Magnus is an interesting record. It’s interesting in that it feels very familiar, with nods to Radiohead and other alternative artists. There is just enough experimentation to give the more avant-garde listener like me something to be intrigued by, but there is also plenty of strong, flowing melodic and rhythmic content to stay mainstream for radio. This record from Switzerland’s Rio is a calm, grooving journey that has a little for everyone. Ambient guitars and echo-laden vocals are frequently found throughout.
Overall the listening experience doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but when you make great songs, that really isn’t necessary. Sometimes the familiar is just what we need.
Get Magnus at https://rioriorio.bandcamp.com/releases
The Philly-based indie group Seldom Family is comprised of Patrick Norris (vocals, guitar) and Chris Caulder (drums, bass, lap steel, guitar). The best way I can described self-titled is that it is a beautiful, grooving, ambient, soaring work of art. The bare-bones nature of the instrumentation with the heavy reverb washing over you gives a very current vibe with a nod to the past.
Every song is powerful lyrically and melodically. The voice of Patrick Norris, who sounds honestly like a mix between Bono and Lou Reed, draws you in with a magnetic pull. It longingly cries out over simple, yet brilliant, instrumentals. The album is subtle and also explosive. In it, there are countless seemingly opposing parts that work in synergy for a common goal. That goal is, quite simply, fantastic music.
Get self-titled at https://seldomfamily.bandcamp.com/album/self-titled
One of the most interesting trends in music right now is the resurgence of electronic music like that of the trip-hop golden years (i.e. the 90s). One problem I notice, however, is that the radio is becoming absolutely saturated with these electronic groups and only a few stand out from the crowd. What should an electronic group do so that they aren’t typecast as “just another indie electronic act?”
Enter Chelsey and the Noise with their EP Losing Landscapes. Described in their bio as utilizing “deep analog synths, glitch inspired beats, and aggressive vocals to create a darker breed of electronic music,” this duo of Chelsey Hice and Brent “the Noise” Watters creates a much needed fresh take on the electronic genre.
The album is dark and infectious melodically. The instrumentals are well-composed, the vocals are extremely unique, and ultimately the songs have an immense amount of artistry behind them. Losing Landscapes is kind of like early Nine Inch Nails meets Phantogram and the Cure. It is the 80s, 90s, and modern era of alternative, industrial, and electronic music rolled into one EP.
Chelsey and the Noise is such a breath of fresh air amongst all of the copy-cat acts that are arising in the indie-electronic scene. This duo from the Bay Area is absolutely worth your time.
Losing Landscapes can be found at:
mothdrops describes their music as “echo park indie-kraut-psych-post-garage-glam-gaze.” In their debut single release it is easy to see all of these dimensions to their music. Consisting of two tracks from an upcoming EP, “veal fiction//sexi maharishi” is as pure as art can get. What I mean by this is that the group (formed by my fellow UCLA Ethnomusicology classmate Jaiq Styne and his pals Andrew Giurgiun, Brendan Snyder, Keveen Baudouin, Shane Graham) is constantly exploring the realms of multi-genre, heavily improvisation-based music. It’s like a manic jazz, psychedelic, indie and punk fantasy.
And it’s fucking awesome.
Check it out for yourself.
It’s always great coming into contact with brand new bands. In this case I refer to the Indie – Pop/Punk band The Deadnotes. Hailing from Freiburg, Germany, the band consists of Darius (guitar), Jakob (bass) and Yannic (drums). In their debut record I’ll Kiss All Fears Out Of Your Face, The Deadnotes show a mainstream sound with enough edge to get accepted by more fringe punk communities.
Each song on I’ll Kiss All Fears Out Of Your Face has strong melodies, tight grooves, and enough balance in energy to make the record complete. The instrumentals are powerful and a driving force. There isn’t a lot of overproduction, which allows the organic nature of each instrument to really shine. The vocals are aggressive, scratchy, and also melodic. Sort of like a lot of indie bands you’ll hear on the radio these days in the U.S.
Thematically the album, in the words of the band, “comes straight from the heart and hopefully people can identify with while being in a bad way or are struggling with mental health.” It makes sense when you listen through the entire album, as there is rage as well as a push to survive. You can feel it.
I’ll Kiss All Fears Out Of Your Face will release on October 7th. Get your copy when it drops.
The Deadnotes can be found at:
The Oakland-based group The Pleasure Routine aren’t out to re-invent the wheel. As they state themselves, they are “a throwback to decades past, when bands meticulously crafted vintage tones and timbres, capturing their moody and dreamy sonic landscapes on analog tape.”
What shows in The Pleasure Routine’s music is a nod to past eras, but also an understanding of their own modern sound. Their debut LP Sugar Mountain is a wonderful blend of art rock, blues, and a California flair that shimmers on each track. This record is the kind of record that you play while driving down the PCH in an old Camaro with your best friends.
The topics range from coming-of-age to disillusionment, but throughout there is this undertone of optimism amongst the melancholy. The bright, clean sound of Sugar Mountain plays a major part in this. The band gels together in a way that you know they get each other as musicians.
When Sugar Mountain releases on 7/1/2016, I suggest you give it a try. It might bring out some nostalgia in you, especially if love bands like The Velvet Underground and The Stooges.
The Pleasure Routine can be found at:
I did an article recently for the music promotion company Sonicbids. Go ahead and check it out if you want.