indierock

SPEAK AND BE HEARD: THE FINEST SYNTHPOP
June 3, 2016 2:14 pm

SPEAK is a synthpop group from Austin, Texas. Combining ear pleasing vocals with catchy synthesizer backdrops, Speak breaks out of the mold typical to the genre. None of their recent songs sound forced; in fact they jam in ways that I was unprepared for.

Composed of Troupe Gammage on keys and lead vocals, Nick Hurt on guitar, Joey Delahoussaye on bass, and Jake Stewart on drums, the band has been putting out material for over five years now. They have a comfort with one another that comes with ease translated in their music. These smooth dance tunes will help even the most awkward of us find our groove.

Their latest song is “Gates,” which hopefully might be a lead single off a forthcoming album. Ridiculously catchy, between the synthesizer and Gammage’s vocals, I am hooked. True to the new wave style of Austin, in the music video everybody looks slightly lost, or out of place. Maybe it’s the thick rimmed glasses and the awkward carrying of the magic metal box. Regardless, the more I listen to this song, the more I like and appreciate Speak. I found myself coming back again and again to “Gates,” even humming it first thing in the morning after I woke up.

Gammage truly has a fantastic set of pipes, not only making dope music with Speak but also performing voice work for many and multiple video games. Even though each member of the band is talented beyond reason, it is Gammage that I find ties the whole shtick together.

Improving and tweaking their sound much over the course of their last few projects, their latest album Pedals, which came out mid ’14, is a good place to start if you’re not hip. Their lead single off Pedals is “Peaks”; sick drums over elegant harmonies. The beat will immediately get your head a bobbin’, if you have a pulse.

“Heavy Metal Way” may be my favorite track on the project. It brings a more rock-friendly feel with the drum-line intro that sets the rest up perfectly. Again, Gammage’s vocals are truly inspiring. He reminds me of a young Adam Levine the way he seamlessly switches between low scratchy growls and pristine falsetto.

Much of Speak’s appeal to me while listening through their discography is how they don’t lean on the category of ‘synthpop’ as a clutch, but instead uses it to fuel the basis of who they are. They incorporate gnarly guitar solos and blistering drum beats to round out a healthier end result. Some of their instrumentals take on a post-rock sense of depth and longing. Nothing resembling pedantic, Speaks excels at surprising the listener track after track.

I am sincerely looking forward to the next tape from the lads of Austin. With a ton of new music already infecting the airwaves of Summer 2016, I think Speak has a bonafide chance to really be heard.

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.