Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Recent Developments in Kindie Rock

February 19, 2013

Independent Clauses exists to cover things that don’t get much coverage, and kindie rock doesn’t get much play in the circles I run in. But it certainly is worth the effort, because modern kids’ music is a far cry from Raffi and Harry Chapin (as much as I love Tom Chapin). I put Justin Roberts’ music on mixtapes for people and no one ever guesses it’s a kid song. So here’s two kindie rock albums that have crossed my path recently.

thenotits

The Not-Its! are a power-pop band that probably sound less like a kid’s band than The Apples in Stereo sometimes did (Remember this song?!). They also come off as more of an indie band than some indie bands, dressed out in White Stripes-ian pink/black/white. Kidquake! is primarily female-fronted, although some songs (“Let’s Skateboard”) are fronted by a guy who’s voice is actually not that far off from Robert Schneider’s. “Let’s Skateboard” is one of the best tracks on the album, fitting both the term “no comply” and some infectious indie-punk-pop melodies into a sub-2:00 package. Legit. Also legit: the punk-ska attack of “Busy.” Less legit: the kid monologue opening the Blink 182-esque “Temper Tantrum.” But on the whole, this is a solidly enjoyable piece of power-pop that can be enjoyed on its own merits–not just as “kid’s music that doesn’t suck!”

4956-CatDoormancover

Cat Doorman sounds even more comfortable in the “grown up” world, as Songbook is a gorgeous chamber-folk album. This is made possible because songwriter Julianna Bright is a music veteran and Chris Funk of the Decemberists is on board. The balance between fanciful arrangements and tactful restraint is navigated easily, as a honking bass saxophone and a grumbling electric guitar are treated with equal care and taste (“Effervescing Elephant” and “So Many Words,” respectively). Bright’s vocal melodies sell the album perfectly, as they don’t pander to kids in that annoying way that kids’ albums can do. These are real songs, and they happen to have lyrics kids can sing along with. Given the current indie penchant for whimsy, and it’s not that hard to imagine these songs being sung by the next big thing. “Turn Around” is especially poignant and beautiful; when’s the last time you said that about a kid’s song? Yeah. Songbook is impressive by any standard.

Best of the Rest: Indie rock and singer/songwriter

January 8, 2013

Here’s day two of our “Best of the Rest” series, featuring indie rock and singer/songwriter genres.

Amp Rive - Irma Vep. Post-rock with a big heart, defeating some of the stereotypes of the genre.

The Awful Truth - ‘Birthright’. If early Pedro the Lion had a bit more country in him, he’d be all up in this.

Carly Commando - “Everyday 2.0“. Here’s an updated and extended version of the beautiful piano instrumental that you may recognize from those almost absurdly poignant NBA commercials.

CfitTriage This Irish indie-rock band puts a heavy emphasis on mood and unusual use of electronics, creating an unusual and interesting amalgam.

Justin Roberts - Lullaby. This man is one of the main forces behind making children’s music enjoyable to adults. Brilliant songwriting, incredible lyricism that kids can understand and appreciate.

Kieslowski - Na nože. Czech singer/songwriter that sounds a lot more like Damien Rice than traditional world music. The male and female vocalists certainly make an impression.

L CON - The Ballad Project. Torchy ballads with a trip-hop edge, coming from an accomplished songwriter.

Lowlakes - “Cold Company“. If vocalist Antony Hegarty got vindictive like The National, then jammed it into a swirling electronic tune reminiscent of a Bon Iver nightmare, this would be it.

 

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