Category Archives: Indie

Psst…I’m Not Telling Everyone About “Bright Orange Air” by Inlets, But I Think You’re Cool Enough To Handle It (Note to Self: Why Am I Whispering?)

With my sleeping schedule all screwed up, I’m half watching the Olympics, half finishing up this song review that I started before my daughter was born in late January.  (Congrats to Ohno and Celski who earned silver and bronze, respectively, in short track skating.)

I wanted to come back to “Bright Orange Air” by Inlets because the song is so good.  To be released on the album, “Inter Arbiter,” on April 20 by Two Syllable Records, this track may end up being a well-kept lo-fi secret, but deserves a wider audience.

Here’s the video (released March 15, 2010 on Pitchfork).

Inlets' Sebastian Krueger

The Inlets music I have heard is so personal, it feels almost private…like the listener is poking in on an intimate concert for a few special friends.

Well, I’m here to tell you, go ahead and intrude, it’s worth it.

Why not give the song a listen, and we’ll talk about it afterword.

Listen to the song here

According to the Inlets press kit, “Bright Orange Air” is an ode to the psychotropic effects of municipal lighting. Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics.

Leading by a thumb
It’s still a branch of knots
That snagged into your hair
But you forgot where
Easy to get
Pressed into your photo books
It’s the way I’ll hold the face
Until the camera drops

Chorus

“Bright Orange Air
It’s the people’s lines below
I can read at night
In the outdoor light
And I’m waving, oh”

Like I said, this music is pretty personal. The songwriter may be the only person who completely understands the lyrics…but so be it. Supported by beefy guitar picking, Inlets leader Sebastian Krueger’s distinct vocals expertly straddle inspiration and angst. Through lovingly placed harmonies and a nice Brazilian-sounding groove placed here and there, the track takes me to a different world and makes me feel lucky to be there.

For more details about the upcoming Inlets album, check out this article from Stereogum, where the song originally debuted.

As an added bonus, here’s an Inlets video of the song, “Roots on Sidewalks,” which will give you a great feel for the intimate nature of Inlets’ music.

Inlets’ web sites include the following:

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Have Writers Block? Hit Your Local Farmer’s Market – Laura Veirs Did & Reached a Creative Milestone with “July Flame”

For me, the joy of the creative process is up there with other key life events…say, feeling my wife’s prego belly as our baby does kung fu moves in utero.

That’s why I was tickled when I read a recent tweet from indie-rocker Laura Veirs. She said, “Somebody’s kicking me in the ribs! WTF?”

No, she didn’t get into a bar fight in England where she is currently on tour. She has an onboard band member (translation: she’s pregnant).

Indie Singer/Songwriter Laura Veirs

On the creative process, Veirs says in her online bio that writing “July Flame,” a song from her album by the same name (released Jan. 12, 2010, Raven Marching Band Records), helped her reach an important musical milestone.

July Flame (permission received for free download)

“I’d been in a songwriting slump at that time and writing that song pushed me over my plateau and into a new place where I was surprising myself again,” she says.

The track’s title was borrowed from a variety of peaches called July Flame, which Veirs purchased for canning during a July 2008 visit to a Portland, Oregon farmer’s market.

Starting with a lonely, grieving guitar, the song takes us on a journey through firework flames and unfulfilled desire. The track never brings us to the shores of resolution, but gives us hope on the journey – as testified by a choir bolstered with uplifting strings at the song’s climax.

Full Lyrics to July Flame

“July Flame
Fiery kite
Will-o’-the-wisp
Lead me through the night

“July Flame
Sweet summer peach
High up in the branch
Just out of my reach

“Can I call you mine?
Can I call you mine?

“July Flame
I’m seeing fireworks
They’re so beautiful
Tell me why it hurts

“July Flame
Ashes of a secret heart
Falling in my lemonade
Unslakeable thirsting in the back yard

“Can I call you mine?
Can I call you mine?”

For Veirs, the creative process didn’t stop with the song. Check out the beautiful “July Flame” video. (This may be the first time you’ve seen peach fireworks and wildlife roasting marshmallows!)

If you’re interested in learning more about the making of Veirs’ “July Flame” album, this video is for you.

The Hidden Meanings of Secret Heart

“July Flame” has several meanings in the song – a peach, will-o’-the- wisp and unrequited love (my guess). So, I have taken “secret heart” from the second verse and given it totally unintended new meanings.

  1. The Secret Heart (1946 film) – The New York Times describes “The Secret Heart” as “a psychological drama starring June Allyson as a disturbed teenager obsessed with the memory of her dead father and unable to embrace her stepmother.” Here’s the trailer.
  2. Paul McCartney’s Secret Heart Operation – In the fall of 2007, Paul McCartney secretively had a coronary angioplasty. Apparently it did the trick. He’s alive and kicking and recently wrote the song, “(I Want To) Come Home,” for the new Robert De Niro film, “Everybody’s Fine.”

