Mount Eerie is a indie music project by artist Phil Elverum, an artist known for his somber mood and lush sound design. His most recent album “A Crow Looked at Me” is a reflection on his wife’s death to cancer, following the birth of their first child. The album is arranged chronologically, conveying his emotional arc after this traumatic event. While the album’s subject matter is quite dark, the music has a floating ambient quality that allows a casual listener to enjoy a half-heard melody.
The album has received a positive critical reception, including this article from Pitchfork, a prominent music news site. Pitchfork has placed this album among their “best new music” category, a notoriously hard spot to reach.
Mount Eerie has historically been known for his fuzzy and noisy indie recordings, full of amplifier hiss and analog buzz. However, this album has been stripped bare leaving only acoustic guitar and soft vocals. As a result, we are drawn into Phil Elverum’s state of quiet horror and reflection on the death of his wife. His songs dwell on the immense emotions of loss and how these emotions appear in mundane, every-day circumstances and overwhelm us.
This album certainly addresses tragic subject matter, yet it also calls on us to appreciate the world as it is, and perhaps to embrace this tragedy as a necessary part of living. When compared with Mount Eerie’s older works, it gives the suggestion that Phil has been forced by tragic circumstances to widen his perspective on life, and his art-work clearly shows his emotional growth. Rather than the abstract, surreal lyrics of older works, his current album celebrates small moments of joy and suffering as they are really experienced, unembellished with his customary analog hiss.
Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, recently reflected on Radiohead’s magnum opus 20 years after it originally hit shelves. The album “OK Computer” is seen as a masterpiece today because it blends electronic music, elements of Miles Davis’ psychedelic period, and the melancholic acoustic guitar strums that the band has always been known for.
A rare interview with the BBC reveals how the band got started and how the album came together. So, what’s prompting Thom Yorke to quietly reflect on an album that saw its release 20 years ago when Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were two dominant players on the political scene.
Radiohead is planning on reissuing “OK Computer” in a new album, of sorts, called, “OKNOTOK.” The upcoming reissue is slated to contain a number of b-sides and insights into the musings on Thom and the band at the time. Every reissue will come with selections from Thom’s notebooks and a behind-the-scenes look at the songwriting process that went into every song.
The new reissue will feature remastered cuts of all of the original songs plus three previously unheard tracks. Fans can expect eight b-sides when the digital version of the reissue drops at the end of the month (June 23rd).
The reissue, which will come to consumers in a black box, will feature over 100 pages of Thom’s notebook musings from the period of “OK Computer” as well as four dozen pages of artist and producer Stanley Donwood’s sketches. Artwork from the period has recently been uploaded to Radiohead’s core website for fans to check out.
Reflecting on the album in the BBC interview, Yorke recounts his inspirations at the time, which included glam rock band Queen, the improvisational jazz of Miles Davis, and a touch of heavy metal to sweeten the whole deal. The album originally featured over three dozen takes of the song’s bohemian rhapsody-like saga, Paranoid Android. Fans can expect the reissue to drop on June 23rd.
Perhaps the most famous singer-songwriter from the 1960s and 1970s, Bob Dylan is drawing criticism for potentially quoting without attribution parts of his Nobel Prize speech.
A stunning report out of Slate magazine assets that large portions of Dylan’s Nobel Prize were cribbed from, of all things, a SparkNotes’ synopsis of the Herman Melville classic “Moby Dick.”
It’s often said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and in this case the evidence might be more compelling than you initially thought.
Now, Dylan has always cited “Moby Dick” along with “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “The Odyssey” as personal inspirations that motivated his most easily recognized lyrics. Some are saying that all of this inspiration goes beyond fertilizing new ideas to something more insidious.
Although certain excerpts from Dylan’s Nobel Prize speech don’t find their counterpart in Melville’s actual text, there are some striking similarities between Dylan’s speech and the SparkNotes’ summary of Melville’s classic. There are an estimated 11 points of overlap between Dylan’s speech and the SparkNotes’ summary of “Moby Dick.”
