When you think of Nashville’s music scene, your mind immediately jumps to all of the country artists who call the city home; but what you may not realize is there is a huge indie revival hitting the scene and Pocono is easily a band to look out for. Without a single twang in their music, their EP flows like a complete album that had me wanting more at the end of it. The quartet may not have established indie cred yet, but their music acts like it. Already matured, this is not your normal DIY EP, this is a band who have obviously worked hard at creating an EP that samples what the band is about, between the indie rock dance single, “Candlelight” (think Arctic Monkeys,but less British), to their towering ballad (if you could call it that), “New Wind”. The lead singer oozes that front man quality through the power of his voice and backs that power up with all the guitar hooks and just indie rock goodness that flows through this five song EP. Pocono is the type of band that will have that hit on alternative radio that you can’t get enough of, but it’s a band that you know nothing about If you enjoy bands like Manchester Orchestra or Young the Giant, be sure to listen to these guys. Then you’ll be that cool kid who knows a band before they got big. Check out their social media pages, or listen to them on Spotify!
And now for something completely different, an alt-country supergroup, a blend of words not often found in music. But it’s quite true! Diamond Rugs consists of two members of alt country gods, Deer Tick, Ian Saint Pe of The Black Lips, Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, Hardy Morris of Dead Confederate and Bryan Dufresne of Six Finger Satellite. With this lineup, the mind immediately goes to some deep Southern punk rock. Well, not too far off. However, there’s something so much more interesting about this band, taking the ever so cliche country lyrics (their song, “I’m So Lonely” is pretty much the standard) but they put it to music that is much more relatable to their captive audience, and somehow they make it listenable. Deer Tick is a deep Southern rock band, full of floor stomping , jangly guitars and harsh voices–and the two members from the group bring that same flavor to Diamond Rugs but instead put it into a more alt-country garage rock mixture. This may sound like the worst mix of music in all of existence, but listening to songs like “Motherland” and “Gimme a Beer”, brings this niche genre together–for they make it possible to cross two genres that should have never met, and they produced an album that people from both genres could appreciate and listen to. With rough sounding, whiskey soaked vocals, harmonica, and some guitars, Diamond Rugs is just a fun supergroup that probably doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Their songs for hipsters are like looking into a whole other world, one that they’ve opened up. Truly, the self titled album is just fun, and in the summer months, what’s better than cranking up some dirty Southern garage rock while people stare at you awkwardly from cars because you’re air drumming?
There are certain albums that resonates with listeners during a specific or important times in their lives, and Yellow Ostrich’s Strange Land is mine. This “stuff” between graduation and starting life has taken its toll on me, and Yellow Ostrich has been my go-to album for a few weeks now. With anthem-like songs dominating the first half of the album, “Elephant King” and “Marathon Runner” are two incredibly breathtaking songs at the core–with fuzzy guitars and a hint of garage rock, the lyrics make it beautiful; “I am a marathon runner, my legs are sore, and I’m anxious to see, what am I running for?” What perfect lyrics for an inbetweener, a person searching for reason in life, and I think Yellow Ostrich is seeking the same thing. While listening to their debut album, The Mistress, you could hear the naivety and innocence of the album–very raw and still searching for a sound. However, within the whole sophomore album, there is reason, there is a connection that they found. They matured into great musical craftsmen, creating hauntingly abrupt indie rock songs–with horns included. And while their lead singer may not have a classically “good” voice (much like Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame, yet we still gobble up every morsel of music he releases), and that shows that the indie world is more interested in how music is presented rather than if it’s “pretty”–hence the escape of auto tune that has plagued Top 40 radio. Yellow Ostrich has all the qualities of a great indie band, they are raucous but in a controlled way. They have come so far since their first album, and Strange Land is a testament to their dedication and ability to grow within the band to create an album that is meaningful with a little bit of fun added. While this album focuses on the first person a lot, it makes the album much more relatable, suggesting that the listeners have the same emotions that Alex Schaaf has–bringing the idea that we are all humans and we all experience the same things. I may be thinking too much into the album, but it’s one I’ve listened to many times, and each time I observe a new facet of it.
Indie rock has sort of been quiet recently, an influx of indie rap and neo-soul music have sort of dominated the genre for a few months, and thus, ever so refreshing comes Father John Misty. Ex-drummer of Fleet Foxes, and solo artist J. Tillman, Father John Mistry may be his most interesting project yet. Absolutely breathtaking, the opening of the album is quiet but refined–you know where the album is going to continue just from the first few notes and it’s exciting. I’ve been waiting for my “summer album”–that one album that defines the next couple of months and this is surely it.A lot of indie music albums have a good few songs and it is rare that one comes along where I put every single song into my “Favorites” playlist–and Father John Misty made it. From “Nancy From Now On” to his single “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”, he is much like Neutral Milk Hotel in his lyrics relating to death and life. Sort of creepy, sort of haunting and definitely ethereal , this album has taken my heart and soul. Everything is perfected from the transitions between songs to the melodies to the lyrics. Nothing has been shorted, and he has shown where indie music can and should go. While some songs may be more upbeat than others, they flow into each other and it allows the whole album to be listenable and not choppy. Tillman knows his strengths and he plays to them well, he opens up his music a little more than his solo work or Fleet Foxes and experiments with different tempos and rhythms and just for this experiment, his work is extremely commendable. If you can’t tell by now, I’m madly in love with this album, I can find no faults in it and while indie music seems to be headed into an unknowing directions–at least Father John Misty can still create that type of music I fell in love with and have been for many years. (Also, if you haven’t seen the music video for “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”–you’re missing out. Watch it below, it’s amazing and it has Aubrey Plaza from Parks and Rec in it!)
