Posts Tagged ‘Indie’
By: Caitlin Hoffman
This is what I love about warm weather. Once that sun peaks shyly from his cloudy bunk, the artists come out to play. You can find them busking outside of stores and in between street corners, blowing magic on the breeze. Most are forgettable after the next block, but some days you find a few who beget a glow that’s nothing short of effervescent.
Some weekends ago I was lucky enough to have the Great North Blues Band play feet away from me while I worked. Not only did they make the time fly, deeming our in-store speakers moot, but every customer was giddy from the lush sounds outside. Watching the reaction of passersby was a testament to the band’s crowd appeal. People were literally two-stepping as they walked down the street, inspired into vitality by the surprisingly upbeat blues.
I was so strung out by their cool, jazzy melodies I had to say hello. I don’t claim an education in jazz, rhythm and blues, but even a virtual neophyte like me can tell when a group’s got gumption.
Pleasingly, all such charm continues on their recording. Their self-titled release revels in classic blues roots while expanding the harmony with wicked horns and keyboards. Their songs exude an old-time maturity via modern recording. Voodoo Woman is an opium trip; No Questions makes relational squabbles sexy; Pickin’ From Papa’s Purse is soaked in soul. Altogether, this album serves up a whopping portion of resonance.
Maybe this is an affect that comes with all purveyors of this genre, but they play with such a richness you can’t help but feel the history behind the music.
Don’t have the money to build a time machine? Pop the Great North Blues Band into your player. You’ll be instantly transported.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
Monks of Mellonwah are back, and they’ve dived deeper than ever.
Don’t get me wrong: Neurogenesis was a wonderful second EP, a delightful sampling of what was to come. With their full-length album still underway, these creative geniuses couldn’t help but bequeath us with another experimental sunspot, this time in the form of a three-piece single (or three track EP, if you prefer). This latest composition is raging with emotion and weighty with haunting, melodic symphony.
Sky and The Dark Night offers layer upon layer of transcendent psychology. I so love it when music compels the listener to explore themselves. It’s amazing that human creation can be that powerful.
This awe-inspiring escapade boasts a depth and darkness their last EP had only begun to produce. From the first forty seconds onward, you’re frozen by the resounding, gothic tone. Each note births goosebumps on exposed skin, alive with angst, numbing with extremity. All three parts easily flow into each other, making you unsure where one ends and the other begins. This leaves you wondering, rendered helpless to a tidal wave of the brain.
Joe de la Hoyde (the guitarist/backing vocalist) speaks of what inspired this release:
“We are each riddled by our own curses and battle our own demons. Sky And The Dark Night, to me, is the journey from the beginning of our battles to their fruitless ends; the ups and downs, the triumphs and failures. It is the undying hope that somewhere along the way, we might find ourselves.”
By: Rob Brayl
ROB BRAYL: First things first, you’ve really surprised me with the direction of your new single Love War. I’m hooked! I love that you’ve broken the mold of American Idol. Was it always your intention to steer towards electronic music?
ANOOP DESAI: Not consciously, no. It was really a process of musical evolution for me. Going to shows, being around music as a professional, advancing as a writer, etc. It was an organic process for me, just trying to find my voice within the genre for the past three years. People may have a memory of me from “Idol” that seems different from the new sound, but it’s really just filling a niche in EDM that I felt was there for the taking. My rule when making this latest record was that I could only make music that I personally liked. It was a decision that seems to have led to a wider appreciation of my music, which I’m thrilled about.
RB: The video treatment for the song is incredible. I’m really impressed with everything your doing at the moment. Can you tell us a little about the visuals in the clip? (I’ve noticed some horses and country scenes which I think are cool, meshing with your North Carolina upbringing.)
AD: We filmed parts of the video in the North Georgia mountains, parts of it on a white backdrop with cool lighting, and of course there’s the military footage in there. It’s meant to be jarring but also visually clear. And you sort of hinted at it, the idea is that the song is referencing a past gone by while really trying to express the reality that struggle still plays in everyday life. Essentially, no one comes out unscathed from a Love War.
RB: What artists have you been inspired by with regards to this new sound/style?
AD: This answer really changes weekly for me, but I think at the time I was writing Love War I was listening to a lot of Bassnectar, The Weeknd, the first Ellie Goulding record, and because I was a recent Atlanta immigrant, LOTS of hip hop. I’m in a space right now where I’m really into James Blake, Kishi Bashi, Purity Ring, Active Child, M83, etc. (and still a lot of hip hop), so we’ll see how that affects the next batch of stuff I’m working on.
RB: You must be stoked about your debut album? Any idea/timeframe as to when it might drop?
