Watch Now: Gracie Gray “Morphine”

The dreamy new single “Morphine” by artist Gracie Gray is available to stream on Oregon In A Day, her album that just dropped last Friday. And better yet, it’s accompanied by a music video featuring the artist herself in a contemplative haze.

The scene begins and ends in a bedroom, with a euphoric outdoor ride in between showing Gray singing softly and smiling upwards towards the sky as the light speaks in through the trees. “And I take it way too far, so no one’s love will reach me” she sings painfully while touching her face as though it’s gone numb. The hopeful moment comes during the outdoor scene: she closes her eyes and “oohs” before going right back to where she was in the bedroom.

Sonically, “Morphine” brings to mind a mesh of Beach House with liberal use of slide guitar and the masterful folk song writing of Hand Habits. It’s dreamy and takes the listener on a journey that doesn’t stray too far from home. Watch now:

Gracie Gray’s album release show will take place Sunday July 7th at the Bootleg Theater in LA. Here is the ticket link: https://www.bootlegtheater.org/e/gracie-gray-album-release-show-61076651910/

Listen/purchase Oregon In A Day here: https://ffm.to/oregoninaday

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Valentine’s Day with The Marías

This Valentine’s Day, I opted to spend the night basking in the sultry sounds of one of my favorite bands right now, The Marías, who sold out the OC Observatory. The María’s first came on my radar when I heard them perform at the Long Beach festival, Topicalia, and I’ve been in love ever since. They released a two-part EP, Superclean Vol. I and II, just last year and it’s been in my heavy rotation this year. I was fortunate to snag a copy on vinyl, which features Vol I on side A, Vol. II on side B, and had María sign it during the meet-and-greet after the show.

Their set dazzled from start to finish, with María absolutely mesmerizing the audience in a stunning red dress as her ethereal voice carried across the audience. To set the scene, a table was set at the front side of the stage, and two women sat and were poured wine. The band took the stage, with the men donning white suits with black tops. The vibe was straight out of a ’20s flapper lounge. They opened with “Cariño” and the crowd grooved along right away. “Self-love is most important… and I’ve struggled with it,” María shared with the crowd of lovers. For “Over The Moon,” María said, “this song takes pace in outer space,” and they had everyone take out their phones and shine their flashlights, casting a glittering glow across the room. We were also graced with a couple new songs, not yet available to stream including “Out For The Night” and “Catalyst.” Seductive trumpet solos in songs like “Ruthless” got huge cheers from the crowd. But the cherry on top was a cover they had teased on their social media the day before the performance, one of Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” Their take on the song was in true María’s fashion, slow and seductive with some jazzy chords thrown in for good measure. They came out again for a three-song encore, starting with one of my favorites from them, the airy “ABQ.”

The opening acts were solid, with performances from Nashville’s Dreamer Boy and Tijuana’s Vanessa Zamora. Dreamer Boy had the crowd going “yee haw!” and grooving along to their fresh, hip-hop, R&B fusion. Vanessa Zamora charmed the crowd with her synth-heavy indie pop. Songs like “Solegrande” really had the crowd moving. All of her songs were in Spanish, and she threw out copies of her CDs which the crowd leapt at. Definitely acts to keep an eye on!

At the end of the night, fans lined up for a meet and greet with the band, and I got to have my record signed and fan girl a bit with a photo. 10/10 for this Valentine’s Day.

The Marias OC Observatory The Marias OC Observatory

Setlist:

  1. Cariño
  2. Only In My Dreams
  3. I Like It
  4. Superclean
  5. Over The Moon
  6. Out For The Night (new song)
  7. Ruthless
  8. Catalyst
  9. I Don’t Know You
  10. Hit Me Baby (Britney Spears cover)
  11. Basta Ya

Encore:

  1. ABQ
  2. Clueless
  3. Dejate

Indiecation Top 30 Albums of 2018

It’s that time of year again when everyone is busy compiling lists of the best albums and songs they’ve heard all year. It was another great year of music, and the indie category certainly provided plenty of greats to pick from.

