Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Girls Only May Singles

May 9, 2016

1. “Delightful” – Katie Garibaldi.  A delightfully honest reflection on how to live life in this crazy world.This sweet-sounding song beautifully combines acoustic guitar strumming with Garibaldi’s unique voice.

2. “Alaska” – Tina Refsnes. This thoughtful folk tune starts off with minimalist guitar instrumentation and slowly expands to include a rather full orchestral accompaniment. “Alaska” is a lovely track that provides just the right amount of cheer for a rainy day.

3. “No Last Call”– Emily Rodgers. A contemplative, melancholic folk tune with alt-country influence coming out in her use of pedal steel. The long length of the track gives off a feeling like it may just be an endless beauty. When it comes to a close, you are left wanting to return to its peaceful arms.

4. “Little by Little”– Niamh Crowther. Crowther’s soaring sopranic voice pairs well with her playful instrumentation. Similar to the likes of Regina Spektor, Crowther hits, holds, and transitions through very high notes; it’s rather awe-inspiring.

5. “Miami”– Kara Ali. Soulful, jovial, and refreshing, the funky instrumentation of “Miami” makes me want to groove. Ali’s voice is this interesting combination of Mariah Carey and Joss Stone. This is a great ode to a fun American city.

6. “Cormorant”– Dana Falconberry and Medicine Bow. I love this song; it feels very Birdy meets Fleet Foxes with some Dirty Projectors thrown in. Heavy on the banjo and bass, this track combines unique instrumentation with quizzical lyrics and a powerful voice. Fun all around.

7. “Oliver”– Brooke Bentham. This simple, lovely singer-songwriter track will steal your heart with its raw vocals and compelling lyrics. I can truly feel the warmth emanating from this song.

8. “Tonight”– Ashley Shadow. This is a great example of how Ashley Shadow makes music that builds and climaxes magically, akin to The War on Drugs. And Shadow’s coy alto female voice correlates well with the male background vocals entering at the chorus.

9. “Next To You”– Dannika. Sit back, relax and chill out to this track. Dannika’s unassuming vocals paired with the guitar provide a perfect example of casual feminine rock.

10. “Late to the Party”– Heavy Heart. Another chill rock song, this female-fronted rock band makes great rock music. The crisp electric guitar steals the show from the start, but the layered strings certainly deserve an honorable mention.

11. “Midnight Blue”– Candace. Although the vocals are great, the instrumentation shines on this track. It makes me want to take a drive, roll down the windows, and let the wind mess up my hair as I listen to this song.

12. “Cementville”– Annabelle Chairlegs. This song radiates fun. The vocals are very reminiscent of the female from the B-52s, with raucous screaming to boot. I’m especially in love with the boldness of this song; feels very third wave feminism.

13. “Lies”– ¿Qué Pasa? With quaking electric guitar, sultry vocals and punchy lyrics, “Lies” oozes sex appeal. The multitude of false endings leaves you thinking it’s over and then the seduction starts up again. It somehow feels like something that Quentin Tarantino could have used in a Kill Bill Vol. 1 fight scene.–Krisann Janowitz

May MP3s batch one

May 22, 2014

I’ve got a bunch of MP3s in queue, so here’s batch one! Batch two comes tomorrow.

1. “Ashes” – Island Boy. Filters ’80s vibes through an Instagram filter and comes out the other side with earnest post-dub beauty. Good math.

2. “I Need a Summer” – Pizza Friday. If Pavement had been interested in surf-rock, they may have come out like this. Way summer, y’all.

3. “Edge of the Night” – Wonderful Humans. Pop-rock guitars plus Chariots of Fire synths plus female vocals is also good math.

4. “Little Earthquakes” – Imperial Mammoth. It’s a bold move to throw #mariahcarey on your track, but this fuzzy, chillwave-inspired pop tune pulls it off with panache.

5. “Plastic Sun” – The Widest Smiling Faces. Chillwave meets lo-fi, and it’s a dreamy, blissful pairing.

6. “Harold Camping” – Le Rug. Because who doesn’t want a post-punk tune about a failed apocalypse predictor?

7. “Lend a Hand” – The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter. Reverb-friendly punk rock from a band with a great name.

8. “Feeling Good” – Vienna Ditto. Spaghetti Western drama infused with sci-fi sounds and Portishead’s sultry vocals. It’s like a Tarantino sci-fi (why has that not happened yet?).

9. “Lush” – The Tontons. Ever since SXSW 2012, this band’s soul/indie/rock has been blowin’ up. Catch it on the way up and be in the know.

10. “Look Like You’re Not Looking [Ex Reyes Remix]” – Jonah Parzen-Johnson. JPJ transforms the saxophone, that most stereotyped of instruments, into something mindbending. Ex Reyes mindbends that mindbending. Whoa now.

