indie music

Mike Doughty – I Can’t Believe I Found You In That Town

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In 2004, on a little known beloved TV show called “Veronica Mars”, I heard my first Mike Doughty song. “I Hear The Bells” is a delicious taste of what was to come in Mike Doughty’s post-Soul Coughing solo career.

The really cool thing about Mike’s music is that distinctive voice and wit, on songs like “27 Jennifers” and “Looking at the World from the Bottom of the Well.”

By his ninth solo album, The Heart Watches While the Brain Burns, you’d figure he would have slipped into a comfortable pattern, but Mike Doughty is not that kind of artist. He is obsessively, constantly driven to sound new. The elegant, charming album swerves between lonesome country influences, and trap beats.

The Heart Watches While the Brain Burns was recorded during a transitional phase in Doughty’s life, in which he left New York, his home base since the late ‘80s, for the “fascinating, mysterious town” of Memphis, Tennessee. The low cost of living has given Doughty freedom to make experimental music in bars around the city, while completing the album with Queens, NY hip-hop producer Good Goose over the Internet.

The first single, “I Can’t Believe I Found You in That Town,” was inspired by a failed romantic connection in a grim city in the North of England. In a total of about 36 hours, Doughty became enchanted with a woman, came on too strong over Instagram, and then wrote a song about the botched encounter while stress-eating pastry in a pub, then racing back to his dressing room to work out the song on guitar.

For the new video Doughty taps into his NYC roots one more time to deliver a sweet tale of young love on the Coney Island boardwalk. All of the classic landmarks are there, like the Wonder Wheel and the Wild Mouse, not to mention a fair share of Mike Doughty t-shirts being worn by men, women, and children of all walks of life. What makes the seaside resort so unique is the people and the diverse collection of personalities that come together each summer to this bohemian paradise. Amongst the crowd is a young couple enjoying the sights and sounds of the night, but most importantly they’re enjoying each other’s company. It’s a little slice of unexpected young summer love and from the boardwalk to the beach it is a perfect sayonara to the summer.

Watch the video here.

Mike Doughty’s Official Website

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Bassett – Ghost Hwy (EP)

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Indie psychedelic folk duo Bassett have a new EP Ghost Hwy out Friday, Nov. 18. Bassett is Josh Bassett (Multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter) and Tak Ozaki (Bassist.) Josh is from New Jersey and Tak is from Kobe, Japan – they met through the LA Club Scene.

Since uniting, the duo have spent the majority of their band’s life on the road. They have played extensively throughout the West, East and Midwest, fulfilling their dream of spreading deep, psychedelic musical vibrations while seeking out some of America’s culinary gems along the way.

Bassett have always strayed from the beaten path. It is this chronic search for identity, peace and creative release that led them to the vast landscapes of the California desert which served as inspiration for Ghost Hwy. Their pilgrimages to Joshua Tree and the surrounding areas acted as springboard for their new, introspective and trance-like material which explores uncharted emotional territory.

Josh, who was processing some dark personal history at the time explains “I was going through a period of intense shyness so I wasn’t cranking up the amps…I was tinkering on acoustic instruments and soul searching with my voice.”

The resulting EP is filled with a depth and rawness that entices the listener into its strange sonic world. While Bassett’s music still sits in the vintage psych sound of Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Nirvana & Nick Drake, Ghost Hwy is harder to pin down with its uncommon chords and visceral balladry. Their single “Away” is the most experimental track on Ghost Hwy and can be streamed below. The EP is really exciting and unique and showcases the exceptional talents of Bassett.

“I often feel like an outcast” notes Josh. “Not just because our music doesn’t click into a current genre but because we have always gone down our own road and that’s what we offer…A genuine reflection of our journey through the human experience.”

Connect with Bassett:
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Amy Guess – 10 Times Out Of 10

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Las Vegas electro-pop singer Amy Guess has a new video for “10 Times Out Of 10.” It’s from her upcoming EP of the same title out soon. The really cool video is 80’s themed and is reminiscent of that era.

Amy Guess shared this about her EP:

“I have spent the last well over a year on this music, it is the most honest and vulnerable I have ever been with my music and it’s taken me a lot of writing and breaking down my own walls to let it out. It’s songs about my love, songs about lost love, songs written on my worst days and songs written on my happiest, it has been therapeutic and it’s been painful, it’s been frightening and it’s been thrilling, and letting it out of the long closed cage is quite scary but along with that fear I couldn’t be more excited to share this music with you all, music I have written for you all and I hope you all find strength and connection in these songs the way I have in writing them. “10 times out of 10”, why this title? Well it came down to one of the huge reasons I’ve continued pursuing music and that is my rock, my shoulder, my 10 times out of 10, my ride or die homie, my love – his support and belief in me has been my anchor through my journey and so the song I wrote about him had to be the title track and the title for the EP. I also loved it as the title because throughout any of my lowest moments and moments where I believed in myself the least, music is something I could never imagine letting go, no matter the fear, doubt and insecurities in pursuing it the fear of letting go and not pursuing it left me feeling even more paralyzed, empty and afraid. Music also my 10 times out of 10, I don’t have a back up plan, I never have, it’s not what happens during my pursuit that matters, what matters is I will always continue to pursue it for the love and the inner deepest need and desire to create and make music.”