This year, we saw local artists like the Hawthorne-based Cuco really take off as he went from playing back yards to Coachella in just 1 year. This indie-fusion dominated the sounds as bands like Triathalon, Boy Pablo, The Marias, Clairo and more jumped to the forefront with sultry, R&B inspired, jazzy indie rock.

At the same time, the post-punk scene flourished with groups like Nothing and Idles, and Beak> releasing strong albums. And while when releasing top lists there’s always that feeling of “I’m sure there’s something I didn’t discover this year that would absolutely be in here had I … discovered it,” I got through a decent amount of indie releases, and here’s what really stood out:

30. Porches – The House

This album has one of my favorite songs of the year, the short and sweet “Country” which is soulful, sad and deliberate.

29. A Place to Bury Strangers – Pinned

Another great post-punk, noise rock album, Pinned is dark and industrial. “Never Coming Back” is a strong opener that transfers me back to their sense-shocking performance at Desert Daze.

28. Cuco – Chiquito

While not quite as well rounded as previous albums, Chiquito still deserves recognition for shimmering love songs like “Sunnyside” and the fun, hip-hop influenced “CR-V.”

27. Ian Sweet – Crush Crusher

This album is heavy and dreamy. “Holographic Jesus” is definitely one that’ll get your attention.

26. Boy Pablo – Soy Pablo

This Norwegian-Chicano artist is putting out songs reminiscent of Cuco, with a more guitar centered focus.

25. Hovvdy – Cranberry

One of my favorite softer, simpler albums this year, songs like “Late” a perfect for a road trip.

24. Holy Wave – Adult Fear

These psych rockers produced some strong songs on this album including the self-titles, “Adult Fear” and the dreamy “Habibi.”

23. Shame – Songs of Praise

Another stunning post punk album coming from the UK, Songs of Praise is filled with punk attitude on songs like “One Rizla” and “Tasteless.”

22. GUM – The Underdog

With members of Pond and Tame Impala coming up with songs like “Serotonin,” this album is begging to be noticed.

21. Wild Nothing – Indigo

Wild Nothing continues to grow and put out solid albums. While each release since Gemini has needed time to grow on me, Indigo has some lovely songs like “Canyon on Fire.”

20. Vive La Void – S/T

This atmospheric album by Sanae Yamada of Moon Duo is a nice piece of work from front to back. “Devil” is a beautiful, driving krautrock song.

19. Suuns – Felt

I didn’t get to spend as much time with this album as I would have liked, but the opening song “Look No Further” is one of those with a line that just gets stuck in my head all too often for this album to not make the list.

18. Still Corners – Slow Air

Still Corners slipped in a delightful album this year with the soft, sultry Slow Air.  The lush “The Photograph” is one of my favorite songs this year.

17. Kali Uchis – Isolation

This album is a wonderful blend of fun pop, soul and jazz fronted by the diva that is Kali Uchis. Songs like “Flight 22” and “Your Teeth In My Neck” are catchy and thoughtful.

16. Blood Orange – Negro Swan

This soulful album was a personal, powerful statement from Dev Hynes. Songs like “Charcoal Baby” and “Nappy Wonder” really stood out to me.

15. Part Time – Spell #6

A strong album all together from local outfit Part Time, Spell #6 is absolutely enchanting. “I Didn’t Know” is easily one of my favorite songs this year.

14. Heaters – Suspended Youth

I liked this album from the very first listen. It’s filled with strong, spacey, jangly psych rock that’s sure to please your ears.

13. MGMT – Little Dark Age

Probably the best “comeback album” of the year, Little Dark Age is filled to the brim with catchy, ’80s inspired beats and melodies including “Little Dark Age” and the lighthearted “Me and Michael.”

