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Falcon Arrow and Dylan Gilbert amaze in very different genres


Falcon Arrow‘s Tower is a soaring, powerful, instrumental, drum-and-bass post-rock duo that ranks as one of the best of the year. Now don’t get tricked into thinking this is drone or anything. This album is one of the most acrobatic post-rock albums I’ve heard in a long, long time. Bassist Matt Reints modulates his bass playing several octaves out of normal bass range, making tunes that have heavy, grooving bass foundations and incredible treble-end melodies. It’s astonishing what Reints can wring out of one four-string bass. (The press photo has him playing a four-string. For real. As a bassist, I can’t even believe that this is possible with essentially the same instrument I have.)

Reints is not just a fantastic technician armed with modulating pedals and loopers; he’s a brilliant melodist. And since he’s a bass player, he knows how to use the low-end not just to support the treble, but to interlock with it to create sums bigger than the parts. Finally, since he’s a bass player, there aren’t chords anywhere on this album: everything is done through cascading single-note runs and super-sludgy single note crushers for some grounding. In short, Matt Reints has taken on the job of being the guitarist and the bassist in one of the more complex post-rock bands I’ve ever heard. I have no idea how he remembers everything. I really don’t. Also Dav Kemp plays drums. (Sorry Dav. Bassist geeking out over here.)

You can pick any of the 11 songs on this roughly 40-minute album and have your mind blown, but my two favorites are “Aldebaran Serpent” and “Cantina Empire,” which form the 13-minute heart of the record. (They’re really into sci-fi; JUST ONE MORE THING TO LOVE.) “Aldebaran Serpent” starts off with some crushing, distorted bass, punchy snare hits, and some syncopated bass drum patterns. After inoculating you into the groove, Reints starts tossing off heavily-reverbed runs of high treble notes, creating a gorgeously full sound. Then he modulates up another octave and starts playing even faster, essentially turning his bass into a synthesizer. If your mind’s not blown, I don’t know what will do that for you. “Cantina Empire” leans more heavily on Reints’ traditional instrumental chops, using a swift, clean bass guitar line as the foundation. Kemp supports neatly with some punctuated, staccato drumming. They eventually do drop in a distorted low-end and a reverb-heavy top line; the riff at 1:30 is one of my favorite on the record, especially when put in the full context of the song. It’s an impressive song.

Tower is nothing short of astonishing. It’s gorgeous and impressive on its own melodic merits, but it’s even more mindblowing that two people (and only two people) composed all of this and perform it live. If you’re into post-rock of any variety, you will be blown away by Falcon Arrow. They’re just absolutely incredible.


Dylan Gilbert is a man of many talents. He’s been tirelessly releasing music since 2005, reinventing himself at every turn. Currently he fronts the manic prog/punk/surf outfit Hectorina and abruptly drops impressive acoustic-based solo albums. His latest offering of the latter is Shaken, an 8-song set that relies heavily on his ability of his voice to sound wildly outraged and outrageously wild.

With the exception of the gentle closer, this is an exercise in shout-folk from beginning to end. The ominous title track opens the lot, but he quickly moves away from trying to sound scary and embraces the persona of a person outraged at his misfortune. You can read this just from the titles of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” “Another Beast Washes Ashore” and “This Woman’s Gonna Put Me in the Ground.” His voice and powerfully strummed guitar (those poor guitar strings) come together to create compelling tunes that aren’t exactly Andrew Jackson Jihad, but something pretty near it. Sean Bonnette of AJJ has a nasally voice that he pairs excellently with frantic guitar strum; Gilbert has a very traditionally attractive voice that he just thrashes against the wall of life’s troubles like a dusty rug. Both are very impressive, it should be noted.

Gilbert does two covers here: the traditional “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me.” The former takes a song many people know and pours all the mourning that’s actually there in the lyrics into the vocal performance. The latter tries to infuse the weary misery of the track (again) that’s already there in the lyrics. These are pretty much required listening; the source material for both are some of my favorite tunes of all time, so it’s impressive that Gilbert can take both and breathe fresh life into them. Gilbert’s an astonishingly talented songwriter and performer, and you’d be remiss to not know of his work. Shaken should be your introduction if you’re unfamiliar.

Dylan Gilbert's afternoons are more productive than mine

Here’s a case study that explains how the prolific Dylan Gilbert became so accomplished: He’s the type of guy who thinks writing, recording and releasing a single is all in a day’s afternoon’s work.

