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Tag: Page France

December Singles: More Acoustic

1. “The Beginning” – Celebration Symphony Orchestra. I love the ambition of an 11-minute indie-orchestra suite, but I even more love the expertise with which it is pulled off. The piano and percussion throughout are great, and the overall arrangement doesn’t disappoint at any point in the track. Awesome.

2. “Dancer” – Sonder Saloon. The pairing of an exciting lead guitar/banjo melody with an electric chorus vocal melody make for an unusual, fantastic folk-pop song.

3. “Count On Me” – Moe Escandar. The best pop songs are ones that can be translated into different genres and still be awesome. This chipper-yet-suave acoustic-pop tune has the melodies, harmonies, rhythms and sunny vibes to be a power-pop song, an EDM song, or a punk-rock song. Instead, it’s a lovely, charming, high-quality acoustic-pop tune.

4. “Voyages” – Matt Garnese. Page France becomes a further distant memory as time goes on, but the sort of lullaby sweetness paired with an earnest exploration of religion and life that Matt Garnese conducts here is vintage Page France. For a more well-known touchstone, it’s sort of like an acoustic Weezer.

5. “Turning Leaves” – Woozles. Spartan bass guitar, low vocals, and tape hiss create a mesmerizing, hypnotic indie-pop sound. As a bassist, I love the thrumming, round sound of a solo bass guitar.

6. “Row“- Kyle Sturrock. The chorus of this folk/country tune shines like a diamond in a dusty trail. The arrangement is bright and attractive, too.

7. “Waiting in the Bliss” – Sylvette. Moves from moody to roaring and back with ease, like The National with more folk influences, Radiohead with more acoustic influences, or Muse with more ability to be restrained.

8. “Sounds Like Help” – Austin Basham. Basham is one of the rare few that could sing the phone book and it would sound deeply moving. His tenor tone is pure, his melodies are inviting, and his control over his pipes is incredible. Fans of Rocky Votolato will celebrate.

9. “17 {Demo}” – Beau Davison Turrentine. A relaxed, easygoing, expansive acoustic tune that sounds like someone musing on a front porch under a dim yellow streetlight.

10. “Holy Grail” – Zorita. Even there’s some mournful trumpets and strings floating above the guitar/vocals, this one is really all about the vocals. Carlos’ delivery of the lyrics is full of nuance and care, and his tone is the perfect mix of rough and smooth.

11. “John Lingers” – Fingers and Cream. Slowcore alt-country with big harmonies and a scuffling, trudging-through-the-desert atmosphere. For fans of Songs:Ohia and Calexico.

12. “Habanero Top Knot” – Lit AF. This is a fascinating, intriguing instrumental tune with some Indian melodic and percussive influences, some Album Leaf influences, and some unidentifiable connections that are Lit AF’s own. Adventurous listeners, take note.

13. “Spinning Tops” – Lena Natalia. The mix of engaging lead melodies counterpointed by deft left hand work help this solo piano work stand out.

14. “Destruction” – Raphaël Novarina. Some might call the tension between the rumbling low end and the arching right hand lines in this solo piano piece melodramatic, but the high drama of the piece is appealing and stays on the right side of overly emotional for me.

15. “Burning Bright” – Mike Vial. This tune flows like a gentle brook, burbling quietly with the occasional burst of energy. The smooth guitar and lithe vocals recall the best elements of James Taylor without being a knockoff.

Mid-April MP3s: Acoustic, Pt. 2

1. “Audubon” – Jon Solo. Here’s a gentle yet expansive sonic soundscape dedicated to the famous naturalist. The arrangement here is simple-sounding yet complex in its construction, which makes for great work.

2. “Taller” – Silas William Alexander. An intimate folk tune that has the gravitas of the best folk singers, an earnest vocal performance that reminds me of my long-lost Page France, and a wistful sweetness that’s irresistible. Alexander is one to watch.

3. “Young Romance” – Redvers Bailey. Makes me think of Juno, The Life Aquatic, Beirut, Belle and Sebastian, honest quirkiness (“I don’t try to do this, this is just how I sing”), and lots of good songs. Mile-a-minute lyrics, chunky chords, humble melodies–what more can you ask for in an indie-pop tune?

