis – The Appleseed Cast. Not entirely because it contains the literally perfect song “Fishing the Sky,” but seriously. An art-rock epic capped off by what is, for my money, the best song Deep Elm has released.
1. Deep Elm: Too Young to Die – Various. The one that started it all for me; I’ve listened to this comp backwards and forwards more times than I can remember. Absolute gold.
Deep Elm Records has easily been one of my favorite record labels over Independent Clauses’ decade. The good folks over there are offering 7 whole compilation albums–99 songs–for free in exchange for passing the link on. And the link’s not even that long: http://www.deepelm.com/free . So hit that up.
And, because I’m running again, it’s time for the RunHundred monthly. —Stephen Carradini
The Top 10 Workout Songs For May
This month’s top 10 highlights the return of several workout favorites. Daft Punk released their new material since the Tron: Legacy soundtrack. The Jonas Brothers and Avril Lavigne offered previews from their upcoming albums. Lastly, Paramore—whose future was uncertain after two founding members left the band—topped the Billboard chart for the first time in their career.
Here’s the full list, according to votes placed at Run Hundred–the web’s most popular workout music blog.
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
Cincinatti’s Phratry Records (fray-tree reck-ords, or -erds, depending on where y’all live) is an old-school label. It has a roster, promotes tour dates, handles distribution, and sends me packages of releases. I do most of my work through online downloads — simply because it’s easier and costs artists/labels less — but Phratry still sends me the real releases. That’s awesome.
They also don’t follow trends. They release what they like, whether grinding noise or contemporary classical. This is why a week of Phratry releases isn’t going to be boring; instead, it will be more diverse than a usual week at IC, which is already a somewhat unusual mix. Phratry’s spring releases, which appeared on my desk only recently (mail/roommates/generic other junk) are worth a hear, so for the next 7 days you’ll hear more about this fascinating record label’s stuff.
It’s always something, y’know? I was just about to say that I hadn’t heard any new rock in a long time that just grabbed me by the throat and screamed in my face, “LISTEN TO ME.” Then I opened an e-mail with the music video for “Grenades Are Not Light 4 Us” by My Head for a Goldfish in it. The Italian trio makes complicated, dissonant, structure-less, vital post-hardcore with hollered vocals and a reckless abandon. It reminds me of what Deep Elm bands used to sound like around the turn of the Millenium, only wilder. Wow.
I am a big fan of compilations. Twenty or more bands to check out at once in a format that plays them end to end while I chill? Yes please. On Joyful Wings‘ compilation We Were Lost, We Were Freeis the best compilation I’ve ever heard, bar none. It even trumps Deep Elm‘s enormously influential Too Young to Die; seeing as I discovered my favorite song of all time via that comp (Appleseed Cast‘s “Fishing the Sky”), please know that I’m endowing an immense amount of praise in those words.
The reason it’s the best ever is because out of the 21 bands featured, there’s only two bands whose offerings I didn’t enjoy. Furthermore, I was inspired to go get more music from eight of these bands. Add in the fact that I already own music by three of these bands, and you’ve got an 11/21 conversion rate. That’s enormous for a comp. Mostly I find one or two bands off a comp that I enjoy enough to follow. These guys know what’s up when it comes to tracking a comp.
The bulk of the tracks here are gorgeous, flowing acoustic tunes; there are a couple indie-rock tracks, an indie-pop song and an excellent pop-punk tune by Chasing the Sky, but other than that it’s all acoustic. Holcombe Waller contributes “Risk of Change,” which has brilliant melodies, solid lyrics and a contained energy that makes the song infectious. I’ve listened to it 22 times already. I’ve also listened to “Umbrellas (Acoustic)” by Sleeping at Last 22 times; the track itself is gorgeous in its construction, and this acoustic version translates beautifully.
Carl Hauck‘s “To Coast” was written specifically for this comp, and its optimism through depression sets the tone for the whole album for me. Ikaik offers up a soul-crushing (yet still beautiful) tune that contradicts that last statement, as there’s little hope in the lines, “you can hate me/you have got the right/and when you leave tomorrow/don’t say goodbye/and don’t try to change my mind.”
TW Walsh (ex-Pedro the Lion) contributes a really nice change of pace with a goofy, upbeat tune; Tom Hoekstra reinterprets “Be Thou My Vision” excellently; Josh Woodward goes all Depression-era troubadour tales on us; Fireflies offers a beautiful “fields at dusk”-type piece; and Jeremy Larson leads off the set with an impeccable piece of melodic, cinematic pop.
If a 19/21 success rate and a 11/21 conversion rate aren’t enough to convince you, perhaps the fact that you get all that plus contributing five dollars to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation should pique your interest. Great tunes and a charitable feeling in your soul. At this point, your only question should be “why didn’t you tell us about this sooner?” and the reason for that is that I’m a jerk. and I’m busy. But mostly a jerk.
But seriously, get over to their Bandcamp page and download it. You will not regret it if you like acoustic music. It’s an absolutely incredible collection, and I absolutely can’t wait for their next project, which they’re already working on. I promise I’ll tell you about it quicker next time.
Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.