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Indie/Alternative Music

Up-and-Comers: Two Door Cinema Club

Ireland-based indie-rock band Two Door Cinema Club, in my opinion, doesn’t sound like your typical Irish rock band—not that there’s a “typical” sound. For us here in the states, we tend to think of Irish bands sounding either something like U2 or something like Enya. We don’t think of them as sounding more like Death Cab for Cutie. Let’s just say this three-piece act (who released their sophomore album Beacon […]


Stars “The North”—Album Review

ATO (2012)

Montreal-based band Stars have always been a sort of a living contradiction for me. Musically, they are one of the more diverse indie-rock bands out there, drifting effortlessly between guitar driven rock, acoustic indie-folk and synth-laden electronica. But lyrically, they seem to be stuck in a rut of boy/girl romantic sentimentality that often slips into just plain sappiness—and the vocal interplay between co-leads Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan, while cute, […]


Cat Power “Sun”—Album Review

Matador (2012)

Think you’ve heard Cat Power? Think again. Not only is her new release Sun cut from a different cloth than her previous work, but it also reveals a stronger, more confident Cat Power than most of us have ever seen. Being Cat Power (or Chan Marshall, if you prefer) has not been easy, to put it mildly. Her life and career have been marred over the years by alcoholism, substance […]


Wild Nothing “Nocturne” –Album Review

Captured Tracks (2012)

When Wild Nothing (the shoegaze project of Virginia-based Jack Tatum) first released Gemini in 2010, the record painted a musical picture that was intriguing, but rather blurry and unfocused. By contrast, the sophomore release Nocturne brings things into clear view. Musically speaking, that is. As a musical act, Wild Nothing still feels a bit like an enigma, and Tatum seems to like it that way. In a manner typical of […]


Minus the Bear Reaches for “Infinity Overhead”

Dangerbird Records (2012)

Listening to Infinity Overhead, the fifth studio album from Seattle indie-rockers Minus the Bear, a couple of things come to mind—just being honest here: Minus the Bear is an acquired taste. You might have to immerse yourself a bit in their music to get a feel for what they are about. (I didn’t like them the first couple of listens, but they grew on me.) When they’re “on,” they’re really […]


Up-and-Comers: Owl Eyes

While her music is just starting to get on the radar of indie-pop fans here in the U.S., Melbourne-based Owl Eyes (a.k.a. Brooke Addamo) has been building a solid following in her home country of Australia for the past couple of years. While her earlier tunes have a sparse, alt-pop feel to them, this year her music seems to be taking a turn toward electro-pop, and it’s a shift that […]


Dispatch “Circles Around the Sun” –Album Review

Bomber Records (2012)

When Dispatch went on “indefinite hiatus” around a decade ago, it broke the hearts of a lot of fans. Since that time, we’ve had very few opportunities to see them, with the notable exception of the “Dispatch: Zimbabwe” benefit shows in Madison Square Garden in 2007. But after throwing us a bone with a new EP last year, the Dispatch reunion is now complete with their first full studio release […]


Up-and-Comers: Grizzly Bear

Okay, so perhaps indie-rock band Grizzly Bear isn’t so much an up-and-comer as an “already-arrived-and-getting-bigger” band. But I’m profiling them here because they are, in fact, gaining steam in the mainstream market, as buzz increases in anticipation of their upcoming album Shields (slated for a September release). Grizzly Bear started as a home recording project by Edward Droste in Brooklyn, NY in 2004, eventually growing into a four-piece multi-instrumentalist band […]


Ben Taylor “Listening”—Album Review

Sun Pedal Recordings (2012)

Listening to Listening, the fourth studio album by singer/songwriter Ben Taylor, I have to say I feel a little sorry for him. Not because he’s not good (because he really is a terrific songwriter), or because he won’t find success in what he does (because he already has), but mainly because he’s one of those few artists who probably always feels he has to live up to his lineage. Let’s […]


Mumford & Sons Release Foretaste of “Babel” with “I Will Wait”

This week, Mumford & Sons officially unveiled “I Will Wait,” the first single from their much-anticipated upcoming release Babel—signaling to the fans that they won’t have to—er—wait much longer. For the past couple of years, UK-based Mumford & Sons have been riding the crest of the wave of the neo-folk revival, drawing fans across many genres to become one of the most popular acts in the world today. Their debut […]


Sixpence None the Richer Finds Its Way Back (Finally) with “Lost In Transition”

self-released 2012

Lost In Transition, the new release from indie band Sixpence None the Richer, has to be approaching a record for longest-awaited comeback album ever. Other than a 2008 Christmas album, there’s been no new material from this band since they reunited in 2007. That’s basically five years between when they reformed and the point at which we actually have what could be considered a “comeback” album. For longtime Sixpence fans, […]


Up-and-Comers: Shovels & Rope

South Carolina-based Shovels & Rope (who released their record O’ Be Joyful this week) is a duo consisting of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, playing a blend of alt-country, folk and rock that is strong, raw, passionate, and extremely catchy. From the first few notes of the opening track, I was completely hooked. The origin of this band is a bit confusing, but let’s see if we can unravel […]


The Antlers “Undersea” –Album Review

Undersea, the latest EP from Brooklyn-based indie act The Antlers, certainly lives up to its name. This four-song project uses atmospheric synths, effected piano sounds, heavily reverbed guitars, muted horns and more to create a sonic experience that makes you feel like you’re swimming underwater. In just a few years, The Antlers have certainly come a long way in their evolution, from being a lo-fi solo project by Peter Silberman […]


Up-and-Comers: Saint Motel

For the past couple of years, four-piece indie band Saint Motel have been hard at work building a fan base in the Los Angeles area with solid live shows. Now, with a self-released debut album Voyeurs that dropped just last week, they are hopefully poised to reach a wider audience. The bandmates seem a bit hesitant to categorize themselves (their Facebook page says “you tell us” under “Genre”), but probably […]


Clare and the Reasons “KR-51”: Album Review

Frog Stand (2012)

Clare and the Reasons admittedly faced a challenge with their third release KR-51—namely, how to stand out among the throng. (Come on, let’s face it—we’re all going, “Oh, nice–another girl-fronted European influenced experimental indie-pop band?”) Thankfully, they rose to the challenge, at least in my opinion. Within the first few notes of the opening track, “The Lake,” I was hooked by the feathery, lilting sound of Clare Muldaur Manchon’s voice. […]