Posts tagged ‘Indie’
LOCALLY GROWN: It’s not often I get to plug a local Iowa band. Des Moines’ own Cashes Rivers has a new self-titled record coming out October 26, 2010 and I’ve got a single here for you. Last year, the band signed with Aqui Estamos Records, after releasing a debut EP, “The Trees Will Clap For Us”. Lead singer Matthew Garcia received some help from Brandon Darner, a member of one of Iowa’s most well-known bands, The Envy Corps, in creating the sound for the new record. The single, “Adrift”, opens slowly like a folk song, but sprawls with full-on brass, before exploding with slicing guitar and a wall of noise rock. It’s a fuller sound, bigger than just a guy and his guitar. Be on the lookout for the upcoming album. The current band lineup is singer-songwriter Matthew Garcia; Dirk Newton, drums; Kyle Baas, bass; and Lucas Welchans on guitar. — David D. Robbins Jr.
ON THE RUN: Los Angeles’ Downtown/Union play music without a fuss. “Keep the Engines Running” is the fifth track off their 2010 August release, “Astral Turf”. It’s garage rock about leaving suburbia and heading into the city for a good time, “I don’t wanna go home / I just wanna stay out late / Until the sun comes up, and then its over.” It’s a highly anthemic track about staying out all night, always being on the go, and waking up the next day hungry and looking to the future through blurry eyes. Band members are Bo Bory, Jeff Electric, Adam Bomb and Johnny Seasons. “Astral Turf” EP is available in on 180-gram vinyl or on itunes through Echo Park’s Jaxart Records. — David D. Robbins Jr.
HAPPINESS IS A LIT FUSE: The Powder Kegs’ new 5-song EP “Empty Side” (2010) is decidedly pop-based, but not in the way you might think. It overflows with Beatlesesque melodies, and soft phrasings. Lyrically, on a track like “Shake Me Down”, it’s easy to see John Lennon singing: “Your world is mapped out on a grid / Where avenues grow long and sidewalks never end / And every place you try to go / You find out that you’ve been there many time before.”
… article continues, mp3
FREE EPIC WORK: Net-label EardrumsPop just finished up with its fourth compilation-project — entitled “Between the Waves”. The idea behind the massive project is bringing together one band with another to see what kind of music they can create together. “Between the Waves” is a 3-disc, 40-song affair featuring musicians you may not know, but may come to love. So, if you do the math, that’s 40 songs and two bands or musicians for each, taking the total number of musicians you can hear to a whopping eighty. Here are just a few of the artists: Butcher the Bar, Tiny Ruins, Cineplexx, Solander, we are soldiers we have guns, and even the lovely Sharon Van Etten. EardrumsPop describes, on its website, a focus on “warm and melodic music of all kinds”. That’s a pretty accurate description of the project as well. The songs range from the Aimee Mann-like twee melodies of “Swim Lessons” (Boca Chica/Lohio), to the Simon & Garfunkel-like sounds of “Olafachada” by Ola Innset, My Little Pony and bFachada — with really pretty harmonies over the top of a looped squelching sound and undulating guitar. There are also songs like “Baffin Island” by The Very Most and The Hermit Crabs, that sounds like the carefree sunny-summer haze of Saint Etienne. Putting two artists together can often result in something quite unique, with differing visions. It leads to pretty harmonizing, duets, and overlapping verses. Some of the bands have even creatively re-named themselves for the collaborations. All three albums from the project are available for free download, including an informative 61-page booklet and full tracklisting. The label says it’s offering everything for free in the hope you find musicians you like, go to their websites, and buy their albums and other merchandise. This is a great idea, that must have taken a considerable amount of time and planning. Take advantage of it, and you may find a musician you love. Below is one track from each disc. Van Etten and Marie-Claire Balabanian have made a true Siren’s song. – Words by David D. Robbins Jr.
