Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Interstitial Summer Mix

May 17, 2013

So I went running this morning, and it was actually hot. Summer is creeping in, y’all!

Interstitial Summer mix

1. “Confidence” – The Dodos. Here’s a jaw-dropping fusion of intricate guitarwork, indie-rock bombast, and pop sensibility. Thrilled to hear this album.
2. “Southern Belle” – The Radio Reds. Pop-punk is where I’m from, and it’s where I go in summer. This bass-heavy tune reminds me of Titus Andronicus due to the atypical vocal rhythms of the vocalist. Great stuff.
3. “Baton” – Pan. My favorite gleeful post-rockers are back, emphasis on the rock … and the violin.
4. “Back to Bellevue” – Challenger. Summer mixes can always use more ’80s-inspired electro-pop, especially when it’s as bouncy and charming as Challenger’s.
5. “If It Speaks” – Hospital Ships. Hospital Ships plays indie-rock that I immediately recognize but can’t place. Their tunes come from a deep understanding of how indie-rock works, circa 2013. Mighty.
6. “Make It Home” – Hoodie Allen feat. Kina Grannis. Hoodie drops the studio version of the track he and Kina Grannis wrote for Fuze. It starts out with voice and acoustic guitar, but it’s a block party by the halfway point (complete with huge horn sample). The Mets still get a shout-out. It’s still awesome.
7. “You’re Turning From” – Fiery Crash. No summer mix is complete without a lazy, hazy poolside jam.
8. “The Hypnotist” – Owls of the Swamp. And no self-respecting summer mix wouldn’t include a midnight makeout track either, and this Australian indie-folk gem fits the bill perfectly. Swirling, mysterious, and beautiful.

April Showers Bring May … videos

May 8, 2013

David Ramirez dropped an absolutely mindblowing EP named The Rooster yesterday, and “The Bad Days” is the first cut from the release. If you like singer/songwriters or folk or country or whatever we’re calling it these days, check this out: David Ramirez is winning the game. I’ll have a full rave about it in a few days, but right now, this:

Hoodie Allen has largely graduated from the indie-rock-flipping beats that made me fall in love with him, so it’s nice to hear him doing stuff that kinda goes in that direction. This track is a collaboration with acoustic singer/songwriter Kina Grannis, and it’s pretty awesome. Furthermore, the Mets get a shout-out, so I’m automatically in love with the track. Kina and Hoodie also covered “Anna Sun” by Walk the Moon, which was pretty legit too.

Dresses is from Portland, which explains why the video for jubilant indie-pop tune “Sun Shy” could be called “How to Hipster, 2013 Edition.” I love everything about the song and the video. Holla.

If you’ve got 18 minutes to experience some beautiful tunes, Adam Remnant (of rambunctious alt-country outfit Southeast Engine) debuted four brilliant new acoustic songs on a front porch in the middle of the woods. His weary tenor voice is in full glory in that atmosphere, evocative to a heartbreaking point. Yes. You want to listen to this.

Video jam, pt 1

September 25, 2012

So I’m a sucker for a big-chorus pop song. Here’s Belmont Lights’ “Halfway,” which throws down piano, strings and whoa-ohs in the vein of The Fray, OneRepublic, et al. Yes, you know who you are. No shame.

“Undertow” is one of the most moving songs on Robert Deeble’s Heart Like Feathers, so I’m glad to see that it earned itself a video.

Hoodie Allen throws down a non-album single called “Feel the Love,” and it’s a throwback to his indie-rock flippin’, name-checkin’ first works. I love it.

News: Hoodie Allen & G-Eazy / Soundsupply / RunHundred

August 21, 2012

Hoodie Allen and G-Eazy are going out on tour together! The indie-rock-flipping rappers will be traveling all over the East Coast and Midwest in September; I’ve already got tickets to the Atlanta date. I’m stoked to finally see Hoodie live; IC has been covering him for a long time.