Amy Guess will be playing a show in Las Vegas on October 18th at Gold Spike on their Down & Derby night.

Connect with Amy Guess:
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John Helix – Tune Out, Turn Off, Disconnect

Tune Out, Turn Off, Disconnect John Helix Album Cover

San Diego-based indie singer-songwriter John Helix is releasing Tune Out, Turn Off, Disconnect on March 4th. It’s the follow-up to Helix’s 2015 critically acclaimed album Chronic Happiness. The album’s title takes its cue from Timothy Leary’s famous acid-laced dictum. Accordingly, Helix pounds, strums and sings his way through a contemporary existential crisis and it is a joy to behold.

Helix describes his sound with German term ‘Weltschmerz’ which essentially translates to romantic sadness – a feeling of generalized sentimental pessimism. Reflective, pensive and full of bittersweet nostalgia, Helix creates melancholy pop songs laden with double-entendre and insightful commentary, a sound that has increasingly attracted crowds of generally disillusioned but not hopelessly cynical fans.

After listening to and loving Helix’s albums and being a sometimes depressed indie music blogger, I asked Google simply: Are indie music listeners depressed?

The first result was a blog post from The Guardian of questions and answers posed to the Indie Professor. Here’s the question asked by Richard Minkley via email:

I’m quite into Radiohead and realise that their music is quite depressing or melancholy which gives it a bit more of an edge. Why is depression so often linked to good music?

The Indie Professor’s answer began:

As Poe wrote in his exposition on The Raven, “Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariable excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all poetic tones.” This sentiment is not an aesthetic universal, but the product of the same ideologies discussed above. In melancholy, the puritan distrust of sensual pleasures meets the romantic value of extreme emotions.

Puritanism rejects indulgence and if you can’t indulge yourself, what better way to experience emotional intensity than to gather pleasure from pain? The more acute the emotional experience, the more validating it is. This is why much of the music that is the heartland of indie culture is melancholic, disconsolate and miserable. The taste and sensitivity to experience pathos shows that one is a member of the aesthetically elect. The intersection of puritan/romanticism takes unrequited longing as superior to physical satisfaction. Physical satisfaction is seen as the dominion of other music genres; hence the uneasy relationship between indie and dance.

Another result to my Google question was an article referring to a 2008 study where preferred music style is tied to personality. Here’s how indie music fans are described: They have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle.

I found this information interesting while reviewing Helix’s new album. It’s relevant because the album started out surprisingly upbeat until Helix tore his ACL in a jiu-jitsu tournament. The injury and 8-month recovery resulted in a somewhat self-destructive headspace and left Helix feeling disconnected from friends, family, lovers, and even his own sense of self. This dark and heady vibe quickly crept into the material, along with the pull of a variety of artistic influences, including Mark Rothko’s abstract expressionism, Woody Allen’s pedantic humor, and the raw intensity of John Lennon’s early solo work.

The album’s title was ironically not reflective of Leary’s dream of the happy ones being turned-on day-trippers journeying toward a communal destination. In contrast, Helix finds individuals groping for human connection in a cotton candy consumer culture. Reflecting upon this, Helix asserts, “I feel my message is a nice antidote to the prevalent ‘buy this and click this’ mentality, which to me is the opposite of searching for real meaning.”

In the end, Helix finds catharsis in the culminating track, where the narrator of the album concludes that even though he has gone through the depths of hell, the isolated place he finds himself doesn’t reflect who he really is. Helix is quick to point out that the heavy lifting was a catalyst for positive change and looking back at his creative process, notes, “I felt so lost and disconnected from the world, but all along I knew there had to be a way back, because so many have walked this road before, it’s almost like I’m retracing their steps”.

You can stream the cleverly-titled track “Roman Tic” below and buy Tune Out, Turn Off, Disconnect on March 4th.

Connect with John Helix:
Official Website
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Nick Urb – Until The End Of Days

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Twenty-six year-old singer-songwriter Nick Urb has crafted a beautiful new album rich with storytelling and an ethereal sound that falls somewhere between the acoustic pop of Ed Sheeran and captivating folk of Noah Gundersen. Until the End of Days, Nick’s sophomore album, is being released by Independent Ear Records on February 26th. His last, self-released album, We Are Able, received over 7 Million streams on Spotify and a earned him a session on Daytrotter.

For his new album, Nick began tinkering with odd tuning and exploring both the happiness and hardships of his young adult life. The title track of the new album, “Until the End of Days”, solidified his commitment to pursue music. “If you love something, that’s the way it is,” he asserts. “Whether good or bad, right or wrong, your mind has been made up.”

“Emily,” the lead-off single from the album, tells the story of young lovers forced to separate because of a life on the road. It is both sad as they must say goodbye and also optimistic as Nick sings about reuniting forever in the end with “Emily”. There is nothing like being in love in your twenties. The highs and heartache are captured beautifully in “Emily.”

