While a large part of a DJ’s job is to please the crowd with a song they love or a beat that grooves, another element altogether – usually when it’s time for arrivals, cocktail hour or dinner – is to provide a proper atmosphere. This is where song recognition, or a great dance song, aren’t as important, and an overall feel is. Often these times are a great place to spin songs that a crowd may have never heard of before, but that perfectly fits the mood.
Many clients that hire us really like that we know the obscure gems in a wide range of genres of music. But more and more, we’ve noticed that in the past few years clients are wanting their cocktail hours or dinners to feature indie music, which we loosely define as pop or rock outside the mainstream in that it’s often on a small record label, not as polished-sounding, or tends to offers a more offbeat or unfamiliar perspective. Some can only listen to indie music, while others may think it’s trying too hard to be different. Regardless, it’s a genre that seems to have grown at such an astounding pace over the past 25 years from when it was known as "college" or "alternative" rock that we’re not surprised more clients are wanting some kind of indie music at their events.
Since just after the turn of the millennium, a lot of indie bands began to bring back the lush guitars and synthesizer riffs, soaring choruses, and often angsty vocals of the ‘80s, as evident in the sound of now well-known bands like The Arcade Fire and The Killers. If you like this sound, as well as lesser-known bands using it, such as Interpol and M83, you’ll love the Swedish band The Mary Onettes.
Theiur album came out about a year ago, and I don't know exactly why they never got more of a buzz. Maybe there’s too many of these angsty bands around now, or maybe the band's record label has been crowded out by bigger indie labels, but whatever the case, forgive the "punny" name of the group. This band nails the majestic, moody, ‘80s sound as popularized by Echo & the Bunnymen, The Church, Modern English, the Jesus and Mary Chain and the like to such a exact degree that you could pass the album off to an indiepop geek as a long-unheralded album from England recorded around 1980 that influenced all the other bands from the time. All the elements are there: Slightly Gothic vocals? Check. Icily pretty synth riffs? Yep. Dirgy basslines? Uh-huh. Bittersweet melodies? Of course. This album is so influenced by this '80s mood that it even extends to its packaging – a stylishly austere Joy Division-like album cover.
But somehow, it all sounds quite fresh. It really shouldn’t, but because the last few years of hearing Coldplay, The Killers and Arcade Fire have made this old sound seem more like the sound of now then maybe it was then, to me the "flashback" associations aren't as powerful. But more so, I think the album is good simply because it's well-crafted and energetic: While the lyrics are a bit generic at times, most of the melodies are quite beautiful; each of many generation-old influences are added in just the right quantities, at just the right times; and the band plays with such focus in forging their rainy-day melancholy that this mood quickly establishes an authority over you.
Listen to samples of "Lost" and "Explosions," and see what you think.
The Mary Onettes – Explosions
The Mary Onettes – Lost