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A Proposal to Have Chazz Michael Michaels Star in a “Let’s Write a Book” Video by Field Music

Here’s the video to “Let’s Write a Book” released on May 11, 2010.

Not that the guys in British alt. pop group Field Music should listen to me, but here’s an idea for a Field Music video that’s sure to make the kids say “that’s beast!”

On Jan. 12, 2010, the group released the single, “Let’s Write a Book,” from the upcoming double-album, “Field Music (Measure).”

For me, the track evokes images of Prince writhing in funky purple accompanied by a leather-clad Terminator bodyguard (1984 vintage), while David “Burning Down the House” Byrne jumps up and down on stage. Add to the party what sounds like the Blue Man Group banging on those weird tubes, and you have a pretty good idea of how this song feels. It feels good…

Listen to Lets Write a Book Here

Brothers and co-front men David and Peter Brewis of Field Music

With that said, who could encompass all of the above to star in an epic music video for the song? With his ‘80s-big-hair-macho, my vote would be for Chazz Michael Michaels, co-lead character in the 2007 movie, “Blades of Glory.”

Here’s how this whole video thing could go down:

Verse 1
“Let’s not apologise
Let’s not assume blame
And if there’s a whisper of dissent
Send it to the library”

In a sleeveless shirt, terrycloth headband and red leather pants and boots, Chazz struts down an aisle of books at the library. He winks at a sexy librarian, and then spins to look into the camera with his index finger over his lips (shhhhhhhhh!)

During the ensuing xylophone barrage, we see Chazz pop-locking and doing the robot at the book return desk.

Verse 2
“Oh honey, dearest
We’re all panicking now
I’m minded to take it away
Oh honey, darling
Can we learn to take what’s coming?
Resounding with take, take, take, take”

Chazz raids the kids’ section of the library, taking books from children and shaking his head at them while they cry.

Verse 3
“Let’s write a book
Let’s paint the walls
And if that makes us forget where we are
We’ll always be somewhere else”

Chazz, Michelle Kwan and Oksana Baiul read the book, “The Complete Book of Figure Skating,” together, and then Michelle and Oksana spank Chazz with it.

Oh honey
Oh darling

More pop-locking

And there you have awesomeness.

Be sure to check out Field Music’s new album, which is due out on Feb. 15, 2010. Here’s a link to two free songs: “Each Time is a New Time” and “Measure.” (At the Field Music home page, see the sticker at the bottom middle of the screen that says “click here.”)

You’ll notice the free download songs, are totally different from “Let’s Write a Book,” which is one of the reasons why you should check out this exciting group.

By the way, here’s a video Field Music actually made.

Field Music’s Web sites include:

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No Lyme Disease or Blood Sucking Here: Deer Tick Just Wants You to Get Lucky with the New Song, “Dance of Love”

Deer ticks are nasty little arachnids whose mission is to suck the blood out of living creatures, all the while transmitting the horrible Lyme disease.

Well, in the summer of 2005, singer/songwriter John McCauley found one of the little buggers on his scalp on a camping trip and inspiration hit. His band would be “Deer Tick.”

(L to R, Deer Tick is John McCauley, Dennis Ryan, Chris Ryan and Andrew Tobiassen)

But don’t worry, this group is all about rocking your party – no blood sucking involved. (As far as I know, they can’t spread Lyme disease either.)

On the new song, “Dance of Love,” released Jan. 1, 2010, as part of the EP, “More Fuel for the Fire,” on Partisan Records, Deer Tick shares a road map for guys to get lucky…the old fashioned way.

Listen to Dance of Love Here

Here’s an excerpt from the lyrics:

“Well if I pull that chair out
Or maybe if I hold that door for you
If I do it cause my mother always told me to do
If I make a point to complement you
I’ll be feeling those legs already on mine

“Oh the dance of love
Well the dance of love
Is a wonderful dance”

Musically, “Dance of Love” is no lambada (the Brazilian dance of love). The song is wrapped in a Johnny Cash “Folsom Prison Blues” guitar groove, bolstered by some attitude from The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and uplifted by the spirit of the great Cajun bar bands such as the Pine Leaf Boys.

I love drummer Dennis Ryan’s driving beat on this tune. It’s busy, but in all the right places. On this track, Andrew Tobiassen’s lead vocals are a lot of fun. He’s no trained opera singer. This dude is just blurting out how guys feel about courting women, with all the raspy, hootin’ and hollerin’ that goes along with that.

So check out “Dance of Love” by Deer Tick. These guys will have you laughing, dancing and who knows what.

Deer Tick Extra: Here’s probably something you never imagined. Deer ticks singing soulful acapella.

