Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

MP3s: Dark Indie Rock (and stuff)

September 26, 2015

Dark Indie Rock (and stuff)

1. “Plastic Skateboard” – Brave Baby. It’s rare that a sound comes along that has its own internal logic and consistency. I could namecheck (Fleetwood Mac, Suburbs-era Arcade Fire, mopey mid-’00s electro, etc.), but ultimately their indie rock sound stands on its own. Impressive.

2. “Scar” – The Lonely Wild. Setting up a distinct feeling an inhabiting it is a sure way to hook me, and this rock tune gives us the sound and shape of desperation.

3. “Modern Times” – VSTRS. A killer drummer will always stand out, no matter where he or she lands: this minor-key rock track gets its propulsive energy from the frantic drumming. With the vocals, synths, and loping bass pulling the opposite direction, the drums still push this track onward relentlessly. The tension creates a great tune.

4. “Dear California” – Water District. It’s been almost twenty years since Bush and Incubus were cool (!!), so it’s time for their close-up. This chilled-out track calls up the best of those polished alt-rock slackers.

5. “Young Burns” – Fine, It’s Pink. Like a cave of wonders, this tune starts off with an icy, sparse electro intro before unveiling rooms of soaring, impressive indie-rock sound.

6. “Dirty Deli” – Creature from Dell Pond. An alternate vision of post-punk: jazz-inspired rhythms, dissonant chords, speak-sing vocals, occasional dance-rock dalliances, and a careful use of space. This tune scrambles along to its own idiosyncratic vision.

7. “Going Home” – Stomatopod. It’s a great-sounding old-school punk song. What else do you need?

Zelaz-ow-ow-a brings the heat

March 14, 2009

zelazowaAfter listening to Zelazowa’s latest, Elephants on a Mousehunt, I felt that I needed tongs or a potholder to eject the CD from my stereo – their music is searing. I imagined the album actually smoking from the scorching music it contained. But, a “Caution: Contents May Be Hot” label is not needed. Sure, the contents are hot, but I wouldn’t recommend using any caution to listen to this album. It should be listened to without reserve, which is what the music itself is like.

From the very beginning of Elephants on a Mousehunt, Zelazowa packs a serious punch with their energetic, driving rock. The opener “Today is Tomorrow” is a surefire attention-grabber, with its explosive guitar riffs and no-holding-back vocals. Throughout the album, the vocals sounds like a combination of The Mars Volta’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Brandon Boyd of Incubus, mixed with a punk sensibility.

“Numbers,” a dark, political scorcher, increases the energy even more with a frenzied sing-along chorus. This song practically begs the listener to see Zelazowa live – and luckily, it seems like this band is on an eternal tour, so there are plenty of opportunities.

While many of the songs on this album are head-knockers with catchy hooks that encourage jumping around, Zelazowa also churns out some songs that diversify the album’s sound. “You Say Love” has more of a pop influence with really nice harmonies, and the closer “I Got My Gun” begins with an acoustic sound which grows as it progresses. Also, the more mellow and dreamy “Baby Blue (Listening to the Earth Shift)” comes as a bit of a breather or respite in the middle of the album, but doesn’t alter its edgy mood.

Elephants on a Mousehunt is a mature and carefully executed release from Zelazowa that shows daring and spunk. Be sure to check them out if you want to add a hint of wasabi to your musical palate.

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

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