Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Top Ten Songs of the Year

December 29, 2013

Independent Clauses is a wide-ranging blog, but it still comes home at night to folk and indie-pop. So those genres are very well-represented in the Top 10.

10. “Song for Zula” – Phosphorescent. Yup, I’m thoroughly on board with all the love this is getting. Just beautiful.

9. “Home Sweet Home” – Russell Howard. The sound of loss and longing rarely sounds so sweet as in this singer/songwriter tune.

8. “The Mantis and the Moon” – Son of Laughter. Clever lyrics, sprightly arrangement, poignant performance: I hummed this a lot in 2013.

7. “Aaron” – JD Eicher and the Goodnights. Sweeping, widescreen folk-pop that leveled me with a great melody and this line: “I don’t write sad songs/they just seem to write me.”

6. “Judah’s Gone” – M. Lockwood Porter. It’s a tough thing to pack nostalgia, disillusion, and rage into one folky tune without any yelling, but Porter navigates the wildly varying emotions deftly.

5. “American Summer” – Jared Foldy. Gentle fingerpicking and reverb create a strong atmosphere, as Foldy offers the sound of beloved summers that sadly have to end.

4. “The Riddle Song” – The Parmesans. Poignant yet flirtatious, this bluegrassy love song is wonderful.

3. “For the Sky” – Wolfcryer. The opening riff of this folk tune, optimistic and yearning, sets the stage for an inescapable tune.

2. “Creeping Around Your Face” – Novi Split. The most tender, gentle love song I heard all year, steeped in the reality of hard times but the hope of good to come.

1. “Everything Is Yours” – Jonny Rodgers. Wine glasses cascade and swoop through the quiet indie-pop arrangement, giving Rodgers a fascinating canvas on which to paint lovely vocal melodies and descriptive lyrics. I couldn’t stop listening to this for weeks.

July Video Jam pt. 3: Beautiful Sounds

July 23, 2013

I try to post videos that are interesting to watch, because that’s the point of a video. But some clips just have such beautiful songs that I have to post them, even if their visuals are less than mindblowing. Here are four.

“Song for Zula,” Phosphorescent‘s candidate for Song of the Year, just got better: here’s a gorgeous acoustic guitar version performed at the behest of Line of Best Fit.

Safe Haven‘s studio vid for “Leave Me Where I Want to Be” has a lot of sepia going on.

I will post pretty much anything that Page CXVI sends me, because it’s always just stunningly beautiful. Here’s “O Sacred Head.”

Here’s a reminder: post-rockers Pan are a ton of fun. Here’s “John from New York.”

April Video Jam, Vol 1

April 6, 2013

Austinites The Noise Revival Orchestra toured China, and they made a 13-minute tour documentary. This mesmerizing video is not your average tour doc at all, and you should check it out the first chance you get. Which is right now, if you’re reading this. Seriously. Do it.

Remember that whole “Quiet Is the New Loud” movement that Kings of Convenience were at the front of in the 2000s? I loved that stuff. So did, apparently, Australians Breaking Hart Benton, whose lovely video for “More Than You Deserve” evokes both the beauty of the acoustic tune and the alienness of the past.

So the actual video for Phosphorescent’s “Song for Zula” is not the main draw here: I mostly just want you to listen to the heartbreakingly beautiful “Song for Zula” again.

Not gonna lie, Deb Oh and the Cavaliers’ video for “Primacy” reads like a a/v version of “What Hipsters Love.” But there’s a reason we love fencing, and globes, and slo-mo water droplets, and ink blots in water: because they’re fun to watch. (Also because they’re indicative of certain social structures that…oh nevermind, it’s just fun to watch.)

Last 2012 Singles Mixes

December 11, 2012

It’s that time of the year again: the end of it. So here’ are my last two 2012 singles mixes before the Best Of lists drop later this month.

Poppy/Folky Mix

1. “Still Analog” – The March Divide. Perky acoustic pop with a snide edge and snapping. Dare you to not smile.
2. “Alright OK” – Ocean Transfer. Reggae, pop-rock and even some funk come together for a fun tune.
3. “Swimsuit” – Cayucas. I’m pretty sure this was written on a surfboard.
4. “Rooftop” – Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. Peppy indie-pop with some folk sensibilities, capped off by a powerful alto vocalist.
5. “Time Keeps Dripping” – Emil Lager. Fans of The Tallest Man on Earth will appreciate the raspy vocals and fingerpicked styles of Lager.
6. “Retaliate” – City Reign. The yearning vocals here are what get me in this acoustic tune.
7. “Land” – Joyce the Librarian. The vocal harmonies, cello work and brass set this stately folk tune apart.
8. “This Love Won’t Break Your Heart” – Annalise Emerick. One of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard all year incorporates “Auld Lang Syne” into its gentle folk arrangement. The build-up to the end of the song is simply heart-pounding.

Moody Rock/Electronica Mix

1. “Each to a Grain” – Light Company. Dreamy post-rock, thumping modern rock, distorted bass and melodic vocals create a unique tune.
2. “The Hunter” – Their Planes Will Block Out the Sun. Tight, dark indie-rock with everything in its right place.
3. “All My People Go (Budo Remix)” – Kris Orlowski and Andrew Joslyn. This highlight track from their recent EP gets a bit of a remix, adding a bit (but not too much) of an electronic edge.
4. “Song for Zula” – Phosphorescent. The lead track off Phosphorescent’s upcoming album ties together strings, beats, and an incredibly emotive vocal performance.

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

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