Sunday, February 12, 2017

Indietronica: Great History, but if/when will there be More?

Or Call it Collegerocktronica or Electronic-Rock for the 21st Century, etc.

I'm posting this entry about it as it sort of crossed my mind talking to my wife driving to the store this evening.

This so-called genre, or really subgenre of a subgenre, was a big deal to me not that long ago, but it has really been a number of years since I discovered anything new from it. New band/artist or new album.

And for some reason many of these bands/artists are from NYC, specifically Brooklyn. And are Duos, and very weird, artsy, costume-wearing.

Also many are like that from some part of the UK, maybe London.

Not sure if that is coincidence, or there's a reason for that.

I guess where is this music being made now? Is any of it any good? Will there ever be any really great albums to come out in this style again? If not, maybe it will be seen as kind of an era/age. Although most styles, if they have any kind of following, do come back in some way or another. So chances are it will happen, but it may be awhile either before it does, or at least I find it of course.

That being said, I guess just to give some background, which I'm pretty sure I've written about, but it was many years ago, so it may warrant some rehash.

Apes and Androids  (and Call Florence Pow, from Brooklyn,NY) were the key band who got me into it. And their album Blood Moon is a landmark record to me, and what I see as the definitive release of this so-called style of music.

And naturally I wanted to find music like Apes and Androids, ideally as good if not better.

Well that still has yet to happen, and really I've come to conclude, Apes and Androids and Blood Moon are incredibly unique and quite possibly I will never find anything as good as them.

But I still found some other bands/artists in this style that I enjoyed.

Brian Jacobs has of course released some Remixes of some pop songs, both new and old, and some "Jams" per say under the name Majestyy (with 2 y's). But its been rather scarce and random. David Tobias on the other hand, I thought I read a few years back, plays in a band in NYC. But the impression I've been given is, he's out of the limelight with Social Media overall as his Facebook page I only noticed a few years ago. I sent him a Friend request, but he never added me of course.

I also thought about this topic and Apes and Androids the other day per a new Twitter Page was setup in January 2017. That along with the Soundscape reunion got me wondering.

Late of the Pier - (UK) Their only album Fantasy Black Channel from 2008, while wasn't as creative and maybe original as Blood Moon, still worked well. Great energy, and cool use of synths. Unfortunately like Apes and Androids, they broke up not that long after its release, in the year 2010. And sadly, their drummer Ross Dawson died at the young age of 27, in 2015.

Now I recall reading some stuff, but didn't keep up with them. Their frontman and 1 of the main songwriters I guess, Samuel Eastgate, released music under the name LA Priest including a debut album in 2015 titled Inji. I actually wishlisted it on RYM around the time it came out, but never checked it out. And in sampling some of it on YouTube, while it's different than Late of the Pier, its not bad and still very electronic/synthy. Maybe more funky and chill in some ways, but maybe not to the point it'll put me asleep. I dunno, but I am planning to check it out now.

LA Priest also has another group that put out a debut album in 2016 called Soft Hair. That one, I'm a little more gunshy about after checking out a track. That does seem more slow tempo-ed and such. I guess I will wait and see about LA Priest 1st and then move on to that one later.

The Chap -  (UK) When I 1st discovered them, I almost found them to be like a UK version of Apes and Androids or Call Florence Pow. Their 2nd and 3rd records Ham and especially Mega Breakfast, I enjoyed, although not to the point of Apes and Androids, but they were electronic and quirky and melodic at times. Their song "Proper Rock" could have been an Apes and Androids song.

But I'll admit, I have checked out their other albums since, and have not been able to get into that much. Too political? or just nothing stands out all that much. I dunno. At the same time, I still check them out and certainly don't hate them, but they are one of those bands whose early work is what holds water for me at this point.

NewVillager -  (Brooklyn, NY) When their Self Titled debut album dropped in 2011, while I never felt they were reaching the brilliance of Apes and Androids, I for one enjoyed it enough, it led me to believe they were a band to have hope for. The song and video for "Lighthouse" alone gave me hope. And they kind of were the 1st new band in a few years to impress me with new music since 2008.

