Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged indie

Monica Droga: Indie Musician, Bollywood Star, Feminist

Gone are the times when people would migrate only to the West to find better lives. Now we witness a reversal of sorts, with NRIs going back to India to seek the same opportunities that their parents or grandparents had left India to find. Monica Dogra is one such NRI who is rocking the independent music scene in the homeland.

The North End

In a time when emo hasn’t enjoyed the same popularity as it did ten years ago, this six-man band is happy doing its thing. Hailing from Midwestern America Joie De Vivre draws a good amount of influence from the northern part of the region for lyrics and the wintry scenes for their most recent album, The North End. For anyone who’s been to college and listened to local/house bands, The North End is certain to make you nostalgic. Granted, the album is a clean recording and the packaging that of a label-backed-band.


I spent a few years as a DJ for the college radio station during graduate school, and quickly learned that the fastest, most accurate way to asses if you’ll like an album is to pay attention to the label. If you really dig a band, it’s worth your time to research the label that produces their albums–chances are it will be home to other artists you’ll enjoy.

Game Night

Corrin Campbell is a Wisconsin native who enlisted in the US Army shortly after graduating high school. A combat-vet and former member of the 1st Calvary Division, Campbell trained at the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia, before beginning her career with the Army Materiel Command Band. As a US Army trained bassist, Campbell has performed for troops around the world before joining forces with her current band, The Election, to create and perform original music.

Die Young

Blair Gimma bounces about between art pop and insightful complexity with her first full-length venture, Die Young, juxtaposing the indelible angst of indie folk rock (with help from her daydreamy vocals) with stark lyrical imagery.

Fables Of The Reconstruction (25th Anniversary 2-Disc Re-Issue)

Call it what you will: alternative rock, guitar pop, college radio. For better or worse, R.E.M. were responsible for making it—and making it big. Even a casual listener knows when they hear an R.E.M. song. Theirs has always been a definitive sound: Bill Berry's frenetic drums, Peter Buck's jangly guitar, those literate stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and, of course, Michael Stipe's vulnerable voice, leaping from plaintive wail to cooing croon to murmur (pun intended), often within the same song. They started out weird. Pretty, sure, but still weird.


To get the most out of Passion Pit’s debut album, you will need: a healthy appetite for sugary keyboard riffs, plenty of enthusiasm for falsetto vocals, and a large space in which to dance around like crazy. Having gathered these things, you can dive straight into Manners and experience all the colours promised by the album’s cover art. This is music that isn’t afraid of a bit of fluoro.


Christina Aguilera has been a polemic figure since her breakthrough hit "Genie in a Bottle". She has a sexual aesthetic similar to a young Madonna’s, fashion sense like Cher’s, and raw vocal power comparable to a younger Whitney Houston’s. Her albums contain raunchy sexed-up tracks that appeal to sexually blossoming young adults and stately ballads that appeal to their post-menopausal mothers.

Holy Ground: NYC Live with The Wordless Music Orchestra

MONO is a golden goose. Their live album, Holy Ground, is a golden egg. With three guitars, drums, and sans vocals, they are completely focused on the music at hand. Both their music and performance are intense and entrancing. MONO's sound is a mix of classical and rock, at times gliding with genres such as shoegaze and post-rock. For a better idea, imagine a movie score set to beautiful, dramatic visuals.

Good Problems

Ah, spring time on a New England college campus! I always forget what it’s like when everyone emerges out of the stacks of the library, poorly-lit dorms, and stuffy classrooms to congregate on the sunny main green.

Western Theater

Mighty Tiger are the sort of band to open for Animal Collective or Grizzly Bear on tour—and not just because of their similar four-legged names. It’s easy to compare bands in folksy sub-genres, but the truth is, Mighty Tiger are a solid pop-driven fit among more established bands of similar persuasion. On Western Theater, Mighty Tiger do what other comparable bands do not.

Aggressively Humble

Just like the spelling of their name, Chll Pll is complex yet simple. Apparently the two musicians that form Chll Pll are quite the musical social butterflies, as they have collaborated with a bunch of other musicians.

Every Light Must Fade

Sometimes it seems the best things in life are those that we accidentally stumble across on a whim, or on the way to something else. That certainly seems to be the case for many of the items I’ve reviewed items for this blog.

Jessie Murphy in the Woods

While some might not be into the cutesy, fairytale-like sound and lyrics of the New York City pop-folk group Jessie Murphy in the Woods, there is no denying the magical harmony produced by the three talented women.

Black Lip Mother of Pearl Round Earrings

Today is Black Friday, the mother of all shopping days in my country of origin where business profits turn from red to black and bank accounts from black to red. Someone in the mid-sixties must have had one hell of a sense of humor to time this day to fall directly after Thanksgiving. One day Americans join with their families in (mock) appreciation of their conquested homeland and the next they begin an altogether too similar conquest, only this time it's consumer goods they're after instead of arable land.