NEW TRACK: Blur released their first single in seven years, “Fool’s Day”, in conjunction with Record Store Day on April 17th, 2010. The band released it as a limited edition one-sided 7-inch vinyl single through Parlophone Records. “Fool’s Day” is the first song the entire group of Blur have recorded together since their 2003 album “Think Tank”. A thousand copies were pressed but sold out immediately. The band put the song up for download at the Blur official webpage for free, in order to avoid poor-quality illegal downloads. You can get the song by simply entering your e-mail address. You’ll find Blur in good form, with guitarist Graham Coxon and bassist Alex James weaving together a warm, swaying rhythm to back Damon Albarn’s comfortable Brit-slacker delivery. (Highlight is the 2:35 mark — the band unleashing a beautiful groove.) This song isn’t the next “Country House”, “Parklife”, “Charmless Man” or “Bugman” — but it’s clear the band didn’t mean it to be. In fact, the song’s throwaway, carefree nature is its appeal. It’s a 3-minute-plus track to whet the whistle. “Fool’s Day” makes fans hope the band can get along just long enough to create more music. – Words and art by David D. Robbins Jr.
There’s so much emotion devoted to the process of making or listening to great music — but even more-so when an artist dies young. For good reason, Elliott Smith’s fans are as religiously devoted to his music as the fans of Jeff Buckley and Kurt Cobain are to theirs. An album like “Roman Candle”, which Smith recorded in his basement while his girlfriend was trying to sleep, feels so intimate — almost as if the music is being played only for you. Much like a candle, the nine songs on Smith’s first solo record, are meant for private and introspective moments. You can feel Smith’s softness of touch, his elegant sense of melody, the mellow melancholic intensity, his dark sense of humor and his withdrawn nature that still found a need to create and be heard. Many early Smith listeners feel a kinship with other fans for having all fallen in love with the Portland singer-songwriter before his death made his name a little better known. Some may think of that as indie elitism, to stake a first claim to an artist, but there’s something to be said for the bond that forms among fans that know other fans have been invested in the long haul as much as they have. They know the history of the man and the music. They have reveled in every turn of phrase. In short, the music has become inseparable from their lives.
… article continues, mp3s
A SEARCH FOR INFINITY: Secret Mountains’ debut EP begins with white noise that sounds halfway between the din wash of machines and the ocean’s dull roar. Morning bird chirps join in, then a soft drum brush, a drowsy electric guitar and the spacey cooing of lead singer Kelly Laughlin. It’s the building of atmosphere in a song seemingly without time. Before you get your head around what is happening, the first track “Kaddish” (also the name of the album) transitions without a break into the second song “Gate Gate Paragate”. Laughlin sings the phrase, “Yes, yes, it’s happening again / We have seen, the end.” A chorus kicks in after her verses: “Oh no, it’s happening again / It’s love, love, love, now and then.” Musical elements are added piece-by-piece, forming gently like some otherworldly slice of intricate architecture. Sounds explode into the ether with bass drum, a wall of guitar, and smashing cymbals that reach for the heavens before closing with the harmonic hush of traditional folk. This isn’t a reviewer’s hyperbole. It’s an amazing piece of music. All five tracks blend into one. A song like “Gate Gate Paragate” needs “Countries”. These five pieces dream into each other, not just musically, but spiritually. In “Countries”, Laughlin sings these beautiful lines draped in the prettiest vocal melodies you’ll hear: “So, I built the eighth wonder of the world / And I watched it burn, burn, burn … / We watched it burn, burn, burn.” (Listen below from the 4:20 mark and on. It’s stunning. A lesson for singers on how to elicit emotion through intonation and vocal phrasing.) Secret Mountains don’t tell linear stories with their lyrics. Their songs are littered with phrases and shadowy aphorisms that enthrall and haunt like deep space – entering the mind like mantras of pure pathos: “What have I done? What have I done?” It’s a shame to offer up one MP3 from this album, when in truth, the record is more like a single meditative opera than five separate pieces. But there’s an easy remedy: Go to this Baltimore-based band’s website and listen. They’re releasing their album via Fall Records (the home of The Antlers, Page France and Shelly Blake) for whatever price you’re willing to pay. “Kaddish” is the beginning of something wonderful. It’s the soundtrack to the end of the world and the beginning of a new love. One of the best albums of 2010. — Words by David D. Robbins Jr.