I've decided to re-launch the Lil' Indie Round-Up with less snark but no less brutal honesty. Hopefully this is more useful.Ain't No Surprise by Leopold and His Fiction
What Do They Sound Like??: Kind of a bluesy White Stripes 60s garage rock-ish sound meets Bob Dylan's mid 60s electric period. Maybe some Loaded era Velvet Underground. Maybe. The singer sounds like Jack White on the rock songs and Devendra Banhart on the slow/acoustic songs.
Buy, Meh, Bleh: Meh. This band's first problem is that they don't have any hooks in their songs. There's no melody or line or thing that draws you in and keeps you coming back. Their second problem is that the two best songs on here--the title track and 'Tiger Lily'--are basically rip offs of other, better songs. 'Ain't No Surprise' literally is 'Tombstone Blues' by Bob Dylan. You're a fucking liar if you can listen to this song and not say "is this a cover??" Meanwhile, 'Tiger Lily' is such a Devendra Banhart sound-alike that I guarantee I could play this for a friend and convince them it was a B-side. Ultimately, this band isn't terrible. They're just unoriginal and unremarkable.
Larrabee by Movers & Shakers
What Do They Sound Like??: A singer who either sounds like Elvis Costello or any old punk hollerer combined with a band who spend an entire album trying to decide what they are: a rustic indie rock band or a slightly more polished and rustic version of The Clash?? Place your bets now on how many members have beards.
Buy, Meh, Bleh: Meh. This album starts off fairly promisingly with the Fleet Foxes-esque vocal harmonies on 'Adventures In An Unrealistic Life.' But from there the lyrics either say too little with too many words or merely say too little while the music grows less interesting and somehow more generic despite making use of a decent variety of sounds. I dunno what it is, but when I listen to this album I feel like I see everything coming. There's no sense of surprise or discovery here. The singer is extremely limited and it doesn't work for the band like it can for some (David Berman, take a bow) and the music never delivers any kind of revelatory moment or melody. I've listened to it twice and I can't remember much except that I kind of like the first song.
We Are The Mystery Tramps EP by The Mystery Tramps
What Do They Sound Like??: If you grew up in the 90s, I'm willing to bet your high school had a local band or two that had a vaguely punk pop/rock sound, like Blink 182 without the dick/fart jokes, maybe. That's what this band sounds like. They look and sound young.
Buy, Meh, Bleh: BLEH. I have to confess that I wanted to like this band because hey, they named themselves after a Dylan lyric. Unfortunately they don't live up to it, not nearly. They're just too god damn young and their music sounds it. I have a journal or two full of just these kind of amateurish "meaningful" lyrical sentiments like "everyone's an actor" (woah, that's like, deep...in all fairness, most of my stuff was as bad if not worse), but the only people that teenagers can speak to is teenagers, ultimately. If you aren't (literally) retarded or under the age of 20, you'll find it insulting that a group of kids who can't even grow facial hair let alone buy wine claim to know anything about being a "tramp" or anything that Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone' says. I speak from experience when I say that anyone who hasn't had their heart broken, went hungry for most of a day, or woken up to puke and then went back to bed to sleep off the rest of a hangover has nothing to say. Nothing. Look at that album cover, a group of middle-to-upper class teens who think suffering is having their cellphone taken away in class.
And the conceit of having an "encore" version of a song is almost too much.
Of course, let me make clear that their music is no good either. Unless you're really into high school pop/punk bands...And even if you are, you're better off picking up a cheap used copy of Enema Of The State at your local independent record store and pretending you're buying it as a joke.