Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Unrelated to SXSW, pt 1

March 11, 2014

SXSW is currently taking over the North American music world, but I’m not there this year. To deal with this sadness, I have largely ignored what’s going on out there in Austin. So here are a bunch of tracks by bands that may or may not be showcasing at SXSW.

1. “It Takes Over” – Dream Curtain. I like chillwave so much that I wrote an academic paper about it. Dream Curtain loves chillwave so much that the project keeps making hazy, woozy, reverb-heavy, summery slices of wonder.

2. “Strange Feeling” – Panama. The ’80s influence is strong with this one. Piano, synths, a move-your-feet beat? It’s all happening on this yacht, y’all.

3. “Mountain (Alternate Version)” – Driftwood Miracle. What was a churning, heavy emo track is transformed into a lounge-y, chilled-out track with wah guitar and silky keys. It’s suprisingly fun and only a bit cheesy.

4. “Conquer It All” – Afterlife Parade. U2 and Coldplay influences abound in this upbeat indie-rock track, but it’s far more enjoyable than Coldplay’s “Magic.”

5. “Clearhead Real” – Plateau Below. Starts out a chill, spare guitar-pop track, turns into a big ‘ol guitar-rock stomper. (Bonus: The album art is a striking representation of the sound.)

6. “Bad News” – Slinger Francisco. I listened to a lot of Tooth & Nail Records pop-rock in the early 2000s, and Slinger Francisco takes me back to those heady days of MAE and Watashi Wa. Pop-rock arrangements with an emo heart and pop-punk vocal melodies.

7. “Cruel to Be Kind” – The Worriers. Alternately sneering and jubilant, hyperkinetic Aussies The Worriers come off like a Southern Hemispheric answer to The Vaccines.

8. “Why It Stopped Raining” – The Bacchanales. Frantic Southern rock with a ’90s bent — from Australia.

9. “Melt” – HEYROCCO. Another tune full of mid-’90s guitar crunch, this one tells the story of teenage (?) romance at the highest possible volume. That chorus is towering, catchy, and even sweet.

10. “Bells of Paonia” – The Fresh and Onlys. Walls of guitars have rarely sounded so warm and inviting. A truly touching shoegaze-inspired tune.

11. “Cherry Tigers” – Low Forms. A straight-ahead rock’n’roll charger. Low Forms is a duo coming right out of Minnesota, where they know a thing or two about noisy indie rock.

12. “Electric Feet” – 28 Boulevard. You want a big, happy rock song? Here’s a big, happy rock song.

Singles: Keep That Summer Alive

September 11, 2013

Here’s 11 tracks of indie-rock, indie-pop and folk that I’ve been loving recently.

Keep That Summer Alive

1. “Little Lucy” – The Worriers. Somewhere between early 2000s garage rock and highly stylized Vaccines pop-rock sits The Worriers’ excellent track. Viva la indie rock.
2. “Lazer Gun Show” – Hey Geronimo. If you aren’t screaming out “LA! ZER! GUN! SHOW!” by the end of this tune, you’re doing it wrong. You may also be dead. Thank you, Hey Geronimo. Thank you so much.
3. “Who You Are” – Natural Animal. In a perfect world, this song dominates radio, wins VMAs, and is crowned song of the summer.
4. “Science of a Seizure” – Challenger. Ratatat percussion eventually gives way to the best sort of ’80s revival pop. Challenger can make even brittle beats warm and enveloping.
5. “Tell Teri On Me” – Sir Wes Al Gress. Wobbly dub plus bubblegum vocals, shimmering synths, and a walking-pace beat. It’s completely bizarre, but infectious in a strange way.
6. “Once a Servant” – Psychic Teen. In a perfect world, this song dominates… wait. (Generationals, meet your new opening band!)
7. “When He’s Down” – The Lonesome South Comfort Company. Folky, Southern, psychedelic: this band knows how to hit you hard and early. One of the best singles I’ve heard all year.
8. “Robber Barons” – Cloud Person. Celtic vibes from a big string section give this full-band folk assault an anthemic, epic quality. If you think indie-rock is a little too American-sounding.
9. “Ramble” – Rivals of the Peacemaker. The Civil Wars get a little more outlaw (as you’d expect with that excellent name). Try to get this one out of your head, I dare you.
10. “Silent Film Reel” – Breathe Owl Breathe. The orchestral folk-pop of BOB is always earnest, infectious, and delightfully off-kilter.
11. “Happiness Is a Sad Song” – Owls of the Swamp. There are a certain group of people who agree innately with this song title and therefore will be in love with this smooth, mellow tune.

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

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