4. “Going Home” – Jesse Rowlands. We don’t write real folk tunes that much anymore, but here’s one about a Southern deserter (I’m guessing from the Civil War) who tries to get back to his home. The voice-and-guitar songwriting sounds way more full than just those two pieces. It’s an engaging, beautiful tune.

5. “Little Moment” – Luke Rathborne. Delicate guitar work always gets me; so does the confidence to create small, quiet pop songs. This tune just makes me smile.

6. “Someone to Love Me” – Jont and the Infinite Possibility. Do you miss early-eras Coldplay? Rush of Blood to the HeadParachutes, etc.? You’ll love the full-band, wide-screen, acoustic-grounded pop-rock here.

7. “Strangers” – Brad Fillatre. The vocal performances in this alt-country tune are deeply affecting, all the more so because of the unexpected nature of the clear, yearning chorus melody in relation to Fillatre’s gritty, rough verse performances.

8. “Hymns” – Grado. A subtle but strong opening guitar line leads into a unique combination of rainy-day indie-pop, modern folk music, and upbeat indie-pop enthusiasm. There’s quite a lot going on here in what seems like a simple, confident tune.

9. “Gentle Giant” – Yankee & the Foreigners. Charming, woodsy, full-band folk for fans of Fleet Foxes, The Fox and the Bird, new-school Decemberists, and Beirut’s vocalist.

10. “Anchor Up” – Eric George. Walking-speed folk troubadour work with great vocals, a stellar production job, and a remarkably chill vibe.

11. “Anchor (Argentum Remix)” – Novo Amor. A For Emma-style Bon Iver vocal performance over fingerpicked guitar and piano chords gets an ’90s techno beat backdrop; to my surprise, it sounds totally rad.

12. “Believe in Me” – Jason P. Krug. A tender keys line (maybe kalimba?) and a swooning cello accompany Krug’s smooth voice and lyrics of Eastern mysticism; reminds me of the quieter Dan Mangan songs, in that there’s a lot of emotion but not a lot of melodrama.

13. “Fire Engine Red” – Robert Francis. Francis sounds completely assured and at home in this minimalist songwriting environment: with a few rim clicks, distant synths, and a rubbery bass line, Francis creates a distinct, careful mood. It gets even better when he layers his acoustic guitar over it.

14. “The Haunted Song” – Maiah Wynne. Wynne wrote a solo vocal piece, then performed it in a big empty space accompanied by claps, stomps, and creepy background vocals. At just over 1:19, it’s intriguing and unconventional.

15. “Fork End Road” – Ark Royal. Big harmonies, swift picking, and great strings–this song hits you with a lot right up front. Gotta love a track that captures you from the get-go. Things get better from there, too.

2016 Singles: Acoustic


1. “A Better Life” – Supersmall. A good-natured, walking-speed tune that gives more than it asks back from you: you don’t have to listen hard to enjoy, but there are charms for those who listen deeply to the early ’00s, Parachutes/Turin Brakes-style work.

2. “May the Stars Fall at Your Door” – Andrew Adkins. We all need an encouraging blessing every now and then–Adkins provides uplifting lyrics with an equally uplifting folk arrangement (complete with harmonica). Totally great work here.

3. “Nowhere” – Swaying Wires. Tina Karkinen’s confident vocals give a levity to this serious, acoustic-led indie-pop tune.

4. “Know It All” – Bitterheart. Brash, immediate, strum-heavy, full-throated folk-pop that marries the enthusiasm of folk-punk with the good-hearted charm of a folk-pop tune. If all their work is like this, their album’s going to be a blast.

5. “One Three Nine” – Jacob Metcalf. Fluttering, ethereal folk that stays grounded basically by force of will, a la Andrew Bird.

6. “Chandelier” – Russell Howard. This gender-flipped cover of Sia’s tune creates a stark atmosphere by modifying Howard’s vocals and putting them over a delicate guitar accompaniment and subtle percussive beat.

7. “White Light Doorway” – Florist. The band has mastered the skill of keeping a song together while lead singer Emily Sprague purposefully sounds like she’s falling apart. The tension there is beautiful and weighty.

8. “While You Stand” – Michael Nau. The wide-eyed naivete of Page France is long gone, but the absurd ease with which Nau pens a lyric and fits it to a simple guitar line persists. It hits me.

