December 1, 2016

Melting pot

A remixed recipe has been added to the indie stew.

Melt is a new selection off the emo entree menu of reputed restaurant Topshelf. The New Jersey foursome roasts racks of reverb revolved around the genre’s organic ingredients, cooking a catchy cuisine peppered with spicy hooks.


Barely a three-course meal (10 songs ingested in 28 minutes), the band’s first album leaves both a sweet aftertaste and an empty stomach. Riffer serves sizzling appetizers – “Rewind,” “Out of Line,” “Rollaway,” the title track – but the leftovers are a bland buffet. Dishes “There You Go”, “C-Town,” “Saber” and “Stroke” go light on flambé and flavor, making them tougher chews.

Though Riffer isn’t soup of the day, Melt has concocted a palatable palette. A little extra seasoning and it will be mouthwatering.


September 1, 2016


It’s love at first sound for the latest indie heartthrob.

All aflutter with intimate interludes, Moon Loves Honey endear themselves to paramours longing to rekindle euphonic ardor. The Aarhus quartet call to mind credible crushes Dråpe and Star Horse, but their flirtatious fetish (termed “dream rock”) is more attractive and accessible.


Especially enchanting on the group’s debut is the vocal foreplay between guitarist Jeppe Dengsø and keyboardist Stine Drejer, who are a match made in harmony heaven. The tastiest of these titillating trysts – the mesmerizing “My Friends” –  loops linear lyrics through virile verses and a coital coda, dowering Denmark its most seductive dalliance since Mew‘s “Comforting Sounds.” The rest of the EP runs an orgasmic gamut of frolicking and forlorn fugues.

Moon Loves Honey isn’t just a one-night stand. Walk Apart down the aisle and put a ring on it.


October 2, 2014

Power surge

Oil may no longer be Oklahoma’s best energy source.

Shoegazers Power Pyramid are lighting up the Sooner state, overloading its music grid with an electrical storm of fuzz and feedback. Guitarists Daniel Weaver and Trey Millward threw the switch on demos in late 2012 that quickly became the dynamo for a broader songwriting current. The magnetism attracted Jennifer Lynch (bass) and Kilyn Massey (guitar) to 2013’s The God Drums, a full-length debut that lacked voltage but induced enough capacitance to make it resonate.


Last November, the band added drummer Brent Hodge, who helped ground the highly charged Insomnia EP released through Norman-based substation We Are Nice People at the beginning of this year. July’s self-titled album propagated their largest decibel output so far and phased in James Hammontree as new bass insulation.

Power Pyramid has given the indie circuit a serious jolt.


June 27, 2014

On target

Another bullseye notched on the indie dartboard.

Ambitious and ironically branded, Oakland’s The Aimless Never Miss never did in four years before temporarily checking out. They hit the mark early with a double-ring of EPs (2006’s Oh, If They Could Fly and 2007’s The Bright Side), then registered a ton 80 on their self-titled full-length in 2008. Combining previously released tracks and songs conceived for the second EP’s promotional tour, the album was flighted by frontman Jon Latimer’s intricate guitar work and pointed by incredulous lyrics that tackled topics like 9/11, World War II, and the pitfalls of modern technology.


After losing original members Rosie Steffy and Winston Goertz-Giffen, Latimer continued firing missiles. 2009’s Tran EP, featuring longtime bassist Andrew Macy and drummer Eric Kuhn, was a killer. The band’s most recent leg in 2010 – The High Dive To Lo-Fi, Volume I – saw Latimer going bust to the outer edges of TANM’s sound with past contributors (Steffy chief among them) and several guest performers from the Bay Area.

Latimer has reportedly been writing new material round the clock and finishing a re-mixed version of Tran. Both promise to be just as accurate as his prior throws.


May 30, 2014

Norse anthology

Scandinavia has a new deity whose might could dethrone Thor.

With prescient ability to harness mystical sonics, Norway’s Dråpe is bestowing empyreal music upon a mortally tone-deaf planet. The band’s omnipotence was consecrated in 2011 through the self-titled EP gifted by Ketil Myhre, Peter Rasmussen Lubiana, Lars Boquist, Eirik Kirkemyr and vocalist Hanne Olsen Solem, which reincarnated shoegaze into a maelstrom so miraculous it defies description.


The quintet – now including guitarist Even Hafnor – ascended to higher dimensions last year on Canicular Days, a transfiguration that harkens back to the early wonders performed by Danish indie gods Mew. Illuminated in all their breathtaking glory, Myhre’s transcendent tenor and Solem’s sirenic soprano soar over pristine instrumentation, manifesting the most majestic trinity this side of the afterlife.

Dråpe is simply divine.


February 22, 2014

Richter scale

Music topography fault lines can often be as unstable as the San Andreas, swallowing bands and labels into a chasm of debt, corporate influence and popular opinion. The Richter Collective, an Ireland-based epicenter, refused to succumb to those constant rumblings before forces beyond its control necessitated self-implosion in 2012.

The aftershocks of that temblor are still being felt. Instrumental transforms And So I Watch You From Afar and Enemies have ruptured normal tectonics, creating new, impassable boundaries. Stabilized by guitarist Rory Friers and drummer Chris Wee, ASIWYFA’s groundbreaking Gangs shook the indie world in 2011, and last year’s All Hail Bright Futures made just as big an impact.


Enemies touched off similar seismic events. Guitarists Eoin Whitfield and Lewis Jackson and bassist Mark O’Brien converged with the math rock mechanics of Oisin Trench on 2010’s We’ve Been Talking, which was the precursor to an immense tremor. Embark, Embrace (2013) hit harder than any of their prior releases, reverberating around the globe during tours that spanned Europe, Asia and the U.S.

