Indie record labels are the mom-and-pop stores of the music business. Ditch the chains and look for the homegrown place, as the indie labels are what keeps the music business interesting, offering a genuine product in an at times a not so genuine industry.
Picking up where we left off last week, here are the remainder of my favorites of 2022.
One-time Gourd Jimmy Smith moved about as far away from Austin as he could a few years back, relocating to Missoula, Montana, and taking his quirky music with him. He met and started making music with Montana blues dude Pat McKay, and their debut is a base of stellar musicianship, featuring Smith’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics over a bed of back-alley funk. There’s the funky pop of “Back to School Savings” and the thump of “It’s People,” which nods to the film “Soylent Green.” It’s like a soundtrack for whipping around in the back of a pickup truck with Captain Beefheart.
The Sadies tragically lost founding member Dallas Good earlier this year, and this record serves as a miraculous send-off. “Colder Streams” continues their probe of surf, garage and psych-rock, where walls of sound back reverb-drenched twang while lyrics haunt and howl and the guitars stab and slash. “More Alone” is folk-noir, “Better Yet” is garage-punk, and the closer in “End Credits” are a brilliant blast of Spaghetti Western drama. This release continues to show that they remain in full command of every subgenre of independent rock music. The Sadies are the best.
Songwriter and novelist Willie Vlautin traded in his alt-country band Richmond Fontaine for a roots-soul act in The Delines, both serving as a vehicle for his writing. These songs remain audio vignettes told over a bed of sweet soul music. Gospel keys and subtle horns provide a music bed for these sordid tales of beat towns trying to beat down people, people who are all trying to hang on. “The Sea Drift” are all music short stories you’ll pull for “Kid Codeine” and dream of “Surfers in Twilight” and realize Vlautin remains a champion of indie music and champion of the underdog.
The frontman of Athens, Georgia’s Whigs has dropped an indie rock record with a lot to offer. The title track is mid-tempo and uber-catchy, while cuts like “You and I Forever” and “Moving On” are dream pop. “Evil Euphoria” is power-chords and riffage; “Do You Wanna Get Wild” and “Rock and Roll” are ripe for a stadium of fist-pumping; and “Stuck Inside Someone Elses’ Dream” features aggressive and bluesy slide guitar while moving at a thumping pace. The closer is “Come Together Now” with its thick guitar intro is a mesh of indie-garage and southern rock. The whole package is diverse enough to appeal to many, but they’re also tied in together enough to reveal that Gisbert keeps a lot of sounds up his sleeve.
Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz, known in the music realm as Fantastic Negrito, has found some middle ground between Sly Stone and Captain (mentioned twice now in this column!) Beefheart. Dabbling in psychedelic soul and spacey R&B, this record kicks off with avant-gospel in “Venomous Dogma,” dips into funky garage rock in “Niddabip” and experiments with hallucinogenic doo-wop on “In My Head.” There’s even sample- and sound-effect heavy electro-interludes in “Mayor of Wasteland” and “You Don’t Belong Here.” This must have been a fun record to make, putting no limits on production and no limits on influence, influences that come from the two aforementioned along with the best of Motown and Memphis, Hazel, Clinton, Collins and Worrell. This record is a vibrant, fun and funky groove.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.