11. “Hummingbird” – Armand Margjeka. That tension between speedy delivery and chill instrumental performance is intriguing. Really interesting singer/songwriter work here.

Throwing out the Bake Sale, going for the history books: Cool Kids concert review and interview

April 11, 2009

The Cool Kids recently played a show last weekend at the college I attend, Hendrix College, in Conway, Arkansas. The Cool Kids are one of the more recently exciting hip-hop groups to emerge recently. Some label their sound as “hipster-hop”, and others cite the heavy influences of the Golden Age of Hip Hop.  The point is, you can’t pin their sound, and they are always doing something new. The Cool Kids are a couple of really young, laid-back dudes. It took about four hours to get an interview with them, but not because of their ego or pretentiousness. It’s just their youth; like the rest of most young people, it’s tough to get down to business. The concert was presented by KHDX, and the profits of tickets went to the charity club, Campus Kitty. The Tennessee native hip-hop group Free Sol opened for them, and I missed it because of the interview.  After the interview, The Cool Kids were chill and discussed hip-hop with me. When The Cool Kids finally performed, the show was fantastic. The turn-out was small, but those who came got into the music, even though most of them didn’t know most of the songs. The Cool Kids surprised with a  beatbox rendition of “Mikey Rocks” and brought a few new songs out, which suggested that new bloods are keeping hip-hop alive. These guys were the perfect choice for the night’s entertainment.

How did you guys feel about asking to be played at a show in Conway, Arkansas, at Hendrix College?

Chuck Inglish: I didn’t know that I had a show here til’… two days ago. We were working when we got the news. If I wasn’t working I’d probably be more excited, but we were in the groove. But I’m excited now that I’m here. Everybody’s been extremely nice. It looks like it’s gonna be a nice show. About to do a brand new song that we did two days ago.

Which song?

Chuck Inglish: It’s a song off of our Gone Fishing mixtape. We’re gonna have everybody with camera phones put their camera phones up, and I want everybody to put that shit on Youtube, once we do the song.

You guys are stationed in Chicago and are on your own label. So, how is Chicago for an independent rap artist?

Chuck Inglish: The worst place ever. [Laughs]

Mikey Rocks: Yeah, this ain’t your planet right now.

Chuck Inglish: It’s against all odds. This ain’t 1999, where everything works. Like, you got to damn near be a rapping Olympian in order to get shit poppin’ nowadays, and at the same time it’s cool. But the worst part about is that anybody new that’s been coming along has been a flash in a pan, that was the whole set-up. Like, we got this song with “these guys,” you don’t even know the guys…. And the song runs, don’t know who did the song, and the next thing you know they disappear. It’s just how hip-hop’s getting treated; we’re getting treated like Bush right now. Basically anybody new that comes along has to bury the shit that someone else f*cked up for a really long time.

There seems to be a lot of guys, Hollywood Holt, Mic Terror, etc., that are part of the immortal nation movement in Chicago. Can you explain more about this?

Chuck Inglish: The Movement? Yeah, those are friends of ours. We know them beyond music.

Mikey Rocks: It’s more of just, you know, we’re just friends. It’s less about making songs together, and more about just everybody being cool.

Are there any of those guys that are going to be breaking out?

Chuck Inglish: I think Mic Terror… Mic Terror will murder shit, if it’s done right. Mic Terror’s got a song that he just put back out. He’s working with our sound engineer right now on some stuff, and he’s got some really good songs.

The album you’re working on is called When Fish Ride Bicycles. Where’d you guys come up with that name?

Chuck Inglish: We were really, really “relaxed,” and were watching “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” And, I believe it happened when Hillary was going to do a Playboy shoot for the weather girls, and Carleton wanted to go to the Playboy mansion, and he asked and Phil told him, “When fish ride bicycles.”

How is the album progressing right now?

Chuck Inglish: It’s done.

What can listeners expect?

Chuck Inglish: You’ll throw Bake Sale out. We’re brand new people. That’s just what happened.

Mikey Rocks: It’s a whole new album, it’s not a continuation.

Chuck Inglish: I can say this on this day, ‘cause it’s just realized. The Bake Sale was us being kids, and just getting shit out.

Mickey Rocks: Yeah, just playing around making songs, not really knowing how to record.

