Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

ALL THE CHRISTMAS AT ONCE

December 19, 2014

I got married in November, which means I’ve been celebrating my way through the last few weeks instead of listening to new Christmas music. This means that instead of meaningful reviews, I have a large list of things that you and I should both listen to. I regret nothing. ONWARD!

Albums:

The Good Shepherd Band, which released a beautiful Christmas album in 2011, are back with a new one entitled All the Bells Shall Ring. If it’s anything like the opener “O Come Let Us Adore Him” (starting off with an Advent hymn; I approve) and the last album, we’re in for big, church-style hymns in oft-triumphant arrangements. Wonderful!

Quirky, reverb-heavy indie-pop band SUNBEARS! offer up a 10-minute EP of Christmas music. It’s sure to be as thoroughly enthusiastic as its name: SUNBEARS! Do CHRISTMAS!

Vintage-style acoustic duo The Singer and the Songwriter are dropping 12 songs (in video form!) for the 12 Days of Christmas. Sounds lovely! Check it at their YouTube.

For those who like a little more punk rock in their Christmas tunes, Small Bear Records has released Never Mind the Baubles, Here’s The Small Bear. Need I say more?

Videos:

Kris Orlowski caps a banner year with the original holiday tune “Is This Christmas” in his signature baritone voice and easygoing acoustic style.

James Apollo also had a big year, with Angelorum being a great release. His offering, “Ho Ho, Ho Hum,” is one for the (classy, Scotch-drinking) Scrooges out there.

SHEL is an acoustic-music band of four sisters, and this version of “Sleigh Ride” is about as cute as can be. The video is also lovely.

MP3s:

1. “Bethlehem (feat. Joan as Policewoman)” – Jack Henderson. Because everyone needs a Tom Waits-ian original Christmas ballad duet.

2. “Fairy Christmas Day” – Junkie Thrown. A pensive, beautiful tune decrying the sad paradoxes of Christmas.

3. “Little Angel” – The Lost Brothers. Think “brothers” in the pristine, crooning, ’50s-style duet meaning.

4. “Christmas at the Zoo” – Sam Joole. As an Oklahoman, I’m categorically obliged to post any Flaming Lips covers. This one is pretty charming and cheerful.

5. “Stay Another Day” – pjaro. Experimental rock/emo/indie bands write Christmas songs too. This one has lots of distorted guitars and yelling, as one does.

James Apollo’s distinct musical vision pays off in spades

June 30, 2014

angelorum

This is Independent Clauses’ 2000th post! Thanks to everyone for sticking with us for 11 years!

Some of the best records are growers: stuff that doesn’t strike you immediately, but works its way into your ears and heart. On the other hand, some grab your attention immediately and don’t let go. James Apollo‘s Angelorum smacked me across the face and demanded that I pay attention. It’s the rarest of rare: a record that has immediate appeals and slowly unfurling charms past that first look.

Apollo commands attention by perfectly executing his distinct and unique vision. Angelorum is a subtle, complex record made from Motown horns, slinky cabaret vibes, Kinks-esque garage rock and unassuming instrumentals. Yet this mix never sounds uncomfortable: Apollo’s identity is strong, clear, and focused. For example, “Two Lane” is an sexy, confident track that relies on a quiet guitar line, occasional bass hits, and Apollo’s smooth vocals. The title track follows “Two Lane,” and it’s a calm tune led by piano and bass. Thanks to Apollo’s style and an excellent production job, these two songs fit perfectly next to each other.

Apollo also knows how to subvert expectations: “Neverland” opens with the rock-est guitar riff of the collection, but it’s eventually buried under bass, shakers, vocals, and vibraphone. It powers the song, but not in the direction you’d expect. “Chestlodge” starts out with a dramatic piano arrangement, then decides to just stay a dramatic instrumental. “Spinnin” throws down some ragged guitar-rock drumming, then almost entirely removes the guitar to create an impressive, interesting tune.

Angelorum is a beautiful record in its tone: it’s at turns highly romantic, tender, pleading, and calm. It’s hard to compare it to much, because Apollo’s vision is very distinct. (That’s a high compliment from a person who listens to hundreds of bands a year.) It’s definitely one of my favorite albums I’ve heard so far this year. Basically, some words aren’t convincing as the music itself will be: you just need to go listen to Angelorum by James Apollo.

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

Recent Posts

Independent Clauses Monthly E-mail

Get updates and information about IC, plus opportunities for bands.
Band name? PR company? Business?
* = required field

powered by MailChimp!

Archives