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Best New Indie Songs & Albums, April 2014, Vol. II – The Afghan Whigs, Woods, Cloud Cult Plague Vendor, Eels, Modern Rivals

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A few days ago, we posted the best singles from the top new albums released in the first part of April. Sure, it may be a bit overdue, but the fact that remains is the quality of the music. Here is the second half of the best singles from new releases for April 15th through April 28th.

Since the week of April 29th releases (Tuesdays are the day most new releases are dropped) only covers two days in April, it will instead be included in the top singles and albums for the month of May (which is also coming up soon). Whenever you’re looking for a comprehensive profile and accompanying playlist of the best indie and alternative rock released for any given month, as well as hundreds of DIY bands a year – most of which are not getting the credit they deserve; some haven’t even been written up before, especially the new artists and bands – IRC is your one stop spot for indie rock.

The Afghan Whigs

The Afghan Whigs in February of this year. Photo by Piper Ferguson.

Week of April 15th’s Top Releases and Singles with The Afghan Whigs, Woods, Japanther, Sonic Avenue, Thee Oh Sees and Others

Long-time favorites among cafe patrons, The Afghan Whigs – who are arguably one of the original trailblazing bands in the early days of indie and alternative rock – returned to the spotlight in April with the release of Do To The Beast. It is the legendary band’s first new album following a 15-year hiatus. Also, listen to top singles from new albums by Woods, Japanther, Cloud Cult, Dyland Shearer, Sonic Avenues, Thee Oh Sees, Chuck E. Weiss, Plague Vendor, Horse Thief, Ikebe Shakedown, Rodney Crowell, Bobby Bare Jr., and Gordon Downie with The Sadies.

Note: The ex-FM built-in MP3 streamer was discontinued on May 25th. That’s just 8 months after Yahoo discontinued support for their awesome MP3 player plugin. Obviously, it’s a disappointment to a degree, but you can still play, or download, all of the MP3 tracks by clicking (or to save, right-clicking your mouse and selecting Save As) the song link itself. We are looking for a new MP3 player/streamer. If you’re a developer and want to build us a custom player (would not require as much code as one might think) and you want to contribute to this resource for indie rock from around the world, and also get credit on our website for your contribution, please send us a Tweet @IndieRockCafe with message: “I can build a streaming player for IRC” and we’ll get right back to you.

“The Lottery”The Afghan Whigs from Do To The Beast on Sub Pop

“Moving To The Left”Woods from With Light and With Love on Woodsist

“Do It (Don’t Try)”Japanther from Instant Money Magic on Seayou

“Breakfast With My Shadow”Cloud Cult from Unplug

“Mold in the Fold”Dylan Shearer from Garagearray on Castle Face / Empty Cellar

“In Your Head” - Sonic Avenues from Mistakes on Dirtnap Records

“Boston Blackie”Chuck E. Weiss from Red Beans and Weiss on Anti

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“Black Sap Scriptures”Plague Vendor from Free To Eat on Epitaph

“Little Dust”Horse Thief from Fear in Bliss on Bella Union

“The Offering”Ikebe Shakedown from Stone by Stone on Ubiquity Recordings

“Frankie Please”Rodney Crowell from Tarpaper Sky on New West

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Week of April 22nd Best Singles and Albums

Any time the Eels release a new record, it’s a real treat, and it’s no different with the iconic band’s newest release, with its bookish title, The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett. Our pick for a lead single from the album, “Mistakes of My Youth” is one of many terrific songs on the album; if you’re an Eels fan, then it’s a must-have for your music collection.
The popular Athens, Georgia garage rock veterans, The Whigs, have returned with a new album that exudes the band’s mastery for writing and recording organic rock songs, as their impressive new single, “Hit Me,” so aptly depicts. Modern Creation is the follow-up to the band’s 2012 LP, Enjoy The Company. Watch the glittery official “Hit Me” music video; the band time warped to circa 1974 – those outfits are like a cross between Elvis and The Bay City Rollers – and good for them for going all funkadelic in style and yet retaining their rock edge; definitely a case study in contrasts between music and fashion. Do you spot the Geico cave man dude? How did they pull that off – or did they?

“Mistakes of My Youth”Eels from The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett on E Works

“Hit Me”The Whigs from Modern Creation on New West Records

“Pins & Stitches”Modern Rivals from Cemetery Dares (self-released)

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“I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore”The Menzingers from Rented World on Epitaph

“Preface”Purling Hiss from Dizzy Polizzy on Drag City

“Let It Out”Black Prairie from Fortune on Sugar Hill Records

Farewell-Transmission

Various Artists Releases featuring My Morning Jack, Spiritualized and The Apache Relay

Next, The Space Project various artists’ compilation is composed of songs that integrate sounds from space as the surprisingly spacey, fuzzy rock track, “Mississippi Space Program,” from Spiritualized demonstrates. My Morning Jacket contributed the meandering, somewhat complex arrangement, “Farewell Transmission,” to the various artists covers compilation album, featuring the songs of Jason Molina. Next, the Flaming Lips-sounding new band, The Apache Relay, were a pleasant surprise considering that we’d never heard of them, and suppose for many of you, they’re new to you as well. The drifty, mellow song – although it’s more like a composition with it’s orchestral flourishes – “Katie Queen of Tennessee” – is the lead single from the band’s self-titled debut album. We’ve not heard the entire album yet, but you can bet it’s on our list of 2014 debuts to give a close listen to.

