my ongoing gripe with INDIE ROCK in general is its interiority and self-containment. it always felt low-stakes sonically as well as conceptually. seemed like people were reusing and reordering the same toys in the sandbox over and over again afraid of what their peers might think if they attempted something with a sense of risk or, dare i say it, ambition.
this is not the case with AUSTRALIA's EMPIRE OF THE SUN, a collaboration between LUKE STEELE (THE SLEEPY JACKSON) and NICK LITTLEMORE (PNAU) which on the face of it seems to be in danger of falling on its face with their gimmicky easter-influenced garb and iconography and over the top baroque artwork.
but it doesnt. the hooks are there and its kitschy without being lame in the least. in fact, it almost dares you to mock it because of its ambition. if you fall into that trap then the joke is on you for being a superficial moron.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN is an example of having ambition without pretension. definitely worth check out.
i know that JOHNNY MARR is an internationally beloved INDIE ROCK "god-like genius" whose work with THE SMITHS has made him an icon to millions. he has likewise also experienced an amazing career as a journeyman collaborator who has performed and recorded with everyone from THE THE, BERNARD SUMNER (of NEW ORDER), KIRSTY MACCOLL, OASIS, MODEST MOUSE, THE TALKING HEADS, BRYAN FERRY, THE CRIBS, JOHN FRUSCIANTE, THE PRETENDERS to even the noted film composer HANS ZIMMER.
i think what gets lost in that extended discography is the creative streak he has been on with his solo career for the past decade. if you havent done so already, definitely check out and investigate the man's solo work. then again we are talking about JOHNNY MARR here, it was already ordained to be great.
can't believe this actually happened but THANK YOU so much to JOHNNY MARR for reposting us on twitter. it is definitely the coolest thing ever and we appreciate it.
there has been a number of bands over the years that have been influenced by the sonic minimalism of THE WHITE STRIPES and the two person setup they popularized. i'm not saying they invented that format, but there is no doubt that other artists like DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979, THE BLACK KEYS and ROYAL BLOOD definitely took notice.
ROYAL BLOOD to my ears sound like a more polished version of the aforementioned (and previously profiled HERE) DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 with a similar BASS/DRUM/VOICE triumvirate of sonic assault as opposed to the GUITAR/DRUM/VOICE of THE WHITE STRIPES and THE BLACK KEYS.
who knew a bass guitar with an octave pedal and cave man drumming sounded so HUUUUUUGE. definitely worth checking out.
if there is one thing i love its musicians that bring the FUNK. for whatever reason this hasn't been a big concern in music outside of HIP HOP and DANCE music for a long time. i don't get it. maybe artists think that somehow making your rhythms sonically adventurous and unpredictable and, you know, fun to listen to makes them less serious? again i don't get it.
but thank god there is CHROMEO, a CANANDIAN duo who are not afraid to bring the FUNK in all its variations during its 70s and 80s heyday. not that they are retro or looking back to recapture a moment. to my ears they sound like right now, or at least a sound that should be mimicked moving forward.
great hooks, great songs, great production. cannot push this band any harder. definitely check them out.
i always love discovering bands like SAN FRANCISCO's GET DEAD. hats off to FAT MIKE at FAT WRECK CHORDS for signing and promoting bands like this. yes they sound reminiscent of THE CLASH and RANCID at their most REGGAE and DANCEHALL-influenced peak, but along with that melodicism is a great voice in that of frontman SAM KING who sounds like he is gargling razor blades as he skanks.
i really appreciate that dynamic. their music is definitely funky and well-crafted yet powerful and confrontational. definitely worth checking out.
OSEES (or is it THEE OH SEES or OHSEES or even THE OHSEES?) is just a great, ever-evolving, balls-to-the-wall ROCK N ROLL band well worth checking out. noisey, lo-fi, fuzzed-out glorious experimental abandon straight out of the BAY AREA.
