Posts Tagged ‘Indie’

GROWN UP AVENGER STUFF – ‘PINS’

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Remember Grown Up Avenger Stuff? The group that was all pop and blast and actual (gasp) FUN? Maybe this’ll help jog your memory.

They’ve released a new song/vid, Pins, a ballad as emotive as it is psychedelic. The tide is a slowcrash, slowrise, abundant w/ surprisingly heavy fog- musical and visual. Though this change of tone was unanticipated, I like having my toes shattered by something new.

The vid was made in a movie theatre in the middle of the night. The smoke set off fire alarms and cops ended up crashing the party.

Rock n roll.

LOVESUCKER

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Duos are a delightful epidemic. Every time I turn around there’s another pair of besties or siblings or college pals creating awesome originality, no full band set required.

LOVESUCKER is the project of Crystal Crosby (vocals, percussion) and Zoltan Von Bury (guitar, bass, drums, etc). Zoltan melds his 1970’s rock influence with an “indie sensibility”, while Crystal dubs her rivetting style “Gypsy Soul”, crediting Etta James, Grace Slick and Tori Amos for vocal inspiration.

Zoltan speaks of their sound: “The descriptions “Indie Funk and Gypsy Soul” actually have a true meaning or power source, if you will. This is who we are and what we do. …There are no examples for those terms because there is no one out there doing this sound; this is OUR sound.”

Their debut landed in the fall, and I just dipped my ear in. Sayonara Messiahnyde boasts some immense soul. Mississippi has been described as “intensely funky”, and I must agree. (Very rarely do you find such funk in a song denouncing slavery.)

Altogether it’s a scattered, dark, deep release, and yes, undeniably unique.

BORSCHT

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I saw Borscht live: they opened for Audio/Rocketry at Wunderbar, one of the better venues along Whyte Ave, not that this means anything to anyone reading this on the internet, `cause the chances of you being from Edmonton are slim. Regardless. They were the first opening act, and even though I didn`t get on the floor because I was sitting with my friend (who paid for the tickets, the sweetheart), they did what I always wish bands (and writers) would do.

They made me feel.

Girl, guy: voice, guitar, drums: more than enough. They had a quick wit and confident, humble presence and their set lasted as long as I needed.

Their album DAZER is available on Bandcamp. First props: the album has no set cost; they chose the Name Your Price option. Smiley face.

As for the music, it was just as good as I remembered, and expected. The obvious hits –Boys Who Make Out, Candy– are the obvious favourites, but Jet Stream too packs a guttural punch, leaving Tipton and BFF to taser loitering soundwaves.

They`re smart and hard, slow and strong, one of the best quiet riots to scream from an Edmonton rooftop.

I dunno what it is, but they`ve got it.

Borscht – Boys Who Make Out (Audio)

NEHEDAR

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I hear an honest streak: pulses of pain, plashes of rapture, intelligence, openness, aching optimism.

Bravery. Struggle. Joy.

Nehedar is the project of NYC-based singer-songwriter Emilia Cataldo, a character as complicated as she is poignant. There aren’t enough genres in the world to keep her creative curiosity satisfied. The Warming House (released this summer) is a lively, cultural event, sometimes weird, always magical.

I’m most impressed by her unabashed philosophies. It’s ridiculous that a feminist lean remains a dangerous stance for musicians to take, but Emilia proudly declares her ideals. (Take Is It Annoying, a feminist anthem all about ‘wanting out of the gilded cage’.) Some songs she even reminds me of a less abrasive -but equally brazen- Kathleen Hanna (see her delivery of Don’t Look for comparison, or how she belts it in Loshon Hara Barbie). There’s a lot of punk in her funky folk- if not in timbre, then attitude. Then, when she softens (as with Flying and Come Into The Light), it’s deep and sweet.

I leave you with the last song mentioned, not ‘cause it’s my favourite, but ‘cause it’s the one with a video. (Practical, no?)

