Tag Archives: indie pop

Four Hot New Indie Pop Singers I Can’t Stop Listening To

You may have noticed a dearth of posts lately. That’s because I’ve been getting a lot more paid blogging work, and at the end of the day writing an extra blog post for a personal passion project hardly seems worth the time. But in the past week I got complaints from two people who told me they missed these posts, and relied on them to find new music. Meanwhile, a friend of my was lamenting that there were no new pop songs this summer as infectious as last year’s singles from Lorde. This was enough to spur me to action, as you know no phrase tickles my ranty bone like “They don’t make good music like they used to,” even when “they used to” was just a few seasons ago. My reply to such an audacious untruth is always, “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.”

NPH as Barney Stinson saying Challenge Accepted

In fact, I’ve chosen to limit this post to girl pop singers, because, hey, I don’t have all day to tell you about all the great music out there so I need to narrow it down, OK? These aren’t fast-paced songs like you’d get from Dragonette or Icona Pop. As this post was inspired by Lorde, these are songs paced similar to her work, the kind of songs you could dance to, but will just as likely listen to while doing a thousand other tasks. They are songs that, like Lorde, reward repeat listening with interesting lyrics.

Julian Moon – Good Girl

Listening to Julian Moon reminds me of the first time I heard Sheryl Crow. It’s music that’s a little bit twangy, but too clean for country, and a little bit rock while still firmly cheery enough to be pop. This is one of those songs that is so clever, you’ll wonder how pop music has gotten along without it for so many years. The song is everything the “Good Girl” next door should be: sexy but approachable, familiar but unforgettable.

As of this posting, Julian Moon is offering “Good Girl” as a free download on Soundcloud, so there’s no reason her flirty voice shouldn’t be keeping you up all night, playing this number on repeat.

Hayley Kiyoko – Girls Like Girls

Hayley Kiyoko is also offering a free download, so I’m sharing the Soundcloud link below so you can grab it, but first I have to show you the video. I’m going to be honest with you, this video makes me more verklempt than Linda Richman at a Streisand concert.

Mike Meyers as Linda Richman on SNL's Coffee Talk saying "I'm getting a little verclempt"
This is me when I watch the Hayley Kiyoko video

I know there have been a ton of songs about girls liking girls, but for some reason this one feels really right to me. Many of the earlier bi-curious anthems feel more like they are in service to a man’s fetish than reflective of something real (I’m staring rudely at you, Katie Perry). At best, they are pointed political statements about equality. But “Girls Like Girls” is more like, “yeah, sometimes girls like girls, so what?” And I think that’s how the upcoming generation truly feels about it. I think this song makes me cry not because we need another gay rights anthem, but because of how casual the whole thing is. We waited so long for progress, so long it seemed impossible, and then it came all at once, so swiftly was justice brought about that a single generation later and the kids can hardly see what all the fuss was about.

Hayley Kiyoko – Girls Like Girls Video

So good, right?! Do you need a tissue? I do…every fucking time. And the chemistry between the girls is so true, like  even though they’re not doing anything in the video, you can feel it between them. And the scene at the end, you can see not how much they lust for each other, but how much they care about each other.

As far as I know, Hayley Kiyoko isn’t queer, I don’t think she’s even in the video (however, she did direct it). She’s primarily an actress, a Disney actress no less, best known for parts in CSI and as Velma in Scooby Doo. And those are the sorts of things that would normally prejudice me against a performer. But based solely on this song, I can’t wait to hear what this Disney princess puts out next.

Now here’s the Soundcloud so you can buy “Girls Like Girls.” I hope to listen to it enough times that I can hear it without turning into Linda Richman.

Bebe Rexha – I’m Gonna Show You Crazy

If the queer pride movement has crested (and the trans pride movement is currently on the rise) I believe the next big social movement is going to be for the nutters. Half of everyone is on some kind of psychiatric drug these days, while social services for mental illness are either terrible or non-existent. Which is not to say that every dance anthem has to have some moral underpinning. I mean to say, there are always a lot of crazy girls on the dance floor and those girls will immediately embrace this song, dancing their asses off with fists pumping. Rexha has a sultry and powerful voice and the with the fierce music behind her, she makes Meredith Brook’s “Bitch” sound like a family campfire song in comparison. Though we may not all be medicated, I think everyone can identify with this song, that moment when you cut loose and decide to own all the labels thrown at you, and then some.