Love Is Not Pop

While listening to the recently released album from Swedish pop artist El Perro del Mar (Sarah Assbring), I quickly realized I was being pulled into a cathartic experience evoked by Assbring's ethereal vocals and repetitive, melancholic lyrics.

Homemade Ship

Rose Melberg made a name for herself in the nineties as a singer and guitarist for bands like the Softies, Tiger Trap, and Go Sailor.


This short film was Sushrut Jain's final project at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He plans to expand the character study into a feature length film. Shot on the street in a Mumbai suburb of the same name, Andheri does an exceptional job of communicating what it feels like to walk down the street in urban India. Every movie with an Indian scene seems to have a few crowded streets where the camera jostles and token cows, beggar children, and colorful saris move through the frame.

New Best Friends

When first hearing Mansions’ sound, a rare and unlikely mutation of early Death Cab for Cutie and standard emo rock band hybrid creeps to mind.

Birds of Paradise Earrings

Not ever being one to splurge on jewelry, I’m often times frustrated by the cheap and mass produced items I find myself buying off racks in department stores. I am no stranger to a green finger, a necklace that breaks as I’m putting it on for the very first time, or an earring that manages to fall off in transit, which always provides for a few strange glances once I arrive at work.

Rotting Slowly

Their name, Curious Mystery says so much. Curious instrumentation crossed with a mysterious sound as they fearlessly cover the gamut—a grab bag of indie noise rock, folk, psychedelia, country, and blues. It all works whether it’s attributed to their experimentation of sounds, or that they are just an experimental bunch, a breath of fresh air in an arguably stale climate.


There’s always something quirky about the artists signed to Asthmatic Kitty Records. For Cryptacize, who joined the Asthmatic family about two years ago, their quirkiness is in their simplistic, clever sound and carefree, humorous presentation of themselves.

Come with Me if You Want to Live

After listening to Goblin Cock’s new record, Come with Me if You Want to Live, I’ve decided to start my own sludge metal band. However, I’m having a few problems thinking of a name with a good female twist. Somehow the band name “Ogre Vag” just doesn’t have the right ring. At any rate, Goblin Cock’s mix of indie and metal would suffice for anyone looking for an appropriate soundtrack for a movie involving Norse mythology and lots of beast slaying.

Like It Or Not

If the latest slate of indie bands are to be believed, feigned disinterest and irony worship are so not cool anymore. It seems as though the hipsters think they've totally moved beyond all that. This season's must-have emotional response to your surroundings? Cutesy glee, couched within a three-word (preferably multi-syllabic) band name. Problem is, it still feels like an affectation, a pose that comes off just as hollow as those other two. Therein lies my biggest issue with Australian group Architecture in Helsinki.  They're fun and funky. They're danceable enough.

Oh, The Places We’ll Go

It isn’t an accident when my music reviews start to sound the same. I know what I like: progressive hip-hop, experimental electronica, dance-punk, woodsy indie folk, baroque pop, and twee from the Pacific Northwest. My partner teases me that all of my music has to be good for one of three things, if not a combination of them: dancing, driving long distances, and effecting social change.

The Hotel Café Tour (11/1/2008)

The Hotel Café began as a tiny coffee shop in Hollywood, California. Since then, it has developed into a twenty-one-and-older venue. In its initial cozy environs, the performers created a warm, collaborative environment, sharing the stage and watching each other perform. Four years ago, the Hotel Café began to tour with some of its most promising acts. The particular show that I attended in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was an eclectic collection of indie-folk festivities.

Red Letter Year

Red Letter Year is one of those records about—dare I say it?—hope. Its folksy tunes praise Mother Earth and the blessings we all share at the end of a devastating political era. You don't have to be a longtime fan of Ani DiFranco to be convinced that it is desirable—hell, even possible—to live in the woods, knit your own socks, grow your own food, and exist in a woman-centric world (assuming you don't already).

Musicfest Northwest (9/3-9/6/2008)

Now in its eighth year, Musicfest Northwest was held over three days in Portland, Oregon. Born from the ashes of the North by Northwest festival, MFNW is hosted by Portland’s less trendy, free weekly newspaper, the Willamette Week, and has grown rapidly since its inception, largely due to corporate sponsorship.

Caught In The Trees

Damien Jurado is no spring chicken. He’s been making music since the mid-nineties and indie fave record label Sub Pop produced his first four solo albums. His time with Sub Pop proved to be a much more musically experimental one compared to his previous tried and true time as a folky balladeer. Jurado united with Indiana-based Secretly Canadian in 2003 for his album Where Shall You Take Me? and returned to his folk sound, a task that he excels at.

Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

The Silver Jews are one of those bands shuffling around in the back of the club, the members sort of trading places with each other, not sure which one should settle behind the front man, who takes the stage.