Since 1989 Slumberland Records has been releasing numerous albums in an attempt to serve as a flagship for indie music. Here’s a look at their greatest releases, indie, punk, and everything in between.
10. Jane Pow: Love It, Be It (1993)
Love It, Be It is by far one of the biggest hidden gems. Sounding like they belong to the 60’s, Jane Pow is an incredibly lively pop-rock band on a mission. Each song off their 1993 album is like a time-travel trip. Energetic bass beats, keyboard interludes, and hazy vocals piece together the otherwise great album that is Jane Pow’s Love It, Be It.
MP3: Jane Pow “Sound Barrier”
9. Henry’s Dress: Henry’s Dress (1995)
A bit psychedelic, a bit punk, a bit shoegaze, it’s not hard to understand why Henry’s Dress self titled album made it up onto this list. Each track is a little different, yet maintains an extremely definitive style marked with heavily distorted guitars, repetitive and vicious drum beats, and distant vocals. Furthermore, from a strictly Slumberland standpoint, Henry’s Dress has a much heavier tone, adding some much needed spice to an otherwise tame label.
MP3: Henry’s Dress “Sally Wants”
8. Boyracer: More Songs About Frustration and Self Hate (1994)
1994 was a big year for Boyracer. Since their formation in 1990, and several EP releases, Boyracer had undergone several reformations. Losing and gaining band members was common ground. Finally, with a new lineup, in 1994 Boyracer released their first big full length, More Songs About Frustration and Self Hate. The album is characteristically 90’s, with the first track, “A Friend For Life,” giving off some very Green Day-esque punk vibes, and then later their twelfth track, “Hatemail,” taking on a more grunge feel. If Boyracer’s ’94 album did anything right, it’s pumping raw emotion through instruments to pump out song after song reminiscent of frustration and self hate.
MP3: Boyracer “Skill”
7. The Lodger: Grown-Ups (2007)
The 90’s were a great time for Slumberland Records, while still fairly fresh (after all, Slumberland only started this gig in 89), they had a ton of awesome albums to come out, but this little number slipped it’s way in several years after the 90’s ended. The Lodger’s debut album, Grown-Ups, sits safely at number eight. The Lodger
is indescribably charismatic, energetic, sincere, and just a plain blast to listen to. But what really makes “Grown-Ups” is how true-to-genre they feel. 2007 wasn’t a magnificent year for music, but The Lodger somehow managed to put out a fantastic indie-pop album that packed some classic indie charm in a breath of fresh air.
MP3: The Lodger “Many Thanks for Your Honest Opinion”
6. Lorelei: Everyone Must Touch The Stove (1995)
Where to begin with Lorelei? Everyone Must Touch The Stove was an album way ahead of it’s time. Each track is so incredibly well put together it’s absurd –especially considered Everyone Must Touch The Stove is awfully noisy. A mish-mash of instruments, heavy distortion, and shoegaze melodies really force the listener to take a deep breath and just listen for once.
MP3: Lorelei “Stop What You’re Doing”
5. Sarandon: Kill Twee Pop (2008)
Sarandon‘s second album, Kill Twee Pop has the joy of coming in at number five of Slumberland Records’ Greatest Releases. The album is incredibly powerful. Fuzz and ferocity packed into aggressive melodies with just as gnarly lyrics and vocals. Kill Twee Pop is music for those of us who are beat, tired, and jaded. When whiny kids singing into their indie loving mics gets to be too much for you, Sarandon will be waiting to take you in and put a smile on your face.
MP3: Sarandon “Mike’s Dollar”
4. Weekend: Sports (2010)
Four words come to mind when I think of Weekend‘s album Sports: Loud, Haunting, Fuzzy, Composed. Sports is an incredible post-something album. Noisy, distorted, just plain harsh guitars practically scream through your speakers as layers and layers of texture are built. But there’s a fine line between noise and noise rock, and Weekend really finds a way to stay tame and composed enough to remain accessible while still being as wild as they want. The 2010 release of Sports is an absolute must listen for post-rock, noise-rock, and shoegaze fans.
MP3: Weekend “Age Class”
3. Crystal Stilts: In Love With Oblivion (2011)
Crystal Stilts 2011 album, In Love With Oblivion, is one of those albums you can’t help but feel like a total badass listening to. From the time you hit the play button to the time silence befalls your speakers, you’re transported into a very ad Max world where you’re speeding down the road in a fit of glory, rage, and coolness. The first track of the album, “Sycamore Tree,” is something so incredibly simple yet rad. That bass rhythm and guitar riff, coupled with some wispy vocals create easily one of the best songs of 2011. The rest of the album is just as solid. Be it the deep tones or hauntingly atmospheric vocals, “In Love With Oblivion” is one hell of a listen.
MP3: Crystal Stilts “Sycamore Tree”
2. The Ropers: All The Time (1995)
The Ropers are one of those bands who had it going from day one. Having had released several EPs, many fans were awaiting The Ropers’ first full length album, All The Time. The band doesn’t waste any time and from the beginning of the album you’ll get one of the best indie-pop songs out there, “Revolver.” As things transition to track two, “Flashlight,” the mood mellows out a little bit, and you’re serenaded by some clean, refreshing guitar sounds and carefully formed lyrics. Then, later on, things pick up and get rolling again. The fourth track, “You Have a Light” has some highly ecstatic drum rhythms, and the entire piece is just wonderful. It’s not hard to see, The Ropers’ “All The Time” is easily one of the best albums Slumberland Records has ever had the joy to release.
MP3: The Ropers “Drive”
1. Rocketship: A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness (1996)
Dustin Reske, Verna Brock, Jim Rivas, and Heidi Barney, released several EPs leading up to A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness that built some serious hype. Twee fans everywhere were watching Rocketship like hawks as the band prepared to release their first album, and when it launched, expectations were met (and then some). There’s no doubt, A Certain Smile, A certain Sadness is fantastic in every way. The dreamy, swoony, hyper-emotional and shoegazey tracklist is magnificent and beautiful. Songs like, “Let’s Go Away,” and “Friendships and Love,” make this album an absolute necessity for any indie fan. But it’s not so simple.
Just about anywhere you look, you’ll see that A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness is an eight song album, and not a single song more. But that’s wrong.
A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness is a musical manifestation of the stages of a breakup. From the lead up when you’re still madly in love, to the aftermath, and the days of recovery that come long after. But that’s just the thing, the original eight songs we’re all so used to doesn’t include after the emotional wounds have healed. Enough beating around the bush, following the release of A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness, Rocketship released three more songs (as singles), that were originally meant to show up on this album. “Your New Boyfriend,” “Like A Dream,” and “It’s Going to be Soon” were all supposed to be on A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness. Who made that judgement call and why? Who knows.
While “Friendships and Love” may be a real tear jerker that ends Rocketship’s otherwise perfect album on a completely depressed note, it’s the three follow up tracks that complete the experience. Overall, Rocketship’s A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness takes first place as Slumberland Record’s number one release.
MP3: Rocketship “We’re Both Alone”