indie scent

Great songs from indie bands and labels that don't mind sharing the occasional song online, in four categories:

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Smells Mellow

Stars of Track and Field - With You (3.4mb mp3 from the band's SXSW page, which won't last long)
The sparse verse with breathy male vocals and single repeated guitar notes don't prepare you for the brilliance of the chorus in this tune. It's the simplest, prettiest melody, and a higher voice joins in to harmonize with beautiful results, transforming it from a sort of indie rock ballad into pure, shimmering pop. I hadn't ever heard of the band, but in a perfect world, songs like this would translate into fame and fortune.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pungent Indie Rock

Sushirobo -- Rat or Mole (3mb mp3 from their label page)
Are you the rat? Are you the mole? Good luck luck getting the chorus out of your head after a couple of listens to this quirky number. Nice thick bass line, offbeat drums, odd spoken verses, and unique guitar-produced noise -- it's smart, fun and just experimental enough to keep you curious.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Heavier Aromas

30 Seconds to Mars - Attack (2.5mb mp3 from UNCLE promo)
With layers of vocal harmonies and glistening walls of distortion throughout, many indie fans would probably consider this too slick and overproduced. I don't care. I'm a sucker for great production values and it makes little difference to me whether these guys can pull off their sound live. The only really bothersome thing is that me liking this means I probably haven't truly moved beyond the days of being a fan of Skid Row. I've thought about this more often lately, realizing that the new emo-pop-punk-rock stuff I'm hearing now isn't that different from Def Leppard's Hysteria era, complete with gang-harmony vocals and sappy ballads about lost love, while still somewhat attempting to rock out. Sheepish nostalgia aside, this is a worthy tune.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Smells Mellow

Great Lake Swimmers -- Various Stages (3.8mb mp3 from the band's SXSW2006 page, which won't last)
Banjo, harmonica and a lazily strumming guitar -- I've never been a Neil Young fan and this doesn't tend to be my style. I'm not a big lyric geek either and songs about manic depression wouldn't usually turn my crank. BUT, this is a truly top-notch song from a talented Canadian indie band. I think it's mostly the smoothness of the singer's voice, and the meandering melodies. Melancholy lines stick in your head for days after the second or third listen, along with the repeated opening, I have seen you in various stages of undress. I have seen you through various stages of madness.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Pungent Indie Rock

End of Fashion -- Oh Yeah (2.7mb mp3 from the band's SXSW2006 page, which won't last)
Sometimes I take music too seriously, so I picked this song for the pure fun, in honour of the start of summer. It's got that loose, upbeat, mid-tempo vibe best characterized by Weezer's best stuff, including the thick power chords used to prop up a simple hollered chorus that wouldn't have felt out of place on Pinkerton. Again, fun.

Friday, June 16, 2006

That's Just Rank

Uncle John & Whitelock -- Baghdadi (4mb mp3 from the band's site)
Like most songs in this category, this one will hurt you at first...actually, you might never truly embrace it. But I seriously adore this brand of raw intensity and nothing else chugs along quite like it. In the last minute, they nearly go completely off the rails after shifting up a gear in a wondefully sloppy tempo change. Worth repeated listens, if only to hear the singer's whiskey-and-smoke growl.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Smells Mellow

Liz Durrett -- The Mezzanine (2.7mb mp3 from her site)
Can a song be too short? With breathy vocals this sultry, two minutes seems like a tease. Sparse instrumentation plunks along beneath the harmonized melodies and you wish it would just go on and on.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Heavier Aromas

Arcwelder -- Do Something Right (4mb mp3 from the label's site)
Raw, grungy rock that evokes older Soundgarden and other Seattlelites of the era. I'm a sucker for any good melody in a chorus, and this one really yodels along, introducing some memorable flow after a chunky, random verse and bridge that simply repeats the title of the song. It's dark, but somehow without taking itself too seriously. Released in 1999 on their last album, it makes me wish they were still recording.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Pungent Indie Rock

October Guard -- Nightmare Patrol (3mb mp3 from the band's site)
I'm a sucker for thumping bass guitar and chiming, reverby guitars, so this fits the bill. A soaring chorus provides the payoff and sticks in your head long after you've forgetten any words from the verses. Thanks to CBC Radio 3 for the introduction to this two-and-a-half minutes of indie-rock goodness.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Smells Mellow

Rose Melberg -- Golden Gate Bridge (1.8mb mp3 from Double Agent Records)
So yeah, I suppose I'm hopelessly biased in my love of Rose's music. We've been listening to her new album a lot and enjoying it immensely. I so agree with this interpretation of the review the album received from Pitchfork. I'll resist the urge to call the review's author an asshat (oops) and just assume he was having a bad day, since I can't imagine why he'd have a vendetta against Rose. There may be no better illustration of the uselessness of music critics -- why give the guy a forum to slag someone's personal expression and something other people love? Knowing how hard Rose worked on the album and how challenging it was for her makes it feel like only malice could compell someone to attack the results.

Anyway, this song is older, but it still provides a gorgeous soundtrack for reflective moments. You can listen to her newer stuff on her MySpace page.