Posts Tagged ‘indie rock’

SomaFM powers discovery, bucks Web radio trends

For some years now, I’ve been listening off-and-on to SomaFM’s astounding radio station Indie Pop Rocks! and have, as a result, been introduced to some music that has stuck with me over years of listening, from Yo La Tengo and Pavement to Camera Obscura and The High Llamas.

SomaFM features a multitude of stations, and while most of its offerings are electronic in nature, some other notable stations with which I find interest include the recent Noise Pop Radio!, Covers — a station devoted to cover songs, and a dance rock station, PopTron! Across all its stations, SomaFM showcases artists from the obscure to the instantly recognizable.

Where something like or Pandora may offer some computer-generated discovery, the guided discovery of radio is where it can cull real power. Where most over-the-air radio has fallen into the mundaneness of the mainstream, SomaFM stands strong. For some, the variety may seem overwhelming — but with some time and patience, it transforms from something disparate and unrecognizable to the familiar.

Pavement videos a classic view of ’90s indie rock

Just time for something short today — here’s a quick collection of Pavement music videos. Classic ’90s indie rock for you; awesome.

Latest from Aloha, Home Acres, blasts indie prog into perspective

The latest effort from American indie outfit Aloha is bold and refreshing: While not necessarily the pinnacle of progressive indie rock from Aloha, it’s 1) something new, and 2) something good. How many other indie rock bands are out using marimbas and bells? Home Acres features plenty of their musical trademark, but we get some delicious additions. The guitars are  magnanimous in their distorted quality, and I think at one point, we may hear an idiophone with gourds — maybe the balafon — resonating and buzzing away. Home Acres hits shelves tomorrow.

Purchase Home Acres

PLAYLIST: Music, working combine for entertainment, productivity

Few things change your working environment more than good music. In my experience, music is often an essential part of work, whether I’m working on some routine data entry, trying to plow through that last line of code, or getting a last-minute news feature ready for publication. Here’s a short list of some of my favorites.

Pavement – “Spit on a Stranger”

When I’m working, I need something that will capture my attention but not demand it — Pavement’s “Spit on a Stranger” somehow hits on the right side of the line: It’s something rare. A catchy melody and evocative guitar work define this song, and over the past few days of working, I’ve not been able to turn it off.

People Eating People, Nouela Johnston’s jazzy new solo project, is catching fire

Nouela and Brian at The Sunset (credit: Christen Shaw)

People Eating People is the solo piano pop project of Seattle artist Nouela Johnston, and it is absolutely astounding. Johnston has gone through much turbulence to arrive at her current position. In 2007, Johnston was locked into a contract with Mon Frere, the band who won the SoundOff! Battle of the Bands in 2007, which she immediately regretted. Johnston dropped from the band which caused her “[…] a shit-ton of legal messes,” as she explained to The Stranger earlier this week. Unable to release her own music until, among other things, the sum of $5,000 be paid to Cake Records, and she played and toured for-hire with three other bands: Say Hi, Fall of Troy, and Creature Feature. All the while, Johnston was recording a demo which eventually reached the hands of Nabil Ayers, current label manager for 4AD, who offered to release her full-length album.

Her self-titled album, People Eating People, released in November 2009, is an emotional outpouring of jazzy vocals and piano. Johnston is classically trained in jazz piano — she began performing recitals by the age of 4. Being that she is classically trained, her music is technically masterful and complex — her vocals are to match. Her lyrics are personal and emotionally driven; we can see such in “I Hate All My Friends.” Pounding and fast jazz keys supplement her apparent anger as she sings a tale of lies and deceit. With “All The Hospitals,” Johnston shows her flexibility as a jazz pianist. Fluctuating, complex rhythms, all the while delivering the similarly fluctuating jazz-style vocals. A highly emotional tale of depression, making references to suicide amongst other things; “don’t cut too deep, take all those pills…don’t swallow… everyone you love is on your side.”

People Eating People — “All the Hospitals,” from People Eating People (2009) | download

See below for upcoming shows, live videos, and a video interview.


Minus the Bear debut track “My Time” for their upcoming album

Minus the Bear

Today Minus the Bear have premiered “My Time,” the first track from their upcoming album, Omni, due May 4, 2010. Immediately noticeable is the lack of guitar playing from Dave Knudson which we hear none of on the first track. Instead, Knudson has integrated a new instrument into their arrangement: the Omnichord. With the introduction of the Omnichord and lack of guitar, Knudson brings a much stronger pop sound to the track than ever before. We’re unsure of what to expect for the rest of the album, but it is likely that we will still hear the guitar on the other tracks based on Dave Knudson’s chat with Spinner.

Minus the Bear will be performing songs from their new album at SXSW Music Festival, as well as Sasquatch! Music Festival. They will also begin their tour starting in April. Tour dates have yet to be announced, but you can keep an eye out for updates on their website,

REVIEW: Panther Attack! gives us heart-pounding, funky post-rock

Panther Attack! @ Club Tropical (credit unknown)

Panther Attack!’s full-length album, Martyr Bonus, was released in 2007. The quartet, from Seattle, Wash., is composed of a bassist, guitarist, and two drummers — with one drummer often trading out as the second guitarist. Martyr Bonus is their first and only full-length album to date, with Sharp Moments EP being their only other recorded release. Martyr Bonus is a wonderful instrumental album tilting from groovy post-punk to shoegaze.

The first track on the album, “Frolic, Just Don’t Lick, is slow to crescendo and has a shoegaze feel. It lays out the groovy standard to come throughout the album. The guitars have a muddy feel in this track and, appropriately, croaking frogs. Layered cleverly through the guitars, the bass pulls us slowly forward through the mud, reminiscent of plodding through a swampy, hazy field. The drums are absent through the entirety of this track.

Moving forward two tracks to “Stands About, With Dumb Look On Face,” we are immediately greeted face paced guitar and dual drum kits wailing away. Jazzy scales take us from fast and loud to quiet and slow, and back again. The drum kits in this track are a delight. They are responsible for much of the feverish feeling throughout this six-minute-long track. From here on out, the entire album feels much more jazzy than the initial two tracks.

PLAYLIST: Having trouble waking up? Try our energetic playlist!

Do you have trouble waking up? I do. Of the many strategies I’ve tried for waking up at a proper time — some more successful than others — one of the most successful, aside from having cold water unexpectedly sprayed on me, has been finding a few catchy, exciting pop songs to jolt me into normal life. In no particular order, here are seven of my favorite songs that help speed my waking process.

Radiohead – “No Surprises”
A veritable classic of our time, “No Surprises” floats you into a waking state with a staccato bell-like guitar introduction. There’s a reason it’s one of the most recognizable introductions in modern rock music, and when I’m waking up, I always find it important to listen to something at least vaguely recognizable. I hate being startled into my day.

Arcade Fire – “Wake Up”
Is this one too oblique? Maybe, but it’s still a damn good song to hear as you drift back into consciousness. There’s something about the driving guitar, the faux-choral arrangement, that blanket of warm distortion. Give this a whirl in your wake-up routine, and I’m sure you’ll notice a certain hopefulness pervade through your day.