12. Kevin Krauter – Toss Up

Kevin Krauter’s 2019 album came on the scene strongly. Dreamy, jazzy numbers like “Lonely Boogie” and “Toss Up” have charming lo-fi qualities with strong melodies that’ll make you want to sing along.

11. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

This punk album is strong from beginning to end, with plenty of surprises thrown in with songs like “Back to Earth” and “Wide Awake” which goes into a funk style.

10. The Holydrug Couple – Hyper Super Mega

This album was another on my heavy rotation when it came out. Shimmering psych rock takes center stage again on spacey songs like “Forever End.”

9. Beach House – 7

7 was produced by Sonic Boom, thus creating a heavier sound than most Beach House albums. I absolutely adore the lush melody of “Drunk in L.A.” and the marimba in “Black Car.”

8. Nothing – Dance on the Blacktop

This album took a few listens to get into, but songs like “Plastic Migrane” and “I Hate The Flowers” really got through to me. The album is rooted in shoegaze, with equally heavy and dreamy elements.

7. Boogarins – Lá Vem a Morte

This album from Brazilian act Boogarins is not only all in Portugese, but is one of the more impressive dreamy, psych rock albums released this year. “Corredor Polones” is a stunning song on its own, and the whole album will have you in a dreamy haze.

6. Idles – Joy as An Act of Resistance

When I first heard the lyric “I kissed a boy and I liked it” in the middle of “Samaritans” I was like “whoah.” This album is filled with raw punk energy but really centers its message around self-love and acceptance.

5. Beak> – >>>

This album really made a strong impact on me. It’s dark and minimal and just gets more and more intriguing with each listen.

4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food

Sex & Food really pulled on my heartstrings with some of the strongest songs of the year including the tender “Hunnybee” and lyrically and melodically stunning “We’re Not In Love We’re Just High.”

3. The Marias – Superclean Vol. II EP

Even though this one is sort of a continuation of last year’s release, Superclean Vol. I, Vol. II EP stood out on its’ own with stunning, jazzy songs like “Over The Moon.”

2. Trialthalon – Online

Triathalon really blend genres in Online, which is basically an R&B album for people who normally gravitate to all things indie. The sultry vocals, shimmering synths and inspiring melodic riffs made this one of my go-to albums this year.

1. Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage

This album is strong from beginning to end and had one of my favorite songs I’ve heard all year, the brilliantly strange “Desert Horse,” which starts in psych rock, then diverts into vocal outbursts and eventually falls into a faster, krautrock beat. Melody Prochet’s sophomore album takes great risks in several songs on Bon Voyage, each of which are incredibly catchy on their own.

And if you’re more into playlists, here are some of my top songs of 2018:

What were your favorite albums this year? Feel free to share below!

Album Review: Beak> – >>>

Let me start by saying that Beak> are a newfound love of mine since I discovered “Sex Music” and “Mono” probably on my Spotify discovery. Their latest album >>> has been on heavy rotation where I work now at Fingerprints music in Long Beach and I can’t get enough of it. Featuring members of Portishead and Moon Gangs, it’s no surprise that their collaboration has been so solid. Continue reading

The High Curbs, Goth Babe, The Side Eyes and more at the Constellation Room

On a Saturday night in Santa Ana, I caught a sold-out punk show with The High Curbs, Goth Babe, The Side Eyes and Moss at the Constellation Room. I was most excited to check out Goth Babe, a dreamy chill-wave act sandwiched between punk and hardcore madness. To my surprise, this $10 show was sold out and the venue was fairly packed. It was clear that there were two separate crowd, as an EDM act performed in the Observatory that night.  Continue reading

Triathalon and Inner Wave at the Roxy

On a Friday Passover night in Hollywood, a sold out show of bands not many have heard of took place at the famous Roxy theater. A sea of brown-haired, Vans-wearing young concert-goers packed in the small venue for a night of fresh indie sounds.

