Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

April MP3s: 1

April 1, 2016

1. “Hypachoi” – The Project. A thrumming distorted bass riff underlines this song, which moves from a spartan tune punctuated by clanking chains into a crunchy, towering, dramatic piece. The lyrics are a passionate re-telling of Christ’s death and resurrection. Happy Easter!

2. “Trucksea (feat. Dean McGrath)” – Nonsemble. This indie-pop chamber orchestra packs “Trucksea” full of fluttering strings, dramatic cello, grounding keys, perky drums. The vocals are the most modern thing about the tune, other than perhaps the confidence with which the difficult fusion is pulled off. This is an impressive tune that demands attention.

3. “Wildflower” – Shiloh Hill. Chipper full-band folk that starts with perky trumpet and brings in banjo like rays of sunshine coming out from behind a cloud. The chorus has an anthemic cast similar to The Decemberists, which is always welcome. This album looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. Check out their Kickstarter.

4. “Dust” – Ryan Martin John, Todd Sibbin, and Tom West. Kind of like an Australian Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, this ominous track has a ’70s folk vibe, solid group vocals, and a dense, immediate atmosphere.

5. “I Know I” – The Tin Man. A pensive minor-key first verse leads into an ultimately hopeful, thumping folk-pop/alt-pop tune augmented by some distorted guitar providing some background grumble. Goes for a lot of drama and yet stops one inch from going over the top–an admirable skill.

6. “Same Boat” – Vanessa Forero. This is a swift, upbeat, smile-inducing folk-pop tune that doesn’t jump the shark in its arrangement (however, there are mermaids in the stead of Left Shark as part of the video).

7. “Million Miles” – Jesse Konrad. A calm strum, gentle guitar counterpoint, and a friendly organ push this track along in a very chill way.

8. “You Need to Hear It From Someone Else” – Protestant Work Ethic. Lazy horns play against a large choir, an autoharp, melodica, and assorted random percussion–the outcome is like a European version of Typhoon, all the way down to the passionate vocals.

9. “Already Gone” – Travis Smith. A surging, major-key chord progression reminiscent of Dan Mangan, a fun organ performance, and a smooth vocal performance come together over a shuffle snare for a tune seems already comfortable and worn in, like a comfy sweater, when you first hear it.

10. “Marigold” – Neil Holyoak. Holyoak’s hazy yet gravitas-laden voice presides over this very carefully constructed folk tune, complete with pedal steel, mandolin, and reverb-washed electric guitar. It’s kind of like Dana Sipos’ work, but in a major key and more instrument-laden. Float away with this track.

11. “Love Is Like a Market Crash” – Thurdy. It takes a lot of work to sound casual. Thurdy’s laid-back, back-porch vibe permeates his baritone vocals, rolling guitar playing, and honest lyrics. It’s a tune that gives you back more than it asks of you.

12. “This Will Be Our Year – Zombies Cover” – Novi Split. David J’s magnetic, utterly gorgeous voice is in full flower here, matching his oh-so-lovely pipes with a “doo-wop meets old-school country in a subtle, spare modern bar” arrangement. It’s just great.

13. “Bed of Nails” – Logan Magness. “Tender” and “romantic” maybe aren’t the phrases most associated with alt-country, but this stripped-down, Isbell-esque acoustic ballad is both. Magness’s smooth tenor is a joy to listen to.

 

Kickstarter: The Gray Havens!

October 21, 2015

The Gray Havens are back with a new Kickstarter project! The folk-pop duo is creating a new EP with Ben Shive, who has worked with Andrew Peterson, Ellie Holcomb, and IC faves Colony House and Son of Laughter. Shive seems to always turn out earthy, “real”-sounding recordings; paired with the Gray Havens’ dramatic, tension-filled songwriting, the results should be impressive. Check their video below.

If you haven’t heard their previous work, check out Fire and Stone or their debut EP Where Eyes Don’t Go. Then hit up their Kickstarter.

Independent Clauses’ newest project: Croquet Records’ Kickstarter

May 17, 2015

So I’m on the board of directors of a brand-new non-profit called Croquet Records, which is a record label and band incubator. We help young artists get their start in the industry. It’s similar to what I’ve been doing here at Independent Clauses for the last 12 years, but it focuses more on funding and networking than on press development. (All three are necessary parts of a young band’s life.)