9. “Habits” – Adrienne Tooley. Carrying that Lilith Fair torch: female perspective; sharp, witty lyricism; clear, uncluttered acoustic songwriting.

10. “Secrets” – Nick Zubeck. Laidback chill doesn’t get more laidback than this.

11. “Monde” – Stranded Horse. Fleet, powerful fingerpicking contrasts a laissez-faire vocal mood for a knotty, beautiful tune that feels like it fell out of a Wes Anderson movie somewhere.

12. “Black Gold” – Black Country. There are few substances so evocative as oil, with its viscous flow, vibrant sheen, wealth-making potential, and divisive opinion-making. Black Country spells out a narrative of the open spaces, where finding oil is the difference between emptiness of landscape and buzzing life–hanging the promise of oil over the head of a barren, windswept instrumental landscape.

13. “We’ll Get By” – The Singer and the Songwriter. One of the more un-Google-able bands working today drops a stately, moving tune that includes accordion and shuffling snare under a beautiful alto vocal melody.

14. “Wanderer’s Waltz” – Youth Policy. Here’s a wintry, stark tune composed of breathy, Elliott Smith-esque vocals, cascading fingerpicking, and a moody sense of melancholia.

15. “Ghost Blue” – Sparrows Gate. If I walked into a bar where Sparrows Gate was playing this moving, piano-driven ballad-esque tune, I hope it would be to work off a breakup instead of celebrate a success. “Gravitas” doesn’t sell it well enough.

16. “Goes Without Saying” – Melaena Cadiz. A relaxing, unspooling, wandering tune that just feels lovely.

17. “Kicking You Out” – Merival. Few things get me more than a raw, open-hearted acoustic tune with some room echo. Merival’s strong songwriting skills are on full display here, with nothing else added but some harmony vocals. As they say: all the feels.

Mid-November Acoustic Tracks

1. “Every Fight” – Lost Feeling. This complex, attention-grabbing track provides the electronic drama of a Baths track with more acoustic guitar and strings. Here’s a voice to watch.

2. “Hello Miss Lonesome” – Marlon Williams. Williams’ voice just fits so perfectly over this familiar-yet-strange rockabilly-meets-alt-country sprinter.

3. “Give It Up” – Animal Years. Any band sharing a name with a Josh Ritter album should make folk-rock as gleeful, catchy, and all-around fun as this. I can see myself jumping up and down to this song live.

4. “Oh, K” – Alma. Do you need a ray of acoustic pop-soul sunshine to cut through a gray day? Have this one.

5. “Holy Water” – Ed Prosek. Bear with me on this one, but I imagine this is what Mumford and Sons’ last album would have sounded like if they had not fully rejected their acoustic roots: it’s got high drama, but it’s contextualized in a mellow, lush, developed arrangement (check that choir).

6. “Winter Beat” – Michael Nau. Nau is half of Cotton Jones and–more importantly to me–the man behind Page France, one of Independent Clauses’s earliest loves. This walking-speed, bleary-eyed, Lou Reed-esque jam is a cool turn.

7. “No Stone” – Jenny Gillespie. Gillespie’s voice is wide and expansive, providing a nice tension against the close-cropped, keys-driven indie-pop below it. As a result, the tune has a unique vibe that makes its reference points tough to place.

8. “Darkness in Me” – Eight Belles. There’s a theatrical quality lurking just under the surface of this easygoing acoustic tune: you can find it in the piano, the surging strings, and the little swells at the middle of the song. It pairs nicely with Jessi Phillips’ confident alto voice to create a surprising, compelling track.

9. “The Broken Spoon” – Backyard Folk Club. Mad props for the name actually describing the sound. In addition to sounding like the most fun you can have on the back porch, this band has spoons, too!

10. “Chosen Peace” – Steamboats. We could all use a lot more peace in our lives, and if it’s delivered in a warm folk style, so much the better.

11. “Riot” – Supersmall. “Hello, is this Quiet is the New Loud HQ? Are y’all still open for business? Can we join? Here’s our credentials.”

