Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Singles Mix: Slightly Holidays edition

December 16, 2011

Joplin pop-rockers Me Like Bees wrote “Naked Trees” as a charity track to raise money for Joplin Habitat for Humanity in the wake of the tornado disaster there. The track is catchy as all get-out and includes whistling. You will almost certainly love it, and if you contribute you’ll have rocked for a good cause.

So you know those channels on cable that only play music? My friends had a Christmas channel on that was stocked with Bing Crosby and other traditionals UNTIL THIS HAPPENED:

That’s right; Red Wanting Blue recorded “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” and it ended up on a background noise channel. Mind be blown. RWB world takeover is imminent.

My friend Peter Shauger, who records as The Bye Byes, sent me over a “Hey, I think you’d like this” e-mail about pop band Shade (not to be confused with the rock band Shade that we have reviewed before). He was right: I heard the pulsing rhythm and honest vocal performance of “Understand” and fell in love with the track. You should check it out if you like music from people who’ve been playin’ the indie-rock game a while.

November included my first half-marathon, so I’m proud to present the month’s list of top-ranked songs from RunHundred.

Calvin Harris – “Feel So Close (Benny Benassi Remix)”

Katy Perry – “The One That Got Away”

Elvis Presley – “Suspicious Minds (Can’t Walk Out Remix)”

Michael Jackson – “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Immortal Version)”

LMFAO & Lil Jon – “Shots (Dummejungs Remix)”

Rihanna & Jay-Z – “Talk That Talk”

Will.I.Am, Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez – “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)”

Alexandra Stan – “Mr. Saxobeat (Maan Studio Remix)”

Laidback Luke, Steve Aoki & Lil Jon – “Turbulence”

Dev – “In The Dark (DJ Kue Remix)”

Shade creates indefinable but majestic rock tunes on 'Latonka'

February 16, 2011

Shade’s Latonka defies easy classification. It is some sort of rock album, but it’s hard to pin down anything further than that. The album is very moody and emotional, but it tugs at the heartstrings through the brilliant intertwining of the melodic and rhythmic parts instead of dramatic builds and falls. The mix seems on first listen to be all out of order, except that on second listen it becomes clear that their mixing decisions make the album’s mood.

There are heavy, shoegaze-inspired guitars, but they don’t overpower anything. There are fast-paced drumbeats, but this isn’t a punk band. There are yelps and cries, but this isn’t any over-the-top emo band. This is a band that knew exactly what it wanted to accomplish, then went and did it.

Enough of what it isn’t. It is an incredibly emotional ride, as well as a completely unique one. It draws liberally from the best parts of post-rock, shoegaze, indie-rock, pop and even modern rock to create an amalgam that is distinctly Shade’s.

A repeated, wordless cry fading into the heavy guitars of “Chain” makes the song a haunting memory long after the tune is through. The desperate vocal performance of “Plans” contrasts against the relative calm of the arrangement in the verses; that is, before the band flips the song into a cavernous shoegaze tune for the chorus. They alternate the two for the whole song, just to mess with listeners.

The other seven tunes hold joys of their own; I would be depriving you of the joy of discovering them if I told you more. This is an album to let wash over you. It is an experience. Definitely one of the most interesting and memorable releases I’ve heard so far this year. Check out Shade’s Latonka if you’re a fan of post-rock, emotional hardcore or music that’s heavy in more than one way.

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.

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