Our Kickstarter closes today, and it’s currently at 84%. Can you help us finish this project? We’re helping Charlotte, NC indie band Melt finish off their debut album. There are the usual rewards and such, and all donations are tax-deductible because we’re a 501(c)(3)!

More than that, you’ll be able to be part of this band incubator’s first project–we plan on growing into a non-profit that secures funds from grants and other sources like Kickstarter to help musicians. Getting in on the ground floor of this makes your donation a down payment on many future projects–by helping Croquet get through this first project, we’ll establish a track record that will help us garner more diverse sources of funding (grants, matching funds, etc., as well as crowdfunding) for future projects. It all starts with this Kickstarter.

Thank you so much for being a part of Independent Clauses over the past 12 years, and for sticking with me through a variety of projects!

Kickstarter: Jenny & Tyler

May 14, 2015

I’m pretty sparing with the Kickstarters I post–I don’t post nearly as many as get sent to me. The ones I do post, I’m behind 100%. I’ve covered Jenny & Tyler’s work since 2009 with great enthusiasm. They’re able to create heavily-orchestrated folk-pop (as shown on their cover of “We Will Become Silhouettes,” which IC commissioned as part of its 10th birthday) as well as intimate acoustic tunes that leave me misty-eyed. They’re one of my favorite bands I’ve covered here at Independent Clauses (another thing I don’t say very often).

Their $15,000 Kickstarter will fund their first-ever full-band tour and live record. That’s a pretty giant undertaking for any independent artist. They’ve got the normal rewards (digital download, physical albums, t-shirts, etc.) at the lower levels, but the upper levels have some really impressive stuff going on (handmade instruments!). So when I say, “check out their Kickstarter!” I really mean “check out their Kickstarter!!!!

Again, generally I don’t do the whole salesman thing, but Jenny & Tyler!

Jenny & Tyler!

Quick (Kickstarter) Hit: State of Green

May 4, 2015

Kickstarter was originally intended to get funds for art projects that couldn’t get funding any other way. In that spirit, a retrospective DVD from an Ohio pop-punk band from the mid-’90s has caught my attention. Adam Rich, whose various projects have graced Independent Clauses’ pages for several years, is putting together the project for his former band State of Green, pulling together live clips from shows all over the state.

But it’s not just a testament to days gone by; it’s also a memorial and thank-you to Rich’s parents, who were the unofficial documentarians of the band. (They both recently died, sadly.) If you’re into pop-punk, a good story, or the DIY spirit, check out State of Green’s Kickstarter. It ends on Wednesday.

Kickstarter: Young Readers

March 16, 2015

It’s a great thing to show back up at work on Monday and have an e-mail from someone you haven’t heard from in a while. Jordan Herrera of whisper-folk outfit Young Readers sent over that he’s doing a Kickstarter to fund the finishing of his new record Migrator. Check the video below:

I’m super stoked to hear more Young Readers tunes in the world: I love his previous work, and I’m thrilled about the clips in the video. If you’re down for that sound, contribute what you can.

DIY Ditty: A little bit of Kickstarter

March 1, 2014

I love Kickstarter, and I hope to devote many more DIY Ditties to the joys and pains of Kickstarter. However, this time I’d like to briefly note a couple things before I head out for the weekend.

Adam Rich’s Kickstarter to fund a re-release of his mid-90s debut album, which was set for the small sum of $125, has just under two days left of funding. In a world where million-dollar Kickstarter takes are possible, it’s refreshing to see someone fund a little project. Chipping in 5 bucks here goes a loooooooong way.

The Musicians’ Desk Reference, which I have sung the praises of before, is doing a Kickstarter to re-launch their product. It’s an excellent product that helps bands make careers; it’s the best resource I’ve yet found. It has my highest recommendation.

Here’s my favorite “how to run a Kickstarter” article. It’s the longest that I’ve found and the best, in my opinion; I recommend it to every person considering running a Kickstarter project.

Finally, here’s a piece from Medium talking about why you might choose to cancel your Kickstarter. I don’t agree with everything in this piece (I think you should always run Kickstarters to completion, because you could get a pop at the end that pushes you over the hump), but this is something that people should think about in terms of goal-setting and overall project planning.

DIY Ditty: Allison Weiss will buy you a souvenir.

