Tag Archives: indie rock

New Music: “Meditate” – The Slovaks

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The Slovaks’ latest single “Meditate” is a fiery burst of garage rock. It’s loud, brash and unapologetically so. Basically, a sound that is a direct contrast to the definition of the word meditate. It’s the kind of song you’ll want to blast as loud as you can.  This is the sound of a band who works best when creating a trashy and wonderful noise.

The Manchester’s band’s name is a homage to original Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Hillel Slovak who along with the Velvet Underground are a major influence.

Check out “Meditate” and check the band out here.

New Music: “Sapiosexual” – Blak Emoji

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Blak Emoji is the latest project from New York musician and pILLOW tHEORY frontman Kelsey Warren. For the studio incarnation, Warren plays all instruments himself, but will include a full band for live shows. “Sapiosexual”, the first released song from Blak Emoji is a bit of a departure from Warren’s day job with its industrial undertones. Make no mistake though, as grinding as “Sapiosexual” is, it still flat out rocks. Loud guitar riff bursts over the electronic rhythms, giving Warren plenty of room to sing some playful lyrics that prove he’s just as interested in his partner’s brain just as much as physical attraction. “I love your brain as much as I love your ass,” He declares.

Blak Emoji’s premiere show will take place tonight at Piano’s in New York City. For more info on Blak Emoji check them out here and listen to “Sapiosexual” below.

 

Song of the Day: “Wake Up” – Arcade Fire

When Arcade Fire’s Funeral came out at the end of 2004, I remember reading glowing reviews of the album and wondering if it would actually live up to the hype. As I would later find out, it more than did. Funeral is probably still the best thing the band has ever done, in part because it seemed so out of left field in 2004 with its mix of indie rock sensibilities and sweeping anthems. It was art-rock infused with U2-style anthems. Coldplay may have asked David Bowie to perform on a track with them, but it was Arcade Fire who ended up sharing the stage with the famed rocker, in what would be one of his last public performances.

At the center of it all, is the majestic “Wake Up”. The song – and the band itself for that matter – was given a huge exposure by U2, who used the song as their entrance song on their 2005 Vertigo Tour. I remember scrolling through U2 fan forums where posters went nuts over the song and wondering who the hell it was.

It’s funny, because the song starts out in a very conventional way: a big and yet very basic guitar riff. But it immediately pulls you in. By the time the band hits the second chorus with every band member singing in unison, the song is an instant classic. But then something strange happens. You’re expecting a big crescendo. But the band doesn’t do that and instead opts for a slightly jazzy breakdown at the pivotal moment. Things start to build back up again after a minute, but just when you think they’re about to explode, Win Butler shouts, “You better look out below!” and the whole thing is over.

Even if Arcade Fire never recorded another album, Funeral would still be remembered as one of the best albums of the early 2000’s.

New Music: “Alpha & Omega” – Vivid Dreams

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New York rockers Vivid Dreams have recently released their latest single, “Alpha & Omega”.  The post-punk inspired track precedes the release of the band’s upcoming EP, Terror in the Rays.

With nods to Shoe-gaze and 90’s Alternative, “Alpha & Omega” is as energetic as it is hazy. Over an energetic rhythm section, the moody guitars and off-kilter vocals give the song a nice contrast. It’s the sonic equivalent of a night winding down but still going strong: the remaining guests still want to party even though everybody knows they should probably go to sleep.

If “Alpha & Omega” is any indication, Terror in the Rays should be an intriguing listen.

Check it out below:

For more info on Vivid Dreams, check out their web-site.

 

New Music: “Electric Parlor” – Electric Parlor

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“Don’t you know I’m a whiskey mama,” Electric Parlour lead singer Monique Alvarez wails in the first few seconds of the band’s eponymous new album.  From the sound of the crunching guitars, boogie rhythms and 70’s rock vibe, it’s not hard to think that whiskey must have been flowing when Electric Parlour cut this album.

Electric Parlour’s music – fat riffs, bluesy vocals and tight rhythms – harken back to the late ’60’s and early ’70s. Even the band’s imagery – psychedelic fonts and shades of purple – recall the heydays of Height Ashbury. But Electric Parlour are louder than say, the Grateful Dead, but their approach recalls the wild abandon of Big Brother and the Holding Company. It’s easy to suggest that Alvarez recalls Joplin – and that’s certainly an influence – but it also does her a disservice. She can more than hold her own, and she’s in full force on such tracks as the riff-heavy “Frisco High Line”, the epic “Freedom Ride” and the slow-burn of “Bitter”.

Electric Parlor’s music can be taken a couple of different ways: are they merely re-treading old-school rock and roll?  Or, has this type of style become so passé among indie bands, that it now seems fresh and invigorating? That, of course remains to be seen, but it’s still nice to hear a band that isn’t bucking any tread and releasing some music with some grit, and maybe some shots of whiskey in the process.

Take a listen to “Frisco High Line” below:

For more info on Electric Parlor, check out their web-site.

Review: “Vaudevellia!” – Kiravell

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Kiravell’s Vaudevillia! is an exercise in genre-busting and experimentation. It’s the sound of a a musical traveler who shoves all of her ideas and influences – jazz, indie rock, world music, elements of hip-hop – so much into Vaudevillia! that the record is practically At bursting at the seems with originality.

At times, Vaudevillia! reminds me of a bit of M.I.A.’s early work. Not so much in terms of sound, but in execution, attitude and a general willingness to try anything. Whereas, M.I.A. used Hip Hop and Electronica as her template while incorporating different sounds, Kiravell uses Jazz piano as a starting point.  Almost all of the songs here are based around Kiravell’s haunting piano melodies, but the song structures and sound collages are hardly traditional.  There are also hints of Anti-Folk hero Regina Spektor too.