Opening act L. Martin had quite an audience at 9pm. Complete with trombone, the five-piece indie rock outfit from Wisconsin really had the crowd engaged. I watched from the steps to the bar to give myself a better height advantage.  Continue reading

Japanese Breakfast, Jay Som and Hand Habits at the Glass House

On Saturday, February 24 I caught a sold-out show at the Glass House in Pomona: a triple-threat act including a Hand Habits solo act (Meg Duffy), Bay-area rising indie artists Jay Som and Brooklyn-based indie pop group Japanese Breakfast. This female-fronted lineup drew quite a crowd, as Pomona would be the final leg of their tour. I was personally excited to see all three of these acts, as each of their albums released in  2017 made my list of top 20 indie albumsContinue reading

Album Review: Porches – The House

Compared to his previous releases Pool and Slow Dance in the Cosmos, Aaron Maine’s project Porches shows simplicity and restraint in his latest electro-pop-driven album, The House. With this new chapter, in the majority of the tracks Maine ditches the auto-tune he picked up in Pool and favors his soulful, uninhibited vocals. While there are several forgettable tracks on the album, there are some stunners that I just can’t get enough of right now.  Continue reading

Indiecation Top 20 Indie Rock Albums of 2017

It’s that time of year when everyone’s lists are rolling out. And while most are a mish-mash of pop, hip-hop, electronic and rock, Indiecation’s top 20 lists only “indie” rock and some electronic music.

In the 2017 indie scene, reverberating, dreamy sounds and rhythms ranging from ultra-minimal to jazz-inspired and complex reigned supreme. In some cases, vocals took a bit of a back seat, allowing for the instrument compositions to really shine through.

We saw some really great lo-fi pieces come center stage too, with Jay Som and Hoops coming to mind. But at the same time, we saw some of our favorites like Beach Fossils and Alex G really come into their own and take some damn risks.

These albums, in my humble opinion, are all incredible in their own way. Just ordering them was though enough! And while I’m sure there’s a lot more out there I just didn’t even have a chance to listen to, I believe that these well represent what’s great about the indie rock scene today.

Would love to hear your thoughts! What were some of your faves this year? And what do you think of this list? Please comment below.

xo,

Ilana

 

 

Sondre Lerche - Pleasure

20. Sondre Lerche – Pleasure

This ’80s pop forward number is certainly a pleasurable listen. “Siamese Twin” is devastatingly stunning, and easily one of my favorite tracks of the year. While there are certainly some skippable tracks on this one, the hits far outweigh the misses. And regardless, each song has it’s own “goodness” about it.

hand habits

19. Hand Habits – Wildly Idle (The Humble Before the Void)

This dark, folk-y album is permeatingly soft, and is structured with varied minor arpeggios with the vocals in a strong whisper floating above. Listen to standout tracks “In Between” and “Demand It,” which feature devastatingly relatable lyrics like “can you even stand it / being all alone.”

tops

18. TOPS – Sugar at the Gate

This indie-pop album will transport you to various decades. Incorporating soul and disco elements, ’80s sounds and dream-pop, Sugar at the Gate is pop-y enough to appeal to fans of Haim with tracks like “Further,” while guitar-centric tracks like”Petal” and “Dayglow Bimbo” will get indie rockers out on the dance floor as well.

mac d

17. Mac Demarco – This Old Man

Goofball Mac Demarco came out with a pretty solid album this year, opening up about his tumultuous relationship with his father and how he’s beginning to see himself as his old man more and more. Standout tracks like the fuzzy, folky number “This Old Dog” really showcase DeMarco’s soft, breezy vocals. He also masters sultry comedy with “One More Love Song” and keeps it cool with the electro-forward “On the Level.” Again, we see more jazz (or jizz-jazz) influences in this indie-forward album.

