Independent Clauses started out as a general interest independent music magazine: our writers were knowledgeable in punk, metal, rap, electronic, indie-rock, singer/songwriter and more. The project has pared down to a one-man blog over time, and that one man mostly likes singer/songwriter, folk, indie-pop and upbeat indie-rock. Emphasis on the mostly, though, inspires this blog post: several albums from genres I rarely cover have caught my ear over the past few weeks.
One IC reviewer wrote about Caltrop in 2007, urging “fans of doomy, dissonant rock to experience fans of doomy, dissonant rock to experience this great little demo.” Five years later, Caltrop‘s riffing has matured from an unfocused roar to a pointed boom: the pounding riffs are combined with atmosphere to make a sum bigger than the parts. At points on Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes, Caltrop sounds like a southern rock band at nine times the heaviness (“Birdsong,” “Blessed”), while at other moments the members blend melodic interludes with mega-distorted guitars to create genuinely moving music (“Zelma,” “Light Does Not Get Old,” “Perihelion”). Their one-sheet mentioned riff monsters Pontiak as an RIYL, and that’s a great comparison. (Fun fact: Pontiak was on the cover of the first of two print editions of Independent Clauses magazine.)
Greek rockers The Finger caught my ear with their first single “In a Fragment of Time,” which combines modern rock guitars, The Killers-esque synths, four-on-the-floor drums, and a slinky female voice. They held it through various singles before unleashing I Don’t Believe My Eyes. The band expresses a strong melodic control throughout the 11-song album, imbuing each of the tunes with some hook or moment that kept me coming back to it even though I haven’t listened to modern rock in years. The stuttering rhythmic bursts of “I Was So Young” segue into a straight dance-rock groove; “Too Slow” has an atmospheric groove punctuated by tight drumming that invokes ’80s new wave; “Brain Stroke” juxtaposes the smooth female vocals over a pressing track with a squalling chorus guitar line. Fans of Interpol, Paramore and The Killers will find much to love.
Tyburn Saints also have an ’80s rock vibe going on, but they mix their new wave synths with post-punk rhythms. The vocals are a baritone swoon, calling up Joy Division comparisons, which is both a strength and a weakness. But the best tune of Tyburn Saints’ You and I in Heaven EP is “Last Time I Sing for You,” a tune that filters out the rhythmic clank and some of the vocal gloom to deliver a spacious tune that calls up a calmer tune by The Walkmen. It’s the sort of tune that appears out of nowhere, hooks you, and points towards bright futures for the band. Straightforward rocker “Broken Bottles” closes the quartet of tunes, making me wonder, “When you can write optimistic guitar and vocal melodies like these, what’s with all the down-and-out sound?” The band has room to grow, but Tyburn Saints is one to watch.
Greek rockers The Finger have been releasing song after song from their upcoming full-length album, and title track “I Don’t Believe My Eyes” is the latest. The dark, mysterious tune has a great groove going for it, meshing well with the alto female vocals. The slinky, forceful bass melodies power the song through to the big pay-off—and it is big. You should be looking forward to their album.
Developing: Dylan Gilbert, whose career Independent Clauses has been following for years, is prepping a rock opera with a new band named Hectorina. The band has released two of the tracks at their Bandcamp, and it’s safe to say that they’re heavy on the rock. There’s a ton of different influences thrown in, so this could get very interesting.
New year, new run: I’m going for the New Orleans Rock’n’Roll (Half) Marathon in March. I know, I was astonished that such a thing existed too. Apparently “alternative, classic and punk rock to blues, jazz and soul” will be played at every mile. This sounds like the greatest idea ever. And I’ll need some workout music, so here’s RunHundred‘s top tracks from December:
Lady GaGa – “Marry The Night”
Rihanna – “We Found Love (Cahill Club Remix)”
Avicii – “Levels”
Grouplove – “Tongue Tied”
Daughtry – “Renegade”
Hot Chelle Rae & New Boyz – “I Like It Like That”
Mary J. Blige – “Ain’t Nobody”
The Downtown Fiction – “Super Bass”
Gavin DeGraw – “Not Over You”
Kesha, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, T.I. & Andre 3000 – “Sleazy Remix 2.0”
Shout-out to Grouplove, who I’ve been greatly enjoying.
With Stanford getting unexpectedly stomped, my evening plans took a turn for the boring. So, I’m breaking my usual moratorium on Saturday work by sharing these tunes with you.
Hey Geronimo is (yet another) Australian band blessing my ears with its wonderful tunes. Their gleeful single “Why Don’t We Do Something?” features enthusiastic acoustic guitars, tambourine, perky bass, maracas, a guitar solo and a guy yelling “Yeehaw!” Where do I sign up for more?
The Finger mixes modern rock guitar tone, dance-rock grooves and a female vocalist to create a memorable tune in “In a Fragment of Time.”
Starlings, TX is no stranger to tragedy, in life and in song. So it’s fitting that he was moved by the wildfire that devastated a huge section of Bastrop State Park that he wrote a beautiful alt-country tune about it. Proceeds from the pay-what-you-want download will go toward recovery efforts.
I have been known to malign the Ohio State football team as “the national champions of Ohio” based on their Buckeye State-centric non-conference schedule. But wonder-filled indie-poppersBreathe Owl Breathe is about to become the musical national champions of Michigan, and that’s nothing but admirable. Check this touring sched with Little Wings, who will appear on all shows except the early Nov. 26 engagement:
Fri. Nov. 25 – Grand Rapids, MI @ DAAC
Sat. Nov. 26 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Wealthy Theater – 3pm
Sat. Nov. 26 – Grand Rapids, MI @ DAAC – 8pm
Tue. Nov. 29 – Evanston, IL @ SPACE
Wed. Nov. 30 – Ann Arbor, MI @ Arbor Vitae
Thu. Dec. 1 – Kalamazoo, MI @ The Strutt
Fri. Dec. 2 – Ypsilanti, MI @ Dreamland Theater
Sat. Dec. 3 – Detroit, MI @ ‘Noel Night’ at The Scarab Club
Sun. Dec. 4 – Brown Town, MI @ House Show
Tue. Dec. 6 – Marquette, MI @ Up Front & Co.
Wed. Dec. 7 – Hancock, MI @ Orpheum Theater
Fri. Dec. 9 – Traverse City, MI @ Higher Grounds
Sat. Dec. 10 – Petoskey, MI @ North Woods Studio
Sun. Dec. 11 – Bellaire, MI @ Shorts Brewery
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.