Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged indie music

These Open Roads

When I received Haroula Rose’s album These Open Roads in the mail, I couldn’t help but judge it immediately based on the cover. It’s yellow with 70s fonts and on the back, you’ll see Rose dressed in a hippie-styled shirt, standing amongst a field of tall grass. My immediate assumption was a pretty girl who probably has a pretty voice and nothing beyond that. I had hoped to be wrong after listening to the album. Unfortunately, I was far from it. These Open Roads, while a very conventional indie-folk album, isn’t without meaning.


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.

Songs for a Sinking Ship

Not many people have heard of April Smith, but I’ve become quite the enthusiastic fan. Her music combines elements of pop and rock, but her voice has more of a jazz quality that gives the end result a great mix and unique style. I loved her previous album, loveletterbombs, and I saw Smith perform live a couple of times, so when I heard she was raising money for a new album through Kickstarter, I signed right up to contribute.

Don't Kiss Her Face

The Echelons have a lot going for them: quirky lyrics, a 1970s-inspired family ensemble, and fun tunes. Made up of father Ben Petrella, children Jessica and Louis, and neighbors Brian Santo and Brandon Grande, the Echelons make their debut with Don't Kiss Her Face. Jessica is nineteen years old, and brother Louis is only twelve; this multi-generational dynamic gives the band a distinct aesthetic.

Magic Neighbor

Lisa Germano’s music is like finding an old photograph at a yard sale. Somehow, inexplicably, you’re drawn in by a sad or troubled expression staring back in black and white. Soon, without knowing fully why, you feel a connection to the woman sitting in the photograph, hands in her lap, poised in an awkward position that seems unnatural, strange, perhaps even eerie. And you eventually see a story unfolding before you of a quiet childhood with a distant parent, an unrequited love, and precious moments of happiness glimmering in between.

Dead Zone Boys

Critics like to explain that because Jookabox’s David Adamson is from the east side of Indianapolis, he understands poverty, racism, and its symbolism in society. Check cashing joints and vacant strip malls feature prominently on the list of his influences. Perhaps this is why Jookabox appeals to me so greatly. In addition to my own near-Indianapolis roots, I find meaning and take solace in failing capitalist structures: dilapidated mini-golf courses, repurposed gyro drive-thrus that now house wristwatch wholesalers, theaters that seem to double as half venue, half asylum.

Red Rainbows

Sarah Lipstate has all the makings of a feminist noise fan’s dream. At twenty-five, she plays in ensembles with now-graying heroes of New York’s avant garde scene, like Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham. She recently joined new wave band Cold Cave after a stint in Parts & Labor.

The Snake

Access to a wide variety of musicians and bands has recently become widespread with the proliferation of the Internet. Though this gives inquisitive music lovers vast seas of artists to explore, this also presents the predicament of originality. Like any other art, only so many ideas can be looked at from so many points of view before they begin to blend together. It is difficult to find a sound that is original and surprising without being on the fringes of what is acceptable as music.


It’s a treasure to stumble upon new music that for one reason or another resonates deeply within you. I selected Crepusculo after learning that Petracovich singer Jessica Peters Malmberg had made the album while pregnant, and then tragically lost her son shortly after he was born.

All Tomorrow’s Parties: The Film

Lightning Bolt jams in a courtyard. Grizzly Bear harmonizes on the beach. Concert-goers play Dance Dance Revolution, and young hipster musicians experiment with theremins, wind machines, and banjos. If you know of—or even had the supreme privilege of attending—All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP), this likely sounds like a plausible scene. Named for the Velvet Underground song of the same name, the annual event has been running for nearly a decade, with parties in the UK that have since expanded to the U.S.

Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture

I’ve always thought of indie culture as the marriage of individuality and community, and of course, a celebration of the do-it-yourself (DIY) morality that is ingrained in our society. However, some of our most creative pioneers are often obscured from mainstream art, music, and literature.

Royal City

Whenever I’m having an existential crisis sort of day—yes, it can come in daily doses—listening to songs like Iggy Pop’s “Success” soothes my insecurities and favors my sardonic humor that is both a coping mechanism and a genetic condition. How fortuitous then, among the early tracks from Canadian band Royal City, is a humorously lo-fi cover of Mr. Pop’s infectious tune.

Secret Cog

Talk Normal’s Secret Cog, a five song EP, begins with a noise sample that is not quickly placed—a curious noise that immediately demands attention and perks the listener’s ear.

Insects Awaken

Death Sentence: Panda! seems like a ridiculous name, right? Pandas are cute. They look like plush dolls. They eat bamboo, which is, like, a totally cute plant. They are fuzzy and have paws. Death by panda sounds like it’s just about as probable as being mauled by a herd of unruly kittens. Unfortunately for us weak and easily fooled humans, all of that cuteness is a ruse. Panda teeth are actually carefully honed and specialized not for eating leafy greens, but are actually made for gnawing on human flesh.

Look Ahead

Chrissy Coughlin’s sound is an amalgamation of pop, indie, and folk, but overall it’s good songwriting, and she switches styles with aplomb. “Back to You” starts the album out kicking; it’s a peppy, upbeat tune marked by a strong beat and understated organ. The lyrics of this toe-tapping power rock song are somewhat trite (“If I don’t turn around and stay I would be a fool/I’m coming back to you”), but it’s absolutely fun nevertheless.

Down With Liberty...Up With Chains!

Certain record labels have a sound that courses like an undercurrent through all of their releases. Others have an image to uphold. K Records has both.

Mama, I’m Swollen

Midlife crisis: the record. Mama, I'm Swollen is Cursive’s first record without their original drummer. Clint Schnase offers a window into a world of loss and longing: longing for youth, answers, and mommies.

Merriweather Post Pavilion

There are precious moments that stand out in a life of indie glory. They are countless or few, mostly depending on your memory. There were two times when, temporarily paralyzed, I couldn’t get out of my car until the song on the radio ended; I know the tracks well to this day.