Soundsupply, the music-discovery service whose creators I interviewed recently, is back with a new 10 albums for 15 bucks. This one includes IC faves I Used to Be a Sparrow, Mason Jennings, and Mansions; from the clips in the video below, I’m super-excited about La Dispute and Talons.

Soundsupply Drop 4 from Soundsupply on Vimeo.

I’m getting back into running (it’s always more fun to be a runner than to turn yourself into a runner), so I need music. And RunHundred is there for me, with its monthly Top 10. —Stephen Carradini

If you were working on a workout music time capsule—trying to show future generations what folks listened to in the gym in 2012—the highlights from August alone would nearly do the trick.

In this month’s top 10, running favorites LMFAO, Flo Rida, and Pink all made appearances. Pitbull turned up twice—once in a remix and once with Shakira. And, the year’s two biggest hits (“Call Me Maybe” and “Somebody That I Used to Know”) were both reinvented as club tracks.

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

Flo Rida – Whistle – 103 BPM

Pitbull & Shakira – Get It Started – 129 BPM

The Wanted – Chasing the Sun – 129 BPM

Calvin Harris & Ne-Yo – Let’s Go – 130 BPM

Pink – Blow Me (One Last Kiss) – 113 BPM

Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen – Good Time – 126 BPM

Pitbull – Back in Time (Play-N-Skillz Remix) – 128 BPM

Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe (Coyote Kisses Remix) – 124 BPM

LMFAO – Sorry for Party Rocking (Wolfgang Gartner Remix) – 130 BPM

Gotye & Kimbra – Somebody That I Used to Know (Tiesto Remix) – 129 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

Moody beauty

April 24, 2012

“Shenandoah” is one of the songs that sparked my love of folk music, so I’m always up for new versions of it. The tune received an elegant, reverent treatment in sound and video here, as Goldmund and Alex R. Johnson (La Chima Films) teamed up to create a beautiful rendition of the Appalachian standard.

The enigmatic video for Exitmusic’s “Passage” sets up an engrossing mood with an inscrutable but intriguing storyline and beautiful visuals. I couldn’t look away.

The eerie, evocative clip for The Angelus’ “Crimson Shadow” is similarly riveting. Jake Wilganowski‘s confident direction and gorgeous cinematography meet the tune perfectly, and the result is a powerful piece.

Hoodie Allen’s second video from All American pairs the pensive “No Faith in Brooklyn” with a clip that matches the mood.

Hoodie Allen goes (musically) au naturale, and more

March 29, 2012

We love Hoodie Allen at Independent Clauses, largely because of his way with samples. Even though his new EP All American does not include any samples, the original beat in “No Interruption” has the same buoyant flair that he previously appropriated out of other people’s music. It’s an impressive transition, and one that has me hoping and thinking about all the directions he could take his sound now that he’s making songs instead of flipping songs. (Live instruments? Eh?) “No Interruption” has me excited for the rest of the EP, and that’s what a good lead single should do. Buy it on iTunes, and here’s the vid:

I was a mere half-hour from seeing a Patrick Watson set at SXSW that people like Bob Boilen absolutely raved about, but technical difficulties sent me home early that evening. Sad but necessary. However, this video and the gushing of the press have me convinced that Watson’s new album is going to special, like an amped-up Andrew Bird.

There can never be too many Johnny Cash tributes in the world. Thank you, Poppa’s Kitchen, for this one.

Top Albums of the Year, pt. 2

December 30, 2011

Here’s part two:

10: Common Grackle – The Great Repression. Absolutely unhinged western swing/rockabilly. I listened to this for a couple weeks straight when I first heard it.

9: Hoodie Allen – Leap Year. The indie-rock-appropriating beats float the cleverest lyrics I’ve heard all year. “Soul on Fire” and “James Franco” blow my mind.

8: Braids – Native Speaker. The most mesmerizing album I listened to all year. Raphaelle Standell-Preston can make even curse words sound beautiful and delicate.