AD: So stoked. I think I owe it to myself and my fans to make sure that it has everything behind it that it deserves, so there’s of course a financial and promotional element there that we need to set up when it’s done. We’re already done with half of it, and I’m personally aiming for late this year or early next year. In the meantime, I’m releasing a new remix package of Love War in June.
RB: Like most girls and soccer moms, I loved you on American Idol! [Laughs] What I don’t love is hearing that you experienced some racism after the show. That sh*t really bothers me. But major kudos to you for being able to be vulnerable and real and open about it. I think that type of honesty encourages change.
AD: Thanks. It’s nothing new, although it was new to me at the time. I don’t think it’s headline news that there are dumb people in the world, but it’s always weird when that kind of stuff is directed at you. I’m fully aware that I don’t get as much of that stuff as a lot of other people. As messed up as it is, sometimes people have to be peer pressured into acceptance. (I hate the word “tolerance”.) Hopefully, the kind of mainstream success I am working towards can be part of that pressure.
RB: Do you feel like your experience on the show pushed you in a way to break away from the more safer styles/genres the show seems to embrace/push winners towards? Meaning, there’s not many artists from the show who are doing what you’re doing right now, which is making really rad electro music!
AD: In a way… I tried to do the “safe” thing at first and it just didn’t really work for me. On a critical and personal level. Like I said earlier, my rule for the new sound was that I had to like everything that I was putting out there. I didn’t have that rule before, and I think it showed. At first, I pushed myself towards that bubblegum ideal because I felt like that was what my audience wanted. Whether that was smart or just pandering, I don’t know, but it definitely didn’t get me where I wanted to go. As I’ve begun to write more and really focus on the craft above anything else, I’ve evolved as a musician and as a fan of music. And, of course, that will never stop.
RB: This is a staple in questions I ask artists: What’s a few of your current guilty pleasures? Music or non?
AD: The new will.i.am album, bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts, and peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
RB: Last album you purchased.
AD: James Blake – Overgrown. It’s just complete mastery. I went to his show at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC the other night and it was literally awesome. Although I’m also a fan of the new Charli XCX, Django Django, and Major Lazer records.
RB: Are you planning on touring with the upcoming album release?
AD: This fall, but no dates are set in stone yet.
RB: Finally, I wanted to say that BiggerThanBeyonce focuses a lot of energy spotlighting incredible indie artists like yourself. Although difficult at times, do you feel a sense of personal triumph and victory being free to make the music you love?
AD: Of course! It is difficult at times, but that’s going to make what’s ahead even sweeter.
By: Maria Ciezak
MARIA CIEZAK: For those who may not be familiar with The Neighbourhood, can you provide us with a brief backstory?
THE NEIGHBOURHOOD: Growing up in Thousand Oaks (ish), it was easy for kids who played music/in bands to meet. We all met a couple years ago & decided to try & make music with our best friends. Luckily, we all trust each other as musicians & everyone is bringing something unique to the table. It’s a good feeling. We made some songs, put them out, made some videos, put them out, toured around a bunch & here we are.
MC: Is there any specific meaning to the change in spelling of the band name?
NBHD: Initially it was only because the other spelling was taken. That being said, I think it is one of the best things to happen to our band, we feel it fits us so much better.
MC: Did you always know you wanted to make music?
NBHD: It’s always been undeniable. It was easy to get discouraged about it, though. It took meeting the guys in this band for me to not give up.
MC: Sweater Weather in my opinion is one of the best songs I have heard in quite some time. How does it feel to be riding the wave of such massive success on this track?
NBHD: We are very humbled by the love. It’s a great feeling when people like your songs. Hearing ourselves on the radio is pretty insane.
MC: So let’s talk about the album I Love You. For those who don’t have it yet, is there somewhat of a theme here?
NBHD: Definitely. I think a lot of the songs have to do with love, and not necessarily exclusively a person/person love, and not exclusively positive or negative.
MC: Some of my favorite tracks are Let It Go and Flawless. The whole album is extremely refreshing. Is there a specific track that the crowd reacts to most?
NBHD: People seemed to catch on to Afraid before the album was even out. I think that song definitely resonates with people.
MC: I see you guys are on the road through the end of July. What is your favorite part about being on tour? Any crazy stories?
NBHD: Playing shows (now exclusively headline shows) in places so far from home and selling them out is a great feeling. Um, crazy stories… I won’t get into too much detail, but we recently broke a window playing Frisbee. Accidentally. [Laughs]
MC: How about venues? Any cities you are most excited about?
NBHD: The coasts are always fun. California & New York are undeniable. I’m excited to go back to Canada as well.
