Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Single: "Holograms" — Founds

June 24, 2011

So I somehow ended up on this incredible Australian PR list, and I’ve been receiving all sorts of crazy music from our friends down under: Teleprompter, New Manic Spree, and now Founds.

Founds’ latest single “Holograms” is the sort of lush indie-pop/rock that I’m coming to covet. Rave Magazine already beat me to the Jonsi comparisons, but they’re accurate: breathy, wide-eyed wonder is set atop (and contrasted against) jaunty rhythms and a immaculately recorded instruments in “Holograms.”

It starts off with a gentle guitar and cooed female vocals, then ratchets the intensity from there all the way up. In that way it’s a sort of optimistic post-rock, only crammed full of pop touches. That combination causes the song to exude a unique vibe, drawing me to it repeatedly; it’s not anything I’ve heard before in exactly this way. There’s no “chorus,” per se, but it doesn’t need one, based on the way the song flows.

This makes me want more Founds as quickly as possible. Let’s make this happen, people. Get the track for free here.

How did you get indie-pop in my math rock?

February 20, 2009

Math rock is one of those genres that is usually influenced by others.  Right now, a lot of math-rock bands have been pulling influences from post-hardcore and post-rock, and sometimes math-rock  can be indistinguishable from these genres. Well, the San Diego-based trio Fever Sleeves are here to add a little pip in the step of one of the genres that can oftentimes feel way too serious and complex to the average listener. Soft Pipes, Play On is a misleading title for one heck of a ripping album.

The instrumentals seep in, post-rock style, on the opener “Vampyroteuthis,” and suggest something that has been done before. But that lasts for all of 54 seconds or so, until the instrumentals rip open like a wildfire. The vocalist of the Fever Sleeves then comes in and it’s not that post-hardcore style that so often works in math rock, it’s an infectious indie-pop one. That’s the trick to a l0t of the Fever Sleeves songs: they work in the medium of indie-pop.

This may be one of the more accessible math-rock albums I’ve ever heard. It never drags. All of the songs average at about 3 mintues each, which is shocking compared to the usual instrumental freakouts that last upward of five minutes.   The track “Cusack”  comes as such a suprise with instrumentals that play off of very melodic vocals, and vice versa. The song could easily be a pop-fest, but the Fever Sleeve’s instrumentals take it to complex and full musical territories that indie-pop bands simply couldn’t pull off. A thrilling, refreshing listen, Soft Pipes, Play On shows that Fever Sleeves seems to be doing something that may have seemed too incredibly obvious to other bands, and doing it with fervor.

Fairmont Transcends their previous work.

January 9, 2009

I’ve followed Fairmont through three full-length albums and an EP. It’s not a surprise to me that Transcendence, the fourth full-length by Neil Sabatino and Co. that I’ve had the privilege of  reviewing, improves on their last work musically. This is a trend they have continued (with only the occasional slip-up) since the beginning of their time as a band. The startling thing about Transcendence is the fact that everything else about the album is amazing as well.

Not to knock on Fairmont’s previous work (you will find my glowing reviews of their previous work if you search), but it always fell just short of that thing that kept it playing in my CD player. Maybe the lyrics were horribly morose.  The song order was sketchy. Sometimes the songs had great parts and regrettable parts mashed next to each other.  Transcendence fixes all these problems and creates a total album.

Yes, Transcendence should be played front to back each time, because the song order matters. The album has an ebb and flow that would be totally lost in a pick-and-choose listening. The songs of Transcendence seem autobiographical in the best sense: the album feels chronological, as if I were reading a book about Neil Sabatino. This, again, is due to the song order, which places a discussion of his childhood spent in an apocalyptic commune first. The bizarre conduct of the cult sets the stage for the skepticism and existentialism that characterize the rest of the album. It’s easy to draw connections in all of the other songs from points within the first song (the easiest being a reprise of the bridge in the last song, with more obscure references and touchpoints throughout). In short, the lyrics and song order suck me into a world that I inhabit for forty minutes. Seeing as Sabatino’s existentialism is completely counter to my Christian worldview, my total immersement in the ideas and themes of the album while I’m hearing it is a compliment to the descriptive and impassioned quality of the lyrics.

But it’s not just the lyrics that make tunes like “Everyone Hates a Critic” and “Luck Will Change” into the outstanding pieces of music they are. Highlight “Everyone Hates a Critic” has an incredibly interesting rhythmic pattern and a neat chord progression. It’s hard to not like it. “Luck Will Change,” while being the bleakest on the album, lyrically, is pretty upbeat and fun. Both songs feature piano/synths, which is a new thing for Fairmont, and it’s a very good thing.

In terms of rocking, “Omaha” wins. It has a raucous riff, a sinister mood, and a vaguely surf-rock mood. I sing it when it comes up on the album. “Melt Your Heart” is also pretty punked-out for being a love song.

“Melt Your Heart” ends with the bridge from the first song “Being and Nothingness,” as  the male and female vocalists declare their love for each other over the repeated group-sing of “aimless!” It’s the transcendence that Fairmont named the album after; love will overcome the existential angst of being. Whether or not that’s what you think, you will enjoy this pop/rock album; it’s expertly crafted and precisely written. Easily the best Fairmont has produced.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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