The Three Best Current Styles Of Indie Music

Folk Rock: Usually relegated to the 99¢ bin at local album stores, Folk Rock has become an entirely new beast, taking on all naysayers with the same lighthearted ease used in their delicately crafted music. Some of these people, the naysayers, might even go as far as to say Folk Rock died when Bob Dylan plugged his guitar into an amp. Over the past year or so a reemergence of Folk music has painted a new face on the long overlooked genre of music. Bands like The Fleet Foxes, M. Ward, Deer Tick and more, less notable artists, have reset the bar for folk music, delivering amazing albums which are eclectic and rich. Every time you listen to M. Ward’s Hold Time or the Feet Foxes self-titled LP you literally feel like you are unlocking a new world making them worth multiple listens. And the same is true for Deer Tick’s Born On Flag Day. This sub-genre of indie rock has become a leader for all the right reasons.

Psychedelic/New Wave Rock: Psychedelic/New Wave Rock can best be described as a melding of the old, think Zeppelin, Hendrix, Dylan, and new, think any band with a synthesizer. If any type of sub-genre gaining strength in the indie scene should take flight and become the leader of radio play, it should be this one. This genre of music is both rewarding, in the way the music affects you and is true to the popular standards put in place by the music industry. We can see it making its way into the popular throughways of music, in the Kings of Leon, a band that could, at one album or another, fall within this class of music. And now they have possibly paved the way for other bands whose incorporation of the best parts of the old school rock feel along with an unquestionable sense of timeliness, confirming them as some of the most talented bands out there. Bands like Dr. Dog, Sunset Rubdown, and others not only make music today exciting but also are on the cusp of what is to come, either by them or from them this style of music will have its day soon.

Electronic Pop: Electric Pop, pop and indie don’t mix, right? It depends, the term indie and the term pop are so relative they could mean anything at this point, since indie artists can be popular and pop artists can be unpopular. That being said… the movement of indie bands towards experimentation with electronic sounds, more than just synth sounds that is, can be heard in the Discovery LP whose members are made up of Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot alum. Other bands have emerged from the indie ether purely on the up beat power of there electronic concoctions like Passion Pit or Yacht, bands whose vigor is their greatest asset. The overall popularity of this style of music has definitely risen over the course of the year and why not this type of music is happy, it exudes pleasantness. If it were a person most of us would find it annoying but luckily unlike a person you can turn it off… without any serious repercussions. Wait, Moby who has just released a new album, Wait For Me, with his own record label and this one is his best album since Play. Out of all of the sub-pop genres motioned here, Electronic Pop is by far the weakest, though it is the most popular.

To finish up, there is one last genre that has been peaking its head over the past 12 months. It can’t fall into the category of best current styles of music because we don’t know if it should be encouraged or crushed. It’s not so much a genre as it is more of an era, that era being the 80’s. 80’s style of music has been creeping about the indie music scene in full force, with bands like, White Lies, The XX and The Big Pink creating a stir. It’s hard to say that it is not good, because it kind of is.


The Antlers | Hospice | A Review of One of The Most Stirring Albums of The Year

The city of Brooklyn and surrounding area have given the music world a number of memorable bands. Of late they have been of the electronic persuasion like Passion Pit and Discovery; both are based in and around New York. But what of the heart? These bands are fun for the club and they make up in spirited gusto what they are lacking in heart. The Antlers may not be as accessible as the other bands mentioned, instead they offer something else. As an album The Antlers’ Hospice from beginning to end walks you through a journey consisting of the basest of human desires and fears in a journey of Love lost. Delivered through ocean size waves of ambient synth, The Antlers do not hold back, experimenting with folk vocal style and eerily moving carousel keyboard creations.
The imagery of the lyrics is more dream like than anything else created from the mind of lead vocalist/guitarist Peter Silberman. Making what is captured perfectly in Hospice so ironic, the heart-wrenching reality of losing someone close to you, unguarded and utterly exposed, Hospice is a musical epitaph that should be heard around the world. Where does this album reside in terms of genre though? The rebirth of the popular genre psychedelic ambient rock but as said before the lyrical style used by The Antlers is more folk in origin, leading us to categorize their style of music as an ambient psychedelic/ folk rock… what a mouth full. Key tracks off of this album are, Kettering, Sylvia, Bear, and Two.


