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

Thayer Sarrano’s Hauntingly Beautiful Shaky

September 30, 2015

thayersarrano

Shoegaze, psychedelic folk and southern gothic rock are among the many labels given to Thayer Sarrano’s music. When I listen to Sarrano’s latest album Shaky, one phrase comes to mind: hauntingly beautiful. With an array of mystical sounds and an unshakable voice, Thayer Sarrano carves out her unique spot in the music world with her latest LP Shaky.

Born and raised in Georgia, Thayer Sarrano’s southern side subtly shows itself in Shaky. In the song “Crease,” a distinct southern gothic rock sound comes out through both her vocals and instrumentation. There’s a little twang in Sarrano’s voice not noticeable in most of the other tracks off the album. “Crease” opens with what sounds like a Southern-style steel guitar which continues throughout the song. The heavy drums and other ambient sounds also make this track not just an example of her southern influence, but specifically a southern gothic one.

Sarrano’s use of eerie sounds paired with noisy guitars and partially distorted vocals also makes much of her album Shaky a prime example of what is known as shoegazing or shoegaze. “Aim” begins with a heavy electric guitar creating the “wall of sound” characteristic of shoegaze artists. Sarrano then layers her voice on top of the guitar. The best part of the song is Sarrano’s lead into the chorus: with each repetition of “higher,” her voice goes higher as she takes her listeners up to a psychedelic dream land, where ethereal “ooh’s and ah’s” repeat. As the song progresses, drums and other random instruments fill out the sound and add a certain level of spookiness to the song, making you feel slightly uncomfortable in the best way possible.

Sarrano’s album may be titled Shaky, but her voice is utterly unshakable. Some songs like “Aim” downplay her voice, while others serve to highlight Sarrano’s ethereal vocals. “Glimpses” spotlights her voice by having less of a “wall of sound.” In some parts of the song, her voice stands alone with very soft synth in the background. Through hearing her voice loud and clear, I realize that her voice hits low notes in a very sultry manner, just like Lana Del Rey. The more the tracks linger at her voice, the more they ooze with sensuality. Sarrano’s voice is probably my favorite part of the album.

Thayer Sarrano’s sublime voice paired with her eclectic instrumentation move my soul in uncanny ways. Shaky has a mysteriously dark feel, making it not the best album for a party. Instead, if you desire an album to take you away to an entirely new world, then look no further. Thayer Sarrano’s Shaky whisks its listeners away to the land of honest, macabre dreamscapes. You will never want to leave. Krisann Janowitz

Hannah Miller: Soul & Relaxation

May 27, 2015

hannahmiller

Before you listen to this album, you must first grab your favorite bottle of wine, draw yourself a warm bath, light a candle and soak. You just created the perfect listening party for Hannah Miller’s recently released self-titled album. Hannah Miller’s soulful instrumentation and sultry voice create the ultimate arena for relaxation.

At the top of the album, “Help Me Out” sets the mood with a seductively played electric guitar. After a few measures of the solo guitar, Miller’s alto voice enters into the mix. These two elements are quite the power couple; keys and percussion add further flavor, but they in no way compare to the power of the first two. Watch the music video to see what I mean.

The soulful sound of Hannah Miller is akin to many different artists that exist within soul’s extended family. In “Falling” the keys shine, similar to neo-soul artists like Jill Scott. The prominent bass and funky guitar in “You Don’t Call” remind me of Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans.”  Throughout the album, Miller’s voice and instrumentation could be compared to Adele’s blue-eyed soul music, particularly in 19. There is no denying that Miller’s sound fits at least partially into the genre of soul, but which sub-genre would be a topic up for debate.

“Soothed” begins similarly to “Help Me Out,” and its calming instrumentation provides the perfect backdrop for Miller’s beautiful voice–her pipes become the focal point of the track. Aptly titled, the instrumentation on “Soothed” is entirely made up of a soulful, beachy-sounding guitar. Miller’s voice lingers in the higher part of her register here, and the outcome is really quite relaxing. Ironically, the lyrics actually speak to her refusal to be “soothed,” while she clearly has no problem soothing others.

One interesting piece of the album is the two versions of “Promise Land.” The chronologically first version has quite a funky instrumentation with the blues-infused electric guitar, soulful keys and a rare addition of background vocals (which adds a ton of depth to the sound). This “New version” of the song has a much fuller sound than the second “Chernobyl version,” but that doesn’t mean it is superior. In the second “Promise Land,” the simple acoustic guitar accompaniment shows off the peaceful aspects in Miller’s voice that might be slightly overshadowed by the full instrumentation of the first. Both versions are beautiful; both have the same lyrics that delve into the world of spirituality, at least in the metaphorical sense.

Song after song, Hannah Miller proves to be a very soothing experience. The sound of Hannah Miller contains great depth while sounding effortless. If your life is filled with stress and you need something–anything–to help you unwind, look no further than Hannah Miller’s self-titled album, out now. —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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