Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2014

nevergiveup

2013 is over, but the 10th year of Independent Clauses marches on. It was an amazing year, full of shows and releases and old friends and new friends and more good music than I could possibly cover. It was one of my favorite years of Independent Clauses, as I feel that I’ve finally hit my stride in what I want to be doing here.

Never Give Up: Celebrating 10 Years of the Postal Service was our 10th anniversary, but that was only the beginning, not a swan song. That release ran its time, and is now gone but for the torrents running about on the Internet. You can still hear Jenny & Tyler’s excellent version of “We Will Become Silhouettes” on their charity covers album For Freedom, and I recommend you do that. It was an amazing project, and I’m thankful to the many, many people who helped make it happen, as we raised almost $500 dollars for Hurricane Sandy relief (along with making some really awesome music).

Here’s to many more years of Independent Clauses: more projects, more reviews, and more shows. More friends, especially. More friends.

challenger

And here’s Challenger‘s two-song New Year release, which features a quiet, piano-led original and a version of “Auld Lang Syne.” It’s an unexpectedly chill turn from a big, bold synth-pop project, but both tracks are perfect for sitting back and thinking about the year that was and the year that will be. Christmas gets all the love, but Challenger is sticking up for New Years. In the same way, some bands may get all the love, but Independent Clauses is sticking up for the young, new, and small artists out there.

Please excuse the mess

September 10, 2013

Switching host and domain services is a major pain that causes things to break. Stuff might be messed up for a little bit while I try to get everything back. Thanks for your patience.

Declan Ryan stretches his alt-country legs

June 14, 2013

a2586045011_2

One of my favorite things about Independent Clauses is developing relationships with young artists and writers. Declan Ryan is both: I covered his split EP with Josh Mordecai recently, and he has written for IC in the past. His new EP Introducing Close Calls marries his singer/songwriter sensibilities to a full band with great results.

Ryan comes from the Dylan/Oberst line of singers that allows the passion of vocals to trump their technical correctness. This is best shown in “Then Don’t Hipst,” which creates a spacious, open-highway feel to the tune for his voice to ramble around in. The first line of the song is “All my lovers name’s are on highway signs/so blow a kiss to the state line,” so the unfettered feel of the vocals perfectly interprets the lyrics. That’s gold. This spacious sound reappears in sparse closer “Two and Seven,” which calls up Two Gallants–another band that uses vocals in an unusual way. Some people aren’t into this style of vocals, but Ryan does it well; if you’re a fan of this sound, Ryan will be up your alley.

His band contributes well throughout, framing Ryan’s vocals and lyrics neatly without becoming the main focus. Opener “Manhattan Square” has a full arrangement, but never cranks any part so high that you don’t know who’s the main draw. The band also doesn’t play up the twang too much, relying on clean notes, straight rhythms, and gentle tones for most of the arrangements. It’s nice to hear an alt-country offering that starts from a different point than The Jayhawks or Old 97s, as this approach has a lot more in common with indie-pop and indie-rock. Still, the end result is strongly alt-country, even if it gets there an unusual way.

Declan Ryan’s Introducing Close Calls allows Ryan to stretch his musical legs and cover some new ground. With “Then Don’t Hipst” as a starting point, fans of alt-country with distinct vocals should find much to love.

Never Give Up: Celebrating 10 Years of the Postal Service releases today!

May 15, 2013

NeverGiveUp

The Postal Service’s Give Up has been hugely influential in my music-reviewing life, so it is with great pleasure that I can announce today’s release of Never Give Up: Celebrating 10 Years of The Postal Service! It is exclusively available at the Independent Clauses Bandcamp.

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

Folk side
1. The Collection – “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
2. Venna – “Such Great Heights
3. Seven Handle Circus – “Such Great Heights
4. Andrea Caccese (of I Used to Be a Sparrow and Songs for the Sleepwalkers) – “Sleeping In
5. The Duke of Norfolk – “Nothing Better
6. The Lion of Tallasi – “Recycled Air
7. The Parmesans – “Clark Gable
8. Jenny and Tyler – “We Will Become Silhouettes
9. Carl Hauck – “This Place is a Prison
10. The Noise Revival Orchestra – “Brand New Colony
11. The Midnight Sons – “Natural Anthem

Indie-pop side
1. Fairmont – “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
2. Kris Orlowski – “Such Great Heights
3. The Lovely Few – “Sleeping In
4. Oh Look Out – “Nothing Better
5. Josh Caress (of Come On Pilgrim!) – “Recycled Air
6. Dr. Pants – “Clark Gable
7. Young Readers – “We Will Become Silhouettes
8. Western Romantic – “This Place Is a Prison
9. Decent Lovers & Seer Group – “Brand New Colony
10. Gregory Pepper & His Problems – “Natural Anthem

On Submitting

March 2, 2013

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.

Introduction,

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.

Hello!

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:

Le Monde Tourne Toujours
Out 1/29/13 on Mint 400 Records

Streaming: Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Spotify

Press Download Link: http://thedukeofnorfolk.bandcamp.com/yum
Press Download Code (Unique): xb3p-6mmmm

Free download of “Thanatophobia” available to post
Interviews available

Purchase: iTunes | Amazon

Thank you for your consideration!

Adam Howard
The Duke of Norfolk
booking@thedukeofnorfolk.com

So this is the new year!

January 9, 2013

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!

Goodbye, 2011: I'll miss you.

December 31, 2011

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.

Thanks to all for helping make IC what it is.

Awkward Age throws down 8 minutes of no-frills punk glory

November 20, 2011

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.

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