Indie rock is a fickle playing field, rivaled only by rap perhaps, in terms of its endless hum of hyped artists rising up only to evaporate into the void. So in terms of indie longevity, The Dodos are doing pretty well it would seem. With six albums and almost 10 years of experience touring, recording, and writing music, Meric Long and Logan Kroeber have led a confident path of exploring the ranges of their own sound, while also releasing excellent music. 2013 saw the release of Carrier, a quiet stunner of a record, one that grappled with the death of Christopher Reimer, former guitarist of the terrific and now defunct Calgary band, Women. Reimer had joined the Dodos and his influence on the band can be heard in Carrier‘s precise electric guitar lines and its understated melancholy.
Next week is easily the best week of music releases so far this year. While most weeks may have one or two big releases, this next week has so many interesting listens for fans of all genres, a few of which have me giddy in anticipation.
Here’s just a sample of the smaller releases coming this week. For jazz/hip-hop fans, you have pianist Robert Glasper’s Black Radio 2, the sequel to his smooth album Black Radio featuring guest spots from Jill Scott, Common, Lupe Fiasco, Norah Jones, and more. For you Odd Future fans, Mellowhype drops their new album on Halloween. For hip-hop heads who want to look outside the Americas, UK synth-funk hip-hop group band Paper Tiger (not to be confused with the incredible Minneapolis producer/Doomtree affiliate of the same name) has a new album coming. Metal fans can check out new albums from Toxic Holocaust and Skeletonwitch. Garage-rock/soul/funk-rock fans can feast their ears on the new album from White Denim. And those are just the smaller cool releases I wanted to highlight. Here are the top 5 reasons that the 29th of October is going to be a quite exciting day in music.
Now let me say singer-songwriter Jake Bugg is hands down my all time favourite artist in the whole world, so when he released his newest single around two weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised by the harsher, tougher, sound of What Doesn’t Kill You, marking a huge shift from the indie folk/rock sound of his debut album Jake Bugg. For his fans who prefer the tracks with just Bugg’s voice and his acoustic guitar (Simple as This, Country Song, Note to Self, Someone Told Me), it may take some time for the new single to grow on them, but Bugg’s charismatic voice and intimately personal lyrics only get better with each listen.
Bon Iver may be done for a little while, but between popping up on hip-hop albums big (Yeezus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Watch The Throne) and small (P.O.S.’s We Don’t Even Live Here), playing with his band The Shouting Matches, and collaborating with The Blind Boys of Alabama, Justin Vernon hasn’t exactly been quiet. Nevertheless, the announcement of another album from Volcano Choir, a collaboration with post-rock band Collections of Colonies of Bees, was a bit of a surprise. Their 2009 album Unmap was a solid collection of abstractions with the occasional killer song (“Island, IS”, if you haven’t heard it, is still awesome), but it was a bit unstructured (and quite strange for my tastes). However, it seems to have been an important project for Vernon. Just look at the world of difference between For Emma and Bon Iver, Bon Iver: all the layered, more complex instrumentation. The odder, instrumentally complex, direction of Volcano Choir definitely had a hand in influencing that album’s left-turn from the dude-in-a-cabin scrappiness that defined his debut. On Repave, however, it’s Bon Iver that is influencing Volcano Choir.
Like many of you (or at least those who don’t have their ear to the ground in the Vancouver indie scene), my first exposure to The Belle Game came from indie-rock kingmakers Pitchfork, who named their single “River” as a Best New Track earlier this summer. They were right, but to call this band “new” isn’t entirely correct. After amassing much acclaim in Vancouver with two EPs over the course of four years, debut album Ritual Tradition Habit is a chance to cement The Belle Game as a new player in indie-rock (and another chance to prove the good ol’ Pitchfork effect). While it doesn’t quite follow through on the promise of that aforementioned revelation of a track, The Belle Game’s familiar sound lends itself to a solid debut.