In This Installment:
The Khost – Austin, Texas
Flight of Ryan – Phoenix, Arizona
800 Pound Rhino – London, England
Lovelast – San Francisco, California
Romeo Moon – Melbourne, Australia
Horsha On The Moon – Los Angeles, California
SHOE. – Pleasant Ridge, Michigan
Pokal – Stockholm, Sweden
The Sun Machine – Austin, Texas
New Dutch Generation – Oss, Netherlands
The Banquet Years – London, England
Gadda Damballa – Toronto, Canada
Krisna Setiawan – Surabaya, Indonesia
The Khost – The Khost EP
From the band-saturated capital city of Austin, Texas, the new DIY post-rock/shoegaze band The Khost has done a good job of setting themselves up to stand out from many of the others thanks to their dreamy, hazy tracks that focus on “film, sacred geometry, astronomy, and spiritual alignment.”
The band’s self-titled debut EP is arresting, comprising of songs that are hypnotic and chill all at the same time. The guitar melodies and rhythms are minimalistic and woven together magnificently with vocal harmonies as tracks like “Parallelogram” so aptly demonstrate.
“People have told me that ‘Parallelogram’ makes them feel like they are floating when they are hearing it live,” according to guitarist and vocalist Robert Avila. “I’ve also been told that there are certain notes that just make their bodies just feel good for some reason.”
“Golden Bodies” is a gentle, ambient track that is very much like a soft dreamscape, with mellow keys and guitar notes, soft drums and lush choruses. Avila says that the band “cranked this song out in a couple of hours with just a couple of bowls and a basic understanding of where we wanted to go. It’s about dying stars in the universe.”
“Our music has been described to put people in a self-reflexive state of mind which is exactly what we are going for,” Avila says. “We are known for interlaced guitar melodies and vocal harmonies accompanied by a minimal driving approach.” The rest of the band features talented musicians like Jonathan Shantamurthy on keys and vocals; Brad Grosvold on guitar and vocals; Aron Fernandez on bass, Rudy Rivera on drums, and live show lights and visuals from James Flores.
The Khost has opened for bands like Televangelist, Wonderbitch, Play by Numbers, Transit Method, and Ideophonic, and include among their top musical influences bands likeRadiohead, Local Natives, Daughter, Explosions in the Sky, and Pretend. Watch out for The Khost!
“Parallelogram“ – The Khost from The Khost EP
“Golden Bodies“ – The Khost from The Khost EP
Bonus Track: “Feathers“ – The Khost from The Khost EP
Flight of Ryan – From Cocoon
The Phoenix-based band members of Flight of Ryan met while attending Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and bonded over a mutual admiration of bands like Brand New and Jimmy Eat World. That’s when they decided to start up their own band.
At first, the band simply starting playing and performing together for recreation, but friends and family encouraged them to do more. But it was a producer in 2012 that “liked our sound and approached us about making an album with him,” according to vocalist and guitarist Samuel Voas. “We jumped at the opportunity, and dropped out of school to pursue a career in music.”
The single, “Technicolor Souls,” with its uptempo, danceable rhythms and percussions, pop-centric, soaring melodies, instrumental flourishes and high octave vocals, put Flight of Ryan on the map! We can imagine it as a hit single. The band’s recently dropped debut LP, From Cocoon, also features the track, “Something Beautiful” an ominous-sounding cut, with mechanical-like beats, keys and riffs, and melancholic lyrics and vocals.
The other band members are Danny Pabst on bass, Anthony Wallace on drums, and Colin Bresnahan on guitar and keys. Flight of Ryan has opened for artists like Hello Goodbye, Bronze Radio Return, Rookie of the Year, The Maine, and list among their top musical influences The Beatles, The Strokes, Passion Pit, M83, and The Shins.
