Archive for the 'Indie' Category

Mikal Cronin – Change

Strangely enough, it’s not that often that I leave the Pitchfork Festival with a new act that I really want to explore. It either usually takes a while to go back and check something out (Art Brut and The Thermals are good examples of this), or I’ve done my homework beforehand and I head to the festival with new favorite acts that I really want to see, like Foxygen and Parquet Courts this year. But there wasn’t a whole lot going on Friday, and we stuck around the Blue stage to see Mikal Cronin, and his set was really good.

For some reason I’m turned off by one name acts (as in, just the dude’s name, and not a band name), with some exceptions. It sounds too singer songwriter-y to me, and I have this aversion to singer songwriters (again, with exceptions). This is true even though I know that most “bands” are basically one person and whoever that person can get to tour with them. But whatever category Mikal Cronin falls into, the music is pretty good, and the album is worth checking out.

Savages-She Will

Second in my post about Master’s Theses of indie rock influence and sound amalgamation. I don’t want to knock critical fave Savages, because they clearly have a tuneful yet ferocious approach, but no matter how excellent the song (and this live take on “She Will” is definitely compelling), it has a “created in a lab” feel that I just can’t shake. Peter Hook bass (but also early U2), New Order beat shuffled through dance punk, driving chiming guitars- Chameleons UK, Felt, and I am sure a bunch of others. Vocals are Siouxsie Sioux with a dash of Sinead and slight affectation like Sonya from Echobelly, and Karen Finley if anyone remembers the remix of Sinead’s “Jump in the River”. Drums are almost “Hollywood Nights” by Bob Seger when the drummer is just riding it in the beginning, and then she starts killing them. I love all of these sounds but only when the song is at its most driving does all the seams melt away and then I can just go with it. I love a lot of retro sounds, but I’m on the fence here because it can come across as prefabricated.

Smith Westerns-Varsity

I am going to begin a series here that was inspired by Seitz’s link to Parquet Court’s “Stoned and Starving” in his post on their songs “Master of My Craft” and “Borrowed Time”. The theme is great songs that have more than a whiff of indie rock Master’s Thesis about them. Songs whose sound is more than a little derivative and possibly extremely derivative or otherwise a very obvious Frankenstein of influences. This song is the most subtle about its influences in the series, and I think that this song most transcends the amalgamation of sounds. This is a laconic, loping track that I would easily put in the ear noodle category. It is hard to say where the hook is and the first few times you listen, the song is elusive in that it goes about its way without being obvious about its twists and turns. It is a romantic, wistful tune that has a sort of opaque delivery. Something about the pace says OMD to me, but not nearly as overtly emotional as that, and instead almost a barbiturate-laced Elephant 6 vocal, some Cure guitar at points, but it flits and flutters away. Seitz has posted about Smith Westerns previously, and I think this song is phenomenal, so it is unanimous around here about these guys.

Veronica Falls-If You Still Want Me

Indie of an older school charm in many ways, a girl/guy pairing (think Delgados, earlier Camera Obscura, but give it a more insistent tempo) to tug on your teenage or otherwise thoughts tangling with words that make you wonder if you should feel bad. For some the question might be a luxury “if you could have me, would you still want me” but for others they might accept such a bad bargain. “If You Still Want Me” is from Veronica Falls second full length Waiting for Something to Happen. This is a very Slumberland Records sound, and I am not pigeonholing this sound or this label, but the quality and feel remind me of a number of bands on this label, but the feeling most of all is for The Pains of Being Pure at Heart self-titled album, in that I like almost all the songs, it has a driving, ringing, melodic feel, and is directly emotional in a wistful, youthful way, but that is also musically nostalgic. Definitely recommend the entire album.

War On Drugs-Baby Missiles

Slacker.fm has been loading these guys up on one of my stations, and every time they come on pop out of my office cave and check the spacelab computer that is blaring music for who the artist is, and it has been War On Drugs for three different tracks. This is just a driving driving driving song. A little bit of a Bruce feel without sounding like the Boss, and it is funny there is a slight Kurt Vile here, and this is his band, except he’s not on this album because he’s been doing his solo stuff for awhile. These guys are hard to explain- Tom Petty sound collage with reverb or psychedelic freeway rock pop. This is from their last album, 2011’s Slave Ambient. Live versions brings out the Dylan-isms (also the harmonica). Focus on the sound of the band and if he’s too much live, the vocals are better balanced

TEEN – Better

TEEN is the project of Kristina Lieberson who was in Here We Go Magic, a band on my radar forever. I think I even have an album of theirs, but was never really able to buy in, but that’s probably my own fault. TEEN is opening for Eleanor Friedberger on her upcoming tour, and she’s one of those artists for whom I have so much respect that I’ll check out the opener because I can’t imagine her choosing a band I wouldn’t want to listen to.