MICHAEL LEONARD WITHAM

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Michael Leonard Witham has a voice like an angel on whiskey.

Associations: Connor Oberst, Bob Dylan, the Violent Femmes guy… anyone with a bloody punch in their throat.

I was tired when I turned it on, and I wanted the night over, but as soon as he started singing, I had to stop. It`s all rusty, strung-out, sick-sweet, raw-rubble folk and it only makes me wonder, What the hell does he feel, that he can make those sorts of sounds?

Michael Leonard Witham: John’s Old Lady from Actual Cats on Vimeo.

VISION THE KID & TRU

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Rap’s hit and miss for me. It’s hard to relate to a musician when they can’t film a music video without exploiting a woman’s ass. Yet, even observing from outside the scene, I sense an evolution. Seems hip hop artists are relying less and less on hackneyed formulas, and exerting their energies on what matters: the fucking music.

Vision The Kid is evidence of this. Voted best local Minneapolis rapper by Vita.mn, he’s now teamed up with acclaimed producer Tru.

I listened to Somewhere In A Dark City (2014) from beginning to end, and felt I was transported into a dark urban opera.

It starts with a sundering stream of spoken word. Vision The Kid’s lips make tremendous movement, with or without a mix. All tracks following ride a hard rush: heavy, throttling.

This is music; this is talent. Lush, creamy, lines that crush n’ slice, with enough varied tone to keep me piqued (quite a feat- I lose interest quickly).

The lyrics are aware, observational, unblinking, and emotionally attuned. Somewhat predictably, my favourite bits would be any of the tracks with dark, sharp, poetic prominence: All Goes Away (ft. Lizzie Fontaine), Somewhere In A Dark City (the title track, obviously), and The Streets at Night, the spoken-word intro that had me hooked. (Fyi: there are two other spoken word tracks on the album -an interlude and outro- and they’re awesome.)

I especially like how clearly this is a duo effort. Though Tru may not strictly “perform”, he’s with Vision The Kid at every step. Together, they walk strong.

All in all I deem this a complicated, mature release, lending a lot of intelligence to an otherwise visceral art.

MS MR

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“Didn’t know what this would be”

I’ve been looking. I’ve been getting bored. It’s become routine tedium: listen, like, review, forget, with little regret, unthreatening pop and riding crops and not enough fantasy.

“I jumped the gun, so sure you’d split and run, ready for the worst before the damage was done”

I need music that breaks and builds me. It has to understand where I’m coming from. I still pine for bouncy, sweet light, but from this point forward, there will be days only Ms Mr will suffice.

“Welcome to the inner workings of my mind”

They are intelligently designed, infinite darkness, subtle (that is, ripping) explosions.

“Keep my eyes open, my lips sealed, my heart closed and my ears peeled”

Music should let you be sober. Music should let you be anything. Sound is a spiritual experience- when done right, at least.

“Dig up her bones but leave the soul alone”
“We found a way to escape the day”

But I’m confused: Ms Mr doesn’t seem like the typical duo I’d like. They’re brand fucking new (Secondhand Rapture, a flood of genius, was released in 2013), they’re music school graduates, clean and tight and signed, New York based with gorgeous faces.

I thought genius was over. I thought music couldn’t be composed if it was mixed. And here I am, so happy to be proven wrong.

“How could you be what I wanna see, when my reality could never live up to the fantasy”

We’ve gotta be open to experience anything worthwhile. Your soul mate may be dressed up in the last persona you’d expect.

“The world is gonna burn as long as we’re going down”
“Baby, you should stick around”

I’m affronted by a strange, cerebral kiss: tribal, indelible, healing, mystic. There are so few bands I think, burn and bathe in. It would take me twenty-six hours of constant exposure to get remotely drained. Even then, as soon as they drop me off, I gotta turn it on again.

Love is both scary and beautiful when it gets compulsive.

“Hard to believe this could cause me harm”

What I love most about Secondhand Rapture (their first album, in case I’m too euphoric for facts to translate) is how many layers it explores. Music should be psychologically complex. This is!!!

