Indie Rock: Meet the 2014 RFT Music Award Nominees
The 2014 Riverfront Times Music Showcase will be held this year on June 7 in the Grove! Think of it as St. Louis music's own official holiday and consider this the season. Throughout May we at RFT Music will be making our cases for all 140 bands and artists nominated for an RFT Music Award this year, so that you will be able to make a fully informed decision with regards to your vote. Read on and get yourself acquainted, and we'll see you at the showcase!
See also: Vote Now For the 2014 RFT Music Awards
It's another lazy summer Saturday afternoon in St. Louis. You're looking for the perfect soundtrack for hitting the hammock with a cool Arnold Palmer after tending your organic kale garden and playing fetch with your Saint Berdoodle. There's a perfect soundtrack somewhere for you, but it sure as fuck isn't Aquitaine. With guitars cranked to eleven to the eleventh power and all the harmonic texture of the Brit-pop-loving bands it aims to rock swirls around, Aquitaine holds exactly nothing back. Not content to release just one CD called American Pulverizer, the band put out Pulverizer Part 2 this year -- fans of loud, expert guitar rock would do well to check it out.
New-wavey indie-pop band Bear Hive has both kinds of chemistry: organic and synthetic. Formed through high school friendship, Chris Phillips, Nate Heininger and Joel Burton sound like three guys bonding over a love of Echo and the Bunnymen and Depeche Mode records. They also synthesize everything else they just happen to think will make for a good song. On the EP Mountain to Mountain, Bear Hive puts a premium on dynamics, shifting through dark and quiet guitar interludes and proggy synth doodles before bursting into the kind of dance-pop only math-rockers-at-heart can make.
At this point, one could make the argument that Humdrum is basically a St. Louis indie-rock supergroup. The quintet is composed of members from local stalwarts Syna So Pro, Union Electric, Née and Pat Sajak Assassins. But to throw the "supergroup" tag on it would almost cheapen its merit and completely overlook the innovative vision of core singers/songwriters Dan Meehan and Paul Maguire. Altogether, the group has a remarkable ability to craft accessible pop songs that are layered with angular hooks, cockeyed timing and timeless, undeniable melodies. These compositions particularly shine on the band's newest Steve Albini-recorded and Tiny Telephone-mixed EP, We Are Electricity.
It's been a good, if trying, twelve months for Pretty Little Empire. The quartet's third, self-titled LP came out last fall, distilling much of what makes the band's evocative, emotionally knotty music so special. Shortly thereafter, drummer Evan O'Neal decamped to California, though his drum throne has been ably filled by Bruiser Queen's Jason Potter. The interplay of Justin Johnson's full-bore, open-hearted songwriting and Will Godfred's carefully chosen guitar lines remains the band's animating force. The record is good, but the live show is where Pretty Little Empire shines brightest. Those attending this fall's LouFest will see that for themselves as the band takes the big stage to cap off its most momentous year yet.
Sometimes it takes an outsider to appreciate a city's potential and subtle charm. This is certainly true in Sleepy Kitty's case. You'd be hard pressed to find more dedicated St. Louis champions than drummer Evan Sult and guitarist/vocalist Paige Brubeck; they've effectively used the city as a muse, as evidenced by lyrics like, "What do you do when you're born in 63118?" On Projection Room, the band's second and latest album, SK stayed true to its two-piece lineup while broadening its musical scope. The record is cinematic enough to work as background music to a laser planetarium show (which actually happened last year) yet taut enough to be the work of a fine local rock band.