- Vancouver, British Columbia - If you missed it last month, my indie picks for the month will be artists that are relatively unknown and promote their music independently, for the most part. I'm not here to cover mainstream acts, but just want to share some albums that you may not have heard of that I really enjoy.
I got a fairly positive response from some of the artists last month and it always feels great to get even a little bit of feedback from them. That's one of the aspects of independent music that I like so much, especially in the age of the internet. I like that I can connect with artists to some extent and hopefully gain them a few new fans.
I would encourage people who read this, who have also heard these albums to also share their thoughts down below in the comments section. Or even better, if you are the artist, feel free to provide some feedback or share some of your thoughts on making the album or single and what it meant to you. I think that it would be far more fascinating than what I would have to say. This could be an opportunity for discussion among artists and music fans, but if not, that's okay too. I do enjoy writing these one way or another. That being said, I should get this show on the road. Here are my five picks for July...
Bon Accord – Honeydew – 2010
Like many of the albums I'll be covering in these articles, I stumbled upon Bon Accord while browsing on Bandcamp.com. The music instantly had me hooked. I've been quite into this genre lately, as there is a rising amount of electronic artists who make smooth, mostly instrumental tracks, thick with reverb and effects. Not many do it as well as Bon Accord though. The Honeydew EP has only four tracks, but each one has its own personality and hook. He has a keen knowledge of how to build a song up slowly and confidently, allowing the listener to enjoy the continuously compelling chords that play through each song. Actually, one of my favourite aspects of the music is the vocal contribution. Though I can't understand much of what is said, it's used to add more body to the songs and is used essentially like another instrument, complete with thick effects. It sounds great though, especially in the hypnotizing “French Letter” and contemplative “Dissolving.” Bon Accord have a whole handful of releases and this one was just the first. I like them all, but this one got him off to a great start.
Rating: 5/5 Sour Grapes
Marbin – Marbin – 2009
This album, I have to admit, I gave the time of day simply because of the cover art. It's goofy, but thankfully the music delivered. The strange and eccentric Marbin have given us an album unlike anything I've heard before. If I were to lump it into a genre, it would probably be fusion jazz as it flawlessly blends saxophone, wailing guitar, and other instruments into a curious genre mesh. There is much to admire in their first self titled album, one being their remarkably eclectic sound, as they blend jazz with world music instrumentation, making for a rich and unique noise, while remaining, all in all, fairly minimalist. What I like the most about Marbin though, is the atmosphere of the music; it's a calm and contemplative feel, but the actual noises can be quick, sharp and potent. It might not be as goofy as their cover art might imply, but it is quirky in its own right, which I'm all for. Though, one should not ignore that it does feel like music with a lot of brain behind it. If I had to complain about something, it would be that some of the tracks are quite short and I think that some of their potential is lost because of this. I don't mind brevity, but I think these ideas were good enough to expand a bit more.
Rating: 4/5 Sour Grapes
Iqeq – Quietly In Line – 2007
I've actually had this album for a few years and have been meaning to review it for about as long. Iqeq (no, I have no idea how to pronounce that. I just say the letters) is a jazz influenced progressive rock band from Idaho who make inventive and unpredictable artsy tunes and seem to have a lot of fun doing it. There is an intrinsic playfulness to their music that adds a lot of character to their sound. Quietly in Line is their first album and while it does seem a little bit raw and under produced, that home made quality doesn't detract from their likability, probably due to their tightness as a unit and their boldness to try out some ridiculous ideas. While the album opens a little slow, save the first track, it doesn't take long for it to pick up and stay really interesting. It's finest moments are the four “Tribute” movements, which are spread through the album and are each unique and unified at the same time. Also, the title track is pretty stellar, particularly through a great musical portion half way through. Since this album, they released one more a year later, which I unfortunately don't have. I wonder where they've gone off to. I would love to hear more.
Rating: 4/5 Sour Grapes
The Grizz – Nights Like These – 2011
The Grizz are a band hailing from my native Vancouver, and the only thing I can hold against their Nights Like These EP is that I've heard their live show and enjoyed it far more. The five songs on here are very good, though they might need a little time to grow on you. I remember that my first impression wasn't too enthusiastic, but it shouldn't take too long before you're humming along also. These song have a summer time feel to them and would make a great soundtrack to a night on the porch with some friends. Maybe that idea was planted in my head from the fact that one of the songs is actually called “Summer Nights.” They work best when their songs have a cool natural groove like the title track and “All The Wine.” I do suspect that The Grizz has more potential than what is fully explored in this release, but it's not a bad start. It's a charming collection of diverse songs that should please fans of a chill, yet groovy alternative rock.
Rating: 3.5/5 Sour Grapes
Edamame – Greenhouse – 2012
One day I stumbled upon a blog that regularly posts albums that are out in indie circles and that guy's taste in music meshes pretty well with mine. So much so that I stopped going to that blog because I was finding too much stuff that I liked and couldn't afford the time for it all. Before I decided to take a break from it, I got the chance to hear Edamame and his first album, Greenhouse. This album is full of beat heavy electronica that shows a lot of the strengths that the genre has built over the years. Always trying to keep ahead of his listener, Edamame (you know, I'm not sure how to say that name either) makes tunes that are unpredictable and incredibly varied in what they have to offer. The mix of jarring glitches and calm soundscapes makes for a very dynamic listening experience. The songs aren't all as memorable as I'd hope, but maybe that will come as I familiarize myself with the album more. There are still some very exciting tracks on here including the patient and calm “Ponder,” the adventurous “Walk Like Me,” and “Moku,” which sounds like the soundtrack to a stroll on a sunny day. It's impossible to ignore the stellar tracks on Greenhouse, so please don't. Do yourself a favour and give it a spin.
Rating: 4.5/5 Sour Grapes