HOODED MEANCE is just a good ol' DEATH-DOOM group out of FINLAND. DEATH-DOOM combines DEATH METAL with DOOM METAL, but all you need to know is that you turn this band on and just zone out in full-on, conked-out METAL bliss. this has to be what people listen to when burning down churches. got that "church burning" vibe for sure.
go ahead, check them out. you're welcome.
back in the early 2000s there were a slew of bands of varying levels of ambition that came out in the wake NU METAL that were on KORN's imprint ELEMENTREE RECORDS including ORGY, VIDEODROME and DEADSY. all three definitely had a gender-neutral, futurist take on ALTERNATIVE METAL that seemed more in keeping with DURAN DURAN and FAITH NO MORE than it did LIMP BIZKIT.
looking back its unfortunate that DEADSY was positioned to walk in the wake of KORN since their sound was much more complex and sonically adventurous. probably too much so for fans of KORN and LIMP BIZKIT. led by ELIJAH BLUE, progeny of CHER and GREGG ALLMAN, DEADSY had a unique sound that incorporated prominent arpeggiated keyboard sweeps with heavy detuned riffage and coded lyrics about life in HOLLYWOOD. can only image how head-spinning it must be to have been raised in the circles he did. know such makes the lyrics on their debut COMMENCEMENT (ELEMENTREE, 2002) make perfect sense.
recently it was announced that they are set to release their third album in 2021, the first in over a decade and a half. definitely looking forward to hearing what they can pull off, hopefully its an extension of their earlier work.
the ENGLISH INDIE ROCK trio THE XX has always hit a sweet spot for me. i know they are celebrated on the other side of the ATLANTIC and have even won a MERCURY PRIZE, but really none of that matters much.
they just make highly affecting music which seems to be a progression on the expansive emotive soundscapes created by past bands like RADIOHEAD, THE PIXIES and MASSIVE ATTACK. definitely check them out as well as the solo work by member JAMIE xx.
HUM was a 1990s ALTERNATIVE ROCK band from rural ILLINOIS who had a minor hit with their song "STARS." their expansive sound garnered them praise from their peers and critics alike but never garnered a huge fanbase which essentially led to their dismantling back in the day.
much like groups such as FAILURE and NADA SURF, HUM is worthy of another look for those like me who grew up on POP PUNK and ALTERNATIVE ROCK during the 90s and early 00s.
sometimes i just want to chill and zone out to METAL. one of my go-to's for a while has been the doomed-out bliss of ARKANSAS' PALLBEARER who harken back to bands like PAGAN ALTAR, CANDLEMASS and BLACK SABBATH at their most atmospheric and psychedelic.
definitely check them out.
SAVAGES is just a great straight-up ENGLISH INDIE ROCK band with angular riffage and tight song-craft in the POST PUNK tradition of groups like ELASTICA, GANG OF FOUR, THE FALL and WIRE but a bit more abrasive.
i think we are living in a golden age of POST PUNK revival with bands like this and SAVAGES as well as WARPAINT and THE XX. definitely worth checking out.
when books get written about the 1990s BRITPOP movement it always seems that bands like OASIS, BLUR and PULP take up all the oxygen out of the room relative to other talented bands like ELASTICA, SUEDE, SLEEPER and SUPER FURRY ANIMALS.
WELSH singer-songwriter GRUFF RHYS of SUPER FURRY ANIMALS in my opinion has one of the most emotive voices from that whole period. paired with his unmatched ear for constructing melodies and you have a talent i would put right up there with DAMON ALBARN and NOEL GALLAGHER.
definitely check out his celebrated work with SUPER FURRY ANIMALS as well as later projects like NEON NEON and his solo work. his first band FFA COFFI PAWB ("EVERYBODY's COFFEE BEANS" in WELSH, "FUCK OFF EVERYONE" phonetically in ENGLISH) is also worth looking into, but be prepared for lyrics sung exclusively in WELSH.
i was made aware of araabMUZIK back during my PEACE CORPS days when i was in a cold, inhospitable ALBANIAN mountain town by the KOSOVO border called KUKES. i remember feeling isolated, like i was lost at sea. one one hand that feeling can be absolutely invigorating, as you are in a mental and physical space that has no bearings on your old reality. on the other hand this new reality over time becomes your new normal and eventually upon returning home you are met with reverse culture shock (which in my opinion is much much worse).
