Posts tagged ‘Alternative Pop’

Letter of Intent by Ducktails

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Ducktails, which started out as the solo project of Matthew Mondanile of Real Estate, has slowly turned into a group effort over the course of four albums, with Mondanile incorporating friends and colleagues into the music making process.  Ducktails’ most recent album, the slightly soulful The Flower Lane, released in January of 2013, has a nostalgic feel with pop melodies that mimic the styles of 70s jazz and 80s synth.  The standout track is “Letter of Intent,” a smooth, lo-fi tune that lays down a funky clarinet solo and borrows the soft, angelic tones of Future Shuttles’ Jessica Farkas.   “Letter of Intent” proves that Mondanile should invite his friends over to play more often.  Enjoy.

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Buy “Letter of Intent” here

Side Note: Am I the only one who thinks the clarinetist is Macauley Culkin’s doppleganger?

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Album Review: Somewhere Else by Indians

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Indians was created by Copenhagen’s Søren Løkke Juul with a desire to create new challenges for himself.  After forming, the band quickly signed with famed label, 4D, and released its debut album, Somewhere Else, which still sounds like a solo affair for Juul.  Somewhere Else is a deliberate, tranquil record, with Juul’s falsettos filling the corners of every song and his keyboard doing the rest of the work.  Guitars play a subtle role throughout the album and at most times, the percussions feel nonexistent.  But this minimalist approach has a purpose, resulting in a hazy synth album with hints of folk and scattered bursts of pop energy that play out like moments of discovery amidst Juul’s expansive exploration of his new creation.

Best Tracks:

“Somewhere Else”

“Lips, Lips, Lips”

When & Where:

Somewhere Else is perfect for that stage between awake and asleep, where you don’t know what the hell is going on, your body feels like it weighs a thousand pounds, and everything is moving in slow motion.  Just agree with me so I don’t feel weird.  Thanks

Check Indians out here

Or on Facebook

Buy Somewhere Else here

Singular Focus: Fields by Tiger Waves

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There is an element to Tiger Waves that harkens back to a more innocent, less complicated time.  Since 2011, the Austin, Texas group has been incorporating nostalgic harmonies with tender guitar hooks to create a mellow surfer rock sound that at times seems like it comes from another era.  As with their recent single, “Fields,” The Beach Boys influence is far from subtle but doesn’t dominate, giving the band room to incorporate indie rock and country elements into their melodies.  “Fields” may trick you into thinking that you’re living in another decade, but the confusion is well worth it.

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Buy Fields here

Miracle by Trails and Ways

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Over the past few years, Trails and Ways has gained a reputation for crafting unique, infectious pop tracks while putting together an eclectic collection of covers that is indicative of where their distinctive sound comes from.  The Oakland quartet sets out to have a good time, with playful guitar hooks, rowdy drums and fanciful, warm choruses.  In July 2012, Trails and Ways again flexed its ability to put an original spin on any song when it released a cover of Ghost Beach’s futuristic, dance track, “Miracle.”  Trails and Ways’ ability to take a jagged, electronic track and turn it into a boisterous song celebrating the joys of self-delusion is a testament to the skills this indie pop foursome possesses.  “Miracle” was by far one of my favorite songs of last year.  Enjoy.

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Buy Miracle here

Fields by Junip

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It took five years for Sweden’s Junip to release their sophomore album, Fields, and another three for me to post about it.  But the appeal of the trio’s folk album and its ability to meld perfectly with the current state of folk music is a testament to the complexity and layers embedded in the album.  Fields sounds incredibly simple at first listen, but there is a greater sophistication at work. Frontman, Jose Gonzalez, calmly delves into all emotional terrain, and at times, reflects some of the vocal tones of Jim James.  Even at their most subdued, the guitars maintain a quiet strength and the synths are dealt with a gentle hand, never sharp or aggressive.  Junip is expected to release its new album on April 22, 2013, and Fields should acquaint you to this impressive Nordic outfit and make you eager for what is to come.

Best Tracks:

Always

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Without You

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Sweet and Bitter

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When & Where:

This is fire crackling, alone on a cold mountain in a log cabin kind of album.  Just ignore the fact that most horror movies usually begin with that kind of setting.

