It’s been over a year now since I wrote my last chapter of “Band Evangelist.” How is that even possible? Well, I suppose that sometimes there are periods of silence between the testaments, right?
In any case, here’s a run down of some of the really amazing music that is already available, or is coming out this year. So far, I think it’s going to be a banner year for us indie-disciples…and here’s the why and what for of the first part of 2013 in music (skip to the end to start playing some tunes as you read along!):
- Pedestrian Verse – Frightened Rabbit (February 1): Will definitely end up on my top 10 of the year. These guys are reaching a level of infallible music-making that should secure their place in the pantheon of rock demi-gods (though I’m a strict indie-monotheist–as in “Glory be to S-FJ-N”–there is a certainly room for a henotheistic heavenly council). Speaking of gods, FR are a bit rough on us believers on this album, as in MULTIPLE tracks talking about how hypocritical, naive, and oppressive Christians can be (a bit of cliche by this point, no?), but man can these boys write a beautiful song full of disdain. Talent oozing like oil slicks on the North Sea. Maybe the Prophet (Elijah) can give some insight into the Scottish Catholicism (?) that has turned these boys’ stomachs so deeply against Mother Kirk. PS The deluxe version of this album has some solid bonus tracks and concert DVD material.
- Country Sleep – Night Beds (February 1): I have to give full credit to my boy Wade for turning me onto this gorgeous album out of nowhere. I told him that they sounded like the prettiest of Ryan Adam’s mellow songs (at which point, he began playing a new Ryan Adams album I hadn’t heard…losing my prophetic edge here!) mixed with kind of a Bon Iver frozen hauntedness. Highly recommend a full listen to this!
- Us Alone – Hayden (February 5): I always say that Hayden is an acquired taste, so this album is not for everyone & probably not even for his fair-weather fans. More the real followers–the kind for whom his music is almost everything. But great, mature songwriting, tasteful little jams, & uniquely clever musings all around.
- The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand – Matt Pond (February 5): He lost the PA that used to follow his name, but he’s written an album that holds up to the best of his earlier work (Several Arrows Later, for my money). If you can’t take lovely-throated, hook-filled indie-pop with sunny melodies covering dark lyrical waters, then look elsewhere.
- guessing the others – swimming in speakers (February 5): I can’t tell you how this strange, lo-fi, folky-electronic outfit with a whimsically beautiful female lead voice came to my attention, but it has become a go-to mood elevator in the same way watching Amelie can change my perspective from cynical to wonder-filled.
- Days Into Years – Elliott Brood (February 28): Interestingly, though I am not a tremendous Ryan Adams fan, this band also reminded me of his smoky voice over Neil Young crunchy guitars and often a Band of Horses retro-rock cool. I still need to sit with this album more, but I’d give it a solid recommendation already (also thanks to Wade).
- Sub-Verses – Akron/Family (April 30): I would call myself a casual fan of this band–I have most of their albums and enjoy some tracks immensely while others are more solidly moderate. But the two songs I’ve heard from this new release (below) produced a Pavlovian reaction of aural drool leading to one-click ordering.
- Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend (May 7): I think there’s been sufficient backlash against VW that we can look past the hype, calculated affect, and branding to simply listen to some lovely tunes that integrate things like the harpischord and loopy bass lines with fragile, self-consciously hi/low lyrics that nevertheless pluck at the heartstrings.
- Trouble Will Find Me – The National (May 21): Some of you will not like Matt Berninger’s voice. That’s ok. I do & I love everything else about this fraternally-formed, preternaturally talented group. They have a musical golden touch. If this is for you, it will be the kind of trouble you would want to find you. If not, just keep walking.
- Currents – Eisley (May 28): Now I’m getting into murky waters. I haven’t followed this band of mostly female family members for a LONG time (sorry Wesley Chung), but something in me feels like this may be the album that brings me back. But don’t take my word for it–just an intuition.
- The Weight of the Globe – Lily & Madeleine (June 11): This find came to me via the Asthmatic Kitty email update (an epistle from the indie One’s priestly cult) & if the beauty of these two young ladies’ voices, melodies, and ageless lyricism doesn’t merit a head-shaking double take in any listener, then I have no ear, no eye, no soul.
- Overseas – Overseas (June 11): This is a new project with David Bazan (former frontman for Christian indie-heroes Pedro the Lion & a talented, but faithless solo performer in his own right) and some other hipster guys from bands that exceed my coolness pay-grade. Don’t know that I’m recommending this, as much as just putting it on your sonic radar.
- Kveikur – Sigur Ros (June 18): Sadly, I was not among the admirers of their most recent release, Valtari, which felt rather aimless and amorphous to me; however, supposedly they are moving to a more “direct, aggressive” style–which I’m not totally sure what that translates to (the video below doesn’t bode terribly well for me). I am a Takk/Hvarf man myself, so that’s what I’m secretly hoping for a return to.
There are a few other upcoming releases I have no details on, but believe should be amazing: a new Arcade Fire album, surely one by Neko Case, and one by the lesser known but charmingly gifted Jeremy Messersmith.
Some misses of the year so far: Josh Ritter‘s The Beast in it’s Tracks (a middling effort of post-divorce woe & rebound that’s mostly just depressing); I was utterly bored with the Thom Yorke project, Atoms for Peace; and don’t anyone tell my dear friend Matt Clatterbuck, but I sadly do not like the new Yo La Tengo either!
Question: Did anyone get the new My Bloody Valentine? Low’s The Invisible Way? The new Strokes? Iron + Wine? If so, what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations!!
swimming in speakers:
Lily & Madeline: