Being in an indie band is a tough gig—literally. With no label to provide financial support for recording, promotion or touring, it’s all on your dime. Add to that the proliferation of streaming media services and you’re competing with hundreds—if not thousands—of other bands, all trying to get noticed.
Given all of the above, many indies are choosing to forgo putting out albums in favor of EP’s, or even singles. It does make financial sense: to pour time, funding and emotions into a full album that might sink without a trace, save for family and friends, has to be unbelievably frustrating. Going the route of releasing singles is much easier all around.
The band Sleep Science is based in Vancouver BC, and like most indie bands, they’re working on a shoestring budget. They’ve recently put out a single entitled Sounds of the Underground, which is a great track in itself (more on that soon). However, they do have a leg up on the competition in that the song was produced by Rick Parker, who has quite a pedigree in music. He’s produced albums by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Dandy Warhols, as well as music for numerous commercials, TV shows and feature films. Bassist Dan Lomonaco explains how the band hooked up with Parker: “Early 2016 we were searching for great producers in the US or Canada to help elevate the material we had written. I had stumbled across a management site for producers and seen Rick’s profile with discography, and was a fan of a lot of the bands he was producing like Black Rebel Motorcycle club, Scott Weiland, Dandy Warhol’s etcetera, so we just thought we would give it a shot. We send him our demos that we were intending on recording, and he dug it.”
Sounds of the Underground is the first of three songs that came out of those sessions and will be followed by another later this year, with the third in early 2018.
So, what can be said about the first effort? Sounds of the Underground is a masterpiece of what really good indie rock music is all about. The song has a complex time signature that is so far from a straight 4/4 rock tune that it immediately hooks the listener in, with complicated drum, bass and guitar parts all working independently, yet somehow holding together. Drummer Alex Moscrip and Lomonaco are masters of their instruments, up to the task at hand. Lead vocalist/guitarist Taylor Nichol has a pleasing, melodic voice, but he still manages to convey the urgency and intensity of the lyrics.
At the bridge of the song, the time shifts to a more straightforward rock beat, while Nichol hits a high wail, showing his vocal range. As the song goes back into the chorus, the bass drops out for a few measures (a classic trick that builds dramatic tension) before cutting back in. From beginning to end, it’s a frenetic musical ride on a runaway subway, which makes the lyric video perfectly fitting:
If the two upcoming songs are as good at this one, then Sleep Science really has a chance at standing out among the indie crowd—and deservedly so.