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The Ladybug Transistor – Clutching Stems album review

The Ladybug Transistor’s find healing in “Clutching Stems”

The Ladybug Transistor have been around for a long time – almost indie veterans, figuring things out and being a work in progress over the years. They’ve been releasing smooth indie-pop music since the mid 90s and if you’re able to come out with a 7th album while still remaining relatively unknown to the masses, then its got to be real indie  – always reliable for solid sound.

Clutching Stems is the newest release under Merge Records, 4 years since Ladybug Transistor’s Can’t Wait Another Day album. When drummer/close friend San Fadyl passed away suddenly in 2007, frontman Gary Olson and his mates Kyle Forester and Julia Rydholm were left at a distressing loss, and embarked on writing a tribute album.  Clutching Stems is a much needed healing for the group, with 10 polished tracks that blend together soft harmonies and top-tapping choruses expressing longing, regret, heartbreak, and the awakenings one is faced with during unpredictable moments.   The sound is lush and dark, retro in effect, searching for beauty in the face of loss.

“Oh Christina” is a standout track dealing with the theme of love in pop/rock music and “Life Less True” is the perfect lifting ending. The Ladybug Transistor does what indie music is supposed to do -take something personal and make it universal. Olson’s baritone voice will tear your heart apart and put it back together again, and  long times fans will be pleased.

This is a good album, not their best, but proves the band’s longevity with hopefully more to come from them in the future. This is your typical neon-bright indie record on the outside, with lots of dark layers underneath.

By Melisa D

City girl, educator/consultant, in love with the sound and sunny days.

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