Category Archives: Indie

9 of the best – sounds of 1998

A compilation for the weekend. My favourite songs of 1998 in no particular order:

Belle and Sebastian – The Boy With the Arab Strap

Boards Of Canada – Roygbiv

Money Mark – Tomorrow Will Be Like Today

Neutral Milk Hotel – Holland, 1945

Mercury Rev – Holes

Beastie Boys – Intergalactic

Lauryn Hill – Doo-Wop

Refused – New Noise

Silver Jews – People

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Honourable mentions also go to: Air for ‘La Femme D’Argent‘; Elliott Smith for ‘Waltz#2‘; Eels for ‘Last Stop: This Town‘; People Under The Stairs for ‘San Francisco Nights‘: The Beta Band for ‘Dry The Rain‘; and Massive Attack for ‘Teardrop‘.

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Big Thief – Masterpiece (2016)

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And now to a different strand of the mythical folk rock genre. Brooklyn’s Big Thief balances the singer-songwriter’s storytelling with indie rock. Their debut album’s title track ‘Masterpiece’ sums it up. Adrianne Lenker sings: “There’s only so much letting go you can ask someone to do.”

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – French Press (2017) 

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One of Melbourne current standout bands, Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever grabbed enough people’s attention this year on the strength of their first single ‘French Press’. The band was formed by singer-guitarists Fran Keaney, Tom Russo and Joe White, and all three of their instruments are at the fore on this somewhat downcast surf rock jam.

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Alvvays – Dreams Tonite (2017)

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Toronto-based indie pop band Alvvays released their sophomore album Antisocialites this year. The second track is ‘Dreams Tonite’ with its dreamy 1980s pop sound. Think Chromatics. Think Beach House. Think Cocteau Twins.

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9 of the best – sounds of 1999

A compilation for the weekend. My favourite songs of 1999 in no particular order:

Röyksopp – So Easy

Blur – Coffee And TV

Dr. Dre – Still D.R.E.

Wilco – She’s A Jar

Pavement – Spit On A Stranger

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – I See A Darkness

dEUS – Instant Street

The Flaming Lips – Race For The Prize

Sigur Rós – Starálfur

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Honourable mentions also go to: Pépé Bradock & The Grand Brûlé’s Choir for ‘Deep Burnt‘; Mos Def for ‘Ms. Fat Booty‘; Shack for ‘Comedy‘; Pete Heller for ‘Big Love‘ and Death in Vegas for ‘Dirge‘.

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Band Of Horses – The Funeral (2006)

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A simple start, a high pitch and a break out equals a strong lead single. ‘The Funeral’ is the fourth track on Band Of Horses’ 2006 album Everything All The Time. My Morning Jacket, Neil Young… the musical references are hardly hidden, but the sound is sweet. Ben Bridwell’s soaring vocals leave listeners with a definite impression.

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Rex Orange County – Edition (2017)

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19-year-old Alex O’Connor is also known by his stage name Rex Orange County. The singer-songwriter was born in Haslemere, a-far-from-gritty corner of Surrey. From there, he took the influences and Thundercat, Toro Y Moi and Frank Ocean and divined his path. This white man has found his jazzy R&B chi; Surrey’s answer to Jon Bellion.

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The Charlatans – Forever (1999)

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In 1999, The Charlatans were flying high off the success of previous album Tellin’ Stories and didn’t they let everyone know it when the needle dropped. ‘Forever’ kicks off the band’s Us and Us Only album and it has the swagger of a small group of standout opening tracks. In relatively recent years, I am thinking comparisons with Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, Radiohead’s ‘Airbag’ and The Strokes’ ‘Is This It’. High praise indeed. Swirling organs, a drumming masterclass and menacing lyrics made for a lesson in post-Chemical-Brothers rock’n’roll. Have a great week.

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Gomez – 78 Stone Wobble (1998)

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Bring It On was the debut album by Gomez that won the 1998 Mercury Music Prize. The Southport band had an original take on bluesy rock, as exemplified by one of the LP’s standout tracks ’78 Stone Wobble’. Acoustic guitar and distorted vocals were an unusual mix, but absolutely on point. It was reminiscent of Beck.

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Death in Vegas – Dirge (1999)

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Good morning. We start this week with Dot Allison’s hippy, hazy vocal mantra that is Death in Vegas’ ‘Dirge’. Kicking off their on their second LP The Contino Sessions, the chant became a familiar call in trip hop and indie sets alike. Feel the white noise my friends and have a great week.

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9 of the best – sounds of noughties

It would seem that 2004 was peak noughties (to these ears…):

The Avalanches – Since I Left You (2000)

 The Strokes – Modern Age (2001)

The Flaming Lips – Do You Realize? (2002)

Broken Social Scene – Stars And Sons (2003)

The Walkmen – The Rat (2004)

Sébastien Tellier – La Ritournelle (2004)

Sigur Rós – Hoppípolla (2005)

 Midlake – Bandits (2006)

Beirut – Nantes (2007)

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Honourable mentions also go to: Lambchop for ‘Up With The People’ (2000); Outkast for ‘Ms. Jackson’ (2000); Ian Brown for ‘F. E. A. R.’ (2001); The Shins for ‘New Slang‘ (2002); Kings Of Leon for ‘Red Morning Light‘ (2003); Radiohead for ‘A Wolf At The Door’ (2003); Mew for ‘Comforting Sounds’ (2003); Kasabian for ‘Club Foot’ (2004); Danger Mouse for his remix of ‘Public Service Announcement’ (2004); The Good, the Bad and the Queen for ‘Herculean’ (2006); The Hold Steady for ‘The Chillout Tent‘ (2006); The Strokes for ‘You Only Live Once’ (2006); and Jay Electronica for ‘Exhibit C’ (2009).

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Andrew Bird – Oh No (2009)

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‘Oh No’ is the opening track off Andrew Bird’s 2009 album Noble Beast. A classically trained violinist and a pervasive whistler, he successfully combines the two talents into a pop song that The Shins would be proud of. Have a great week.

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The War on Drugs – Holding On (2017)

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Two War on Drugs tracks in less than a month. Well they’ve only gone and released a new single, ‘Holding On’, so what am I meant to do? Like someone has said before me, I knew I would like this track before I heard it. Before Adam Granduciel does his Bob Dylan thang, the single starts apace with a tight drum beat, synthesizers, a xylophone and never lets up. “He never gonna change; he never gonna learn…” Yeah baby. The new album A Deeper Understanding is released on 25 August.

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Big Thief – Shark Smile (2017)

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Brooklyn-based Big Thief shared a new single ‘Shark Smile’ last month. This slice of indie heartbreak will feature on their forthcoming album Capacity. Singer-songwriter Adrianne Lenker and her whispering vocals dominate until Buck Meek gets going on lead guitar.

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The War On Drugs – Thinking Of A Place (2017)

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If you think nine minutes of Yo La Tengo is long… check this. It’s been a long three years since their 2014 LP Lost in the Dream, but Philly rockers The War on Drugs have decided to return with 11 minutes of ‘Thinking Of A Place’. The expansive and psychedelic sounds are the first from a new work due later this year. Will the fourth album cement Adam Granduciel as the modern-day Springsteen?

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