Back as a sophomore in high school I came across a very peculiar album cover that had could have well been a classic art piece, if not for the strange bread-like object that had replaced the girl’s face in the artwork. I decided not to judge an album by its cover and went to listen to a couple songs. It was unlike anything I had heard before – eerie, dreamy, lyrically ambiguous, but somehow very beautiful. It was none other than the album “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel. I would never have guessed that a little over three years later I would watch the band live after their indefinite hiatus.
A great drummer can make the difference in a band. Anyone will tell you that’s a fact. Try to imagine The Who without the thunderous, kinetic play of Keith Moon. Or “Be My Baby” without that famous drum break and frantic yet tasteful fills by Hal Blaine. Or James Brown’s classic records without the “Funky Drummer” himself, Clyde Stubblefield. Even the much-maligned Ringo Starr knew exactly when to accent a moment in a song with a perfect fill (think “Helter Skelter” or “Drive My Car”) and when to sit back and let the music groove.
Sadly, the drummer is often ignored in indie-rock conversation. Maybe it’s because the genre itself doesn’t lend itself to the kind of flash that classic rock and roll or funk or jazz does (there aren’t a lot of soloists in indie rock). The drumming in a ton of indie rock music also doesn’t move beyond simple timekeeping or tasteful grooves, which doesn’t immediately impress as much as a great jazz solo or a thunderous metal part. As a drummer and indie rock fan, I’ve found the genre to house plenty of interesting and excellent players, some of which don’t get the respect they deserve. These are just a few of the drummers of indie rock who deserve more attention.
Despite plenty of success and years of experience, some artists just want to mix things up. This motivation creates what we may call side projects or musical supergroups. Take all the best qualities of similar, or not so similar, musicians, put them in a recording studio, and watch the magic happen. In the past decade or so, five projects in particular have redefined the expectations of musical collaborations. In fact, some of the names may even surprise you.
Before the official release of Bugg’s sophomore album Shangri La, he released two singles from the album What Doesn’t Kill You and Slumville Sunrise, which featured a significant development in Bugg’s music from his first debut album Jake Bugg. The two singles were much heavier, rockier, and fast moving; that’s definitely not a bad thing by any means, but I fell in love with Jake Bugg’s music because it felt real, genuine, and I liked the folky acoustic sound in all of his songs. So while I was excited to listen to Shangri La, I was worried it would disappoint my expectations for Bugg. But, it’s amazing and everyone should listen to it.