Alessia Cara – Here

You know that feeling when you’re at a party, and you’re just so ready to go home? There’s someone trying to talk to you, and they mean well, and it’s nothing personal, but they could really just drop dead as far as you care, and everywhere you look there’s annoying people making bad decisions, and you don’t want to force your friends to leave, but you don’t want to spend another second in these uncomfortable shoes, and this loud music? YES I KNOW YOU KNOW THAT FEELING. Because even I know that feeling, and I’m always the last person who wants to leave the party. Alessia Cara has captured that feeling perfectly in “Here.” She doesn’t just tell us, she shows us, with all kinds of details about her surroundings, and that’s what we call good writing.

For the main sections, she sing-raps in the way that has been popularized by artists like Keisha, but Cara has a fantastic voice, deeper and more sultry than I’d expect from one so young. But the lyrics are interesting and she sings them fast enough that you get sucked in, want to learn the words so you can sing along. The back up vocals and the single piano key give the song weight.

I have this song followed by a remix of it on my Hypem list, which means that when I listen to my playlist I hear it twice. I’ve yet to skip either version.

These four songs are fighting it out to be my new favorite thing in the world right now. They are the soundtrack for my summer. What’s yours?

Fake Blood and Alex Metric

Sadly I wasn’t able to get tickets to the Bag Raiders, Classixx and RAC show a few weeks back. So I’ve picked up tickets to Fake Blood an Alex Metric as a consolation prize. And as consolation prizes go, it’s sure to be better than a red ribbon.

Fake Blood plays the Mezzanine tonight
Fake Blood

Fake Blood

While last month’s featured DJs are known for dreamy remixes heavy on synth, Fake Blood builds bangers. Continue reading Fake Blood and Alex Metric

Top Indie Songs 2012: Pop

rollerskate high heel on red background

 The Top Ten Indie Pop Songs of 2012

The unofficial tagline of this site is “It’s not Brittany, bitch.” But my hopes are that the days of such cornball kinderwhore are over. Why just you listen to these ten delicious pop songs from 2012 and you’ll find you’re beginning to feel much more optimistic about the future of pop music.

After drafting this list, I realized quite a few of these albums haven’t been released in the U.S. yet. Sorry for any aneurisms this inaccuracy causes in your tender, particular brains. But we gotta keep it up and coming around here.

1. We Were Evergreen – Baby Blue
“Baby Blue” was their only US single in 2012

“Baby Blue” is bliss, right from the little breaths that open the song. The slight echoes behind the harmonies and the one-up coin sound effect at 1:12 are nice touches but this would be an adorable song with just the pianos and playful harmonies. This is what sunshine sounds like.

2. Yes Nice – Empty Spaces (Oh No! Yoko Remix)
From their remix CD Yes Nice Remixed Feb 2012

This isn’t your standard remix. It begins with beautiful a capellas; next come the violins. The vocals are chopped in a way that somehow transcends the typical electronic song. It doesn’t have the structure of your typical remix either, which generally has a a minute long intro and outro and two or three climaxes. Instead, this starts out soft and lovely builds to a single gorgeous cacophony and ends swiftly. Empty Spaces is musically interesting from beginning to end, and when you’ve listened to it a few times the lyrics are fun to sink into.

There are some who would object to including a remix (or two) on this list because it takes credit from the original artist. But I see it as a way to give space for two acts. Oh No! Yoko makes some delightful songs of their own well worth checking out.

3. Blacklight Dinner Party – Older Together
From B.L.D.P. Oct. 2012

From the first second “Older Together” starts with a take-no-prisoners hook. The guitar and and throbbing synth compliment it perfectly. Instead of the standard motif of playing the hook with the chorus, that piano bit lets up for the vocals, so neither delight has to compete. Before you’re sick of the hook, the vocals come in. Before you can tire of the vocals, there’s that hook. His voice is unique but not quirky, and a subtle reverb gives it that extra little something. The second refrain takes it up a notch with a synth brass section.

It speaks to just how good this song is that I’ve been listening to it since the single was released last year and it still holds up to songs I’ve only been enjoying for a few months. It’s a sweet song with an irresistible melody. Fans of Peter Bjorn and John’s adorable ditty “Young Folks” will like this one. Shockingly, Amazon offers their whole album for under five bucks (right now Amazon is selling all five songs on that album for $2.99). Get it now before the cool kids catch on.

