I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year writing reviews for Independent Clauses and discovering new music. The following is a list of my top five releases from what I have reviewed this year, including both full length albums and EPs. It was difficult to choose a top five since I have loved every artist I wrote about, but here are a few of my favorites.
Paul Doffing – Songs from the (quaking) Heart(Review) Paul Doffing’s heartfelt release is, simply put, beautiful. As soon as I turn the album on, I feel so deeply that it almost brings me to tears every time. Not only the lyrics but the very instrumentation of Songs from the (quaking) heart exude raw emotion. Every time I listen, the album inspires me to go out to nature and write or paint.
Jeremy Bass – New York in Spring (Review) This EP is quite a unique cup of tea, and I love it. Bass’ New York in Spring oozes the kind of whimsy that can brighten any day. My favorite track from the EP, “Work,” showcases the album’s bossa nova flair while containing a string of brilliantly crafted lyrics that sardonically comment on our relationship with the inevitable: work.
The Lowest Pair- The Sacred Heart Sessions(Review) I remember the days when anything close to country music was something I did not listen to. Now, I find myself giddy over minimalist bluegrass album The Sacred Heart Sessions. Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee might be one of the best vocal pairings I have ever heard.
Tidelands- Old Mill Park(Review) This EP also effortlessly interweaves both male and female vocals throughout. Yet, the unique mix of classical and rock instrumentation is really what makes this collection stand out. Every song has a distinctly different sound from the next. I shared a few of these tracks with my picky husband, and he loved them all.
Thayer Sarrano- Shaky(Review) Hauntingly beautiful really is the best phrase to describe this album. This is yet another album that makes me feel deeply just from the instrumentation. Sarrano’s vocals and lyrics leave me truly awed. Shaky’s southern gothic sound makes me a little bit uncomfortable in the best way; in my opinion, the best art does.–Krisann Janowitz
At first, I didn’t know what to make of Tidelands’ latest EP Old Mill Park because of how diverse it is. As I listened more, I discovered that what ties the album together is the fact that every song is so distinct in its sound, making the listening experience quite the adventure.
Opener ”Old Mill Park” begins with a calming guitar intro. Gabriel Leis’ voice quickly enters and the coolness in his voice furthers the relaxing feel of the song. As the lyrics say, “drifting on, drifting on”; it’s as if your mind is drifting on to a much more peaceful place. The track has a very Shins feel to it.
“Dog Named Bart” begins with a much more classical instrumentation, primarily through the use of strings. You can begin to understand why they call themselves “Orchestral Indie Rock.” The adorable lyrics paired with the back-and-forth, male-to-female vocalization really transform this song from a potential classical ballad to a more cheerful orchestral folk song.
The aptly named “Four Strings and a Wooden Box” interlude in the middle of the album is exactly as the title states: a classically brilliant cello/violin interlude. It’s interesting that the interlude begins with more hopeful-sounding notes and transitions into more minor, dreary ones. The interlude really serves as a good transition for the collection from the two more upbeat songs to the three more complex and dark ones.
“Hole in the Ceiling” immediately follows the interlude with a distinctly flamenco feel. The use of brass instruments with the traditional flamenco guitar melodies really add this dark Latin American sound to the song, throwing a unique twist into the listening experience.
“Brown Eyes” and “Low Roller” both have a lovely mellow sound. The band uses a melodic vocal harmonization to add a calming effect, much like what Milo Greene does in their music. The use of the electric guitar paired with the sensual lyrics brings “Brown Eyes” from mellow to sultry.
Closer “Low Roller” ties the album together beautifully. The long track clearly has two parts separated by a distinct midpoint, where the song turns from more of a vocal-driven track to an instrumentally driven one. Through a repetitive beat, the song slowly revs up to the final closing section. The final set of lyrics begin with the phrase “turn the lights down ma” which gently nudges listeners into the direction that the outro moves toward. The end of Old Mill Park leaves its listeners in a calm sleep-like state through beautiful instrumentation and rest-encouraging lyrics. Tidelands’ “Old Mill Park” is definitely worth the buy.–Krisann Janowitz
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.