This project has been a microcosm of my whole 10 years running this blog: a little idea that got bigger and bigger with help from all sorts of people who pitched in. Massive thanks go out to The Carradini Family, Uncle David and Aunt Rose, the Lubbers Family, Neil Sabatino & Mint 400 Records, Albert & Katy, Drew Shahan, Odysseus, Joseph Carradini, Jeffrey M. Hinton, Esq., @codybrom a.k.a Xpress-O, Conner ‘Raconteur’ Ferguson, Janelle Ghana Whitehead, Tyler “sk” Robinson, Jake Grant, Anat Earon, Zack Lapinski, Mila, Tom & April Graney, Stephen Carradini, Theo Webb, Jesse C, D. G. Ross, Martin & Skadi, Jacob Presson, Michelle Bui, and Elle Knop.
The first 200 downloads of the album are free, so go get ‘em while they’re available! (The price is $4 a side once the freebies are gone.) The streaming will always be free, so if nothing else you can go listen to some sweet tunes from some of Independent Clauses’ favorite bands. Once again, thanks to all who contributed in any way, both to the project and to Independent Clauses’ last 10 years. It’s been a thrilling, wild ride.
Never Give Up: Celebrating 10 Years of the Postal Service
I’ve spent almost ten years receiving PR from bands, but I’m just now foraying into the other side of things by creating press pitches. I was surprised to find that even though I’d been reading them for years, I was oddly stumped when it came to writing one. So, after much trial and error, I’ve found something that I like and that gets the information out quickly.
At the same time that I’ve been diversifying into other areas of the music endeavor, I’ve been getting a ton more pitches than usual. Growth is good, but it does require new structures to manage the volume. So! I’m implementing a new submissions policy starting today. I won’t ruthlessly delete pitches that don’t adhere to this model, but I will send back an e-mail asking for your information re-stated in the below format. I have also included this information on the Submissions tab. Here’s what I’m looking for.
Where are you from? What is your genre? What are you promoting? How long (in songs) is the EP or album? What are two or three bands you sound like? Why are you contacting me (did someone refer you? did you find us through another blog? Personalization is important.) Make sure to link to your website in here, preferably hyperlinked to your band name.
Title Release Date/Release Label (if any, self-released is 100% cool) Streaming Link(s) Download Link (I vastly prefer download codes from Bandcamp) Single? Available to post? Purchase links, if you want me to post them Any other info(link to press page or Dropbox with photos would work here) Outro sentence
Here’s an example from The Duke of Norfolk.
My name is Adam Howard. I currently live in Tulsa, Oklahoma and record music under the name The Duke of Norfolk. I have just released a 5-track EP about the importance of seizing the day entitled Le Monde Tourne Toujours. People often tell me that I have a sound similar to that of old-school Sufjan Stevens, Josh Ritter, or Tallest Man on Earth.
I’m contacting Independent Clauses because of your past coverage of the Tallest Man on Earth. If you’re interested, I’d love to hear what you think about the EP. Here are the details:
Hello 2013! The new year has arrived at Independent Clauses, with new music, new projects and (already) newly discovered ways to waste time. Sounds good, right? Let’s get to it.
Independent Clauses’ 10-year anniversary is coming up, which means we’ll have a super-special birthday gift for you in May that I’m working really hard to complete.
I’m going to be a guest judge in SpinTunes 6! SpinTunes is a really cool songwriting contest that includes completing four songwriting tasks relatively quickly. I’ll be judging round two. You should enter! Yes, you!
Alt-folk artist The Duke of Norfolk, whom I manage/book, will be releasing a new EP via Mint 400 Records on January 29 entitled Le Monde Tournes Toujours! It’s pretty incredible. I’ll keep you posted with details.
I’ll finally (finally) be releasing a new EP as well, of my own music. It should drop in mid-February, but the details on it are much less set than the other release.
I’m hoping to establish the Independent Clauses Traveling Show, which will feature me showing up in a town I’ve never been in once a year or so and putting on a concert featuring the bands I love from that town. Details to come!
I’ll be hitting SXSW, too!
And, as always, I’ll be reviewing all sorts of new music, starting tomorrow. Here’s to a busy but wonderful 2013!
Even though Independent Clauses has been a website in transition for most of its 8.5 years, each iteration has brought it closer to stability. This latest reinvention of Independent Clauses as a daily blog has been so incredibly enjoyable that I feel comfortable naming 2011 as my favorite year of Independent Clauses’ existence.
I’m not going to mess with a good thing. For perhaps the first time in IC history, I’m not starting any initiatives in a new year. You can look forward to daily content about underappreciated music throughout 2012. I’m definitely looking forward to it.
