Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged indie rock

Live Session EP

You either have that friend, or are that friend: the friend who tells people about obscure artists that seem weird or off-putting, but always become familiar with time. These bands usually rise from unknown to an only quasi-obscure status within about six months of your introduction, making your friend appear to have some magical intuition or inside information. For me, that friend is Israel. We were in Israel’s green Subaru in Lincoln, Nebraska when I first heard the child-like Japanese/English ramblings of a mystery band, and I asked who it was.


The sophomore set from the Texas-hailed band is a challenging listen that may tax some listeners due to the consistent, if sometimes, monotonous sound.

Middle Cyclone

Music reviews are supposed to be about critical analysis, not deferential boot-licking. But Heaven help me, I cannot help it this time. I love Neko Case. Did you hear me? LOVE. L-O-V-E.


Pershing, the new album from Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, is named for a middle school band member Philip Dickey attended, and it blasts from the speakers with unabashed jangling indie rock joy. Layers of guitars and doubled vocals keep the band firmly attuned to their lo-fi roots on their second album.

Better Off Alone

Fans like to write goofy stuff like “I love your music!! It’s EPIC. It makes me smiley!!!” on Daydream on Autopilot’s MySpace page, and it’s not hard to understand why.

Skeletal Lamping

I absolutely loved this album. Before laying down my justifications for such a grandiose statement, I must put forth a couple of caveats. First, this is the only Of Montreal album I have ever listened to. I was familiar with a few of their better-known songs, but that’s it. Skeletal Lamping is the band’s ninth studio album. Second, I don’t typically like the type of music Of Montreal makes.

Car Alarm

The Sea and Cake are much as their name suggests: soothing and a bit sugary.

Common Reaction

Long story short, I was hanging around in the student center at school where a flat screen television soundlessly flashed images of MTVu. Since I had largely stopped watching MTV more than a decade ago, I was pretty much ignoring it. That is, until I saw a grainy black and white cartoon of an obviously lovesick man trailing a raven-haired beauty down the street. Intrigued, I resolved to listen to the song at home and made note of the band's name—Uh Huh Her. I had never heard of the group before, and Los Angeles-based Uh Huh Her is a long way off from household name status.


When I listened to Necima I was reminded of how humans have always wanted to be birds, to spiral up into the clouds and dash across the landscape without touching the ground. A bird’s voice is the most true instrument of music. They can send shivers down our spines without effort because they are natural singers.

Bubble and Scrape

A fifteen year reissue is much like a greatest hits collection: a triumph or moronic. Since Bubble and Scrape was mostly the former the first time around, Sebadoh’s 2008 re-release of their somewhat classic 1993 album is nothing to sneeze at. Hailed as the quirky, sometimes-inconsistent band’s arrival at the gates of indie rock heaven after a brief period in lo-fi purgatory, this album will either shake you up or leave you bored.


The next greatest soundtrack to your decidedly indie rock life, Tilly and the Wall deliver nothing short of compositional greatness on their third album, O. Known for their youthful, glossy, happy-go-lucky doses of indie pop, this album takes on fun fare while addressing a few deeper issues. “Pot Kettle Black,” for instance, critiques girl cliques and name-calling all too familiar to women of all ages.

Elephant Shell

A college friend of mine was fond of saying that any album he found boring, underperforming, or straight-up bland – music that failed to move him to even the mildest active like or dislike – was “really mediocre.” Discs that merit this special kiss of death are usually just not very good. Sometimes they’re over-hyped, so-hot-right-now sophomore efforts, or ambitious projects that fell short of achieving the kind of transcendent finished product of which their creators seemed so capable when the first press release hit. You want a wrecking ball, this music barely leaves a mark.

Boo Human

Chicago-based Joan of Arc, and the family Kinsella, return with their second Polyvinyl release Boo Human. This time they have arrived with 14 musicians in tow to create a more complex and thorough album. Staying true to their quirky indie rock roots, Boo Human starts of with a medley of sounds and styles.

New Moon

In my Alabama high school, our English teacher had us select writers to do a report on. She carefully went down the list announcing a name with a short one-line bio to quickly introduce the writer to the class. My hand shot up to claim Sylvia Plath when I learned she committed suicide in her thirties; I was morbidly intrigued. In preparation for that school report I remember sitting in the library with headphones on listening to a BBC recording Plath made of her poem "Lady Lazarus." I can still hear the tone in her voice when she announces: "I have done it again.

Peace is Burning Like a River

Bitter Bitter Weeks’ third album has a sound that reminds me a bit of Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service—with eclectic lyrics and a chill beat throughout the album. I put the album to the test during rush hour on the Washington, DC metrobus. Despite being stuck due to a car pileup and missing my connector, I arrived at my office relatively calm, a task only classical music or Céline Dion could do, but with a much cooler edge.

