Various Artists

Family Album

Grass Roots; June 2007

The problem with the majority of the songs in this compilation is that they begin promisingly but quickly grow tiresome. Mariee Sioux’s “Two Tongues at One Time” opens with an overflowing acoustic guitar and fluttering vocals, but after six minutes becomes obnoxious. The standard folk tunes by Alela Diane, Aaron Ross, and Golden Shoulders are nothing to get excited about either. While many of the bands sound almost identical, Hella’s instrumental “Friday the 13th,” with its wildly erratic percussion and distorted guitar, is completely out of sync with the others. Ultimately, Grass Roots’s Family Album is like any other family reunion: There’s nothing unexpected, it goes on longer than you’d like, and there’s that crazy uncle who doesn’t belong. -Kevin Spracher

The Little Heroes

Cinematic Americana

Wednesday Records; March 2007

Can The Little Heroes save music? Opening with the breathy “Flight Plans for Airplanes” on their debut album, Cinematic Americana, the band sounds as though it is ready to take part in the next Zach Braff compilation album (Garden State 2, anybody?). Don’t let this mellow first track fool you. The tempo picks up with “September Falls” and stays consistent throughout the album (besides the acoustic ballad “Come On” and the last track “September Calls”). They hit a nostalgic note, echoing bands such as R.E.M. and the Gin Blossoms, but give us a taste of modern indie rock as well. They may not save music, but The Little Heroes bring a diverse, melodic electroshock to the industry. -Jessica Small

Satellite Party

Ultra Payloaded

Columbia; May 2007

The debut from Perry Farrell’s latest band, Satellite Party, is as unique as anyone would expect from the former Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros frontman. With contributions from Fergie and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea and John Frusciante, Ultra Payloaded is a concept album that fuses dance beats and rock. Farrell’s howling voice keeps things upbeat, although the final track, “Woman in the Window,” which samples vocals from Jim Morrison, is the real highlight. There are definitely weaknesses (most notably the drab ballad “Awesome,” which just feels out of place), but they’re easily lost and forgotten amongst wonderfully chaotic high points. It’s Farrell’s best project since Jane’s Addiction, and it’s a real party. -Michael Baker

Andrew Bird

Armchair Apocrypha

Fat Possum; March 2007

The 12 varied and richly layered tracks that comprise Armchair Apocrypha, the latest offering from singer/songwriter Andrew Bird, are welcome additions to the artist’s already extensive discography. On standout tracks like “Plasticities,” Bird condemns our penchant for the economically efficient yet aesthetically drab, and vows to “fight for our music halls and dying cities” atop an intricate fusion of electric guitar, pizzicato violin, and his trademark ethereal whistling. Bird’s fascinatingly eccentricand at times inaccessiblelyricism is cast aside on two instrumental tracks. The best of the two is the album’s closer, “Yawny at the Apocalypse,” in which he evokes a mournful Ravi Shankar while simultaneously solidifying a wildly inventive sound all his own. -Joel Aurora

This column features writers participating in the Almost Independent contest. To read more of their entries and to vote for your favorite, visit and click on the Almost Independent button.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.