I like this album a fair amount, and I really like this song, but I have to agree with the Pitchfork review to a certain extent. This is an album filled with a bunch of really great three minute songs. The problem is that they’re all five to six minutes long. Some better production and editing on that end could have made a big difference.

They have a new EP out called Carolina, which you can stream at Stereogum probably for a few more days before it’s a officially released. I haven’t been able to spend much time with it yet, but the first song (the title track) is really great, and I think it’s got a real Cocteau Twins sound to it.

Parquet Courts – Master of My Craft & Borrowed Time

These two songs flow into one another so well, that I really didn’t feel like I could post only one. Like Foxygen, this is a band I’d heard a lot of about, but didn’t bother to listen to until they were listed on what appeared to be a lackluster Pitchfork Festival lineup. I’ve been listening to this album about three times a day for the last couple weeks.

I hear Television, Jonathan Richman, Art Brut, Guided By Voices, and hell, probably a few other things on this album as well. As other reviewers have noted, they bring a stoner aesthetic, but you can tell that these guys actually really do care about about what they’re committing to a recording. I’d suggest checking out what is probably their most buzz-worthy track, Stoned and Starving. It’s five minutes of genius on an album where it seems like half the songs fail to break the two minute mark. Really can’t wait to see these guys live.

Deep Sea Diver – Ships

So I think we’ve had an ever changing naming convention here where sometimes the band name is first, and sometimes the song title is first. I’m going to try to consistently do what I didn’t do on the last few entries and put the band name first, just because it sounds right to me. Moving on…

Deep Sea Diver is basically Jessica Dobson and her band. You may recognize Jessica as the girl who played lead guitar for the Shins for the last couple years before leaving the band to get her solo project in gear, and the result is Deep Sea Diver. This is the first song off their first album, History Speaks. They opened for Telekinesis the other night and really put on a really good show despite a sparse attendance, which isn’t unusual for an opener on a Wednesday night.

I might as well as use the Shins as a reference point, and they sounds like a bit of a darker version of the Shins. I’m also a sucker for shifting time signatures, so I like this song a lot.

Car Crash – Telekinesis

The first of many “Coming Attractions” posts that can be found at SotD in the near future. Telekinesis will be at Lincoln Hall in Chicago on Thursday night, where I’ll be seeing them for the first time. Telekinesis is basically Michael Benjamin Lerner, though the lineup will be filled out for the live tour (Rebecca Cole of the Minders and Wild Flag will be on keys).

I’m not sure how best to describe Telekinesis other than it’s fairly generic indie rock. Like if you were putting together a presentation and you needed an example of a band that exemplifies the genre, this would be a good choice. Maybe they fall a bit on the power-pop side of things. Lerner is from Seattle, and I definitely hear some Nirvana influences, but not on the production end of things. It’s not really retro (unless ’90s is retro), garage, experimental, lo-fi, or any wing of indie rock. Sort of like Metric if the lead singer were a guy, or maybe Ted Leo just taken down a notch or so.

This is from the second album 12 Desperate Straight Lines, which is probably my favorite of their three so far. They recently released their third album, Dormarion, which is also pretty good. It’s very accessible stuff that may not really linger forever, but it’s fun while you’re listening to it, and I have a feeeling it will sound good in a live setting.

Love Don’t Care-Lab Partners

Kind of a first BRMC album vibe, with some chimey Coldplay “Yellow” stuff and maybe from an angle you would get a feel for some other songs too. I don’t care, nor does love. A good tune, and maybe you haven’t heard it yet.

Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent-The Besnard Lakes

30% late period Catherine Wheel + 30% Low + 2% Toto + 4% Alan Parsons Project + 34% magical sauce = Besnard Lakes.

Here are the opening two tracks of the very, very listenable new album. Apparently they just blew the doors off of SXSW. Figures. I was probably falling asleep to a rerun of NCIS or eating a tater tot. Sad.

I am deeply in love with this album, but it just so happens that I know this feeling will end so I am going with the flow and will play it into the ground until it does.

Possum Dixon – Watch the Girl Destroy Me

[PP Ed note- I also kind of love this song from back in the day, and even if Pitchfork uses this to pigeonhole the shit out of us, I don’t care- we have editorial freedom at 3B. Date us away. Make fun of the flannel we never wore!]

A radical departure from El Seitzo at SOTD. For once I’m not posting a song from a recently discovered artist/artist of the moment. This is from an album I bought at some point in the early 90s. In fact, I may have had this on cassette, and then later picked up a copy on a used CD, but to this to day it is one of the most underrated albums I own (along with probably Chance from the Rave Ups). I think I got it at a used CD fair at UC Riverside at some point after my freshman year.

This album kind of sounds like a combination of Violent Femmes (contemporaries) and Art Brut (just kids at the time), one of which I like, and one of which I love like few others (that would be Art Brut).

