Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Mint 400’s Patchwork shows its diversity of sounds

September 9, 2014

patchwork

I’ve covered digital label Mint 400 Records before, because I think they do great work in the lo-fi indie/lo-fi folk realm and because they have an interesting business model. The label’s latest compilation Patchwork shows off 17 of their bands, giving a pretty good snapshot of what they’re doing. (Disclosure: I’m the manager of The Duke of Norfolk, who is signed to Mint 400.)

The lo-fi work doesn’t disappoint: Sink Tapes, Fairmont, and The Maravines all have compelling offerings near the beginning of the album. The Multi-Purpose Solution and The Mai 68s hold down the end of the record, making sure you didn’t forget about the indie-rock. The acoustic-based work is also exciting, as newcomer Murzik adds an attention-grabbing piano-and-voice entry. Dave Charles sings a chill song that references Star Wars and sounds like some sort of early Jason Mraz tune. Cropduster provides another standout, with a gravelly, creaking voice over an acoustic guitar until it explodes into a grungy sort of thing for a bit.

Cropduster’s rock isn’t an isolated thing: the label has developed some loud leanings. Shallows’ “Always” is aggressive, dissonant guitar rock that borders on post-hardcore; Tri-State’s tune is straight-up guitar rock; and Jack Skuller contributes some rockabilly with ’50s vocal leanings. Mint 400 has grown from a small label with a specific niche to a widely diverse roster of bands, and Patchwork shows off the best of all of them. Check it out at iTunes or Spotify.

Sink Tapes

September 25, 2013

sinktapes

Sink Tapes’ lo-fi tunes span the spectrum from Pavement-style rockers to Elliot Smith-style acoustic musings, but their best work on How You Mean falls squarely in the lo-fi indie-pop realm. “Famous Glitching Clan” and “Pornographic Railroad Station” focus squarely on vocals instead of the arrangements, letting the instrumentals fall in step behind the morose, low-tenor declarations. The former is emotionally arresting in an unexpected sort of way, while the wistful latter is downright catchy for a chorus-less tune that doesn’t break 1:40. Other highlights include the REM jangle of “Your Mouth is On My Mind” and the plodding slackerness of “Super Happy.” Fans of the earnest, lo-fi ’90s or modern-day musicians that own a lot of stock in reverb pedal companies will have a field day with Sink Tapes’ near-perfect recreation of the “jangle-pop meets rock” moment of 1993-ish indie rock.

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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