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I’ve always found it difficult to express to other musicians why I find indie music* so intriguing. Instrumentally, there usually isn’t much there — indie tends to be vocally driven, minimal, and frankly a bit repetitive. (* what is indie music? whatever I want it to be for this post)

The new single ‘White Leather’ by Wolf Alice doesn’t break this mold. It consists of a simple four measure riff that repeats throughout the entire song. In the chorus they add a second riff. That’s it.

But it still makes me smile.

Maybe I just like rhythm.

Liverpool-based Ninetails have spent the past twelve months picking up plaudits and fans like there’s no tomorrow, all of it well deserved. A clinical sound and unwavering attention to detail led to the creation and release of last year’s Slept And Did Not Sleep EP; a fine record that shows a group very much in control of their talent and potential. Not much else to say here except “enjoy”!

Download the EP for a price of your choosing HERE.

The evergreen jazz merchant-cum-voodoo warrior Dr. John is probably the type of person who you could file neatly under ‘Seen It All’. It was perhaps a surprise, even with his long track record, that 2012’s Locked Down  LP was as free, easy and palatable as it came to be. Written, recorded and produced heavily in conjunction with Black Keys’ mainman Dan Auerbach, the album is one that sees the 72 year old doctor grab a new lease of life with both hands.

Tracks such as “Revolution” and the record’s eponymous effort show a certain fire; understandable for a New Orleans native who will have looked on in horror as his hometown was almost swept away. However, it’s “Ice Age” that stands out the most. A subtle sense of anger and exasperation pour out of the Dr’s mouth, taking aim at those who like “smoking crack and final blunts” and who “ain’t got a cent”; those who fiddle as Rome burns. Maybe it’s a missive against the parts of New Orleans that have been slow to recover. Perhaps it’s a rant against the wider world. It doesn’t matter, as such themes are very pertinent wherever you are. That’s the saddest thing of all, but if anyone can ease you into the gloom with a message and rhythm, then it’s this guy.

Having previously reviewed all three of the band’s albums, I guess it is fair to state that I am Sputnik Music’s undisputed expert in all things British India. From their exciting – if derivative – debut LP ‘Guillotine’, through to disappointing follow-up ‘Thieves’ and solid – if unspectacular – latest release ‘Avalanche’, there has always been some kind of appeal to yours truly… And it has nothing to do with the fact that they’re Melbourne boys like my good self.

Despite the occasional glimpse of promise, however, their two most recent LPs have felt as if the quartet were chasing their tail… Making do, without really progressing to a significant extent. Could that be about to change with the release of new single ‘I Can make You Love Me’? While still definitively British India – especially the yelping vocals of Declan Melia – it definitely took me a little by surprise with its build-up and dynamics. Sure, it still may not be breaking any new ground per se, but it feels like a genuine step forward for a band who I’ve always deemed to have potential.

As for the video; well, who wouldn’t love a drunk, pissed-off, lovelorn and karaoke-singing minotaur wandering the streets in the dark of the night? Hell, I think I’ve felt similarly myself on occasions. Hang on a tick, I think I also saw those identical views… I’ve definitely cursed Festival (aka Festering) Hall once or twice!

At the end of July, Animal Collective released “Today’s Supernatural,” the single from their upcoming release Centipede Hz due out in early September.  Before listening to the track, the reemergence of Deakin has been tremendous as seen on the Honeycomb / Gotham split.  One might think after the critically acclaimed, and Deakin-less, Merriweather Post Pavilion that Animal Collective would be better without Deakin’s trippy riffs.  Yet, after listening to “Gotham,” where the guitar riffs drip like a hot rain, it is clear that the depth and layering of their sound is much more developed than before.

That brings us back to “Today’s Supernatural,” a frantically uptempo track that defines the growth since Strawberry Jam.   The track is unusually heavy (reminiscent of “For Reverend Green”), with Panda Bear’s masterful percussion skills throbbing throughout, while Avey Tare shows a multitude of vocal dynamics and moods.  Lyrically, Tare paints a picture of the willingness to adventure beyond some mundane life and quite literally ‘letting go’ and enjoying the ride.  How the bookend of this ride will sound remains to be seen, but we damn well know Centipede Hz will be an interesting trip, as always.