Whether there’s anything to these allegations is up to the reader, although the evidence does beg certain questions. A certain passage from the SparkNotes’ summary that discusses the prophet Gabriel’s role in the plot of “Moby Dick” has a striking resemblance to Dylan’s own words in his Nobel Prize Speech.
For comparison, the SparkNotes’ version reads: “One of the ships carries Gabriel, a crazed prophet who predicts doom.” Dylan copies that passage almost word-for-word in his Nobel Prize speech, which left many critics scratching their heads and many fans wondering why Dylan would do this.
Is it a grand spoof or an artist just winging it? The report from Slate is brand-new so it may take some time to work out. Interestingly, though, this isn’t the first time that Dylan has been accused of quoting without attribution, as large parts of the album “Modern Times” drew controversy.
Helium is one of those critically acclaimed indie bands that never seemed to receive the recognition or acclaim they truly deserved. Sadly, this band only released two studio albums in its short career. As the lead singer and guitarist of this band, Mary Timony made a lasting contribution to indie music culture. In a recent interview, Timony provided some context about her decision to reissue Helium’s albums. Apparently, Timony was frustrated by the fact that it had become fairly difficult to find Helium albums on vinyl. According to Timony, all remaining vinyl copies were becoming prohibitively expensive. Since she is an indie rock veteran, it is not surprising that Timony is so enamored with the old-fashioned joys of vinyl.
Apparently, Timony is going to play some solo tour dates in support of the new reissues, which will feature unreleased material. Initially, Timony had planned to put the original band back together. This plan proved too difficult, logistically speaking. Now Timony is planning on playing some solo shows with two sympathetic souls she met in New York City. Naturally, it is disappointing to learn that the world narrowly missed experiencing a Helium reunion. I’m happy that Timony is planning on playing many Helium songs at her upcoming shows. These shows should prove very invigorating to music fans of all ages.
As Timony has revealed, the band had difficulties getting along and dealing with the stress of touring. Also, Timony and another band member had been in a relationship. When that relationship fell apart, it naturally created friction within the band. It’s been about 20 years since Helium called it quits. Under Mary Timony’s guidance, Helium participated in an era of growth and resurgence for alternative rock. After Bikini Kill hit the scene and paved the way for female-fronted punk bands, Helium followed up with its unique, gritty sound. Many Helium songs sounded poorly, murkily recorded. However, I think this actually worked in favor of the group’s relatively dark songs.
What is prog rock’s place in the history of music? Did prog rock mark the end of pop music history, or can the jazz-influenced genre that features odd instruments, long and complex songs, difficult time signatures, and fantastical lyrics be considered the first real example of alternative music, an indie underground, say, to the mainstream classic rock movement that defined the 1970s?
The prog rock pioneers, who include British bands like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, embraced conceptual extravagance and musical virtuosity. The early prog rock albums were novelistic, borrowing highbrow themes from English poetry, allegory, and mythology, while the execution of the songs was often futuristic. The Mellotron, an electronic keyboard, was a favorite instrument of “the Prog spring,” that first wave of prog music that originated in the 1970s.
Music critics have always called prog rock pretentious. The music is too artsy, the live shows too theatrical, and the musicians too classically trained. While the genre flourished briefly in the 1970s, prog rock was quickly crushed by the loud, angry, three-chord assault of punk. According to music critics, order in the rock and roll universe had been restored.
Prog rock has long been maligned and misunderstood by critics. The goal of prog rock isn’t to improve upon old-fashioned rock or roll, but to give listeners a sneak peak at the future. In other words, prog rock is more of a concept than a musical genre. It’s a vision of evolution animated by playful musical exploration. A prog band continually changes its sound. It resists commodification, and that makes it independent of the mainstream.
As indie music and alternative rock have become more mainstream, prog rock has tightened its outsider and outlaw status. Prog rock will never favor major labels or short, radio-friendly songs. The music will always be preposterously overblown. Prog rock isn’t featured on film soundtracks or advertisements. It’s stubbornly uncommercial, and that anti-establishment ethos is the definition of indie.
