During 2013 I got pretty used to the fact that the majority of indie rock submissions we’d get would be of the lo-fi and emo persuasion. While I’m still digging a lot of the more emotive releasesfromlastyear, it was pretty cool when II dropped out of seemingly nowhere from The Sweet Boys. On bandcamp, The Sweet Boys describe themselves as ambient, noise, lush and psych sooooo you could pretty much expect anything. And you should expect anything from The Sweet Boys because over the course of this EPs three tracks the group seamlessly transitions between several styles effortlessly. The near 8-minute opener “II” might technically be prog-rock but it never feels tied down to the expectations that prog brings either. At times The Sweet Boys sound like Woods or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young before blasting off into Tame Impala territory and then cycling back into soft ambience. Basically don’t try to expect anything from this band accept more awesomeness to hopefully come.
I don’t know if I’d call it a conscious move or that the internet is finally reaching a 21st century ideal of post-genre bliss, but the blogosphere has seemed a lot less focused on new sounds and new-buzz-core-genres as of late. It really doesn’t seem like people are looking for the next new chillwave anymore and it’s honestly pretty nice. Instead, my favorite releases and discoveries recently have been bands and artists who care more about writing good songs that challenging genre conventions. Frankie Cosmos is one of those songwriters. There aren’t any sounds on Pure Suburb that will challenge your current notions of what folk or singer-songwriter music should be. Frankie is comfortable with her voice and her guitar and it’s hard to imagine that she needs much more. Her melodies and lyrics don’t separate her from the pack due to uniqueness but they demonstrate that she is steps above the pack. ”I was told when I was younger that I looked stupid in a dress/and I felt like I could never try without failing,” she confesses on “am i trying im not trying” in one of her most emotionally straightforward and memorable moments. She may not be trying but she isn’t failing either.
Eddie Caine is a rapper for people who like rap. Listening through his patron Rita tape it becomes obvious that Caine not only has an incredible talent for telling stories but also holds high regard for hip-hop’s young history. ”Oh, I forgot it’s summertime,” he answers to a twisted Kanye sample on “sumHER”. The most obvious comparison that Caine will draw will be Notorious B.I.G. and it’s due to more than just the beer bellied buddha’s deep toned inflection. On “Versace Visions”, the album’s clear highlight, Caine takes a page out of Biggie’s book by opening things with heat-on-the-sleeve directness. ”Imma just say how I feel on this one because a lot of rappers don’t do that,” he opens backed by soft sampled cooing. Later he raps of dreams deferred, christian dior, and dreams money can buy before barking that he’s “almost there” with the kind of urgency that lets us know he has know idea where “almost there” even is. ”Versace Rap” is the kind of underdog story that we usually only get to hear after the rapper has achieved mainstream success. However, Caine is still “one bowl of cereal away from a beat and a rap” that will give him that success. Maybe he’s already found that beat and that rap and all he really needs is for people to start listening.
In case you didn’t know, we are fans of Sad Boys leader Yung Lean and his brand of emotional rap. Yung Lean helped us become in tune with our emotions, and Little Pain is taking us to a new plateau of sad rap. Little Pain doesn’t pop pills he pops tears. Little Pain smokes while he cries. Little Pain loves his haters. Little Pain has two different tracks over the same beat from Suicideyear and they’re both dope. Real thugs cry.
Location hardly seems to really matter anymore in the blogosphere, however. Sioux Falls are a band that couldn’t come from anywhere but the northwest. Sioux Falls are a band steeped in the northwestern indie rock history of groups like Built to Spill and Modest Mouse. Although at first Sioux Falls may seem willing to live completely in the shadow of their 90s idols (I’m really just guessing that those groups are their idols… I mean shoot who doesn’t love Modest Mouse and Built to Spill?), the group brings a sweaty, DIY intensity that is far more rooted on solid ground than it is in the clouds day dreaming. If there is anything that Sioux Falls make clear on their new EP its that this is just the beginning for the band.
Jamal Smith a.k.a Poptart Pete doesn’t give his beats out to just anyone, so I was definitely expecting something great when I saw that Smith lent one of his beats to Jalal Salaam. Their collaboration “Nocturnal” didn’t instantly jump out at me as jaw dropping, however, it definitely had me interested so I decided to check out Jalal Salaam’s debut mixtape Mathematics. Like “Nocturnal”, Mathematics took a few listens to sink in and I can honestly say that after having spent a good amount of time with this release that it’s one of my favorite hip-hop releases of the year. Jalal Salaam’s world in Mathematics is steeped in psychedelic cosmology, comic books and afrofuturism. He’s definitely on the same vibes as some of our other favorites like uhlife and Shabazz Palaces. Stream my favorite two tracks from Mathematics below and the entire release after the jump.
Back in 2008, like most aspiring hipsters of my generation, I was obsessed with a brand of high energy indie rock led by artists such as Tokyo Police Club, Vampire Weekend and Born Ruffians. The first concert I ever attended was at a local teen center in the neighboring town which featured high school bands Midi & the Modern Dance and the Seascape. Although both bands found the inevitable end that faces most high school groups, both bands left their mark on my music taste and education. Patrcik Smith, the guitarist from the Seascape, just put out a new EP with his band A Beacon School and it manages to capture all the same energy of indie rock circa 2008 without ever getting bogged down in nostalgia or influences. Much like Teen Suicide did for emo-punk on their EP earlier this year, A Beacon School manages to recapture all that made me love indie rock in the first place without sounding tired or overdone. Most of the success is due to Smith’s highly melodic and versatile guitar playing which bends and evolves dynamically throughout each track. This definitely has me wanting to listen through some older Tokyo Police Club and Born Ruffians again. Stream my favorite tracks below and the entire EP after the jump.