Tag Archives: Indie

Album of the Day: Alex Lahey, “The Best of Luck Club”

“The Best of Luck Club,” the second record from Australian multi-instrumentalist Alex Lahey follows a similar m.o. as her debut “I Love You Like A Brother,” pairing an optimistic sound with decidedly less optimistic lyrics. Darkness is always close by in her songs, but Lahey tames her demons with buoyant melodies and thundering power chords.

The album’s explosive opener, “I Don’t Get Invited To Parties Anymore,” is a boisterous look at the tension between fading youth and adult responsibility. “Has my fun gone out the door?” she glumly asks at one point. She answers her own question shortly thereafter, by way of the roaring power pop of “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself,” where she sings, “You haven’t had a day off in weeks / Your voice is shaking when you speak / It might not be my place to help / But don’t be so hard on yourself.” By maintaining this tender sense of conviction throughout, Lahey sends the album’s arc with a bit of hope. It’s an album about feeling the lowest of the lows, but also celebrating the highest of the highs. Songs like “Am I Doing It Right” and “Interior Demeanour” scan as letters Lahey has written to herself, offering both determination and reassurance. When life gets dark, it takes a certain kind of zeal to see through the fog—and zeal is something The Best of Luck Club has in spades.

-Jerry Cowgill

Ten Bands Keeping the DIY Scene in Portugal Loud, Edgy, and Alive

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Illustration by Noopur Choksi

It’s something of an inside joke in Portugal that the country’s culture is basically about three things: fado, football, and Fátima. That was certainly true during the 48 years of António Salazar’s dictatorship, when it was next to impossible for anyone living in Portugal to get their hands on rock music from abroad. National rock wasn’t exactly forbidden, but it was frowned upon; government-sanctioned music was either fado or bubblegum pop about traditional national values, known as nacional cançonetismo.

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10 Underground Acts Bringing Monterrey, Mexico’s Rich Musical Legacy Into The Future

 

Monterrey—Mexico’s third largest city, capital of the northern state of Nuevo León and the country’s beating financial heart—is a hotbed for underground punk, indie, and experimental music. Though not technically a border city, Monterrey’s proximity to the U.S. has enabled the same creative osmosis found in established sister cities like Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, making the complexities of border identity a recurring theme in Northern Mexican regional music.

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Amen Dunes on “Freedom,” His Most Immediate and Beautiful Album to Date

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Photo by Michael Schmelling

Like many teenagers who lived a train ride away from New York City during the ’90s, Damon McMahon (better known as the writer of deeply moving songs as Amen Dunes) spent many nights escaping his pastoral Connecticut home and heading into the city’s dance clubs, where he heard everything from emotive progressive trance to jittery drum & bass.

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Album of the Day: Mount Eerie, “Now Only”

When Phil Elverum’s wife of 13 years, Geneviève Castrée, passed away in July 2016, he responded by penning a series of songs that became Mount Eerie’s 2017 album A Crow Looked At Me. Where that record examined the short-term impact of death, Elverum’s new album Now Only explores how to live in the months and years that follow. The time since, A Crow has been marked by artistic highs for Elverum—he returned to live performance for the first time since 2014, and the record was met with widespread acclaim. But it also, understandably, was colored by emotional lows. Now Only paints a picture of a man navigating that divide.

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Exploring Glasgow’s Wide-Ranging Dance, Indie, and Experimental Scene

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Optimo by Niall M Walker.

Glasgow’s underground music scene has arguably never been as vibrant as it is right now. The current climate of “anything goes” fun can be traced back to the founding of legendary club night Optimo in 1997, and more recently, the work of independent promoters like Cry Parrot, Spite House, and OH141. All deserve enormous credit for creating the kind of events where underground dance acts perform with free jazzers, techno DJs take the stage after punishing noise acts, and queer punk bands share bills with electronic pop acts; the result is a culture of unforced eclecticism and anti-elitism. The city’s sturdy infrastructure of venues, community-minded studios like Green Door, and independent record stores like Monorail and Rub-a-Dub allows musicians, producers, and promoters to develop their practice, make connections, and sell their work. Established labels like Rock Action, Night School, and Geographic continue to support local talent, while a new wave of digital and tape labels expand the idea of Glasgow music by issuing everything from sound art and industrial electronics, to folk and jazz fusion.

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The Many Faces of Pop Eccentric Alex Cameron

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Alex Cameron and Roy Molloy. Photos by Eleanor Petry.

Back in 2014, Alex Cameron was working at a government office assisting victims of corruption in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. It was his job to organize reports, pore through letters, catalogue phone messages, and chase leads relating to all sorts of sordid government and municipal malfeasance. In his time there, the young musician proved to be quite good at sifting through the minutiae of people’s lives—something that wouldn’t surprise anyone who listened to his 2014 debut, Jumping the Shark. On that album, his first solo effort after leaving the Aussie group Seekae, Cameron spun tales of everyday losers and aspiring stars against programmed drum machines and simple synth lines, providing a voyeuristic look at hope, misery, and what it feels like to hit rock bottom.

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The B-52s’ Fred Schneider and Cindy Wilson Reflect on 40 Weird, Wonderful Years

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Fred Schneider and Cindy Wilson, 1990

As two-thirds of the boisterous vocal threesome that fronts the B-52s, Cindy Wilson and Fred Schneider are well-known for their expressive singing styles. Along with fellow vocalist Kate Pierson, multi-instrumentalist Keith Strickland, and late guitarist Ricky Wilson (who is long overdue for recognition as a 20th-century guitar visionary), the two singers helped craft one of the most distinctive sounds to emerge from the new wave era. Now, with the band still in full throttle celebrating its 40th anniversary (which passed on Valentine’s Day of this year), Wilson and Schneider also find themselves in the process of unveiling newly completed full-lengths on the side.

Fred Schneider & The Superions’ The Vertical Mind features Schneider’s hyper-manic persona front and center in a kind of pleasantly dystopian tiki/lounge/disco synthscape supplied by the core duo of Noah Brodie and Dan Marshall (The Superions). Arriving seven years after the group’s album of Christmas-themed originals, Destination…Christmas!, Vertical Mind sees Schneider keeping tongue firmly in cheek even as he gets edgier than we’re used to seeing him in the B-52s, addressing subjects like airport strip searches, lust, and…meatballs.

Wilson’s full-length debut Change, out in November, showcases her sensitive side against a rich, varied backdrop of futurist, electro-shoegaze psychedelia courtesy of guitarist Ryan Monahan, drummer Lemuel Hayes, and producer Suny Lyons. Both albums are the fruits of collaborations that have been simmering slowly for the better part of the last decade. Wilson begins a short tour of U.S. cities in early September.

We spoke with Wilson and Schneider from their respective homes in Athens, GA and Long Island via conference call. No surprise, they finished each other’s sentences a lot and broke out into laughter with almost every response.

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