Animal Collective – Today’s Supernatural

I’m still waiting for that girl who will be impressed (and find it romantic) that I listen to songs like these:


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Track of the week: “Impregnable Question”, Dirty Projectors


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I, too, want someone to want to assassinate a president for me…”John and Jodie”, Ghost Mice


Sputnik’s Never Ending Mixtape

Welcome back! For those of you who don’t know, this is one of the site’s best resources for discovering up-to-date, diverse staff and user selected tracks. Every quarter, a new issue is published bringing you some of the best individual songs from the past few months. The first quarter received an overwhelming response, gathering over 20 submissions accompanied by some fine writing. Thanks to your dedication, we’re here to keep things rolling with the second quarter of 2012’s feature. Below you can find the archive for Sputnik’s Infinite Playlist’s History, which is young but rapidly growing.

2012

Q1
/ Q2 / Q3 / Q4

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This issue’s contributors are as follows:

Tikicobra / OnlyAnchors / Clercqie / FelixCulpa / Blackbelt54 / Greg84 / AliW1993 / Sanders / SowingSeason / iswimfast / pwalcher / WeepingBanana / insomniac15 / AnarchistFish

Let’s give them a round of applause for their efforts! But on to the matter at hand – I present to you Sputnik’s Infinite Playlist, Q2!

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Admiral Fallow – “The Paper Trench”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85Kk0q2WIl4

If you live outside of Scotland, chances are you’ll not be familiar with Admiral Fallow, the nation’s second best indie folk collective. That may not be the case for long, though, with the band’s second album Tree Bursts In Snow making clear strides towards a wider audience while losing none of their unequivocal…

Funeral Club – Waves & Waves

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What is there to say about this song? I’ve never heard of the band before, but I’m digging what they’re doing here. It’s like a cross between trip hop, chill jazz and gothic rock. The song comes from the band’s three-song EP of the same name and was released through Pale Noir Records. The other two songs even seem to add just the slightest bit of shoe gaze to the mix — good stuff.

Official Facebook Page

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Forget your indie revolution, this is a hostile takeover. All your base are belong to us

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‘Tryhard’ is taken from Noisia’s latest EP Imperial, out now through Vision Recordings.

There are only two rules of pirate metal: 1) pirate metal exists, and 2) shitty costumes.

The third rule (of two) is that you must always – ALWAYS – cover a seafaring shanty from a popular children’s TV show. US pirate thrash band Swashbuckle pioneered the art way back in 2008 with their cover of the SpongeBob Squarepants theme tune, but ballsed it up by making it really, really, really, really, really, really shit. I mean fuck. Pirates aren’t even cool. These people didn’t shower for fuck’s sake, and pissing yourself after 11 bottles of rum is not as attractive as Disney make it out to be.* Just ask your girlfriend.

Scottish outfit Alestorm made a better fist of things, pulling the pseudo-genre from the brink of Mariana’s Trench with their own spin on ‘You Are a Pirate’ (from the BBC show Lazy Town) on last year’s Back Through Time. ‘You Are a Pirate’ is by no means the authoritative sea-plunderer’s manifesto – the only criterion it lays down is that “if you like to sail the sea, you are a pirate,” leading to the rather dubious conclusion that Simon LeBon is a pirate – but as far as pirate metal goes this is  about as innovative and forward-thinking as it’s ever going to get.

*None of the above applies to this badass motherfucker.

I recognise this isn’t exactly going to bolster my hipster cred.

“WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SONG, DUDE?” – for years, my go-to response when faced with this ludicrous question was Feeder’s ‘Just A Day’. On the not infrequent occasion that my tormentor didn’t know the song, or thought it was called ‘All By Myself’ (because all pop songs’ titles are their hook lines, duh), I would gleefully drag it up from the depths of my collection and admire the hold it still had over me. It astounded me that the sheer adrenaline and energy of that guitar riff (do do-do do, and so on) never wore off or ran aground; it still does the same things to me today, though now I have to measure my enthusiasm through an artistic spectrum because somewhere along the line it became not okay any more to just love awesome rock songs.

