indiepop

BRAVE BABY BECOMES OUR NEW ELECTRIC FRIENDS
October 18, 2016 9:41 am

Brave Baby are a band from Charleston, South Carolina that currently carries the torch for the niche genre of southern indie rock. That title is normally reserved for bands that have at least one banjo, or cracklin’ piano, not synthesizers, 60’s-style organs, nor lead singer Keon Masters breathy delivery. The 5-piece is an eclectic mix of tender melodies, upbeat, danceable, radio ready singles, and southern charm.
They released their debut record Forty Bells on Charleston indie rock label Hearts and Plugs in 2013 that bring a DIY ethos, self-producing that record in their storage unit turned recording studio. The band released their follow up, Electric Friends, in 2015 to critical acclaim taking a giant step forward in terms of songwriting, and musicianship. The band’s multi-layered, synth-pop approach falls right in line with the millennial culture. Songs like “Daisy Child”, “Ancients”, and “Larry on the Weekend” have poured on comparisons to Arcade Fire, The Shins, and Death Cab for Cutie. The band is at once delicate, needing great care and undivided attention, yet ready for the long road-trip, with too many friends, crammed in the backseat of a Toyota Corolla.

HANNAH GEORGAS: NOT JUST FOR EVELYN
July 26, 2016 6:02 pm

For those who haven’t heard, Hannah Georgas is a singer-songwriter based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Her newest album For Evelyn was released on June 24th of this year. Eleven tracks in length, For Evelyn deals with feelings of maturity, inadequacy, and the role of generations play in our psyche. Named after her grandmother, the album is an enjoyable listen that blends melancholy with smooth dance production.

Georgas first came up on the indie pop scene in 2009, when her first EP The Beat Stuff was picked up by Hidden Pony Records. After a few tweaks, the record was put out and was quickly licensed for commercial use by companies like Starbucks and Wal-Mart. That’s about as good as it gets for a fledgling artist, landing corporate behemoths that play their music on a loop throughout the week. Before long, Georgas was being featured on television shows and Canadian radio leading up to her full-length debut in 2010. This Is Good was responsible for Georgas nabbing nominations in Best New Artist of the Year as well as Songwriter of the Year at the 2011 Juno Awards. Riding the momentum, Georgas toured internationally up until 2014, dropping a second self-titled album and building credence as she went.

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Flash-forward to 2016, For Evelyn is a wandering, all-over-the-place record that flits from high to low throughout the project. Standout tracks that peaked my interest include “Waste,” “Evelyn,” and “Crazy Shit.” “Waste” rides along a groovy synthesizer beat, infectious to the ear and inducing self-inflicted head bobbing. Georgas croons along in her signature sing-song voice, nonchalant and cool as a ‘cuke.

Leading up to “Waste” is “Evelyn,” a song which fits my oh-so favorite vibe of beats that sound like they belong in the TRON universe. The hook, verses, chorus, synthesizers; all work together in just the right way that tickles my fancy. As someone who definitely appreciates good synthesizer production, For Evelyn is chock-full of alterations and atmospherically attractive rhythms that suit Georgas to a tee.

Last but not least of my favorite three tracks is Crazy Shit. In the bottom half of the album, Crazy Shit is an all-around fun dance tune that works well whether you’re dancing in your room or out driving in the fresh night air. Much of For Evelyn imbues a nocturnal feel; from the production to the subject matter, this is an album that is better suited to periods of self-introspection and reexamination.

Georgas has released an overall catchy and fun album that continues her series of musical success’s and successions. Be sure to pick up a copy on iTunes, or listen for free on Spotify. With so much to say, put simply, Georgas is worth listening to.

JOHAN ANGERGÅRD: SWEDEN’S INDIE-POP MASTERMIND
February 5, 2016 9:46 am

You know that unique feeling of gratification you get when you discover a new sound?  It’s an impulsive need, an addiction.  I’m constantly searching for that next infectious dose. Thankfully the freakishly endless Internet universe never ceases to deliver new sonic pathways.

Sweden’s bustling independent music scene is as robust as it gets.

Johan Angergård is the founder of Stockholm-based Labrador Records.  He’s a DJ, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and producer.  His career spans back to the early 90’s and his prolificacy is profound, having been a key component of several noteworthy bands including Acid House Kings, Club 8, Pallers, and The Legends.

