Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Mid-November Acoustic Tracks

November 20, 2015

1. “Every Fight” – Lost Feeling. This complex, attention-grabbing track provides the electronic drama of a Baths track with more acoustic guitar and strings. Here’s a voice to watch.

2. “Hello Miss Lonesome” – Marlon Williams. Williams’ voice just fits so perfectly over this familiar-yet-strange rockabilly-meets-alt-country sprinter.

3. “Give It Up” – Animal Years. Any band sharing a name with a Josh Ritter album should make folk-rock as gleeful, catchy, and all-around fun as this. I can see myself jumping up and down to this song live.

4. “Oh, K” – Alma. Do you need a ray of acoustic pop-soul sunshine to cut through a gray day? Have this one.

5. “Holy Water” – Ed Prosek. Bear with me on this one, but I imagine this is what Mumford and Sons’ last album would have sounded like if they had not fully rejected their acoustic roots: it’s got high drama, but it’s contextualized in a mellow, lush, developed arrangement (check that choir).

6. “Winter Beat” – Michael Nau. Nau is half of Cotton Jones and–more importantly to me–the man behind Page France, one of Independent Clauses’s earliest loves. This walking-speed, bleary-eyed, Lou Reed-esque jam is a cool turn.

7. “No Stone” – Jenny Gillespie. Gillespie’s voice is wide and expansive, providing a nice tension against the close-cropped, keys-driven indie-pop below it. As a result, the tune has a unique vibe that makes its reference points tough to place.

8. “Darkness in Me” – Eight Belles. There’s a theatrical quality lurking just under the surface of this easygoing acoustic tune: you can find it in the piano, the surging strings, and the little swells at the middle of the song. It pairs nicely with Jessi Phillips’ confident alto voice to create a surprising, compelling track.

9. “The Broken Spoon” – Backyard Folk Club. Mad props for the name actually describing the sound. In addition to sounding like the most fun you can have on the back porch, this band has spoons, too!

10. “Chosen Peace” – Steamboats. We could all use a lot more peace in our lives, and if it’s delivered in a warm folk style, so much the better.

11. “Riot” – Supersmall. “Hello, is this Quiet is the New Loud HQ? Are y’all still open for business? Can we join? Here’s our credentials.”

12. “I Am Trying to Disappear” – Matt Bauer. Fresh, bright, and tentative, like if the lo-fi had been scrubbed out of all those early Iron and Wine records to hear how fragile things get when everyone can hear every bit of your plan. It picks up by the end very nicely, but that first half is delightful.

13. “Hollow Body” – Many Rooms. There’s something raw and powerful about the delicate acoustic exploration of this track.

Videos videos videos!

October 23, 2014

Andrew Judah’s amazing clip for “I Know You Know” gets the pop-up fact treatment. The facts are cool, but mostly I’m putting this up here so that you have to listen to it again.

The Gray Havens sing their infectious, memorable folk-pop song “Songs in the Night” … in the night. It is great.

The ominous folk/country sound of Suzanne Jarvie’s “Spiral Road” is worth your time.

The Lone Bellow has a whole lot of motown horns and soul band members backing him up, making his moniker questionable and his tune impeccable.

I have no idea what’s happening in this Purmamarca clip for “I Don’t Need Your Love,” but it’s compelling to watch.

Ed Prosek’s video for “Hold On Tight” is gorgeous cinematographically.

September MP3s 2: Quiet Heart

October 10, 2014

Quiet Heart

1. “New World” – Grammar. What if the Postal Service had been thought up by a woman instead of a man? Here’s a loose, flexible, smooth take on electro-pop that made me ponder the question.

2. “Gum Wrapper Rings” – Kind Cousin. I love to hear sentimental-yet-complex songwriting, and Kind Cousin delivers. Fans of Laura Stevenson will rejoice in the amalgam of wistful indie-rock guitars, ’50s girl pop vocals, and noisy drumming.

3. “Hold On Tight” – Ed Prosek. Radio-friendly, catchy folk-pop that’s a cross between Ed Sheeran and Phillip Phillips. Yes, that’s a pretty strong litmus test, I know. But it’s true.

4. “White Pine Way” – More than Skies. This impressive track falls somewhere between noisy punk/emo and slicker indie-rock bands like Interpol and Silversun Pickups. Lots of great melodies, but without hitting you over the head with them. Great work here.

5. “Black River” – Wild Leaves. Lush harmonies and ’70s-style production make Laurel Canyon the spiritual home of this track. Fleetwood Mac can come too.

6. “Tulsa Springs” – White White Wolf. Here’s an ominous, mysterious, rugged cabin-folk tune that’s high on atmosphere. (Also, +1 for anything with the name of my hometown in it.)

7. Ne Brini Za Mene – Neverdays. The Serbian response to Jason Molina, complete with mournful cello.

8. Even I – Grant Valdes. Valdes found a trove of hymns written by Haden Laas (1899-1918), an American soldier in WWI. They didn’t have scores, just words–so Valdes is setting each of the 44 hymns to music. This initial offering is a plaintive, yearning, piano-led tune. I’m super-excited to see where this goes.

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

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