Sure, it’s an acoustic track; but it’s one that calls up musical Neutral Milk Hotel references, which is always a good thing. The lyrics have to do with dirty deeds and redemption — timeless and powerful themes, yo. The vocal performance is nothing if not impassioned. There’s a melodic hook in the chorus, and some structural drama thrown in for good measure. What else do you want?

Dylan Gilbert knows how to write a great song, making “Shriving Pew” quite worth the 1:48 run time.

Dylan Gilbert-The Artist & The Scientist

dylangilbertBand: Dylan Gilbert

Album Name: The Artist & The Scientist

Best Element: Variety and Passion

Genre: Indie Rock


Label: N/A

Band E-mail:

A few months back, when I started doing reviews for Independent Clauses, I received a wonderful 6 song EP titled Oh No, Oh Now I Know by North Carolina’s Dylan Gilbert. So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when I opened my package of CDs this month and gazed upon Dylan Gilbert’s full length debut, The Artist & The Scientist. I was excited but nervous, for just a few months back I boldly praised the album… Now I had to wonder: could this album live up to the standards that were set on his EP?

Gilbert not only upholds the standards he had set; he surpasses them. This time around the listener is graced with ten new songs of pure song-writing genius. The songs are as creative as they are catchy… and believe me, they are pretty damn catchy. The production is sharper this time around and really allows the musicianship and vocal work to shine. Dylan’s wide-ranging instrumental talents have broadened as he now utilizes about a dozen various instruments, from your standard Guitar-Bass-Drums-Vocals to more eclectic devices like Glockenspiel-Omnichord-Piano/Synth, to name a few.

Like his previous album, every track is diverse and sends the listener through an ever-changing mix of emotional states. The Artist & the Scientist is an album in the truest sense of the word and is best appreciated if listened from beginning to end. However, one cannot help but pay extra attention to a track like “Sail Away,” which is a somber, passionate, and ultimately moving love song that somehow manages to avoid the cliches of ‘LOVE-Rock’ (either that or it has lured me in and turned me into a romantic sap… Let’s hope for both our sakes it is option 1.) The delicate blend of piano, cello (one of the few instruments not handled by Gilbert) and Dylan’s all-too-meaningful voice is just perfect. Other examples of this powerful musical cocktail can be heard on tracks like “On Holiday” and ‘The Letter,” which both feature the beautiful cello of Lindsey Beyer.

Lyrically, I really admire how Dylan seemed to tie in the two closing songs, giving the music an even more intimate feel and leaving the listener with no choice but to hit the repeat button.

There is little more that can be said. Dylan Gilbert is easily one of the finest song-writers that I have come across in recent years. He is a multi-talented musician and his sincere passion can be heard on each and every song. I closed out Dylan Gilbert’s previous review by saying “I don’t see how any open minded, avid music fan could not enjoy this,” which I still firmly stand by. But I will leave a question for the readers…

Why don’t you have this CD yet?

-Josh Hogan

Dylan Gilbert-Oh No Now I Know

dylangilbertBand: Dylan Gilbert
Album Name: Oh No Now I Know
Best Element:  Fantastic song variety for a 6 song EP.
Genre: Indie-Rock
Label: Sophie Music Group (
Band E-mail: dyg379’

Indie Rock is a genre which flourishes with a sincerity almost altogether lost in modern rock music.  Dylan Gilbert’s debut EP [u]Oh No Now I Know[/u] is no exception:  six songs full of pop-laden hooks, catches and grooves.  On top of all this, there is an abundance of original elements to each of the songs.  Lots of bands may use a similar approach to their songs, yet often they lack the substance it takes to really make them stand out in the crowd.  Luckily, with his talent and skillful songwriting Dylan Gilbert does not fall victim to just being another face in the crowd.

The album begins with an unexpected (yet great) introductory sample announcing: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, this is Dylan Gilbert!” The guitars then kick in and for the next 23 minutes the rock doesn’t stop.

Each one of the six tracks is varied in its sound and delivery, ranging from the alt-country “You’re Not Just Saying That” to the bluesy guitar and piano heard on “Oh No Oh Now I Know”, which is the highlight of the album. The ending of the track has beautiful piano work with great a vocal piece showcasing Gilbert’s soft, somber voice.

Song styles and influences are wide ranging and borrow from such walks of music as folk, blues, pop, new wave and even more experimental material (listen to the sample work at the end of the first track “Tangled Up In Knots”). He is in fact quite a skilled musician…Dylan handles all the instrumentation, which includes guitars, bass, keys, harmonica, and even a few little extras, with the exception of 3 studio drum tracks played by a friend. Not to mention that Dylan has a voice many indie rockers would love to have: it’s powerful yet emotional with a slight twang that really distinguishes him.

