Saturday, April 25, 2009

Do You Hear What I Hear? Micachu Offers Up Delight For Your Ears

Micachu, aka Mica Levi, is a classically trained, British-born, indie experimental pop musician. She formed a band with Raisa Khan (keyboards) and Marc Pell (drums) called The Shapes, then released her debut fill length album, Jewellery, via Rough Trade Records on April 7th in the States. Their band page can be found here or on MySpace. Levi has been praised for her eccentric musical performance style. She "uses a modified guitar played with a hammer action called a ‘chu’ and a bowed instrument fashioned from a CD rack. She also uses improvised instruments, such as glass bottles or a vacuum cleaner." (

Jewellery sounds like a quirky mix of noise pop scattered with electronica zooms, tinks, and dinks all the while incorporating catchy poppy hooks. "Lips" is a short groovalicious fuzz pop tune lasting only 1:20, just long enough to bob your head and tap your feet. In fact most of the first half of Jewellery is under three minutes. "Curly Teeth" is an indietronica track if I've ever heard one; however, it also falls in the realm of folksy pop (or freak folk) if you listen to the acoustic arrangement underneath. "Golden Phone" is more mainstream electronica with a funky handclapping edge, but even it has a distinct feel apart from what you may be used to. "Ship" sounds like 'video game sound'-infused, funky trip, britpop. "Just In Case" is another example of what seems like a simple acoustic track turned Micachu - the start and stop beat, the looped hip-hop inspired chorus backing, the lyrical quirkiness. "Calculator" is the lead single from this album. It can best be described as thrash acoustic indie pop with a "Tequila"-inspired hook that ends like a bad carnival ride.

Check Micachu and The Shapes out if and when they come to a city near you. You should be in for quite a show . . . and a musical epiphany as well!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Indieface Show Review: Ladytron, The Faint, Crocodiles

Down for a bit of a dance party, I headed up to Stubb's Bar-B-Q in Austin, TX yesterday for a hip show. Here's what struck me, what stayed with me, and why I have a greater appreciation for R.E.M..

First up were experimental rock duo, Crocodiles. The San Diegoans threw down a funky mix of jam electronica and lo-fi noise, art pop/rock. For a twosome who have been playing as Crocodiles for only about a year, they did their best to entertain the crowds desperately awaiting the headliners and succeeded in at least my eyes. Check out their album here.

Up next were crowd favorites, The Faint. Straight outta Omaha, NE, these new waving, lo-fi jabbing, indie rock post-punkers thoroughly entertained. Around since 1994 in various forms, The Faint brought a high energy, bouncy set to the outdoor stage of Stubb's. "The Geeks Were Right" and "I Disappear" stood out as highly addictive diddys as much as they do when listening to the songs in your own backyard.

So this brings me to my freak out moment of the night as I waited for Ladytron to appear on stage. I positioned myself closer to the front and in doing so cuddled up with the other patrons. I noticed two seemingly recognizable gentlemen to my immediate left and slightly in front of me, but didn't think twice to investigate. As Ladytron took to the stage, I began to see these aforementioned guys bob and jam out. "Michael Stipe?", I said to myself. One of my friends doubled the inquiry soon after and I found myself distracted for about 10 minutes trying to figure out if indeed Michael Stipe and Mike Mills were partying it up in Austin, TX on a Tuesday night in April. Needlessly to say probably, it wasn't them, but merely a faux R.E.M. duo who could have easily passed for the two Mikes 12-15 years ago. A lack of photographic evidence may decrease the likelihood you may believe my story, but so be it!

Despite the sidetrack, I felt the musical warmth of Liverpool's Ladytron soon after. The ten year old group has been belting out the electronica greatness and turning lovers of early 80's synth pop into believers. Electroclash greats like "Destroy Everything You Touch" and "Ghosts" mixed with indietronica standouts like "Seventeen" and "International Dateline". The crowd was into the performance and the band did not disappoint. Here's some pics from my vantage point.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Take An Austrailian Walk On The Sun

The sound of Australian electropop duo Empire of the Sun feels like it's cut from the same alternative cloth as MGMT. The band creates an electronic pop rock sound all their own, modern and throwback at the same time. The CD release of their debut album, Walking On A Dream, was released today via Astralwerks Records.