i am usually not one to get into dance music, with many notable exceptions (DAFT PUNK, APHEX TWIN, AUTECHRE, BONOBO, CORNELIUS, SQUAREPUSHER, etc), but the MPC magic of araabMUZIK on his ELECTRONIC DREAM LP (DUKE PRODUCTIONS, 2011) at once felt wholly alien and incredibly intoxicating, just these washes of sound pushing you up skyward. it was the perfect soundtrack for getting lost in a foreign land.
i definitely recommend checking out anything the HARLEM beat-maker is involved in. ELECTRONIC DREAM is still the rare dance album i have nostalgia for.
GREG PUCIATO, lead singer of SYNTH duo THE BLACK QUEEN and modern METAL supergroup KILLER BE KILLED as well as the former frontman of NEW JERSEY MATH METAL legends DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, recently released his debut album CHILD SOLDIER: CREATOR OF GOD. judging by the quality of the singles, as well as his overall career discography, this is something well worth investigating and checking out. apparently he did all the bass, guitar and keyboard work but left the drums to members of POISON THE WELL, CONVERGE and DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN.
the dude is basically the second coming of MIKE PATTON. he can accomplish anything, especially vocally.
made up of members of MASTODON (TROY SANDERS), QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE (TROY VAN LEEUWEN) and AT THE DRIVE-IN (TONY HAJJAR), GONE IS GONE is a surprisingly atmospheric ALTERNATIVE ROCK band that is more interested in mood and texture than the kinetic sonic mayhem their regular gigs are known for. at times it even borders on a SHOEGAZE-level preoccupation with noise and shifting ethereal soundscapes.
as a listener and a fan, it is always compelling to see artists take a risk and broaden their aural palette. GONE IS GONE is successful example of such.
well worth checking out.
i became aware of the ENGLISH electronic INDIE ROCK outfit IS TROPICAL years ago when their insane "THE GREEKS" video came out, which still holds up with its make-believe violence and cartoon gore. reminds me of being a kid again.
their music definitely splits the difference between INDIE ROCK-inspired DANCE music that induces a carefree sense of general abandonment. definitely worth checking out.
NATASH KHAN (a.k.a. BAT FOR LASHES) is a BRITISH singer-songwriter of partial PAKISTANI descent known for her lush DREAM POP sound and terse lyricism that are often biographical allegories.
in my mind she is the next progression in modern pop music that has emerged out of the UNITED KINGDOM post-BRITPOP as she is the very physical embodiment, much like M.I.A. (SRI LANKA) and STORMZY (GHANA), of an exceedingly multi-cultural youth culture. and from this web of diverse second-generation immigrants comes new cultural touchstones that reflect with authenticity on the changing definition of BRITISH identity.
but aside all that her music is dense and thought-provoking. well worth investigating.
LYKKE LI is a SWEDISH singer-songwriter who has a definite classical pop sensibility with her work but throws in some INDIE-inspired off-kilter sonic textures and odd time signatures in the mix to keep it interesting.
since discovering her work in the early 2010s she has proven herself to be a highly gifted artist i've come to look forward to hearing new material from. in a more just world her profile would be of larger scale stateside, but regardless take a moment to check out her music.
definitely worth it.
i've had an interest in LATIN and SPANISH music in essence since learning i would be moving to VENEZUELA three months before the end of my time as a PEACE CORPS volunteer in ALBANIA. it was during that period that i discovered artists such as EL GUINCHO (SPAIN), ANA TIJOUX (CHILE), BOMBA ESTEREO (COLOMBIA), LA VIDA BOHEME (VENEZUELA), JAVIERA MENA (CHILE) and SOL PEREYRA (ARGENTINA) among others.
i will always have a soft spot for SPAIN (as i was born there) and ANDALUCIA's MALA RODRIGUEZ has an intensity that i really dig. her lyrics reference female empowerment and personal liberation which makes her unique in the world of HIP HOP. definitely worth checking out whether your SPANISH is up to par or not.