I’ll try to talk human for a bit: What kind of music do they play? No clue. Wikipedia tags them under indie pop, alternative rock, dream pop and dark wave, which is about as useful as any genre explanation. When are people gonna get science is magic, and magic is subjective? I don’t care what you call it; I love it regardless.

“You only picked me up to bring me down”

They remind me where it hurts, and close my wounds by helping me open up.

“It didn’t come easy; I’m glad it was hard”

When I first heard them I thought (among many, many things): “This can’t just be music! Oh wait, music’s everything.”

I’m so lucky they were given to me. Thank you.

AMATUS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Amatus is a bard for the modern age, accompanying her tales not with lutes, but synthesisers.

She produces, writes, and performs her own vision, with others offering additional instrumentals (such as Nate, Butter, Matt, Jared, Vince, and Mikaal), while Andy Baldwin and Jamie Segal mix the tunage. The result is an act reminiscent of M.I.A; Amatus portrays those same hypnotic, gotta-listen beats with the air-tight seal of poppy persuasion.

A self-proclaimed nerd and music junkie, Amatus has made music studios her natural habitat since age 14, absorbing lessons from either side of the glass. But it was only after Meshell Ndegeocello (a critically acclaimed songwriter and bassist) lent her a sequencing keyboard that Amatus truly began to emerge as an artist.

Now Broken Compass is her first solo step into the music scene: a five-piece party favour, freshly wrapped and crisply orchestrated. It reconciles R&B with electro and breezy hip-hop, any remaining cracks plugged with indie pop.

This Brookyln babe’s gotta good thing going.

RAS XIX

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Music is meant to bring us together. It is the bridge on which any colliding personalities can meet, and meet in peace.

Ras Xix knows the only way you can master music is by approaching it via different perspectives, and he’s been doing so, travelling to soak in new cultures and funnel them into his production.

Enter his eponymous album, the first accumulation of his efforts, and an overall lush experience. The lyrics are simply refined, with adept guitar and a chilled beat massaging the centre. The production’s neat, the effects sweet. Even when he ups the rock (as in Over), the takeoff is gentle, the landing sleek.

Most compelling for me was Las Arenas de Cartagena, written on the shores of Boca Grande in Colombia. While I can do without the cliche video (wherein a frustrated waitress finds freedom by stripping down to a bikini- blame LA?), the chorus is almost enough to sweep me off to the ocean.

DAMIAN WILDE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

My first impression of Damian Wilde: Wow.

Regarding his history, character, and music, there’s a lot of Wow-worthy points. Firstly, and perhaps most interesting was his exposure to troubled souls at an early age. He remembers: “My mother was a nurse at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital and she used to care for those who were on their way back to the ‘real world’ and had trouble adjusting. They became my carers and my friends.”

Years later, this open-mindedness and sensitivity is clearly reflected in his art. May 20 heralded his first lil’ slice of magic: Nouveau Noir, a five-track EP with enough flicker to burn any heart. He’s been described as alternative R&B, but to me, this is poetry. Poetry transcends labels.

Damian unblinkingly dissects the darker corners of “the fucked up state of being human”. His voice is sexily stripped, lone, sad, and minimalist, aching echoes, curling knuckles. This music is perfect for tears already shed and ones still to come. If you’re in that awful spot (and we’ve all been there) where you’re convinced nobody could understand, listening to Damian Wilde may grant gentle commiseration.

There are these perfect moments when you hear nothing but hungry fingers limping across piano keys, with Damian’s voice swelling air pockets in the skull. By the time percussion is introduced, you’re already paralysed. Damian’s world is one of mistakes and cigarettes, slanted brims, tired eyes, lonely barmaids, crippling honesty.

Sit in the smoke.

ODD HOURS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Internet, meet Odd Hours. I’m sure you’ll get along.