Lyrically he is well-spoken and seems to say it best on the title track, when he whispers “I even put my heart on plain white paper”.  Though some of the lyrics may initially pass as somewhat typical ‘relationship’ songs, he offers a lot more sincerity than your average rocker.  You have to respect whenever someone literally puts who they are into their music. There is no faking- this music seems to be an aural representation of who Dylan Gilbert really is as a person.

With only a 6 song EP released thus far, it is safe to say Dylan Gilbert has begun his solo career with the right foot forward.  His unique blend of styles, sincere music, and skilled song writing has won me over.  Truthfully I don’t see how any open minded, avid music fan could not enjoy this.

-Josh Hogan

October 2021 Singles 2

1 “Timbuktu” – Stables. If you listen closely, you can hear the ghost of Simon and Garfunkel clapping along.

2. “Hospital Job” – INWARDS. Fans of Dan Deacon will recognize the slightly batty stack of major key synths, ghostly vocal samples, looming paranoia, and beats. INWARDS’ approach is more, uh, inward-looking than Deacon’s technicolor hallucinations, but the same basic concepts apply. The 360 video that goes with it amps the intensity of the discomfort up to 11, while still being enjoyable. An impressive trick!

3. “Believer” by Kodiak Arcade. Not everything I love comes up on this blog. For instance: I am a very big Avicii fan, so much to the point that I curate a playlist entirely of songs that follow Avicii’s very specific song formula: acoustic verse, acoustic/electronic chorus with indelible hook, EDM drop that reiterates or expands on that hook, repeat. Kodiak Arcade’s “Believer” does something similar to this! It starts off with an acoustic chorus with a perfect hook, then brings a lovely acoustic verse, reiterates the chorus, then goes for a wavy/psychedelic/electronic drop. It’s like a tropical version of an Avicii jam. This is not about to become an EDM blog, don’t worry, but “Believer” is the apex of a certain type of EDM song, the sorts of artistically-inclined pop that this blog spent many years covering, and solid instrumental composition that excites me these days. Get it, Kodiak Arcade.

4. “Sex Tape” – Hippo Campus. Is this from the ’90s? The ’00s? The ’10s? Is this vaporwave? hyperpop? I have no idea. I don’t care. It’s awesome.

5. “Charlie Chimi” – Charlie Chimi. This is a wacky alt-latinx electro cut that came to be because it was a jingle for a sandwich shop run by musicians who ended up being better at jingles than sandwiches. (I still want to try the sandwiches.) The video is truly bonkers in the best way possible.

6. “Sept.” – Violetera. Do you love breathtaking landscapes taken by drones? Do you love pensive, minor-key, guitar-heavy post-rock? Apply within.

7. “Smell Smoke” – Dylan Gilbert. Gilbert is an architect when it comes to instrumental work; his pieces are constructed out of lots of different pieces, all calculated for maximum effect. This one has bits of techno, industrial, vaporwave synth, and found sound, all added up to sound like fear and yearning. I’m not always into music that’s supposed to make you think more than make you hear, but if it makes me think and feel, I’m cool with it. This does both.

8. “I’m Not a Dancer” – Steven Thorn. I love the concept of making a dance song about not dancing. Thorn’s high-pitched yelp matches the ’80s-heavy electro-pop backdrop in a perfect way.

9. “Elizabeth” – Jake Aaron. I love the peaceful nature of Aaron’s acoustic guitar compositions; they seem to flow effortlessly out of the frets in a gentle stream. This one carries on his streak of high-quality releases.

Premiere: LKBD Instrumentals

I’m honored to premiere Dylan Gilbert‘s LKBD Instrumentals today. I’ve followed Gilbert’s work for almost 15 years, and I’ve seen it take a lot of twists and turns.

This blog has taken almost as many twists and turns, often in opposite directions of Gilbert–while I was covering folk-pop, Gilbert was fronting the maximalist art-rock zaniness that is Hectorina. But our paths have (perhaps temporarily?) reunited.

LKBD Instrumentals is a composerly set of electronic, soundscape, and piano instrumentals. Independent Clauses covers instrumental music, including electronic work, soundscapes, and piano-led compositions. (Also jazz, which there is little of in LKBD. But maybe a future iteration will bring that along too!) So it’s a match.