Check them out here

Or on Facebook

Buy Fields here

Celebrate with Northeast Party House

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If you have “party” in your name, you better back it up.  And when the first track on your debut EP starts with a person screaming, “Cuckoo!,” you’ve started to prove your point.  Hailing from Melbourne, Northeast Party House came on the scene in 2010 and released their self-titled debut EP in 2011.  In standard Down Under form, Northeast Party House‘s debut has no shortage of tropical guitars and frenzied drums.  Unique to this crew is how they use electronics, showcasing them primarily as sound effects rather than instruments, which gives each track an additional burst of energy (as if NPH needed more energy).  Perhaps the most ear-catching aspect of the band is frontman, Zach Hamilton-Reeves, whose deep, earnest tenor reflects a range and maturity that somehow still fits perfectly with the group’s youthful, party mentality.

Best Tracks:

Embezzler

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Empires

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When & Where:

I don’t care how old you are, next time your parents are out of town, throw a house party, blast Northeast Party House, and tell your folks that criminals broke in, got wasted and decided to throw the furniture out the window.

Check them out here

Or on Facebook

Buy their EP here

 

Summer Days by The Reflections

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My timing may be off (or maybe I’m just being mean) by bringing you “Summer Days” by The Reflections in the dead of winter, but it is quite possible that what we need most right now is a reminder that this brutal cold only lasts so long.  The Reflections are pretty new to the indie scene but have quickly grasped the concept that even breezy, ethereal pop tracks need a depth and complexity in both lyrics and production to survive beyond flavor-of-the-month status.  They seem to have done just that with “Summer Days,” the first single off their soon to be released debut album, Limerence.  “Summer Days” is a track that at first listen embodies the lazier, euphoric summer moments but if you dig deeper, you find that Darian Zahedi contradicts the melody, singing about the isolation that results when something sweep you away and inevitably come to an end.  Enjoy.

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Check them out here

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Download Summer Days for free here

The Mysterious Sir Sly

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I stumbled onto Sir Sly some months ago and figured I’d wait until more information surfaced before dedicating a post to the indie pop/lo-fi rock group.  Well, fast forward five months and not much has changed.  What I do know is that Sir Sly is based in Los Angeles and typically stays within the confines of California so, being an east coaster, my ability to follow and annoy Sir Sly is incredibly limited.  With only two songs floating around the net, Sir Sly has anonymity down to a science.  “Ghost” is a simplistic synth track that don’t sacrifice soul in the face of electronics.   The tone of the vocals have a mainstream appeal and the strength of the guitars and drums save the tracks from being cold, computer generated melodies.  Ghost is about being left behind, whether through abandonment or by being the victim of heartbreak, which is how Sir Sly has made me feel over the past five months.  Hopefully, we can fix this damaged relationship.  Enjoy.

Ghost

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Friendship by Phox

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Phox likes to do things big, whether it’s the size of the group (six members) or the band’s larger than life sound. Their debut album, Friendship, is a product of their Wisconsin roots where horns, harmonies, pianos, and guitars merge to form songs that resemble blues, folk, country and rock. As the only female member, Monica Martin has no problem being the dominant force, leading the boys club through joyous, heartbreaking and lonely emotional terrain.  The amount of fun the band had in making Friendship is palpable as each member plays off each other and gives each instrument the spotlight at one point or another.  The charm in the DIY production value helps Phox preserve that hometown feel while the magnitude of each song emits the aura of a band ready to be the next big thing.

Best Tracks:

Clubs and Spades

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Engine Runner

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Evil

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When & Where:

When listening to Friendship, keep the theme going and do things big.  You break up with someone?  Throw their stuff out the window.  You stole a car?  Next time, a helicopter. At McDonalds? Supersize that filet-o-fish meal.

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Check them out here

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Download Unblushed here (for a donation)

Breathe in Pacific Air

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At the jump, indie pop’s Pacific Air starts its debut EP, Long Live Koko, with a whimsical intro that tricks you into thinking these guys shouldn’t be taken too seriously.  But the So Cal group quickly pulls back the reigns and flexes a laid back style indicative of its West Coast origin.  The four tracks on Long Live Koko inspire introspection, letting go, and enjoying the good stuff (life and…the other good stuff) while utilizing sounds less common for a Cali crew – whistling, flute synths, and a bit of autotune, but not enough to confuse them with T-Pain.  Long Live Koko is a rare and impressive debut from a band assured to breathe new air into the indie pop scene. 

Best Tracks:

Float

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Roses

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When & Where:

For the times when you want to enjoy doing nothing at all.  Unfortunately, that’s usually at work.

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Check them out here

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Scoop Long Live Koko here