“Technicolor Souls“ – Flight of Ryan from From Cocoon
“Something Beautiful“ – Flight of Ryan from From Cocoon
800 Pound Rhino – 800 Pound Rhino EP
At times, the screeching vocals of London band 800 Pound Rhino‘s singer and guitarist, Isaac Renshaw, reminds us a bit of Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys. As fans of Arctic Monkeys for the past decade, we’re not at all opposed to hearing a vocalist that sounds like Turner, since his gravely have always been a key element in our love for the band’s music. The likeness to Arctic Monkeys is also apparent in the driving guitar riffs of blazing songs like “Love Revolution.” But, we don’t want to overplay the likeness to AMs; still, it’s intriguing, to say the least. That said, there is room for Renshaw to develop his vocals to their true potential.
From the opening notes of 800 Pound Rhino’s new single, “Love Revolution,” it was almost immediately apparent the influence The Beatles have had on these four lads from London. Mixing elements of classic rock with prog and punk, with some psychedelia to boot, as demonstrated on that single as well as the another single, “Velvet,” we are fairly impressed with the unique style 800 Pound Rhino have created in less than a year since officially forming together as a band.
Bassist Sam Johnson writes: “We jam and write in a tiny room in the back of a soundproofing shop and have a great time doing it, we just need to prove it to others thirsty for a similar sound.” He also touches on a common frustration of young folks today: “We’re four males living in a suburb of a big city, holding down shitty jobs and making music – something you’ve all heard before; a phenomenon of the economy (and industry) as it is in the 21st Century.” The band is complimented further by the impressive skills of guitarist Joe Edge and drummer Kane Ciaputa. The band met while attending university.
All these songs were recorded live where we rehearse…mixing/editing/mastering is kept to a bare minimum; the speakers attack the listener differently when you don’t process the shit out of everything,” Johnson adds. “There is more integrity and the music’s message is more transparent that way, at least that’s the intention.” The band’s top musical influences include Nirvana, King Crimson, Interpol, and The Stooges. The band’s debut EP dropped on June 11th.
– 800 Pound Rhino from 800 Pound Rhino EP
“Love Revolution“ – 800 Pound Rhino from 800 Pound Rhino EP
Lovelast – Home
From the hills of San Francisco comes the one-man band project Lovelast, the moniker of songwriter, vocalist and keys player, Chase Jenkins. When we first heard his tracks from his recently released debut LP, Home, we were quite impressed, especially considering that he wrote, sang, produced, engineered, played keys and programmed the songs.
Standout songs include the unique electro pop and heartfelt single, “Promises,” and an ode to his adopted city on the simply titled track, “San Francisco,” a song with flourishing choruses and raising instrumentation. It’s no small accomplishment for an artist to become a one man band, although it is obviously made much easier these days with technology and equipment that has become smaller, more dynamic and affordable over the years. The emotion in his voice and keys are impossible to miss. There is good reason for the sentimental nature of Lovelast’s music.
Over the course of working on the June release of Home, tragedy struck. “I lost my younger sister to cancer and a close friend to suicide, and I moved from Houston to San Francisco,” he told IRC. “So, in many ways, the record became my own exploration of what ‘home’ is, how to cope with losing it and the people that make it, and trying to maintain the hope of building a new one.'”
“I got my start in music playing keys and producing with the Robbie Seay Band in Houston, TX in 2003. After several years with them, I began to start writing and producing my own songs.” In 2011, Jenkins dropped his debut EP, December, as Lovelast, followed in 2013 by his sophomore EP, Midwinter, a more acoustic-focused recording.
“Indie music,” Jenkins said, “is about expressing thoughts, ideas, and emotions in a way that is genuine, sometimes raw, and sometimes intense. It’s about making music that can make someone else feel what you feel, or think in a new and, perhaps, transformative way.”
The LP was mixed by Justin Gerrish in Brooklyn, and mastered by Gavin Lurssen in Hollywood; guitars and bass were performed by Matt Kidd and drums by Abel Orta, Jr. Jenkins’ music influences include Magic Man, The Naked and Famous, Parade of Lights, and Broods.