Labrador specializes in a particular brand of indie-pop classified as “twee”.  Quaint, naive, cute. There’s a distinct nostalgic nod to early 80’s indie-pop bands like The Smiths and the cheerful innocence 60’s rock. But that’s where any easily drawn comparisons end.

Labrador is first and foremost, an electronic music label with a sleek,  distinctly Scandinavian twist, an off-the-cuff repertoire of bright, audacious, and irony-tinged pop.  Labrador’s sonic pallet encompasses the so-called “balearic Sound”, popularized in Ibiza night clubs in the early 90”s. A notable manifestation of Labrador’s nuanced grooves can be heard on the The Radio Dept.’s highly acclaimed 2010 record Clinging to a Scheme.   These influences are the glue that make Angergård’s vision come to life.

If you’re in need of some new tunes, Labrador’s SoundCloud is a vault of music worth excavating.  It’s crammed to the brim with singles, EPs, remixes, and playlists that encapsulate Labrador’s touchingly off-kilter world.  It feels like an exhibit curated by Angergård himself, which I suppose, is part of what makes indie labels like Labrador great.

According to Labrador’s Facebook page the label is gearing up for an exciting year with “something like a handful of new artists” releasing music.  In the meantime, his own band Club 8 released their 9th full-length album Pleasure.  The leading single, “Late Nights“, is a sleek synth-pop that defines both where Angergård comes from and also where he intends to take us next.

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: KAELA SINCLAIR
February 2, 2016 12:47 am

In her 2013 debut album, Sun and Mirror, indie-pop songstress Kaela Sinclair introduced the world to the sultry elegance that brought her songwriting to critical acclaim. With accolades from national music publications like Paste and international recognition with a session on BBC Radio Live Performance, the Dallas singer is set to showcase the next step in her evolution as a songwriter with a new album slated for release this Spring.

If Sun and Mirror is any indication of what is to come on her untitled upcoming album, then there is more than ample reason for anticipation. Featuring a roster of some of the music world’s most gifted musicians, including Buffi Jacobs (Polyphonic Spree), Fiona Brice (Kanye West, Placebo), Daniel Hart (St. Vincent, Broken Social Scene), and the highly-sought drummer and producer McKenzie Smith (Midlake, St. Vincent, Sarah Jaffe, Regina Spektor), Sinclair has surrounded herself with some of the few musicians capable of skillfully backing her vocal prowess and lyrical introspection.

Her band weaves a web of smooth, crisp melodies around her melancholy lyrics to create a perfect blend of enigmatic effect and chilling psychedelia. It comes as no surprise that several members of her backing band are members of The Polyphonic Spree, a band whose music has similarly complex arrangements that evoke both a joyful glee juxtaposed with a hint of sadness.

The clear highlight of Kaela Sinclair’s music is the emotional intelligence and awareness of her lyrics. On her breakout single “Original Sin,” Sinclair delivers lyrical gems such as; “study me like I’m your past waving from the door/ hard to see you off if you’re leaving me for more/I am just a flickering light trying to guide you home/ ain’t no scorching sun but I can keep you warm.” Sinclair sings this in a heartbroken croon, that holds the power through her words to hand over the pain from her soul and makes you feel it yourself.

When she sings, her voice comes alive with the weight of her words, each clearly chosen with great care to lend her lyrics an incredible strength that sets her voice apart from her songwriting peers. One can’t help but wonder how her lyrical skills will have evolved in the time between the release of Sun and Mirror and her upcoming album, since that time will have undoubtedly led to a maturity of her songwriting that can only improve on her obvious talent.

In addition to being an amazingly-talented singer-songwriter, Kaela Sinclair has an apparent talent in the way that she presents herself as a musical personality. She has made clever use of her social media presence to gain recognition for her talents, especially with expertly-executed music videos and live sessions on Youtube.

Sinclair clearly puts great effort into setting her music videos apart from other artists with the unique way she expresses themes such as sorrow, loss, and elation. Her efforts have paid off, which is evident by the popularity of her videos. Her most recent video, a touching cover of SOHN’s “Artifice” that was apparently recorded on a cell phone. Sinclair’s genius use of her public presence shows the potential to become a more widely recognized act, upon the release of her new album later in 2016. Most importantly, Kaela Sinclair has the talent to back up her rapid ascent.