Awkward Age‘s Demo 2011 is four punk tunes in 8 minutes and 1 second. The band isn’t into economy because it doesn’t know what it’s doing: the three-piece features ex-members of The Knockdown, New Bruises, Ghost Tales and Independent Clauses (yes, an old writer for this magazine!). These vets cram the material that would compose a whole three- or four-minute song in younger hands into two. The result is an EP that rules.
I’ve been a sucker for a drum intro ever since I heard Dave Douglas hammering away on Relient K’s “Kick-Off,” which opened The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek—the first rock album I ever heard. It is unsurprising that I fell in love with the pounding bass/tom/snare intro to “New Teen Fiction.” The rest of the song sets the template for the other tunes: block-chord guitars, uncomplicated bass lines, forceful yet hooky melodies and an irrepressible energy.
“Lucky Man” is a perfect eff you song (literally), and I can only imagine how much fun it is for audiences to yell it out live. “It Never Stops” sounds most like a snare-kick pop-punk song, and that’s totally fine. These guys are self-admittedly about ten years past high school, so this is the sound they were hearing when they were hanging out in the halls. It sounds authentic.
It’s only eight minutes, but it’s a great eight minutes. If you’re into punk, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be all over Demo 2011.
As I noted yesterday, I recently transitioned from the workforce to academia. There are three major differences for IC with this change:
1. My daily round-trip commute went from 75+ minutes to 5, which significantly cuts into the time I have available for music listening.
2. I will spend a great deal of time attempting to comprehend complex and esoteric theory, the reading of which is not conducive to simultaneous music consumption.
3. My old job allowed me to listen to mainstream indie music at work, allowing time for undiscovered indie stuff on the commute/at home.
These will all work together to ensure that I listen to and write about less new music. I’m still hoping to update IC daily, but it could be about anything music-related, not just undiscovered CD reviews.
Even though my music consumption will constrict to stuff that I feel is fantastic (Sorry, Bon Iver, it’s just not as good as For Emma), I’m not going to leave good bands high and dry. I’m not the only blog in the world, and there’s a quick’n'dirty way to find blogs that will potentially like you and write about you.
1. Go to Hype Machine. It’s a blog aggregator, pulling MP3s from a ton of blogs and hosting them in an easy-to-use format.
2. Figure out a band that your band sounds like, or a band that would share similar fans with yours.
3. Enter that band into Hype Machine’s search box (top right).
4. Look at the first listing. It should be “Artist – Song Name.” Under that line of text is a small link that says “Posted by x blogs,” where x is a number. Click that link. (If this link is not below the text, that blog is the only blog that posted the song. Note the name of the blog, then move on to the next listing.)
5. A dropdown should appear, listing the names of blogs that posted the tune and an intro paragraph to the corresponding post. At the end of the intro paragraph will be a link that says “Posted on x y,” where x y is a date. Open that link in a new tab.
6. You are now at the blog that posted about an artist you sound like. Find the contact info for the writer of the post. For larger blogs like Aquarium Drunkard, this person will be different than the editor of the site. Smaller blogs may be a one-person outfit.
7. E-mail them nicely, mentioning the band you sound like in the subject line.
8. Have your music, bio, picture and contact info easily available from the e-mail but not cluttering the page. You want to keep your e-mails short and to the point. Your bio and picture could be good attachments. Blogs have different policies on music submission, but I hate getting huge, attached files. A nice, discrete link to a download site or Bandcamp is great.
This process will help immensely, as blogs get approximately a gazillion e-mails a day, and quick connections make you stand out.
In practice, it looks like this. The band King Rey e-mailed me their EP Street Friends. It’s heavy on the doo-wop pop sound that’s enjoying a resurgence. I’m not a big fan of the genre, even though King Rey sounds talented in their craft. I know that Tennis is a band that has some similar sounds going on. Plug in Tennis, and “Tennis – Pigeon” pops up. Eight blogs have posted it, including Tune the Proletariat, Indie Shuffle and We All Want Someone to Shout For (twice!). Those blogs would be a good idea to hit with an e-mail for King Rey.
Similarly, Killing Kuddles is a rockabilly band. Punching in the word “rockabilly” doesn’t produce very good results, as the word “rockabilly” doesn’t appear in band names or song names often. Searching “Legendary Shack Shakers” brings up several blogs that would be good for KK to e-mail (I am a Moonshiner, ninebullets).