Knife the Symphony EP

I was having a particularly foul day when the Knife the Symphony EP arrived. I distinctly remember being angry at music, and wishing I had something new to listen to that didn’t bore the crap out of me. It was as if someone from Feminist Review was reading my thoughts, and I threw on the five song EP immediately. I’ve never been a huge fan of indie rock, but this band is enjoyable and not terribly monotonous as others as the same ilk.

Golden Sun

The Winter Blanket: a perfect name for this band, one that describes the feelings this band evokes: soft, comfortable and warm. This 6-song EP is sure to leave many listeners eager to hear more from this Minnesota band. When asked why the band delivered an EP, rather than a full-length record, the band reports: “We took the cream of the crop, no filler and put it on the EP.” And we thank them because this EP is solid from beginning to end.

Arco Iris

Upon first listen to Skybox’s single “Various Kitchen Utensils,” you feel transported into the center of a 1920’s silent comedy, or perhaps something starring Buster Keater. The unique pairing of rock music with the sound of old-time vaudeville somehow manages to blend seamlessly and makes for an interesting and fun sound that leaves you wanting more. If indie rock has a flaw it is that it often takes itself too seriously, but Phoenix-based Skybox has found a way to keep all of the joy and edginess of indie rock without losing their sense of humor.

I Wouldn’t Trade That for Anything

I didn’t know what I was in for when I agreed to review Agent’s I Wouldn’t Trade That for Anything. Self described as melodic hardcore, rooted firmly in the Long Island sound, but strongly influenced by '90s indie rock bands like Braid, my initial response was mixed. The music has a very punk feeling to it - hard driving guitar riffs with vocals that were barely audible unless you turn up the volume to ear-splitting decibels that could permanently alter your eardrums.

Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge

When I started to listen to Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge, I thought “Oh, folk rock, how… er… nice.” Not that I have anything against folk rock, but… Then the beat kicked in. Forty minutes later, I was still dancing in my seat. This music rocks! The lyrics are good poetry about love, sex and strong women. There are some out of the ordinary instruments used on this album, such as a glockenspiel. I like different; it makes my senses perk up.

Divorce Songs

With a title like Divorce Songs, I expected the music on this album to represent feelings of separation or disunion, and United States did not disappoint. The Brooklyn post-punk band, which is likened to Fugazi, Cursive and Sonic Youth, presents eight jagged anthems about struggling and surviving in the city.

Hope: and Songs to Sing

Mike Law started Eulcid on a whim in 1996. Although the band wrote the music for their first song in one evening, their first album, The Wind Blew All the Fires Out, took a year to put together and debuted in 2000. Six years, and several different band members later, Eulcid has released another full-length CD. The theme of this album, Hope and Songs to Sing, seemed more about crying out at injustices than about hope, although perhaps crying out in complaint is a first step in that direction. I was not very impressed with the music or singing in the first few songs.

Kicking On

On their website, Gin Palace are described as “a 3 piece: lady singer, no bass guitar, no hi-hats” and Kicking On is their début LP. Emerging not from the dusty deserts of Dakota or from tornado-famous Kansas, but from the indie riddled smog of London, singer Meaghan Wilkie can drive one hell of a rowdy herd.

One Score and Four

The Good Players coalesce around the refined songcraft of one Stephen Nichols, equal parts weak-in-the-knees crooner and twisted studio-as-instrumentalist. Their most recent EP, One Score and Four, channels Jeff Lynne’s aesthetics of orchestral rock excess into the 21st century, absorbing the aleatory dissonance prevalent in contemporary electronic/art music while somehow leaving pretension to us music critics. This is itself an impressive aural feat, but how he and his dirty dozen manifest this meticulous multi-dimensionality live has to be seen to be believed.

Bedtime Prayers

I am not a heavy metal aficionado, although I did enjoy the more pop-oriented groups like Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard and Metallica in my high school and college years. A friend in a black metal band informs me that the vocal style that so turned me off this disc is typical of death metal, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable to the masses. Just because your sound is heavy doesn’t mean the vocalist shouldn’t sing and, hopefully, sing well.

Continental 62

More listenable than Cat Power, but with some of the quirkiness of Joanna Newsom and Björk, Christina Rosenvinge’s super smooth and sweet voice delivers an indie rock sound that is just listenable enough to share with my mother. Madrid-born, Danish-descended Rosenvinge chooses to pay homage to her transnational roots and routes by naming the album Continental 62, after the flight she regularly takes between Newark and Madrid.