Deer Tick is on Twitter (@deertickmusic) and the group’s Web sites include www.myspace.com/deertick , www.deertickmusic.com and www.facebook.com/deertick.

Sources:
American Lyme Disease Foundation
Deer Tick Biography on the Band’s Site

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Hungary’s DJ Bootsie, Making Movies For Your Ears: A Review of the Song, “Kite Over Faurndau,” and the Legacy of Hungarian Hip-Hop

Hip-hop is universal.

Don’t believe me?

Did you know that Hungary has a well-established hip-hop culture? The country’s first hip-hop album emerged in the mid-1980s.

That’s a testament to the kids who created rap music in the streets of U.S. urban centers and to the people of Hungary. Until relatively recently, Hungarians were under a creative lock-down (although less harsh than some other communist countries). Formally, communism ended in Hungary in 1989.

(Read more about the history of hip-hop in Hungary – http://tiny.cc/q5vss )

One of Hungary’s Brightest

Based in Budapest, DJ Bootsie, one of Hungary’s emerging hip-hop leaders, has been in the game for over 15 years and is known for his cinematic, improvisational approach.

(DJ Bootsie plays live with a band, a video screen and only one turntable to provide melody and scratch solos.)

DJ Bootsie started his first hip-hop group, Az Arral Szemben (Against the Current), in 1995 and won a national DJ competition the next year. Since then, he has performed and recorded with Hungarian groups Yonderboi and Zagar and has released two solo albums: “The Silent Partner,” in 2004 (Ugar Records) and “Holidays in the Shade,” released Dec. 15, 2009, on BBE.

Hungarian Blues with Bass

Listen to “Holidays in the Shade,” and you’ll hear “epic instrumentals, basically on hip-hop foundations,” DJ Bootsie says in a video promoting the album (see link at the end of this article). “[The songs] carry strong cinematic influences as well as folk, jazz, electronic sounds and scratches here and there,” he says.

Also in the video, DJ Bootsie talks about his interest in musical structures and taking his listeners on a journey toward something inspirational, yet sad.

“Often, gloomy, not entirely positive music can also be uplifting, which actually reflects the mentality of the Hungarian people,” he says.

American musicians might say that DJ Bootsie is talking about the blues.

Kite Over Faurndau

DJ Bootsie has a gift for using dynamics to evoke emotions, similar to the dramatic music we hear so often in movie soundtracks.

Take, for example, the song, “Kite Over Faurndau.” A light acoustic guitar carries the music along with a playful snippet of female vocals. Interwoven are musical events that bring piano, accordion, string hits, rhythmic handclaps, rock guitar and distant sirens into the musical picture – all telling a story with a beginning, middle and end.

Live Version of Kite Over Faurndau

Perhaps that’s why DJ Bootsie’s music has translated so well into TV. The CSI franchise used his songs “Horseriders to the Abyss,” and “Ballad of the Spaceship Rigger (Pt. 1)” in its episodes. His work has also appeared in Hungarian TV and film.

Through an e-mail interview, DJ Bootsie shared with Eleven’s Song Reviews that his inspiration for “Kite Over Faurndau” was a personal one.

Faurndau is a tiny, remote Swabian village in southern Germany where my grandmother lives,” he says. “During the initial work…of the song, I often recalled childhood memories of flying kites close to her place…The most careless time of my life these days were.”

He also shares, “The nature of the song, the airiness, the acoustic guitar, the zip and snap of it, made me start to clap my hands, like when one starts to dance involuntarily.”

So when you’re feeling introspective and need a good musical rush, check out DJ Bootsie. He’ll play a musical movie for your ears…you supply the script in your imagination. If you want to hear more music from Hungarian hip-hop artists, DJ Bootsie recommends listening to DJ Cadik and DJ Mango.

By the way, if you want to see some great panoramic views of Budapest, Hungary, check out the following Web site: http://tiny.cc/VuKAU .

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Bees in Music – Sex, Violence and Social Reform: A Review of the Song, “Honeybees Falling,” by Alt-Folk’s Sean Hayes

From the Wu-Tang Killa Bees to indie-pop’s The Bird and the Bee, musicians are irresistibly drawn to bee references.  And why not? The bee’s stinger is ideal for violent or naughty metaphors, and romantic songs come to life with a little pollination/honey-making innuendo.

Here are a couple snippets from the Diana Ross and The Supremes song, “Honey Bee (Keep on Stinging Me)”: “You started a fever burnin’ deep inside of me, since you stung me with your sweet love… This taste of honey you’re givin’ me has sweetened all my bitterness.”

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=diana+ross+and+the+supremes&iid=4401624″ src=”a/a/a/1/The_Supremes_bdec.jpg?adImageId=8287268&imageId=4401624″ width=”380″ height=”291″ /] (Diana Ross and The Supremes know a thing or two about bee metaphors.)

