When not reviewing the greatest albums of all time, or thinking about what to say about those big name acts, I like to listen to independently released music. In this enormous field, there’s a lot of talent; and when I hear music I really enjoy, I want to say something about it. Behold, three bad-ass indy bands.
This month, these three tracks are giving my turntable a workout. I suggest you spin them on yours, too.
The Ballroom Babies
"I Won't Change"
The Ballroom Babies certainly have the swagger for blues rock. This track has that identifiable crunch, where your bones are cracked against the pentatonic scales, tight drums, and sweet rasping rumble of a Rickenbacker bass. The three part harmony acquits itself surprisingly well, given that this isn’t the ‘60s. Best of all, the groove pierces your musculature, grabs you by the marrow, and shakes you into head bobbing agreement.
Production and crunchiness aside, what impressed me most was the sense of control this group has. Blues Rock is not known for restraint, and to maintain that salacious sway of hips and the foil-wrapped cucumber down the pant-leg—well, that’s pretty awesome.
The Mother Leads
“When Time Will Slow Down”
It’s always fun to hear a variety of genres melded into one cohesive whole. With the Mother Leads we have a compelling mix of mid-‘90s alt-rockers. “When Time Will Slow Down” sounds like Tool by way of Stone Temple Pilots, with some Black Crowes and Soundgarden thrown in.
The instrumentation has a nice expansiveness to it: not too straightforward, with some moderate delay, zoned-out space, and a deadly main riff. The vocals, which zig when you want them to zag, sounds eerily like something from a Tool song. As it stands, it’s a pretty kickass track that stays true to itself and the band image. If it were still the ‘90s, this track would be a mainstay of college radio.
The Medicine Hat
The Medicine Hat sounds somewhere between HAIM and Kate Bush—blend of indie, experimental music, and pop rock. How fortunate that all three of these show up in this track. With some warm, melodic bass, well-placed synth, and economical drums and drum machines, the track moves at a solid clip, while retaining internal balance and tension.
What stands out, however, is lead singer Nabi Sue Bersche’s willowy, ethereal voice, with its firm melodic and timbral sensibility. Add pristine production and you have pretty epic slice of indie-dream pop cherry pie.