12. “I Am Trying to Disappear” – Matt Bauer. Fresh, bright, and tentative, like if the lo-fi had been scrubbed out of all those early Iron and Wine records to hear how fragile things get when everyone can hear every bit of your plan. It picks up by the end very nicely, but that first half is delightful.

13. “Hollow Body” – Many Rooms. There’s something raw and powerful about the delicate acoustic exploration of this track.

MP3 Catchup, pt 3: Night Moves

Night Moves

1. “Capernaum” – The Collection. The Collection always blows me away with the intricate complexity of their arrangements. It sounds as if David Wimbish has found an entire orchestra to pour his heart into here; whatever’s left over is spilled out in his deeply mournful and affected vocals. The tension between chipper music and deep sadness in the lyrics is beautiful, calling up sentiments similar to Page France and Sufjan Stevens (but way more orchestral–I know, what could be more arranged than Sufjan’s work? Just listen.)

2. “I Know You Know” – Andrew Judah. Judah is one of the most inventive arrangers I’ve come across in a long time. His songs genuinely defy notions of genre.

3. “The Dusty Air I Breathe” – Clockwork Kids. Confident performances and strong production kick this riff-driven indie-rock track up a notch. The powerful vocals here are particularly surprising.

4. “Two Ships” – Field Mouse. Every time I hear palm muting and pad synths, I think Fleetwood Mac. That comparison isn’t too far off in this mystic, dark indie-pop track.

5. “Kaleidocycle II” – Cloud Seeding. Powerful, beautiful instrumental indie-rock that doesn’t turn into post-rock or electro jams is a rare animal, so get out your safari cameras now.

6. “Banks” – Red Swingline. This complex acoustic picking and arrangement by a project that generally does progressive metal basically becomes a rolling, beautiful post-rock tune with some jazzy moments. Pretty cool.

7. “Room and Pillar” – Knife the Symphony. Cincinnati’s finest, most furious punk band is at it again, serving up brutal, dissonant punk that makes me marvel at how three people make this much noise.

8. “Song 32” – The Austerity Program. I don’t need a reader survey to know the readers here aren’t usually metalheads. BUT IF YOU ARE, The Austerity Program is pretty friggin’ impressive with the riffs here.

The Points North create unique folk from a myriad of influences and styles

thepointsnorthOne of my best friends and I are huge folk fans. We share some of the same loves (Josh Ritter, Simon and Garfunkel, Iron and Wine), but we diverge pretty hard at one point: he’s a big fan of the British folk sound, and I’m a big fan of the American folk sound. The British folk sound has a very open sound: capturing the sound of rolling hills on the English countryside, the music often abounds with flutes, mandolin, and other optimistic sounds. American folk has a much less optimistic air about it; Dylan’s strum-heavy protest songs and Simon and Garfunkel’s world-weary pop/folk tunes set the stage for the depressing world that American folk resides in.

The Points North take a distinctly British approach to folk, although they hail from Boston. Accordion, flute, delicately fingerpicked guitar, piano, mandolin and more permeate the sound, creating a rollicking sound. But even though these songs are charming, melodic, and sunny, they never become less weighty. Page France was one of the only other bands I know of that was able to capture the balance between giddy music and serious content. And The Points North don’t geek out on a Michael Nau-esque level; they’re much more tempered than that. Stately, as the Brits might say.

If Sufjan Stevens were a little more obsessed with flute, he could have written “Cape Tryon”; the background vocals and general feel of the song would have fit perfectly on Illinoise! If the Low Anthem cracked a smile every now and then, they would be happy to claim the elegaic accordion intro of “I Awoke a Child.” If Nick Drake had found friends to play with him, he could have written half these songs, from the peculiar picking rhythm of “Ever Bright White” to the carefree feel of “Tires & the Pavement.” There are elements of Nickel Creek’s joyful pop (minus the bluegrass), and Novi Split’s goofy swooping musical instruments.

Although I’ve spent most of this album saying who the Points North sound like, that’s not to their discredit. This isn’t an album that causes me to wince every time I hear a musical familiarity. On the other hand, these references (intentional or otherwise) cause excitement and increase enjoyment. The sound isn’t as intimate as my favorite folk bands, due to the myriad of sounds going on, but that’s not what The Points North were shooting for.

