In the midst of seasons changing, between days full of light and a hint of warmth to snow days, restlessness is approaching. So, thank god for indie pop newcomers, Blondfire, and their anthemic four song EP, Where The Kids Are. Brother and sister duo Bruce and Erica Driscoll may be the younger generations voice, writing one of the most catchy songs about transitioning from childhood to adults in indie history. “Where the Kids Are” is full of indie pop electronic goodness, with a chorus that will make you belt your face off, “live it up, you’re growing up/parties in the wilderness of life/light it up, just give it up/where the kids are running free tonight”. It’s a rebellious anthem–one that has blown up on alternative radio. Moving through their EP, the songs become slightly more tamer but that undertone still has that “awkward transition” feeling, allowing tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings to really fall in love with Blondfire and understand the trials and tribulations of growing up. It’s also a great party EP, with a little bit of disco hidden in these gems. Disco is having a great revivalist movement within the indie world, and while that may make some shudder, it’s a great addition to indie pop/electro groups, each song is its own, they don’t sound exactly the same, yet there is a constant flow of groove. “Waves” is the best example of this funk; just an all out example of how disco and electro-pop can come together and be friends. If this EP is a clear indicative of the direction Blondfire is going in, they are going to become the indie darlings of their sub-genre, they understand their audience and themselves, but still grasping the need to have fun within the music they write.
With neo-soul and funk making its comeback (think bands like Fitz & The Tantrums, Foster the People, Alabama Shakes) and without signs of slowing down, Electric Guest has stood out from the crowd. First there must be an explanation of this new genre of indie music, while it may not be what you or your parents listened to back in the old days, it takes the same principles of the beloved genre and updates it for modern listeners–so think of that old sound and put some electronic beats and groovier melodies and there you have this sub genre. Electric Guest has more than my toes just tapping, my whole body seems to awkwardly dance to songs off their debut album, Mondo. Made up of four gentlemen, Electric Guest have put themselves on the map–recently named as one of MTV’s “List of Artists to Watch in 2012″–which to hipsters could either be a death sentence to a beloved band or it could be nice that they get noticed. They definitely deserve the notice. With a mix of old (really old) Phoenix and Chromeo, With space-age noises to a dominating rhythmic beat, it’s physically impossible to not want to do ridiculous hand and body movements. And people who have read this blog regularly (thanks Mom and Dad!) know I’m on a never-ending quest for good indie pop music that stands out from everyone else. It’s easy to say this band does, with ease. Asa Taccone, lead singer, has the charisma of any hype man or lead singer in the 60′s and 70′s, and this is just listening to the album. It’s easy to hear the passion and love that this band has for music, from the bass lines to the lyrics, everything was brought together to create music for people, for there is not an out of place song on this record, and the best is that the whole album simply flows together to create what sounds like, a live concert. While MTV can have some negative connotations in today’s society, they picked a respectable and deserving band to put on their list, and Electric Guest is most definitely a band to watch in 2012 and even farther.
In an age where Adele and Florence and the Machine rule the female diva world, chantress Alex Winston provides a rivalry. Undeniably and irrevocably full of life, King Con proves that Winston can pack a punch in the indie pop genre. With a voice like a louder Joanna Newsom and a tamer Paloma Faith, Winston takes the soul and upbeat tempo of a Danger Mouse production and creates an inspiring album throughout. It’s the Top 40 sound without being overproduced and fake. Each song can stand alone and be its own anthem, but together it creates a power album that never stops its ride of hooks, turns and downright fun. There is no doubt that Alex Winston is full of soul, but she contains it in a way that makes it more intense yet subtle to the listener. The whole time while listening to the album, you are waiting for her to explode in power and vocal range much like the previous diva’s mentioned to. But she concentrates that power and puts it against a more lush background than her predecessors. Her melodies recreate the same idea, waiting to dominate the song but keeps its punch restrained. This does not mean that this album isn’t explosive in sound, in fact, that’s quite the opposite. Every song is its own creature, and each allows the listener to show the range of Alex Winston as a singer, songwriter and performer. From anthemic songs like “Sister Wife” to the more Grimes-esque high pitched electronic “Guts”, this album has a song for everyone and while that may not sound cohesive by any means, it works. And only a woman like Winston understands the power this kind of indie pop has over listeners in this day and age.