Both groups’ earth-shattering live shows have generated a tsunami of support and reduced many of their peers to rubble. Richter might be buried, but it triggered two of the most powerful megathrusts to ever crack the surface.



December 30, 2013

Hella yeah!

A rapidly evolving star in the indie galaxy is ready to explode.

Dormant dwarf turned scintillating supergiant, Hella Comet came streaking practically undetected through Austria’s atmosphere last month. Cosmic shifts from 2010’s Celebrate Your Loss EP spawned Wild Honey, a radiant debut full-length whose nucleus of shoegaze and psychedelic pop obliterates everything else put into orbit during 2013.

Bassist Lea Sonnek’s combustible vocals – an alluring amalgam of Elizabeth Powell and Dolores O’Riordan – sparkle brighter than a solar flare. They’re cloaked by the coma of guitarists Franz Gurt and Jürgen Hochsam and drummer Markus Sworcik, forming a stellar tail filled with lush effects and dazzling dynamics that never fizzle out.

Another musical diffusion of comparable magnitude could be light years away. Don’t let this one pass you by.


August 29, 2013

Daydream believer

Spacing out has never sounded so good.

L.A.’s Daydreamer may look like a bunch of beach bums, but their music suggests they’re not your average Spicoli wannabes. In 2012, they made a soundtrack for perpetual slackers everywhere (the because EP), riding waves of heavy distortion and boss bass grooves that could easily get mistaken for Jimmy Eat World cruising the PCH on a bender.

Presently chillin’ with other SoCal groups (Bad SunsWakon Giant), Daydreamer have indicated they plan to reunite and begin writing again soon. Let’s hope the result is just as much of a trip as because when they do.


May 1, 2012

A league of their own

While baseball season might just be getting started, music’s 2012 schedule is in full swing. And after four months, the farm system has finally produced a strong candidate for “Rookie of the Year.”

Philadelphia’s Little Big League — the city’s most promising indie prospect since mewithoutYou — have stepped up to the plate with their debut delivery. A double play that showcases singer Michelle Zauner’s controlled range of pitches on top of a mound of line-driving melodies, LBL’s self-titled 7″ will make even the casual listener balk at the stop sign.

Leading off with singles “Tokyo Drift” and “St. Johns” has put Little Big League in position to score a call from the majors.


April 10, 2011


If you’ve ever attempted to read a piece of federal legislation, you’ve likely ended up aggravatingly confounded. Similarly affecting is Brooklyn’s The House Floor, an indie trio drafting composition and lyrical laws aimed at reversing the status quo.

Alex Tschan, the band’s prominent speaker, intertwines eclectic social commentary, anxious psychological queries and ambivalent spiritual diatribes within a cacophony of off-beat, frenetic melodies, supplemented by the precise rhythm structures of bassist Ryan Lee and drummer Peter Chudzik. With that as the platform for their only public contribution to date (2009’s Warship), this fringe caucus has introduced an ideology that, while maybe not polling high with the majority, is spurring a palpable grassroots movement.

This might truly be change we can believe in.


July 28, 2010

New York’s finest

Were the NYPD ever to create an indie rock division, Ladycop would be the perfect gumshoe.

The elite Brooklyn unit, headed by bassist Cliff Rawson and drummer Kolby Wade, has been working undercover since 2006, privately recording two EPs — a self-titled sampler and 2008’s We’re Not the Man. Having solidified their sonic swat team with six-string snipers Derek Kretzer and (the appropriately feminine) Anne Carlisle, Ladycop is back on the beat. They’re gearing up for a European tour in September and the much anticipated release of their first full-length.

Packing plenty of psychedelic heat, Ladycop has put the Big Apple on notice: There’s a new sheriff in town.



UPDATE: Waves, released at the Knitting Factory performance on September 7, is available for download. They’ve also shot a video for “Idea Maker.”

January 20, 2010

Deleted Arrows: Pointing in the right direction

Rhode Island isn’t exactly the first locale that comes to mind when talking about vibrant music hotbeds. However, the union’s smallest state could be harboring the next big thing in Deleted Arrows, an instrumental quartet which seems poised to sling itself right into the discussion.

Daryl Rabidoux and Brent Frattini, formerly of The Cancer Conspiracy, assembled a new ensemble last spring, and have made select live appearances in Providence (as well as Massachusetts and New York) since June’s introductory performance. The band just released a short EP that, while raw and rudimentary, exhibits enough technical prowess and cohesion to warrant inclusion in any serious indie rock conversation.

Hopefully they’ll be able to put their quaint little corner of the northeast back on the map.


August 18, 2009

Seek Shelter immediately

Instrumental bands have emerged with increasing frequency during the last decade, the most recent evolutions no doubt spurred by the commercial success of Texas’ Explosions in the Sky. Though their recognition on a larger scale was certainly welcome, it led to the inevitable unintended consequence: quantity far exceeding quality (and, in the majority of cases, originality).

Shelter Red, a dynamic duo from Portland, lacks neither. Stephan Hawkes – one of the more inventive musical minds I’ve ever come across – and bassist Austin Crook have been devastating the Pacific Northwest for the better part of six years. In February, they followed up 2007’s independent full-length Masters of the Universe with a seven-song EP debut for Salt Lake City’s Sound Vs Silence. Aptly named, Strike a Mortal Terror not only rattles the instrumental realm to its core, but redefines it in a mere 32 minutes. Terrifying indeed.