I love music. All sorts of music. I binge on music. I take risks on amazon... some pay off. Others........
There is a great thread for stunning recordings that focuses on tried and true standards of music appreciation. I'd like to throw my hat in the ring with indie recommendations that will make your system sing and perhaps expand your cd library.
I'd like to focus on Albums within the last 5 years or so and of lesser known acts. If you know of a good indie type project to share feel free.
You ever wonder what a movie score would sound like if a Spaghetti western starred a sheriff and deputy adventuring on the open plains rebel rousing and whip cracking. Me neither. What if the sheriff and deputy were Daft Punk? What if the outlaws they fought were robots? Fluorescent robots?
Django Django’s 2012 self-titled release is a marvel of mashups. Its western feel collides with surf rock guitars and synth beats so uniquely, I struggle to pin a name to it. Yet all of it feels so familiar. The band is based out of London and has received awards from press and industry over there.
The Album Django Django is a sonic collage of familiar musical elements great on their own but strikingly different when compared together. Their influences of the Beach Boys harmonies and Link Wray classic guitar stylings stun on tracks such as “Hail Bop”,“Default” and “WOR” while world Beats on “Zumm Zumm”…. Wait a sec I’m getting ahead of myself.
The introduction track sets the scene for the album. A repeating synth bass tone (sampled from the Rambo first blood soundtrack?) evolves into a native drum beat and then an archetypal western tome of life on the frontier. Imagine Clint Eastwood in his iconic Poncho, but wearing wrap around sunglasses.
From here it ramps up and into the first track “Hail Bop” where we are first delighted with the surf guitar and haunting beach boyish styled vocals. There is a lot going on in the tracks. Layers and layers of techno burps and blorps tantalize, whilst whips crack, hands clap and, of course, bass sweeps delight, always coming back to the familiar and pleasing vocal dressings.
Tracks like “Firewater” and “Hand of a Man” remind me of the haunting yet simplistic delivery of vocals of an Alice in Chains song. Meanwhile songs like “Waveforms” approach elements of a Chemical Brothers cut from their album Surrender.
Okay… so they have interesting things going on. How does it sound? Great!! Each track uses the soundstage so effectively and imaginatively. Vocals may be centered in one track, then separated and opposed in others, always with a touch of reverb and forward sound that projects the voices out into the room. The mix is spacious, dynamic and exciting.
It’s overall a fun, one of a kind listen. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I hope you do too. Please enjoy responsibly.
Hey, Trevor! Thanks for taking the time to write such a descriptive piece, WITH visuals! I'll check out the cd.
I saw that spaghetti western when it left the theaters and came to the drive-ins. I think it was called, "For a Fistful of Dollars, You Can Hang 'em High Until They're Good, Bad and Ugly." Ha! Lee van Cleef!
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I am one of those that discovered great soul and funk music through movies. The soundtracks of “Shaft” “Coffy”“Superfly” and more recently “Jackie Brown” have given me a deep appreciation for the sexy, gritty, emotionally charged music of the 70’s soul genre. I really should spend more time looking for acts in this vein.
Aloe Blacc’s 2010 release “Good things” is atypical for a relatively young artist in today’s age. At 34 he didn’t grow up in the hayday of 70’s music. Like me, he would have grown up while Duran Duran was slaying the charts and Inspector Gadget was being saved by Penny and Brain. Oh that Dr. Claw…
It’s remarkable that Aloe Blacc is able to transcend his age and time to produce a soulful, emotional, funky album worthy of the current generation’s ipods. He reminds me a lot of Bill Withers on some tracks, Curtis Mayfield on others and James Brown on others -all with a modern touch crafted by his producer, DJ Peanut Butter Wolf. His arrangments are always adorned with strings, punchy horns and of course the sultry baseline that is the bread and butter of any soul song. Big fan of Bill Withers by the way.
Good things in a lot of ways is a paradox. Most of the songs are about loss, struggle, betrayal, yet leave you with a smile on your face because the delivery is so catchy and bouncy. Tracks like “I need a Dollar” “Hey Brother” and “Life so Hard” are good examples of how the bass and melody add emotional power to a song without making it downright depressing.
Meanwhile the second track “Green Lights” (an arc with the first track “I need a dollar”) although somber and reflective, is incredibly positive and give you that “winning” feeling. Hey Charile? “Good things” and “You make me smile” are definite mood lifters after a long day grindin’ it out on the streets.
The only track I didn’t care for, surprisingly, was the single “Loving you is Killing me.” Next to the rest of the album, it feels too polished and radio ready. Obviously, this is intentional, as it was a single accompanied by a fun and light video with a youngster dance prodigy.
All in all, Aloe Blacc’s “Good things” is a great listen. It’s raw and unpolished delivery suits the genre while being revealing on a good hi-fi setup. Check out the amp hum on “you make me smile” for the first 20 seconds. Hear it? There are a lot of these subtle quirks that make the album feel legit. It could have easily been a hit record in 1972.
I enjoyed it thoroughly and I hope you do to. So full of Good things!
The 3 piece synthpop group CHVRCHES originates from Glasgow in old Bonnie Scotland. Lately I’ve become a little jaded towards radio friendly uber sugary, compressed, one dimensional music. Thinking somehow I’m above it, or should be grown up enough to only listen to grown up music.
Well poo on that notion.
CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe is an admitted guilty pleasure that anyone who’s spent any time in my car can probably recite word for word. This is a youthful, dreamy, ambitious sounding album brimming with the stuff that made teenage life fun. It’s a “first time” feeling album; the pain and excitement that comes with shedding naivety for the scars and stripes of experience. Longing to be older while lamenting the loss of youth.
Chorus from recover: And if I recover, will you be my comfort? or it can be over, or we can just leave it here, so pick any number, choose any colour, I've got the answer, open the envelope
Remind you of anything?
Lauren Mayberry’s delicate yet powerful delivery of lyrics is centered on the dilemmas of young love and family ties. Songs like “Gun”, “The Mother We Share”, “Recover”, “Lungs” are all songs with a familiar feeling of coming of age 80’s style pop music. This album could be the modern day equivalent soundtrack for a “Breakfast Club.” It brings to mind the sobering quote from the brooding character Allison: “When you grow up, your heart dies.”
I have to draw comparisons with other popular Indie groups fronted by female vocalists. Bands like Cults, Purity Ring, and even Grimes, each share the young, powerfully optimistic and joyous spirit of being a young woman. But within each album comes the delicate and fragile side of the sword.
I also have to draw comparisons with another great indie synth pop group, M83, which I could swear I heard direct referencing in several of the vocal effects and synth background tapestries of almost all tracks. Moral is, if you like the feel of this album, you will almost certainly enjoy Hurry Up Were Dreaming.
So how does it sound? Well, it is a radio ready pop album… but with a difference. Sounds are a little compressed on most tracks, and pretty peaky, but the overall warmth of the background synth tones compliment Lauren’s beautiful voice perfectly. The up-tempo and stop start beat of songs like “Lungs” keep the albums pace snappy, uplifting and fresh. Stereo panning and reverb give each track space, while maintaining a concentrated beam of awesome directed right at your cochlear nerve.
#402296 - 03/31/1408:46 PMRe: Not Dr. Jones.... a different Indie.
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Love Chvrches. I can't speak intelligently about why like you, but I love her voice, love the album as a whole. I don't even feel guilty about it. My guiltier pleasure is Lorde. I'm still enjoying her album, but I balance it out by listening to a lot of The Julie Ruin.