4. Gemini Club – By Surprise
From Here We Sit April 17,2012

This would be a catchy song with just the vocals, piano and drums. But there’s a lot of little touches that make it more polished. The synth trills. Before the refrain there’s a two measure vocal sample that hints at the vocal layers to come. The layered and sampled vocals that make up the bridge are delightfully surprising. The drummer does little effects, just enough to keep it interesting but not enough to get self-indulgent. I’m happy to report that every other song I’ve heard from Gemini Club is just as nice as “By Surprise.”

5. Alt JBreezeblocks (Girls on Drugs remix)
Check out more GirlsOnDrugs remixes on BandCamp

Alt-J has put out one of my favorite albums of 2012, and it would be fair to put “Breezeblocks” on this list. But I want to be sure you hear this remix, which turned out to be one of my most-listened to songs of the year. Something about the vocal decay, like at the end of the phrase, “here I go,” just works. It reminds me of the way visual artists are working with distorted images, finding beauty in what’s broken. And the tremolo is subtle, but tickles the eardrums just the same.

Continue reading Top Indie Songs 2012: Pop

Great indie lyricists #2: Los Campesinos!

This is song #2 of a playlist for Kat. The subject is great indie lyricists.

Hi Kat,

Since you've been obsessed with the Mountain Goats lately, we've been talking about who some of our favorite modern lyricists are. This playlist was made specifically to answer that question.

Los Campesinos! We Are All Accelerated Readers

There were conversations about what Breakfast Club character you'd be

"I'd be the one that dies" (no one dies)
"Well then what's the point?"
You should have built have a statue, and so I did of you
And you were ungrateful, and slightly offended at the dimensions of it
You said you looked less like the Venus de Milo, 

and more like your mother in a straightjacket.

I've already shared a few Los Campesinos! songs with you. I really want you to fall in love with this band. For a great lyric I picked "We Are All Accelerated Readers" because I think you'll appreciate the humor in these opening lines. Los Campesinos!'s front man mostly writes about his dismal love life. But like any good writer, those conversations are peppered with his obsessions: twee and the musical culture which surrounds it. There's also frequent pessimistic asides about the future of politics, humanity and, well, everything. It's surprising in such upbeat songs. You hear the high voices, shouting, and hand-clapping over lines like "We kid ourselves there's future in the fucking / but there is no fucking future" or, say, "And your very existence is a monument / To how I taught myself to scream" and realize these aren't exactly pop songs. They're punk for tweeny-boppers. Or twee for punks. Whatever, they're fun. Which makes it easy to dismiss the lyrics. But the lyrics are what make this band so great.

Posted via email from Like Dancing About Architecture

Body Language – You Can


Dreamwave/chillwave bands have been getting tons of play on streaming sites so I know you kids like the genre. But where is the love for Body Language? They're creamy dreamy synth orchestrations are just as satisfying as The XX and Neon Indian and every song I discover of theirs quickly goes into the heavy rotation. Plus, they must have quite a little black book of contacts where they live in Brooklyn, because they get some quality names making their remixes. Here's what I've been overplaying most recently:

Posted via email from Like Dancing About Architecture

We Are All Accelerated Readers

Here’s a little snippet from my journal from the night of the Los Campesinos show June 26, 2008.


skanking: V.  The dance you do at the Los Campesinos! show when you are hysterical with joy and you have leg room.

pogo: V.  The dance you do at the Los Campesinos! show when you are packed like Mentos in a Coke bottle with other joyful fans.

mosh:  V. What happens when the whole crowd fizzes over, bounding off walls and fleshy sweaty bodies all singing “It’s you…It’s me…It’s dancing!”.

drum solo: N. When the drummer for Los Campesinos runs into the audience and the whole audience keeps the beat with hand claps.

the Jane Fonda Workout: N. What you get when you pogo through the cacophonous segment of “We Throw Parties You Throw Knives”.

thirsty: Adj.  How I feel when I see Tom Campesinos! sweat.

ugly: Adj.  What your chest will look like when you proudly brandish your new Los Campesinos! T-shirt, for all their merch looks like nightmares illustrated by pre-schoolers.

satisfaction: N. The feeling associated with having shouted and sang and squirmed your heart out. Synonyms: spent, glowing, Rawr. Cross-reference to: Los Campesinos!, “with your chin on your knees like you belong.”

Los Campesinos! Don’t Tell Me to Do the Math

Los Campesinos! – We Are All Accelerated Readers