Tag Archives: Indie pop

Christopher Owens – Lysandre (2013)

Christopher Owens - Lysandre (2013)

Former singer of American indie rock band, Girls, Christopher Owens sets off on his solo journey here with Lysandre.

I really am unsure how I feel about this album, it is really hard to get my head around. The opening lyrics to Love Is In The Ear Of The Listener “What if I’m just a bad songwriter; and everything I say has been said before” say a lot, I think, about the anxieties of setting out solo and the chorus “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is a sentiment I have to proffer here, in my genuine state of not really knowing what to think about this album. My review is not going to do it a huge amount of justice and I feel that you may have to listen to understand why I am so unsure.

Opening track, Lysandre’s Theme, is a chamber/baroque-esque melody; this baroque theme is a constant presence on the album, as flute is incorporated into the instrumentation and the melody is repeated throughout the album. Here We Go gives a better impression of the overall theme of the album, a soft indie/folk pop song with acoustic guitar and soft vocals, before incorporating the aforementioned baroque elements, harmonica, and a really jarring electric guitar; for some reason it reminds me of Ween’s take on folk song Cold Blows The Wind, while New York City incorporates saxophone, and melodically sounds like Time For Truth by the Jam. Riviera Rock stands out to me; a mostly instrumental track, with a chilled out somewhat ska rhythm.

Overall, I wasn’t totally blown away, I found the vocals a bit weak at times, and the sentiment fairly insincere the whole time; reminding me of Ween or Ergo Phizmiz’s deconstructions of pop music; and maybe that was Owens’ goal, I don’t know. The baroque–pop experimental approach is admirable and works relatively well. But, in the end, you are going to have to check it out yourself, it’s interesting.

Favourite tracks: Riviera Rock, Lysandre, Everywhere You Knew

Spotify link: Christopher Owens – Lysandre
Sneak peak: 

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Yo La Tengo – Fade (2013)

Yo La Tengo - Fade (2013)

Yo La Tengo, having been around since 1984 with twelve albums under their belt, are a band who have seen it all and done it all, yet constantly seem to be able to reinvent themselves and keep the critics and fans happy.

Fade is the thirteenth album and the energy is low, a calm relaxed tone throughout, with influences seemingly from Velvet Underground to Pavement. Horns and strings give a non-standard sound to what would be relatively straightforward noisy indie pop.

Overall, it is unassuming noisy indie pop, but the interesting instrumentation and arrangement keeps it a head above it contemporaries. It was a bit of a slow burner, taking a couple of listens for me to get into the spirit, but it was an enjoyable deviation (for me) from what I usually listen to.

Favourite tracks: Ohm, Is That Enough, Two Trains.

Spotify link: Yo La Tengo – Fade
Sneak peak: 

Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic (2013)

Foxygen - We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic (2012)

Foxygen are a duo hailing from California who seem to have a penchant for 60s and 70s psychedelic rock. So much so, that while I would likely categorise them as an indie pop group, they are very forthcoming with their influences, evoking the memories of the Kinks, Velvet Underground, Rolling Stones, Dylan, Bowie, etc.

Early on the album, No Destruction is straight out of the book of how-to-sing-like-Bob-Dylan,-Lou-Reed-and-David-Bowie and opens with a bass line reminiscent of I Just Called To Say I Love You while single, San Francisco has a pure 60’s sound; in fact, resurrecting the sound of the Zombies. And that’s just typical of this album: across the whole thing, you can hear snippets of the 60s and 70s interwoven into the rest. Almost feeling slightly anachronistic to the rest, Oh Yeah almost sounds like The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Other tracks are more dreamily psychedelic, such as opener In The Darkness and bluesy Bowling Trophies.

It has to be said that I don’t criticise this pastiche approach to music and they mix and merge their influences seamlessly, sometimes, such as in On Blue Mountain, changing key and tempo as well; though it is worth noting the fact that the chorus melody bears resemblance to Suspicious Minds by Elvis.

Overall, it is a fun, playful and nostalgic album, worth a listen.

Favourite tracks: On Blue Mountain, Shuggie, No Destruction

Spotify link: Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic
Sneak peak: 

Indians – Somewhere Else (2012)

Indians - Somewhere Else (2012)

Indians is the adopted moniker of Søren Løkke Juul from Denmark, whose debut album, Somewhere Else, is released on 4AD.

For this blog, as a general thing, I listen to the album of the day a minimum of about three times, and pick through the tracks as I am doing the review; repeated listening is important. I have to admit that when I first listened to Somewhere Else, I really wasn’t taken with it.

Somewhere Else is a dense reverb-laden synth-indie album; at first, I felt that Juul was trying unsuccessfully to emulate some of the less crazy sounding psychedelia of Animal Collective. It was only on repeated listening that I realised that this wasn’t really his intention, and that criticism was unfair, if only slightly.

Somewhere Else isn’t a perfect album by any stretch, but the atmospheric synth and processed vocals certainly give some interest, throughout; however overall, it is just a bit too dense and mostly just passes by and is a bit boring. Imagine a cloud in a blue sky; that is interesting, the more different clouds, the better, until a point when it is just overcast, then it just becomes uninteresting. Repeated listening does engage one slightly more and you can delve into the tracks a bit deeper and it is certainly more interesting, but this isn’t really an album that I will be reaching for too soon in the future.

Drums are largely absent from the album and regrettably  when they do emerge, such as on Reality Sublime and La Femme, they are something of a disappointing, overly simple rhythms and are frankly distracting.

I feel that I have been unduly critical, it is not a terrible album and is worth at least a couple of listens, but it isn’t really my cup of tea.

Favourite tracks: New, Magic Kids, La Femme

Spotify link: Indians – Somewhere Else
Sneak peak: