By Jolie Klefeker
The past couple of weeks have seen the releases of some of the year's most anticipated records from a handful of independent music's biggest and brightest: LCD Soundsystem, Deerhoof and a slew of smaller artists have subsumed 1190 in the most exciting wave of new music that 2017 has yet to see. Let's dive into some of the lesser-known musicians who are conquering the airwaves.
Chad VanGaalen appears as some kind of savant, the mysterious amalgam of a tinkerer, illustrator, producer and multi-instrumentalist. In addition to his several solo albums, VanGaalen has had a prolific career as a musical producer, working with acts like Women, as well as working as a visual artist. VanGaalen's music is magical, intricate and delicate, precariously teetering on some ledge between an enchanting and all-consuming harmony and feeling as if the song might fall apart in an instant.
Reminiscent of the off-kilter, dreamy irreverence of Broken Social Scene and the intimate sort of vulnerability found in Sufjan Stevens' voice, VanGaalen crafts delightful and immersive indie-rock melodies. His interdisciplinary approach to art crosses boundaries and fuses genres to create a warm familiarity that remains inventive and original. His latest record "Light Information," is no different. Upbeat but gentle chord progressions serve as the perfect canvas for erudite guitar notes and strange accents of spaced-out synth sounds. This whole record is incredible, whether you're as much of a weirdo as Women or prefer the sweet, folk harmonies of acts like Fleet Foxes, I would really recommend giving this a listen.
Banny Grove is the demented Mary Poppins starring in your Disney channel-themed, acid-fueled, alternate reality. It's in times like these that I default to annoyingly odd descriptions because Banny Grove's latest EP, "Cars in Control," is certainly goofy and uncannily hard to describe. I actually had the pleasure of seeing Banny Grove in Denver a couple months ago, the experience was totally overwhelming and one of the best shows I’ve seen in a minute.
Banny Grove's music is a whacked-out appropriation of pop. Bright synths and bouncy beats drive her music forward as she experiments with operatic vocals and nonsensical lyrics. Acting as the alter ego of Los Angeles' Louise Chicoine, Banny goes farther than the music. The costumes, dancing and banter breach on performance art. She's wackier than most but in a refreshing way as her art certainly doesn't come off as contrived. While it may be abstract, it's neither intimidating nor highbrow. She paints an intentionally childish caricature that invites a youthful silliness, standing in opposition to the common pretenses of the experimental music world.
This EP is freaky and absurd. Maybe that's your cup of tea, or maybe you're looking for something way out of your comfort zone. Either way, it's definitely worth checking out. If you dig it, her first record "Who is She?" and everything else out on Nicey Music is just as out there and interesting.
There's so much more to talk about and not nearly enough time, but I've actually started up a new radio show to help remedy that. It's called Foreplay, where I walk through all of the new music we're spinning from 5 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday. Head on over to Radio 1190 to check it all out: 1190 AM, 98.9 FM in Boulder or online at radio1190.org.