“Promises“ – Lovelast from Home
“San Francisco“ – Lovelast from Home
Stream and purchase Home via Bandcamp
Romeo Moon – Wander
The new, and we say emerging, Melbourne, Australia ambient, psychedelic rock band, Romeo Moon, formed in 2013, has made an impression with folks in the cafe thanks to their Radiohead-like soundscapes, transfixing stoner jam riffs and rhythms that are sure to capture the attention of astute rock lovers who take the time to let the tracks from their EP – Wander – sink in their psyche.
Calling themselves “very much a community project” in collaboration with a group of other artists, photographers, music writers and producers in the Melbourne scene, Romeo Moon are clearly a band to watch in 2015. Frontman Kevin Orr writes: “I’m not one to sell myself, but I am very proud of the project we are working on as it is with great people – it’s more than a ‘band.’
Songs like the mellow acoustic standout, “Afterglow,” and our favorite, “Come With Me,” are two of the six tracks on Wander. The creeping, measured beats and Joy Division-like repetitious guitar playing on “Come With Me,” are hypnotizing and haunting at the same time. Their EP has been receiving a good amount of feedback. In fact, the band currently on tour in Japan. In fact, Japan is often a testing ground for Australian bands. So, things are ramping up for the band.
“The melody for ‘Afterglow’ came to me out of no where,” Orr says, “soon after, while I was cleaning up some things, I came across my Nana’s funeral program. It included a poem titled ‘Afterglow’. The song then became a hybrid song that could be related to saying goodbye to a loved one. I believe I was also reading ‘The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying’ at the time which played an influence in the subject matter.”
“Come With Me” is a track we jammed on as a band and weren’t sure whether it would make the record as we literally arranged the song the night before heading in to the studio,” Orr says, adding that none of the songs on Wander were demoed. “Although it is a lofi-sounding song, it plays off a lot of electronic music arrangements with the slow build at the end and an extended tension bar. It soon become one of our favorites.”
Additionally, their Bandcamp page demonstrates that music lovers are throwing down their hard-earned money to purchase Wander, because it’s worth the investment. “I love that they keep it relatively straight cut with some nice rhythmical foundations via repetition and then hit it with undertones of blues and dirty psych,” says Romeo Moon fan, Dr. Beaf. “No doubt that if they were two decades earlier. they’d have been a supergroup.”
In addition to Orr, who also plays guitar, piano, synth, percussion, and woodwind, the other band members of Romeo Moon include William Blaxland (guitar), Luke Elliot (bass and guitar), and Simon McConnell (drums). The EP was produced and engineered by Simon Cotter (Courtney Barnett) at Bakehouse Studios in Melbourne. The band’s biggest musical influences, according to Orr, are The Acid, Darkside, Radiohead, Neil Young, Sufjan Stevens, and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds.
“Afterglow“ – Romeo Moon from Wander
“Come With Me“ – Romeo Moon from Wander
Horsha On The Moon – Silver Colored Babies
With guitar-fronting riffs that may remind some adept listeners of bands like Jesus and The Mary Chain, Swervedriver and Spirtualized, the Los Angeles DIY alt rock band Horsha On The Moon have been on regular rotation in the cafe thanks to catchy singles like “Chalfonte” and “Lose Me,” from the band’s May release of their debut album, Silver Colored Babies. Curt Barlage (The Bixby Knolls) produced the album and Steve Mungarro (Animato) conducted the engineering.
“Lyrically the songs are pretty abstract but looking back now,” the trio’s guitarist, songwriter and lead vocalist Arshak Alozian writes. “I believe it was distrust that was the influence on how a lot of the lyrics came about. There was always a bottle of Irish whiskey in the vocal booth.” In addition to the bands listed above, Alozian says Horsha On The Moon’s musical heroes include Ride, Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The other band members, who are all accomplished in their own way, include Tim Simundza (drums), and Betina Gozo Ely (bass).
“So as the lack of taste grows ever more prominent and pop and hip hop mediocrity proves unwavering in it’s ability to make talent an endangered species,” Alozian correctly laments, “we continue to be hopeful that rock and roll will somehow survive the slaughter.” Amen. Rock is surviving; if you look around the globe, it’s still there, and in some respects, thriving as music lovers worldwide tune into their own musical preferences.