Remember that awful band, Owl City? How that song, “Fireflies” was played incessantly on Top 40 radio? Well here is a band that takes the same sound as Owl City, but The Candle Thieves actually contain talent and an indie pop energy that can’t be beat.While vibrant piano melodies swarm this album from beginning to end, the almost childlike sound is motivational and forces the listener to keep listening, to hear what the message is. The first song has no lyrics, but is somewhat of an overwhelming anthem to start the whole experience. “Flowers for Peggy” is one of those songs you could have sworn you’ve heard in countless romantic movie montages, and while it’s not sappy, it’s an upbeat tune that could easily be stuck in your head forever. Scott McEwan and The Glock have created an album that should have dated back to the 60′s and 70′s with bands like The Mamas and the Papas,The Hollies , and Katrina and the Waves. Full of perfectly poppy melodies, the sound is whole and with what sounds like a full horns section, everything is truly groovy. While the album takes a slower and less energetic turn in the middle and end,the creativity does not slack. Gorgeous laments and odes to love and the world pushes this album forward into a direction not expected. Still the pianos make themselves evident, almost as if they wrote the songs around the amazing piano melodies they created. While the album picks up near the end, it’s not the same as the beginning, it’s matured, it’s become something else completely. That’s the beauty of this album, what starts out as somewhat superficial becomes more than just a throwaway record, it becomes a listenable album, one that can be listened to over and over. And in those continued listens, a new sound or new meaning will appear each time, and that is certainly the perfect characteristic of this album.
Check out their website here.
Or their Facebook here.
For those who have seen me ramble about indie pop or indie dance music, it’s incredibly hard to find an artist who can be original yet still maintain that infectious style of music, and Norwegian electro-pop trio Musique le Pop understands that. Their single, “Time Changes” is what some people may call an “ear worm”, despite the fact that “time changes” is repeated often, the repetition is neither annoying or obnoxious, in fact, it’s just damn catchy. Try not humming this song after listening to it, I dare you. Completely reminiscent of late ’90′s and early ’00′s European dance music, singer Elizabeth Thorsen reminds me of French musician Yelle and Sade (that somewhat sultry way of singing ) and against the backdrop of more updated electronic beats , the blend is a success.The reason why is because they truly know what they are doing, both musicians Christoffer Schou and Jon Furuheim have been in successful electronic groups before. And the problem of indie dance music (especially in America) is that everything is getting divided into specific electronic subgenres: chillwave, house, dubstep, etc. But it seems that Musique le Pop has managed to steer clear and just create music that everyone can enjoy because it’s just insanely danceable. With only their single out on the record label Minty Fresh, the trio are currently in the studio working on a full length album, hoping to release “more singles in the borderline between dance friendly indie, twee and electronica”. What may seem like a big task to overtake, it’s alright because Musique le Pop totally knows what they are doing when it comes to infectious music.
There’s a new sensation with indie music, and it seems to be cropping a lot more frequently, perhaps with some excitement to some who grew up with the genre, but to those who hated 80′s synth pop are going to have a rough summer. Except, this has a lot more funk than my previous entries that match this sort of genre. Unfortunately, no matter what, bands like Dominant Legs and Dirt Gold will always be compared with Vampire Weekend because it contains those bizarre rhythms and crisp melodies. Luckily, while this band has all that, they have this 80′s synth pop vibe that creates an interesting dynamic against these melodies that are so perfectly crafted. San Franciscan’s duo Dominant Legs brings the start of the “summer” music into the scene, jangly guitars, synth keyboards, and a cheery disposition throughout , the album does not disappoint for those in need of some good music. As stated before, they do bring a somewhat funk element into their music, making it much more danceable and toe tappable. Sort of what Chairlift did with their latest album, by bringing that cheery synth-pop they always had but adding a deeper funk/danceable layer to their music, Dominant Legs has already mastered. “Darling Girls” is definitely the anthem of the album, thinking it could have been played at an 80′s dance, the “whip” noise plays quite a prominent aspect, allowing the older folks to remember bad hair and really high waisted jeans. Dominant Legs is fun, they have worked hard to create an album that belongs in the present but harkens to the past. 80′s synth pop is going to be absolutely huge this summer, it’s how indie music works–we get into trends that we harp on for a few months. Hopefully this band can grow and not be stuck in the genre forever. It’s a lovely album with a lot of fun songs that will no doubt make you do the Carlton Dance.