February 6, 2014

There are two reasons I know of Allison Weiss:

1. She ran one of the very first successful Kickstarters.

2. She wrote this beautiful song.

Given that she’s an pioneer of Internet marketing, it’s not super-surprising that she continues to come up with interesting ways to fund her career. For her latest tour jaunt, she funded part of it with an interesting sale. You could still buy regular merch, but she created a special Tour Shop (currently inactive, but still available to peruse). In this tour shop, you could lay down money and get a personal postcard, a photo Allison took, or a little souvenir she buys just for you. It’s a cool way to fund touring and make connections with fans. (I think it’s especially cool for fans that don’t get to be at one of the shows, for whatever reason.)

There’s been plenty of handwringing over the commodification of music (/everything), but I’m not so worried about it. I think that this small scale sort of project is something that builds connections, not obscures them. I’d pay $40 for John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats to buy a souvenir, for sure: I’d put that in my office and tell literally everyone who comes to my office that John Darnielle bought that for me. Yes, I would pay $40 for that.

[There’s some analog to Kickstarter gifts here–especially really good, personal Kickstarter gifts. Perhaps this could be seen as the personalization of Weiss’s Kickstarter love; the project is “I’m going on tour”; the rewards are these cool things. The website is hers, and no money goes through Kickstarter. Maybe this is an indication of a trend to come?]

So maybe this isn’t a grand-scale, career-changing DIY Ditty, but it’s still a cool thing that I would love to see bands do more of. Seriously, what if your favorite band bought you an action figure? Best action figure ever.

The Gray Havens play a show for you! And write a new album for you!

September 5, 2013

I’ve been a real big fan of The Gray Havens’ Weepies-esque acoustic-pop since they first sent an EP my way earlier this year. After some touring behind the release, the married duo is getting down to business and cranking out an album. In 2013, that means a Kickstarter campaign is about to happen. LO AND BEHOLD:

Here’s the full Kickstarter page. If you don’t know the Gray Havens yet, NEVER FEAR! They’re throwing a free concert in their living room and live-streaming it tonight at 7 p.m. central time. You can watch it at UStream, their website, or below:

So, here’s a to-do list:

1. Watch show at 7 p.m. central time.
2. Fall in love with The Gray Havens.
3. Have your day brightened.
4. Contribute to their Kickstarter.

The Lion of Tallasi

July 12, 2013

lionoftallasi

The Never Give Up Kickstarter officially ended yesterday, as I mailed out the last of the rewards and got covered on Cover Lay Down (which was a huge thrill). It was an incredible project that I’m extremely proud to have completed. We did the whole thing right at budget, too, which is exciting. The Lion of Tallasi contributed a really fantastic version of “Recycled Air” that put a whole new spin on the tune, and it ended up being one of my favorite renditions in the whole project. So it’s with great excitement that I tell you about the Lion’s debut album, God, Love, and Death. (And yes, the band did include the Oxford Comma. Take that, Vampire Weekend.)

The album is built off heavy folk strum and Matt Howard’s Conor Oberst-esque roar. A full band accompanies, but they are firmly supporters of Howard, who stands front and center throughout the record. The most prominent member of the band is Kristen Durrett, who provides vocal counterpoint in many of the tracks; the rest of the band makes sure that things keep pushing forward without drawing too much attention to themselves.

That forces all listeners to contend with Howard’s voice and lyrics as the make-or-break points of the band. Howard has the Oberstian roar, as I noted; but he goes farther back in the folk history to draw heavily off Dylan’s lyrics. “A Million Dark Roads” calls up the poetic stylistics of “The Times, They Are A’Changing” and “A Hard Rain’s A’Gonna Fall,” while the downtrodden, stark “Down to the River” reminds of some of Dylan’s more impressionistic work. Highlight track “Don’t Put Me in the Grave” is the catchiest tune of the lot, sounding like a lost track from the chipper sessions of I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning in melody and arrangement. An organ peals, a tambourine shakes, and a mandolin chirps out the instantly memorable melody. It’s an excellent song, and it’s placed right after the intro track as a sign of things to come. It’s not all protest anthem shout-alongs, as there are some love songs sprinkled through, too.

If you’re not down with Dylan or Oberst, then God, Love, and Death is maybe not for you. If you like either of those artists, even just a little, you definitely should listen to The Lion of Tallasi: you will find much to love.

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

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