The point is well-taken – the onslaught of crappy, cookie-cutter and talentless pop and hip hop is at an all-time high, which hopefully means it’s on its way to being left behind. But as long as corporate radio, television and other corporate controlled media keep pumping the crap out, and sadly, millions of young people eat it up with sickening abandon, there will be places like IRC that keep it real and present artists and bands that are putting out original, compelling and kick-ass music. It’s all of ours’ little secret.
“Chalfonte“ – Horsha On The Moon from Silver Colored Babies
“Lose Me“ – Horsha On The Moon from Silver Colored Babies
SHOE. – #1 Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself
Drawing off of influences that range from 50s doo-wop to bands like Radiohead, Tennis, Alt-J and Father John Misty, Michigan DIY recording artist SHOE, aka, Dustin Gardner, crafts heartfelt, well-honed vocals and lyrics about love and the tribulations of life as evidenced on his latest album, #1 Aaaallow Me To Reintroduce Myself, a live album he recorded completely DIY.
In fact, since 2003, Gardner, who lives in Pleasant Ridge, has written, recorded and produced four albums completely on his own. Prior to his latest release, Gardner hit a grand slam with his 2011 album, The Speed of Life, which ultimately was awarded as the Best Pop Rock Album of the Year at the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards. That’s a huge triumph for any artist. Gardner performs solo with pre-recorded and live loops which are apparent on his new album recorded live in Detroit. The standout single, “Heavy,” is amazing, heartfelt and intriguing.
– SHOE. from #1 Aaaallow Me To Reintroduce Myself
– SHOE. from #1 Aaaallow Me To Reintroduce Myself
Pokal – Lights EP
Pokal is the DIY moniker of musician, songwriter and vocalist Arne Barlindhaug Ellingsen, a Norwegian citizen who relocated to Stockholm, Sweden to pursue his interest in music. He just dropped his second EP, Lights, on May 29th. It’s full of lush, finely crafted dream pop/synth pop gems like the tracks from his October 2014 debut EP, Five Songs. We were pretty much captive fans of standout singles like “Lighthouse” and “Snow.” Elliingsen’s top musical influences include Arto Lindsay, Ariel Pink, The Cure, Autechre, and Judie Sill.
“Lighthouse“ – Pokal from Lights EP
– Pokal from Lights EP
The Sun Machine – Drag City
Formed in 2010, the Austin band The Sun Machine combine echoey vocals and psych’ed out keyboard and guitar jams – in the spirit of bands like 13th Floor Elevators (widely regarded as the first psychedelic band) – with the percussive diligence of bands like Thee Oh Sees, to create their reverb-heavy, acid dripping, rocking sound on tracks like “Sound of Descent” and the echo chamber-like 60s homage, “Life on Holiday,” complete with an odd sound clip of a trippy customer service call at the end.
The band’s self-bio goes even deeper into the psychological corridors of the surreal, stating: “…they (the members of the band) were then visited by a bright orbicular figure. The men then fell into a deep trance as the sphere gyrated and changed several iridescent colors. Time stopped, the air became opaque, and their skin evaporated and their collective consciousness was placed inside The Sun Machine.” What are these guys taking? Whatever it is, it’s working on Drag City, the band’s debut EP.
The Sun Machine has opened for bands like Golden Dawn Arkestra, Shilpa Ray, Levitation Room, The Rotten Mangos, Migrant Kids, The Rich Hands and list their major musical influences as 13th Floor Elevators, Thee Oh Sees, Mystic Braves, The Growlers, and Cosmonauts. The latest album, Drag City, dropped in March.
“Sound of Descent“ – The Sun Machine from Drag City
Watch the video on YouTube
“Life on Holiday“ – The Sun Machine from Drag City
New Dutch Generation – Metempsychosis
The Netherlands band, New Dutch Generation, was re-founded in 2012 after four high-school friends from the cities of Oss and Noord-Brabant, decided to restart their former band. A few weeks after reconvening, the band members added a bass player and set out to ramp up their rehearsals in a quest to write and record their debut LP, Metempsychosis.
