Posts Tagged ‘ Indie ’

Silkworm – Firewater

Silkworm – Firewater

16 songs, 59 minutes long

Silkworm was an indie rock group signed to either Matador or Touch & Go Records from 1987 to 2005. This review would be hard to do with out comparing this band to Pavement. They were around in a similar scene during the same time period and it is hard to miss the similarities, but Silkworm is an amazing band that stands out in a sea of crappy 90 rock groups and deserves just as much attention as Pavement. Firewater came out in 1996 and is my favorite of the large Silkworm catalog. Firewater has the basic lo-fi 90’s indie rock aesthetic, but it also has some of the best musicianship of any group from that era. In between all the lo-fi noise emerges blistering guitar riffs, amazing long solos, and catchy yet meaningful lyrics. To me an album like this is rock at its finest and every time I listen to it I only wish i was old enough when this band and scene was active to have gotten in to it.

Firewater at Amazon

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West Indian Girl – West Indian Girl

West Indian Girl – West Indian Girl

11 songs, 45.6 minutes long

Faithful readers may have noticed that I’ve been on something of a psychedelic rock stint, and I have. West Indian Girl is the latest in that trend, but very different from The Besnard Lakes or Tame Impala. The first album from a band of the same name, released in 2004, the biggest difference is that both The Besnard Lakes and Tame Impala employ a large amount of distortion in their sound; West Indian Girl has a very clean sound. That being said, all three deserve the term ‘psychedelic rock,’ especially when referring to the structure of songs and layering of instruments. West Indian Girl has a more American sound than many psychedelic rock bands, complete with guitar solos and the album opening with a harmonica. This is especially true since the “greats” of psychedelic rock (namely The Beatles and Pink Floyd) are Brits, and it’s interesting to hear an album which is almost reminiscent of the American West fall well into the psychedelic genre. In short: West Indian Girl isn’t at all what I was expecting when I put it on, but it was quite a pleasant surprise. I’m excited to listen to their sophomore release, 4th and Wall, released in 2007, which I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to  just yet.

West Indian Girl at Amazon.

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Fleeting Joys – Occult Radiance

Fleeting Joys – Occult Radiance

11 songs, 46 minutes long

Occult Radiance is the the second release (2009) by Fleeting Joys, a promising new shoegaze band, which is something to be said for a genre that hasn’t had much new material since the mid-nineties. Their first album, Despondent Transponder sounded like a direct sequel to My Bloody Valentine’s essential, groundbreaking, and final release Loveless. A great album in its own right, it lacked innovation, especially since My Bloody Valentine hasn’t put out an album in so long, one would expect a new group picking up the shoegaze banner to innovate and/or find their own sound. This drawback is exactly why Occult Radiance is, in my opinion, a much stronger release. Occult Radiance still has the shoegaze essentials: almost-whispered vocals awash in noise, and beautiful guitar-effect landscapes, but Occult Radiance is more clearly organized than either Loveless or Despondent Transponder, and most importantly, is much darker. If you are a fan of My Bloody Valentine, do yourself a long-awaited favor and pick up a copy of Occult Radiance.

Amazon has this available as DRM-free mp3, but do yourself (and the band) a favor, and order this one directly from the band site so you have the full-quality CD.

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Sin Fang Bous – Clangour

Sin Fang Bous – Clangour

12 songs, 42 minutes long

Hailing from Reykjavik, Iceland, Sin Fang Bous’ (the solo project of Sindri Mar Sigfusson from the band Seabear) first album, Clangour, is a catchy and original Dream Pop album. The album has the distinguishing Icelandic feel similar Sigur Rós but with a much more Pop-esque and lively sound. This is an album that will be repeating in your head for days to come after just one listen. It doesn’t contain much of a synth sound like other dream pop bands; instead the album relies a lot more on guitars, violins, and pianos (along with electronic effects) to produce a fairly upbeat (though not generally dance worthy) and joyful album. Not many dream pop or indie pop bands catch my attention like this album has. It stands out from bands with similar tags for reasons that are hard to put into words. It is an album that has to be listened to in order to hear why it’s so good; I can’t imagine any review doing this album justice.

Clangour at Amazon

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Cold War Kids – Robbers and Cowards

Cold War Kids –  Robbers and Cowards

12 songs, 52.9 minutes long

There are some albums that grab you right from the get-go and it’s obvious why the artist has the following that they do, but Robbers and Cowards is not one of those albums. I had to listen to it a few times before I understood what the artist was doing, but once I did, I fell in love with this album. It’s not very catchy, and the singer’s voice isn’t sultry or beautiful. If anything, the singing is in a style more akin to field hollering than actually singing, but the heart and soul of this album is spread across every note, with each peak and trough of sound dripping with emotion. Robbers and Cowards isn’t the most recent Cold War Kids album, and I like Loyalty to Loyalty quite a bit, but this is the one I recommend because it’s the one that got me hooked. While the album as a  whole is a fantastic piece of work, the songs Saint John and Hospital Beds stand out as two masterpieces, and if I was introducing Cold War Kids to an unsure listener, those are the two I’d play for them. Cold War Kids have a genre-defying sound, and although most would simply classify them as another indie rock band, doing such doesn’t do them justice, and you’ll just have to give them a listen to hear what I mean.

Robbers and Cowards is available on Amazon.

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Flotation Toy Warning – Bluffer’s Guide to the Flight Deck

Flotation Toy Warning – Bluffer’s Guide to the Flight Deck

10 songs, 72 minutes long

Bluffer’s Guide to the Flight Deck is one of my most recent discoveries, even though it was released back in 2005. The band, Flotation Toy Warning, made this single release and then vanished from the face of the earth, although their last.fm page hints at the possibility of a new album coming out this year. All I can say about that possibility is that I hope it’s true. Bluffer’s Guide to the Flight Deck sounds like something Sigur Rós might have written if they had Beirut as their singer, wrote lyrics in English, and played the theremin. The album sounds familiar, even though it’s not, and it is haunting and beautiful, full of strings and operatic vocals. Frankly, I would have loved this album without it, but when I first heard the theremin kick in halfway through the album, I was completely sold. Bluffer’s Guide to the Flight Deck is a hidden gem. This is an album of unsung genius, and a must-listen.

Bluffer’s Guide to the Flight Deck is available on Amazon.

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Black Moth Super Rainbow – Eating Us

Black Moth Super Rainbow – Eating Us

12 songs, 35.8 minutes long

Black Moth Super Rainbow’s most recent effort, Eating Us is, in my opinion, their strongest yet. As soon as the soft vocoded voice begins to sing on the first track, Born on a Day the Sun Didn’t Rise, you’re hooked, and you know you’re in for a weird ride. Despite the vocals being distorted, phrases are audible from time to time, and they’re catchy enough to get stuck in your head but complicated and psychedelic enough to be interesting to listen to over and over, and not just to get the song out of your head. The synthesizers all sound fat and analog; there’s no glitch sound to be found here. Eating Us is a soft album comprised of one good sound after another, with the vocoded vocals adding to the weird elusiveness of the frontman, an artist known only as “Tobacco.” BMSR is one of those groups that isn’t doing anything entirely experimental; the album is not noisy and is structured in a traditional way. Even my parents commented that although weird, they didn’t mind it when I put Eating Us on in the car. That being said, BMSR does what they do very well, and the album is excellent from start to finish.

Eating Us can be found on Amazon.

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