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Tag: The Killers

The The The Thunder's indie-rock inhabits the space between dancing and thinking

The Killers’ “Somebody Told Me” (and by extension Hot Fuss) was at the fore of the dance-rock craze, so it made sense for people to ignore the fact that half the album can’t be danced to at all (“All These Things That I’ve Done,” “Andy You’re a Star,” “Everything Will Be Alright,” among others). Instead, the Killers just wrote good, hook-laden pop-rock songs. The The The Thunder has a similar thing going on in their debut All at Once: there are some danceable moments that are easily latched onto, but the majority of this is indie rock.

“Indie rock” quickly becoming a synonym for “melodic rock that wants to be taken with some amount of seriousness,” and that holds for All At Once. The eight songs here feature a vocalist with a tonal resemblance to Brandon Flowers, a bevy of instrumentalists that know their way around a melodic hook, and a mood that hovers just above “serious music.” (Radiohead this isn’t; neither is it Hot Chelle Rae, however.) The highlight is “Hands Together,” a tune that mixes vibraphone, distorted bass, squalling guitar and a frantic vocal performance for a gripping tune. Other tunes draw off the power of group vocals (“Pound for Pound”) or sparse arrangements (“Hey Forever”), while maintaining a mix between serious aspirations, pop melodies and danceable moments (you know, for the kids at the live shows!).

Some will be put off by the vocals (shades of Alec Ounsworth from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah creep in), while others will not like the fact that this sits between easily categorizable idioms: there’s not really a summer jam here, but this isn’t moody thinkpiece music. It will be interesting to see if The The The Thunder continue to explore this vein, or if they move in one direction for their follow-up release. They’ve got a good start going here, so I’m interested to see where they go.

Other moods

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.

This Drama creates solid, entertaining punk with some pop leanings

This Drama’s San Diego XIII features punk that flirts with poppy intentions and has some dance rock thrown in for good measure. If that sounds even remotely intriguing to you, this album is a good investment.

There’s honestly not much more I can say to convince you that doesn’t fall under that previous statement. The band cranks out the tunes with charging riffs, hollered vocals and the requisite amount of snare. Some songs are ready-made for pogoing (“She Had a Knife!” ). Others beg to be moshed to (“Strictly Dishonorable”). “Tiger vs. Lion” has a tight dance vibe that is way more uninhibited (in a good way) than any of the Killers’ or the Bravery’s work. “Fish Taco” takes a fifty-three second detour into metal.

The hollered vocals aren’t as raw as Latterman’s, nor are they as soft and melodic as radio-friendly pop-punk bands. They fall somewhere in the middle. They’re able to be yelled along to, but they’re also able to be sung. There’s group vocals, too; no worries there. They go all-out rage on “F*ck Your Local Scene,” and given the title and song sound, it totally fits. “Hungry Eyes” also has some pretty intense vocals, but the music of the song is less ferocious than the aforementioned.

The highlight tunes here are “Tiger vs. Lion” for its aforementioned dancy goodness, and “Hungry Eyes” because of the little intro (I know that sounds weird, but you’ll remember it and listen to “Hungry Eyes” more because of it). San Diego XIII is a good pop-punk album. There’s nothing ground-breaking about it, but it’s solid, enjoyable and worth popping in the CD player when you’re knocking about town with the windows down.

Seven's dance-rock fits in with the best of the genre

I’ve had a spate of number bands recently. I reviewed TiLT 360 the other day, I recently reviewed Black Heart Procession’s Six, and now I’ve got a double dose in reviewing The Fifth by Seven. I’m not really sure what causes people to name their band a number, but it seems to have no effect whatsoever on their music, as all of these bands are great at what they do.

Seven’s dark, danceable rock would have been lumped in with Killers, the Bravery and Interpol, had they erupted around the turn of the century. If Hot Fuss-era Killers had added a female singer and swung more toward the “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” side of than the “All These Things That I’ve Done” side, they would have become Seven.  The rattling high-hat, synths,  upbeat tempos and epic melodies are all there.

Vocalist Annette Gil has a low voice for a girl, and it fits the sound perfectly. Her voice draws power from the low, gritty guitars that comprise most of the backdrop of this album. It draws contrast and tension from the high synths that often juxtapose with the guitars. That give and take is what forms the basis of almost all Seven songs. And, from top to bottom, that’s a great thing.

From the stomping anthem “Dance Dance Dance” to the mid-tempo “Blackburn” to the punked-out “Sickleave,” Seven blazes through thirteen songs without ever letting the energy drop. There are guitar-driven tracks like rocker “Peace and Lovin,” so-much-synth-it-might-be-the-eighties tracks like “No Ambition” and even unexplainable tracks like “Elements,” which starts off like a spaghetti western and ends up being an oddball pop song.

This album is a must-hear for people who love synth-driven rock with a dance bent and anthemic tendencies. There’s a lot of that going around these days, but Seven’s carved out a niche and written songs that stick, even in a genre full of excellent songwriters. I