This is the best of a bevy of fantastic songs. The album is chock full of great stuff from art rock, to Dick Dale style surf guitar, to power pop. Unfortunately, they tried to get serious for their second album, it wasn’t as good, and that was pretty much that. Rob Zabrecky is now a magician performing at the Magic Castle. But every so often I cue this album up in the ‘ol iTunes, because it’s really pretty fantastic from start to finish. Standout tracks include Nerves, In Buildings, Regina, and Elevators, in addition to the track below. Especially Regina and Elevators. But this song is just a terrific straightforward pop song. Enjoy!

Jason Lytle – I Am Lost

The return of Jason Lytle was almost completely unheralded, but now that I’ve finally listened to his post-Grandaddy album, Yours Truly, The Commuter, I can say that it is a massive norepinephrine rush of nostalgia tinged with post-Pink Floyd sensibility and sprinkles of utter brilliance.

I picked this particular track for Pinko Punko, since it is super Jeddy-like and it evokes Lawn and So On from Under The Western Freeway. Short, sweet, and kind of melancholy. The beginning is so Dark Side of the Moon, I almost laughed out loud, but then it settled into a replica of old Grandaddy and I got really sad for Jed.

You’ll Disappear-The Phenomenal Handclap Band

Likely a dance punk outfit that realized it would be more fun to be a groove/minimalist funk/space disco band than a rock band pretending to play techno, these guys I might guess are a fun show. I saw this vid at Amandagon, and this particular track makes me want to take fake pills and fake smoke but everything else can be very real. The lead vocalist on this track is only guesting and I haven’t listened to the rest of the album yet, so no info there.

It Made You Dumb-Modey Lemon

One of the joys of Pandora, is that even with an imperfect algorithm, you will be served up bands that you either never had time for or had never heard of, or had heard of only to the extent that you knew Pitchfork might have reviewed one of their albums at some point, meaning you could assign some probability that they might be an indie rock band. I haven’t had time to full explore Modey Lemon’s 2008 offering Season of Sweets, but I really do love this cut. I loved this song from the first listen, rawish yet clean right down the road indie rock, but really well done and you’d imagine it would be great in a little club. There is so much music out there these days that I feel for smaller bands that just slog through- I hope they know that people appreciate just how good hearing a new, good song makes them feel. I’d put this up there with our previously reviewed Snowden track in the pleasant surprises category.

Hello to the Floor-The Duke Spirit

Pandora served this up to me, and they are available on eMusic. They fit my retro, nostalgic pseudo hippyish bar band longings, while also I realize now reminding me a little bit of Heartless Bastards, another Pandora serve that eMusic allowed me to get into. I suspect this will be enjoyed by Zombies.

6669 (I Don’t Know if You Know)-Neon Indian

Both Richard Armitage and Marc Hogan at Pitchfork note what I picked up on first listen of Neon Indian’s Psychic Chasms, the washed out mix tape sound. What could strike as a cynical, and cheap unearned nostalgia is cleared away by the quality of some of the songs. The songs mine that 80s new wave sensitive emo melancholy. They play as tracks from a sub one hit wonder, but the B-sides of those band’s 12 inches that were just so good that the Saturday night DJ would play them on the request show along with Peter Godwin and Intaferon and the kids would tape it off the radio because you just couldn’t buy it.

God damn I always hated it when the cool kids looked cool in their pre-distressed jeans. That’s this album. The songs aren’t quite so under water on headphones, but it stands out on the old fashioned speakers. MGMT would be Neon Indian if MGMT weren’t completely manufactured shitheads.

Gone Forever-Raveonettes

Denmark’s Raveonettes hit their fave influences again on their latest In and Out of Control (Jesus and Mary Chain, Stereolab, girl group sound) but what do I care, that is a recipe for my heart’s desire. I think this is the wormiest track in its “this is the end” refrain for getting into your head. A very listenable album, with many tracks much more retro than this, but they all work because it is clear the bad are having such a good time doing what they do.

Vacationing People – Foreign Born

So about a month or so ago, I decided to make a fairly short list of bands whose names I kept hearing/reading, whether it be from friends, or on Pitchfork, or whatever. I have a Rhapsody subscription, so the plan was to start listening to those bands to see if there was stuff out there that I was missing. I still have a few to get to, but the list includes things like Dirty Projectors, Phoenix, Passion Pit, etc.

So far, the band that scores the highest on the “how much I like them vs. how much buzz I’ve heard” scale is Foreign Born (note that I also love Phoenix and Dirty Projectors, but they get a lot more pub). This is the third track off their latest album Person to Person. They’re like a more musically polished version of the Broken West, who I’ve discussed here before. So far this is my favorite song off this album. Unfortunately, this is the best version of this song on Youtube, but I’d suggest going to their myspace page and checking out the studio version as well, which is excellent.

I Knew-Lightning Dust

Lightning Dust has some members from the Pink Mountaintops/Black Mountain collective that are very beloved in these parts. Once this one gets going I can’t help but think of an 80’s movie montage where the characters implement their plan or enjoy a day of hijinks compressed into 2.5 minutes.

This is from their latest Infinite Light.