Chuck Inglish: Now that this is our life, we are taking it as serious as our life. We want to go down, we want to be in that history book, in the first couple of pages. We ain’t trying to be in the back of that book. We’re just working towards it, and I don’t believe in talking yourself up. I believe in “you shut up and you work,” and you make people recognize you for who you are for what you’ve done, not what you’ve said. Like, a lot of the shit we did before, we would never even listen to. If The Cool Kids came out right now, like two years ago, I would hate them. I can be honest with you, I’d be like “yo, those motherf*ckers are wack.” I would seriously do a “diss record” against us two years ago. But now, because we know each other way better, we’ve been roommates for the past two years, we play. When I come up with a new sound, or he comes up with a new style of rap, we are ready to go there with it. That’s basically what we did with this album. We wanted to see how far we could go, and we went there.

How do you guys feel about the state of mainstream hip-hop right now?

Mikey Rocks: It’s f*cked up.

Chuck Inglish: It is what it is. It is what people wanted it to be.

Mikey Rocks: I see how it happened though. It started out when we had a couple of select people that were a little bit smarter than people who were currently in power of hip-hop, and they took advantage of them. They thought “we could make some bread off of this shit.” They didn’t care about the state of the art form, they didn’t care about quality of the music, or the effect it would have on the kids.

Chuck Inglish: When shit gets bought out, that’s when it’s over. A lot of thing lose it’s mystique when you sell your shit for a price.

Mikey Rocks: Yeah, turn it into a Walmart or Target. Pick your sound, pick your clothes, and go up there… and that’s it.

Chuck Inglish: Rappers shouldn’t have stylists. You can quote that. They came in setting shit. The drug dealers were dressing like the rappers were. Now, the rappers are dressing like the drug dealers. It’s like the tables have turned. That’s what happened, it became a supermarket. You find someone who can halfway rap, if you have enough money, you can get a whole bunch of hot-ass beats and a bunch of expensive producers. People hear that’s who did their album, so it must be good, and then it ain’t good. If you do that 15 times for 10 years straight, people are going to be like “all right, I get it, I’m sick of you crying wolf all the time.”

Do think the mainstream is going to stay like this for a while?

Mikey Rocks: Nah, because the money is not coming in as much as it used to, and you’re going to start seeing it crumble. You are going to start seeing those people who were in power, are going to start backing up and think, “whoa, I’m not making cash no more, I’m done with this shit.” Eventually, it’ll break down into what it once was. Because as soon as that money starts leaving, you’re going to see who really enjoys this, who’s really trying to rap here. You’re going to see a lot of people going back to work, and going back to shooting hoops and shit, trying to get it some other way.

Chuck Inglish: You can live off of it, but at certain times, even I think how can you possibly get really rich off this?

Mikey Rocks: You can definitely live off it, but the millions and all of that crazy shit that was happening, that’s about to be x’d. …That’s really not going to make money any more.

Chuck Enlgish: That comes with work.

Mikey Rocks: Technology’s too advanced for people to be getting screwed over anymore. They ain’t gonna have that “people trying to steal your shit, and charge some money for some wack-ass single that you made.” The money level of hip-hop is not the same as it was a couple years ago. It’s a different world, now that everybody’s kind of tightening their belts. Those that really give a f*ck about trying to be the next Bill Gates of rapping, those people are starting to get a little bit more frugal. But people who are still going to decide to do this regardless, are going to do it anyway.

Are there any particular artists that you’d want to be able to work with at some point?

Chuck Inglish: For me, yeah, cause I write songs, and I like making music for other people. As far as The Cool Kids go, I don’t know. I feel that every time we work, we’re working with someone. Because he always knows something I don’t, or I’ll come up on something he doesn’t know. He started making beats now, so things are getting a little interesting. On our mix tape we have a collaboration with a girl name Jada. I didn’t know here prior to yesterday. She was just there, and she heard the beat and starts kicking a rap over it, and we were like “yo, you should go rap that.” So, that’s what a collaboration is, it’s not like “let’s force something because it’ll chart.” You can’t work out with people you can’t hang out with.

Do you guys plan to be doing this for a while?

Chuck Inglish: Yeah, I ain’t got no other plan. I’m not gonna be the rapper that retires. I’m going to do this ‘til I can’t speak.

Mikey Rocks: Yeah, I’m setting up shop for a while.

Chuck Inglish: The shit I rap about is everyday regular man stuff. Where me, you, some kids you grew up with, and some kids I grew up with can be in a room and all laugh about the same shit, because it’s the same stuff that all of us go through. As we get older, the people that like us now… Just like, how Guns and Roses can do a concert, and the crowd’s all old and some are little, it’s just you take your fans with you. You get older, they get older too. That’s what people’s problem is, they get older and they want to get the young kids, but the young kids always want to know about the older stuff first, so just stick to your guns. Young kids now f*ck with Ghostface; he’s not done anything different. He still kicks the same ill-ass shit he’s done since day one. He didn’t do a song with Mariah Carey cause she’s popular.

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

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