Animal Tolerance: Monster Edition


After much deliberation, we’ve decided to implement a new feature on Indie Muse, where we are going to dedicate a post to an under-appreciated animal every month.

Let’s face it. Some animals out there really suck. Nobody is going to try argue that a rat is a cooler animal than a dog–except for me. And that’s the point of this feature.  There are a lot of really redeeming things about rats.  I would even go as far as saying rats are to “indie music” what dogs are to mainstream music…and that’s coming from someone who hates rats (and loves indie music).

This first feature isn’t dedicated to rats, though, because rats are a rare exception, and really do suck. It’s dedicated to monsters.

Now you are probably thinking 1 of 2 things:

1) “Oh no, monsters!!!”

2) “Wait a minute, monsters aren’t real!”

If you are thinking 2 (good job), you can skip to response 2.

1) You are an animalist! How do you hate something that doesn’t exist?!

2) You are right, monsters aren’t real. So why do they get such a bad wrap? Think how it must feel to be a monster, and have everybody always bashing you for no good reason.

Anyway, really just wanted to share these songs with you. So I guess this ones for you monsters.

5 Tracks entitled “Monsters.”

Band of Horses – Monsters

Electric President – Monsters

Forest City Lovers – Monsters

The Boy Least Likely To – Monsters

The Microphones – Monsters

These United States – Crimes (2008)


Washington DC based folk/rock band, These United States, has a new album that just released entitled, Crimes. This comes after their debut release earlier this year, A Picture of the Three of Us at The Gate to the Garden of Eden. At this rate of producing albums (and with their fitting band name), perhaps they should be doing Sufjan Stevens’ 50 albums for 50 states gig.

While I’m a bigger fan of A Picture of the Three of Us at The Gate to the Garden of Eden, Crimes is still an enjoyable album to listen to, and it’s comprised of some really fantastic songs (and has an equally badass album name). Among my favorite tracks are “West Won,” “Honor Amongst Thieves,” and “Heaven Can Wait.”

These United States have become a big staple in the DC music scene. They are closely linked to the musicians on Gypsy Eyes Records (though they aren’t on the label), and a few years ago helped create The Federal Reserve, a collective of like-minded musicians in DC who play together on the first Monday of every month at iota. These United States is currently on tour, check out their Myspace for dates.

Crimes (2008):

These United States – Honor Among Thieves

These United States – West Won

A Picture of the Three of Us at The Gate to the Garden of Eden (2008):

These United States – First Sight

These United States – The Business 

Site | iTunes | Amazon | Amie St | Myspace |Day Trotter | Learn Your Geography



A week ago, fellow indiemuse writer Dave and I went to see Chicago math rock up and comers Maps & Atlases (who we interviewed and hope to have posted within the next week!). Although openers Rahim really didn’t wow me much, Oregon based labelmates Nurses arguably almost stole the show with their surreal performance. Nurses is three fellows who create a unique blend of reverb drenched indie pop that almost hints at the freak folk genre given to bands like Animal Collective. On stage, the three members played a set of wild ballads driven by bouncy piano, strange loops and samples, and eerie yet strangely catchy vocal harmonies. Their performance was truly awe-inspiring and I urge you all to catch them if they ever stop by your area. Although the band only has one LP out on Sargent House, the material they played on tour will be featured on their upcoming LP Apple’s Acre, due out early next year. Luckily you can hear 4 demos from the album on their myspace so check it out and keep an eye out for Apple’s Acre next year!


mp3: “Technicolor”

mp3: “Lita!”

Wild Light – “Red House”

An amazing song entitled “Red House” fell into my lap yesterday by the band Wild Light. Since discovering the song, it’s pretty much been on constant repeat on my computer.

Wild Light currently only have a four-track EP released, and their sound varies a bit depending on the song that you are listening to. It’ll be interesting to see what direction they take on their debut, which has an expected early 2009 release. Right now, the best comparison I’ve got is a mashup of Ron Sexsmith, Coldplay, The Format, and the Flaming Lips.