"Standing On The Shore" starts off the groovy and catchy electrofied round of songs with a steady dance beat. The lead single and title track, "Walking On A Dream" carries on the dance party taking place in a 70's-styled living room with 1982 accents. "Half Mast" almost has bossa nova undertones accompanying the groovacity. All of the hooks on most of these songs grab you and get your body shaking. The five minute long instrumental track, "Country", slows down the party a bit, but in the way a trippy dance trance would. Other tunes worth a note are "We Are The People" and "Tiger By My Side".

If you're into the indie electropop sound, check out what Luke Steele (of The Sleepy Jackson) and Nick Littlemore (P'Nau) have done with Empire of the Sun. Dance your way to the album today!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Experience A Riot Grrrl 'Scramble'

The Coathangers fashion themselves a riot grrrl revival band. The Atlanta four-piece started out as girlfriends and in three short years have grown into the band mates they are today. Julia Kugel (guitar/vocals), Stephanie Luke (drums/vocals), Candice Jones (keyboards/vocals), and Meredith Franco (bass/vocals) say "every song is an art project, a starting over, a scramble". The fruit of their loins began with The Coathangers, released in November 2006, and has culminated in Scramble, released earlier this month (April 7th) off the Suicide Squeeze label. Stream their lastest album here.

The first track, "Toomerhead", is a piano-backed, artsy post-punk rock jam. "Stomp Stomp Stompin'" is a garage rock infused, Bikini Kill-inspired, musical art piece. Songs like "Time Passing", "Bury Me", "Pussywillow", and "143" mix the riot grrrl sound with modern garage rock and indie rock stylings. "Gettin' Mad And Pumpin' Iron" is a bouncy, energizing more-classic sounding riot grrrl song, complete with semi-incoherent screamed lyrics and blazin' guitar work. The overall album is quite a treat for fans of the riot grrrl sound and word is these girls put on a show. Be sure to catch them touring in a city near you!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rockin' Around Tax Day!

Two big sounding indie rock releases today. Let's get right to the fun!

Silversun Pickups are a indie rock group from Los Angeles who have a shoegazing sound and lead singer who sounds like a less scruffy version of Billy Corgan. Swoon is the band's second full length album, released today on Dangerbird Records. Carnavas was released in 2006.

The mood is set right off the bat with the opening track, "There's No Secrets This Year". The instant awesomeness of this rockin', electromagnetic tune grabs your ears and wakes you up from your slacking slumber. However, the last minute or so of the 5 min, 33 second song slows down the pace in favor of an elaborate string-filled outro. Songs like "The Royal We", "It's Nice To Know You Work Alone", and "Panic Switch" (the lead single) continue the musical function of Swoon: hit 'em with that opening force of guitar and energy and groove throughout the duration, adding string instrumentation along the way. I also dig chill groove jam, a la Smashing Pumkpins, "Substitution". Critics of Swoon will say the formulaic nature and drawn out melodies of the album distract you from what you first may have liked about Brian Aubert's unique vocal stylings and forceful guitar work backed by Nikki Monninger's harmonic vocals and groovilicious bass. They may not be wrong. Only a few songs "fit" here; when your shortest track comes in at 4:39, you better bring supply something that keeps your interest in the remaining tracks. Swoon may swoon in that department. It's a respectable second effort, but sophomore slump is the right label IMHO.

Another indie rock sequel came out courtesy of Canadian electro rockers, Metric. The fearless foursome new wavers just released their fourth studio album, Fantasies, via Last Gang Records. Previous albums include Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? (2003) , Live It Out (2005), and Grow Up and Blow Away (released in 2007 but originally recorded some time after the band formed in the 1998). Since 2006, I have grown to discover and love Emily Haines and the boys for their mix of synthpop, indie rock, and electronica. Fantasies brings a pop rock feel with it, but not in a way that is totally off base from their previous efforts.

Tracks like "Sick Muse", "Satellite Mind", and "Gold Guns Girls" continue the catchy, upbeat rockin' nature for which Metric is known. "Twilight Galaxy" contains that synthy groove present on previous albums. Lead single, "Gimme Sympathy" IS more mainstream poppy in nature. In it, Haines asks the eternal question: "Who'd you rather be: The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?". The answer for Metric might be "neither"; the band is quite content being who they are. The last jam on the album, "Stadium Love", sounds like an arena rock anthem for the indie music genre.

