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Indie Spins
June 15, 2004
by Michael Walls

First Time Around

Welcome to the first installment of my column "Indie Spins." As the title suggests, I will be writing about indie music and will try to bring you regular servings of suggested listening from the world of independent music.

Sleep Station
After The War (2004)

A concept album, After The War touches on various stories and emotions of being a solder during World War II – love, longing, fear and death. If not for the clarity of the lyrics and emotion of lead singer Dave Debiak, this album could pass for a feel-good pop effort, along the lines of The Beatles. But because of its storytelling and unique song structuring, Wilco and Coldplay may be Sleep Station’s nearest cousins. Except for punctuated interludes of the sounds of war, like “Drums of War” (with the sound of whistling soldiers marching into war) and “My Darling” (of a soldier reading a poem to his darling), the music is filled with crisp hooks and solid pop melodies, worthy of radio play and movie soundtracks.
Links: Sleep Station website, Eyeball Records website

Emil McGloin
The First Time Around (2004)

This debut CD by singer-songwriting Emil McGloin isn’t something that will slap you in the face and make you scream “WOW!” But, I don’t think McGloin is looking for that type of audience. Emil McGloin plays a hybrid style of blues and folk, with a dash of hip-hop and soul. On The First Time Around McGloin follows a formula similar to Pete Yorn or Willy Porter, where the catchiness of his melodies and appeal of his mature vocal style aren’t apparent until you find yourself singing along and tapping your toes during the – well, third time around.
Links: Emil McGloin website

Smoke & Mirrors
The Perfume of Creosote: Desert Exotica Part One (2003)

“Ambient world music” would be the closest label to pin on this release by Smoke & Mirrors. But describing the general genre of 23 tracks isn’t an easy task. This richly layered instrumental “desert soundtrack” can be loosely compared to Euphoria or Deep Forest, but because of rhythm-heavy beats and uptempo trip-hop sounds, a comparison to Moby is in order. Throw in some swirling psychedelic trance sounds, some tribal beats, and some sampled desert noises (like birds and wind), and you’ve got yourself an aural journey through the Sonoran Desert.
Links: Aural Fixation Records website

Julian Velard
Make Me Feel (2003)

Listening to the music of Julian Velard is only topped by experiencing him Live. The music of Velard creates an environment that makes you want to stand at a bar sipping martinis with a room full of hip friends and strangers. As Velard alternates between sitting and standing behind his keyboard, pounding out a funky jazz groove – while his “A Band” fills in the sound with horns and strings behind him – you might feel compelled to throw out a wave in his direction. And Velard, should he catch your wave, will easily smile and wave right back. Make Me Feel is as close to experiencing Julian Velard Live, without inviting him over to your house. All you need is the martinis and some friends.
Links: Julian Velard website

(Michael Walls is a volunteer staff writer for 2 Walls Webzine)

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