Foster The People is a newer indie pop/rock band from Los Angeles California, who have recently made some big splashes and waves with the independent music scene over the last several months. The band formed in 2009 after some of the members had experimenting with a hip hop project before forming Foster and the People, which was changed to Foster The People After the viral success of “Pumped Up Kicks,” a song addressing homicide and gun violence, and getting buzz from several highly credible internet promotion sites, such as NPR and The Hype Machine, this band has made an incredible album called “Torches.” You can also say the music festival circuits have treated them well too, with gigs at South By Southwest, Coachella, and Sasquatch to name a few. You can also see them perform on Jimmy Kimmel too.
I can go on about the awesomeness of the new Columbine anthem “Pumped Up Kicks” and it’s catchy chorus. Apparently, the music video went viral after blogs started giving the band props, and eventually it caught on with the rest of the internet music crowd. Originally, with lyrics like “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, better run, better run outrun my gun. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks better run, better run, faster than my bullet.” I would have thought this song was a “hipster death anthem” shooting down kids with retro Air Jordans, Reebok Pumps, and Sperry Topsiders. However the song gets much more cerebral talking about a kid who finds a gun in his dad’s closet and smokes cigarettes. Note I do not endorse youth violence, I just believe it is an important issue that doesn’t get discussed enough in music, when you have an over-saturation of love songs, and club anthems filling up mainstream radio waves. I personally love songs that have an upbeat melody and rhythm, then they get paired up with a subliminally dark lyrical subject, or some kind of subject with a hidden meaning. I can give examples all day long, but we have all heard those incredible songs about demoralizing subjects that have made it big. I wouldn’t consider myself a sadist by any means, I just like music that has a message to it, especially one that might be considered “controversial” to most. Their second single is called “Houdini” which encourages people to “Focus on your ability” and “Gain again what they want to steal” which speaks to me as a fellow musical artist myself creating something that will hopefully inspire others. That was just a self interpretation I made for it though, I could be totally wrong.”
Musically, Foster The People are highly similar to the modern crop of indie pop bands that are their contemporaries, the sound is reminiscent of Passion Pit, Friendly Fires, and Late of the Pier just to name a few. Honestly, this is a much more musically safer listen than something like Animal Collective, however you can hear ambient electronics, and oscillations within their traditional rock/songwriter based brand of indie pop. Mark Foster, and his band’s best selling point, would probably be the craftsmanship within Torches and their first EP released beforehand. I can easily compare Foster The People with Passion Pit, and so could you, there are some minor differences like who has a more electronic versus rock sound, and this whole ambient soundscapes/keyboard pad progressions/reverby vocals which are trending in indie music production debate and so forth. Both bands sound great though, I wouldn’t be surprised if they have shared some gigs yet.
Releases like “Torches” show the shortening of a gap between what is considered “indie” and what is considered “high-concept, or mainstream.” Many people may not seem to be aware of this, but “Indie is the new Hollywood.” When I say that, I mean, that “independent” entertainment companies are often owned by large corporations, and which are governed identically to how a major label/production companies would be . I will also go as far as to say there are pop charts in the indie world, just like there is Billboard Top 40 on the high-concept side. We independent kids are just a little more ahead of the curve, proactively using the internet to find all our lovely music selections we use to impress our friends with. Think about Pitchfork, The Hype Machine, and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” I’ll have to do another post about this subject soon.
In the end, “Torches” is a great album, well deserving of it’s high praise and “critical acclaim” that trophies many musical releases now a days. The music is friendly, catchy, engaging, and at times emotional and mildly experimental. Other songs from Foster The People worth checking out would be Helena Beat, Waste, Life on the Nickel, and Warrant. College kids will love this band too, I’ll be hearing this song all over “College Indie Night” at various clubs all over town. Enjoy!
Foster The People- Pumped Up Kicks
Foster The People- Houdini (Live in Solana Beach)