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 friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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