The primary thrust of the album is seven instrumental versions of tracks that came from a project called I’ll Be the Lakebed that–well, I’ll let Dylan tell it:

I’ll Be the Lakebed was originally conceived as a live performance art piece, but due to COVID-19 all shows and tour plans were cancelled. The project then pivoted into a visual album, beginning with a series of singles and music videos, later released as a full film, and now as an instrumental album. LKBD instrumentals consists of 7 instrumental versions of songs from the I’ll Be the Lakebed album and 2 short unreleased tracks used for the opening and end credits of the visual album/film, creating a sort of alternate universe and further expanding the world of I’ll Be the Lakebed.

With the complicated origin story behind us, let’s jump into the sound. LKBD Instrumentals is not easy listening–these are challenging pieces. After a short, glowing, major-key intro that very much sounds like the electronic equivalent of an orchestra tuning up, “Moving Forward (Instrumental)” is an slow, icy, stark, spartan electronic piece that makes the listener feel every staccato bass and snare hit. The conclusion unveils a sort of ominous maximum-slow-jam. By sudden contrast, “Arlington Hotel (Instrumental)” is a traditional big-celestial-synth-washes ambient track; the deeply legato piece is pretty jarring after the intensely separated prior track. “Boneyard” returns to the staccato electronics and amps it up by distorting everything and turning the piece into a grim, grimy industrial track (complete with industrial siren). “New Prayer” yanks the listener back into quiet work, but the solo piano performance is dissonant and discordant.

I’m not going to lie, I considered passing on this release after the multiple instances of sonic whiplash. But the 4:17 of “Scrolling (instrumental)” is basically a Clams Casino jam and the longest track thus far in the record, giving the listener a reprieve. This tune is a brilliant slice of dark, ambient-influenced instrumental hip-hop; I would have loved to hear more of this. Instead, Gilbert goes further into his muse and comes out with a tune that sounds like the wash synths of “Arlington Hotel (Instrumental)” turned inside out and stapled onto a slow-core hip-hop beat with absolutely tooth-rattling bass. That track, “Untethered (Instrumental)”, is both an obvious extension of the work that has come before it and a mindbending new take.

Yet there are even more tricks up his sleeve: “Epochs (Instrumental)” takes the formula of “Untethered” (weird synth washes, bass for days, slo-mo beats) and adds guitars and ghostly vocals to it, creating an absolutely unique and fascinating sound. These last three tracks are truly the reason to listen to this collection; while still not overtly accessible, they are brilliantly conceived and performed compositions that are highly worth the time of adventurous listeners. These are followed by the two-minute outro: a sort of humble goodbye via a humble, tinny Casio-esque ditty played over a sea of whirling static. Overall, this is a fascinating, challenging, intriguing set of pieces for those who like instrumental hip-hop, industrial music, and (I say this affectionately) weird stuff.

Anything that gets done during COVID is such an achievement that the credits are even more valuable to note. Gilbert wrote, performed, produced and arranged all the songs at his home, his parents’ house and his studio space at Goodyear Arts. His father Greg Gilbert helped with engineering, while Justin Aswell did post-production, mixing and mastering. The artwork and design of the entire project, including the LKBD instrumentals album art, was put together by graphic designer Amanda Johnson, with photography by Amy Herman, and Art Direction/Costume Design/Set Design by Sarah Ingel.

LKBD instrumentals drops today, Nov 6, on Bandcamp and everywhere you stream music.

Crank the engine, fire up the new year

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.

The weekly round-up

The prolific Dylan Gilbert is offering up 50 tunes that he recorded between 2005-2011 as a pay-what-you-want download. That’s roughly an 8-song album per year of indie-rock that is now at your fingertips. I’m not going lie and say I’ve heard it all, but random clicking has enlightened me to the great “Oh No Oh Now I Know.” Start there or at the beginning if you’re interested.

SoundCloud just put out this interesting and clever video about sound. For those who wonder why “sound” instead of “music,” check out this beautiful thing.

Icona Pop‘s “Manners” blew up in part due to being featured on one of Kitsune‘s compilation albums. Icona Pop took that and ran with it, putting out “Nights Like This.” It’s another incredible song, and it now has this weird and wild video:

Kitsune’s 12th compilation album drops November 14, and a quick North American tour promoing it starts next week.

