Freddie Mercury was such an iconic performer that it can be hard to listen to him and not re-create some of his famous body language: the pensively clenched fist, the hand reaching out as if to grasp an elusive feeling. We’ve all done it. The protagonist in the latest video by Buffalo trio the Tins takes things a step further, donning a fake mustache and taking his Freddie impression out onto the streets alongside a remarkably chill feline friend. The jagged power pop of “If You Want to Navigate” is a world away from Queen’s bombast, but the catchy tune plays well with the clip’s muted black-and-white tones and oddball energy.
Tag: Indie Rock (1-10 of 647)
“It’s totally creepy,” Big Data mastermind Alan Wilkis says, “the idea of being able to stalk people on Facebook and Twitter and whatever, and kind of learn more about strangers than you should be able to know and how easy that is. You can wind up on a total stranger’s page and then you’re looking at photos of their wedding and their children and stuff, and it’s like, I shouldn’t be allowed to see this.”
Wilkis’ discomfort over the erosion of privacy that social platforms like Facebook have engendered (and which Facebook and the NSA, among many others, have exploited for their own purposes) is one of the biggest influences on the music he makes. In fact, he ranks it above any strictly musical inspiration. He calls Big Data’s aesthetic approach “techy and paranoid,” and one of the first of his efforts to attract serious attention was an interactive music video that builds, in real time, a 3-D virtual sculpture out of photos and text scraped from your Facebook account. Seeing it create itself out of bits of your personal life, it’s not hard to share some of Wilkis’s unease.
As a producer and one half of the multi-instrumentalist duo the Rondo Brothers, Jim Greer has worked alongside acts like Foster the People, Galactic, and Yoko Ono, but the untimely loss of his three-year-old son to pediatric cancer almost drove him to quit music entirely. His new album Little Wings, which he’s releasing under the stage name Jim on Aug. 31, documents his struggle through the experience and will benefit the Teddy Berger-Greer Neuroblastoma Research Fund, which Greer set up through the nonprofit Pablove Foundation for pediatric cancer.
The album’s lead single, “I Will Belong,” highlights how despite the serious subject matter, Greer’s continuing to make uplifting music. “I wrote it as a mantra after spending over 100 nights in a hospital,” he says. “At that point, I needed to remind myself that I would not be beaten by the cancer my son was fighting, and that I would be able to once again participate in life. For me, the song fuses hope with anger in a way I’ve never experienced.”
Maintaining forward momentum in your life means finding ways to resolve problems that don’t always have easy solutions. Sometimes you have to force the issue closed, and sometimes that can require drastic measures. Recently, “collage-pop” artist Nick Zammuto struck upon a particularly novel method of working out your issues: by loading physical objects that represent them into an enormous catapult and flinging them to their doom.
Golden Coast hails from Los Angeles, and their electronics-enhanced pop projects some of the same eternally sunny optimism that the city often gives off in movies. The band’s latest single, “Dream and an MPC,” is a follow-your-dreams anthem about hustling in the music biz, a trope as old as rock ‘n’ roll that they’ve updated with a modern technological twist, both in the shout-out to Akai’s iconic sampler and the streaks of ravey synthesizers laced throughout. Between the synths and a bouncy vocal melody that recalls Vampire Weekend’s cheerier moments, it should satisfy EDM fans and indie rockers alike.
With the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack recently winning both the top spot on the Billboard 200 album chart and a place in the hearts of the movie’s surprisingly enthusiastic legion of fans, ’70s soft rock is once again back in vogue. That’s good news for Toronto band Zeus, whose upcoming third album, boldly entitled Classic Zeus (out Sept. 2 on Arts and Crafts), draws from a wide range of influences but leans particularly hard on a similar strain of AM gold.
Classic Zeus offers a look inside the minds of a group that has matured greatly over the past few years, and particularly so during a bumpy period of time after their last album that brought them to the verge of breaking up. It’s weighty material, but for their latest single, “27 is the New 17,” they lighten things up with a presentation that resembles a fuzzy, indie-fied take on ELO’s brand of effervescent psychedelic pop.
Canadian indie arena rockers the Arcade Fire have been making headlines during their Reflektor tour by busting out a new cover song at each stop, usually performed with at least some of the people on stage wearing giant papier mâché heads. So far they’ve done songs by everyone from Neil Young to Huey Lewis, and last night they added hardcore legends Fugazi to the list. During a performance in Washington, D.C., the group gave a fairly straightforward reading to the 1988 anthem “Waiting Room” and adding an enormously bobbleheaded Obama impersonator to the on-stage roster that already included a skeleton, a TV-headed man, and singer Win Butler wearing a Win Butler mask.
Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla has left the group after 17 years. Yesterday the Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger published a brief statement from Walla breaking the news of his departure and providing a brief explanation. “I think I long for the unknown,” he writes. “It might be that simple.”
The band recently wrapped the recording of their eighth album, the first that Walla didn’t produce. He’s also produced albums for Tegan and Sara, the Decemberists, and the Thermals, among others. He released a solo album, Field Manual, in 2008.
“Moving forward,” Walla writes, “my plans are simply to continue making music, producing records, and erring on the side of benevolence and beauty whenever possible. Darkness may find me, but I shall never choose it.”
In their own statement posted to the Death Cab website the band writes, “We’ve had an incredible 17 years of making music with Chris. We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished together, including our 8th studio album which we have just put the finishing touches on. We will miss Chris and wish him all the best in the next chapter of his career. We are excited about sharing new music, and seeing all of you very soon.”
Walla will play his final show with the group Sept. 13 at the Rifflandia Festival in Victoria, British Columbia.
The ability to make and distribute music videos used to be limited to a relatively elite level of performers, but with cheap technology and free digital distribution, anyone with at least a song and a smartphone can make one. Consequently, there’s been a biblical-level deluge of them, forcing creators to take increasingly contrived routes to getting noticed—hence the numbing amount of NSFW clips trying desperately to shock viewers, or elaborate, Rube Golbergian ones like nearly all of OK Go’s videography, where the gimmick far overshadows the music itself.
Compared to its stunt-dependent competition, the video for indie-pop duo Amoureaux’s “Lost the Plot” is an elegantly understated breath of fresh air. It stars dancers Reshma Gajjar and Hunter Hamilton (who in the past have done work for Madonna and Sia), choreographed by Kitty McNamee and directed by Miles Crawford, with little to distract from their performance. Amoureux bassist Holiday J and drummer Nicole Turley are both former dancers, and the collaboration with McNamee and Crawford highlights how much they’re still focused on rhtyhm.
“I fell in love with the rawness of this song,” writes McNamee in an email. “It swept me in. I think it triggered a very personal response to the music.”
“I was intrigued by the idea of stalemate,” Crawford adds. “All the moves have been tried, and yet we aren’t ready to give up the game. In the repetition we lose our way, our purpose. We go at it again and again, finding the same result, until finally there is nothing, but to let it go. That, and I wanted to play with flour.”
Singer-songwriter Emily Beanblossom played in about a million bands and released one LP under the name Ruby Fray while she was living in indie-rock mecca Olympia, Washington. Then, she packed up and moved to the more southerly hipster hotspot of Austin, Texas. Her move, her new hometown’s suffocating weather, and its local fauna all had a direct influence on the second Ruby Fray album, Grackle, which comes out on the illustrious Olympia label K Records on Sept. 30.
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