The Points North’s I Saw Across the Sound is a unique release, written and recorded with clarity of idea. It’s a very distinctive brand of folk that draws off all the aforementioned bands, but copies none of them. Quite enjoyable and talented.

I'm Lost in The Woods

The Woods are an experimental folk band, heavy on experimental. There are five songs here that run for twelve minutes on The EP Logue, and not one of them is easily categorized. If the “blink and you miss it” nature of Half-Handed Cloud’s fragmented pop songs collided with the mellower moments of Good News for People Who Love Bad News and then became friends with the wide-eyed, carnival-esque folk of Page France, you might have a good cover band for the Woods.

But that still doesn’t appropriate all that they are. From spoken word sections to gorgeous melodies that appear only once (so maddening!) to clever guitar licks that don’t get the focus they deserve before morphing into something else (also maddening!) to the plaintive and picturesque “Place I” (which is the only fully-developed idea here, speaking from a purely traditional pop standpoint), The Woods cram more beauty and oddity into twelve minutes than some bands cover in a lifetime.

It’s more like a painting than an actual album, and (lo and behold) that’s exactly what they wanted to do. They didn’t name any of the pieces, per se; they titled them with “place”, “person” or “thing.” They want the listener to understand more about a certain point of reference because of these songs, as opposed to enjoying the songs for their melodies and rhythms. As Ian Dudley says in the final track, “Just because I’m singing, that don’t make this a song.”

The Woods seem to know exactly what they are doing, and they’ve created a very, very pretty release. It’s a very confusing release, if you’re not used to or not a fan of experimental work, but it is a good release nonetheless. For fans of Devendra Banhart, Animal Collective, and the like. You can download it for free here.

Page France-Hello, Dear Wind

pagefranceBand Name: Page France

Album Name: Hello, Dear Wind

Best Element: Charming, endearing songwriting

Genre: Indie-pop


Label Name: Fall Records (

Band E-mail:

It’s not very often that a sophomore release is more quirky than its predecessor. But if anyone was to make their second CD more endearing than the first by giving it more strange characteristics, it would have to be Page France- the purveyor of philosophy disguised in childish lyrics, of complex songs hidden in giddy, optimistic indie-pop, and of life-brightening uniqueness.

Page France’s first full-length outing, Come, I’m a Lion!, introduced us to the mind of Michael Nau- a mind obsessed with beautifully perfect, symmetric, joyful songwriting, as well as love, religion, and concrete imagery. It wasn’t perfectly produced, but it was close- everything retained a charming glow, and everything meshed beautifully. The album flowed reasonably well, and it was good.

Hello, Dear Wind expands upon everything Come, I’m a Lion! established- the songwriting is more endearing, the lyrical meaning is deeper while the lyrical front is even more catchy and fun, the melodies pop out with zest, and the deft mid-fi production makes the album brilliant.

There are two definitive arenas of Page France – instrumentation and lyrics. The musical side of Page France has changed some since Come, I’m a Lion! in the fact that the songs have many more layers. Many of the previous songs would hold the same two or three layers throughout the song. This new album sees Nau and his co-conspirators layering and layering and layering, producing songs that are much more full and much more realized than the minimalist ditties that ended up on the previous album. The opener “Chariot” climaxes in two guitar lines, a toy piano, a tambourine, and a drum beat. Now that’s full. The guitar lines themselves have gotten better- they stick much easier than before, and there are less filler tracks this time around. Nau has also refined his guitar playing- Nau now has, undeniably, his own style of guitar playing. Even so, “Elephant” sounds like a lo-fi Beatles take- the guitar playing may be unique, but tried and true songwriting flourishes never change. The single “Junkyard” is a jubilant track that employs layers as part of the song- not just as flourishes, “Finders” is a very mellow track that is like nothing Page France has ever done before, and “Trampoline” uses the signature Page France sing-a-long section with gleeful abandon. There’s never been a better use of a bunch of random people singing a chorus- ever. This includes you, Polyphonic Spree. In short, the indie-pop solo project that was so minimal last time around is now a full indie-pop band, and the album is much better for it. Every song is worthy of being called the ‘best track’, and that’s not very common with a 14-track album.