An acid trip in the 70′s, that’s what I liken to listening to Deep Sea Arcade. While I’ve never taken the drug, they appear to have the same effects listening to their music, very dreamy yet with hard rock music qualities, this band is like the current Zombies. Somewhat in a daze, “Girls” is a high energy trip in itself, let’s just say if they were to make a music video to this song, I expect weird geometric shapes to float across the screen. But, these guys have talent, the guitar is so intricate that even on a first listen you are forced to hear the density and depth of the instrument, and what comes next is the dreamy, hazy higher voice of the lead singer that transports the music onto a whole other level. It’s a blend of music that shouldn’t work, but somehow these Aussie’s have captured the sun-filled afternoons on the beach and put it into a indie rock album.Opening for bands like Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Modest Mouse, this band is gaining attention, and for a good reason: they are eclectic and electric. Hand claps, 70′s guitar riffs, rhythmic drumming, this band takes the sound of Best Coast and blends it with Wye Oaks’ and it creates a higher energy, badass record. The album as a whole is a great debut record, while it will be interesting to see how they develop as a band, for now they have a great thing going. They have entered an indie scene that worships the likes of 60′s and 70′s musicians, and can appreciate the sound that Deep Sea Arcade has created. With eerie vocals and fuzzy melodies, Deep Sea Arcade should start making a splash in the States very soon
Check out their Facebook here
To those who believe that the Empire Records soundtrack is quite possibly, the best soundtrack, then maybe you’ll appreciate my new discovery based out of New Zealand–Cut Off Your Hands. Instantly reminiscent of early 90′s grunge and alternative music, the album as a whole is truly an indie rock album that should not go unnoticed. The somewhat higher pitched guitars, swelling choruses and a Morrissey-sounding voice reminds me of great bands like Throwing Muses and The The who perfected the idea of 90′s love songs without being ridiculously cheesy. Pitchfork, who gave it a shockingly high (for them) score of 7.2, said of the band, “‘Nausea”s easy-moving rhythm highlights one of the band’s strengths–they never sound plodding or like they’re struggling to push the songs along” (check out the review here.). And that’s the most enjoyable part of this band–while sometimes you just want a song to end or move along, the album makes perfect sense. Moving from song to song with complete ease, allowing the listeners to fully grasp each song but not holding on so that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. While yes, it may be said that a lot of the songs sound the same, but I believe it is with purpose–to create a sweeping 34 minute album that doesn’t allow listeners to breathe. How utterly beautiful that there are no jarring stops or switches from types of genres–instead it’s almost like an ode to the alternative music of the nineties. “Hollowed Out” seems to be the anthem of the album, put in somewhat the middle of the album, it brings the listeners back to what the album is best at (which of course, is continually toe-tapping). Never truly allowing themselves to slow down, the second half of the album is perhaps even more raucous than the first. They know how to put an album together that has to be listened to as a whole and not just a mix and match of songs everywhere. This New Zealand band will go places, especially if they continue to improve on their sound, I know I’ll be a definite fan for a while.
Check out their website here.
Or their Facebook here.
Coming out of Brazil, a listener would expect loud fuzzy guitars, or even electro-pop, but not lush lo-fi bedroom rock; Cambriana, a six member band, presents perfectly crafted indie rock that has been likened to Grizzly Bear and Volantes. As a band who draws influences from Radiohead and The National, it’s not surprising that they create buzzy music (when I say buzzy, think of the loud yet soft qualities of nearly every Radiohead song) Paired with lead singer Luis Calil’s hushed yet husky vocals, every song on the album is it’s own entity and while the album flows together there is somewhat of a disconnect, however, in a good way. From the first song on the album, “Vegas” the band premiers itself as somewhat dreamy and quiet (much as bedroom indie rock is), but immediately following, “Astray” presents you with a somewhat Vampire Weekend-esque indie pop, then the final shift allows listeners to flow into the cool indie rock that this band is known for. It sounds like quite a leap through genres when written down, but don’t let that fool you–this album is purely good music. It’s one of those albums that when you first listen to, you like it and maybe listen to a few songs more than once–but the real trick with this album is to listen to it more than once. This album needs to be listened to and appreciated more than one listen because it has so many complexities within rhythm, melody and vocals that it’s impossible to be appreciative in one go. This band is a band for everyone, whether you prefer rock or indie or even electronic–because it involves all the intricacies of each genre and melds them into this jumbled album that turns out to be quite fun.