j brekkie

16. Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds from Another Planet

The 6-minute dreamy opener, “Diving Woman” will hook you into this album instantly. And when you get to the second track “Road Head” you’ll be convinced that Soft Sounds from Another Planet is worth diving into fully. While ultimately a dream-pop album with elements of indie rock, several songs like “Machinist” are straight up danceworthy.

hoops

15. Hoops – Routines

I hadn’t heard of this group before I was given an assignment to review Routines this past summer, and I must say I was delightfully surprised. This is a lo-fi summer staple, crafted with dreamy guitars and hazy vocals, and mostly upbeat tracks. “Suns Out” is by far the first thing you should listen to this summer — or even for a day at the beach here in sunny so Cal this “winter.”

surf curse

14. Surf Curse – Nothing Yet

This one is probably the wild card, local band that’s not on anyone’s radar quite yet. But Reno-based punk group Surf Curse are making quite a name for themselves in the L.A. punk shows, landing themselves opening acts with The Drums and sold out shows. Nothing Yet is brilliant lo-fi, imperfect, raw and rusty. Check out tracks like “Doom Generation” and “All Is Lost” for your dose of millennial angst.

alvvays

13. Alvvays – Antisocialites

There were so many standout hits in this album — from feel-good tracks like “Pimsoll Punks” to the more heartbreaking “Now That You’re Not My Baby,” Alvvays never gave out on crafting unique melodies and bridges to go along with each track. And though their sound can be a little pop-y for me at times, their songwriting in this album was absolutely on point.

Wolf-Alice-art.png

12. Wolf Alice – Visions of A Life

This punk-forward, dark album hooked me in pretty quickly, and after the first couple listens, I became a big fan. While harder tracks like “Yuk Foo” will appeal to your angst, dreamy, belting songs like “Don’t Delete the Kisses” will do just the same to your softer, emo side. There’s a doom-like feel to each track, whether it’s more punk or electro-forward, or even pysch-centric like “Formidable Cool.” “Sadboy” is a doom-y, distorted favorite with a really incredible breakdown. The best way to describe Visions of A Life would probably be “the bright side of doom.”

real estate

11. Real Estate – In Mind

While we didn’t see a whole lot of innovation from Real Estate this year, the band did what they do best — produce well-thought-out, jangly indie rock. They played around with rhythm changes too in the hit “Darling,” and threw in a classic jam sesh at the end of “Two Arrows,” which was quite possibly my favorite screeching jam I’d heard all year. I thought Real Estate put together a really pleasant, cohesive album that gave me a break from the depressing shit I tend to gravitate to.

beach fossils

10. Beach Fossils – Somersault

I know Beach Fossils’ latest probably had mixed reviews both from fans and publications, but I found Somersault to be quite a strong listen. They played a lot more with strings and brass, adding some richness to tracks like “Saint Ivy,” which was basically a post-election ode to the Beatles. But in “This Year” and “May 1st,” we heard that familiar hazy, reverberating Beach Fossils sound. My absolute favorite from the album though was the faster-moving “Down The Line.” With lyrics like “These days I feel like I do nothing right / so come with me and we’ll go down the line,” it had me singing along, feeling every single lyric.

chastity bel

9. Chastity Belt – I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone

I really think that if I were to ever be in a band, I’d want to make the kind of music Chastity Belt does. It’s crisp, unpretentious, and the lyrics are super-relatable, particularly if you’re a woman. Just based on the opening song “Different Now,” which was one of my top listened to this year, this album was already a great contender. The counterparts in the guitars, low, resonant vocals, and of those lyrics… “You’re hard on yourself / but you can’t always be right” are so easy to really feel as you sing along, as the melodies they come up with are simple but so stunningly natural. Another great lo-fi, post punk number for the books!

jay som

8. Jay Som – Everybody Works

So I really loved Jay Som’s Turn Into and was also pretty pleased with this latest release. Everybody Works could be found on just about every major music publication’s top 50, but since it’s indie only, I say it’s top 10 material without a doubt. The popular “Bus Song” is catchy and well-written, but I favored the Wild Nothing-esque tracks like “One More Time, Please” and the even dreamier “Baybee.” This was absolutely one of my favorite lo-fi albums this year.

