Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Everything Else, Mid-November Version

November 20, 2015

1. “Running Away” – The Royal Foundry. It’s actually kind of astonishing that we’ve had less acoustic-pop/electro mashups than we’ve had (I see you, Magic Giant!). TRF manage to pull the best elements of both chipper-yet-thoughtful acoustic pop and fist-raising MGMT electro-pop into this really rad tune.

2. “One Less Thing” – Curtsy. I should be used to the type of distortion that makes things sound dreamy instead of grungy, but every now and then you hear something that restores your faith in an effect. This tune walks the line between hazy and energetic beautifully.

3. “Mixer” – Nap Eyes. You know that dude who shows up at your parties and he’s the friend of a guy you know, and you’ve met once, and he turns out to be awesome, and your friend never shows up, but the friend-of-a-friend is coming over next Tuesday? Nap Eyes isn’t a garage rock band on this track, but their chilled-out Cali rock is rad.

4. “Is He Gone” – The Echo Field. Giddy indie-pop that could easily pass for a first-British Invasion “rock” track.

5. “Monday Morning” – Paradise Animals. The arpeggiator synths create a post-chillwave framework for the baritone vocals to leap about in. It’s like Teen Daze paired with an alternate universe version of Matt Berninger from The National.

6. “Believer” – Paper Lions. Think of the most pleasant possible mash-up of Tokyo Police Club and Passion Pit, and you’d get this grin-inducing track. We need a better work for this specific indie-pop-rock-dance type work, ’cause it’s totally a thing.

7. “Technicolor Souls” – Flight of Ryan. Manages to combine wubby bass, chopped vocals, vocoder and high-tenor wails in an exciting way that doesn’t sound overdone. (Okay, maybe the vocoder is a bit much.) If you can’t wait for The Naked and Famous to finish up that third record…

8. LA Takedown – LA Takedown. This 44-minute album streams as one track on the linked website. It works perfectly because the electro-heavy post-rock/digital soundscape is the sort of abstract wonder that can make me stare at an empty screen quiet contently while the sounds swirl about my ears.

9. “Headlights” – Grandsister ft. Sarah Belkner. The vocals, arpeggiated bass, and percussion just all come together great on this one.

10. “TMI” – Daphne Willis. Sick of Meghan Trainor dominating all public spaces but actually love her style of music and really wish you had an alternative? Daphne Willis’s latest EP is exactly the sort of too-fun-to-be-real pop that you’ve been secretly hoping for. Seriously sasstastic.

11. “No Way” – Naives. This off-kilter electro jam sounds like M.I.A. rejected a beat made for her and to salvage it the beatmaker tried to repurpose it into an indie-electro jam, coming up with something altogether different along the way.

12. “Tokyo Megaplex” – Art Contest. I wonder if Coleman Monroe showed up at their practice space and said, “Yo, Garrett, I wrote this insane, fast guitar line that doesn’t really believe in time signatures. Think you can keep up?” If you need your mind bent by a good-natured math-rock tune today, here’s a good candidate.

13. “Flame” – Controller. So you’ve got a good fuzzed-out guitar riff, a great vocal line, and a big chorus: you, my friend, are in business.

Singles: Smooth, Galactic Groove

August 31, 2015

August Singles: Smooth, Galactic Groove

  1. Hardships” – Nadia Nair. Uproariously captivating in a way I haven’t heard since M.I.A., Nadia Nair’s sound balances exoticness and inclusivity, achieving dynamite individualism that anyone can appreciate.

  2. Lil Yamaha” – Sun Cut Flat. Sun Cut Flat combines gentle, Gramatik-like groove with a delicate pop sound. As the final steaming days of August roll in, promise me you’ll sit down with this track while the summer sun dips and the cool drinks start a-flowin’.

  3. The Shields” – Velour Modular. The ‘bass music,’ ‘sex,’ ‘neotriphop,’ and ‘Abstract’ hashtags adorning this track’s Soundcloud page sum it up entirely.

  4. Can’t Have” – Steven A. Clark. You know when you hear a song, and you think, “Yup. This is going to blow up. Everywhere.”? “Can’t Have” is that song. I’m counting down the days until Clark’s upcoming album, The Lonely Roller, is released on September 18th. (18 days from now.)

  5. wlkng” – arpl and do zee. If you like your instrumental hiphop buttery smooth and with heavy cream, get a taste of this rich lo-fi served up by two crazy-talented members of Fixed Fidelity.

