Tag Archives: speedy ortiz

Top Five Lo-Fi Indie Albums of 2018 With Female Singers That We’re Listening To Right Now

26 Aug

This title may seem overly specific, but it’s a subgenre that I cannot get enough of and one that 2018 has been anomalously fruitful for. These albums are lo-fi not only in music but in topic, but it’s that lowering of stakes that’s what allows them to shine. I love this space for smaller stories

Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel

Courtney Barnett continues the long tradition of lo-fi indie rock set down by people like Pavement in the 90s. She’s more clever and more understated than her predecessors though. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit had a strong voice of its own and was a fantastic debut. Tell Me How You Really Feel is not quite up to the same standard. The understatement goes a little too far here and the album just feels muted.

She’s still an excellent musician and there are some real moments of cleverness, such as the put down to an anonymous troll in “Nameless, Faceless” or the happy roll of “Sunday Roast”. It’s a very solid album. It’s just also one that’s a little too quiet about what it has to say.

Clairo – diary 001

Bands get younger every year. It takes someone like Clairo to really bring that home to you though and to bring home just how talented these young stars are. Her hit song “Pretty Girl” is well worth the attention, but there’s a lot in here worth your attention.

She has a wonderful voice that blends mellowness and disaffection to the point that they’re indistinguishable. It’s manages to be deeply compelling though, standoffish or no, and gives you the space you need to submerge yourself in it.

Her music is young and whip-smart and earnest all at once. There’s a lot of craft underlying the album’s pose and every song was clearly assembled with care. For all of the softness and all of the understatement, there’s still quite a bit of muted fun in the effects around “B.O.M.D.” and “4EVER” is highly danceable pop.

Even with the short runtime of 14 minutes, there is a bit here that could have been removed safely, but there’s also as much actually worth listening to as most full releases.

Speedy Ortiz – Twerp Verse

Speedy Ortiz have always been the cleverest kids around. Sadie Dupuis is sharp and incisive enough to make a scalpel look like a foam bat and combines that with an unbelievable skill with poetry. With Twerp Verse, Speedy Ortiz has moved further into their own voice than even before. More opaque, more stripped-down and more rewarding than before, this album continues the evolution of this band into something that is more confidently their own.

Firstly, “Villain” is an exceptional song. The plainness of the lyrics highlights just how disturbing they are and the off-kilter timings of the song are disorienting and beautiful. “Lucky 88” is catchy and surprisingly Silversun Pickups-like for a band that once toured with Stephen Malkmus. “You Hate The Title” is really playful music as well.

As always, Speedy Ortiz are the smartest indie rockers around. They’re just much too good for you not to listen to.

Snail Mail – Lush

This is the most lo-fi of the albums here. It has deeply textured, hazy sounds that are very reminiscent of the recent fantastic Vagabon album. Her voice is wonderfully teenage though and so deeply sincere. This is the kind of debut that forces people to pay attention. For all that it is clearly part of a long tradition of ‘90s indie rock, it’s stunningly modern and derives from a wide variety of influences. It’s the rare album to live up to the promises of the title.

You can really see this in pieces like “Speaking Terms”, where the drawn out segments epitomize the lo-fi that I adore. The composition of the song perfectly introduces and then frames her voice. “Pristine” moves faster and the lyrics are personal and honest and then challenging of itself and so of you.

Strong, honest, layered and skillful, this is a startling debut and a strong statement of arrival.

Mitski – Be The Cowboy

We’ve saved the best for last with this list. Mitski’s previous album Puberty 2 was one of the best albums of 2016 and Be The Cowboy is, if anything, better. It’s exceedingly clever and complex and uses that to keep you off-balance the entire way through.

While it lacks anything on the level of the breakout single “Your Best American Girl” and steps into a more remote realm, the quality of the songs here are stunningly consistent. Whether it’s the threads of “Old Friend” or “Me And My Husband” that braid through each other to make a deeply layered narrative or the cleverness of the rise and then abrupt walk back of “Two Slow Dancers” or the knife-edge and thump of “Washing Machine Heart”, every one of these songs is just really good music.

Mitski just goes from strength to strength. She’s sharp, incisive and very human and Be The Cowboy is everything you could want from a lo-fi indie album in 2018.


Speedy Ortiz: Foil Deer

31 Aug

Foil Deer is an impressive step forward for an already impressive band. Their lyricism, always unparalleled, seems stronger than ever as especially seen in the posturing of “Raising the Skate” and storytelling of “The Graduates”. Complemented by the noisy, aggressive melodies underlying the lyrics, their entire album has a density of ideas that are rarely seen and are a pleasure, if an intense one, to listen to. This album exemplifies what has always seemed to be the Speedy Ortiz promise; well-crafted and intelligent indie rock.


Speedy Ortiz: Real Hair

6 Apr

Speedy Ortiz’s debut album released just about half a year ago, and we loved it, as did many others. Their latest EP, Real Hair continues their style of lo-fi 90’s inspired alternative rock and their trend of making amazing music.

This album is wish fulfillment of everyday dreams. “Shine Theory” speaks of leaving neighbors scary notes while they’re away at work. That’s the first step. That’s a throwaway dream. A common, fondly held kind of dream, but still to be discarded in a moment as is, quite correctly, that lyric. This is the setting, this is how you begin to understand that she is you and that I am you and that none of us are very nice. Still, I have dreams and you have dreams and she has dreams and this album is the satisfaction of them all.

Like its predecessor, Real Hair is a love letter to the early 90’s. Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. are unabashedly drawn from, but form a support, not a straightjacket. “Oxygal” for instance makes creative use of form to create a sound that would be dissonant were Speedy Ortiz not so good at their music. The guitars are excellent and Sadie Dupuis’ vocals amaze. The music itself is rough, defying the shininess endemic to modern alternative rock and leaving in its stead an honest commitment to the sound. Hero worship is a desire, not to be the person worshiped, but to have accomplished what that person has done. Speedy Ortiz here have written the perfect kind of love letter, a letter from one peer to another.

The lyrics cover standards of everyman life. Self-loathing and toxic relationships have never been far from the indie songwriter’s pen, but Sadie Dupuis is brutally honest and human as she goes over them. Additionally, the lyrics are nothing short of poetic. Self-deception and raw desires and all of the pettiness and glories of personal lives are mixed in the whirlwind that is this EP. Every time that you have felt hurt and trapped not only by the world, but by yourself, and was unable to communicate even to yourself why you hurt and just wished you could talk so that maybe you could begin to understand, Real Hair is the fulfillment of those wishes.

Real Hair is a wonderful four songs, and I highly recommend that you listen to it.If you’ve ever wished for another 90’s alternative rock album with excellent music and whip-smart lyrics, it turns out that Real Hair can satisfy that wish as well.


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