Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

ALL THE CHRISTMAS AT ONCE

December 19, 2014

I got married in November, which means I’ve been celebrating my way through the last few weeks instead of listening to new Christmas music. This means that instead of meaningful reviews, I have a large list of things that you and I should both listen to. I regret nothing. ONWARD!

Albums:

The Good Shepherd Band, which released a beautiful Christmas album in 2011, are back with a new one entitled All the Bells Shall Ring. If it’s anything like the opener “O Come Let Us Adore Him” (starting off with an Advent hymn; I approve) and the last album, we’re in for big, church-style hymns in oft-triumphant arrangements. Wonderful!

Quirky, reverb-heavy indie-pop band SUNBEARS! offer up a 10-minute EP of Christmas music. It’s sure to be as thoroughly enthusiastic as its name: SUNBEARS! Do CHRISTMAS!

Vintage-style acoustic duo The Singer and the Songwriter are dropping 12 songs (in video form!) for the 12 Days of Christmas. Sounds lovely! Check it at their YouTube.

For those who like a little more punk rock in their Christmas tunes, Small Bear Records has released Never Mind the Baubles, Here’s The Small Bear. Need I say more?

Videos:

Kris Orlowski caps a banner year with the original holiday tune “Is This Christmas” in his signature baritone voice and easygoing acoustic style.

James Apollo also had a big year, with Angelorum being a great release. His offering, “Ho Ho, Ho Hum,” is one for the (classy, Scotch-drinking) Scrooges out there.

SHEL is an acoustic-music band of four sisters, and this version of “Sleigh Ride” is about as cute as can be. The video is also lovely.

MP3s:

1. “Bethlehem (feat. Joan as Policewoman)” – Jack Henderson. Because everyone needs a Tom Waits-ian original Christmas ballad duet.

2. “Fairy Christmas Day” – Junkie Thrown. A pensive, beautiful tune decrying the sad paradoxes of Christmas.

3. “Little Angel” – The Lost Brothers. Think “brothers” in the pristine, crooning, ’50s-style duet meaning.

4. “Christmas at the Zoo” – Sam Joole. As an Oklahoman, I’m categorically obliged to post any Flaming Lips covers. This one is pretty charming and cheerful.

5. “Stay Another Day” – pjaro. Experimental rock/emo/indie bands write Christmas songs too. This one has lots of distorted guitars and yelling, as one does.

TRICKED OUT mixtape

April 3, 2013

Another mixtape! This one’s predominantly dark indie rock, instrumental hip-hop, and lush indie.

TRICKED OUT

0. “Need Parmesan” – Pjaro. From the surrealistically named Why Is No One Here I Can Make You Alt comes a crazy instrumental indie-rock piece that’s like a post-rock piece if Two Gallants were trying to play the genre and out of frustration they gave up and played really loud. This one’s surprising and intriguing.
1. “Waiting” – Program. Remember the mid ’00s, when everything was super-epic because The Arcade Fire ruled and everyone wanted to be like them? I loved that time. Program remember that time well, with synths and toms and all the right stops’n’starts.
2. “Liar Liar” – Vienna Ditto. Someday, all genres will be one genre, and I’ll be out of a job. Until then, it’s my job to tell you that tribal drums, Portishead-style vocals and swaggering guitar riffs come together for some crazy, gripping music here.
3. “View of My Sanity” – Anna Lena and the Orchids. Another singer/songwriter indebted to the icy soundscapes and incisive vocals of Portishead, another beautiful tune.
4. “Endless Possibilities” – The Boxing Lesson. Space rock that consumed an orchestra? Sign me up.
5. “Proto” – Ryan Hemsworth. This one comes from Mitsuda, the hip-hop tribute to video game soundtrack creator Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger). YES TO THE YES.
6. “I Still Think of You From Time to Time” – Louville. Trombones, pulsing beats, and wiry synths come together to form … euphoric electronica? Whatever, just roll with its beauty.
7. “Nothing Left to Say” – Poldoore. Super cool heist movies, take notice: here’s a candidate for your next soundtrack inclusion.
8. “Staying In” – Ola Podrida. Mysterious tune that kinda sounds like a dungeon level soundtrack, until the beautiful chorus kicks in.
9. “Chinese Paper Cuts” – Own Goal. The sparse instrumentation creates a unique indie-soul atmosphere that will appeal to fans of The Antlers.
10. “Blue Elvis” – Peals. It sounds like two guys sitting on the porch making beautiful, low-key, beautiful instrumental music because they can. I dig it.
11. “Seven” – Qualia. Loose, chill, moving post-rock that evokes The Album Leaf, lazy Saturday afternoons and/or epic realizations. Wonderful stuff.

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

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