7. (Sandy) Alex G – Rocket

The young PA native Alex G has yet again released a stunning album with Rocket. The addition of strings, folk and jazz influences really make each track come alive in its own way. “Proud” has a bit of a ragtime feel with the jazzy keyboards and simple melody. “County” and “Guilty” are perhaps my favorite — the former with a dreamy, hazy feel about the vocals, and each with their blatant jazz-inspired licks. And while he probably is so over being referred to as the “modern-day Elliot Smith,” the line between the two is so clearly drawn.

grizzly bear

6. Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins

In their latest album, Painted Ruins, Grizzly Bear show how their sound had evolved, incorporating more electronic influences than their previous albums. Droste and Rossen equally lead the vocals in the group and give us new stunning hits like “Three Rings” and the radio-popular “Mourning Sound.” This album was a really stellar comeback for the group, who hadn’t released any material really since 2012’s Shields.

the ooz_king krule

5. King Krule – The OOZ

19 tracks can be a lot to take in, but King Krule’s sophomore debut is beautiful and deliberate. With stunning, heart-wrenching songs like “Lonely Blue” and “The Ooz,” and jazzy, electronic numbers like “Czech One,” The Ooz is a non-stop savor.

slowdive

4. Slowdive – Slowdive

Slowdive came back in a big way this year, releasing the most stunning shoegaze album. After 22 years, this group proved that they haven’t missed a beat as they resurfaced with an impeccable album that has suited the likes of fans both old and new. Songs like “Star Roving” fit beautifully into the current dream-pop, post-punk scenes. While it takes a few listens to fully appreciate, the first song “Slomo” will make you want to dive right in with it’s 7-minute, ethereal sounds.

cigs after sex

3. Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex

This minimal yet beautiful album will pull at your heartstrings. The lyrics are so devastatingly relatable, all pertaining to relationships. Songs like “K.” and “Apocalypse” give you a glimpse into singer Greg Gonzalez’s intriguing love life, but “Each Time You Fall In Love” is sure to hit you where it hurts, as he sings “each time you fall in love / it’s clearly not enough.”

pirests

2. Priests – Nothing Feels Natural

Priests’ debut album came in strong this year. Upon the first listen, I was instantly hooked — singer Katie Alice Greer’s vocals remind one of the powerful belts of X-Ray Spex’s Poly Styrene. And with hit title track “Nothing Feels Natural,” we catch a glimpse of everything that’s great about post-punk. This album instantly came to mind when building my top 20 this year.

lovewhatsurvives

1. Mount Kimbie – Love What Survives

While several albums were deserving of this spot, none quite came together as well as Mount Kimbie’s Love What Survives. A beautiful collection of electronic, post-punk and krautrock, this album is full of sonic variety. Each song, whether it includes vocals or not, simply shines in it’s unique way. Songs like “Marilyn” and “T.A.M.E.D.” are instant hits with singable lyrics like “I’m looking up at you / are you looking up at me” and “think about me every day / forever,” and have this minimal/repetitive style that manage to be super intriguing, never tiresome. With featured artists like James Blake and King Krule, the project is taken to a whole new level.

Grizzly Bear at the Wiltern

This past Wednesday, December 13,  I had the pleasure of catching a sold-out Grizzly Bear show at the Wiltern theater in Koreatown. By the time I arrived around 7:30, the GA bottom floor of the theater was filling up at the pit, so I spotted an opportunity to secure a prime viewing spot on the third riser level, which I quickly grabbed before the opening act started.

Opening act Serpent With Feet was a bit of a wild card. The solo electro-poetry act engaged the audience with word play, reality checks and kindness. “Leave softer than we came,” was his challenge to the audience, along with his love for “adult playtime.”  Continue reading