MC: There are so many young bands out there trying to be a part of the movement. How do you separate yourselves and keep your sound and style original?
NBHD: We aren’t a band. We are a unit… a group. We have this plan for all of the content that we put out. We don’t just put out songs. We put out content (music, videos, artwork, etc.). Everything is thought out & everything is done in-house by our team.
MC: I wouldn’t really classify The Neighbourhood into a specific genre of music. Would you agree?
NBHD: It just feels so forced to try and put it into anything too specific.
MC: So what is next after the tour? Back to recording?
NBHD: We should have some new music out relatively soon, actually…
MC: I feel you guys are well on your way, and wish you the utmost success. Any advice for bands starting out and our readers at home?
NBHD: Give it 100%. If you have a backup plan, you aren’t giving it 100%.
By: Maria Ciezak
There is a new buzz in the music world that goes by the name of Social Club. Fresh off of SXSW, and with a brand new album (Gamma Rays) under their belt, they are destined for greatness. I recently had the opportunity to chat with the band about their story, music, touring, and more. They are artists on the rise, so be sure to join the movement.
MARIA CIEZAK: For those who are unfamiliar with Social Club, can you provide a brief back story?
SOCIAL CLUB: Well, it all started a little over two years ago, when lead singer/guitarist John Levan and bass player James Spratley left a local hip hop band to start their own project. They started going to all the local open mic nights, and that is where they met drummer Jeffrey Litzman and keyboardist Thea Tochihara.
MC: Any crazy, inspirational story behind the name? I had to ask.
SC: [Laughs] Nothing really crazy. We felt the way we all came together to form the band, it was a very fitting name. We all have different backgrounds and personalities. We are bringing that all together to put out the best music we know how.
MC: How was the music scene growing up San Diego? Was there one?
SC: We actually didn’t grow up in San Diego. We are all transplants from different states. James is from Virginia Beach. Thea is from Denver, Colorado. John is from Charleston, WV. And Jeff is from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. The music scene in San Diego is awesome. And that is why we love playing venues like the Casbah, that has been around for a while.
MC: If you had to place your sound into a particular genre, could you?
SC: We really don’t like to. But I guess you force us to do so. We would say indie alternative pop rock. [Laughs]
MC: Tell us a little bit about your new album, Gamma Rays.
SC: Oh, we definitely shed a bunch of blood, sweat and tears over this album. [Laughs] Nah, it’s pretty much a feel-good album. We tried to stay true to ourselves and stuck with whatever came out, pretty much. We put all genres aside when it comes to writing music. And this album shows how our different backgrounds all came together.
MC: Now that age old question that I am always curious about, for I am the furthest thing from a musician: What comes first? The music or the lyrics?
SC: Definitely the music. We like to jam out at practice, just to see what comes out. And that is how a lot of our sounds came to be.
MC: What would you say you enjoy more? Studio time or live shows?
SC: Honestly, there is nothing better than live shows. You get to share the magnificent feeling of playing music to all your friends. And also it is great seeing their reaction to what you have created.
MC: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
SC: If we weren’t making music, we would be listening to it. Let’s be honest, there really isn’t anything else to do in life, right? [Laughs]
MC: You are absolutely right in that statement, hence what I am doing here!
SC: Dream collaboration. That is one of the toughest questions for us. Probably Muse or The Killers. Actually any bands, MCs or DJs that are good at their craft and want to join forces to rock the world. This is now an open invitation. [Laughs]
MC: What social outlet is best for fans to connect with you?
SC: The best way to connect with us is to come out to one of our shows, or you can visit www.SocialClubJams.com, where we have any social media outlet you are most comfortable with.
MC: Now that the record is successfully out (and I highly recommend everyone to pick one up), what’s next?
SC: Next we will be rocking as many shows as possible and promoting the album Gamma Rays. We also have some video ideas we are gearing up for. So keep an eye out.
MC: Describe Social Club in five words.
SC: Your next favorite band, hopefully.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
I’m grateful sites like Kickstarter exist. Were it not for generous backers, these gentle sounds would not be gracing my ears.
The Jinxes are poppy folk with extra fizz. An adorable couple (in both the romantic and creative sense), they are the two sole ingredients to a strangely satisfying recipe. Deanna’s voice reminds me of Kimya Dawson, while Kevin’s is more of a mellow Ed Sheeran. The resulting harmony is simple, stripped down and seemingly effortless.
Send Me A Sign is their first-ever release- a short/sweet EP package wrapped up in a summer breeze. In spite of its modest four-track stack, this compilation resounds with depth and flexibility. One minute you’re licking your lips from the saccharine sweetness, then next you’re teary-eyed.