Natasha: vocals/keys. Tim: guitar. Clint: bass. Randy: drums. The details are more difficult to put in word-y terms. At first listen you may think “it’s just another rock act”, but the instruments lend a druggy distortion, adding an extra kick to the set.

Mostly it leaves you confused, which I think is what they want. They take creative cues anywhere from NIN to Siouxsie and the Banshees (Natasha does have a similar look…)

I’ll let the video do the talking.

LOVESICK SAINTS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Lovesick Saints feel familiar. My first thought when I saw the name was, “Don’t I know them?”

Well, I do now!

They seem to sit amongst the “new” faces of punk, a radio-ready strain pioneered by acts such as Hot Water Music and The Gaslight Anthem. A softer edge, but a tighter set. Even their latest EP title speaks to popular appeal: Dia De Los Meurtos. (My Etsy feed is saturated in sugar skulls!)

Though they aren’t as raw as my preferred acts, they have just enough spice to make you sweat. They’re dry skin on the outskirts of Vegas, ice flushed through the eye. When I listen to them I see half-dead desert highways, signs bleeding neon on the stars.

All in all they stick to the expected, enough that you feel at home in the sound. With long-ish instrumental spaces, it’s easy to find lulls between the vocal-doubled, emotive choruses. Before you know it, you’ll be tapping your toe in your sleep.

Check out War Story, a surprisingly poignant tribute to lost soldiers.

MANGOSEED

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I just got back from the UK, and I’m already missing it. I was missing it soon as the plane landed. Okay, before that.

It’ll be a while before I can afford another plane ticket. So what better way to “get back” than through my speakers?

When someone resonates with a particular culture, nation or location, their music feeds off the spirit in their blood. Then you can listen, and tap in to where you wanna be.

But enough yammering! Let’s steer the spotlight where it belongs: on Mangoseed, a Brixton-based band thriving in reggae, ska, and funky rock n’ roll. (I hardly saw any of Brixton when I was in London, but the lil’ bit I saw was wonderful. Sad and rough, but gorgeous.)

On paper, Mangoseed are a traditional four-piece suite: vocals, guitar, bass, drums. But they take so much from so many influences, stirring that into their own magical brew. Their lyrics are saturated with all the pain and brilliance of history. An area like Brixton is rife with human struggle and human triumph, dangers, dreams, delicacies. The uniqueness of Southern London combines with their Jamaican, Australian, Irish and Trinidadian roots. The reggae melts the rock; together they fizz with electricity. It’s an intelligent, bracing, spiritual current, and it hits hard!

I can’t believe Basquiat is their debut. How long were they stacking this talent?! Lioness is a shocking opener, Careful smooths the curves but “keeps it movin”, and on. And on. And on.

I love music that teaches me something about my limbs. Mangoseed makes me move in ways I wouldn’t expect. I’ll catch a glance of myself in the mirror and think, “WHAT are my legs DOING?” This album makes me twitch and flail like a giddy freak.

What more could I ask for?

POETICAT

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Hailing from London and Lisbon, Poeticat is an experimental band who has successfully created a genre all their own. With comparisons ranging from Tool to The Slits, Siouxsie, Pussy Riot, Super Furry Animals, Lightning Bolt, Kate Nash, Plan B, Future of the Left, Art Brut, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Scroobius Pip – Poeticat’s sound is weird, eclectic and one of a kind.

The group recently released their debut EP, Smash The Floor.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of their sound. It’s different. It’s interesting. And it’s new.

Listen to the EP below and decide for yourself.

THE AMAZING – ‘THE STRANGEST THING’

By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

You know a band doesn’t give a shit about hype when their name is pretty effin’ hard to Google. Enter The Amazing, a Swedish music-making machine that proudly lets the music speak for itself. How refreshing.

They’re an act of mystery and allure, crafting songs that sting and rip heartstrings, especially the one below – the hauntingly bittersweet The Strangest Thing — which recently gained exposure from appearing in an episode of Bates Motel.

Listen to the stunning track below.