What is ‘indie’? The term has acquired such a variety of connotations—pejorative and celebratory and everything in between—that any attempted use of ‘indie’ has become muddled and direly unspecific. You’re almost better off trying to use the term ‘hipster.’ These days, major label signees that garner millions of views on YouTube pass as ‘indie,’ and music publications owned by corporate conglomerates hold troubling amounts of tastemaking power, obscuring their innate middlebrow nature behind assertions of ‘indie-ness’ and ‘progressivity.’
From this indefiniteness springs Gallon Man Records’s four-way split, which begins with “They Might Be Giant Eagle Market District” by Fatal Manservant, a breezy tune that could function as a theme song for an animated series. The vocals in particular dazzle, as the singer sounds like the bastard offspring of Jeff Mangum and an especially energetic small dog, most likely a Chihuahua. The track’s lack of length, however, suggest the members comprising Fatal Manservant may have staged one too many Zentropy sing-a-longs.
DEBATE’s “GENE” is the second song on the cassette, and by far the least inventive. Basically just ‘dad-rock,’ but not even, like, ‘cool dad-rock.’ If you’re in seventh grade and in the backseat of your family’s car headed to some family vacation and this song came on the speakers, it would probably be the moment in which you exclaim, “Jesus Christers, you’re a geezer dad and you just need to accept that fact.”
Bibliophile’s “Sunset Peninsula Infield II” represents the nadir of this otherwise promising release. The musicians bumble about for a seemingly eternal six minutes. It sounds like a high school garage band decided that ska punk just wasn’t their thing, took too many tranquilizers, and then tried playing free jazz. Around the two-minute mark, something like a trombone can be heard.
The highlight of the four-way split is certainly its concluding track by idigholes, sure to delight fans of Mac DeMarco and Kenny Winker with its irreverent sense of humor. Asking provocatively, “Do you want a piece of the Pop-Tart?,” this track entreats listeners to ponder the infinitude of problems regarding our contemporary existences, such as “Do I want a piece of the Pop-Tart?,” “What flavor of Pop-Tart is it?,” and “How were my parents dumb enough to give me these things for breakfast?” Of course, such questions elude easy answers; however, their mere articulation represents a bold first step from a talented bunch of young’uns.