It’s no wonder they got the support they required. This darling duo has a lot of heart and talent to share. They are without a doubt a wonderful soundtrack for lazing in the sun or falling in love.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
Slim Loris is here to mix the cloud with sun. An Americana indie band, they’ve pulled all the plugs on expectation. Instead of playing purveyor to chipper lyrics commonly associated with indie pop, they spike their performance with emotional sobriety. This does nothing to stop me from hitting repeat!
I’m glad I came to know them upon their second release, Future Echoes and Past Replays. You can learn a lot about a band from their second album. A follow-up delivery means they’ve had a chance to mellow down/grow up and garner a group identity. It’s when their true colours start to show.
Slim Loris’ shades are nothing short of striking. This Swedish band has a high musical IQ. With wisdom comes sadness, but I don’t begrudge them for that.
I like them. Those three words hardly do my feelings justice, but it’s all I’m left with! They give me rainy days overcast with rainbows, sad smiles, peaceful goodbyes, sweat from the earth and hugs from the heart.
If craving nutritious soul-food, press play immediately.
By: Rob Brayl
Hailing from Vancouver, indie rockers Said The Whale are bursting with addictive flare. Having already made a dent in their Canadian homeland, the band (who won a JUNO Award for New Group Of The Year in 2011) is now aiming to leave a mark on the US and filming their attempt along the way (with a documentary properly titled Winning America).
Although the goal is to win over American listeners, co-founder Tyler Bancroft’s main focus is keeping it real (via Consequence Of Sound): “This time I went into the writing process with a mindset of ‘F*** everything, I’m just going to write what makes me happy.’”
The track on focus is the super fresh I Love You, an electric jam that’s perfect for bobbin’ the skull with the windows rolled down. Just in time for summer…
Said The Whale’s I Love You EP drops June 18th.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
Louise Aubrie is the perfect blend for BTB! She has pop, indie and post-punk influence under her soft rock belt, culminating in a soulful, symphonic splash. Her look channels a vintage vibe, but I assure you her music is nothing but timely. It’s raw without being too rough, a true inspiration for anyone going through a hard time.
It’s the lyrics that hit me. Time Honoured Alibi (her 2013 album) is especially rife with poetic pains. Anyone could relate to the heartache of In Honour or the relational struggle in Keep It Coming. Her words are so fluid, anyone’s head could burn in commissary.
This isn’t just another chick with a guitar. Louise is a serious musician with the heart of a punk and soul of a poet, cut between tenacity and sensitivity. And her music has taken her across continents. She first began recording music in London only to relocate to New York where she soaked up the creative influence of the city, surrounding herself with other musicians.
Though she rocks the speakers by her lonesome, she’s been lucky to garner support from some mad powerhouses. Boz Boorer (long time musical director and co-writer for Morrissey) has brought Louise’s gleam to a shine, producing both of her albums and co-writing Where Are You.
And that’s the song I leave you with. Not because it was my favourite, but simply because the romantic angst therein is about as honest as an artist can get.
By: Maria Ciezak
iTunes has placed the spotlight this week on an artist by the name of Jake Bugg. I’m thrilled that his work is receiving attention, for he is the definition of a true musician. Single Lightning Bolt puts many artists on the charts to shame, showcasing raw talent.
His music style is very old-fashioned and vintage-sounding, which makes it even more intriguing for genuine music lovers like myself.
Take a listen to Lightning Bolt and judge for yourself.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
It’s a wonderful thing when people use music not only to express, but to connect.
Let me shoot you a hypothetical. Say you and your bestest buddy get arrested with charges of marijuana trafficking conspiracy, and you are both required by law not to contact each other. (I know it’s specific- bear with me!)
Your buddy’s in NY; you’re in UT. When you hear the news of his sentencing (30 months in prison), what do you do? Mope, moan, bitch to no one? Or do you find a way to support him without breaking the rules?
Rob Reinfurt of The Weekenders did just that. Rather than fighting against the system and getting himself in more trouble, he channelled all his feelings into the song Chin Up, hoping the heartfelt message would reach his friend Eric through the grapevine.
It did. And it caught my attention too.
The tone of the song isn’t typical for the band in question. The Weekenders merit a smoky-eyed blues rock thrum, reminding one of The Black Keys or a stoned Led Zeppelin set. Chin Up is even more low-tempo than their usual repertoire, but it still shoots ripples on my brain-lake. You can feel the pain of separation in the lyrics and rusty twang of the guitar, and that makes it legitimate.
