The indie scene in today’s music industry is as strong as ever. What originally began in the 1980s with the rejection of mainstream synthpop tendencies in favor of much rawer, grunge-influenced sound has metamorphosed into a unbelievably diverse collection of bearded, flannel-clad modern musicians. Of course, that’s a very simple way of describing it, but you get the idea. The point is that the concept of the highly independent artist who has total control of the creative side of their music. So now let’s dial our focus in quite a bit and shine the spotlight on a particular group from Great Britain named Clock Opera.
Although the band was first formed in 2009, they did not release their debut album, Ways to Forget, until 2012. Some would say that three years is a long time to prepare an album, but I would argue that there is no standard duration for such a feat. The one thing that can be said for certain is that the prolonged wait for the group’s debut was definitely worth it. After listening to the record many times and letting it sink in, its true potential shines through. Just as a fine wine matures with age, so too does Ways to Forget reap the benefits of its delayed release date.
Album artwork for Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Today’s post is a groundbreaker for Audio Intimacy. The original score written for the 2011 film Drive, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Ryan Gosling, has officially become the first soundtrack album to be featured on the site. This summer, I am in Los Angeles interning with a composer for films and TV shows, so it seems only fitting that I expand the blog to include this particular brand of musical expression. Now that the floodgates have been opened, be on the lookout for more soundtracks to follow this one! With that said, let’s move on to the main event. The score for this movie was written by Cliff Martinez, former drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and current film composer who’s been tearing up the scene for several years now. What makes Drive unique is the sole use of electronic music in the soundtrack, capitalizing on the strengths for which Martinez has been gaining widespread influence throughout the film industry.
Film music has certainly come a long way since its formative years in the early 20th century, when cinemas would employ in-house pianists, organists, or even orchestras to play live music overtop the mechanical noise of the projector. It has evolved into a formidable job that fuses together evocative composition, collaboration with the movie’s production crew, and the highly refined skills of syncing audio cues to picture – choosing the exact frame at which to start and stop the music. Nowadays, just like in any other professional industry, we have developed technology to assist us in accomplishing such a massive undertaking. Electronic music, being a reflection of human society’s adaptation to the digital revolution, has inevitably started to blend with traditional approaches to film scoring, and it is the work of visionaries like Cliff Martinez that has paved the way towards this new period of musical innovation.
I always love discovering relatively unknown, homegrown bands that have an unparalleled passion for the music they create. It’s refreshing to step into their own little utopian corner of the musical world, where everything is exactly as it should be. Such was the case when I stumbled upon Vinyl Thief, a five-piece electro-rock group coming straight out of Nashville, Tennessee. Everything from the music itself to the album artwork to the earnest blogging on Nashville’s top foodie hotspots screams out that this is a band that is passionate about the simple things in life. This is an attitude that is reflected in their music as well.
For a group based out of the country music capital of the United States, they are certainly breaking the mold. Vinyl Thief’s Rebel Hill is grungy, yet lighthearted. It’s soulful, but carefree. It’s lo-fi indie rock with an electro twist. This type of music has been rising in popularity in recent years as garage bands have discovered the use of electronics. As lead vocalist Grayson Proctor puts it, “In the past, people always equated Nashville with cowboy hats and rodeos. That’s all starting to change with new bands that aren’t afraid to take risks.”
If there was ever an album to be played on warm summer nights, it would be this one – Night Visions, the first studio album release from indie rock group Imagine Dragons. All of their music accomplishes the same, admirable goal: to spread good vibes through songs. In this area, they are truly masters of their craft. There is a certain grassroots appeal to the band; their music is simple yet effective. Although the compositions themselves may seem easy enough, the way in which they are orchestrated adds a whole new layer of color to the overall mural. With a rich blend of garage band instrumentation, electronica embellishments, and euphoric vocal melodies, Imagine Dragons has put forth one of the most definitively lighthearted and carefree indie rock releases this year.
Following in the path of groups like Passion Pit, Imagine Dragons has tapped into the tremendous audience of youths around the world that are seeking fun, cheerful melodies with an electronic influence. For me, a key element that distinguishes them them from their contemporaries is the main vocalist, Dan Reynolds. His voice is a welcome change from the typical sort of breathy, casual tone that usually appears in indie bands. In the case of Reynolds, the main vocals come across as extremely strong and confident. I can imagine them being placed on top of a heavy rock track and still coming across strong. This effect is emphasized on a track like “Bleeding Out,” where he soars above the song’s catchy progression, easily switching between his chest voice and falsetto range.