Wild Light is based in New Hampshire, and band members include Jordan Alexander, Seth Kasper, Timothy Kyle, and Seth Pitman. They are currently on a small Northeast mini-tour with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Wild Light (EP):

Wild Light – Red House

Wild Light: New Year’s Eve

iTunes | Myspace

Jeremy Messersmith – The Silver City (2008)


photo credit: Steven Cohen

Minneapolis singer/songwriter Jeremy Messersmith just released his sophomore album, The Silver City. I featured Messersmith on the site two years ago when his debut album The Alcatraz Kid came out, and I’ve been following him ever since.

As traditional as his music is, and as easy as it is to compare him to a more upbeat (happier) Elliott Smith, I’ve always found him to have a unique sound. His vocals are the forefront of his music, and I feel many similarly influenced musicians hide behind their instrumentals and somberly whisper in a way that he doesn’t. When I’m in the mood for music that offers a balance between light & dark, Messersmith’s music fills the role perfectly.

While The Silver City hasn’t had as big of an impact on me as The Alcatraz Kid, I still really like it. The album has a concentration on the Twin Cities (Minneapolis), and focuses on geography, such as life in the suburbs, city, and the commute between both. Right now, “Miracles,” “Skyway,” “Virginia,” and “Light Rail” are among my favorite tracks on the album.

I noted in my last feature on Jeremy, and it’s worth noting again, that he seems like an extremely friendly guy (just like everyone from Minneapolis, am I right?!) It looks like his blog has disappeared from his recently updated site, but he sometimes uses Myspace to make blog posts. They are really enjoyable to read, like this older post about his apartment getting broken into. We could use some more honest musicians out there like Messersmith.

The Silver City (2008):

Jeremy Messersmith – Virginia

Jeremy Messersmith – Miracles

The  Alcatraz Kid (2006):

Jeremy Messersmith – Beautiful Children

Jeremy Messersmith – Great Times

Site | iTunes | Amazon | Myspace | ‘Cake In 15’ Interview

Below is the music video for “Miracles.” Supposedly it’s the first full-length music video shot by iPhone. This better not turn into Apple’s next iPhone commercial.


WVAU: The Indie Muse Show


click banner to stream

Happy Sunday, everyone. Just wanted to let you know that you can stream our radio show today from 2-4 EST via If you have a chance to check it out, we’d really appreciate the support. Our AIM screenname is “radiowvau,” if you wanna say hi during the show. Thanks!

Just press this link to stream:

Here are two songs we’ll be playing today:

Andrew Bird -  Fiery Crash

Eddie Vedder – Hard Sun (Into the Wild OST)

Built to Spill – Perfect From Now On (LIVE)

Last night I saw Built to Spill for the third time in the past 3 years. The first time I saw them at Lollapalooza and they were supporting You In Reverse, the second was in Boston when they were just touring for the sake of touring, and this third time they played Perfect From Now On in its entirety. This was the first time that had gone to an album show. I sort of have mixed feelings about the concept. On one hand this can really emphasize the importance of the album and PFNO is one that needs to be emphasized as an album. On the other hand, I like when a band is able to pull out some old songs from their earlier albums and hearing their new interpretation of an old song. The best part about the second time I saw Built to Spill was they got to play whatever they wanted with no pressure to play songs from their newest album.

Last night’s show, however, was very good. There were 3 guitars, bass, cello, synthesizer, and drums. Their sound was nearly as full as it was on the album. They played everything almost exactly how it sounded on the album, but in this case it’s a good thing. I also picked up this little newspaper type thing that explained the album with little interviews with all the band members. Doug Martsch described “Randy Describes Eternity” (my favorite song on the album).

“When I was in junior high school I went to a youth group called God Squad. Every Tuesday night we’d meet at the First Baptist Church, play foosball, go to McDonald’s, and hang out with Randy, a friendly, charismatic Christian. He told us this metaphor for eternity which struck me not because it drove home how long my suffering or joy would last after my death, depending on whether or not I accept Jesus as my savior, which was his intent, but because I thought it was a such a frustrating concept – the futility of trying to wear down a planet-sized metal ball by swiping it periodically with a feather. When Phil [Ek] was mastering it the engineer asked how many girls were in the band.”