Rob express his motivation for writing the song: “I wanted him to know we’re all thinking of him and shining light his way.”
By: Maria Ciezak
MARIA CIEZAK: For those who aren’t aware of The Mowgli’s, can you let us know a brief backstory?
MATT DI PANNI of THE MOWGLI’S: Most of us met growing up in Calabasas. Some of us have been friends since elementary school. Colin and Josh are from the Midwest and we were all lucky enough to cross paths with them a few years back.
MC: It’s rare to find a band with eight members. Does it ever get crowded on stage?
MDP: It’s always crowded on stage with just the band, and then we generally ask the crowd to join us on stage… I think of it as a big house party and everyone is hanging out in the kitchen.
MC: How was the music scene starting out in California? I am sure there are a lot of bands out there struggling to make it.
MDP: The California music scene seemed easily receptive to our sound. Most people in Southern California had grown up with bands like The Beach Boys or anything from the 60s love era, so it’s easy for our Love Rock to feel familiar to them. The same goes for Northern California because of the beatnik and love movements in the 60s & 70s.
Bands do struggle in LA, but there’s so much amazing music coming from the city. We do our best to help all of our friends and their bands because we want people to hear their music too.
MC: What would you say you enjoy more, recording or live performances?
MDP: Live performance. Feeling the room swell with sweat and people dancing is one of the most intense feelings.
MC: San Francisco is becoming a massive hit. Every time I hear this song I want too dance. How do you feel about the success it’s been getting?
MDP: Really excited. I’m just really happy that people are getting the chance to hear what we truly believe. People around the world are feeling our positivity and I hope it’s making them inherently better towards each other.
MC: I also love the video for this track. Where did the concept come from?
MDP: We met Justin Baldoni, the director of the video, and we went back and forth on so many ideas within his vision. Justin wanted to create this one singular movement of random acts of kindness between the band and strangers. We worked with a choreographer to make the video flow perfectly, step by step. We had always wanted to make a video where we were doing good for other people and Justin really helped us actualize the scenario.
MC: What music is on your iPod right now?
MDP: As I answer these questions I am listening to Hearts Alive by Mastodon, but I’m currently very into Dead Sara, Lissie, The 1975, Code Orange Kids, Burnt Books, and Explosions in the Sky.
MC: If you weren’t playing music, what would you be doing?
MDP: My other passion used to be video games, so I would probably be involved in that industry. I used to test video games before we started touring.
MC: You guys will be on the road this spring and I will be catching you in New York. Any venues you are looking forward to the most?
MDP: NYC (Mercury Lounge), April 5th and Chicago (Schubas), April 12th.
MC: What’s next after the tour?
MDP: Home for about three days and then back on the road. We will be doing more touring and festivals throughout the entire summer. At some point in the next few months we will be releasing a full-length record with PhotoFinish Records, so expect that too!
MC: Can you provide any advice for bands just starting out?
MDP: Stay humble no matter what, don’t give up if its your dream, and don’t forget to remind the people you love that you love them every day.
MC: Describe The Mowgli’s sound in five words.
MDP: Fun and positive Love Rock.
By: Rob Brayl
Yay for cute boys + cool musicians!
‘Heartthrob: The Interviews’ features Tegan & Sara interviewing, well, heartthrobs. Such a genius marketing campaign to promote their long-awaited new album Heartthrob, available now.
I could watch these clips all damn day!
PS: Skylar, call me!
By: Maria Ciezak
One of my favorite rock n’ roll groups, The Strokes, have released their newest single All the Time, which can be found on their new album Comedown Machine (available for purchase March 25th)! You may not remember, but this is the second track to be taken off of the group’s fifth studio release, as One Way Trigger dropped earlier this year as a free download. That track fell somewhat short, however, All The Time is picking up strong radio play and taking us back to The Strokes that we all know and love. The video reminds us why we were fans in the first place, taking us on a trip down memory lane. It’s a laid-back vibe full of tour footage that makes me yearn to see them on the road again.
I will be reviewing this record in it’s entirety upon release, but for now, let’s savor the appetizer.
Brand new video for All The Time below.
By: Rob Brayl
Artist to watch!
Meet Anna Nelson AKA Moxi, a Los Angeles-based singer and performer whose floating soundscape of vintage keyboards, big backbeats, and signature Omnichord strums are quickly brewing a buzz. With dreamy lyrics and hypnotic melodies, Moxi’s distinct soprano voice (backed by producer/writer/multi-instrumentalist Andy Toy) takes the listener to a wistfully introspective space.
Her EP In My Dreams was released last month via CatBeach Music.
Watch the video for Terrible Disguise below.
Totally diggin’ this girl!