7: Typhoon – A New Kind of House. Strings! Horns! Choirs! Acoustic guitars! Melodies! Emoting! I saw them in a huge church!

6: Brine Webb – O You, Stone Changeling. Morose, beautiful, touching. “Too Small to Pray For” and “rrose hips” are excellent.

5: Generationals – Actor-Caster. The best indie-pop songs of the year, hands down.

4: Laura Stephenson and the Cans – Sit Resist. There’s not a single bad tune on this album, you can sing along to almost all of them, and they pull off the “multiple genres but overarching mood” thing perfectly. 

3: Jenny and Tyler – Faint Not. Their cute pop turned into churning folk-rock overnight, and the effect is hair-raising and goosebump-inducing. There were few moments as dramatic as the full-band entry in “Song for You” this year; Faint Not was the only album that made me write the sentence “I forget to breathe.”

2: The Collection – The Collection EP. The melodies and instrumentation seem effortlessly perfect on this folk album. David Wimbish’s lyrics and deft and quick, delivered in a vastly adaptable voice that seals the deal. “Stones” is just a wonder.

1: Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges. This album just blows my mind. It is beautiful, haunting, terrifying, elevating, artsy, powerful, surreal and hyperreal (you can hear him clicking the keys) at the same time.

Top Fifty Songs of the Year Mixtape

December 27, 2011

I’ve rarely been on-the-ball enough to get my year end lists done by December 31, but this year I made a concerted effort to have all my 2011 reviewing done early. As a result, I was able to put together not just a top 20 albums list, but a top 50 songs mixtape and a top 11 songs list. Here’s the mixtape, organized generally from fast’n’loud to slow’quiet. Hear all of the songs at their links, with one exception of a purchase link (#27). The other lists will come over the next few days.

1. “Nights Like This” – Icona Pop
2. “Bass, Not an 8-track” – Oh Look Out
3. “I Don’t Want to Go To Sleep Either” – FM Belfast
4. “Now That I’m Real (How Does It Feel?)” – Chad Valley
5. “Ten-Twenty-Ten” – Generationals
6. “Sticks & Stones” – Jonsi
7. “Norgaard” – The Vaccines
8. “Just Me and My Canseco Rookie Card” – Banquets
9. “Axiomatic” – Bottle Up and Explode
10. “Yeah (Crass Version)” – LCD Soundsystem (Live at Madison Square Garden)
11. “Good in Green” – Saturday Sirens
12. “A Dream of Water” – Colin Stetson
13. “No Reservation” – Del Bel
14. “Box-Type Love” – Run Dan Run
15. “What Once Ran Wild” – Wild Domestic
16. “Movement” – Dam Mantle
17. “Saw You First” – Givers
18. “Glass Deers” – Braids
19. “Cassette 2012” – Delay Trees
20. “James Franco” – Hoodie Allen
21. “Black and White” – Generationals
22. “Kam” – Oh Look Out
23. “Prowl Great Cain” – The Mountain Goats
24. “Hobo Chili” – Attica! Attica!
25. “Montauk Monster” – Laura Stevenson and the Cans
26. “Down to the River” – Cameron Blake
27. “We Will Never Have Tonight Again” – Sandra McCracken
28. “Turbulence” – Of God and Science
29. “Nothing But Love Can Stay” – Afterlife Parade
30. “Stones” – The Collection
31. “The Region of the Summer Stars” – Come On Pilgrim!
32. “Fever” – The Collection
33. “The Healthy One” – Laura Stevenson and the Cans
34. “Some Boys” – Death Cab for Cutie
35. “Girls Girls Girls” – John Lepine
36. “At the Grindcore Show” – Common Grackle
37. “Simple Girl” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
38. “Dear Annabeth” – The Duke of Norfolk
39. “Kitchen Tile” – Typhoon
40. “Women in the Kitchen” – The Fox and the Bird
41. “Song for You” – Jenny and Tyler
42. “Find You” – Brianna Gaither
43. “Someone Like You” – Adele
44. “Through Your Eyes” – Jenny and Tyler
45. “No Silver” – Chris Bathgate
46. “Shoeboxes” – David Ramirez
47. “Unwed Fathers” – Carrie Rodriguez and Ben Kyle
48. “I Wish You Didn’t Feel Like My Home” – Matt the Electrician
49. “In Parts” – Run Dan Run
50. “Putting the Dog to Sleep” – The Antlers

