I was nervous when I started writing this column. I was worried that, week after week, I’d be stuck ranking awful music in a vain attempt to earn myself some indie cred. I still listen to plenty of terrible music in the name of Bandcamping, but I’m pleasantly surprised at the amount of good stuff I manage to come across as well. That attempt for indie cred is still vain, but at least I’m enjoying it.
The music I hear comes all over the place. Including honorable mentions, this week’s music hails from locations including California, New York, Texas, Canada, United Kingdom, Chile, Australia, Italy, Germany, and Finland. It’s a beautiful and sound-filled world we live in.
You might notice that the Honorable Mentions list this time around is significantly bigger than last time. That’s because this week (January 7 to 13) was packed with high quality stuff, and I didn’t want my genre preferences to prevent you beautiful people from hearing some sweet sounds that you might enjoy more than I did.
I’m also going to start listing the honorable mentions more similarly to how I list the top five, minus the paragraph description and embedded audio. You’re taking enough of a chance with this column by its very nature, so I figure it’s best I don’t send you into any link blind. I’m very happy that you’re here and I want you to feel comfortable.
Speaking of the top five, let’s get to it.
5. Locus of Control by Lou Breed
Genre: indie rock, blues
If you like: The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes
If you like your Black Keys on the hazier side, then Lou Breed is yours. The vocal similarity to Dan Auerbach is uncanny. The jams are tight, slow-burning, and filled with soul. Jeremy Daly, the guy behind Lou Breed (which is the name of a band, not a person), has a good head on his shoulders—a head filled with visions of simultaneously retrospective and contemporary organ-drenched blues.
4. New Wig by Seven Feathers Rainwater
Genre: psychedelic pop, ambient, indie rock
If you like: Animal Collective, Deerhunter
There probably aren’t many who’d land “in the middle” on Salt Lake City band Seven Feathers Rainwater. They have the kind of atmospheric and seemingly disjointed sound that you either love or want nothing to do with. Nothing is conventional, whether it’s the instrumentation, the song structures, or the vocals. That said, New Wig is the kind of record that can take you to some dope places if you’re down to hop on a bizarre train.
3. Elephant in The Water by The Piano Machine
Genre: psychedelic rock, progressive rock, indie rock
If you like: Pink Floyd, The Clientele, Dungen
Italian psychedelic pop group The Piano Machine makes no effort to hide the sleeves on which they wear their influences. The musical lineage they hail from is abundantly clear, but the difference between these guys and other imitators is that Elephant in The Water actually does a great job at capturing the experience of Floyd-flavored psychedelic/progressive rock. The source material sounded ahead of its time in the ’70s, so there’s not much need for The Piano Machine to tinker with the formula. They didn’t, and it worked out.
2. The St. Johns Scholar by Vinnie Dewayne
Genre: hip-hop, conscious hip-hop
If you like: Kendrick Lamar, Harry Fraud
The Portland-native Vinnie Dewayne has spoken about coming from a less-than-affluent neighborhood, but he believes there are plenty of diamonds in the rough. That’s the basic message of his latest mixtape, which also features big, atmospheric production (and a killer Bon Iver sample on “Page 37,” which we’re absolutely vibing with) and Dewayne’s perfectly serviceable flow.
1. Psychic Materials by Casey Mecija
Genre: indie pop, dream pop
If you like: Tennis, Beach House, Lana Del Rey
Casey Mecija is a radio host on CBC Radio up in Canada, but her day job might not be her greatest skill. On her debut solo album (she’s also a member of Ohbijou), she combines airy vocals that she almost definitely borrowed from Tennis singer Alaina Moore with a dreamy and psychedelic pop backdrop. You either feel like an astronaut floating through a serene cosmos, or a bedroom astronomer who long ago gave up counting the stars in favor of getting lost in them.
And now for the albums that nearly made the cut, and totally could have if I had worn a different pair of socks this morning or something:
Oceans.Canyons.Unknown by Neu Lake
Genre: instrumental surf pop, dance, ambient
If you like: Future Islands, The Postal Service, 80s film or DOS game soundtracks
Psycolor EP by Psycolor
Genre: indie rock, psychedelic rock
If you like: Tame Impala, Tame Impala but from Chile, TAME IMPALA
IDols by Eli Arbor
If you like: Kanye West, Childish Gambino
Good News by The Aves
Genre: indie rock, twee pop
If you like: Twerps, Yo La Tengo, Australian indie bands
Desperately Seeking Satan by Betty Petty
Genre: indie rock
If you like: Tennis, Screaming Females
Graffiti by Cozy Photo
Genre: electronic, indie pop
If you like: Cut Copy, Ratatat, DFA Records
Compass by Compass
Genre: jazz, soul, R&B
If you like: Erykah Badu, Sun Ra, BADBADNOTGOOD
Club Unicorn by Club Unicorn
Genre: electronic, alternative
If you like: Hot Chip, Memory Tapes
Dream Planet by Plutonian
Genre: instrumental hip-hop, jazz
If you like: Aphex Twin, relaxing
That’s all we got for this week, so until next time, let us know in the comments which of our albums were your favorites, what we missed, and what we should look forward to. Help us create an alternate mainstream or something! If you missed last week’s top 5, go ahead and get caught up.
IMAGE: Photo by Sammy Rawal