The second arena is that of lyrics. The lyrics are much more defined this time around, and while they still retain the characteristic of including random nouns into the song just for fun, the ideas make sense now. Whereas Come, I’m a Lion! was all about love, Hello, Dear Wind is about religion. Now don’t jump ship just because there’s a track named “Jesus” on this album. While there is a lot of religious imagery here (Nau is especially entranced with angels) this is not a preachy, Christian album. This is a songwriter with some religious undertones. There’s still a lot of room dedicated to love and disappointment, two more of Nau’s favorite themes. The album ends up being much more quotable than Nau’s previous work, which was scattered and not exactly cohesive. The best track here lyrically is also the shortest- the beautiful ditty “Finders”. “You’ll be a diamond in the sand/and all of the finders will clap their hands/glory abounds us, we’ve found dry land!/and all of us finders will clap our hands.” It may seem odd out of context, but in context of the song it’s close to rapturous. Other songs, like the wonderful opener “Chariot”, delve into a little bit quirkier territory: “Come and carry us, come and marry us, to the blushing circus king. Dance like elephants, as he comes to us, through a fiery golden ring…” Although odd out of context (again), it makes an unusual amount of sense when placed in the quirky indie-pop setting. That’s part of the immense charm of this album.

Michael Nau and Co. have created a completely charming, endlessly endearing, uniquely understated, and totally immersing sophomore album. I can’t take it out of my stereo, and I don’t think that I’ll have to for a while- it feels new every time I hear it. If you like any type of indie-pop, Hello, Dear Wind will be the best album of the year for you, and that’s not an understatement.

-Stephen Carradini

Page France-Come, I’m a Lion!

pagefranceBand Name: Page France
Album Name: Come, I’m a Lion!
Best element: Ethereal, trance-inducing mood.
Genre: Acoustic pop/folk
Label name: Alvah Recordings
Band e-mail:

Occasionally, a band comes along that makes me wonder why they haven’t been discovered yet. Some bands are just too amazingly talented, amazingly hip, amazingly ‘in’, and amazingly talented to be left in obscurity. Then I realize that because they’re amazingly talented, they probably have an inordinate amount of dignity, which means that they could never sell out to corporate types.

That’s definitely Page France. Page France plays a unique brand of acoustic pop/folk that is helplessly charming, disarming, and smile-inducing. The focus of this album is not on deep lyrics- the deft wordplay used here forms songs that don’t make any sense at all. Each verse and chorus seems to be a separate idea, and nothing ever flows. That’s not to say the lyrics are bad; on the contrary, they’re highly quotable and enjoyable. Just don’t try to find any cohesive meaning throughout a song.

No, the focus here is on the jubilant guitar exultations of Michael Nau, the head behind Page France. Nau’s guitar compositions are playful, comfortable, and strangely endearing- it sounds like a fairy tale on tape. The dramatic, profound “Love and Interruption” has a solid base of upbeat guitar, upon which is layered warbly, silly electric guitar notes and a simplistic cymbal hit as a guitar line. It sways like the ocean and it feels like a good nap- it’s the quintessential relaxation song.

But if you’re into something with substance, something with intense songwriting skill, check out the album-topping “Bridge”, which boasts a delicate guitar line accented by both male and female vocals. The melody here is downright beautiful, and the synthesizers charm the feel of the ocean right out of the Pacific. Once the sincere female vocals chime in, the song is already melting the listener into a puddle. The song crescendos even more, and it’s a little slice of bliss as Nau pours out “Oh I don’t feel a thing, but I want to be real, as you are….as you are…” It just doesn’t even match up to the words I’ve put with it- it’s so good.

The rest of the tracks here are all just as good, based mostly off soft drumming, full, yet never loud, guitars, quirky melodies, and tasteful synthesizer arrangements. “Air Pollution” features a choir in the background of the chorus- “Slippery” bounces like a basketball and is much more charming. “We Remain as Two” is a simply stunning piano elegy- the hushed piano and lackadaisical melody fuse together to form a beautiful, beautiful cap to a great album.

If you’re a listener, Page France’s debut is something to get, and quick. If you’re an acoustic guitar player, this is something to aspire to. If you’re a record label exec, this is something to look into- because this is something irresistible. No one can resist the playful charm of Page France’s “Come, I’m a Lion!”- everyone falls prey to the beautiful acoustic pop/folk.

-Stephen Carradini