Sean Hayes (the alt-folk singer/songwriter, not the actor from Will & Grace) takes musical bee references in a socially conscious direction with his single, “Honeybees Falling,” released on Dec. 8 from Sean Hayes Music.

Hear the song, which is a folky fusion of rock and reggae: http://hypem.com/search/sean+hayes

Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics:

“Who’s out chasin’ after money? Little mouse in a maze
Clouds above the buildings, pockets full of rain
Mystery surrounds us, mystery all around us….

“Go ask the birds, the birds, the birds
Listen to the wind, the wind, the wind
Go ask the honeybees falling
Listen to the breathing in…”

In a recent e-mail interview with Eleven’s Song Reviews, Hayes explained his reference to falling bees.

“Honeybee populations are dying… It has been happening for years and it’s getting worse. It is a very scary thing with huge consequences… Go ask the honeybees!” he said.

To Hayes’ point, in an August 2009 Time magazine article, “New Clues in the Mass Death of Bees,” author Bryan Walsh reports on colony collapse disorder (CCD), a phenomenon that has resulted in the reduction of nearly one-third of all American honeybees in recent years.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1918282,00.html#ixzz0ZRpeTznE

On a higher level, “Honeybees Falling” urges us to rethink our disconnection from nature and the sometimes harmful decisions we make as a result.

“Asking questions like scientists or mystics. Knowing we do not know. The grind, grind, grind, easy-to-forget money is a made-up magic, but honeybees are real,” says Hayes.

“Honeybees Falling” isn’t Hayes’ first venture into the world of bee imagery.

In the song, “All for Love,” from the album, “Flowering Spade,” Hayes sings, “I’ll gather your honey. I’ll plant your seed. I’ll be your harvest, leave you my sting.”

Listen to All for Love Here

He also released the song “Pollinating Toes,” on the album, “Big Black Hole and The Little Baby Star.”

Listen to Pollinating Toes Here

If you are interested in hearing more from Hayes, he is releasing a new album on March 2, 2010, called “Run Wolves Run.” Here’s a pre-released video from one of the tracks, “Garden.”

Additional Sources: www.seanhayesmusic.com/home and www.myspace.com/rattlesnakecharm

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Getting to Know the Music of Dave Davison, A ‘Bass Ackwards’ Guide – Starting with the Song, “Letters,” from Cast Spells

Cast Spells announced on March 26, 2010, that the group recorded a Daytrotter session.

My first exposure to singer/songwriter/guitarist Dave Davison was this Tuesday, when label Sargent House released a split EP with two songs from Cast Spells (a Davison side project) and Good Old War.

Listening to the moving, sentimental song, “Letters,” I assumed Davison was a folk singer. Check out this link to the EP: http://castspells.bandcamp.com.

Then, I searched Cast Spells on YouTube and watched the video, “A Badge, Glass Room Sessions.” Seeing Davison with his bushy hair and bare feet, playing his acoustic guitar, and I “knew” he was a folk singer.

Turns out I was only 31 percent right (approximately!) about Davison’s folk leanings.

He is best known for his work with Maps & Atlases, a Chicago-based math-rock, prog-rock, nerd-rock, post-rock, alt-punk group (pick your genre description). While the members of Maps & Atlases acknowledge a folk influence (in an MTV2 “On the Rise” segment), the group is pure technical chops and fireworks.

Listen to the song here (Every Place Is a Home by Maps & Atlases)

Davison is also involved in a project called HEY!TONAL, which is even more experimental: http://africantapegroup.bandcamp.com/album/hey-tonal-hey-tonal.

For those who are new to Dave Davison, I’m admittedly taking you on an ass backwards journey through his music. Don’t worry. “Letters” is a great place to start.

The honesty of Davison’s voice combined with his sweet but urgent guitar lines are powerful. Call it quiet confidence. His frenetic energy demonstrated with his other groups is subtler here.

Here’s an excerpt from the lyrics (couldn’t make out some of these):

“Dragonflies and gnats and their incisions in the water
……???
And I remember when you laughed, the rise and fall of your stomach
And the dirt and bark all over your skin
In lakes and spitting watermelon seeds
We planted a garden beneath our kicking feet
These are letters to you
These are letters to you”

If you are interested in getting to know Davison’s work better, check out the new split EP and his many other recordings. Also, he is currently on the road in select cities with Cast Spells, accompanied by Good Old War and Hezekiah Jones. According to Sargent House’s Twitter profile (@sargenthouse), audiences are loving it. Davison will perform with Cast Spells and HEY!TONAL in Europe starting in late February 2010.

Web sites of groups of which Dave Davison is a member include the following:

Sources:

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