  6. Petals” – BIKES and do zee. Another collaboration from Fixed Fidelity, because apparently I can’t get enough of them, “Petals” combines gnarly guitar lines, day-time lo-fi, and wholesome instrumentals for an electronic walk-in-the-park kind of track.

  7. Dance to the Beat” – Dr!ve. Brought to you by Discobox Records, this has flared jeans, electronic synthesizers, and funky soul written (in glitter pen) all over it. Check out the remixes by Shake Machine and Rotciv as well.

  8. Meteor” – The Winter Sounds. If I could copy and paste these insanely brilliant lyrics, I would. Instead, close those eyes, plug in those headphones, and absorb this galaxies-colliding, synth-sprinkled Big Bang.

  9. Boys Life” – Small Black. How does one make something so disco-dancey, sublime, laidback, and catchy all at once?

  10. Gutter” – baeb rxxth. With the opening lines, “Cage match, I’m a tiger cub/and you’re a bloody piece of steak,” it’s hard not to recognize the unprocessed trap-pop sound that is the big, bad, bold baeb rxxth.

  11. Miss. Mirage” – NoMBe. Haunting lyrics like, “Counting wolves and old sheep/Watch them sharpen those teeth/Crude from the walls of no sleep,” contrast with a smooth groove, smoother vocals, and utopian-esque album art that all left me feeling bewitched, a bit spooked, and completely hooked.

  12. Tantalized” – Fever High. Holy Happiness. “Tantalized” reminds me of those dandelion choker necklaces I used to wear in ‘98, and all the sassy lip-syncing that late ‘80s/early ‘90s chicks mastered long before learning to play the recorder. I have the feeling Fever High were totally those girls.

  13. Control” – Kisses. I’d like to write a bunch of “Oww! Woo! Szzz!” onomatopoeias that were my reaction when hitting play on this sizzling, sleek track. “Control” combines funk, synth, exotic percussion, and dance-inducing rhythm that remains controlled throughout.

  14. Pirates” – Heptagon Heaven. Heptagon Heaven–The corsairs of new-world synth, galactic drops, and astrological album art. Enough said, peace out. —Rachel Haney

The Un-stravaganza: Who will play the Super Bowl next year?

February 7, 2012

When I was told that M.I.A. was playing the Super Bowl, I responded with “She’s going to say ‘F*** America’ on national T.V.” And while she didn’t say it, she did flip America the bird. Who thought inviting an unrepentant firebrand to the show was a good idea?

Now we’re going to be subject to an incredibly sterilized Super Bowl halftime show next year so that NOTHING BAD HAPPENS. After the wardrobe malfunction, we were treated to Paul McCartney playing “Hey Jude,” which is about the least offensive thing rock’n’roll has to offer. Here’s IC’s picks for who The Powers That Be will front during next year’s un-stravaganza.

5. Beyonce. This is five because although everyone loves Beyonce, she has that whole sexy thing going on. There will be NONE OF THAT next year, if the McCartney redux theory is to be believed. Also, they should be saving her for a humongous 2014: The Super Bowl will be in New York City for the first time ever, meaning that we need to get a Jay-Z/Alicia Keys “Empire State of Mind” performance. Jova splitting time with Beyonce would just be a blast. More on this supreme show in a minute.

4. Taylor Swift. The only way T-Swift gets controversial is if she rips another ex on live TV. Given her romantic life, this is a probable situation. This may not be the best idea, after all.

3. Bon Jovi. If we’re gonna go retro-rockin’, Bon Jovi’s the safest pick in the world. Perennially populist, working-class heroes with megahits enjoyed in their original release by people who are currently shelling out thousands for Super Bowl tix. However, they could be saving him for the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl, creating Bon Hova as a tribute to both sides of the Lincoln Tunnel. Bon. Hova. Let’s make this happen.

2. Coldplay. Older rock fans can dig it, emotive teenagers will dig it, even hipsters who were coming of age around “The Scientist” and “In My Place” would secretly dig it. Throw in a Rihanna guest spot (“Princess of China,” y’all!) and you’ve got a winner. I mean, have you ever SEEN Coldplay live? They throw down on the visual spectacle. Think of all those yellow balloons.

1. Adele (Adele). There is no more safe pick than Adele. She’s non-controversial in every way possible. If you’re looking for a Paul McCartney-esque “Sit there and play songs” pick, this girl is go-to. You can even get a choir going in the background, and Cee Lo Green Andre 3000 can lead it with a lightsaber as a baton, because one ATL figurehead in Star Wars-esque apparel is not enough.

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

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