Check out their Facebook here.
If people thought Zooey Deschenal was quirky, I have found her a queen. Singer, Cherilyn MacNeil absolutely takes the cake in her catchy indie pop that is often more humorous than serious. From Johannesburg, South Africa, Dear Reader instantly captures the heart with their hooks, lyrics, and melodies. From pop ballads to weird electronic loops–this band pretty much does it all, but they do it with an odd sophistication that may not be evident on a first listen. Mostly every song title has something to do with an animal, but in parentheses, perhaps the songs “real” title. Perhaps a more realistic title that allows Dear Reader to give the audience something real instead of all the silliness–which is still, truly wonderful. MacNeil’s voice is absolutely darling, reminiscent of Regina Spektor’s but with much more power and stability. Put together against equally darling melodies full of pianos and violins, the one thing that shockingly puts it together is the use of electronics in the album. Never brash or harsh to the ear, it is another example of how electronics can be used for good within music (and not for the bad…*coughAutotunecough*). While most of the songs are simplistic when everything is taken away, they are like She & Him songs–easy 50′s songs beats, but Dear Reader builds upon that, creating lush sounds that creates a dynamic sound that masks the simplicity but also allows it to be recognizable at the same time. Just quite a a fun listen, I can’t use the word darling enough, but it is just nice to listen to something that is what it is.
Check out their website here.
Or their Facebook here.
Straight off the bat, I have to dedicate this to my father, who absolutely adores female singers and is always pressing me to send him these singers to him. I tend to listen to bigger bands mostly, my female singer list is infinitely smaller, but I’ll be proud to say that I have found one for you dad! Full of everything good about solo female artists, piano, whistling, intricate melodies, Dillon is what’s right with the female world. Only 19 years old (much like a young Zola Jesus), German Dillon de Byington is making a scene in the indie world with her creative use of hip-hop beats matched against piano and more pop oriented stylings. Almost like a mini-Bjork, her vocal range is absurdly impressive and her array of instruments is even more so. Opening up with a more minimalistic song, “This Silence Kills” is electronic in nature, but deep within the track are these beats made with her computer, a piano and her voice–nothing intricate at all. Yet, this album blossoms (oh I can’t believe I just used that word) into her intricate world, some of it almost reminding me of a Broadway soundtrack or like previously said, a Bjork album. Totally showy in every aspect, it’s not over-done with cheesy lyrics but the music makes you pay attention–which is hard nowadays. Like another album I recently reviewed, this album changes genres easily and with some kind of flow: at one point Dillon can be doing an Adele soul-inspired song, and then instantly move into an epic pop ballad. Definitely reminiscent of Regina Spektor’s and Kate Nash’s vocals, simplistic yet absolutely gorgeous, Dillon can easily carve out a niche in the indie world, setting herself apart from most female singers who tend to get lumped into one group. So, to all the dad’s out there that love these female singers, this one’s for you. Don’t not listen, it’s too good.
Check out her website here.
Bellman is one of those bands that hits you by surprise because it’s not what you expected at all. Instead of indie rock, I happily stumbled upon a lo-fi pop album. Bellman, alias for Norwegian singer Arne-J Rauan has crafted enjoyable and catchy pop songs that make you forget about Top 40 “pop” music. This is real pop music, with a twist. His voice takes elements from Jonsi of Sigur Ros and Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips to create an album of hauntingly calm songs. With instruments ranging from sweeping violins to synthesizers, it is easy to tell that this is crafted to perhaps pay an homage to the “good” pop music of yore–just with an updated kick. You could also swear that Rauan is part of The Flaming Lips, as his song, “I Suppose” reminds me so much of Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, with a hint of the Beatles’ sound. It’s gorgeous, it’s exactly what is needed in pop music today instead of auto tune and melodies that drone on for 4 minutes. I would recommend this to anyone who does like The Flaming Lips or Sigur Ros because yes, while it is pop music, it’s lo-fi, soulful, and intricate–much like the former’s music.
Check out Bellman’s Facebook here.
Or his Bandcamp here.