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.