“Higher Ground,” the track following “Emily” is all about the highs of young love and the idea of running away together and remaining together despite obstacles. The next track “Everything and More” is about meeting the love of your life, in the beginning and how perfect they are for you. “Brothers” is a lovely and upbeat yet sad song about two best friends who grow apart. Another story of life in your twenties when you realize your childhood has ended and friendships sometimes fade away. These are highlights of the romantic, wistful acoustic pop of the album. It transported me back to the romantic angst, highs and lows of my twenties and whatever your age, it will resonate as Nick is a gifted storyteller.

Nick was born and raised just outside Detroit in Clawson, Michigan. Being stuck in a small town played a big role in him gravitating towards music as a way out. Nick occupied his time playing in bands around Michigan for over 8 years, finally going solo and finding his way up the East Coast and as far South as Austin, TX. Nick played churches, house shows and small theaters throughout his early twenties, an experience he refers to as “reflective and therapeutic”.

Nick recorded Until the End of Days in Hamilton, Ontario at Catherine North Studios. After hearing the sounds the studio naturally produced, he knew this was exactly the creative space the album needed. The resulting recordings are flushed with nostalgia and bittersweet melodies which showcase Nick’s pristine vocals and delicate musical sensibilities. More than anything, he extends a comforting assurance to others by honestly documenting the experience of coming into his own. As Nick sees it, “my songs are all inspired by deeply personal experiences as I intend to keep those moments and memories alive”.

I highly recommend buying “Until The End of Days,” which releases on February 26th. Stream or buy “Emily” below.

Connect with Nick Urb:
Official Website
SoundCloud
Facebook
Twitter
Bandcamp
YouTube

Sam Barron – Russian Love

I went to high school with indie musician Sam Barron. I had no idea he was a musician until Facebook told me. (Thanks, Facebook!) Hunting Liberty, Mermaids and the Next Song. That is his short description of his music. I like it. What do you think dear readers?

http://www.sambarron.com/
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Beecher’s Fault – Matchstick Kings

Beecher’s Fault are an indie pop/rock band from beautiful Astoria, New York. The leaders of the band, Ken Lamken and Ben Taylor, met in New Jersey a few years back before they booked it to NYC to seek out the limelight after realizing their musical compatibility. Max Maples (drums) and Serge Ruccolo (Bass) now complete the quartet that has been said to have live performances that produce a “wall of sound” complemented by “raw, honest lyrics” and “pristine vocal harmonies”.

I really like their song Matchstick Kings, which was recently featured in the official trailer for “The Outfield.” I can’t compare them to any other band as their sound is quite unique and addictive and worth listening to.

Beecher’s Fault are playing tonight at Bowery Electric at 10pm. Opening for them are Olivia Castriota and Forlorn Stranger with the music beginning at 8pm.

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www.beechersfault.com/

#Indie Film Spotlight – Begin Again

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Begin Again debuted in the US April 2014 at the Tribeca Film Festival, played at my local independent theatre, and I finally just watched it on Showtime. I don’t know why I waited this long as this movie is a love letter to NYC and independent music, which is the perfect film for me.

The whole time I was watching Begin Again, I thought, this really reminds me of the film Once, and I was not that surprised to see the film’s writer and director was John Carney, who directed Once.

Begin Again tells the story of Dan (Mark Ruffalo) and Gretta (Keira Knightley) who meet just after Dan has been fired from his own record label and Gretta has been dumped by her rock star boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine.) Gretta is a singer-songwriter and Dan decides to revive them both by recording her album outside in NYC.

The love letter to NYC is apparent in the choice of locales for Gretta’s album, including the Bethesda Fountain, the subway, and a rooftop in front of The Empire State Building. A lovely montage also succeeds when Dan And Gretta wander NYC listening to Gretta’s favorite songs through an earphone splitter.

There is great chemistry between Dan and Gretta and I kept wondering if there would be a romance. I won’t spoil anything, but I was satisfied. Begin Again is a sweet film, and if you love independent music and NYC you will really love it.

Underground Performances – Bandits on the Run

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I was held up last night in the subway. They got $5! But, seriously Bandits on the Run will steal your ears while you wait for your train and you will willingly give them cash and love every minute of it.

The scene of the musical crime was the 2nd Ave. F train platform going uptown. The train was late and those Bandits on the Run made it amazing. I had just come from seeing a band play at Rockwood Music Hall but I was more blown away by Bandits on the Run. I snatched up one of their 5 song EP’s and truly enjoyed their set, which included a raucous cover of “Come on Eileen.”

Bandits on the Run are from Brooklyn and are Adrian Blake Enscoe as Roy Dodger, Sydney Torin Shepherd as Bonnie Jean (a.k.a. Bonanza Jellyfish), and Regina Marie Strayhorn as “Clarissa.” They all wear bandanas.

Get a taste of “Potted Plant,” their submission to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert. Then pray they hold you up on the subway.

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