The XX | Self Titled Album | The Substance of the 80’s

Hailing from London this 80’s inspired band possess what the 80’s itself lacked all together, substance over style. As with most people of a certain generation, when it comes to 80’s music there is both a love and embarrassment. It doesn’t matter, the 80’s for all intents and purposes was an era of larger than life music, hair, clothes, and all of it was done without any thoughts of being “too much”. That was the beauty of that time, there was never “too much” of anything. And the music of that time was not an exception, especially the pop music, Cindy Lopper, Flock Of Seagulls, Lover Boy. 80’s pop music did not age well, and it was because it was all big hair and bandanas. As a decade most often remembered negatively, we forget that it also saw the rise and height of some truly amazing bands, The Cure, The Ramones, U2. The legacy of the 80’s and the quality sounds that came out of it can be heard all over the airwaves now more than ever. From The Killers and their Cure like melodies to more direct descendants who have taken it upon themselves to revive the genre. 2009 has seen a few outstanding examples of such a revival, in The White Lies, Let’s Wrestle and now XX.


Kings Of Leon | Notion EP | An Indie Blog Shot Review

The Kings of Leon, for what seemed like an eternity, went mostly unnoticed by music listeners. It was only in late 2008 and onward that the band gained its recognition and mass popularity, to cheers of some and the jeers of long time followers. That being said, 2009 has been a big year for the band, but as the band rides the wave of fame a la Only By The Night the idea of a new full length album on the horizon seems like a distant dream. Perhaps this is the reason behind the bands recent release of the Notion EP, a four song collection of live performances of Sex On Fire and Notion and a remix of The Bucket by Css. It’s not surprising that the Notion EP would have both an album and live version of the Notion song, but what does come as a pleasant surprise is Beneath the Surface a new addition to the Kings of Leon catalog. Beneath the Surface comes off as a B-Side from the Only By The Night album, but unlike the rest of that album Beneath the Surface incorporates a more jarring, less commercial guitar progression and Bass line. Nonetheless, this EP is a must have for any Kings of Leon Aficionados out there, though it does not exactly measure up against some of their other EPs, such as the Holy Roller Novocain EP and the What I Saw EP.


The Big Pink | A Brief History Of Love | An Indie Blog Shot Review

At first listen to this emerging band out of East London, you get a sense of erratic stimulus. The entire album seems to be dedicated to the expression of noise as the distorted angst of the heart. It’s all in the title of the album, A Brief History Of Love seem to capture something through its Feedback riddled melodies. The two members that make up this band, Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze have an extensive musical background one in music production the other as an accomplished guitarist. With all this experience the duo has created an album with the touch of the undefined and admittedly at some points the inspired. Possibly in spite of it, as some seasoned musicians seem to go a bit far when let loose to combine and create new hybrid genres such as this one, which is a kind of darkly ethereal version of Placebo. As an album A Brief History Of Love has legs and grows in its definition the more times you listen to it. At first it’s noisy and feedback filled, then after that it becomes more resounding and you can hear the simple yet provocatively driven pop like choruses. After a while The Big Pink’s album has found its way into your introspective lonely heart club portion of your music library, and it will be there to stay. Key track off of this album are, To Young To Love, Dominos, and Count Backwards From Ten.


Third Eye Blind | Ursa Major| An Indie Blog Shot Review

Nearly nostalgic would be the best way to put our feeling about the new album from the heavily played pop band of the late 90’s and early 00’s. Third Eye Blind’s songs were peppered all over the radio back then, from How’s it Gonna To Be to Semi Charmed Life. Everyone of a certain generation (you know who you are) has put the moves on or has had the moves put on them while How’s It Gonna To Be played in the background. But that is the type of band “3eb” is, the most popular songs from their catalogue are sappy love ballads or incredibly happy pop songs. It’s been over 10 years since Blue the band’s last relatively successful album and their last studio album was in 03’. That being said, if the new album Ursa Major is of the same character as their music from 10 years ago, you need to ask yourself a question, “Can I still relate to the music I listened to 10 years ago, the same way I did back then?”. Well, the answer is no.
What of the nostalgia factor, that can’t be overlooked when reviewing their newest album. It’s difficult to place Third Eye Blind among other current bands. Lead singer Stephan Jenkins has such a distinct voice it’s hard to put the band in a category because of it. They still have catchy melodies, but what makes this album disappointing is the lack of innovation when it comes to what they have produced. They had all of those years to make something possibly better out of the rock/pop musical style they so forcefully touted many years ago, but they didn’t. Their new album has 12 tracks, some of which are very reminiscent of the good old days following the mood of some of their songs like, Deep Inside of You. For fans of the band this album will be a welcome addition to their 3eb collection, if not because it is good then because it will bring back memories of the birth of EMO rock. Key tracks of the album, Can You Take Me, Bonfire and Water Landing.