In May, following two years of experimenting in their rehearsal space, and on stage, NDG recorded, mixed, mastered and dropped Metempsychosis to favorable reviews in their home country. Now it’s time for the U.S. to hear the magical, rocking and hypnotic songs like the psych rock of “Escape” and “Til The Break of Dawn Y’all,” featuring the raw, and also gorgeous, vocals of Birgit Van Erp, as well as the magnificent performances of Erwin de Boer (guitar), Anne Hermans (keys), Pepijn Muller (drums), and Felix Van Sebillé (bass), and the members of a horn section.
According to guitarist de Boer: ” Metempsychosis is a metaphor for the transformation of being a group of close friends in high-school trying to make music, to a close knit band making music straight from the heart.” Regardless of the band members’ personal musical differences – ranging from Power to the Pipo and Alter Bridge to Foo Fighters and Navarone – they “managed to find a way to bundle all of it into a modern and sincere sound,” de Boer added.
– New Dutch Generation from Metempsychosis
– New Dutch Generation from Metempsychosis
Watch: Hit the Ground (Official Video) – New Dutch Generation
The Banquet Years – Vortex
Arthur Schipper was the co-founding member and drummer of the New York City indie punk/noise dance rock band The Algiers until he decided to leave New York and move across the Atlantic in 2012 to London to pursue his own musical ambitions, forming the band The Banquet Years. His bandmate, Mark Watt, a bass player and guitarist, as well as a programmer of loops and drum machines, was a jazz musician. The duo experimented with all kinds of new technologies and sounds.
Earlier this year, The Banquet Years, which had been gaining critical praise and crowds at live shows around London and England, dropped its debut album, Vortex. On the engaging, and experimental single, “Timbuktu,” Shipper’s voice reminds us a lot of Tom Waits. It’s a great track, and a compelling album for those who are interested in hearing how a musician transforms from punk dance to experimental indie/dream pop/psych rock. The duo count their musical influences to include Suicide, The Ramones, Kris Kristofferson, Lou Reed, and Vangelis; they’ve opened for Alabama 3, Art&Alex, and The Parade.
“Timbuktu“ – The Banquet Years from Vortex
“Azrael“ – The Banquet Years from Vortex
“Azrael“ music video on YouTube
Gadda Damballa – Bronze EP
From Toronto, we received some tracks from the DIY artist Gadda Damballa and found ourselves impressed with his musical abilities, songwriting and vocals, especially considering that he doesn’t have any formal training in music. Wishing to “escape from the drudgery of the 9 to 5 work lifestyle,” Damballa bought a guitar, some production equipment and began working on songs that simply came to him. Over time, he also learned to play bass and keys.
“Being cooped up in the suburbs provided the time and space needed to develop the art of songwriting,” he says. “This was the aspect of music I wanted to focus the most on, and am the most passionate about.” The results of his plunge into the world of totally DIY, self-taught musicianship are poignant songs like “Caravan” and the deep and provocative “Build Again,” apparently a message to God to start over and ‘build [the world] again.’ He describes his music as a mix of folk, folktronica, and synth pop. Damballa’s debut EP, Bronze, officially dropped on June 23rd. He lists his top musical influences to include Henry Green, Bon Iver, Sade, Asgeir, and Kanye West.
“Caravan“ – Gadda Damballa from Bronze EP
“Build Again“ – Gadda Damballa from Bronze EP
Watch themusic video via YouTube
Krisna Setiawan – Poetic Edda
We are fans of electronic ambient music; always have been. Over the past months, we have received submissions from a number of excellent ambient bands. Add to that group the musician Krisna Setiawan from Surabaya, Indonesia. Her compositions have been performed in both classical concerts and jazz festivals throughout Asia, including the Yogyakarta Contemporary Music Festival, the Jazz Legacy Concert Series, and broadcasted on Taipei’s philharmonics radio stations and at universities and concert halls in Australia, the United States, Germany and the U.K. The track, “Nanna (Goddess of Earth)” from her new release, Poetic Edda, is something we just had to include. Enjoy.
Saga – Goddess of Past Memories (via YouTube)