10/19 – Electric Owl, Vancouver w/ Beataucue + Database
10/20 – Good Units, New York, NY w/ RAC, Is Tropical, Database, Beataucue + Gildas
10/22 – Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO w/ RAC, Database + Beataucue
10/26 – Mezzanine, San Francisco, CA w/ Is Tropical, Database + Beataucue
10/27 – PM Lounge, Dallas, TX w/ Database + Beataucue
10/28 – White Room, Miami, FL w/ Database + French Horn Rebellion
10/29 – Terraza Uroboros, Mexico City w/ Is Tropical, Beataucue + Database

My Personal Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2006:

My Personal Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2006:

1. Mastodon – Blood Mountain

2. Arsis – United in Regret

3. Akerecocke – Words that go Unspoken, Deeds that go Undone

4. Into Eternity – The Scattering of Ashes

5. The Haunted – The Dead Eye

6. Burst – Origo

7. (Tie) Agalloch – Ashes Against the Grain // Isis – In Absence of

8. Murder by Death – In Bocca al Lupo

9. Lamb of God – Sacrament

10. Enslaved – Ruun

My Independent Clauses Top 5 Favorite Reviewed Albums of 2006:

1. Storm the Castle! – The Free of CHARGE Demo

2. Triclops! – Cafeteria Brutalia

3. Dylan Gilbert – The Artist & The Scientist

4. Dylan Gilbert – Oh No, Oh Now I Know

5. New Grenada – Modern Problems

-Josh Hogan

Top Albums of 2014: 20-11

Merry holidays, everyone! Now, back to the music. I sometimes get talky here, but let’s get straight to the best ofs instead, since I’m already late on this. Here’s 11-20, listed from top to bottom. 1-10 comes tomorrow!

11. The Yellow DressFaint Music / Ordinary Light (Review) Most of indie rock used to be rickety, pastiche, oddball, and endearingly weird. Now only certain parts of it are: The Yellow Dress is certainly in that category, as their enthusiastically unusual indie-rock winds, warps, and wanders its way across the landscape. My wife and I sing “Isaac Fitzgerald (bum bum bum)” to ourselves absentmindedly.

12. Wolfcryer – Wild Spaces / The Prospect of Wind / Singles. (Reviews) Wolfcryer’s two EPs escaped the short-player list because his total 2014 output was closer to double-album length. His strum-heavy troubadour style gives a shot of energy to the often ponderous singer/songwriter game, and his engaging vocals deliver great melodies. Wolfcryer is going places, so you should jump on that train now.

13. Falcon ArrowTower. (Review) Falcon Arrow’s post-rock sounds nothing like anything I’ve ever heard in the genre: a drum-and-bass duo, the bassist uses what must be an army of pedals to create octaves upon octaves of notes, patterns aplenty, and looped bits galore. The results are soaring tunes that evoke the title of the record.

14. Zach WintersMonarch. (Review) Snuck in at the end of the year, Monarch is the sort of unassuming album that works its way into your life and then acts like it never wasn’t there. Winters’ powerful arrangement skills are put to use in slowly-developing work that never roars but often washes over you.

15. SummeroomsS/t. (Review) Everything that Josh Jackson does is fun to listen to. Even this lo-fi “side project” that he amused himself with during the production of his new, hi-fi Fiery Crash record is awesome: it has that warm, lovely, dreamy glow that makes me think of summers by the pool.

16. Andrew JudahMonster. (Review) Monster is a technically impressive marvel: an indie-pop record that juxtaposes instruments, styles, and moods with ease. It’s dark and not always fun, but it’ll drop your jaw at places.

17. Leif VollebekkNorth Americana. (Review) I fell in love with Gregory Alan Isakov’s gentle, smooth work last year; Vollebekk’s work isn’t as quiet all the time, but it does rarely get noisy. His drawling, attitude-filled vocal delivery gives a shot of intrigue into the elegant singer/songwriter work.

18. The Lovely FewThe Geminids. (Review) Wide-open, mood-evoking electronic music that uses outer space as its muse and touchstone. Entirely transporting and enveloping.

19. The Good GracesClose to the Sun. (Review) Alt-country and indie-pop meet and mingle throughout this thoughtful record, which includes lots of surprising lyrical and musical moments.

20. Brook PridemoreBrook Pridemore’s Gory Details. (Review) If you sped up a latter-day Mountain Goats record, or if you put a full band behind an early MG record, you’d end up with the folk-punk theatrics of Brook Pridemore. Great melodies, great arrangements, a lot of fun.

Honorary Mention: Colony HouseWhen I Was Younger. (Review) Colony House doesn’t need my help, but their album is the best pop-rock album I heard all year.

Honorary Mention: The Weather MachineThe Weather Machine. (Review) This one came out in 2013 and isn’t eligible for best of 2014, but it came to my attention this year. Brilliant songwriting reminiscent of Josh Ritter, The Mountain Goats, and more: what’s not to love

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