Except, you know, it is. I don’t drive, but if I decided to learn, it would be purely due to an imaginary scenario in which I just drive down the M1 and (probably) back all night listening to songs like ‘Just A Day’. But inside our adventurous natures (we’re all here because we explore music, right, instead of just absorbing it?) we sometimes manage to convince ourselves that the only things worth listening to are the abstract, the weird and the ironic. As a result of that conceit, we fail to care about those direct, simple songs, and as a result of…

 

We get a lot of e-mail sent to our Sputnik G-Mail account and most of it is crap. It seems that most of it is spam, sales pitches and random links meant to ‘enhance’ your computer, but it is worth sifting through because we also get a lot of cool promos and even occasionally unheard gems such as this. The artist is named Miriam Bryant this is her first single, ‘Finders Keepers’. It’s a strange mix of piano melodies, electronics, subtle orchestral elements, programmed beats and the strong vocals of Miriam herself. Her bio says that she is twenty-one, English born and Swedish raised. Let’s hope that this isn’t the last we hear from her. With childhood friend Victor Rådström, 20, writer & producer, Miriam is now releasing her debut single, ‘Finders, Keepers’.

Miriam Bryant Facebook

Spotify

The press release for Wake up to the Waves – the first full-length album from Dublin electronic two-piece Last Days of 1984 – says the duo “are influenced by afro-beat, chill out music and tropical electronica.” To me, this seems like a rather long-winded and contrived way of saying “Animal Collective” but, hey, you know me. I’m all about getting to the point.

A couple of years ago when the indie media was collectively shitting itself over Merriweather Post Pavillion, I was literally (and by ‘literally’ I mean ‘figuratively’) swamped with PR for bands calling them the ‘next Animal Collective’ or some equally horrendous prospect. Before Animal Collective it was Radiohead. I don’t know who it is now, probably Azealia Banks or whatever number of photogenic, post-ironic blog bait douchebags it currently takes to suck Dilla’s dick.

Which is why it’s so refreshing to hear a band come along with such obvious smug indie douche credentials and make a conscious effort to downplay them and let people just judge for themselves. Yes, ‘River’s Edge’ sounds like Brian Rice and Darren Moloney spent their entire college experience listening to ‘My Girls’ on repeat and asking themselves just how do they DO that? But when the execution is so perfect and the result such a sweet, fluffy cloud of off-kilter Brian Wilsony pop, it’s hard not to laugh at the indie media’s myopic obsession with originality.

(For the record, the rest of the album does incorporate the aforementioned afrobeat and tropical…

The Neighbourhood

Oh yes, I can dig this. Give me indie-pop made solely with hooks and blow ‘em up. Cut the beat so they stick in your head. Give that familiar indie-wail a little swagger. The lyrics? They weren’t that important anyway. Make them vague and sexual enough to blend into the song, but give me a lyric or two to hold on to. “One love one house/ no shirt, no blouse”? That’ll do.

The Neighborhood have of yet released only two songs, which makes it difficult to say if they’ll blow up the way “Sweater Weather” demands to blow them up, but here’s hoping. “Sweater Weather” is a masterfully done series of ear worms, bridging RNB and indie-folk-with instantly recallable pop-hooks, the kind of genre mish-mosh that likes to explode. It’s simply too irresistible for some company looking to corner the grad-student demographic to not nick the song’s phenomenal chorus for an ad. If that doesn’t sound appealing, I don’t blame you. But if indie-pop with this much potential mass appeal is this good, I’m totally okay with it.

Sweater Weather by theneighbourhood

~In a While Now, I Will Feel Better~

It’s rare for me to draw inspiration from an artist as commercialized and famous as Shinedown. Typically, I like to find songs by bands so anonymous to the general public that I feel like they only apply to me. But for some reason, I have felt a particular connection with the title track off of Shinedown’s most recent album. ‘Amaryllis’ is a towering ballad, complete with shimmering acoustic guitars, crashing electric riffs, and a movie-climax type of chorus. It’s all so easily accessible yet emotionally intense at the same time. I compare it to The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris”, with which I feel that it shares many parallels. Even though the album itself was a disappointment in my opinion, ‘Amaryllis’ just might be my favorite song of the year so far. If you haven’t heard it yet, give it a chance. If you don’t like it at first, give it a few more listens and see if it sinks in. I think you might be surprised at how well this song relates to you (or alternatively, it just relates to me a whole fucking lot right now and I’m projecting that onto all of you). Either way, I present to you Amaryllis – the song that is keeping me going right now. Enjoy.

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