I would venture to guess that there are more musicians who grew up playing in their school jazz band than there are musicians who grew up actively playing shows with their friends inspired by the Modest Mouse albums they found in their older siblings’ bedroom. (Only one of those two things is an after-school program that your parents usually push you into and can adequately explain to your loved ones). If you think about it, it makes sense that there’s a connection between high school jazz bands and indie rock, but as these bands start to sound more and more influenced by free-form noodles, improvisation and progressive structures, maybe it’s time we should fix that.
Such a group, Spirits have fun, celebrates the release of his second LP today, and takes this opportunity to highlight this observation with a dense playlist composed of tracks that echo their own sense of adventurous riffing and left-turning percussion. With peers like Moontype, Wombo, Floatie and Palberta in mind – not to mention Deerhoof, the movement’s rightful godfathers – the band’s Andrew Clinkman-assembled song collection does a lot to contextualize Of themThe indie rock ethos forged by musicians who may have bought a fedora as a teenager but were too scared to wear it in public.
Stream the playlist below and read on for Clinkman’s insights and be sure to check it out Of them here.
Wombo, “Sad World”
The Wombo’s are our Lower Midwest favourites, I love the way they build those super tight spinning grooves where sometimes it’s hard to tell where a phrase starts and ends.
Hennen, “Root for”
Brilliant track from Hannah Rainey’s solo project of Shady Bug. I love Hannah’s guitar playing and how she lets every riff linger and have a moment in this song.
Locate S, 1, “Community Porn”
Christina Schneider is a friend of the band and one of our favorite songwriters! Truly a supreme melody maker.
Izzy True, “Angel Band”
I believe Izzy performed in our very first show, and many since. They are a real rock star. I love this record so much, and the bass/guitar riff from “Angel Band” lives rent-free in my head.
Carrie Furniss, “Bitter and Sweet”
A brand new song by Carrie who has been a dear friend of mine for about a decade and a half. This one is shimmering ultra-pop, and the directivity of the hook has the power of ten thousand laser beams.
Zach Phillips, “Heaven a Smile”
I feel like Zach produced three of my favorite records of the last decade in the span of about six months. Ma Clement’s brooding voice surfs the turbulent chord changes. There’s so much activity here and yet the whole thing manages to be snappy as hell.
One of our favorite Chicago bands. Sam Bern’s main riff bursts above the bar line with rare beauty. Lots of irregular rhythmic things happening here, and yet the song flows so well. I think about this song a lot.
Creative Healing, “Cow Paws”
Full disclosure: 50% of minds having fun also belong to Creative Healing. I really like this record they released earlier this year. Almost unclassifiable intersection of free jazz, old times and many other things. Andy Allen and Mia Friedman are top notch geniuses that I cherish.
Deerhoof, “Bad Time Capsule”
Deerhoof are masters of loose, flowing, infectious grooves and huge riffs. This song is one of our favorites from the catalog. The offbeat entry of guitar, bass and drums is one of my favorite musical moments. It generates so much forward propulsion; feels like a rock band falling down the stairs.
Ruth Garbus, “Pitiful Poetry”
Ruth is a treasure. It draws immense beauty from these rare ingredients. How does she do it? Hildegard von Bingen by Joni Mitchells.
Palberta, “Red Antz”
Modern masters of dissonance as consonance. Their hooks have so much life and you never seem to hear them the same way twice.
Moon type, “Stuck on you”
Beloved darlings. I love so much how they present Margaret’s weird and gnarly songs in such a buttoned up and polished way that sounds so great. Every time I listen (I’ve done it many, many times), something hidden deep within the song reveals itself to me. Endless treats for every listener.
Ryan Power, “The Cavalry”
Ryan’s music has been cherished by all of us for the past decade. He makes songs that I compulsively start over as soon as they are finished. Just perfect music. Ryan also mixed and mastered “Two”!
Kevin Wynd, “Is It Time to Get Sentimental?”
Kevin Wynd is our sworn enemy. At least one song on our new record is an extremely focused diss track directed at him (I’ll dedicate a three-second guitar riff to anyone who can correctly guess which one). This song still rocks.
Secret brother, “I didn’t mean to tell you”
Michael is a wonderful musician and songwriter. Kim Mayo, who is featured on this track, has quite simply one of my favorite voices on planet earth.
Borey Shin, “Thank you, sigh”
Borey is the key secret weapon to so many beloved projects over the years and a great person to boot. This piece reminds me of an ornate music box given to you by your grandmother – the melody sings in your heart for eternity.
Chris Weisman, “Socrates”
Chris Weisman has been incredibly prolific over the past 20 years. Listening to his discography is like exploring an endless network of caves, each containing the strangest and most exquisite crystals I have ever seen. One of the eminent masters of melody.
Dorothea Paas, “Not Everything Can Happen”
Another installment in what appears to be the best year in recorded music in recent memory. I love how Dorothea lets each sentence breathe and develop and come to its own organic conclusion. Plus, I mimic the huge, epic drum fill that happens almost precisely to the golden section of the song 100% of the time I listen to it.
sundog, “Made It Thru”
What a lush and beautiful guitar texture this is. Jon’s voice has such soulful immediacy in the way the melody just hangs on the edge of the break in his voice for most of the song until he finally bursts through it, producing a glorious yodelling.
Old and strange, “Kirkobain”
I love Old & Weird! Their songs sound so free and lively. A legitimately loose melody. First shown to me by a dear friend of the band Julia Dratel, who directed the “Entropy Transfer Partners” music video.
Jolee Gordon, “I Can’t See It”
Delicious pop. Melodies that change and bend before coming to an end point. You can’t predict or ‘see’ where they are going, just surrender to the song and follow – the painting of the words, I think!
@, “Friendship is the frequency”
This record caught me off guard! It’s so good, and this song in particular has this quality of feeling like it’s always existed somewhere in the universe and Stone and Victoria discovered it for the world to see.
you bet, “Cycle”
youbet rocks! This track looks like a pot of pasta with the lid simmering and could overflow at any moment, but it remains suspended in this zone of maximum kinetic intensity.