Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

February Singles: Pop, Light and Dark

March 11, 2015

Pop, Light and Dark

1. “Just What I Needed” – Wonderful Humans. Whatever the opposite of “reign of terror” is, WH is on that path. Their seemingly endless stream of high-energy, ’80s-inspired dance-pop singles continues with this tropical track.

2. “Summertime” – Ships Have Sailed. ShS are also on a hot streak: this latest tune is some combination of the Cars and All-American Rejects.

3. “Eternal Sunshine” – Memoryy. Yep, you can hook me with any invocation of steel drums. (They’re just so happy!) The rest of the track besides the chorus splits the difference between nu-disco and glitchy clicking–always fun.

4. “Too Damn Good” – JOA. The inimitable Jesse Owen Astin is back to making guitar-rock/electro-pop mini epics, and this one is a builder that grows to a huge apex and then fades away.

5. “She Speaks the Wave” – The Nursery. This song would have fit right in on radio when Interpol, The Killers, and The Bravery were all towering. Some real sleek, solid dance-rock here.

6. “Drive” – Ships Have Sailed. You know when Jimmy Eat World goes for a ballad but still gotta have the angsty energy? Ships Have Sailed power through this track with that same feel.

7. “Tears” – Prints. Dark, clubby electronic pop songs.are a dime a dozen, but Prints float above the pack by balancing your emotional needs with your club needs.

8. “Earth Not Above” – HÆLOS. Cinematic, evocative trip-hop mixed with some modern beats? Sign me up.

9. “Underlined Passages From Your Books” – Underlined Passages. Here’s some lush, walking-speed romance from members formerly of indie-rockers The Seldon Plan. Combining early ’00s indie-pop melodies with early ’00s emo guitar tone is a sweet spot these days.

Fall, Slowly Mini-mix

August 23, 2012

I’ve got a bunch of singles to throw your way, so here’s a mini-mix. It kicks off on an upbeat note and then drops you right into the season with track two.

Fall, Slowly Mini-mix

1. “The Day” – The Tiny Elephants. Perspective knocks in the form of a jaunty pop tune.
2. “Believe” – World Tour. Maybe this is winter music? Definitely it’s chilled-out beauty.
3. “Wish” – Prints. Click-heavy beats, burbling synths and a night-on-the-highway electronic vibe make it feel all mid-’00s up in here.
4. “Caves” – Founds. Flowing instruments carry a swooning vocal line, and the whole thing grows into a pounding whirl before disappearing. Wow.
5. “How It Ends, How It Starts” – Big Dead. Dusky, jazzy, sultry beauty.
6. “How It Went Down” – Dark Dark Dark. I love that the title dovetails with the above track. More piano/patient cymbal instrumentation, but a woman on the jazzy vox here.
7. “Going” – Carl Hauck. Hauck’s voice is a warm blanket on a cold night, and his acoustic songwriting is that moment you put on a pair of shoes and immediately know you’ve always loved them.
8. “Not Knowing” – Clara Engel. The Jason Molina school of songwriting dictates ultra-slow tempos, sparse instrumentation, and an almost overwhelming gravitas. Engel is an A+ student with her incredibly moving songs.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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