Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Double Bonus March MP3s!

March 24, 2016

  1. Rosebush”– Goldlight. I love it when a song starts off deceptively simple and progressively builds towards its climax. I enjoy the artist’s unique voice, but the driving beat and knockout instrumentation steal the show here. Listening to this track makes me want to blast it in my car, roll the windows down and drive fast– not many tracks stir that up within me. 
  2. Tired”– Ashley Shadow. The layered instrumentation and unassuming vocals pair beautifully. The strong driving beat also makes this track another potential car-song, but maybe I’d drive a little slower. 
  3. Cave”– Katie Zaccardi. This dark and brooding track combines Zaccardi’s strong voice with hard-punching lyrics that tell a poignant story about the tug and pull of toxic relationships. The guitar up-stroke even makes an appearance! 
  4. White Noise”– Swells. I am feeling the groovy vibes of this tune. Soulful female vocals get me every time. 
  5. The Wolf”– ALLA. This string-heavy song oozes with eerie. The repetitive lyrics and rhythms make it seem simple, but the string-plucking alone exposes the track’s complexity. 
  6. Help Yourself”– Bryde. Bryde’s powerful, Vanessa Carlton-like voice continues to entrance me. The hard-hitting lyrics and full-bodied instrumentation keep me coming back. 
  7. Bedbugs”– Amaroun. Amaroun’s unique alt-folk sound is akin to brilliant artists like Bjork and Jesca Hoop. You won’t want to miss taking a ride with Amaroun and her “Bedbugs”. 
  8. Love Dust feat. Mercy”– Christopher Pellnat. I am absolutely captivated by this juxtaposition of seductive Lana Del Rey-like vocals and circus-esque instrumentation. It feels uncannily like a 19th century cabaret, with an accordion to boot! 
  9. Speak”– Expert Timing. The sweet female and unadorned male vocals contrast great with the heavy electric guitar and drum kit instrumentation. This is one punk rock track to rock out to. 
  10. The Lost Ones (featuring Leah Hayes)”– The Gifted. Fun, playful, even includes whistling–everything you want an indie-pop song to be. There’s something about the vibrant sound and catchy lyrics that make me feel that this track could be an anthem for a generation. 
  11. What Became of Laura R?”– Heavy Heart. Summoning their inner MGMT, this track begins and ends with a slew of screaming kids. As the song progresses, Heavy Heart’s rock and roll vibes liken to that of the Silversun Pickups– breezy, laid-back rock and roll. –Krisann Janowitz

The Ever-entrancing Johanna Warren

June 3, 2015

Noiseland 12 LP Jacket

Portland singer/songwriter Johanna Warren oozes raw talent with her latest album nūmūn. Nūmūn shows off Warren’s undeniable musical talent by highlighting her soaring sopranic voice, thought-provoking lyrics and eerie psychedelic folk instrumentation. Picking up Warren’s latest album, nūmūn, will definitely get you intrigued and wanting more.

Warren’s voice is both a comforting storyteller and a soaring songbird. Beginning with the first song, “Black Moss,” Warren shows off both of these vocal qualities. In the song’s’ verses, Warren’s voice plays the role of the meek storyteller with hearty undertones that distinguishes her voice from others. Then, once she reaches the song’s bridge and chorus, her voice seamlessly soars to high notes that many of us could only dream of reaching. The only comparable voice that I can think of  is that of Jesca Hoop, whose early  albums similarly had a psychedelic folk sound. “Black Moss” also nonchalantly covers the topic of death in the lyrics with the repeated line, “but soon black moss will cover over my dead body.”

Her thought-provoking lyrics mainly center around humanity and spirituality. Covering the topic of human nature, “The Wheel” seems to be a conversation with pain, as her opening question is, “O pain, why are you here again?” In “Noise,” Warren repeatedly sings that “God has plans but I’ve got mine,” proving to be the perfect example of how Warren subtly covers both God and human nature in her lyrics. “Noise” also shows how Warren can casually throw unique twists and turns into her interesting instrumentation.

The instrumentation on nūmūn is mainly made up of the acoustic guitar, but here and there other instruments and sounds are introduced in a way that best fits with the genre of psychedelic folk. “Noise” has appearances from laughing girls, rustling wind, and what sounds like the scraping together of silverware. “The Wheel” seems to include rustling pieces of metal repeating throughout the song.

“Apogee” is a non-vocal interlude occurring at the middle of the album. It begins in a sort of trance and reintroduces the scraping of silverware and rustling metal, as well as another which seems like glasses gently colliding. The off-kilter instrumentation of “Apogee” comes together to make a very  eerie interlude. It’s a perfect fit to highlight the eerie undertones found throughout the rest of the album, through the weird sounds, ghostly harmonization, and even certain ways Warren plays her guitar. This “eerie” quality found in her instrumentation is a sure sign of psychedelic folk influence.

Johanna Warren clearly is both a talented vocalist and musician, as shown through her latest album nūmūn. If you have not yet encountered the euphoric experience of a psychedelic folk album, then look no further. Warren’s unique instrumentation, earthy lyrics, and gorgeous voice will certainly entrance you. —Krisann Janowitz

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

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