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Blur

90s Britpop Gets a Lick of Cali Sun in Port Streets’ Love Story Lament, Dream Girl, Decide

Butter wouldn’t melt on the bitter-sweet melancholy in the latest 90s Britpop-rooted single from the independent Orange County, CA-residing artist, Port Streets.

Dream Girl, Decide is a surreally imaginative lament over a mentally hospitalised loved one. I mean, is there any more definitive sign of the times than that? We’re all losing our marbles in dating pools scattered with them, but cute sentiments still stand over the lush organ lines and blissfully pure vocal harmonies.

The Blur influence finds just the right level of nuance, avoiding assimilation from the strength of the rays on the blissfully constructed indie rock hit that uses Grandaddy-Esque synths and hooky guitar lines to seal this track’s place in your synapses.

Dream Girl, Decide is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

How to Define Indie Music?

There are no short answers when it comes to the definition of indie music. While some use indie to describe where artists of all genres are at in the industry, it has also become synonymous with an edgy guitar-based pop sound over the years.

Today, indie is an extension of the music that the indie pioneers created when they started to break away from the big four record labels (EMI, Warner, Universal and Sony). To definitively understand the definition of indie music, we have to get to grips with how it came around and became a descriptor for a particular off-kilter sonic style

A Micro History of Indie

The indie uprising started in the 1970s – although the roots of independent music go back to the soul, blues and Motown independent labels in the 50s. In the 70s, distinctions arose between artists on major record labels and artists independent of them.

The new wave, post-punk and alternative music releases in the late 70s started to fall under the indie category while picking up traction amongst music fans eager to hear music that was far more visceral, real and experimental. This new aural hunger led to Tony Wilson creating a roster at Factory Records, Daniel Miller establishing Mute and Chris Parry following suit with his label, Fiction, in 1978.

The Manchester-based outfit, The Smiths, were a pivotal part of UK Indie history; once they were on the Rough Trade roster in the mid-80s, they created a cultural movement with their politically aware, socially conscious and poetically morose lyrics. The Smiths inspired countless acts keen to emanate the jangle-pop guitars and the hooky despite the melancholy energy. Just a few of the indie acts that are under the influence of the Smiths are Blur, Pulp, The XX, Frightened Rabbit and The Killers.

Indie started to manifest in the industry in plenty of other ways from the 80s onwards, from indie dance to indie folk to indie hip hop, swathes of artists started to adopt the DIY ethos after watching the success of indie pioneers, such as Joy Division and Depeche Mode. Although indie artists are experimental as a default, the genre amassed characteristics over the years, such as bands having a cultural identity, almost existentialist mentality and being heavier than pop but lighter than rock.

The indie acts springing up under Sub Pop in Seattle in the 80s were far noisier and more discordant than UK indie acts. The independent label, Sub Pop, signed Soundgarden, Mudhoney and Sonic Youth and gave way to the grunge era that defined the 90s in America.

Technically, when independent artists, such as REM and Nirvana, signed multi-million-dollar record deals with major labels, they should have lost their indie status. Instead, their indie status remained for the culture that all of the indie bands since the 70s collectively created.

Today, indie music isn’t *quite* as popular as it was when it peaked in the 90s, but there are still thriving independent grassroots music scenes all across the UK and across the globe. In 2021, independent artists can take advantage of countless indie music blogs, indie playlists, indie radio stations and indie magazines to grow their fanbases away from major labels.

Martin Paul Cuthew has released his soul-saving feat of Indie Pop ‘Stand Tall’

With harmonies which find themselves somewhere between the timbre of Blur and the Beach Boys, Martin Paul Cuthew’s progressive soul-saver of a single ‘Stand Tall’ starts to unravel. By the time the hooky chorus hits, Indie Punk Folk influences start to fall into the mix in a way that would leave any fans of Frank Turner enamoured.

The lockdown-born single was orchestrated to instil optimism and determination in the downtrodden. It’s a powerful Pop Rock reminder that growth is something to take hold of with positivity instead of grief and fear. It’s a nuanced way of saying that life is too short to fill it with salty tears.

You can check out Stand Tall for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Asleep by Hola Chica – the stylish combo

Not even a couple of seconds into this song and I’ve already recalled some pleasant memories of my Indie Pop years when I was addicted to acts like Two Door Cinema Club, Foals, and my holy worshipped Blur.

The 5-piece band from Barcelona, Hola Chica, ingenuously revisit the late 2000’s style in a fresh and danceable fashion with their latest single Asleep.

With a glittery and glossy sound, Asleep is a smooth effort that combines catchy pop melodies with a generous fix of synths while continuing to rely its structural base on guitars in pure Indie Pop style.

If you add the fact that besides wanting to sing along, you’ll be dragged to dance to the disco-ish rhythm, you know they’ve found a stylish combo.

Head over Youtube to listen to Asleep for yourself.

Review by Jim Esposito.

Irish Indie Rock Duo Mute The TV have made their debut with their unique Brit Pop revival track “With You”

Up and coming Indie Duo Mute The TV’s debut single “With You” invites you to delve back into the nostalgia of Brit Pop whilst putting a brand-new sticky-sweet psychedelic spin on the iconic 90s sound.

With the increments of symphonic melodicism, the Irish duo’s dynamic approach to production and their tongue-in-cheek romantically enamouring lyrics, it’s impossible not to warm to this accordant tonally cathartic track. Any fans of Blur will definitely want Mute The TV on their radar.

We’re already stoked to hear what comes next. It’s not all too often that we get to hear debut tracks which are expressive as they are infectious.

You can check out Mute The TV’s debut single With You which was released on April 17th for yourselves by heading over to Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

A&R Factory Present: False Heads

The past few months have seen the ‘Godfather of punk’ himself, Iggy Pop, singing the young trio’s praises and name-checking them along Sleaford Mods and Skepta as one of his favourite artists right now (“These kids make a lot of noise. I like it!”). After being blown away by their live show, Ex-Ramones manager Danny Fields excitedly declared the band as “the future of rock n’ roll”, while The Libertines’ Gary Powell quickly signed up the young upstarts to his 25 Hour Convenience Store label.

NME, Clash Magazine, Q Magazine, Artrocker, Drowned In Sound, 6Music, Radio X and BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens have also all waded in with support and praise for the trio’s delinquent, punk-driven assault, that finds themselves caught somewhere between the early grunge of Foo Fighters, the infectious songwriting of Pixies, and the snotty punk attitude of The Buzzcocks.

Following two early DIY EP releases (‘Tunnel Vision’ and ‘Wear and Tear’), False Heads were invited in to Pete Townsend’s studio earlier this spring to cut a series of new tracks, and ‘Thick Skin’ is the first single to emerge from those sessions – a perfect riot of energetic, leering bawdiness that is released on July 1st, and sets another huge marker for a band whose remarkable rise is seemingly unstoppable. ‘Thick Skin’ is released through 25 Hour Convenience Store on July 1st 2016, available from all good digital stores. False Heads have also announced a series of new live dates in their hometown, including a performance at the Camden Rocks festival in June, and at The Roundhouse this July to celebrate 40 years of punk.