New Music Spotlight: Slow Club

A little bit Mamas and Papas, a little bit Magic Numbers, and a whole heck lot of happy, shiny fun – Those are the best words I can find to describe Slow Club, a Brit outfit that seems to be on the cusp of making a full-fledged indie splash in the U.S.

Here’s a playlist that indie-friend Super Mike’s wife put together with some choice tunes from Slow Club.

You’ll recognize “Sinking, Drinking, Thinking, Feeling” from a Lays Ad…but frankly, these guys are more than just a one-commercial song-hit wonder (Listen Up Ting Tings and The Submarines). They’ve got a frantic folkiness and a pop poppiness that you can’t help but tap a toe to. In fact, think bouncing BP Commercial babies in a smiley, slappy cartoon world.

Their albums are all on import (read: Too expensive) but you can get some on the cheap at Amazon (though word is if you get their Let’s Fall Back in Love EP featuring the Lays Ad song…that the song actually isn’t included. Can someone verify that?).

You can download a free Slow Club Song here and here and here.

Oh…and a big shout out to Dejah (Super Mike’s wife) for clueing me into the band. Here’s her post from one of the shows.

A smattering of good online Indie

I may be in the throws of writing a dissertation…(yes, I have a life outside of Indie)…but that doesn’t mean I can’t offer up a few online treats I’ve found. Here’s the music that’s been helping me stay up at night to write*:

Brett Dennen: Ain’t No Reason. I’m not usually a big fan of singer-songwriter Indie-types, but this Brett-guy matches his unique voice with a simple style that is really hard to not like. (on a side note, I think this guy should have been doing the blues-y singles on the Twilight Soundtrack, instead of Rob “Edward Cullen” Pattinson].

Black Gold – Detroit. Nothing short of the hallmarks of fast-paced indie-synth rock. The chorus and vocal stylings are downright addicting.

British Sea Power: Atom. Just because it sounds like nearly every other Brit-pop rock piece doesn’t mean it’s not good.

Nicole Atkins: Carouselle. I’m sorry, I’m a sucker for jazzy piano riffs, even if they can be hokie and predictable at times.

Zee Avi: Slow Hands (Interpol Cover). You know what I like about Indie artists? They’ve got the guts to do a cover of a song that’s still relatively current. This one isn’t that great to tell you the truth, but I had to point this out (and I’ll probably point it out again in a future post). Most mainstream pop will only do a cover if either 1. someone from original band dies or 2. everyone forgets about the song.  I haven’t seen this kind of gusto since Morrissey’s Everyday is Like Sunday cover (which I remember ended up with the original version on the same top 100 songs of 1994 list at KROQ). Tori Amos’ Nirvana and Depeche Mode covers get an honorary mention here.

Well, that’s it for now.

*I’d like to thank Spinner.com and their free Mp3s for keeping me awake long enough to write until the wee hours of the morning. Keep it coming!

Good Indie Downloads: A Few Highlights

I always pride myself in finding good free music online. Here’s a smattering of good stuff for your perusal:

1. Submarines: You, Me, & the Bourgeoisie (otherwise known as “That 3G Iphone Commercial Song”).

2. Calexico: Convict Pool. I’ve probably posted this before, but I just can’t get enough of this song…going on 2 years now.

3. Rodrigo and Gabriela: Tamacun. Now, I like good Spanish Guitar music, but THIS is GREAT Spanish Guitar music. Undoubtedly, you’ve heard this somewhere and will recognize it when you hear it. I know, for example, that they play this song in Disney’s California Adventure Theme Park in the eating area next to the Mission Tortilla Factory.

4. Ferraby Lionheart: The Ballad of Gus and Sam. Cool band name. Great song.

5. Band of Horses: Funeral. Otherwise known as “That Song on the Saturn Car Commercial”.

6. Band of Horses: No One’s Gonna Love You. Still love this song, and am still amazed that a band would offer it’s best stuff for free. Kudos to the Horse Men.

7. Arcade Fire: Black Mirror. My introduction to Arcade Fire..and I’ve never looked back. Fantastic song…and nice use of a Phantom of the Opera lick. Also, with this one, I wouldn’t stop at the free download. Buy the album. Neon Bible is probably one of the best Indie albums of the last 10 years.

8. PT Walkley: Somebody. Just found this one on Spinner.com’s Free MP3 of the Day. Fascinating piece. Best use of violins, IMO, since Jump Little Children’s “Cathedrals”.

Crowded House: They’ve still GOT it

For the better part of three decades, the Finn brothers have been some of the best song writers in the world–and yet, they’re some of the most unsung as well.  The 80s’ “Don’t Dream It’s Over” is still one of the best songs to come out of that time period, and I’ve had their “Together Alone” album (featuring the Reality Bites’ song “Locked Out”) on and off my playlist for the last 15 years.

I haven’t followed their career too much, but one would say that their 2006 Fairwell to the World album would be a nice “Adios” to the music business, but it wasn’t so. I’ve recently gotten a hold of their most recent release (2007) entitled “Time on Earth”.

While you’ll be hearing none of the songs on the radio, it’s a masterful album. Deep, lyrical, and moving. The melodies are haunting, and are hard to stop listening to. “Nobody Wants To” and “She Called Up” are vintage Crowded House (after all these years, it’s nice to see a band not abandon their sound…*COUGH* R.E.M)…and Pour le Monde is a moving piece that might just be one of the best songs they’ve written.  “Say That Again” is an eclectic ditty that is quite catchy, makes the CD worth buying.

All in all, good stuff from the Finn Brothers…AGAIN.

Indie Spotlight: Architecture in Helsinki

Question: What do you get when you mix high school ska/alternative with refined indie?

Answer: Architecture in Helsinki

I have been a fan of this oddly-named band for a few years now, and have only heard them outside of my own music collection once, on a local college station. But they’ve got some dark-horse indie classics, even if they are relatively under-known.

The only thing I have against AIH is that they’re the kind of band that can be REALLY good when they’re good, but REALLY strange when they’re strange (and when I mean strange, I mean barely listenable). But they’re worth a listen.

Indie-Ana Smith Picks: Maybe I can Owe you, No need to shout, Hold Music