Camera Obscura: My Maudlin Career

Oddly ethereal and refined, Camera Obscura puts other bands of the same sort to shame. Namely, She & Him and Mat & Kim are the only true contemporaries of Camera Obscura since all three bands are essentially reincarnations of Jonny Cash era duets. Not that Camera Obscura is a duet style band, that is kind of what makes this band better than the other one’s mentioned, Tracyanne Campbell lead singer has vocals that are both sultry and fluid. Tracyanne Campbell voice is what makes this band, the sound of the band and style of singing accompany each other well, it’s just that Campbell brings something uniquely tangible to such an odd and often overlooked style of music. Camera Obscura is a part of the neo-folk movement which seems to have entered the mainstreams eye line with its combination of new and old musical styling’s. But what it comes down to is that Camera Obscura stands above the rest as better in vocals and musical composition.


Fanfarlo: Reservoir

They may only have one album released but they have been around in the London indie scene for the past three years releasing singles through the label Sleeping States. They sound a lot like Arcade Fire, incorporating many different instruments into their recordings with various affects, along with the vocals of Simon Balthazar. His vocals are as close as you are going to get to Arcade Fire’s lead singer, but that is not a bad thing, Simon’s vocals are relaxed and every note seems to carry with it a sad hint of pain and posturing. With fifteen tracks on Fanfarlo’s debut album the one U.S. dollar as the original price seems to be a good buy. You see as a part of getting their names out there and rewarding longstanding fans the band released Reservoir on their own web site at its discount bin price. It doesn’t matter what you pay for an album or if you even pay for it at all if it isn’t worth listening to. With respect, this band’s work is worth at the very least one American dollar. Out of the fifteen tracks on this album there is a high rate of playability, some are a bit too whimsical and predictable for the more over involved listener, as for everyone else this album should provide a lovely experience, rich in sounds unheard on everyday radio. The horn and sting portions of this bands song catalogue are always a little bit unexpected yet welcome all the same. If they tour with this selection they will no doubt be a live show to be reckoned with, there is nothing like seeing four, five, six musicians all with different instruments come together and really execute a live performance of any song. There are also, touches of throwback melodies and tempos and reminiscent of 80’s pop, but isn't there a touch of Freddie Mercury in all us isn’t there?


Sweet Thing: A Band To Watch Out For

They sounds like Queen and are so indie that they don’t have a label or a full album out yet. But they do have a self titled EP. If the lead singer of this band can rock solid white daisy dukes like Freddie Mercury at Montreal circa 1980, then he can gladly take the rains of this very underdeveloped powerpop style. If Freddie Mercury were still alive he would have wanted a band like Sweet Thing to take his place and allow those in need of rocking to be rocked. The name itself of this Toronto based band is a tip of the hat to the now long gone band which brought us a whole catalogue of music to enjoy on a personal basis, (think of the Highlander Soundtrack) to the background music for almost every sporting event any of us has been to in the past two decades. Though you cannot get this bands album, it is important to give everyone a heads-up as it were, and say that this band hailing from the most hated city in Canada will soon be known as the band that ushered in a new era of beloved powerpop. Hopefully, Sweet Thing will live up to its potential, and concocted a few tracks equal in power to the likes of Queen’s, Bicycle, Another One Bites the Dust, and of course the themes to both the Highlander and Flash Gordon. All that is going to melt in the pot has come to pass and what we are left with is all that was and all that will be. All hail the gods of Rock.