Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

32 Songs I Loved in 2015 (In no particular order)

January 1, 2016

Here’s a non-comprehensive, unordered list of 32 tunes that I just really loved in 2015. They approximately go from fast and loud to quiet. Happy 2016, y’all.

Let’s Go Jump Into the Fire” – Devin James Fry and the Namesayers
Glass Heart” – Magic Giant
Seven Hells” – Quiet Company
Shiny Destination” – The Rutabega
The Fringe” – Sego
In the Woods” – Bobby’s Oar
Run with Me” – Heather LaRose
Don’t Go Quietly” – Light Music
Marina and I”  – The Gorgeous Chans
Bad Blood” – Fred Thomas
Golden Coast” – Billy Shaddox
Flare Gun” – In Tall Buildings
All This Wandering Around” – Ivan and Alyosha
See You Soon” – Valley Shine
Through the Night and Back Again” – Michael Malarkey
By the Canal” – Elephant Micah
Everglow” – Jared Foldy
Father’s Day” – Butch Walker
Muscle Memory” – Laura and Greg
Odell” – Lowland Hum
Waking Up Again” – Emily Hearn
Pilot Light” – The Local Strangers
Death Came Knocking” – B. Snipes
Hold On” – We are the West
Money in the Evenings” – Hermit’s Victory
California Song” – Patrick James
Winter is for Kierkegaard” – Tyler Lyle
Paperback Books” – The Pollies
Closet” – John Vournakis
Ein Berliner” – Jacob Metcalf
Spring” – Sam Burchfield
Vacation” – Florist

Premiere: The Pollies’ “Paperback Books”

September 10, 2015

thepollies-nothere-albumcover

Drone in indie-rock work is a funny thing: it features in some of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard (The Low Anthem’s “This Goddamn House,” Headlights’ “Get Your Head Around It”) and also can kill a song entirely. (I’m eliding electronic and metal uses of the technique here, because the ways that drone works there are very different.) The Pollies‘ “Paperback Books” uses warm drone as a gentle, subtle intro–a backdrop for the tune to play out against, invoked but not integral after the band crashes in.

Jay Burgess’ voice evenly balances the quiet reverie of memory with the rueful quality of the same; it’s a tune that can amplify either uplifting vibes or the sort of desirably-sad feelings that we all look for sometimes. It’s a rare tune that can fit multiple emotional spaces with a single sonic one. That drone helps it cut both ways–it can mean stability or uncertainty, depending on how you look at it. The lyrics revel in that sort of backwards/forwards look, that positive/negative combination that we can’t avoid in life. This song is quickly moving into my permanent rotation, because it so perfectly captures a mood that I’m often looking for.

But even if you’re not the sort to get emotionally attached to your tunes (should you, mythical creature, actually exist), it’s hard to deny the skill with which this song is crafted. The alt-country band transcends the genre here, focusing on meandering-yet-careful lead vocals, soaring bgvs, twinkly lead guitar, and a reverb-laden sense of nostalgia. The arrangement is carefully layered and mixed to perfection–it feels effortless, even though there’s quite a bit going on. All the pieces melt into each other to create one sonic idea–a feat that should not be downplayed. Even if you don’t want to get emotional and “remember the days when we were just teens,” “Paperback Books” is a warm, lush tune that deserves your attention.

The Pollies’ Not Here comes out on September 25th via Single Lock/Thirty Tigers.

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

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