Category: Alternative/Indie Rock

Adam’s House Cat – Town Burned Down

AHCcover_TownBurnedDownTown Burned Down is the long lost proto Drive-By Truckers album featuring Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. This was recorded in 1990. As a reminder, that’s before Nirvana’s Nevermind. The Adam’s House Cat album has sat unreleased until last week. The album has a sound informed by The Replacements, The Rolling Stones, and some R.E.M. (maybe a touch of early Clash) and was definitely ahead of its time. Hard to imagine if this album hadn’t been shelved that Patterson and Cooley wouldn’t be even more central to the Alt-Country genre. One they’d eventually become such a central part.

Instead, Uncle Tupelo, for many, have become the first chapter to that scene. No Depression, a music magazine that specializes in covering the genre was named after Uncle Tupelo’s first album, which was also released in 1990. So Town Burned Down is more than scrappy demos, but rather proof of an alternate music history that could have been, but wasn’t. But how does it sound? Continue reading “Adam’s House Cat – Town Burned Down”

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Ryley Walker – “Busted Stuff”

cover_1530131352002608-e1535472507107Ryley Walker is an amazing guitarist. Few dispute that. However, some may not realize how quirky his sensibilities are. The Walker album that I’m most familiar with is 2015’s Primrose Green. I’m a sucker for almost anything with a neo-psychedelia vibe. As many have noted, the spirit of Tim Buckley is rich on the album, and if you haven’t heard it, Primrose Green is very much worth your time. It’s ambitious, elegant, cerebral, literate, and sophisticated.

However, unknown to me until today, Walker has an even more quirky side. His first two releases were cassette tape only American Primitive recordings. The first of which was a bit of an ode to John Fahey. A guitarist to whom Walker is often compared. He followed the cassettes up with a vinyl only release with three tracks. The cassettes came out in 2011, the vinyl in 2013. Which brings us to the subject of today’s release.

Continue reading “Ryley Walker – “Busted Stuff””

Kairos – “Rebuild”

CaptureKairos is an indie rock band from Nuneaton, England. A small town in the north of less than 100,000. The city is known by locals as “Sunny Nunny,” according to Wikipedia, but there’s little that’s overtly “sunny” about “Rebuild.” The track is, however, a peaceful, enjoyable listen. “She’s just a piece of what she used to be,” a song that references Kairos’ idyllic hometown’s locale, where castles in the sand and rebuilding queens are mentioned.

The track starts with arpeggios on an electric guitar with what sounds like a chorus effect. The drums come in to provide a snare-driven march that’s smooth, not jerky. As the song unfolds, Kairos resists any temptation to build the track into a power ballad. The vocals throughout remain wistful with hints of regret. A narrator who may be looking back on a regretful episode with the wizened suggestions that only a few years can add. Continue reading “Kairos – “Rebuild””

Aaron Lee Tasjan – Karma for Cheap

alt_karma_for_cheap_900_sq-722c041182ba949df6067759cce2c9624b4b1456-s800-c85Aaron Lee Tasjan circulates in the Americana scene where far too many acts come across like they’re doing their best Waylon or Haggard impersonation–or Ryan Adams (or all three). A genre that gets much of its appeal by looking back to a time before the digital innovations of today took away some perceived purity in previous music.

Of course, the Americana music is not unique in creating a genre out of nostalgia. Not even close. In fact, in many ways, Americana itself has roots in the Alt-Country acts of the mid-to-late 1990s. There was also the garage revival acts of the 2000s. The 1980s are being mined by seemingly everyone these days. Disco has also been reinvented. The grunge movement of the 1990s was obsessed with the hard rock acts of the 1970s. The punks of the 1970s thought their prog-rock peers were missing the point. Continue reading “Aaron Lee Tasjan – Karma for Cheap”

Richard Reed Parry – Quiet River of Dust, Vol. 1

116550-quiet-river-of-dust-vol-1Richard Reed Parry is an extraordinarily gifted musician. His main gig is with Arcade Fire, but he has collaborated with a who’s who of indie acts of the last decade: The National, Sufjan Stevens, The Unicorns, and Islands. On this release, he invited Peter Gabriel, members of Yes, Jim O’Rourke, and The Flaming Lips. I like all of these groups, so I was very interested in what this album would have to offer.

Quiet River of Dust, Vol. 1 doesn’t disappoint, not even close. The results of the collaboration is a complex, atmospheric soundscape with enough melody to tie it into something not quite ambient, not quite pop (indie or otherwise). This is a bold release designed mostly for listeners who have heard it all.  Continue reading “Richard Reed Parry – Quiet River of Dust, Vol. 1”

Mitski – Be the Cowboy

mitski-be-the-cowboy-1526053336-640x640Be the Cowboy is Mitski’s third full length, and it is a departure from Puberty 2, the album that gained her enough attention to share the stage with Pixies and Lorde. Instead of the confessional approach of that album, here she wears one or more personas as she sorts through their hurtful pasts.

One of Mitski’s strong points has been bobbing where listeners expect a weave. Throwing in a gutsy chord that doesn’t resolve as expected, or a measure that’s shorter than the ones around it, or a melody note that’s unsettling against the underlying chord (or all three at the same time). She truly exceeds all expectations on Be the Cowboy with her freewheeling approach. One only gets one chance to hear an album like this for the first time. Set time aside to let it toss you around like a rodeo bull. In other words, be the cowboy. Continue reading “Mitski – Be the Cowboy”