White Arrows Talks the Difficulties of Being a Band Among DJs

Categories: Indie Rock

Angel Ceballos
White Arrows

White Arrows frontman Mickey Church approached writing the band's latest, In Bardo, as though it were the end of his musical world on Earth. The result: a playfully quirky, anything-goes-into-a-pop-song groove inhabiting the album from start to finish.

"I didn't really know or care what was going to happen after this," Church says. "I treated this as if this were going to be the last album I was going to make, and I wanted it to be something I was proud of. Beyond that, it's out of my control. It was actually liberating [to think] whatever happens happens. There was no sacrifice. Whatever I wanted to say -- whatever I wanted to do -- on this record, I did. I know it sounds kind of vulnerable, and it's a little bit hard to talk about, but it's all about just going for it."

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The Dum Dum Girl Explains Why There's Now a Dum Dum Boy

Categories: Indie Rock

James Orlando
The Dum Dum Girls play Crescent Ballroom tomorrow.

Cohesion is the name of the game for Dum Dum Girls' Dee Dee Penny nowadays.

Though you might know the band because of its highly acclaimed first album, I Will Be, the band's sound has morphed four years later from a lo-fi, surf vibe heavy on female vocal harmonies to a style that showcases Penny's solo vocals, backed by darker, yet more polished '80s and '90s 

"In the beginning, I was kind of hiding behind a wall of sound," Penny says.

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Twilight Sad's Uplifting Melancholy Separates Them From Their Scottish Peers

Categories: Indie Rock

Nicola Collins
Twilight Sad

It's tempting to refer to 2014's Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, the Twilight Sad's fourth LP, as their return-to-guitar-rock record. Their last full-length effort, 2012's underrated No One Can Ever Know, was saddled with a similarly reductive byline: their synthesizer record.

Both are accurate-ish, but gloss over the continuity of the Twilight Sad's seven-year career, where icy, claustrophobic melodies have always been a given. If anything, Nobody's an amalgam of their previous work's highlights, or perhaps a reconciliation of their varied tendencies: their alienated and cinematic lyrical precision, the punishing noisiness of their sophomore album, and, okay, the soaring, reverbed guitars. Perhaps the biggest draw across all of their records remains frontman James Graham's vocals, his Scottish brogue so damn thick and his Rs so rolled that it sounds like a disconsolate Scrooge McDuck covering Cure deep-cuts.

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Take Shots with Tennis' Grandma at Crescent Ballroom Concert

Categories: Indie Rock


Husband-and-wife duo Tennis (Aliana Moore and Patrick Riley) is as excited as ever to return to familiar soil to share their new album live with some recognizable faces.

Their new and third album, Ritual in Repeat, is reminiscent of 1980s girl-pop: hints of Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, and Pat Benatar can be heard in Moore's voice. The album features production notes from Richard Swift, Jim Eno (Spoon), and Patrick Carney (The Black Keys), the latter two drummers. Adding James Barone on drums bumped up the album from past Tennis works.

Moore took some time to answer some questions from Up On the Sun.

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OK Go's Music Videos Still Reliably Inventive

Categories: Indie Rock

Gus Powell

From treadmills to paint guns, OK Go has always been pushing the creative envelope with DIY music videos. For their latest single "The Writing's On the Wall" from their new Hungry Ghosts album, they were faced with the challenge to pushing the envelope a little further.

Using more than 20 illusions, 70 crew members, and going through about six takes before deciding on "the one," the music video for "The Writing's On the Wall" weaves in and out and over and under through a warehouse of carefully-placed shapes, carefully-painted walls, and delicately-planned timing to portray the one-shot wonders of OK Go's collective imagination.

"Most of our work was in pre-production: making sure odds and ends lined up, the timing of movement was perfect, and that the pace cohesively flowed around the room," explains Tim Nordwind of OK Go. "In post-production, we did just a bit of color correction to make some of the colors pop out more, and eliminated some shakiness."

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Searching for the Human Side of Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes

Categories: Indie Rock

Courtesy photo
Of Montreal

It's noon on a Friday and I'm sitting in my living room. Laptop is on my lap, my phone is plugged in, and Garage Band is open as I begin to type the project's title: Kevin Barnes. I'm not ready. It feels like my blood has been put through a SodaStream and pumped back into my body carbonated.

If you don't know, Barnes is the singer and songwriter of the Georgia band of Montreal, which began as Barnes' solo project but quickly added members. Of Montreal's performances became increasingly opera-like, with elaborate visual art setpieces, and Barnes quickly made a name for himself such stage antics as cross-dressing and performing naked. However, it's his heart-wrenching, bookish lyrics set contrastingly to funky, danceable music that gives the band its enduring appeal.