Opener “Pache Mama” begins the set with Kiravell’s stream of consciousness spoken words over a soft piano which is given a harder edge with a hip-hop inspired beat behind it. Mid-way through the song, the tempo changes and an instrumental break-down appears showcasing Kiravell’s awesome piano skills. “Veiled Lady” is slightly uncomfortable (in a good way) due its use of strings, dense production and shifting dynamics.

Those tensions and unconventional song structures make Vaudevillia! a compelling listen. Each subsequent experience is new, bringing out various sounds and ideas that you might not have noticed previously. That’s the sign of a good record and a good artist.

On the other hand, because of that Vaudevillia! is not a particularly easy listen. This is not something you put on in the background (nor should you, come to think of it.)  It demands you to know a little bit more about music and music theory to truly “get” it. If you’re up for the challenge and are well-versed in various genres of music, then you’ll find Vaudevillia! to be a rewarding listen.

For more info on Kiravell, visit her Facebook page.

Review: “House of Words” – Aurian Haller Band

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The Aurian Haller Band might hail from Quebec, but the music found on House of Words is full of American sounds: Jazz, Americana, Alt-Country and Folk. Like Neil Young and (most members of) The Band, Haller’s takes most of his inspiration from the land below him. There at times when he references his homeland, by singing in French, but that seems more like a nod to fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen than anything else.

On paper, the different sounds found on House of Words might seem like they’d be out of place together. But Haller makes sure that House of Words blends all of these sounds together seamlessly. In part, it might be the dense production that gives a feeling of Autumn some of House of Words its focus or declaration of intent. Its stripped down enough so that every instrument can be heard perfectly, but also dense enough to give the songs a melancholic mood.

Together with Haller’s craft at the forefront, the Jazz-inspired “Sister Moon” sits comfortably next to the Alt-Country vibe of “And Still”.  Strange as it may seem, the guitar solo found on “And Still” feels just as organic as the sliding piano, soft bass and harmonica that is the backbone of “Sister Moon”.  “Do Me a Favour” might be the set’s most rollicking number, but the song’s harmonies and organ make it clear, that it’s really just a country-song in disguise.

There’s an easy rhythm to be found here, and as tightly constructed as the songs are, Haller still gives the songs plenty of room to breathe and live. Even when songs of the songs break free for several bars, it’s never aimless. The overall effect just heightens the mood and atmosphere.

House of Words is probably best listened to on a cool evening with a neat glass of whiskey in hand. The individual songs sound good, but together as a piece House of Words is a rare breed in the digital era: a fully realized album.

Check out the video for “L’Amoure et Ses Couteaux” below:

 

New Music: “Hide in Vermont (Find You in Maine)” – Archer Brady & The All Americans

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Indie singer-songwriter Archer Brady (who goes under the moniker Archer Brady & The All Americans) combines elements of the past and the future on his latest single “Hide in Vermont (Find You in Maine)”.  At its heart, “Hide In Vermont” is a sentimental acoustic ballad, with a pop audience in mind. To achieve the pop cross-over, Brady coats his song in electronic blurbs and covers his voice in Auto-Tune.  The two different approaches together make for an interesting combination.

“Hide in Vermont (Find You in Maine)” can be found on Archer Brady & The All Americans newest release, Truck & Guns due out later this summer.

 

 

New Music: “Recollection Room” – Kate Copeland

 

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Singer-songwriter Kate Copeland’s latest release, Recollection Room is a kaleidoscope of sonic colors and flourishes. These textures aren’t just layers, but rather enhancements to the songs and the arrangements. They make the songs sound big – like a voice from the top of the mountain – her vision is still rooted firmly in the ground.

Recollection Room is the kind of record that uses 21st century technology to conjure up the feelings of nature. The electronic beats, loops and samples are clearly a product of the age when computers can be made to create music, but Copeland uses this technology more like a brush on canvas rather than going for the sounds of a dystopian society. Copeland’s sweet, soft voice drives this point home even further.

Opener “A Simple Word” might be the best example of this. Copeland’s voice is covered in effects that make it sound distant and spiritual. In a way, it’s almost like a siren’s song. Even the songs the more traditional sounding songs like “My Cruel Tongue” still come off like an Impressionistic painting put to music.

Recollection Room is a very strong set of songs, because Copeland has a singular vision that is carried out throughout the entire record. Recollection Room could be great for background music or reading, but it shouldn’t be regulated to that. Otherwise, that would be an injustice to Copeland’s unique style.

Check out the video for “Breaking” below:

 

Song of the Day: “Someday” – The Strokes

 

The Strokes are hardly an original band, but damn if they didn’t sound fresh and exciting on their debut, Is This It. Even fourteen years after its release, it still sounds incredibly cool.

Besides good songwriting, perhaps The Strokes greatest strength is the way that guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr play off each other. Throughout Is This It, they constantly play against each other, one tends to favor more melodic and slower rhythms while the other aggressively plays beneath. This unique approach creates an interesting tension in Julian Casablancas’ proto-Hipster songs. (I say proto-Hipster, because I’m almost certain that modern Hipster-dom can be traced direct to the success of Is This It.)

This sound is most evident on the album’s centerpiece, “Someday”, album’s sole ballad. Fittingly, Hammond and Casablancas both take a bit of a somber approach. But neither Valensi nor drummer Fabrizio Moretti are having any of it. Valensi’s dirty riff pulls the rug out from underneath the slick surface while Morretti pounds away. The result is one the best songs on an album that is already full of great songs.