Unfortunately, it's now been 6 years since that debut album and next to nothing has happened. The last I read, they posted plans in 2016 to release a new single and publish a book of artwork and other things from their members. I'm not sure either happened unfortunately.

But among the bands in this style, at least I don't see them finding the same exact fate as others of breaking up, etc. at least this point.

Some others:

The Age of Rockets - (NY) Their 1st 2 albums definitely used synths with rock music rather well. The long worked on and delayed 3 super self-indulgent Choose-Your-Own-Adventure album Adults which finally came out in 2013. Sadly, I never got too attached to it, even though it had some good moments. But I recall it didn't have as much electronics as the previous stuff.

Hannah, their 2nd album, I suppose is the 1 I still would go to.

Unfortunately, they seem to be done or on a long hiatus, as Andrew Futral seems to be doing other things, like working with Field Mouse, touring included, etc.

Also I just noticed on RYM, he may have had another band titled The Robot Explosion which released an EP in 2006. Just for the sake of curiosity, I wonder somewhat about that. But then again, trying to find it, unless it's on YouTube may be next to impossible.

sElf/Wired All Wrong - (TN) I love sElf and Matt Mahaffey, and of course he worked with Call Florence Pow and Apes and Androids. sElf's actual music does include work in this style, but I guess the majority of it is more mixing power-pop with stuff like Weezer or Beck..or Prince even.

Wired All Wrong, is more overt in this style. However, I cannot say I have loved the 1 album from them to the degree of maybe any of the sElf albums. Not sure why, other than I found the kind of guitars and vocals didn't quite fit as well as the sElf stuff.

But I'll admit, its been many years since I've revisited Wired All Wrong, so I may want to go back to their 1 album.Breakout the Battletapes from 2006. But like sElf, WAW has been pretty quiet since then. Matt's a busy guy living in TN now I recall, tending bar. The sElf EP from a couple of years ago was good, but of course us fans want more. Not sure, but it seems more likely he'll be doing soundtrack work again, before another WAW record. But at least sElf seems to be something he wants to continue. Although how much of it ends up being electronic is unclear. My guess would be not much.

If the stars aligned though, I would flip for Matt to either produce or play on an album with Brian Jacobs and David Tobias again 1 day. But the odds seem remote for that anytime soon, but who knows.

Clor - (London, UK) 1 Self Titled album in 2005, and then they broke up in 2006. I recall enjoying them, but not as much as some of the others. Still, given they broke up in 2006, it makes me wonder what they may have done later.

Sigmund Droid - (NY) 1 or more of the members of this band played live with Apes and Androids. They released 2 EPs, Maximum Grind in 2009 and Black Motorboat in 2011. Nothing new has come since. They haven't announced a break up though, but very little activity on Social Media has made me wonder what their future is. I did just go to their FB and at least it seems they are using it as they posted a new photo and a video link just last month in January. Given they have not made a debut album, I still would love to hear what they could do. They are I suppose less electronic, but more mechanical and guitar driven from memory. But given their backgrounds

edit: they actually have 3 EPs, 1 they released in 2006 titled Interpretations of Screams which I may have heard and just don't recall. It's not on RYM at this time.

Operahouse - (London, UK) Another band who put out a decent debut album, in 2009 titled Escape from the Sun, and then broke up. Their vocals are rather Bowie-like, which is a common trait among this style. I suppose like Late of the Pier, I wonder if the members have done anything new since.

Pepe Deluxe - (Finland) I'm including them in here only per their history since their early stuff was more electronic than what became on their last couple of albums. And the fact some of their music actually reminds me of Apes and Androids and sElf (their newest Speak-and-Spell effect track included). Granted, their masterpiece, Queen of the Wave from 2012, still stylistically is more similar to the 60's and 70's psych pop/rock stuff. It does seem they incorporate enough of the electronics in their sound, I suppose I can look at them as the best thing to come into this style since, even if it's extending the umbrella a bit.

And their next album is a huge anticipation for me of course, whether it be in 2017 or later.

Chrome Canyon - (NY) Morgan Z who played with Apes and Androids, put out an intriguing debut album in Elemental Themes, on Stones Throw records no less a Hip-Hop label that Mayer Hawthorne of all people used to be on. I recall it was long and verrry synthy. Almost so much, it was more like Tangerine Dream or something New Agey, rather than Rock Music.

