Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Pandora: The Decemberists

June 1, 2007

Pandora: The Decemberists

One of the most unique bands to find nearly-mainstream acceptance in the past few years is definitely the Decemberists. Between their bookish love of historical themes, their quirky instrumentation and Colin Meloy’s unforgettable vocals, they make intelligent indie-pop that often seems more suited to a history classroom than a dingy bar. And that’s awesome. Here’s some bands I found when I plugged The Decemberists into Pandora.

Toad the Wet Sprocket – Something’s Always Wrong

More similar to Counting Crows “August and Everything After” than the Decemberists, this is kind’ve an odd choice. I mean, I enjoy it and all, but I feel that I primarily enjoy this easy-going track because of my appreciation for Adam Duritz and co. and not because of the Decemberists. Regardless, this angsty song manages to stay on the melancholy side and not dip into the depressed mode, which I like. Nice jangly guitar work and a nice bit of 90’s-sounding soul-searching in the moaning background vocals. All in all, a nice track that I’d probably listen to again.

Portastatic – Registered Ghost

Well, Pandora targeted that those who like the Decemberists like guys with odd vocals who spin odd tales. Portastatic’s vocalist is a guy who does just that, telling tales about what he did with his registered ghost in a sorta-high pitched voice that does hearken a bit towards Colin Meloy’s. I really enjoyed this rollicking track, as it grows and builds in very pleasing ways. Very fun, very interesting, and worth checking out. I think I’ll be listening to more portastatic in the future.

Hurtin in My Right Side – Tony Furtado

Clicking with the Decemberists’ love of historical themes, Tony Furtado explores a dramatic tale here that draws from work chants, menacing country and bluegrass for inspiration. Extremely creative and interesting, this song had me wondering and anticipating what was about to come. The harmonies on top of the already interesting melodies add a nice touch. The fact that the band seems as excited as Tony Furtado himself does just makes the song that much better. Easily the best find of a station that I will be listening to much, much more.

Strangest Land – Tom McRae

Again drawing on group thought, the intro to this song introduces group hum. The murder-ballad feel to this evokes Tom Waits more than the Decemberists, but it’s still extremely enjoyable. The string contributions assist in creating the mood – definitely a good idea to add them. This song builds like a puzzle, and that’s a great thing. The intrusion of distortion on the song in the breakdown is really, really cool. Another great track, and just more proof that I’ll be listening to this station a lot more in the future. Great find.

-Stephen Carradini

Stephen@independentclauses.com

Pandora: Damien Jurado

October 1, 2006

Pandora: Damien Jurado

A lot of people don’t know about the amazing music resource that is Pandora.com. Pandora.com is part of the Music Genome Project, which is basically an attempt to categorize every song ever written, or come as close as possible. This is only complicated by the fact that people keep releasing music. But the guys and girls of the MGP keep hacking away at it, and we the listeners are all the better for it.

This month’s station is based off the starting point of Damien Jurado. The opener song was “Night Out for the Downer” by Damien Jurado. The rest were as follows:

Walk of Shame by Winechuggers

This is a short acoustic track about the morning after. The vocals are comfortable and conversational, portraying a lot of emotion but still down to earth and a little bit wry. It’s got a strong ending, and it’s definitely worth hearing again.

Sunday Drive by The Early November

I was surprised at the quality of this acoustic song. It’s not really slow, because this is an emo band, but it’s a tension-filled, well-written song. The vocals are corralled into a lower range, and in that range they mesh with the guitars beautifully, displaying the talent that got them signed.

Glendale by Bart Davenport

An odd mood of regret permeates this song- neither happy nor sad. The vocals have a unique timbre to them, but they still hit easy on the ears. The whole song seems like I would need to be in a specific mood to enjoy it, though. I gave it a thumbs down.

Chainsaw Preacher (Live) by David Dondero

A mellowed-out blues-style single-note riff leads this song, while half spoken/half sung vocals accompany. I enjoyed this song immensely, as the combination of vocals and guitars was captivating and unique. The disrespect for the ‘correct’ amount of syllables in a line also made this song fun to listen to.

(Tumble) In the Wind (Version 1) by Jackson C. Frank

A soft, fingerpicked guitar accompanies a gravelly, world-weary voice that creates such emotion that you will be singing along by the end of the song. The grainy recording and the ability to hear labored breathing in the background only increases the song’s charm. My favorite of the five tracks.

That’s it till next month. If you have a band to suggest for next month’s Pandora Chronicle, e-mail it to me at IndependentClauses@hotmail.com . Or, go to Pandora and look it up for yourself. Or both!

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@Hotmail.com

Pandora: Death Cab for Cutie

June 1, 2006

Pandora: Death Cab for Cutie

A lot of people don’t know about the amazing music resource that is Pandora.com. Pandora.com is part of the Music Genome Project, which is basically an attempt to categorize every song ever written, or come as close as possible. This is only complicated by the fact that people keep releasing music. But the guys and girls of the MGP keep hacking away at it, and we the listeners are all the better for it.

We’re better off because we can go to Pandora.com and type in a band or song name and their computer will automatically spit out a string of songs that you would probably like if you like that original song/band. In fact, they create an entire radio station out of songs you probably will like based on what you supplied. You listen to the songs they play for you, and if you like them (chances are you will), then you can buy the song off itunes, buy the album off Amazon.com, and most importantly tell them if you did like the song or not. If you didn’t like the track, they’ll take it out of your radio station, and play something a tad different to see if you like that. Thus, the longer you listen, the more likely you are to hear things you like. Eventually you’ll hear nothing but stuff you like. It’s an almost flawless way to find new music. In a monthly feature from now on, I’ll be picking a band and plugging them into Pandora. I’ll then list out some bands that played on the station that was created for that band. This will introduce you to some new bands, as well as introduce you to the power of Pandora.

This month’s band is Death Cab for Cutie. The opener song was “Champagne from a Paper Cup” by DCFC. The rest were as follows:

Innocent Vigilant Ordinary by Appleseed Cast.

Charging, panicked track that takes their trademark start/stop dynamics and herky-jerky melodies and makes them work beautifully. I was especially impressed by the vocal performance.

Island Lost at Sea by Stellastarr*

Brit rock with mournful vocals that swings from introspective to optimistic- the twinkly guitars and mood shifts make this longer track delightfully interesting. No, it really is long.

Plastic Smile by Brahman

A short indie-pop/power-pop song with slightly yippy vocals and a dancy drumbeat, this track is sure to put a smile on your face. Whether it’s plastic or not is up to you, but I was sold when the “whoah-oh”s came in. Definitely a good track to drive to.

Time Will Tell by Holly Golightly.

This one actually got the thumbs down on my Pandora player. I just didn’t like her vocal style too much- the laid-back tone clashed too much with the punky, retro vibe.

Roped and Tied by Codeseven

This dreamy track is definitely a keeper. Even with a constant bass-drum thump, this song seems to mosey along at its own pace. The guitars and vocals both contribute to the mood, as the guitars establish more mood than riff, and the vocals establish a lot of melodies but don’t really throw down a specific hook for the chorus, creating a very beautiful track that doesn’t feel like a gimmick. A very flowing, sincere track.

That’s it till next month. If you have a band to suggest for next month’s Pandora Chronicle, e-mail it to me at IndependentClauses@hotmail.com . Or, go to Pandora and look it up for yourself. Or both!

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@Hotmail.com

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

Recent Posts

Categories

Independent Clauses Monthly E-mail

Get updates and information about IC, plus opportunities for bands.
Band name? PR company? Business?
* = required field

powered by MailChimp!

Archives