The gem of the album is the opening track, "Help I'm Alive". Metric started promoting this song late last year as it helped to hype up a vinyl release to help raise money for charity when it was leaked by overseas manufacturers. Radio stations around the world and in their own native Canada picked it up and began playing it on-air. The song took off and Metric became yet another victim of leaked material. No matter though - the group embraced the early sneak peak at Fantasies and recorded an acoustic version of "Help I'm Alive", available for free download at their website. The album version is smooth, electro rock performance featuring the sweet and delicate, yet powerful and forceful vocals of Emily Haines. The acoustic version highlights her voice even more.

Check both of the new releases out today!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chill Beats for Your Shoegazing Soul

School of Seven Bells is an electronic indie three piece who mesh elements of dream pop and shoegaze into their music. The band was formed in 2004 by Benjamin Curtis (Secret Machines) along with identical twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, formerly of On-Air Library!. According to their info page on Ghostly International (band's label), SVIIB (as those in the know call them) got their name after Alejandra discovered a 3 AM airing of a PBS show about the School of Seven Bells. Apparently, they were a mythical, yet-to-be-disproven South American pickpocket academy that may have existed in the '80s. The thought of "seven minds working as one appealed to her, as did the phrase’s cryptic musicality" and thus, the nucleus of creativity was spawned. (Source:

The group's full length debut, Alpinisms, explores the heights and depths of electronica. The album was released last October. Curtis overlays the double time, ethereal vocals of the Deheza sisters with multi-layered rhythms and beats as well as undulating guitar riffs. Tracks like "Face to Face on High Places", "Half Asleep" and "Connjur" (my own personal Everything But The Girl-styled jam) have a new rave quality to them and show that dance music need not be bouncy and high octane. After a string of EP's and single releases, SVIIB seem poised to capture the indie music landscape, one raver at a time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sweet New Indie Music Three Times Over

Three big albums came out today. First up is Portland punky popsters, The Thermals. "Now We Can See" is the first catchy, but 'more-down-beat-than-earlier-songs' single off the album of the same name (streaming now at their MySpace). "At The Bottom Of The Sea" is an awkward ballad offering from the album sitting at 5 mins, 43 seconds while all other tracks on Now We Can See come in under 3:36, falling in the punk tradition. The rest of the tracks on the album follow in the style The Thermals set forth since 2003-2004, including "You Dissolve". If you like "A Pillar of Salt" off their 2006 release, The Body, The Blood, The Machine, then you might get less than you desire from Now We Can See.

Together since the mid-1980's, The Tragically Hip from Kingston, Ontario, CA have been college radio favorites for a while. They play an aggressive form of R.E.M.- styled rock/alt-country music. The pop rock they produce is more rockin', less poppy. We Are The Same is their eleventh full album release, most of which have come out since 1996; it captures that light rock/alt-country feel in tracks like "Morning Moon", "Coffee Girl", and "The Depression Suite". The band is highly influential and popular in their native Canada, for good reason.

Last, but by no means least on the schedule of albums out today is Two Suns, the second full length album by Bat For Lashes, aka Brighton, England-based singer-songwriter Natasha Khan. Khan has been compared to the likes of Björk, PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, and Fiona Apple. The first single, "Daniel", incorporates elements of dream pop, synth pop, and ambient sounds while still producing a danceable beat. The video for the song gives you evidence as to why Bat For Lashes is immensely popular in the indie music scene, especially in the UK, ever since Fur & Gold was released in 2006.

Little bit of everything for ya today. Go out and get all three!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Place Indieface Artist - April 3rd

A Place Indieface Artist you must associate yourself with is Bad Veins from Cincinnati, Ohio. Bad Veins consists of multi-functional vocalist/guitarist Ben Davis and drummer Sebastien Schultz. The twosome play their style of electro indie rock "backed by a reel-to-reel player that runs everything from keyboards to full orchestral sounds", according to an interview done with hometown publication, CityBeat. They call their unofficial third bandmate, "Irene".

Around since 2006, but mainly buzzed about since playing at SXSW last year, Bad Veins has recorded their first full length album, yet to be released. They have a quirky appeal to the steadfast performances surrounding their thought-provoking lyrics. Songs like "Falling Tide" and "Gold and Warm" make you groove out and listen up at the same time. Check out their MySpace and their personal website for songs and news concerning their music.