Alternative R&B artist SZA just released her highly anticipated fourth album, entitled “CTRL.” This up-and-coming indie artist has reached a new milestone in her remarkable career. In a recent interview, SZA opened up a bit about her writing process. According to the agile singer, most of the lyrics on this record were essentially ad-libbed in the studio. SZA explained that although she writes plenty of lyrics down, she often finds that her improvised lyrics feel more honest, real and unguarded. For this album, SZA recruited several high-profile guests like Kendrick Lamar and Isaiah Rashad.
If SZA is able to capture the imagination of the public, she’ll be able to graduate from the status of indie R&B artist to the mainstream of the music world. It seems reasonable to assume that SZA hopes to establish a larger audience, just like any other artist. At the same time, members of the indie music sometimes lose some independence when they graduate to the next level of professional success. I hope that SZA can successfully balance her personal artistic needs with the demands of being the center of a commercial brand. While every artist needs albums sales and airplay for commercial viability, I hope that SZA is able to evolve as an artist without forgetting her roots.
SZA has a prodigious talent and I expect that this singer will accomplish many great things in the future. Over the course of her career so far, SZA has earned her place as a true auteur. Although she is technically classified as an R&B artist, there can be no doubt that SZA’s music intersects with several different genres. This is the kind of fluidity that defines the very best artists working in the indie music scene today. Arguably, SZA is well on her way towards creating a musical legacy that will stretch far into the future. Though no one can predict the future, I am fairly confident that SZA will continue to grow as an artist.
Culture and technology are forging new frontiers for many people throughout various industries. No other industry has seen this more than that of music.
Bandcamp: Works Like Netflix
Bandcamp is a part huge part of this change – a $100 million part of it. That is the cash figure they reportedly paid out to thousands of artist back in 2015. And sales have continued to rise as more and more people start streaming their favorite artists’ albums online. Their revenue stream back then was somewhere in the ballpark of $3.5 million a month. Towards the end of 2016, Bandcamp did a “Year In Review.” They claimed that the money they helped the indie artist make rose to $200 million.
Not everyone sees this as a good trend. Some say it is threatening to cause a major disruption in the music industry. A disruption that will be bad for not only the music labels but also for the artists and consumers alike. As of now, the two camps – ones for it and ones against it – are at a stalemate. The only fact that remains is that their business model seems to be building momentum.
Social Media Is Growing as a Go-To Platform for Indie Artists to Market Their Music
Facebook has been a marketing tool for quite some time now. And indie artists have also been using it to promote their music ever since MySpace fell to the wayside. There are websites such as thebalance.com who have published articles guiding musicians on how to promote their toons using Facebook. With the fairly new Livestream option it offers, artists can get far more personal with their fan base than ever before.
Has Facebook really helped any true bonified indie musicians?
Facebook hasn’t been as big in helping artists get known as have Snapchat and Instagram. According to Forbes, Instagram is most likely the king (or queen) of marketing for indies music artists – or any kind of artist for that matter. And to think that over half of the tops 10s on Instagram are musicians means this is a very powerful tool indeed.
Kate Hudson is the face of Fabletics and she has worked hard to make her name better known and to make Fabletics a more popular option for everyone. She does what she can to provide people with the options that they need and she even designs many of the outfits so that they are able to be used by anyone who wants to be able to workout fashionably. Fabletics is focused on providing people with convenience, savings, trendy outfits and new opportunities for people who want to be able to get more out of the athleisurewear company.
Fabletics is a brand that is dedicated to being convenient for all of their customers. That is one of the key things that Kate Hudson wanted when she came up with the idea. She also wanted it to be different and better than many of the other celebrity fashion companies. She knew that to be able to provide people with the best options possible, they had to be convenient and show people that they were convenient. They also had to be able to make things easier for customers instead of requiring them to do things like come into the store or shop at different places for the clothes.
Even when Fabletics was just getting started, they knew that providing their clients with the savings that they received was a necessary part of the process. They wanted people to know what they would be able to do and wanted to show people that there was more to doing things with workout clothes than spending a lot of money on other options. Since Fabletics has grown, they continue to pass their savings to their customers and want to make sure that people know their prices are reflective of their abilities, not of their quality.