Though they didn’t just play the album; immediately after they went right into “Goin’ Against Your Mind” for probably about 10 minutes. The came out for a little encore of “Big Dipper” and “Car” off of There’s Nothing Wrong With Love. This show was a great reminder of how much I enjoy Built to Spill and I like music in the first place.

MP3: Built to Spill -  Randy Describes Eternity

MP3: Built to Spill – Made-Up Dreams

MySpace | Website

Dr. Dog: “Breeze”


Sometimes life is a bit overwhelming. The feeling is incredibly human, and everyone experiences it at one point or another. It may be life moving too fast or perhaps not fast enough. Or maybe it’s just an uncomfortable uncertainty with our future. Whatever the reason, it’s important for us to take a second out of our busy lives to catch our breath and realize everything is going to be okay. I heard the song “Breeze” by Dr. Dog for the first time today, and it had an extremely meaningful impact on me. Everyone needs to hear this song.

Fate (2008):

Dr. Dog – Breeze


image credit: Listen for Joy

Pikelet – Bug-In-Mouth

Before coming to Australia, where I’m studying until December, I was repeatedly told that there is no local music scene in Sydney. “It’s all DJs and clubs and $20 drinks and dress codes,” they said. Well apparently, these people never wandered outside of the two block radius encompassed by our campus. Sydney’s music scene is thriving.

Last week, I wandered into the Hopetoun Hotel (they call bars hotels, weird) in a wonderful town called Surry Hills to discover Pikelet, an Australian singer/songwriter/magician out of Melbourne. Sitting alone with a classical guitar, in front of two mics and above an assortment of loop and delay pedals, next to a lone tom-tom, underneath what seemed like a single ray of divine light, Pikelet built masterful, otherworldly arrangements that I still don’t believe could originate entirely from one person. After only one song, I knew: if I were to take a trip to a mystical land far, far away, Pikelet would be my soundtrack.

She weaves tales in the style of Joanna Newsom, meandering through songs with ever-evolving structures, forcing her stories to fit her melodies, all the while propelled by layers of accordion, synthesizers, classical guitar and vocal and percussive loops. If you’re into the above mentioned Ms. Newsom, Kate Bush, Mirah, Audrey Ryan, dig Sufjan’s arrangements or have a respect for Phil Elverum’s production style, then you’ve found a friend in Pikelet.

I know I’ve been captured by a sound when I can space out for an hour, not quite knowing what just happened, but having definitively vague memories of valleys and peaks, of half-conceived hooks and singular notes, that with a second listen, always evoke overwhelming deja vu, and nostalgia for something that might not exist. Basically, it’s when I get the chills. So, thanks for that, Pikelet. And I hope y’all get the chills too.

And my favorite lyric so far, from “Bug-In-Mouth”:

“Instead of sleeping, I’m going to keep going. Instead of counting sheep, I’m going to count how many bugs I eat in my sleep.”

And two songs! From her self-titled debut (and you can purchase the album from the link below, which you should):

Pikelet – Bug-In-Mouth

Pikelet – Size Matters

|Myspace|Website/OMG buy the album!|Wikipedia!|

Neil Halstead – Oh! Mighty Engine

Neil Halstead is mostly known for his work with Slowdive and Mojave 3. He normally creates quiet, elegant music. Slowdive is more shoegazey and atmospheric, while Mojave 3 has a more traditional rock vibe, but there remains a somewhat consistent sound throughout his career. On his second solo album (released on Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records), Halstead moves in the direction of folk a la Nick Drake, Bob Dylan and Donovan. I find it to be good music for the transition from summer into fall. There’s nothing too exciting going on, but you can tell that Halstead has developed as a songwriter and has been able to convey a particular laid-back yet contemplative mood.

MP3: Neil Halstead – Oh! Mighty Engine

MP3: Neil Halstead – Sometimes the Wheels

MP3: Mojave 3 – Bluebird of Happiness

MP3: Slowdive – Erik’s Song

MySpace |  Brushfire Records