I can't do this. I run to my kitchen and pour a shot of mezcal. I go outside and chain-smoke three cigarettes. My hands are shaking more than their typical mild tremor. I take another shot. Maybe that was a bad idea. Maybe this was all a terrible idea. What did I sign up for?

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How Metronomy 
Frontman Joseph Mount Got Scooped by Daft Punk

Categories: Indie Rock


When Joseph Mount of London-based Metronomy listened to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, he realized he'd have to change the direction of "Boy Racers," the most upbeat song on his band's 2013 album, Love Letters. He had intended to have the song include a German narrator speaking about how fast boy racers can go, but when he heard the helmeted duo's "Giorgio by Moroder," on which the architect of disco himself tells his life story over grooves created by the electronic music icons, Mount wasn't sure where he wanted to go with the song.

"The whole premise and outcome of the song would have been very different [from Daft Punk's]," Mount says. "The reason why I had been thinking about it was because we had been spending a lot of time in Germany. There's something about the language and its delivery that always seemed quite nice, like Kraftwerk, with the German monotone voice."

The track became an instrumental piece. "Boy Racers" really didn't need vocals on it, anyway. It's the perfect standout song on an innovative electronic album that looks for warmth in analog. Love Letters, inspired by '60s psychedelia and '70s soul, was recorded at East London's Toe Rag Studios, where all recording is done on magnetic tape (White Stripes recorded Elephant there). This forced Mount to take his time with the songs.

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Jean-Philip Grobler of St. Lucia Loves '80s John Hughes Movies (Go Figure)

Categories: Indie Rock

Courtesy of St. Lucia
St. Lucia

Jean-Philip Grobler of the synth-pop band St. Lucia has traveled internationally since he began making music at 12 years old. It's hard to believe that Arizona has not yet been a pit stop.

"I have never been [to Arizona], but all the pictures I've seen are absolutely beautiful!" Grobler exclaims. "I would love to drive out to the desert and have dinner or go on a hike and go golfing."

Grobler is originally from South Africa, where he says, "being successful in music, or in anything at all, is extremely difficult." After originally making plans to study architecture, he had come to the conclusion that music was the thing he had always wanted to do.

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The New Pornographers Are Masters of Joyous Indie-Pop

Categories: Indie Rock

Chris Buck
Pop spunk: The New Pornographers have made a great new album.

It hardly seems that 14 years have passed since Canada's New Pornographers dropped their debut full-length, Mass Romantic, upon a whole lot of virgin ears. To say that the indie power-pop band's initial offering was well-received is an understatement.

Critics went cuckoo for it, and the recording found its way onto several of that year's "best of" lists. Music lovers were equally smitten, eating up its addictive mix of powerful guitars and drums layered with diverse instruments like synthesizers and pipe organs and delectable vocals from multiple members. Smart, harmonious, and gritty, the recording was the foundation on which a base of devoted fans was built, about which founding member/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist A.C. Newman says, "As a musician, you always hope that someone is going to listen to what you do and like it. And, of course, you hope it becomes popular. So, of course, I hoped for it but didn't expect it."

Like the other members of the New Pornographers, Newman was active in the Vancouver music scene, playing in bands like Zumpano and Superconductor (whose song "Shaved Temple" is on this writer's list of all-time favorites) prior to the band's formation.

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Belle & Sebastian Guitarist Pined for Scottish Independence

Categories: Indie Rock

Thumbnail image for belle-sebastian-civic-space-park-photo.jpg
Belle & Sebastian

UPDATE, October 7, 2014, at 11:37 a.m.: Due to expected rainfall, the Belle and Sebastian concert has been moved to the Orpheum Theatre.

Belle & Sebastian guitarist Stevie Jackson hoped to be celebrating Scottish independence. What better way to commemorate 18 years of making music, the re-release your out-of-print vinyl back catalog, and your first-ever Phoenix appearance in a place (Civic Space Park) putting on its major-concert-venue pants for the first time?

Alas, despite polls to the contrary, the Scots chose not to break with England. He had a feeling the referendum might fail, yet it still surprised him.

"I'm bitterly disappointed," Jackson, a Glaswegian, says. "It's a great opportunity lost, seems like. But I think something irreversible has happened. There's been a major shift. I'm one of them. I was opposed, but I've been thinking about it over the last year and thought, 'Yes, let's try it.' It's a bit of a step into the unknown."

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