It is important to feel good while you are working out and Kate Hudson knows that. She also knows the trends of fashion at any given moment because she is a big part of celebrity life. While she was just an “almost celebrity” before Fabletics, she has grown much bigger than that now. She tries to follow the trends so that she can design the clothes that the company offers. Each outfit has been designed or approved by Kate Hudson to make sure it meets her standards. She tries to make sure that all of the clothes are trendy and fashionable even though they are just workout clothes.
Now that Fabletics knows that they are a successful company, they want to continue growing. For the company, this means that they need to do things like to go other places to sell. For the first time since the company started, they will be selling on a website that is different from their own. By offering their clothes on Amazon, they are providing even more convenience for their customers. They are also offering their clothes in flagship stores around the world that people can walk out of with a brand new Fabletics outfit.
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Big Thief, an indie rock band from Brooklyn, has managed to avoid the sophomore slump. Their debut album, Masterpiece, made critics swoon in 2015. Masterpiece was a beautiful record that tapped into the feelings surrounding being both young and uncertain. In June of 2017, Big Thief released their second album. Called Capacity, this album is filled with folksy stories that effortlessly tumble out of singer-songwriter Adrianne Lenker’s soul.
The cover of Capacity wordlessly explains one of the album’s key messages. The album cover shows Lenker’s uncle gently holding Lenker as a baby. However, the uncle looks mysteriously like Lenker herself. The resulting message is that we have dueling forces in our souls. We are our own mothers and daughters, and we are also our own fathers and sons. The popular thinker Erik Erikson would be pleased with this idea.
On one track, Lenker recounts a childhood accident both bloody and unsettling. However, instead of telegraphing feelings of anger and resentment to the listener over this experience, Lenker expresses her empathy with her once young mother. Lenker may have only been 5-years-old during the accident, but her mother was only 27. With the passage of time, a 27-year-old mother seems like a child herself. Lenker empathizes with her mother’s bewildering and terrifying sense of responsibility. It’s moments like these that make Capacity stand out.
Interestingly, Lenker was born into a religious cult. However, her parents picked her up and left the congregation when she was still little. The following years brought plenty of fascinating experiences that sneak their way into narratives on this album. However, Lenker’s songs never sound exploitative. Instead, they come across as genuine passageways into the experiences of others. This remarkable talent for both insight and empathy elevates this indie album above a crowded field of artists. It also makes us look forward to what Lenker will bring in later decades.
Though there are still may corporate record company manufactured artists on the scene, indie music is sure starting to pick up some steam. I don’t really know what’s driving the whole thing either – I’d be lying if I claimed to know. Maybe society as a whole is just getting tired of big business – “Hey! Let’s support the little guy” frame of mind is taking over.
Whatever it is, I guess it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. What matters is there are a lot – and I mean a lot – of great indie artist out there these days. And most of them don’t have a problem touching base with their followers (because the term fans is kind of played out).
So, what are three indie artists you should watch out for? Let’s take a look.
I actually thought girl bands were, like, so not in. But, apparently, I was so wrong. The Aces claim to be “four girls about to rule the world.” Maybe they got inspired by the Animaniacs cartoon Pinky and the Brain, who knows. They don’t seem close to ruling the world, but they are ruling the music scene with their hot looks and great music.
Can you imagine signing a publishing deal after just one live show? Well, that is how good Louis Berry is. His singing style has been compared to Johny Cash and Alex Turner. Berry came from a rough background, his father being addicted to heroin. He got the attention of tastemakers and ended up being named 2015’s “One To Watch” at Liverpool. He has started going on tour in the UK this year.
Here is an example of how indie artists have been utilizing web-based platforms to gain momentum in the industry. The Amazons’ first work of art, Something In The Water, gained a buzz after they uploaded it to SoundCloud. Since then, they have opened for famous artists such as The Kooks and Jimmy Eat World. It looks like they’ll be taking their show on the road starting in the UK and Europe.