Even though this gives you a good in, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get heard. Blogging is a horribly inexact art, driven in great part by “what I feel like doing today.” There are very disciplined bloggers, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I don’t feel like listening to x band because I’m in y type of mood, even if I would probably like the type of music x band plays if I were in a normal mood. Based on the number of e-mails bloggers get, that disconnect (which is entirely not your fault) could deposit you in the “get to this someday” or “deleted” pile. And that sucks, but that’s the way it happens sometimes.
I love new music, and I’ll still be covering it. But if I send you back an e-mail that says, “Hey, it’s good but it’s not my style, and here’s a way to find some other blogs that will like you guys,” don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s me. No, really.
Independent Clauses has always been a strange beast. I never intended it to be a music blog; I wanted it to be the starting point of a Pitchfork-style website or a Paste-style magazine. So when we did things differently, my thoughts ran thus: “Who cares? We weren’t trying to be like them anyway.” That’s why we would run best-of lists in February, eschew posting MP3s and publish very long articles.
But as people go, so do dreams. Just like mortality isn’t such a terrible bag if you’re ready for it, neither is the death of dreams. Independent Clauses is never going to be the size of Pitchfork, Paste or even Delusions of Adequacy (whom I have worked for and dearly love). And that’s perfectly okay.
To that end, it’s starting to look more and more like an MP3 blog over here, as I am accepting what Independent Clauses has become and embracing it. I’m considering getting some extra hosting for 2011 and throwing down d/ls to applicable tunes on posts. I’m also going to redesign this site as an mp3 blog, then not touch the aesthetics till 2012. I’m also going to start using the first person pronoun instead of the third person. It’s just me here now.
Also, I will cover more Pitchfork-level indie music than I have previously. Independent Clauses used to focus exclusively on undiscovered music, and I will still devote much of my time there. One does not throw the baby out with the bathwater, after all; there will just be more Frightened Rabbit and The Mountain Goats in the bath.
As part of the transition, I will be posting two best-of lists this year: one overall best of, and one of releases Independent Clauses reviewed this year. In the future, I will post one list. Without further adieu, here’s the overall top ten best releases this year.
4. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire. Music world dominance: headlining Madison Square Garden, nominated for album of the year, taking number one on the Billboard Charts. Even if I didn’t like this album it would be in my top ten. It’s a pretty great album, though, even if it does have a few too many ripoffs of The National on it.
5. This Is Happening – LCD Soundsystem. Indie world dominance: James Murphy prophesied his title and then backed it up with tracks that made it so. Easily my favorite LCD album, and “You Wanted a Hit” is vying for “favorite LCD song” status.
6. The Age of Adz - Sufjan Stevens. The man can do whatever he wants and still turn out pure gold. This is easily the most mind-blowing release of the year: it’s hard for me to listen to in heavy rotation because it’s so complex.
So, while we’re in the spirit of full disclosure from yesterday, here’s another one. Gary Barrett, who is the Gary B of Gary B and the Notions, has written for Independent Clauses even more recently than Nate Williams has. Doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions about his record, but it does mean that they’re not totally sterilized. I mean, no one’s really objective these days. So passe.
Anyway. Gary B and the Notions just released New Twist and Shout, and it’s an incredibly appropriate title. Barrett has a strong affinity for ’50s pop, and he creates his own fractured and twisted version of it on this album. Barrett nicks the big pop swing and a chord progression straight out of 1954 in “Unannounced,” drops some creepy organ and oddly dissonant guitars over it, and turns it loose onto the world. “Jenny” has a bit of a surf-pop vibe to it (although I’m pretty sure Brian Wilson and Co. never accused anyone of being “Motherf****** who want to dance and get out of control”). “Hall and Oates” has a bouncy pop feel to it, similar to the girl-pop of the era (anything-ettes).
If the subverted and repurposed ’50s songwriting doesn’t turn you off, Barrett’s vocals might. Barrett has what can be best described as a Northern drawl; he lets syllables hang a long time, sings odd vocal lines, and generally does whatever he wants. The tone is a bit nasal, but not so much that he doesn’t have low notes. It’s just enough to drive a listener crazy on repeated listens. It’s really unique, but it’s an acquired taste.
The highlights here are “Sally,” “Jenny” and the dark “New York Jet Set Trash,” which was exciting because it was different that the rest. The honky tonk of “Landscapes & Skylines” also stands out, providing a punch of energy toward the end of the album.
If you like the ’50s revisited and don’t mind Gary Barrett’s distinctive, unusual vocals, you will like New Twist and Shout. If either of those things don’t happen for you, it’ll be unlikely that you won’t enjoy this.
Stephen Carradini writes far too many words about music you may or may not have heard of. Sometimes he takes pictures of aforementioned bands.