In celebration, a video from Hoodie Allen

October 27, 2011

Do you guys have a job where your boss asks you find and present a music video do describe the cinematographic concept of even weighting? Apparently I do, and so Archer Black’s brand-new video was broadcast to 25 otherwise unsuspecting students today. In honor of the greatest teaching job ever, here’s another music video.

Hoodie Allen‘s Leap Year is an excellent mixtape, and “James Franco” is the cream of the crop when it comes to Allen’s hyper-kinetic, name-droppin’, indie-rock-appropriating rap. The video is appropriately hectic, cramming what I’m convinced is every interesting thing in Hollywood into one video. Except one thing:

"She like pity parties, I like witty banter"

September 16, 2011

Hoodie Allen‘s first mixtape Pep Rally was incredible because RJ Ferguson perfectly appropriated indie-rock as beats, giving Allen an unimpeachable framework. Allen coulda rapped the phone book, and I would have loved it.

Allen’s second mixtape Leap Year is incredible because Hoodie Allen is an excellent rapper. I mentioned in my previous review that he wins the namecheck award, but in Leap Year he uses his extensive pop culture knowledge to make witty jokes and provide social commentary.

Allen’s past writing songs for their own wit’s sake, and now he’s enjoying the fact that his wit can take him places. This newfound maturity is definitely related to the fact that Leap Year comes from his first year of making a living off music. Allen lives in his skin here instead of trying to appropriate a (hopefully) future self.

Not to say that RJ Ferguson drops the ball: RJF (as Allen so monikers him in the acknowledgments) is even better at his craft here. Pep Rally played the “Yeah, but do you know THIS song?” game, while Leap Year is (appropriately) over it. The smooth yet perky beats here are clearly from something, but I have no idea what. The beats float the rhymes very pleasantly and don’t distract, which is awesome.

This is best shown in standouts “James Franco” and “#WhiteGirlProblems.” The former, easily the funniest of the tracks here, uses a sample of (get this) “Clap Your Hands,” the second track off Black Eyed Peas’ 1998 debut album Behind the Front. Talk about deep cuts – that thing wasn’t even a single. “James Franco” is a party anthem, as well as an update on Hoodie’s last year; it includes a hilarious name-check to a music video that people “didn’t believe” — including me. The beat’s got movement, Hoodie’s flow is strong, the wordplay is fun and clever, and the whole thing comes off perfectly.

“#WhiteGirlProblems” morphs Eliza Doolittle into a hook singer, just like Marina and the Diamonds from Pep Rally‘s “You Are Not A Robot.” He takes on exactly what the title says, culminating in a great list of people who have white girl problems – and I don’t want to ruin the punchline. Seriously. Listen to it.

Also not to be missed: “Soul on Fire,” “You’re Welcome” and the single “Dreams Up.”

There’s still room to grow for Hoodie. His slower, more serious songs (“Push You Away,” “Moon Bounce”) fall short of the brilliance he displays as a hyperactive cultural commentator. While the songs aren’t bad, they currently feel out of character for him — and thus stick out oddly on the album. But there’s a huge jump from his last mixtape to this in maturity, so it’s reasonable to assume that some time will hammer out this issue.

Hoodie Allen’s Leap Year is a fantastic mixtape. The density of the lyrics will keep listeners coming back for more, and the excellent beats will keep them pleased while spinning it repeatedly. What else can you ask for in a mixtape? Hoodie kills it. Pick it up free here.

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

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