That being said, given his background, I'd like to hear what Morgan Z could do in the future, as it has been now 5 years since that record.

Metronomy - (London, UK) I would like to like this band, and kind of like the song "The Look" even though it seemed to get played a ton on Radio K in 2011 and 2012. I guess the other music I've heard from them has never impressed me enough. But to be fair, I can't claim to have heard any of their full albums besides the album with "The Look" which is The English Riviera, which I only gave 2.5 stars on RYM back in 2011.

Shiny Toy Guns -  (Los Angeles, CA) I remember when they opened for Mutemath and thought they were okay. But then I noticed on Myspace and, a ton of the Apes and Androids fans loved them. They are I suppose at heart, more of a Goth-Rock band, sort of more directly influenced by 80's New Wave bands like Depeche Mode and The Cure. But given the amount of popularity for them with Apes and Androids fans, I have often felt I may not have given them enough of a chance

Aloha/Cale Parks - (Ohio) Brian Jacobs of Apes and Androids I recall produced? or worked on 1 of Cale Parks solo EPs and I remember enjoying it. As far as Aloha, I honestly never found them all that amazing. Rather chill, but not highly memorable, even though they got airplay on Radio K and possibly 89.3 as well.

Alt-J - (London, UK) I met a girl at a show at First Avenue a few years ago who loved this band. I forget what show, it may have been Everything Everything now thinking about it. And the Hipsters wouldn't shut up about them when they popped up on the scene in 2012. The song or 2 that 89.3 and/or Radio K (along with Brian Oake from memory) played I found nothing special, but I suppose given I never checked out their albums, I might not know what they are capable of.

Black Moth Super Rainbow -  (Pittsburgh, PA) very hipster and college radio. Although they are trippy and I could see their live shows being better.
Franz Ferdinand - (UK) Hipster, and I found Bloc Party better, although they and BP seem more in the Post-Punk vein but share things in common with Apes and Androids.
Ghostland Observatory - (Austin, TX) checked them out and never got into. Too synthy to the point, it lacked the Rock element.
Innerpartysystem - (Reading, PA) same as Ghostland Observatory from memory.
MGMT - (Brooklyn, NY) Fjokra covered 1 of their most well known tracks, but like Alt-J, the hipster vibe really bugged me about them.. Somewhat of the thought why they got popular, while Apes and Androids or even Late of the Pier never did, etc. And like many of these bands, came around in the mid-late 2000's and were a duo from Brooklyn I think.
Neon Indian (Mexico originally, now in Brooklyn, NY)
Antony and the Johnsons (New York, NY)
of Montreal (Athens, GA) I often compare Apes and Androids to this band for those who never have heard Apes and Androids, but I say Apes and Androids actually can sing really well, whereas I have never been able to tolerate Kevin Barnes voice. Similar issue I have with bands like Radiohead, Circa Survive or The Flaming Lips (or The Postal Service/Death Cab for Cutie). Musically though I actually could enjoy them, although I've heard they have kind of dropped off or repeated themself a few times, to not look too favorably across their entire catalog. Because they have like 15 or 16 albums, which might be a case of quantity over quality. I can't imagine if we even had half that many albums from Apes and Androids, lol.
Phantogram (Saratoga Springs, NY)
The Postal Service (Los Angeles, CA) Never cared for Ben Gibbard's voice.
TV on the Radio (Brooklyn, NY) see Alt-J

Bands I enjoy, but like Pepe Deluxe or even Sigmund Droid, they maybe are not purely of this style, but with hints of it.

Some Power Pop, and especially Post-Punk and Dance Punk elements as well

!Forward, Russia! (UK)
Bloc Party (UK)
Chroma Key (Canada?)
The Dissociatives
Emanuel and the Fear - also from (Brooklyn, NY) I recall. Not highly electronic, but some moments here and there.
Fluid Ounces (TN)
Foals (UK)
Men, Women and Children/Cubic Zirconia (New York, NY)
Menomena (Portland, OR)
Janelle Monae (Atlanta, orig Kansas)
Muse (UK)
Mutemath (New Orleans)
OSI (CT/Canada?)
School of Seven Bells (NY)