Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Indie

The A to Z Blogging Challenge has inspired me to add a second daily blog entry each day.  I probably should have done this from the very beginning of the alphabet, but I've never been shy about jumping in mid-stream - so here goes.

Music is a huge part of my life.  I sing, play a half dozen instruments, and compose instrumental pieces.  My high school career found me performing multiple instruments in jazz and concert band, singing in the jazz and symphonic choirs, and playing the lead in my our production of "The Music Man."    While I listen to a wide-range of music, I'm always seeking out artists that don't get that "big break" and typically aren’t played on the radio in the States - but probably should be.

After having put together an annual compilation called, "The Best Songs You've Never Heard," for my close friends for several years, I thought I'd take a moment and share three songs each day that you probably haven't been exposed to.  I'll warn you in advance - I listen to all genres of music, so there should be a little bit of everything represented here as we work our way through the alphabet.  While there are some imports, the vast majority of songs that you'll find here are from either small label or unsigned artists.

To keep things synchronized with my blog, I'll start with the letter "I" and loop back around to the beginning of the alphabet once the main blog hits "Z."  Today we have a song and two bands that start with the letter "I."

Marina and the Diamonds -  "I am Not a Robot"

I took my wife, Briana, to a small venue concert to celebrate her birthday late last year.  The show was at The Doug Fir Lounge in neighboring Portland, Oregon and the headline act was an artist known as Marina and the Diamonds.  (The Diamonds aren't her backing band.  As Marina points out on her MySpace page, "I'm Marina. You are the diamonds.")  One of the beautiful things about small venue concerts (besides their very reasonable price tag) is that it's what we refer to as a "living room experience."  Doug Fir holds a maximum of 299 people and we were at the edge of the stage, close enough to Marina that we could reach out and touch Marina at any point of the show. (Don't worry, we refrained from doing so.) While I've seen everything from big name bands (Nickelback, Weezer) in arenas to countless bands in small venues, Marina put on one of the most enjoyable and entertaining shows I've ever had the pleasure to watch.  From the beautiful quality of her voice and her perfect performance to her sheer stage presence and her warm interaction with the crowd, Marina was simply a delight to watch.  When asked in an interview to describe her fashion style in three words, Marina chose "vintage, cheerleader, and cartoon."  Bri and I both agreed that she was completely insane (in a very delightful way) as she frequently changed costumes that could have only originated in second hand stores and bellowed each song over the ecstatically cheering crowd with her beautiful, pitch perfect voice.  While she's reasonably well-known in the UK, most Americans have never heard of Marina.  "I am Not a Robot" is one of her more popular songs - and even if the video, you can get a small sense for Marina's unique style and approach to music.

It Hugs Back - "Work Day"

It Hugs Back is an unsigned band from the UK.  I discovered them via an indie music service a couple of years back.  Even after visiting both their MySpace and homepage, I couldn't find much information about them - but I do like their sound.  It Hugs Back is one of countless bands that simply never got that "big break" but is as good or better than many of the artists found on mainstream US radio stations.

Infadels - Can't Get Enough

Completing our trio of UK bands, Infadels clearly spells out their name (and lack of "the") in the title to their first album, "We Are Not The Infadels."  Categorized as electronic rock, they've opened for bands like Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, have toured the globe, are extremely popular in Europe - and almost no one in the States has ever heard of them.  This track is fairly repetitive (something that I don't care for in most music) but for whatever reason, it has a tendency to keep playing in my head long after the song has ended.


  1. Okay, seriously, you play a half a dozen instruments too??? Back up, Renaissance man, you are making the mortals look bad;)

  2. Christa: LOL! Mostly woodwinds, but I can find my way around a piano in a pinch and I'm learning guitar. On the flip side, Algebra comes across as a lost ancient language to me... so I suppose it all balances out. :)

  3. Yeah and the whole posting TWO blogs a day? You rule!

  4. Great idea to review less well known music here - my partner is into less 'discovered' bands, too, although he might be familar with these, as they're more UK-based. V brave of you to go for the 2 posts a day thing :-) I'm struggling with just one ...
    All best

  5. I love music and thank you for helping me to expand my music collection! :)