“Farewell Transmission”My Morning Jacket from Farewell Transmission: The Music of Jason Molina compilation on Rock the Cause

“Mississippi Space Program”Spiritualized from The Space Project on Lefse

“Katie Queen of Tennessee”The Apache Relay from The Apache Relay on Nomadic Records/Universal Music

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The Kooks Go Kooky In A Bad Way

But now for a big disappointment. Ordinarily, we do not bother posting songs we don’t like – what’s the point, right? But in this case, we are doing so only to demonstrate what can happen with a great band when they lose their direction and abandon their roots. We’re talking about the newest release from The Kooks – at least in regards to the lead single they – or maybe more so, their label – put out as the lead single from the band’s latest release. It sounds nothing like The Kooks we fell in love with when they first hit the scene nearly a decade ago. What happened? They don’t sound convincingly indie or alternative, but closer to the repetitious, cookie-cutter electronic pop crap that modern Top 40 radio pumps out on regular rotation – that awful music – that oddly millions of people apparently like; that formulated, over-produced, computer-driven non-sense that cannot be realistically called music and that we hear coming from passing cars, in malls, scenes in movies and TV shows, and so on.

Ordinarily, we avoid Top 40 pop radio because it is just not what we connect to, and most of it does sound essentially unoriginal, like a format that is overly obeyed. But The Kooks fooled us into hearing that type of sound in their new single. But, first, we need to rant a bit more about the heaps of crap music that is somehow popular on Top 40 radio. Yeah, we get that a lot of teens (especially girls), and soccer Moms too, really love the Katie Perry’s, Miley Cirrus’, Jessica Simpsons and Beyonces, and young guys are on top of the latest ‘cool’ hip hop tracks with the formula of cursing, violence, guns, partying, ‘bitches’ generates hundreds of millions in radio advertising dollars and music sales every year, but compared to the enormous existing catalog of amazing music from the classic rock era to the alternative rock revolution, right up to the indie rock of today, there’s no comparison when it comes to originality, diversity, musical skill, creativity, songwriting abilities, and on and on. You all know it, and that’s why you seek out indie and alternative music.

We do our best, with limited resources, to filter much of it before and present it in a way that is easily accessible as well as to present impressive music from talented musicians and bands that almost no one has ever heard of before, but once they do, they wonder how such terrific music flies so far under the radar.

thekooks-downep

The Kooks forced us to defend indie rock by the title song of their new album. What happened to a great UK garage rock band that we hailed for so many years on our pages? It’s still unclear. What this lesson has shown us is that it’s even more important than ever to support the hard-working, talented, but under appreciated, or just coming into the picture, artists and bands. If you spend some time clicking on older posts (we do not take down the songs or playlists from older posts like most music sites and blogs do – we keep them live so that you can always listen to previous posts, special editions, and so on), you will find a treasure trove of fantastic and truly amazing music from both popular indie artist and from amazing small label and DIY artists you’ve likely never heard of before. Plus, all of the songs are free MP3s to download so that you can take them with you anywhere, or just keep your browser opened to IRC.

Big time tangent, but the situation warranted it. The Kooks have gone kooky on their newest single, and we’re only including it so that you can hear what our problems are with it. That said, there are many who apparently like the track – the YouTube audio track alone has been streamed over 800,000 times, and the thumbs up ratio over the thumbs down ratio is not even close. We’re left scratching our heads.

“Down”The Kooks from Down EP on Astralwerks

Indie and alternative rock (and the various genres that have branched out as a natural progression) has so much more to offer than the disposable assembly line of ‘modern’ pop and canned hip hop, commercial country, groomed boy bands and the same five female vocalists that dominate the charts. Indie really has saved the integrity music, and that’s why so many have turned to it. There’s so much more interesting music being made within the realms of the indie and alternative music scenes, especially where there are small, or no, record labels interfering of pop, folk, rock, synth, music.

Anyways, we’re including it – along with an older Kooks’ track – only to demonstrate how far they’ve fallen away from their original sound and brand, or as the ironic title track of their new EP, implies, Down. They were so much better as an indie rock band then whatever this new sound is supposed to be. Even when their fellow UK rockers, Arctic Monkeys, departed from the original ripping riffs sound they unleashed to the world back in the mid-2000′s – and which made them an international sensation in the annals of rock – they at least retained some of their former self. If you had told us this track was The Kooks, and we didn’t know it for sure, we would have never believed it. What a drag. Will the real Kooks please stand up, and start making authentic indie rock again? We’ll see.

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